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Remarks Following Discussions With President Joaquim Alberto Chissano of Mozambique

March 13, 1990

President Bush. Mr. President, it was a great pleasure to meet with you here at the White House, sir, as our very special guest. More than 2,000 years ago a prophet once said, "There are four things that can never be recaptured: the spoken word, the sped arrow, time past, and the neglected opportunity." This afternoon, President Chissano and our delegation had a very productive meeting and a very engaging working lunch. We used those opportunities to discuss important bilateral matters, including America's strong endorsement of the Government of Mozambique's political and economic reforms. We spoke openly and frankly, and I told President Chissano that he has our strong support as he undergoes these reforms.

These reforms have enhanced the ties which link Mozambique and the United States, strengthening rights central to America: the right to vote and to own property, the right to worship as we please and to be free of violence. These reforms have buoyed the Mozambique peace process, which we amply discussed today. They have also meant more liberalization and privatization, and led Mozambique to accept the economic rehabilitation program supported by the International Monetary Fund, the IMF. For that, Mr. President, I salute you. Yet we look forward to even further reforms. So, we talked today of common concerns, like refugee issues and Mozambique's humanitarian concerns -- the crisis there in humanitarian concerns, I might add.

We reviewed ongoing developments in the southern region of Africa and explored new ways to propel the trend toward political solutions and regional cooperation. In all of this, we pledge our assistance to help meet Mozambique's humanitarian and development needs, for we've seen your government take significant steps to heal divisions which threaten your nation. And we urge all parties to talk at the earliest opportunity so as to avoid further suffering.

Like many of your counterparts, President Chissano, your government has in recent years begun to open up the economy to market forces and to open up the political process, allowing a freer flow of ideas. As we've learned around the world, democracy and development are directly related; each encourages the other. So, we commend you for taking steps toward democracy parallel with those steps toward economic reform.

Mr. President, ours is the chance to act not merely for Mozambique or any single country but rather all of Africa, helping democracy enrich a continent and your continent enrich the world. Now, there's an ancient proverb which goes, "God guides whom he wills toward a straight path." The path toward progress and freedom is paved with opportunity. And today we spoke of how we can walk that path, and I must tell you, sir, I look forward to working with you toward peace and democracy in Mozambique and in the entire region. I'm so glad you came to the White House.

President Chissano. President Bush and I had an excellent meeting today. Following it, President Bush invited myself and the Mozambican delegation to join him and the American delegation for a working lunch. Mozambique and the United States relations have been moving forward and expanding ever since President Machel met here 5 years ago with President Ronald Reagan, and I believe today we have taken another giant step forward.

The Mozambique Government and the people are deeply grateful for the assistance the United States Government and the American people have been providing our people in the humanitarian emergency caused by the war and natural disasters. I also told President Bush of the gratitude of our people for United States assistance to help rebuild our railroads, restructure our economy, and develop the private sector.

I briefed President Bush about the ongoing peace process in my country. And I informed him on the decision of my government to enter into a direct dialog with RENAMO [Mozambique National Resistance] as soon as possible and about the measures already taken to bring this decision into effect.

I expressed my appreciation for the stand the United States has taken on the war in Mozambique and for the positive role it has been playing in the peace process.

My government wishes to congratulate President Bush's administration for its efforts to promote peace and democracy in southern Africa, and we make a special note of its work in Namibia and South Africa.

I have asked President Bush that the United States continue to spare no effort until peace, stability, and economic prosperity are achieved in the region of southern Africa. In recent years we have taken important initiatives towards creating the framework for further democratization and economic liberalization in Mozambique. And most recently, we put forward a draft constitution that would provide for direct election of the President and the People's Assembly based on universal suffrage, ensuring a basic set of rights for the people, and establish constitutional bases for private property.

We are a young country, only 15 years old. As we build our country and our democracy, we are grateful that we have as friends the United States of America and President George Bush.

President Bush. Thank you, sir, very much.

Note: President Bush spoke at 1:29 p.m. at the South Portico of the White House. Prior to their remarks, the two Presidents met privately in the Oval Office and with U.S. and Mozambican officials in the Cabinet Room, and then attended a luncheon in the Old Family Dining Room.

George Bush, Remarks Following Discussions With President Joaquim Alberto Chissano of Mozambique Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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