George Bush photo

Remarks Following Discussions With President Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire

June 29, 1989

President Bush. Zaire is among America's oldest friends, and its President, President Mobutu, one of our most valued friends -- entire continent of Africa. And so, I was honored to invite President Mobutu to be the first African head of state to come to the United States for an official visit during my Presidency.

I first met President Mobutu when I was Ambassador to the United Nations, and in that capacity, I first visited Zaire in 1972. And always, I have been impressed by his insight and his vision.

In our talks, the President and I have had the opportunity to review and renew the excellent bilateral relationship between our countries. And we've noted, to our mutual pleasure, that those ties continue to be beneficial and productive.

One of Africa's most experienced statesmen, President Mobutu has worked with six Presidents. And together, they -- and we -- have sought to bring to Zaire, and to all of Africa, real economic and social progress and to pursue Africa's true independence, security, stability as the bases for that development.

Over the years, President Mobutu has helped international councils from the United Nations to the OAU [Organization of African Unity] to the nonaligned movement address these issues sensibly -- and very effectively, I might add. And invariably, he has personally worked to bring about the peaceful resolution of conflicts. Just last week, he brought together, for the first time, in the presence of 18 African chiefs of state, the leadership of Angola's warring factions, setting the stage for national reconciliation in that country. And thanks to President Mobutu, we are nearer the goal long sought, yet long elusive: peace and opportunity in southwestern Africa.

We discussed that goal in our talks here, and the President and I also examined other important aspects of regional conflicts, especially the southern third of the African continent. And there we share goals of a rapid, peaceful end to apartheid; the full implementation of Security Council Resolution 435, leading to the independence of Namibia; and the total withdrawal of Cuban troops from Angola. Zaire's stake in these results is as enormous as its influence. My advisers and I found President Mobutu's analyses valuable, and we support him as he strives to peacefully resolve problems.

In addition to foreign affairs and regional matters, much of our discussion focused on Zaire's efforts to strengthen its economy. And I want to note that Zaire recently took the constructive step of signing an economic policy reform agreement with the International Monetary Fund. Because we believe that strict adherence to its terms can produce a healthy economy for Zaire, we intend to support that effort.

During the President's visit, we also exchanged the instruments of ratification of a bilateral investment treaty. We hope that this treaty will encourage greater American investment in Zaire leading, in turn, to greater economic development.

In conclusion, we thank President Mobutu for coming to the United States at this critical time, and we thank him for his leadership in central Africa. And we look forward to continued cooperation between our countries. Mr. President, the strong ties of friendship between Zaire and the United States endure and prosper. And we are proud and very, very pleased to have you with us today. Thank you, sir.

President Mobutu. Ladies and gentlemen, it is an honor to state in turn that the friendship between Zaire and the United States is today 29 years old. I am particularly pleased to have been honored by the invitation extended by President Bush to come on an official working visit early on in his term of office. This has made it possible for us to hold talks marked by warmth and friendship. This occasion also gave us the possibility of assessing bilateral cooperation between our two countries and of identifying new goals to pursue together.

Thus, we spoke of disarmament, detente, the Third World debt and, more specifically, the African debt. We also spoke of the situation in southern Africa. In this connection, I informed President Bush of the results obtained following the summit held in Gbadolite on June 22d, which lay the groundwork for national reconciliation in Angola. I have asked President Bush to support this process so as to restore once and for all peace in this country which shares a 2,600-kilometer border with the Republic of Zaire.

I wish to express my satisfaction with the attention and the understanding shown by President Bush in addressing these problems. I also welcome the fact that President Bush, because of his long political and diplomatic experience, takes a special interest in African issues, in which, incidentally, he is thoroughly well-grounded.

Regarding my country, Zaire, I spoke to President Bush about the new agreement that I have just signed with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank on a 3-year structural adjustment program. President Bush has renewed the support of his government to the Executive Council of Zaire in its effort to implement this program. In support of this, President Bush has committed his administration to promoting and encouraging American investment in the Republic of Zaire. This is the reason for which we proceeded to exchange instruments of ratification of the bilateral investment treaty between the United States and the Republic of Zaire. Furthermore, the President reaffirmed United States support for the program for stability and security in the Republic of Zaire.

Finally, I informed the President of the arrangements and measures of protection which have been set up in Zaire for some years now. These arrangements have made it possible for the United Nations Commission on Human Rights to withdraw Zaire from the list of those countries which it monitors for human rights. Since then, Zaire can be ranked among those countries which observe the rule of law, not to be confused or mistaken with any incidental mishaps that are attributable to an administration or to individuals.

The United Nations Commission on Human Rights and the Republic of Zaire invites all governments and organizations concerned with human rights to support by all means possible the efforts deployed by the Zairian Department of Human Rights and Freedoms of the Citizen for the defense and the protection of human rights in Zaire.

In concluding, we would like to thank President Bush and his advisers for the invitation that he extended to us to be the first African head of state to come on an official working visit since Mr. Bush has come to the White House.

Long live the United States of America. Long live Zaire. Long live friendship and cooperation between our two countries. I thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 1:17 p.m. at the South Portico of the White House. President Mobutu spoke in French, and his remarks were translated by an interpreter.

George Bush, Remarks Following Discussions With President Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Filed Under




Washington, DC

Simple Search of Our Archives