Informal Exchange With Reporters Prior to a Meeting With Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir of Israel

February 18, 1987

Q. Mr. President, your aides seem to disagree on whether you approved the Israeli arms shipments to Tehran before they took place?

The President. Helen [Helen Thomas, United Press International], besides reminding you this is a photo opportunity and no questions -- but I'm not going to take any questions on that situation until the Tower commission's report is turned in to us.

Q. Then you're going to take questions?

The President. It's possible.

Q. Are you going to fire Regan, or is he talking to Mrs. Reagan, or is she talking to him? [Laughter] There's a report in the paper today that they're not speaking.

The President. Oh, for heaven sakes!

Q. Not true?

The President. No, not true, and nobody's getting fired.

Q. Because of the Israelis' role in this affair, why are you and Mr. Shamir not talking about the Iran affair, sir?

The President. I didn't say what we're talking about. I just said, well, I wasn't going to talk about -- [laughter] -- --

Q. Well, we were told it wasn't even going to come up for discussion.

The President. I think that we have a great many things on the agenda here that are of great importance to both our countries.

Q. Do you both agree on what Israel's role in this matter was?

The President. You're asking questions, and I just said we're not going to take any.

Q. Mr. President, you said that mistakes had been made. Could you tell us who made those mistakes in the Iran policy?

The President. I`ve told you -- there will be no answers on questions having to do with that until the Tower commission has submitted its report next week.

Q. Mr. President, you said nobody is going to get fired. Will Mr. Regan be staying on as your Chief of Staff?

The President. Well, this is up to him. I have always said that when the people that I've asked to come into government feel that they have to return to private life, that's their business and I will never try to talk them out of it.

Q. Is that a yes or a no, sir?

The President. That's a no-answer, that's not an answer.

Q. Is it lonely at the top? [Laughter]

The President. Now, we'll see if there's two or three. Was this the first wave? Now we'll find out if there's going to be two or three. I'm always the last to know. I thought I knew. [Laughter]

Q. Well, here's one you can answer. How are you feeling?

The President. Just fine. That I'll answer any time.

Q. Mr. President, do you and Mr. Shamir agree on the international conference in the Middle East?

The President. I'm just not going to take questions. [Laughter]

Q. Have you started pumping iron again?

The President. Boy, I hate to say that I'm not answering questions at that. Started yesterday. [Laughter]

Q. Mr. President, you have said you would not answer questions until after the Tower board report. Will you after the board report hold a news conference, take questions on it?

The President. Well, we'll be making announcements on what we're going to do once that report is with us.

Q. Do you expect the Tower board report to be very tough, Mr. President? What's your expectation of it?

The President. Wait and see.

Reporters. Thank you.

Note: The exchange began at 11:35 a.m. in the Oval Office at the White House.