George Bush photo

Exchange With Reporters in Kennebunkport, Maine

July 02, 1990

Upcoming NATO Summit

Q. Mr. President, are you changing your policy on nuclear use?

The President. We're discussing the NATO agenda here today, and we'll discuss it with our colleagues when we get over there.

Q. Well, it sounds like your proposal changes from flexible response and no first use.

The President. I'm anxious to hear from Secretary Cheney and General Powell and others on this matter that you've raised. And then we've got a wide array of other issues we're talking about there -- economic and political dimension of NATO. So, we're trying to get our act totally together. We're in good shape for the meeting. I think our side is generally agreed on the big questions. And then, before we comment on these items, we're going to talk to our allies. That's the way I've tried to do it from the very beginning with NATO, and I'm going to continue that. We don't dictate; we just say, here's our views, and then represent them as best we can.

Q. But your views seem to represent a change.

The President. Well, we'll wait until we see what comes out of the NATO meeting; we're not going to prejudge it. But I'm encouraged because I think we've got a good position here. You know, the other day Marlin bawled me out. I said there's nothing earthshaking about all of this. [Laughter] But he and Scowcroft went into a frenzy, saying, well, maybe others will interpret it as this. So, I don't want to understate where we're going or overstate it, but some will look at it as this major change in direction and others won't. But I want to take this opportunity to get myself off the hook.

Q. Have you had any responses from the allies here?

The President. Oh, sure. That's one of the things I want to hear about from Secretary Baker today. They've been in close contact. And he'll go off and -- what, tonight do you head off?

Secretary Baker. Tomorrow morning.

The President. Tomorrow morning, and iron out some of the differences before we get there.

Q. Do you expect policy changes to be made at the summit?

The President. Well, what I expect is a document that is unanimously agreed to that will set the course for the future. And as conditions have changed, NATO will change. And I've addressed myself to that. But some will call it dramatic policy changes, and others won't. And so, I don't want to understate it. I don't want to be in trouble saying, Well, you said there would be no changes. But there will be some changes, but I don't happen to believe that it's of a bombshell dimension. Remember the last time we went over there we had a troop policy change. And so, I don't want to mislead you, but there will be some very interesting developments out of it.

Q. Are the allies in agreement with you in the responses that you've gotten to your proposals?

The President. Well, as I say, Jim's going over. We've gotten broad general agreement on a lot of issues, but there's still some work to be done. That's one of the things we're talking about in here today.

President Gorbachev of the Soviet Union

Q. Have you had any contact with Mr. Gorbachev going into his party congress?

The President. No, I haven't talked to him since he was over here -- or been in telegraphic. Now, maybe Jim has with Mr. Shevardnadze.

Secretary Baker. Not since -- --

Q. What are the keys to watch for in terms of that congress? What are your expectations?

The President. Stay tuned to CNN [Cable News Network]. [Laughter] We've got to go to work.

Note: The exchange began at 8:45 a.m. at the President's home at Walker's Point. In his remarks, the President referred to Colin L. Powell, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Marlin Fitzwater, Press Secretary to the President; Brent Scowcroft, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs; and Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze.

George Bush, Exchange With Reporters in Kennebunkport, Maine Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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