23. Memorandum From Secretary of State Haig to President Reagan 1

[Omitted here is information unrelated to the press conference and Clark’s confirmation.]

2. Press Conference: My first formal press conference took place this afternoon and it went well. The questions covered the horizon, a good number of them on relations with the Soviet Union, with our principal allies, and our policy towards the Middle East.

I took the opportunity to make a couple of points: [Page 87]

Your Administration is not prepared to consider providing arms of any kind, under any circumstances, to the present Government of Iran;
Our commitment to Israel’s security is absolute, but we will be looking for ways to move the peace process forward in the Middle East;
We will not deal with the PLO in any way as long as they continue their support for terrorism, do not accept Israel’s right to a peaceful existence, and refuse to recognize the appropriate UN resolutions as the basis for peace talks;
Finally, I stressed that we mean business in dealing with terrorism; we’re very concerned about human rights and basic issues of human dignity, but international terrorism is the number one problem right now.

It’s interesting to note that 30 minutes after the end of the press conference, TASS (the Soviet news agency) called with a question about terrorism, indicating that at least one customer picked up the message. (LOU)

3. Confirmation of Bill Clark: Bill has nearly completed his rounds of courtesy calls with members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. His hearing is scheduled to begin next Monday, February 2 at 10:00 a.m.2 The opposition appears to be diminishing, with the possible exception of liberal Senators Biden and Kennedy. Bill is meeting with Biden tomorrow afternoon. Cranston has agreed to join Hayakawa in presenting Bill to the Committee, which is a real plus. Unfortunately, Cranston will not be in town Monday to do it personally, but Justice Stanley Mosk of the California Supreme Court—a noted liberal who is highly respected among the Democrats—will be in town to speak on his behalf at the hearing. (U)

  1. Source: Reagan Library, Executive Secretariat, NSC Agency File, Secretary Haig’s Evening Report (01/22/1981–02/03/1981). Confidential. The complete transcript of the press conference is printed in Department of State Bulletin, February 1981, pp. G–K.
  2. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held hearings on Clark’s nomination February 2–3. For the transcript of the hearings, see Nomination of Justice William Patrick Clark: Hearings Before the Committee on Foreign Relations, United States Senate, Ninety-Seventh Congress, First Session, on Nomination of Justice William Patrick Clark of California, to be Deputy Secretary of State, February 2 and 3, 1981 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1981). The Senate voted 70 to 24 on February 24 to confirm Clark. (“William Clark is Confirmed,” New York Times, February 25, 1981, p. A10)