Informal Exchange With Reporters on the Release of Black Leaders by the Government of South Africa

December 7, 1984

Q. Mr. President, are there indications now that the Iranian Government is helping out these terrorists on the ground?

The President. So far, I don't know of any. There hadn't been up until the time that I left the office there. But I came over here not for some questions, but to add to our little meeting over there in the Press Room.

I did not know before, but since that meeting, I have received word that the South African Government has released the 11 prisoners, including a very prominent labor leader. And all of this -- they were arrested 3 weeks ago; they were part of our discussion with Bishop Tutu. And this is the result of -- since their arrest -- 3 weeks of work that we have put in in what I told you was quiet diplomacy. And today it bore fruit, and they're released.

Q. Is it the result of the demonstrations?

Q. Couldn't it be the result of the demonstrations, not of the quiet diplomacy?

The President. Well, I would have to think after 3 weeks of working with and talking with the Government over there that -- I don't think that we're being too bold in taking credit for this.

Q. Did the demonstrations help your efforts in any way?

The President. I have no evidence of that, if they did.

Q. Mr. President, again, just on the terrorists, the terrorists now say they're going to kill all the Americans on the plane. Is there anything we can do about that? Can we do anything at all?

The President. Yes, we've been doing a number of things, and we've been working through channels that can communicate with the Iranian Government. It's a tragic situation and, as I said earlier, I don't think the Iranian Government -- I can't charge that there's complicity, but I certainly don't think that there's been any effort or a proper effort to help.

Q. Where's the dog going to live? Is he going to stay at the White House?

The President. For a while. He'll probably wind up at the ranch.

Q. Is it housebroken?

The President. Not at that age, no. We still have that to undergo.

Mrs. Reagan. He's very well behaved.

The President. Nancy says he's very well behaved.

Q. Are you willing to divide your attention with the puppy?

The President. Don't you wish I was that anxious to stay with you? [Laughter]

Note: The exchange began at 3:09 p.m. at the South Portico of the White House as the President and Mrs. Reagan were leaving for a weekend stay at Camp David, MD.

The dog referred to in the questioning was the puppy presented to the President on December 6 by Kristen Ellis, the March of Dimes Poster Child.