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Remarks Following Discussions With Prime Minister Shimon Peres of Israel

September 15, 1986

The President. Well, it has been a great pleasure for me to welcome, again, Shimon Peres to the White House. He's a valued friend, a statesman and a spokesman for peace, and a leader of the Government of Israel, a country with whom the United States has deep and special ties. Our meeting today reflected the close dialog that Israel and the United States enjoy as friends and partners. We discussed our broad bilateral agenda as well as regional and international issues.

Item number one was our commitment to continuing the search for a negotiated peace between Israel and all of its Arab neighbors. We noted favorable trends in the Middle East, not just the longing for peace by the Israeli and Arab peoples but constructive actions taken by leaders in the region to breathe new life into the peace process. No one has done more than Prime Minister Peres to that end. His vision, his statesmanship, and his tenacity are greatly appreciated here.

In this connection, we have just witnessed an auspicious event: the meeting between Prime Minister Peres and President Mubarak of Egypt following successful negotiations on a formula for resolving the Taba dispute. Egypt and Israel have once again demonstrated that Arab-Israeli differences can best be resolved through direct negotiations. We're also heartened by the continued efforts of King Hussein of Jordan as well as the historic meeting between King Hassan of Morocco and Prime Minister Peres. There is reason for optimism and hope. Prime Minister Peres and I have agreed that a steady, determined effort is needed by all if the remaining obstacles to direct negotiations are to be surmounted. So, our two governments today reiterate our pledge to keep pushing toward a lasting peace.

In our discussions we also reviewed many aspects of the close and mutually beneficial relations between our countries, including the need to maintain a strong and secure Israel. To this end, not only is military strength essential but also a vigorous, growing Israeli economy. Prime Minister Peres and his colleagues in Israel's national unity government have achieved remarkable success in stabilizing their economy. They are now turning their attention to growth, with our full encouragement and support.

I emphasized to Prime Minister Peres that the United States Government remains deeply concerned about the plight of Soviet Jewry and that this subject will continue to be an important part of our dialog with the Soviet Union. We also discussed the scourge of terrorism and our revulsion over the recent murder of the innocent in Istanbul and Karachi. The lives of Jews, Moslems, Hindus, and Christians were taken in this attack on civilization. These were acts of horror and outrage.

Israelis and Americans can be proud of the relationship between our two countries. The common values and interests that bring us together sustain us both, and the many levels of cooperation between us provide a rich substance to our ties. We look forward to building on the good will and trust so evident between our governments and peoples. And so, again, I say it's been a pleasure having Prime Minister Peres here.

The Prime Minister. Mr. President, it is with satisfaction that I join you at a conclusion of yet another most productive meeting where your dedication to peace in the Middle East and your long-recognized friendship to the people of Israel—may I say, to the Jewish people all over the world—found one small, concrete expression.

When we met 2 years ago, we laid out policies and strategies for peace, security, and economic development. These were mostly accomplished, much, due to your friendship and determination. Today we look at the future. I am certain that what we have planned will be implemented with equal imagination, dedication, and resolve.

On the peace front, we have prepared the ground for a new drive. The end of the war in Lebanon, the beginning of what President Mubarak termed a new era in the Israeli-Egyptian relations, a policy that keeps doors open for coexistence and peaceful relations on the West Bank and Gaza, the search for a Jordanian-Palestinian platform for progress—all pave the ground for the next phase. There is always a difference between uprooting a tree and making a forest grow. Confrontation is by definition a single event. Peacemaking is a process which requires constant patience, cultivation. I am certain that together we can sail to new shores of understanding in pacifying our region. The good offices of the United States has demonstrated its effectiveness by demonstrating restraint in appearance and dedication in content.

The next step should be directed toward negotiation between the parties concerned. The international community can support such negotiations, not substitute it. We are for, clearly, direct negotiation on a bilateral ground between each of the parties concerned. And international support can provide the parties with an opportunity of an opening occasion, but negotiations should remain between the parties concerned. For the international participation, we shall accept only parties that respect peace and human rights, and we shall not compromise on it. Small as we may be, we are not going to depart from conviction and principles that should be respected by all, small and large at the same time.

Again, I would like to thank you for the depth of your understanding, for the empathy, enjoying the basic rights, the basic rights of a people under your leadership, Mr. President. The free world has made real progress toward democracy, toward freedom, toward security, and toward prosperity . And all of us, wherever we may be, have enjoyed this very imaginative and determined leadership. I would like to thank you for a wind of hope and optimism that you have added to the life of the free world and to our own country and our own people. Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 3:37 p.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House. In his closing remarks, the President referred to the recent massacre at Neve Shalom Synagogue in Istanbul, Turkey, and the hijacking of Pan American Airways flight 73 in Karachi, Pakistan. Earlier, the President and the Prime Minister met in the Oval Office.

Ronald Reagan, Remarks Following Discussions With Prime Minister Shimon Peres of Israel Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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