WASHINGTON (Jul. 19)
President Ford said today that the policies of his Administration would “preclude” another Arab oil embargo and a Mideast war but sidestepped defining a course of U.S. action in the event of another embargo. Ford also accused the Libyan government of having “stimulated terrorist activity” but refrained from discussing “any evidence that we have that might prove or disprove that” and stopped short of outlining specific actions against it. He did say that the U.S. was working “in the United Nations and with many governments” to combat international terrorism.
Ford made his remarks at a hastily called White House press conference which was taken up mainly with questions regarding his campaign outlook and strategy for election to a full four-year term. Asked by a reporter to comment on the “approach” of the Democratic Presidential nominee, Jimmy Carter, who said he would treat another Arab oil embargo as an act of economic warfare and would cut off U.S. trade with countries that instituted it, Ford replied:
“We have been able, through diplomatic successes, to avoid the possibility of an Middle Eastern war and thereby avoid the possibility of an oil embargo. I am confident that the Ford Administration’s successes diplomatically in the Middle East will preclude any such situation as was indicated by Mr. Carter.”
The President added, “If you are doing things right, if you have the trust of the Arab nations as well as of Israel, I don’t think we have to look forward to either a Middle Eastern war or an oil embargo.”
WORKING TO STOP TERRORISM
Asked “Does the United States have evidence or information that President (Muammar) Qaddafi of Libya is financing, encouraging or serving as the central point of international terrorism organization,” Ford replied, “We do know the Libyan government has in many ways done certain things that might have stimulated terrorist activity but I don’t think we ought to discuss any evidence that we have that might prove or disprove that.”
Responding to another reporter who wanted to know what the U.S. is doing about terrorism. Ford said: “We are working in the United Nations and with many governments in trying to put forward a very strong anti-terrorist effort in order to stop this kind of unwarranted and very unjustified action and we will continue our efforts in this regard.”