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Remarks Following Discussions With President Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire

December 09, 1986

President Reagan. President Mobutu and I have had the opportunity to review and renew one of our oldest and most solid friendships in Africa, that between the United States and the Republic of Zaire. Cooperation between the United States and Zaire under President Mobutu's leadership stretches back through 20 years and 5 United States administrations. In that time American leaders have learned to place a particularly high value on President Mobutu's insights and counsel.

President Mobutu has brought a consistent voice of good sense and good will to the international councils where African issues are considered, from the United Nations to the Organization of African Unity to the nonaligned movement. He has stood uniformly for the peaceful settlements of disputes, but has not shrunk from his responsibilities when action was appropriate. In 1983, for example, he dispatched troops to assist Chad in defending itself against Libya's criminal aggression. This year he came to the assistance of the Government of Togo as it faced an externally mounted coup attempt.

Much of our discussion today focused on Zaire's heroic effort to complete its program of economic policy reform. As you know, Zaire has been engaged for nearly 4 years in a series of painful sacrifices and adjustments designed to rationalize and revive its economy and to develop the potential of its private sector. We have tried to help by supplementing our regular development assistance with special funds earmarked for African States who are undertaking serious steps toward reform. We've also encouraged our business community to look at the growing investment opportunities in Zaire and will continue to do so. Unfortunately, Zaire's determined economic efforts have been greatly complicated by the severe drop in world market prices for its exports. President Mobutu and his people face a heavy foreign debt burden. We have encouraged Zaire to hold firm to the responsible, economic reforms it is attempting, while promising to do our best to case the way.

Naturally, President Mobutu and I also examined the regional situation, especially in southern Africa, where we share the goals of a rapid, peaceful end to apartheid; the independence of Namibia; and national reconciliation and removal of all foreign forces stationed in Angola. President Mobutu brings great prestige and influence to bear on the range of southern African problems, and I welcome his recent efforts in seeking solutions to these issues. After today's meeting, we can be more confident that the future of U.S.-Zairian relations will remain close, prosperous, and productive. President Mobutu and his country's friendship with the United States is most appreciated. And we're proud and pleased to have him with us here today.

Thank you. God bless you.

President Mobutu. Mr. President, on behalf of my wife and of my entire delegation, I should like to thank you most sincerely for your warm and friendly welcome as extended to us by you, personally, and by members of your Cabinet ever since we arrived here in Washington. Together we have surveyed all issues that relate to the bilateral relationship of our two countries, and I go home in full awareness that I have the full support of your government and can assure the people of Zaire that they can count on you and on your government. Again, Mr. President, thank you very much for all that has been done to facilitate our stay.

Note: President Reagan spoke at 1:23 p.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House. President Mobutu spoke in French, and his remarks were translated by an interpreter. Earlier, the two Presidents met in the Oval Office and then held an expanded meeting in the Cabinet Room. They then had lunch in the Roosevelt Room.

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

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