Ronald Reagan picture

Remarks Following Discussions With Prime Minister Robert Hawke of Australia

June 23, 1988

The President. I was pleased to welcome Prime Minister Bob Hawke to Washington again, especially because this year Australia is commemorating its bicentennial. The United States and Australia have been steadfast partners through times of war and times of peace, and I'm sure the Prime Minister's visit to Washington and other cities in the United States will deepen the already close ties between our two countries.

During the Prime Minister's last visit in 1986, I promised to reciprocate Australia's contribution to our own bicentennial celebration. Last year Congress appropriated $5 million for a U.S. national gift to Australia that will be used for a permanent U.S. gallery in the Australian National Maritime Museum, with an exhibition commemorating 200 years of bilateral maritime relations. I expect this exhibit, along with other public and private efforts too numerous to list, will serve as a lasting testament of our two peoples' enduring friendship.

Our discussions have covered a range of topics, including security and progress in arms control. I shared with the Prime Minister my detailed assessment of my meetings a few weeks ago in Moscow with General Secretary Gorbachev. Australia is an important ally in our efforts to reach meaningful arms reduction agreements with the U.S.S.R. The joint facilities that Australia hosts are essential to deterrence and to the West's ability to monitor Soviet compliance with arms accords. The U.S. greatly appreciates Australia's contributions to the vital task of preserving peace in both the South Pacific and throughout the world.

Prime Minister Hawke and I also talked a good deal about bilateral trade issues. The U.S. and Australia have closely parallel interests in the current round of multilateral trade negotiations. We're in full agreement on the need to open up international trade in agricultural products, a keystone of both our economies. We also agree on the need to redouble our efforts toward the elimination of trade-distorting government subsidies of agricultural products. The Toronto summit resulted in a strong, unified position on the pressing need to invigorate the multilateral trading system. I noted that the United States will continue to work closely with Australia and other like-minded countries to carry us through to a positive conclusion of the ongoing trade negotiations. Until we achieve that goal, we will ensure that any measures that the United States may take to counter unfair subsidization of agriculture take fully into account the interests of countries like Australia.

We also exchanged views on refugees and regional issues, particularly on the importance of cooperation among Pacific States to maintain a secure, peaceful, and prosperous environment in which democratic government can flourish. The stabilizing role the United States-Australia alliance plays in supporting our common efforts has helped foster the phenomenal growth the Pacific region has enjoyed.

In summing up, I cannot overstate the importance we attach to our relationship with Australia. Australia has made major contributions to our mutual security over the past 40 years as a responsible ally, a staunch defender of democratic freedoms, and as a major trading partner.

Bob, you've been a good friend, and I value your counsel. This is our fourth meeting, and I'm delighted that we've been able to have regular, personal exchanges of views and ideas. I know the American people will extend to you a warm welcome, in the tradition of hospitality that both Aussies and Yanks are famous for, as you continue your visit in the United States.

The Prime Minister. Thank you, Mr. President. Ladies and gentlemen, I confirm that the President and I have been able to engage in a very useful discussion covering the range of topics to which the President has alluded. We have confirmed the strengths and the enduring nature of the relationship between our two great countries, a relationship which, as I was able to say in Congress and confirm with the President, is based upon a shared commitment to principles which we regard as fundamental to the operation of a free and open society.

I took the opportunity of thanking the President for the fact that during my Prime Ministership, as he has said, he has welcomed me here on a number of occasions; and I observed that this would almost certainly be the last occasion on which I would have the opportunity of meeting with him as President of the United States. And I expressed to him personally and on behalf of the Government and people of Australia our gratitude for the contribution of his Presidency to the improvement not merely of his own people but globally.

The fact that today, as I said to the Congress, we have more than at any other stage in the postwar period reason to look with optimism to a future where the world can live more constructively at peace is in very large measure, as I told the President, due to his ideas, to his persistence, to his strength, to his determination to shape the agenda and the context of the discussions between the two superpowers. He has ensured properly that when he has come to speak he has spoken both from a position of strength and from a position where he knows that he has consulted and has the support of his allies and friends.

He has insisted that, in those discussions, that the vital question of human rights shall be a central part of the agenda. And the results have shown not merely in the negotiation for the first time of an agreement which has eliminated a particular class of nuclear weapons but also in the area of human rights, the significant advances that have been made in the attitudes and practices of the Soviet Union, that his determination in the shaping of the agenda has been right and that it has borne fruit. And I repeat that we are this day able to look with a greater degree of confidence to a world in which the resources of mankind may be able, with a greater degree of confidence, to be channeled into constructive uses is significantly a result, Mr. President, as I told you, of the time of your Presidency. And we are indebted to you for that.

We are also indebted to you for the fact that in your own country, you have presided over a period of record growth and uninterrupted prosperity. Our relationship, as I've said to you, is so good and so mature that where we do have any differences we are able to discuss those.

I expressed to the President, in particular, the appreciation of the Government and the people of Australia for the way in which he has reflected the fact that the correspondence that takes place between us is no mere formality, but that the President reads, takes account of, and carries with him in his presentations the consideration of the Australian position. And in particular, of course, I refer to the fact that I—for some time now and particularly just before the recent Toronto summit, wrote to the President—stressed the importance that we attach to the attainment of a liberalized international trading system in general, and in particular, in regard to agricultural commodities. And as you know, ladies and gentlemen, the President took those matters seriously into account and pressed them at the Toronto summit. So, I expressed our appreciation to the President.

And so, I conclude, Ron, as I began in our private talks, in saying in front of the media, thank you for a contribution to the relations between our two countries, which I believe has been unique on your part. And thank you for the contributions that you have made, which means that at the end of your Presidency the world is going to be a better and safer place than it was when you took office.

Note: The President spoke at 1:44 p.m. in the East Room at the White House. Earlier, the President and the Prime Minister met in the Oval Office and then attended a luncheon in the Residence.

Ronald Reagan, Remarks Following Discussions With Prime Minister Robert Hawke of Australia Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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