Ronald Reagan picture

Remarks Following Discussions With Prime Minister Wilfried Martens of Belgium

January 14, 1985

The President. It was a great pleasure to meet Prime Minister Martens today and to discuss with him a number of matters of mutual concern. As befitting the traditionally close relations between our two free countries, our talks were both friendly and productive.

Belgium is one of our oldest, closest, and most valuable allies. The Prime Minister and I devoted considerable attention to the current state of East-West relations, focusing on the importance of continued allied solidarity and resolve. We agreed on the value of improving East-West relations and achieving meaningful arms reductions. In this regard, I was pleased to review with the Prime Minister the results of the recent Geneva talks and to discuss the prospects for future progress.

We recognize that the progress that we're now enjoying in arms control discussions is linked to the alliance's commitment to modernize our defenses and the steps we've taken to maintain a balance of nuclear forces in Europe. And that's why we give special emphasis to an issue of central concern to the NATO alliance—the deployment of intermediate-range nuclear forces in Western Europe to counter Soviet SS-20 deployments. At the same time, we both place a high priority on finding a responsible means of reducing the arsenals of nuclear weapons that now threaten humankind.

In a related question, the Prime Minister and I examined the problem of transfer of technology from the West to potential adversaries. We reaffirmed our willingness to work closely together and with our other allies to establish guidelines consistent with our security interests in this vital area.

And finally, I'd like to note the high level of respect and affection that is apparent in our meetings today. The Prime Minister and the people of Belgium are good friends and solid allies, and we're grateful for this chance to exchange ideas. It was a pleasure to have Prime Minister Martens, Foreign Minister Tindemans, and all the official party here.

The Prime Minister and Mrs. Martens will be visiting Boston and New York prior to returning to Belgium, and I would like to wish them a pleasant stay for the remainder of their visit to the United States and a smooth journey home.

The Prime Minister. I am very happy to have the opportunity to meet once again with President Reagan, and I am most satisfied with the talks that Foreign Minister Tindemans and myself had here in Washington. Our talks were based on the common values we share and in which we believe, and they were held in an atmosphere of frankness and friendship.

For my part, I want to stress five points: First, the outcome of the recent talks in Geneva is a first, positive step towards arms reduction negotiations, aiming at establishing a balance of forces at the lowest possible level. I especially value the fact that according to the preoccupations we expressed, the INF problem was given full consideration during these negotiations.

Second, in the course of the negotiations, which may be lengthy, it is important that the allies will be kept fully informed and consulted whenever their security interests are at stake.

Three, I reaffirmed our commitment to the objectives of the alliance. The security of Western Europe depends essentially on the solidarity and the joint efforts of the American and European allies. Concerning INF, I confirmed our attachment to the dual track decision which is an expression of firmness in defense and of openness for dialog.

Four, the smaller NATO countries contribute in an important way to our common defense. I feel that Belgium made the substantial effort in order to bring about the resumption of the Geneva dialog. In this regard, I refer to Mr. Tindemans' and my own contacts with East European countries and to the early suggestions we made there on how to restart negotiations on arms control and disarmament.

Five, in the economic field, the cohesion of the alliance would be strengthened by further eliminating protectionism in our trade relations and by perfecting the procedures of our common approach towards East-West trade.

I thank you.

Reporter. Mr. President, will the Belgians take the cruise missile, sir? Will the Belgians take the cruise?

The President. He has just announced that they are consistent with the whole NATO program.

Q. Well, he said that he reconfirmed his attachment to the dual track system. Does that mean that in March he will accept the first of the cruises? Consultation is allowed.

Mr. Secretary, will he take the cruise, sir?

Secretary of State Shultz. I meet and greet, and I say goodbye.

Note: The President spoke at 1:27 p.m. at the South Portico of the White House. Earlier, the President and the Prime Minister met in the Oval Office. They then hem a working luncheon, together with U.S. and Belgian officials, in the State Dining Room.

Ronald Reagan, Remarks Following Discussions With Prime Minister Wilfried Martens of Belgium Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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