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Meetings in London and Geneva Question-and-Answer Session With Reporters Following the Meetings.

May 10, 1977

REPORTER. Mr. President, could you sum up the results of this visit here?

THE PRESIDENT. The whole visit? Well, it's been very productive for me. I had a chance to meet with more than a dozen heads of state, many of whom I had not known before, and I learned from each conversation about their own particular country's needs and opportunities. So I was a good student.

I think I've been extremely impressed with the genuine outpouring of friendship and affection by the British people toward our own country.

And this has been very stimulating to me. I've had a renewed confidence in the strength of the Western democratic societies, and I believe that this confidence is increased among other leaders who have attended these meetings.

We have some countries that are temporarily inconvenienced economically, but there's an innate strength in the people who live in freedom that, I think, will tide us through very well.

We have enormous natural resources in our country--and many others--that give us a base on which to correct the problems and to deal with challenges. I think as far as the NATO meeting was concerned, most of the nations were relieved to know that the reluctance on the part of the United States 3 or 4 years ago to participate fully in NATO is now past, that we are a full partner, that our financial commitment to conventional forces in NATO are stronger than they were before. And I think that if they will carry out the suggestions that I made this morning--and they were adopted unanimously--to do an analysis of NATO for the 1980's, to do a complete analysis of the relationship between the Western democratic societies and the Eastern Communist societies, and also to share the benefits of NATO as far as the purchase of equipment and so forth is concerned--these, of course, will he made back in Washington next year for the next NATO summit meeting.

So, I think in every way my meetings here in England have been productive. This was supplemented by a brief trip to Geneva, where I met with President Asad from Syria. I believe we--I feel better about the prospect for some progress in the Middle East than I ever have before. King Hussein and President Sadat and President Asad have all been very constructive in their conversations with me, and I look forward to meeting the new leader of Israel after the elections are held in a few days.

I'll be meeting with Prince Fahd in Washington later on this month.

So, it's been a good trip, but I'm ready to go home.

Q. Mr. President, what kind of experience was this for you personally?

THE PRESIDENT. It was one of learning. I've got a new appreciation for the strength and influence of the United States as observed from the viewpoint of other nations. And this is a sobering thing, but also a very gratifying thing. I think there's a much greater depth of friendship toward our Nation than I had anticipated, and I think that my own presence here, and the fact that the United States has now come through the ordeal of Watergate and Vietnam, adds a renewed confidence to the people in Western Europe.

So, it's been a gratifying thing for me, and I believe the personal friendships that I've formed with the leaders of more than a dozen nations will stand our country in good stead in the months ahead, as we have slight differences between us.

I think it'll be easy to have a quick communication to resolve those differences, rather than to have it deteriorate into a serious circumstance.

So, I think it's been a good trip for me personally.

Q. Do you expect further moderation on the part of the Arab countries, based upon your conversations with President Asad yesterday?

THE PRESIDENT. I have been very encouraged by the moderate attitude of the Arab leaders.

Q. Mr. President, how do you assess your own performance? When you came over here, you had some reservations about your ability to compete with these former finance ministers.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I didn't find the competition to be there. There was a ready acceptance of me. And I have a good ability to listen when I'm in a learning situation.

I think there was an eagerness on their part to teach. I don't think there was any feeling of superiority or inferiority. There was no inclination to dominate. I think everyone who participated would agree with that.

So, I feel good abut the encounters that we had, because they were all constructive. There was not a negative result that I can remember in the long series of interrelationships among the nations' leaders.

Q. Did the NATO meeting this morning produce any greater agreement to work together that will help in the SALT talks for instance? Will there be a thaw-out in the Soviet Union?

THE PRESIDENT. I think these meetings will be constructive, even toward the SALT talks--not particularly the NATO meeting, but that would be included.

For instance, General Secretary Brezhnev will be visiting France next month, and I think for President Giscard d'Estaing to know my position and to know the good will that we have towards the Soviets and to express that as a third party, will be constructive. And I think this next year, as we analyze in some depth with specialists the basic compatibilities between the East and the West and the basic reasons for differences between the East and West, this will provide, I think, some foundation on which to correct those differences.

All of us want to have peace, and all of us want to have a substantial progress in reducing dependence upon the nuclear weapons. All of us want to have progress made on the mutual and balanced force reductions with conventional arms. All of us want to open up a sharing of aid to the developing countries, and include the Soviets and other Eastern countries in it.

So, I think there was a very constructive development here toward the East-West relationships in all the forms.

Q. Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. This will be the last one.

Q. In the beginning there was some talk that there was friction, or at least a certain amount of uneasiness that existed between you and Chancellor Schmidt. Did you find that to be the case, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. No. We have had differences of opinion about several important issues. They were just coincidental. There was nothing there personal. But I think that after our own private conversations and in the general discussions, we've reached, so far as I know, a resolution of all those differences.

I have a very good personal friendship with Chancellor Schmidt. He represents a nation that's vigorous and strong economically, and I think that the only remaining difference that I can think of is the sale of the nuclear reprocessing plant by the Federal Republic of Germany to Brazil. And we've initiated a study which may or may not resolve that problem. But even if it doesn't, I'm determined to see very tight and stringent international safeguards concerning nuclear wastes, and if I am successful along with others in that endeavor, then I think any reprocessing plant anywhere in the world could handle nuclear wastes without danger of it developing into explosives.

So, I think there is nothing that's important that divides me arid Helmut Schmidt.

Thank you. I'm going to get ready.

Q. Are you going to France?

THE PRESIDENT. I have not accepted. He invited me and I told him I'd try to come. But I have not accepted for sure.

Q. They say you're coming.

Note: The President spoke at 7 p.m. on his return to Winfield House. Following his remarks, the President went to Heathrow Airport for the return trip to the United States.

Jimmy Carter, Meetings in London and Geneva Question-and-Answer Session With Reporters Following the Meetings. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/244206

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