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Exchange With Reporters Following Meetings at Camp David, Maryland, With President Mikhail Gorbachev of the Soviet Union

June 02, 1990

Meetings With President Gorbachev

Q. President Bush, how was the meeting?

President Bush. Just a minute, wait until I get out of this thing. [Laughter]

President Gorbachev. In today's discussions with the President I rate them no less than the conversations we had yesterday and the day before yesterday, over the past 2 days. We worked very constructively and fruitfully, and I think that had we not had this day like today my visit would have been different. But the discussions we have had today make it possible for me to state with full responsibility and in a balanced manner the full and two things: there is really ample opportunity for our cooperation, even though there are some real problems to which neither the President nor myself turn a blind eye to. And I set high store by the personal relationship that the President and myself have established, the personal rapport between us.

We showed a great responsibility, both to our people as well as to the peoples of other nations. But this kind of personal rapport that we have established enables us to approach all problems in a better way by presenting argumentation and reaching a certain balance.

Q. But will you reassess your position on Germany as a result of these informal talks?

President Gorbachev. We discussed that, and the President and myself are going to mention the subject tomorrow. We exchanged views on this question, too. But there's one point that has to be borne in mind: for all the importance of our positions and responsibilities, we must remember that we are all part of this process. There is also the six -- the two-plus-four formula. There are also interests of other European nations involved. And I think the President and myself took that into account. It's been a big day, indeed.

Q. On what issues did you make progress today?

President Bush. I would simply say that my assessment of the meetings and President Gorbachev's are in close parallel. He pointed out there's some differences, and I'll point out there's some differences. But as I said yesterday, I see this glass not half empty but half full, and more. And I think the point is, we've been able to discuss these differences and the common ground in a very civil way. I will repeat what I have said before: that President Gorbachev has presided over and, indeed, led in ways that have brought about significant change. That change benefits mankind and it benefits U.S.-Soviet relations.

So, some will argue that we haven't solved all the problems. To me, that's not the point. The point is, we have an awful lot of common ground. We sat there today and talked about regional problems, not in the sense of dividing up the world -- maybe that would have happened years ago -- but in terms of ironing out problems, achieving common ground as we looked at a lot of regional problems. We did the same thing yesterday and the day before on bilateral problems.

So, at the end of the day here in Camp David, no neckties, very relaxed. The only thing that went wrong is, I pride myself as a horseshoe player, and President Gorbachev picked up a horseshoe, never having played the game to my knowledge, and literally, literally -- all you horseshoe players out there -- threw a ringer the first time. [Laughter] Really. And I like to think -- there's not much more to say.

President Gorbachev. Well, I couldn't give in, after all. [Laughter]

President Bush. But there's a more significant point. And that is that he pointed out in a very warm and friendly atmosphere at dinner that a horseshoe in the Soviet Union, when posted in one's house, symbolizes warmth and friendship. That made an impression on me.

Bilateral Agreements

Q. Mr. President, "close enough" is only good enough usually in horseshoes.

President Bush. Yes.

Q. But you went ahead and signed the trade agreement despite the differences on Lithuania.

President Bush. Exactly. And the maritime agreement and the grain agreement and a lot of other agreements, including arms control agreements.

Q. Despite the difference on Lithuania.

President Bush. And this, in my view, is the interest of the United States. The agreement we signed on arms, the agreement we signed on trade, maritime, Bering Straits. Why do you single out one agreement? I look at the overall relationship. If somebody wants to argue with me, fine, we'll take him on. I'm doing what I think is in the best interest of the United States of America.

President Gorbachev. Goodbye.

President Bush. You got it. Thank you all.

President Gorbachev. Thank you.

President Bush. We'll see you guys.

Note: The exchange began at 8:15 p.m. on the grounds of Camp David. In his opening remarks, President Bush referred to the golf cart that he was riding in. President Gorbachev spoke in Russian, and his remarks were translated by an interpreter.

George Bush, Exchange With Reporters Following Meetings at Camp David, Maryland, With President Mikhail Gorbachev of the Soviet Union Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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