Informal Exchange With Reporters

 

November 14, 1988

 

Soviet-U.S. Relations

 

Q. Mr. President, you're hearing all this. Do you feel that human rights then is still an irritant in U.S.-Soviet relations?

 

The President. Yes, of course. Until it's completely eliminated, this type of political prisoner -- and we have had great success, and the General Secretary has been more cooperative than any Soviet leader before him. And I assume that we have these names that have been mentioned here.

 

Q. Do you feel that all the remaining political prisoners will be released, as some have said, soon?

 

The President. Well, that statement has been made, and now we can only wait and see.

 

Middle East Peace Efforts

 

Q. Mr. President, is there a breakthrough on the PLO so far as you're concerned, so far as accepting Israel?

 

The President. Well, I only know this thing -- that apparently -- that there has been an indication that they are willing to abide by [U.N. Security Council Resolution] 242 and hope it's true because then that would mean some progress, although I think there are many problems yet to be solved.

 

Q. And an international conference?

 

Mr. Weinberg. Thank you. Frank [Frank Sesno, Cable News Network], we have to go.

 

The President. I'm not sure that's the answer.

 

Q. What is that?

 

The President. I'm still not sure that that is the answer.

 

Note: The exchange began at 10:30 a.m. in the Oval Office, prior to a meeting with Soviet political dissident Andrei Sakharov. Mark D. Weinberg was Special Assistant to the President and Assistant Press Secretary.