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Meeting With Prime Minister James Callaghan of the United Kingdom Remarks on the Departure of the Prime Minister.

March 23, 1978

THE PRESIDENT. I am sorry we kept you waiting for a few minutes, but I would like to point out again how delighted we are to have Prime Minister Callaghan come for an overly brief visit with us.

He's here in our country visiting his daughter, son-in-law, and his grandchildren, and a month or so ago we made arrangements for him to come and consult with me on some very important matters that affect our countries.

Prime Minister Callaghan has a superb background in the British Government concerning economics, and we all recognize and have had thorough discussions about the possibilities for multilateral action to improve the economic circumstances of the trading world.

Obviously, each country has to take its own initiatives against unemployment, against inflation, for the stabilization of currencies, for the enhancement of trade, for the conservation and proper use of energy, to prevent protectionist sentiments putting an obstruction before the progress of the standard of living of people in the world. And we've discussed all those matters this morning.

We've outlined to the British leaders some of the actions that we have in mind as possibilities. We've discussed our private conversations with the leaders of Germany, Japan, France, other trading partners.

Prime Minister Callaghan will be back here again in May, along with other heads of state, to consult on NATO matters, and we'll have a chance for political and economic discussions at that time. And I'll be joining with him and others in Bonn in July at an economic summit. But we have been very gratified at his initiative in coming here. We will be consulting with other leaders as well. Prime Minister Fukuda will come to visit me personally later on this spring.

The harmony that exists between ourselves and Great Britain is a very gratifying thing for a President. This has been a sustaining factor in our lives in this country so long as I can remember. And it's a basis for consultation in a private way between myself and my dear and good close friend, Jim Callaghan, not only in the matters I've described but many others that are of common interest to our people.

Jim, we're proud to have you here, and your meeting has been very helpful to us. I believe that our countries now, in preparation for the economic summit, can join together in a much more harmonious and effective way to bring about better economic circumstances, not only in our own nations but throughout the world.

Thank you very much.

THE PRIME MINISTER. Mr. President, and ladies and gentlemen:

Thank you very much for your hospitality, Mr. President, which we've enjoyed, and for the conversations.

We, like you, have been thinking about these economic problems for some time, and the thing that has obsessed me, having lived through this now for 20 years or more, at fairly close hand, is that internationally, we've lost the guidelines which used to set boundaries for our action. And we're cast adrift, almost, in some ways, and there is less united action; we're all acting individually as countries much more than I can recall.

There are reasons for this which I will not enumerate. They have developed since the end of the Bretton Woods era, really. And the result is that I think there is a greater responsibility thrust upon the world leaders now to try, in the absence of the old guidelines, to find collective and concerted action that will restore confidence in our capacity to use the human and material resources of the world in a much more efficient and able way than we've been doing over recent years.

The level of unemployment is far too high; the growth rates in the world are too low. The amount of aid that is going to other countries is too small and is affecting the capital flows. And yet we are not in the grip of economic forces that we are unable to control. If all of us together-certainly the major countries-want to apply the political effort to improving the situation, it can be done.

And what I've been happy to find, what I expected to find and have found, is that the President of the leading nation of the Western World not only recognizes this but is also ready to see collective action taken, leading up to the summit in Bonn in which we can consult and can coordinate our efforts as far as possible.

I hope I'm not abusing your hospitality, Jimmy, if you will allow me to say this, if I say how much I admire the energy conservation program that you've put forward. I don't know whether the American people recognize just how significant and important this program is to restoring economic health, not only to the United States but to the rest of us in the Western World. It is of vital significance, and I'm very gratified indeed that you have managed to get so far. And I certainly hope that you'll be able to carry it through.

I think all of us must support you in the sense that we must, too, have our own conservation programs. We can't allow you to do it all. But of course, you are by far the biggest user of energy in this sense, and therefore it's essential that you do have to bear the brunt of it. But I would like to say that I hope very much that the statesmanship that the United States administration is showing can be carried through in this particular direction.

If I may add just one other thing: We've got to coordinate our actions far more than we've done up to the moment, and we have got to relate them, whatever we are doing in the next few months, to the need to get the world economies moving together again.

I think what is true is that the actions that we take individually are less important than the collective sum of them. The collective action that we would take by agreement with each other is greater than the sum of the parts in restoring confidence.

So, I believe that we have begun on a good path. I know that other leaders-Chancellor Schmidt and President Giscard, Signor Andreotti, Mr. Trudeau, and Mr. Fukuda—are all concerned about these matters. It is for all of us to coordinate our actions, and I believe that come July, and the actions that we take between now and July and the efforts we make, if we can ratify those actions with a plan in July—not with declarations, we've passed that stage, but with a plan of action—I believe we can do a very great deal to pull the world out of the recession in which it finds itself.

I thank you very much, Mr. President, for setting aside this time for our discussions, which I value not only on this but on other matters, too.

We don't have to waste time circling around each other. We get down to talk straightaway. The President's a quick man at doing business. He thinks far too quickly for me. And that's why I'm always left behind. But I managed to struggle along behind him, keep up now and again. And between us, we can form some conclusions that I believe are of benefit to both our countries.

Thank you very much indeed.

Note: The President spoke at 1: 30 p.m. to reporters assembled on the South Grounds of the White House.

Jimmy Carter, Meeting With Prime Minister James Callaghan of the United Kingdom Remarks on the Departure of the Prime Minister. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/244554

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