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Remarks Announcing Canada-United States Air Quality Negotiations and an Exchange With Reporters in Houston, Texas

July 08, 1990

The President. Well, we're here to comment on the acid rain agreement. The joint statement that we're issuing today on beginning negotiations is long overdue. I know that this is very important for the Canadian side; and I want to say to you, sir, I appreciate your patience and understanding.

Both Houses now in the United States Congress have passed clean air bills, similar to mine, by huge margins; and the House-Senate conference will begin this week. And I think it will be of enormous benefit to both our countries. Bill Reilly, the head of the EPA, plans to be in Ottawa on July 16th and will be prepared to open preliminary discussions. We should be able to begin formal negotiations shortly after that.

And we've made great progress. And I think we ought to both be very pleased about that. Great progress has been made, but we still have a long way to go. We recognize that. And I pledge to my Canadian friends that we want to do our part, and I think this clean air legislation -- that I hope I'll be able to sign soon -- is but one manifestation of that.

Welcome to Houston, sir. And the floor is yours.

Prime Minister Mulroney. Thank you, Mr. President.

I'm pleased to confirm that the President and I have agreed to begin negotiations for an air quality accord. Our two countries share a long history of cooperation on transboundary environmental problems. An acid rain agreement will safeguard the natural health of our respective ecosystems, and we both fought -- President Bush and I -- have fought long and hard to get to where we are today.

Bill Reilly and Bob De Cotret [Canadian Minister of the Environment] will discuss this issue when they meet in Ottawa in about a week's time, and as the President has indicated, negotiations will begin shortly thereafter.

And so, we have worked hard for a bilateral accord, and I think that this day will long be remembered in the history of our relationship for the significant departure that it constitutes from past positions in regard to the environment and the protection of the environment in North America.

Thank you, Mr. President.

Q. Are you going to take some from the Canadian press?

The Prime Minister. I think I'll -- the Canadians have been in the heat too long.

Q. Mr. President, can I just clear -- --

Q. -- -- an accord will give Canada any more protection than it already gets from legislation?

The President. I simply refer you to the statement.

Q. Mr. Mulroney, we'd like to talk to you.

Economic Assistance for the Soviet Union

Q. -- -- Canadian credit to the Soviet Union, sir? Does that not undercut your policy?

The President. Nothing undercuts our policy like that -- --

Q. Mr. Mulroney, what would the accord give you that the clean air legislation does not?

Q. He subsidizes aid to Cuba if he gives him credit?

Q. Mr. President, we're still confused about whether Mr. Gorbachev, who specifically asked this summit last year for a role -- whether he has made any direct appeal to you as host of the summit to -- --

The President. We'll have more to say about that later. What I want to do is talk to our summit partners on that very question. We had a good discussion with the Prime Minister on new ideas from the Canadian side. But I don't want to get out ahead of the process here, and I have some responsibility to be sure that our summit partners are briefed on that Gorbachev letter before we go public.

Note: The President spoke at 11:42 a.m. in the front foyer of the Houstonian Hotel's Manor House, following a meeting with Prime Minister Brian Mulroney of Canada.

George Bush, Remarks Announcing Canada-United States Air Quality Negotiations and an Exchange With Reporters in Houston, Texas Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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