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Exchange With Reporters Prior to a Meeting With Prime Minister Constantinos Mitsotakis of Greece

December 12, 1991

The President. We've got a few things, odds and ends to talk about. But Greek-U.S., as far as we're concerned, is strong as they can be, Greek-U.S. relations, and we're very pleased about that.

The Prime Minister. I am also very pleased. And we made progress.

Soviet Union

Q. Mr. President, do you think Gorbachev -- --

The President. I have nothing really to add to the discussion on that right now. We're following it very carefully, as you know, and in touch. So we'll just leave it right there.


Q. Are you hopeful that the Cyprus talks will start early next year?

The President. Well, we want to talk about that. That's one of the issues where I have great respect for Prime Minister Mitsotakis' judgment. We've gone into it at length on several occasions. And I would just want to assure him that if the U.S. can help move things forward, we are determined to try. We thought we'd moved a little bit before the process had moved. And now we want to, out of this visit, see what he has to suggest and maybe we can be more helpful. I'd like to think so. I think he knows we've tried.

And, of course, the Secretary-General will be down here this afternoon, so we can talk with him about it. So, this subject will be very much on our minds.

The Prime Minister. We will discuss this subject. It's a very important subject -- matter -- for us.

Q. Are you optimistic that talks will come soon, though?

The Prime Minister. I am always optimistic.

The President. That's why he's such a good Prime Minister. He's always looking ahead.

Jay Leno

Q. How did you like Jay Leno, Mr. President?

The President. He was all right. He was great.

Q. Did he have any good jokes?

The President. He had a couple about me, but I can't tell you what they were. No, he's funny and very good. I wished him well, and I had a chance to show him the decorations and see Barbara. You talked to him. Thanks a lot.

Q. Did you ask him to ease up, Mr. Vice President? [Laughter]

The Vice President. I told him to ease up, you're right. [Laughter]

The President. He hasn't been on your case.

All right, gang, this has been a great pleasure, but we've got a lot of business to do here.

May I just say how pleased we are to have the Prime Minister here. I will just repeat here what I said to the earlier wave of journalists, and that is that from our standpoint, the U.S. standpoint, U.S.-Greece relations are on strong footing. They are in good shape. And we are working very closely with this Government, and will continue to, to try to help solve the outside problems as well as the few remaining, I would say, rather small items that exists between Greece and the United States.

So, on the U.S. side, we are just pleased to welcome the Prime Minister here and look forward to having a wide array of talks on problems in the area. Cyprus, obviously, will come up. I'm most anxious to get his views on the Balkans, and a lot of other subjects to discuss. But the main point is he's welcome. And it gives me a chance in a small way to say thank you to the Prime Minister and the people of Greece for a trip that Barbara and I will never forget. It was wonderful.

The Prime Minister. It was a pleasure for us.

The Balkans

Q. -- -- in the Balkans?

The President. Well, we want to talk about that. I'm anxious to hear from the Prime Minister on his priorities; where he thinks we could help; the role of the EC; and, of course, the role you asked about. But I'd like to hear it from him rather than give my views. After that I'll be glad to give them.

Listen, we've got to go to work, guys. Last one.

Q. How would you describe your role with the Prime Minister?

The President. Close, strong, personal, and respectful. We've got it all. And that's not diplomatic language, that's right from here. We've got all this diplomacy, you know. We can say "cordial and friendly." He's a friend.


Q. Are you prepared to show the same determination on the Cyprus issue as you have shown in the Middle East?

The President. We're going to try. We're going to try. I want to do what's helpful. We tried when we came back from Greece and Turkey, and we still support the Secretary-General's initiative. He'll be here today, incidentally. But the United States can't dictate. We can try to help, and that's what I want to hear about.

Now, you guys are out of here because we've got to get to work. We've got a lot to do here. Thanks a lot.

Note: The exchange began at 11:02 a.m. in the Oval Office at the White House. A tape was not available for verification of the content of this exchange.

George Bush, Exchange With Reporters Prior to a Meeting With Prime Minister Constantinos Mitsotakis of Greece Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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