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Gerald Ford Administration: News Conference on Hostages in Uganda

(July 9, 1976)


Q. Mr. President, Governor Reagan made the statement when apprised of the Israeli rescue raid in Uganda, "This is what Americans used to do." And one of the hostages, who is an American citizen said America didn't "give a damn about us, Israel freed us." I wonder, what is your reaction?

THE PRESIDENT. I can assure you that this administration has taken a firm action wherever we have been confronted with any illegal international action. The best illustration of course is what we did in 1975 in the Mayaguez incident. I think that was a clear warning to any nation that violates international law that this administration will act swiftly and firmly and, I think, successfully.

Q. If I could follow that up, the State Department said--when asked, "What is the United States doing?"--said that they had contacted numerous governments as well as the International Red Cross. What else did we do to compare with the Israeli action?

THE PRESIDENT. We took whatever action we felt was appropriate at that time to indicate our strong feeling against international terrorism, and we asked for the full cooperation of all governments to make certain that the hostages Were freed.

And as you know, we indicated to Prime Minister Rabin that we were gratified that the Israelis had taken the very specific action to free the hostages, and at the same time we reiterated our firm opposition to international terrorism.

Q. Did we know in advance of that Israeli raid?

THE PRESIDENT. We did not.

Q. Mr. President, do you believe that the Israeli violation of Uganda national sovereignty was justified?

THE PRESIDENT. The Department of State and our representatives to the United Nations will set forth our position very clearly in the debate that I think begins today, on one or more resolutions before the Security Council. I am told that our position is a firm one, on good legal grounds, and I will wait and let that be expressed by them during the debate.

Sources: Public Papers of the President