Following is the text of President Carter's opening statement at yesterday's press conference in Chicago:
Our action to help rescue those who have been threatened in Zaire has virtually come to an end. Our transport aircraft, having completed their mission, will be returning to their bases within the next few days.
I know that I speak for all Americans in expressing my abhorrence and distress over the violence and the killing the resulted from the Katangan invasion from Angola into Zaire. As great as the human tragedy was, it could have been much worse for the European nationals and for the Zairians and the consequences much more severe for that country if we had not joined in with our allies in a common effort. Strict Limits on Involvement
Our action in Zaire was an appropriate and measured response to the situation. In this endeavor we demonstrated both our ability to cooperate with our allies and our willingness to consult fully with the Congress before taking any actions. I imposed strict limits on the scope of our involvement, and they were rigorously observed.
I'm gratified that we had the full support of congressional leaders before and during the rescue efforts in Zaire. The government of Angola must bear a heavy responsibility for the deadly attack which was launched from its territory. And it's a burden and a responsibility shared by Cuba.
We believe that Cuba had known of the Katangan plans to invade and obviously did nothing to restrain them from crossing the border. We also know that the Cubans have played a key role in training and equipping the Katangans who attacked. Review of Legislation
Our action to support the rescue efforts in Zaire was taken pursuant to present law and under my constitutional powers and duties as commander in chief. However, the tragedy in Zaire as well as other recent developments had caused me to reflect on the ability of our government, without becoming involved in combat, to act promptly and decisively to help countries whose security is threatened by external forces.
Our military and economic assistance programs are one of the most important means of assisting our friends. Some of the legislation governing these foreign aid programs has the effect of placing very narrow limits on where and when they can be used. Some of these limitations, though they were enacted many years ago and under special circumstances, continue to be entirely appropriate and adviseable today. Others may be outmoded. For that reason I have conclude that we should review the full range of legislation which now governs the operation of these programs.
I've asked the secretary of state to conduct this review and to consult with Congress constantly in preparing this study for me. We want to take a careful look at whether our legislation and procedures are fully responsive to the challenges that we face today. Clark Amendment
I will meet with the congressional leadership myself in the near future so that we can reach a joint decision on the appropriate steps to be taken.
As for Clark amendment which prohibits action in regard to Angola, I have no present intention of seeking its modification nor that of any other special piece of legislation. Any proposals for modifications will await our review of all restrictions and consultations with the appropriate committees of the Congress.
In the meantime, the existing provisions of law will, of course, be faithfully observed by me. But also in the meantime we must resist further restrictions being attached to legislation now before the Congress. Opposition to Further Curbs
As we consider new legislation, it is vital that we recogize our need to be able to adapt to rapidly changing circumstamces. The foreign assistance legislation now pending in Congress contains several proposed restrictions on presidential authority in economic and military aid programs.
While I'm prepared to report to Congress and to remain fully accountable to the American people, I will oppose further restricitions. I do so not necessarily because I intend to exercise my authority in the areas in question, but to preserve presidential capacity to act in the national interest in a time of rapidly changing circumstances. I believe that the congressional leadership and the American people will support this position.