Remarks at a Press Briefing Following a Meeting With the NATO Nuclear Planning Group.
[The briefing was already in progress when a stenographic reporter arrived. The text printed below begins with the reporter's arrival.]
THE PRESIDENT. We have demonstrated that aggression just doesn't pay. The purpose of this committee, and the enterprise in which they are engaged, is assurance that it never will pay. It was largely a welcome, an assurance of cooperation, and an exchange of views.
We wanted to share with them all the information and analysis that we had related to nuclear planning. We believe that joint planning is the best guarantee of effective deterrence. We believe that if we, together, can handle this awesome military power intelligently, prudently, and responsibly it will be a mighty force for peace in the world.
Secretary McNamara told me yesterday that he went into some detail with them on the problems of ABM deployment, what we are doing in that regard and our consultations with other nations about it.
We pointed up some of the things that NATO could now begin to push forward positively on--like bridges to the East, trying to lower ugly lines of walls and watchtowers that deface the map of Europe, and resolving some of the bitter controversies which have so divided neighbors.
Some of the things they are discussing are detailed ABM presentations, NATO's various capabilities, the views of various members on their country's attitudes on deployment of nuclear weapons, the East-West strategic balance, and generally things of that kind.
I reviewed with you the seven items that are here. I welcomed them. I encouraged them. I reviewed with them the success of NATO and its future. I expressed great pleasure that Secretary McNamara had brought them here for this very historic meeting.
As you know, Mr. Harlan Cleveland, our U.S. Ambassador to the North Atlantic Council, was also here.
That was what happened in the meeting.
Q. Did you discuss, Mr. President, troop cuts by American forces?
THE PRESIDENT. No. I reviewed with you what we discussed. I took them one by one.
Q. Did you, Mr. President, give them assurance that the United States, in its current talks with Russia, would do everything it could to end this spiraling arms race?
THE PRESIDENT. No. I gave no assurances of any kind. I discussed the subjects I outlined with you. I told them we heartily concurred in this kind of thinking, this kind of planning, this kind of exchange of views, but it wasn't for me to say to them that I will give you this guarantee or this assurance. We just didn't get into that.
Q. Mr. President, did you discuss the question of nuclear land mines that Turkey was reported to have requested?
THE PRESIDENT. No. I welcomed them to the White House and discussed with them what I told you.
Each one of you can ask a question about what I discussed and I will tell you the same. I just reviewed my statement. It is there for you to look at.
Maybe if they had had more time and I had had more time we could, but that would be the function of the committee to take up the various subjects. ABM deployment is one of them, nuclear capability is one of them, building bridges is another one.
There are a good many studies that will come out of this meeting. They will come back in September or later in the year and make reports on it. This is a historic meeting. It is a very effective organization. It is one of the things that NATO can do and I am glad is doing. That is it.
There is one other thing I said to the countries represented, like the Germans, the English, and the Netherlands, about the Vice President's visit. I told them I had full reports from him. I expressed my appreciation and gratitude for the very thorough, fruitful, and, I think, profitable exchange between their governments and ours.
That was not on the agenda, but I thought of that while I was trying to figure out if we discussed anything else. We talked about his visit to England and Germany and so on and so forth.
Reporter: Thank you.
Note: The briefing was held at 12:30 p.m. in the President's office at the White House following a meeting of the defense ministers of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
For the President's remarks of welcome to Vice President Humphrey following the Vice President's return from his tour of Europe, see Item 169.
Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks at a Press Briefing Following a Meeting With the NATO Nuclear Planning Group. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/237636