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Joint Statement Following Discussions With Chancellor Erhard.

December 29, 1963

PRESIDENT Johnson and Chancellor Erhard have held a series of frank and far-ranging talks at the President's ranch in Texas in the last 2 days. A number of their discussions were private; in other talks they were joined by Secretary Rusk, Foreign Minister Schroder, and other advisers.

The Chancellor told the President of the deep sorrow and sense of personal loss which the German people have felt over the death of President Kennedy. The President expressed deep appreciation for himself and for the American people for this expression of sympathy. He paid a tribute to the late President Heuss, the distinguished first President of the Federal Republic.

The President and the Chancellor both emphasized the importance which they attach to this opportunity to meet early in their Administrations. Their extensive discussions serve to confirm the close understanding and high measure of agreement between the two governments on major international issues. These conversations have made it emphatically clear that there will be continuity in the policies of the United States and the Federal Republic of Germany as they work toward common objectives.

The President and the Chancellor had an extended discussion of the current state of East-West relations. They were determined that the basic rights and interests of the free nations must be defended, and in particular they agreed that there should be no arrangement that would serve to perpetuate the status quo of a divided Germany, one part of which is deprived of elementary rights and liberties. On this basis, the President and the Chancellor agreed that it is highly important to continue to explore all opportunities for the improvement of East-West relations, the easing of tensions, and the enlargement of the prospects of a peace that can be stable because it is just. They continue to hope that this effort of the Western powers will meet a constructive response from the Soviet Union.

The President and the Chancellor agreed that the central requirement in the policy of the West must be to increase the strength and effectiveness of the emerging Atlantic partnership. They reaffirmed their conviction that an increasingly unified Europe is vital to this effort.

The Chancellor stated, and the President agreed, that efforts to achieve such unity must always respect the traditionally open trading relationship Europe has enjoyed with the United States and the rest of the free world. The President and the Chancellor agreed that the forthcoming trade negotiations should be guided by the double objective of enlarged international trade and increasing economic integration in Europe. They agreed that agricultural as well as industrial products must be included and that the negotiations should proceed without delay.

The President reviewed the measures being taken to stabilize the United States' international payments position, and the Chancellor reaffirmed his cooperative support for this program.

The President and the Chancellor emphasized the importance of extending effective aid to the developing nations. The Chancellor described the progress being made in the work of the German Development Aid Service (German Peace Corps), and the President responded by describing the expansion of the American Peace Corps and the wide public support which it has won. The President and the Chancellor agreed that these two undertakings would gain from close cooperation, and as a part of this process of cooperation, the President has requested Mr. Sargent Shriver to make an early visit to Bonn to take part with German colleagues in discussions of the work of the two programs.

The President and the Chancellor reaffirmed their shared commitment to the peaceful reunification of the German people in freedom, by self-determination. The Chancellor stressed the desire of the Federal Republic to examine all paths that might lead to this goal. The Chancellor also stated that the Federal Republic of Germany would continue its efforts to improve its relations with the nations of Eastern Europe.

The President renewed the commitment of the Government and people of the United States to maintain the present six-division level of combat forces in Germany, as long as they are needed. The Chancellor welcomed the President's further assurance that the United States would continue to meet its commitments in Berlin. The President expressed appreciation for the cooperative arrangement whereby U.S. dollar expenditures for American military forces in Germany are offset by German purchases of military equipment in the United States. It was agreed that this arrangement should continue.

The President and the Chancellor agreed on the need for all members of NATO to cooperate closely in strengthening the ability of the Alliance to meet all challenges. In particular, they expressed their conviction that the proposal for a multilateral nuclear force now being discussed by several NATO partners would provide a new means of strengthening Western defense.

The President and the Chancellor agreed that in all these matters there will be great value to both their governments in the maintenance of ever closer and more intimate exchanges of views and of information. Where common interest is so great, both sides can only gain from the closest cooperation and from the prompt and continuous exchange of views by whatever means are most appropriate in each case. In addition, the President and the Chancellor agreed that they themselves would establish and maintain the closest personal communication.

Finally, the President and the Chancellor reaffirmed their commitment not simply to close German-American cooperation, but to the wider interest of both countries in the growing partnership of free nations--of the Atlantic and of the world.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Joint Statement Following Discussions With Chancellor Erhard. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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