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Remarks Announcing the Summit Meeting With Soviet President Gorbachev and a Question-and-Answer Session With Reporters

September 23, 1989

The President. General Scowcroft [Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs] and I just talked to Secretary Baker, and I'm very pleased that we've reached agreement with the Soviets on several questions, only one of which I am prepared to mention here now. But in a few minutes, Mr. Shevardnadze will have a press conference, followed promptly by Secretary Baker's press conference, at which it will be announced -- and they will discuss the details -- that we will be having a summit, that I will be meeting with Mr. Gorbachev in late spring or early summer. The agreement is set, and I'm very pleased. And I'll leave further comment on what's been accomplished in Wyoming to our Secretary of State.

Q. Where is the summit going to be, Mr. President?

The President. Well, undoubtedly, it will be in the United States.

Q. Has that been fixed in those talks, or is -- --

The President. I'm not sure that that will be part of the announcement -- I didn't discuss it. But it is just assumed -- I'm assuming it will be there.

Arms Control

Q. And did they nail down the accords on nuclear testing and chemical weapons?

The President. No, but I'd prefer to leave that to the Secretary and Mr. Shevardnadze. But I'm very pleased overall. I think you'll see why when they make their announcements there.

Q. What accomplishment do you expect out of the summit? What will be the purpose of it, then?

The President. Well, a wide array of subjects, and we will be continuing to work on the arms control agenda. It's not my view that summits must have arms control agreements, but we're going to be working with full faith, going forward in every way to achieve further arms reductions. That's been a goal of mine for a long time, and I think it's a goal of Mr. Gorbachev's. And so, I would say that there's a chance for agreements of that nature, but there will be plenty of other subjects to discuss in addition to arms control.

Q. Why the late spring to early summer timetable? Could it not be sooner?

The President. Well, you might make a case that it could be sooner, but this was the agreed timetable, and it's agreeable to us, and -- --

Q. Did you want to give more time to the conventional weapons negotiations to go forward or -- --

The President. Well, it gives us time to move forward on a lot of fronts, is the way I see it. And it's not under the time gun, and yet, the summit being set -- I think it will be useful on both sides to pushing both bureaucracies forward, both decision-making teams forward to achieve results. I think that was why the general agreement on time.

Anyway, it's good news, and I'm very pleased with what the Secretary has been able to accomplish out there. I don't know whether General Scowcroft would have more on all this later, but I know he's been in close touch with the Secretary, Bob Gates [Assistant to the President and Deputy for National Security Affairs], out there, and will continue to be.

Q. Will you now work this into your speech to the U.N. General Assembly?

The President. Well, we may -- it's one of the things that you foresaw in your question a minute ago, but yes, we might touch on it. I think around the world, people will be pleased that there is this announcement, and there may be other things that will come out of the Wyoming meeting that we can talk about in New York.

Summit Location

Q. Would you like to see this summit take place someplace other than Washington? You'd like to see it out in the country, wouldn't you?

The President. No, I think probably Washington would be proper for this one, although I don't think they've discussed that or agreed on -- --

Mr. Scowcroft. No, sir. It's just the ordinary run of things; it's your turn.

Q. But, General, there is a commitment by the Soviets to have the summit in the U.S.?

Mr. Scowcroft. Oh, I think so. It's assumed.

The President. Yes. That was discussed, as a matter of fact, in the Oval Office and was almost a given. But I just have to hedge a little because I don't know whether that's in the announcement by the Foreign Secretary.

Q. Do you think it would precede or follow the economic summit?

The President. Well, we haven't set a date. We're very open as to whether that economic summit should be in the spring of 1990 or into the fall of 1990. The last one, as you know, was -- the one just past -- in the summer. But I think our allies seem to be very flexible, and I now must get in touch with them fairly soon to determine what their desires are. From the U.S. side, we can be very flexible on that.

Q. And it might be as late as the fall?

The President. I would think it could be. They've had several in the fall, I think. In other words, there is no set month or period, season, in which to have these.

Drug War in Colombia

Q. On the drug front, don't you think that Mrs. de Greiff's resignation in Colombia means that the drug lords are not -- that they seem to have the upper hand, they're not being beaten back at all?

The President. Rita [Rita Beamish, Associated Press], I don't think so, because of what I've been reading today coming out of Colombia and, obviously, from what she herself said. But that's their business; that's the internal affair of Colombia. But I see no reason that that single resignation will signal or lead to a lessening in resolve on the part of President Barco. So I don't worry about that.

Q. But she might have been threatened out of office.

The President. Well, I think that was the original fear, but I don't know the internals of that at all. But I think that the commitment of the Colombian Government is such that this resignation by itself should not be interpreted as a signal that they're going to lighten up in some way.

Okay. Thank you all very much. Now for the river.

Q. What?

The President. A little fishing down there. Come on. [Laughter]

Note: The President spoke at 5:30 p.m. at the Cape Arundel Golf Course in Kennebunkport, ME. A tape was not available for verification of the contents of the remarks.

George Bush, Remarks Announcing the Summit Meeting With Soviet President Gorbachev and a Question-and-Answer Session With Reporters Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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