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Informal Exchange With Reporters Prior to a Meeting With Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher of the United Kingdom

February 20, 1985

Q. Mr. President, did you hear the Prime Minister speak today?

The President. No. I was just saying I didn't get a chance to, but some of our people did—

Q. She handles the teleprompter now as well as you do. [Laughter]

The Prime Minister. Not quite. Not quite. No, we were just comparing notes, because I'm not so used to it. And there's always a little worry that one of them, you know, might stop working.

Q. And did you have a text to back you up?

The Prime Minister. I have a text always—yes, of course. I went into one speech—it was a speech to young Conservatives, as a matter of fact—intending to use the teleprompter, and the lights behind it were so strong that you could not see a word on the teleprompter itself.

The President. That has to be worked out. Yes, that can happen.

The Prime Minister. So, you have to have always your speech with you.

The President. Yes, that can happen.

The Prime Minister. If the worst comes to the worst, we could always ad lib, you know, but not for great diplomatic speeches.

Q. What did you think of the reaction to your speech?

The Prime Minister. Oh, it was very thrilling, because it's a great ordeal to speak in the greatest forum, the greatest free people.

Q. Mr. President, what will you tell the Prime Minister about our deficit and about the strength of the dollar? She'll be concerned, won't she?

The President. Let me just answer that by saying I am quite sure that will be a subject of discussion when we have our meeting.

The Prime Minister. I endorse that approach. [Laughter]

Q. Is it true that you're going to drop the quotas, the voluntary quotas on the autos—Japanese?

The President. No decision to be announced on that yet.

Q. Well, we're trying.

Q. Are you going to talk to the Prime Minister about New Zealand? About New Zealand?

The President. Oh, I wouldn't be surprised if that's mentioned.

The Prime Minister. I'm only, I think, about 2 1/2 to 3 hours. [Laughter] There's a lot to discuss.

Q. You can cover a lot of ground—

Q. What's on the top of your list?

The Prime Minister. What?

Q. What's on the top of your list?

The Prime Minister. Well, obviously, we will talk about East-West matters, with the arms control things coming up. I hope we'll have a word about Middle East, and I hope we'll have a word about general economic matters. And then there are lots of other particular things as well.

Q. And you agree on all matters?

The Prime Minister. Yes, I think we agree on most matters. But more than agree, I think we discuss things through, because even though you agree on your fundamental approach—we're often in the same summit meetings. It may be an economic forum, it may be various other summits, but you've got to discuss how you handle things. Your strategy may be the same, but the tactics require a great deal of discussion. And the way of achieving your goals require a great deal of discussion.

We're now quite old hands at economic summits, aren't we? [Laughter] The President's chaired the economic summit—Williamsburg. I have done one in London. And I think the next one is in Bonn. And that, too, will be a very important one.

The President. Yes. In May.

Q. You two now have met almost a dozen times or so—

The Prime Minister. Oh, at least—

Q. —good friends—

The Prime Minister.—because we used to meet from time to time before we held these august offices. We had a similar fight to the top, I think, didn't we?

The President. Yes.

Q. Well, if you're his greatest fan, what does the President say about you?

The President. It's mutual.

Note: The exchange began at 12:03 p.m. in the Oval Office at the White House. The first question referred to the Prime Minister's address before a joint session of the United States Congress earlier in the day.

Ronald Reagan, Informal Exchange With Reporters Prior to a Meeting With Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher of the United Kingdom Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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