Informal Exchange With Reporters

 

July 11, 1988

 

Compensation for Iranian Jetliner Victims

 

Q. Mr. President, have you made a decision on compensation for the families of the victims of the airliner in Iran?

 

The President. Well, I, from the first, have said we're a compassionate people, and I think that we all have compassion for the families of those unfortunate people who were on that plane. And later today there will be a statement with regard to that.

 

Q. I assume it's going to be in the affirmative.

 

Q. Are you worried about American public opinion, Mr. President, being opposed to compensating the victims' families?

 

The President. I think that they have tied that to our feelings about the Government and what it did with regard to our people in the Embassy there when the Ayatollah came in. And I want to make it plain that there's certainly going to be no compensation for the Government of Iran or anything of that kind, because we don't feel that any such thing is called for. But as I've said, I think we all can have compassion for the innocent people who were the victims.

 

Q. How much? How much are you going to give?

 

Q. Mr. President, we've been told that there are those who oppose this in the Government on the grounds that it sets a bad precedent.

 

The President. I don't ever find compassion a bad precedent.

 

Q. How much money do you think it will involve?

 

The President. Don't know.

 

Q. Do you have to get congressional approval for that or send a bill to Congress, Mr. President?

 

The President. Well, there are some details about that that are still being considered and worked out.

 

Attorney General

 

Q. Do you have a replacement for Meese yet?

 

The President. Well, there will be an announcement coming shortly on that, too.

 

Q. Today?

 

Q. Today or this week?

 

The President. I can't give you a date and hour on that.

 

Q. Sounds like you're close, though.

 

The President. What?

 

Q. Sounds like you're close.

 

The President. Possible.

 

Q. Anyone we know? [Laughter]

 

The President. You've probably heard of him.

 

Note: The exchange began at 10:42 a.m. in the Oval Office at the White House, prior to a meeting with President Jose Napoleon Duarte Fuentes of El Salvador.