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Remarks to Reporters Summarizing His European Trip

October 04, 1970

Ladies and gentlemen:

I first welcome you to this reception, and I want to tell you that I hope you have enjoyed the Irish hospitality and the Irish countryside as much as I have.

I haven't had quite as much opportunity as I had hoped to travel today because we have been rather busy in catching up on some of the work that accumulated during the week and, also, in the meeting this morning that I had with Ambassador Bruce and Ambassador Habib.1

1Ambassador David K. E. Bruce was Chief and Ambassador Philip C. Habib was Deputy Head of the U.S. delegation to the Paris talks on Vietnam.

But I did feel that at this time, as we near the conclusion of this trip, it might be useful for members of the press who have been traveling with us and, of course, some of our guests from the Irish press who have joined us here, to have some conclusions with regard to the trip and also an indication of its general purpose.

I recognize that those who have traveled with us have a rather difficult time in covering a trip like this. It is difficult because the meetings that are held between heads of government or heads of state must necessarily be kept off the record as far as the press is concerned. Otherwise, they would lose their value.

On the other hand, that leaves the press only the opportunity to cover motorcades or to speculate on a background basis as to what is really happening. If I may paraphrase what Governor Reagan once said: If you have seen one motorcade you have seen them all, it has been said.

That really isn't true because motorcades are quite different, as you know, and we've had some very exciting ones and" very interesting ones, and they do provide at least some opportunity to get the feel of the people, the strength of a country, as you move, as we have, through hours and hours of motorcading.

On the other hand, I realize that you who have the responsibility for covering a trip like this are expected, quite properly, to go to the substance and to indicate what the trip accomplished.

What a trip like this accomplishes likely better to be appraised in the and months that follow rather than immediately thereafter.

But I begin first with its purpose and then I will tell you what I think we have accomplished as we look at it, looking back over the past week.

The purpose of this trip, just as has been the purpose of my other trips abroad, is to strengthen the structure of peace throughout the world, and particularly to strengthen the structure of peace in the Mediterranean area which, because of recent events, has been an area of very great concern for all those interested in peace.

Now, in analyzing what the threat to peace in the Mediterranean is, we must realize that it is not the conventional threat of one nation possibly engaging in overt action against another. It is more difficult than that, more difficult because it is the threat which arises from irresponsible radical elements which might take action which, in turn, would set in the course of events, the train of events, set in motion--I meant to say--a train of events, that would escalate into a possible confrontation between major powers in the area. That is what we saw in the Jordanian crisis and that is the kind of threat to the peace that we will have to be guarding against in the months and possibly the years ahead in the Near East and the Mediterranean generally.

Now, When you have that kind of a threat, in order to meet it the primary need is for elements of stability in the area, economic and political stability, yes, but primarily, where the threat is irresponsible and where it resorts to violence, unexpected and unpredictable violence, without reason, without cause--sometimes--there must be military stability and military strength. That is why I first visited the 6th Fleet.

The 6th Fleet is one element of military stability in the Mediterranean. After visiting the 6th Fleet and being briefed by its commanders and our commanders there, I became convinced that the 6th Fleet is able to meet its mission of deterring irresponsible elements in the Mediterranean area.

After meeting with the 6th Fleet commanders and, also, after having discussed this matter with our NATO allies and with our ambassadors from the Mediterranean countries, I am convinced that it is essential that the 6th Fleet continue to have this capability in the event that other powers, with other designs on the area, other than ours and our friends who have no designs except the peace in the area, and the right of each individual nation to maintain its own integrity--in the event that other forces, naval forces, should threaten the position of strength which the 6th Fleet now enjoys, then the United States must be prepared to take the action necessary to maintain that overall strength of the 6th Fleet.

So what I am saying here is the 6th Fleet presently can meet its mission and, second, we shall be prepared to increase its strength in the event that its position of overall strength is threatened by the actions of other powers who take another position in the area than we do.

Another element of strength in the Mediterranean area is, of course, NATO, and particularly its Southern Command. Without going into the specific conversations that we had with the NATO Southern Commanders, I would emphasize here that this provided an opportunity for me to state very strongly and unequivocally these principles with regard to the United States association with NATO.

Considerable concern, I find, has arisen among many of the NATO nations, the major nations and the smaller NATO nations, as a result of some comments by political figures in the United States as well as some of those commenting upon the American role in the world, that the United States might not meet its NATO responsibilities and was on the verge of reducing its contribution to NATO. I stated categorically to the NATO Commanders, and I do it here publicly again, that the United States will, under no circumstances, reduce, unilaterally, its commitment to NATO. Any reduction in NATO forces, if it occurs, will only take place on a multilateral basis and on the basis of what those who are fined up against the NATO forces--what they might do. In other words, it would have to be on a mutual basis.

I know that the Nixon Doctrine has sometimes been inaccurately described as one that would allow the United States to reduce its responsibilities in the world. That is not the case. The purpose of the Nixon Doctrine is to provide a policy under which the United States can meet its responsibilities more effectively in the world by sharing those responsibilities with others. And in NATO that is our policy.

To summarize, with regard to NATO, we will maintain our present strength. We will not reduce it unilaterally. We will continue to talk with our NATO allies with regard to how, overall, we can meet our responsibilities together.

Moving from NATO now to the Mideast, I found in the conversations that I had with all of the leaders that I met-and, as you know, they covered not only our allies and friends but also they covered President Tito of Yugoslavia, a nonaligned state---I found general agreement on these propositions: strong support for the American cease-fire initiative; and, second, I found that, as far as that cease-fire initiative is concerned, that there is not the pessimism that we sense in some quarters, as a result of what happened in Jordan and as a result of the new instability that inevitably will follow the death of President Nasser, that the cease-fire initiative's days were numbered.

I do not suggest that the road ahead is not difficult. But I think we have to separate our peace initiative into two parts: one, the cease-fire part of the initiative; and, second, that part of the initiative that has to do with negotiation.

With regard to negotiation, the prospect for immediate negotiation between the two or three or other parties involved on either side--as far as those prospects are concerned--they are, at this time, not bright because of the introduction of missiles into the 50-kilometer zone.

The reaction of the Israelis, of course, has been not to participate in negotiation.

However, we are going to continue to attempt to get the negotiating process started and, of course, in the process, to do what we can diplomatically to see that there are no further violations of the standstill, and dealing, of course, diplomatically, with the violations that have occurred. So much for the negotiation side of it.

On the cease-fire side of it, however, I think I can say quite unequivocally that neither party--and by neither party I say neither the Israelis on the one side or the other nations, the U.A.R. and others involved in the cease-fire initiative--will gain by breaking the cease-fire. That is why we believe that our acting and talking strongly in behalf of an extension of the cease-fire for another 90 days is the proper course and that it has considerable chance to succeed. Because any party at this time that would break the cease-fire initiative would have very, very little support in the world. It would be acting alone against the whole weight of the world public opinion and also against the weight of public opinion, I should say, in the United States.

Another comment with regard to the Mideast that I think should be made: We tend in the United States to see our role as being predominant and, of course, it is because of our strength. On the other hand, we must recognize, and this trip brought this home to me and underlined it again, that there are other powers in the Mediterranean area that can play, that are playing, and that must play, a significant role in the peacekeeping area.

The Italians, for example, have a very significant interest in the Mediterranean and have contacts that we do not have that are better than ours. The Spanish also have very significant interests in the Mediterranean and have been very helpful. And the British, in addition, of course, have had a traditional, longtime interest in the Mediterranean area. My talks with the leaders of these three countries were very helpful in that respect because it is not a healthy situation in the world for the United States to be alone, whether it is in the Far East, where we welcome the fact that the British are maintaining a presence there, or whether it is in the Mideast, or in the Mediterranean.

That is why the Secretary of State and I have worked, both before we arrived on this trip and during this trip, on developing not only consultation but participation on the part of other Mediterranean powers who share our views about the area, and participation and responsibility for keeping the peace in that area.

I would like to move briefly now to three or four specifics with regard to the leaders that I met.

I had the best, most extensive conversation with Pope Paul that I have had. It covered the whole range of world affairs, particularly the Far East, the situation in the Mideast, problems, of course, in the underdeveloped world, and specifically in the humanitarian area, his great concern about our prisoners of war. We will continue these contacts because it is extremely important that the spiritual and moral leadership which Pope Paul has exercised be leadership not that will follow our policy or we follow his, but there must be understanding and should be understanding with regard to what our aims and goals are.

With regard to Spain, I believe that the year 1970 marks a period in which we can say now that Spain, economically, is rapidly moving into the front ranks in Europe and will be moving into the front ranks in the world, and when Spain, economically and politically, when Spain's isolation from the rest of Europe will be drawing to an end.

I think this is a healthy development. It's a constructive development. The United States has dose and friendly relations with Spain. We will continue them, as I indicated when I was in Spain. I was very impressed, as was the Secretary of State, with the members of the Spanish Cabinet and the Spanish Government that we met, a group of young, vigorous, new leaders who are providing for Spain leadership in the economic, political, and diplomatic field that will be extremely constructive in the years ahead.

A word now about Yugoslavia. When we talk about the structure of peace, we must realize that the most indispensable element is maintaining with our allies and our friends who choose to be aligned with us, like Spain, the strength that will deter potential aggression. That is the first and most indispensable element.

However, there is an important element that should be added to this. We need to have, of course, negotiations, if possible, with those who might be our potential opponents, and we need, of course, the best possible contact with nonaligned nations. That is why the visit to Yugoslavia I thought was particularly important and very helpful.

Let us understand, however, what that visit did mean and what it did not mean. There are still, and will remain as long as I can look to the future, very broad differences between the United States and Yugoslavia.

For example, Yugoslavia is a country that has moved, shall we say, more into a nonaligned role than any of the other Communist states. They have a completely different view about the kind of political and economic system that they want. They have a different view, for example, about our policy in the Far East than we have. They have some differences with regard to our policy in the Mideast. But once we consider those differences, we then must lay beside them those areas where we have similarities and agreement. Here we find that we share with them a desire to avoid any major power confrontation because they know that if such confrontation and explosion occurred that they would be victims, even though they have attempted to be nonaligned.

No nation in the world will be nonaligned if the major powers do have a confrontation. They will become casualties, innocent casualties have it that way if we must put it that way, but that is what the case may be.

The nonaligned nations know that. So they want--they share with us our desire to avoid a major power confrontation.

Another point that a country like Yugoslavia particularly shares with us is our policy of nonintervention in their affairs. We respect their right to be nonaligned. We respect their right to have the kind of a system which they have chosen. And the fact that we do not interfere in their affairs, and that in working for economic cooperation, and in some cases, even diplomatic cooperation, there is no danger of interference or domination on our part.

This is a great asset that we have in talking to the nonaligned nations.

On that score, I found, that as I talked to our Ambassadors from all of the Mediterranean countries and the Mideastern countries, that they said that one of the greatest assets the United States has in its foreign policy today is the fact that despite the fact that some, of course, foreign leaders criticize us in this area or another, there is no foreign leader, when he speaks candidly, who really fears that the United States, with its power, has designs on dominating that country or interfering in their affairs. This cannot be said of some other powers. It can be said of the United States. This is an enormous asset in our dealings with nonaligned countries.

I should also say that my discussions with President Tito were useful in another respect. He has met many world leaders, or several, I should say, that I have not had the opportunity to meet. He shared with me his appraisal of those leaders, without, of course, indulging confidences; which he did not do--but his appraisal of them, and gave me, therefore, an opportunity to know men that I may not ever get a chance to know, but at least have not had a chance to meet up to this time.

I think I can sum up basically on the entire trip in this respect: As we moved in the period of 6 days through these four countries, we first found that among people generally, the United States has a great number of friends. It was, to me, very heartening to find very heart-warming welcomes in Italy, in Yugoslavia, in Spain, and, of course, in Ireland and in the other areas that we have had a chance to visit.

Second, I found, and this is one encouraging development, among all the leaders that I talked to, a much better understanding of our policy in Vietnam than I found when I was here in February a year ago. They believe that the United States is bringing its participation in the war in Vietnam to an end. They believe that we are working for a just peace, that w-e are making progress.

I did not find the questioning, the skepticism about both our motives and about the possibility of the success of our policies that I found in February a year ago.

Third, we found that in the Mideast there was universal support for our peace initiative and also recognition of the fact, again, that the United States did not have--as I indicated a moment ago--did not have any expansionist, ulterior motives in playing a role in the Mediterranean and in the Mideast area.

Now a word, finally, about the country we are in. This was not scheduled as an official stop. I have enjoyed the day, as I indicated a moment ago, that we've had off, to get to know the Irish countryside better.

Speaking of motorcades, incidentally, I thought that I had shaken hands, as I indicated to some of you this morning, with some people with pretty good hand grips, but I can assure you that the Irish have the best grips of anybody in the world.

Some of you remarked about the fact that I have lost cuff links on occasions, including a pair in New Orleans a few weeks ago. This is the first time anybody has shaken hands with me and broken a cuff link in the process. But they were friendly handshakes and I enjoyed it very, very much.

But with regard to the Irish Government, I am glad that tomorrow I am scheduled to meet again President de Valera, who is a giant of a man in every respect. I was particularly appreciative of the fact that I had the opportunity to meet Prime Minister Lynch. I had a good discussion with him last night, will see him again this morning. He has a quiet competence which is very impressive, and having now established this personal relationship with him, I think the good relations between our two countries can be even better in the years ahead.

With that I will conclude my remarks. I think if Ron [Ziegler] could arrange it-I have met those of the press here--we could meet maybe the members of the Irish press. Don't mind that handshake thing; I have gotten mine worked up a little now. I am a little stronger.

Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 6:35 p.m. at a reception given for reporters in Dromoland Castle, Newmarket-on-Fergus, County Clare, Ireland.

Richard Nixon, Remarks to Reporters Summarizing His European Trip Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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