Ronald Reagan picture

Remarks Following Discussions With Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi of India

October 20, 1987

The President. I am delighted to welcome once again Prime Minister Gandhi to the White House. The Prime Minister and I have had useful discussions on the status of U.S.-Indian relations. We noted that in the years since our meeting in 1985 substantial progress has been made. Bilateral trade has expanded. Collaboration between our private sectors has intensified. We've enjoyed cooperation in defense production, notably the Indian light combat aircraft. The memorandum of understanding on technology transfer has been implemented. The United States is working with India to launch its satellites. The U.S.-India Fund for Cultural, Educational, and Scientific Cooperation has been inaugurated. And we're working together to combat terrorism.

Beyond such concrete achievements, there are powerful political, economic, and cultural currents that are drawing our two societies into closer collaboration. Our shared dedication to democracy is paramount among these currents. We're also building on a strong foundation of cooperation in the fields of science, technology, and space, which permits us with confidence to set ambitious new goals.

In this connection, the Prime Minister and I have agreed to the following: to renew the Ronald Reagan-Indira Gandhi Science and Technology Initiative for an additional 3 years beyond 1988; we agreed to take steps to substantially expand two-way trade and recognized the need to reduce barriers to free trade; to consult regularly to ensure that U.S. supercomputer exports to India reflect the rapid pace of scientific advances while at the same time safeguarding U.S. technology; to work even more closely together to stem drug trafficking and abuse; to expand defense cooperation in technology and other military areas; to undertake joint research projects to explore the enhancement of arid zone agriculture, water management, and evolution of ground water resources; to increase the educational resources about our countries, as appropriate, using the U.S.-India Fund for Cultural, Educational, and Scientific Cooperation; to establish a program in research institutions in both countries for short-term exchange fellowships in development-related subjects. Expanding on our leadership exchanges, the Speaker of our House of Representatives will visit India this year, and his Indian counterpart will visit the United States next year.

Today the Prime Minister and I also discussed East-West relations and the prospects for an historic treaty eliminating an entire class of intermediate-range nuclear missiles of the United States and the Soviet Union. And the Prime Minister emphasized India's longstanding encouragement of such efforts to reduce and eliminate nuclear weapons. In this context, I urged that India and Pakistan intensify their dialog to build greater mutual confidence, to resolve outstanding issues, and to deal with the threat of nuclear proliferation in the region.

We also discussed the tragic situation in Afghanistan and strongly endorsed movement toward a political settlement—a settlement that would remove all foreign troops from that country and permit its people to live in peace, as citizens of a neutral country and free from outside intervention. On the subject of U.S. security assistance to Pakistan, I assured Mr. Gandhi that our objective is stability and reduced tensions in South Asia and that our assistance is not directed at India. And finally, let me acknowledge the statesmanship and courage demonstrated by Prime Minister Gandhi and the President of Sri Lanka in their efforts to end the ethnic strife in that troubled island nation. I have pledged to both leaders our full support.

It has been a pleasure to have had this opportunity to discuss these issues with Prime Minister Gandhi and to renew a very real friendship.

The Prime Minister. It's always a pleasure to be at the White House. Thank you, Mr. President, for your invitation and for your warm words. May I, at the outset, wish Mrs. Reagan the speediest recovery. We know what a source of strength she is to you, Mr. President, in your work for your country and the world.

I also take this opportunity to congratulate the people of the United States on the 200th anniversary of the Constitution. It is one of history's momentous documents that has made the United States grow to greatness. Your Constitution has been an inspiration to us in our struggle for freedom and liberty.

As the President informed you, we have had good and most useful meetings. We spoke of world peace and our concern for the well-being of humanity, and we spoke of the relations between our countries. We agreed upon further methods of strengthening our mutual friendship. The relations between our two countries have always held much promise. In recent years, we have made notable progress towards realizing that promise. Your personal attention and interest, Mr. President, have contributed greatly to our expanding partnership. We have agreed to collaborate at the frontiers of technology. We have reaffirmed the tradition of scientific interaction, which has been the hallmark of our relationship. The growth in high technology, trade, and transfers has been a source of considerable satisfaction. I hope that the United States would recognize India not just as a market but as a partner in technological progress.

In the field of bilateral trade and investment, we have agreed that much can be done to expand the present level of activity. We will encourage increased interaction between our trading entities. Having successfully launched our cooperation for the light combat aircraft project, we have now agreed to explore other avenues in the field of defense. This is yet another step forward.

I am confident that after our talks today we will be able to place our relationship on a more enduring basis. We share not only aspirations and values, we sometimes face common threats. We have each recognized the dangers to our societies posed by terrorism and narcotics. I mentioned to you today our determination to fight these problems. I'm aware of your personal concern about narcotics, the price they extract in the form of blighted youth and wasted resources. I would like to reiterate once again our commitment to cooperate with you to this end.

Turning to international issues, I should first like to applaud the statesmanship demonstrated by you, Mr. President, and by General Secretary Gorbachev in pursuing the vexing and complex issues of nuclear disarmament. Your endeavors have given a glimmer of hope to a world threatened by imminent nuclear holocaust. An INF agreement will be an historic step. For the first time, an operational nuclear weapon system will be withdrawn and dismantled. We hope that this will be the beginning of the elimination of nuclear weapons altogether, an objective to which your are dedicated. I sincerely wish you, Mr. President, and General Secretary Gorbachev, every success in these endeavors. All humankind is with you.

Our deliberations today also covered the situation in Afghanistan. We agreed on the need for an early political settlement there and support the efforts of the U.N. Secretary-General. I believe that a just solution must ensure a sovereign, independent, and nonaligned Afghanistan. Foreign intervention and interference must cease. The Afghan refugees must be allowed to return to their homes in honor, dignity, and security. We would welcome any earnest efforts in this direction.

We had a frank discussion on the dangers of nuclear proliferation, both horizontal and vertical. My country has consistently recognized that a secure world order cannot be built on nuclear weapons. Our actions have spoken louder than any words in expressing this commitment. We do not have nuclear weapons. We do not want nuclear weapons. And we certainly do not want nuclear weapons in our neighborhood. We have watched with concern developments in our immediate vicinity. Nuclear stockpiles have multiplied. Yet another country now seems on the threshold of fulfilling a long-time goal of acquiring nuclear weapons. On our part let me assure you, Mr. President and the people of your country, that we have no intention of producing nuclear weapons unless constrained to do so. Mr. President, you and I have discussed these matters and expressed our mutual concerns. Time is not on our side. We are faced with critical decisions on issues which need to be addressed urgently.

We appreciate your support to the efforts to end the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka, Mr. President, in particular to the July 29th agreement, which I signed with President Jayewardene. We are determined to ensure the full implementation of its provisions as it represents the best hope for peace in the region.

I thank you, Mr. President, once again for your hospitality. Our discussions have been most productive, and I leave Washington, confident and optimistic about the future of our relationship. Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 1:30 p.m. at the South Portico of the White House. Earlier, the President and the Prime Minister met in the Oval Office and then had lunch in the Residence.

Ronald Reagan, Remarks Following Discussions With Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi of India Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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