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Ronald Reagan Administration: Press Conference on Reasoning Behind AWACS Sales to Saudi Arabia

(October 1, 1981)

At President Reagan's first annual press conference he explains the reasoning behind the sale of AWACS planes and F-15 enhancement items to Saudi Arabia.

THE PRESIDENT. This morning Congress was notified of our intention to sell AWACS aircraft and F-15 enhancement items to Saudi Arabia. I have proposed this sale because it significantly enhances our own vital national security interests in the Middle East. By building confidence in the United States as a reliable security partner, the sale will greatly improve the chances of our working constructively with Saudi Arabia and other states of the Middle East toward our common goal-- a just and lasting peace. It poses no threat to Israel, now or in the future. Indeed, by contributing to the security and stability of the regions, it serves Israel's long-range interests.

Further, this sale will significantly improve the capability of Saudi Arabia and the United States to defend the oil fields on which the security of the free world depends.

As President, it's my duty to define and defend our broad national security objectives. The Congress, of course, plays an important role in this process. And while we must always take into account the vital interests of our allies, American security interests must remain our internal responsibility. It is not the business of other nations to make American foreign policy. An objective assessment of U.S. national interest must favor the proposed sale. And I say this as one who holds strongly the view that both a secure state of Israel and a stable Mideast peace are essential to our national interests.

Sources: The American Presidency Project