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Remarks Following Discussions With President Paul Biya of Cameroon

February 27, 1986

President Reagan. It's been a pleasure to have as our guest President Biya of Cameroon. President Biya's visit is a milestone in the excellent relationship between our two countries. Our discussions were warm and frank, reflecting the good will between us and our countries as well. And I'm pleased to take this opportunity to announce that yesterday a bilateral investment treaty was signed by our governments. President Biya and I are convinced this treaty will spur economic growth and greatly benefit our peoples.

Cameroon, like the United States, is blessed with rich natural resources, a vibrant private sector, and a diverse, industrious population. But resources alone do not guarantee progress, either in economic or political terms; it takes sound, dedicated leadership. President Biya exemplifies this with his energetic commitment to national unity, reconciliation, and the liberalization of his country's political institutions.

Today it's becoming ever more clear to the emerging nations in Africa that Marxist and rigid statist models of development simply don't work. Instead of economic development, political freedom, and national stability, Marxism, an ideology totally alien to African aspirations, has produced nothing but deprivation, tyranny, and conflict.

Cameroon is a shining example of how much can be accomplished when a more realistic and humane approach is taken to political and economic development. By allowing free rein of the enterprise and talents of the people and by providing incentives for them to work and earn, last year Cameroon's economy grew at an annual rate of over 6 percent. Its per capita income is among the highest in black Africa. President Biya's government enjoys a balanced budget, and his country, thanks to the growing vigor of the private sector, is essentially self-sufficient in food. In short, President Biya's wise policies have been a boon to his people.

The President is a highly respected leader in Africa. And today I sought his advice on a wide range of issues. We discussed our mutual concern about international terrorism and about aggression directed against some sub-Saharan States, especially Chad. We agreed on the importance of working together and with other friends countering these dangers.

The United States and Cameroon have for several decades enjoyed a high level of cooperation. Today we have reaffirmed our intention to continue reinforcing our positive and constructive relationship. All Americans wish President Biya continued success in his efforts to build a prosperous and democratic Cameroon. And we wish him Godspeed on his journey home.

President Biya. President Reagan and myself have just had a meeting marked by cordiality and mutual understanding. We have looked at the economic and political situation of Cameroon. President Reagan is very much aware of the progress we have made. Our domestic policies are based on a free market economy and democracy for most personal initiative and the creation of new businesses. Our growth rate has increased considerably. We have opened our borders to foreign investors, and we have excellent relations with the Western nations.

The most important conclusion of our meeting is that there is a strong conversion of views between our two countries, because, like you, we hold particularly dear ideals of peace, liberty, democracy, progress, and moral values, as well as social justice. Like you, we, too, condemn apartheid and nonrespect of the freedom of the Namibian people. I sincerely hope that once again the influence of your nation will help resolve these problems, which are a threat to human dignity. Like you, we condemn violence and terrorism throughout the world. We have opted in favor of a dialog in peace and balance. And we have strengthened our links to other African countries so that together we can make progress.

As I said, our ideas converge on many levels. And my presence here attests that we want to strengthen the ties between our two countries, and we want to strengthen bilateral cooperations. And we already have about 100 American firms established in our country. Our nation is bilingual—English and French—and is, therefore, fertile ground for American investors. Our two governments have signed an agreement on the reciprocal protection of investments, which will certainly encourage them. Assistance from the American Government has been of a great help to us, particularly in the fields of agriculture, education, and health. We do appreciate the contribution of the United States to our social life and hope that the number of cultural exchange programs will increase. Since our foreign policy is based on international cooperation, we count very much on the United States. Our relations are characterized by mutual friendship. I hope the United States will help defend our ideals of peace and freedom, which are often threatened in Africa. Your nation and President have our total confidence. We congratulate President Reagan on his meeting in Geneva with Mr. Gorbachev.

Thank you for your attention.

Note: President Reagan spoke to reporters at 1:30 p.m. at the South Portico of the White House. President Biya spoke in French, which was translated by an interpreter, and English. Earlier, the two Presidents met in the Oval Office and then attended a luncheon in the Residence.

Ronald Reagan, Remarks Following Discussions With President Paul Biya of Cameroon Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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