PRESIDENT-ELECT and Mrs. Nixon came to the White House at our invitation today at 1:30. The four of us had a very pleasant lunch together.
Shortly after 2 o'clock, President-elect Nixon was joined in the Cabinet Room by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Director of Central Intelligence, and was given a very thorough briefing on matters about which he was interested.
I realize--and President-elect Nixon realizes--that the American people expect and have a right to expect their Government to efficiently function at all times.
Both he and I are going to do everything that we possibly can to see that the wheels of government operate at maximum efficiency, not only from now until January the 20th, but for all time to come.
Secretary Rusk briefed the President-elect on his trip to NATO--he will leave tomorrow--on matters in Vietnam, on the situation in Eastern Europe, on the Middle East, and answered various questions that the President-elect had to ask.
Secretary Clifford and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff reviewed various military matters with President-elect Nixon.
Needless to say, it was a very pleasant and cooperative meeting as we expect all of these meetings in the days ahead to be.
Mrs. Johnson and I want to do everything that we possibly can to help the new President and his charming wife with the burdens that they are assuming on behalf of all of us.
PRESIDENT-ELECT NIXON. Thank you very much, Mr. President.
On my behalf, and on behalf of Mrs. Nixon, we express our appreciation to you and to Mrs. Johnson for your very graciously hosting the luncheon.
I express appreciation for the tour of some of the quarters of the White House that, despite the fact of my being in the administration for 8 years, I had never seen before. I will not be as much of a stranger as I am at this point.
With regard to the briefings, they were completely candid and most helpful.
The point that I think should be made that distinguishes this transition period from others is this: The Nation at this time in its foreign policy has several matters--Vietnam, of course, at the top of the list--which cannot await decision and cannot afford a gap of 2 months in which no action occurs.
If, however, action is to occur, if progress is to be made on matters like Vietnam, the current possible crisis in the Mideast, the relations between the United States and the Soviet Union with regard to certain outstanding matters--if progress is to be made in any of these fields--it can be made only if the parties on the other side realize that the current administration is setting forth policies that will be carried forward by the next administration.
For that reason our discussion was extremely candid and forthright with regard to the policy decisions and the negotiations and discussions that will go on with regard to Vietnam and other matters.
I gave assurance in each instance to the Secretary of State, and, of course, to the President, that they could speak not just for this administration but for the Nation, and that meant for the next administration as well.
For that reason I think these discussions were not only very helpful from my standpoint, but I think, Mr. President, you would agree that they were helpful, too, from the standpoint of seeing to it that in these next 60 days--this very critical period--rather than having the lapse of a lame duck Presidency in effect, we might have some very significant action and progress toward peace.
THE PRESIDENT. Thank you, gentlemen.