John F. Kennedy photo

Joint Statement Following Discussions With the Prime Minister of Canada.

May 11, 1963

DURING the past two days the President and the Prime Minister have met together in this historic State where so many of the currents of the national life of the two countries have mingled from early times.

2. Mr. Pearson's visit to Mr. Kennedy's family home took place in the atmosphere of informality and friendliness which marks so many of the relations between the people of the United States and Canada. There was no agenda for the talks. It was taken for granted that any matter of mutual interest could be frankly discussed in a spirit of goodwill and understanding.

3. In this community on the Atlantic Seaboard, the Prime Minister and President reaffirmed their faith in the North Atlantic Alliance and their conviction that, building upon the present foundations, a true community of the Atlantic peoples will one day be realized. They noted that questions which would be under discussion at the forthcoming NATO Ministerial Meeting in Ottawa would give both countries an opportunity to demonstrate their belief in the Atlantic concept.

4. Their Governments will continue to do everything possible to eliminate causes of dangerous tensions and to bring about peaceful solutions. In this task, they will continue to support the role of the United Nations, and to make every effort to achieve progress in the negotiations on nuclear tests and disarmament.

5. In the face of continuing dangers, the President and Prime Minister emphasized the vital importance of continental security to the safety of the free world and affirmed their mutual interest in ensuring that bilateral defense arrangements are made as effective as possible and continually improved and adapted to suit changing circumstances and changing roles. The Prime Minister confirmed his government's intention to initiate discussions with the United States Government leading without delay towards the fulfillment of Canada's existing defense commitments in North America and Europe, consistent with Canadian parliamentary procedures.

6. President Kennedy and Prime Minister Pearson reaffirmed the desire of the two Governments to cooperate in a rational use of the continent's resources; oil, gas, electricity, strategic metals and minerals, and the use of each other's industrial capacity for defense purposes in the defense production-sharing programs. The two countries also stand to gain by sharing advances in science and technology which can add to the variety and richness of life in North America and in the larger world.

7. The President and the Prime Minister stressed the interest of both countries in the balance of payments between them and with the rest of the world. The Prime Minister drew particular attention to the large United States surplus in the balance of current payments with Canada and noted the importance of allowing for this fact in determining the appropriate policies to be followed by each country. It was agreed that both Governments should always deal in a positive and cooperative manner with developments affecting their international trade and payments.

8. The Prime Minister and the President noted that encouraging discussions had recently taken place between Governor Herter and Canadian Ministers about the prospects for general trade negotiations and that these talks would be continuing with a large number of other countries in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade in Geneva next week. The two Governments will cooperate closely so that these negotiations can contribute to the general advantage of all countries.

9. While it is essential that there should be respect for the common border which symbolizes the independence and national identity of two countries, it is also important that this border should not be a barrier to cooperation which could benefit both of them. Wise cooperation across the border can enhance rather than diminish the sovereignty of each country by making it stronger and more prosperous than before.

10. In this connection the President and the Prime Minister noted especially the desirability of early progress on the cooperative development of the Columbia River. The Prime Minister indicated that if certain clarifications and adjustments in arrangements proposed earlier could be agreed on, to be included in a protocol to the treaty, the Canadian Government would consult at once with the provincial Government of British Columbia, the province in which the Canadian portion of the river is located, with a view to proceeding promptly with the further detailed negotiations required with the United States and with the necessary action for approval within Canada. The President agreed that both Governments should immediately undertake discussions on this subject looking to an early agreement.

11. The two Governments will also initiate discussions shortly on the suitability of present trans-border air travel arrangements from the point of view of the traveling public and of the airlines of the two countries.

12. On the great waters that separate and unite the two countries--the St. Lawrence River and the Great Lakes--it is essential that those who own and sail the ships should be free to go about their lawful business without impediment or harassment. The Prime Minister and President shared a common concern at the consequences which could result from industrial strife on this central waterway. They urged those directly concerned to work strenuously for improvement in the situation, and to avoid incidents which could lead to further deterioration. To help bring about more satisfactory conditions they have arranged for a meeting to take place in the near future between the Canadian Minister of Labour, Allan J. McEachen, the United States Secretary of Labor, W. Willard Wirtz, the President of the AFL-CIO, George Meany, and the President of the Canadian Labour Congress, Claude Jodoin.

13. On the oceans that surround the two countries, while there has always been healthy competition, there has also been a substantial similarity of sentiment among those who harvest the sea. The need for some better definitions of the limits of each country's own fishing waters has long been recognized, particularly with respect to the most active fishing areas. The Prime Minister informed the President that the Canadian Government would shortly be taking decisions to establish a 12-mile fishing zone. The President reserved the long-standing American position in support of the 3-mile limit. He also called attention to the historic and treaty fishing rights of the United States. The Prime Minister assured him that these rights would be taken into account.

14. The President and the Prime Minister talked about various situations of common interest in this hemisphere. In particular they expressed a readiness to explore with other interested countries the possibility of a further cooperative effort to provide economic and technical aid to the countries in the Caribbean area which have recently become independent or which are approaching independence, many of which have long had close economic, educational and other relations with Canada and the United States. Such a program could provide a very useful supplement to the resources which those countries are able to raise themselves or to secure from the international agencies which the United States and Canada are already supporting.

15. Our two countries will inevitably have different views on international issues from time to time. The Prime Minister' and the President stressed the importance of each country showing regard for the views of the other where attitudes differ. For this purpose they are arranging for more frequent consultation at all levels in order that the intentions of each Government may be fully appreciated by the other, and misunderstandings may be avoided.

16. These preliminary discussions between the President and the Prime Minister will lead to a good deal of additional activity for the two Governments over the next few months. It is expected that there will be almost continuous exchanges of views during that period as work progresses in resolving many matters of concern to the two countries. Then, in the latter part of the year, meetings will be held of the Joint Cabinet-level Committee on Trade and Economic Affairs and on Defense.

17. The Prime Minister and the President look forward to a period of particularly active and productive cooperation between the two countries.

Note: In paragraph 8 reference is made to Christian A. Herter, Special U.S. Representative for Trade Negotiations, former Governor of Massachusetts, and former Secretary of State.

The joint statement was released at Hyannis, Mass.

John F. Kennedy, Joint Statement Following Discussions With the Prime Minister of Canada. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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