Response to a question on oil being used as a political weapon to spur the Middle East peace talks. Made during a question-and-answer session with Florida Newspaper Editors in Tampa, Florida on August 30, 1979.
THE PRESIDENT. I have never met an Arab leader that in private professed a desire for an independent Palestinian state. Publicly, they all espouse an independent Palestinian state, almost all of them, because that is what they committed themselves to do at Rabat. But the private diplomatic tone of conversations is much more proper than is often alleged by the press and by others. Really, it would be a very great surprise to me for Crown Prince Fahd to send through our Ambassador, John West, to me a message: "If you don't expedite the resolution of the Palestinian question, we will cut off your oil."
There's a great stabilizing interrelationship between ourselves and the Saudi Arabians. They see us as their ultimate, not quite protective, but stabilizing factor, and they don't want to sever their relationships with us. They have an abhorrence of the Soviet Union because it's atheistic and because it's Communist and because they encourage, sometimes, radicalism and turmoil and violence. And they know that we are a religious nation, and they know we are a democratic nation; we know our attitude toward them is benevolent, and they know our basic policy is one of espousing stability. And all those factors, and others that I could name, are attractive to the Saudi Arabians.
Sources: The American Presidency Project