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Remarks of the President and Chancellor Helmut Kohl of the Federal Republic of Germany Following Their Meetings

March 05, 1984

The President. Mr. Chancellor, Mr. State Secretary, and ladies and gentlemen, we've been honored to have Chancellor Kohl as a guest today. German-American partnership remains a positive, dynamic, and vital force in the free world's struggle for peace, security, and prosperity. The personal relationship between the Chancellor and myself exemplifies the close ties between our two countries.

Today I was most pleased to discuss with him issues of bilateral and international significance. Our talks focused on the need for Western leadership in dealing with the changing world of the 1980's.

We both agreed that 1983 was a crucial year for the NATO alliance. The leaders of the Western democracies stood firm in the face of an intense Soviet campaign of intimidation aimed at blocking NATO deployment of new intermediate-range missiles. To its common credit, the alliance demonstrated its determination to restore the military balance in Europe and maintain a credible nuclear deterrence and emerge stronger from the challenge. Thanks to the courage and vision of leaders like Chancellor Kohl, we can point to the past year with pride and look to the future with confidence.

Both Chancellor Kohl and myself would prefer to achieve a nuclear balance through arms reduction. Today I reconfirmed my willingness, eagerness to continue to effort to reach arms reduction agreements with the Soviet Union. Both Chancellor Kohl and I agreed that, with new leadership in the Kremlin, an opportunity exists for real progress in relations between East and West. However, in the face of Soviet intransigence at the negotiating table, a table which we remain ready to return to any time, the alliance will continue to strengthen its conventional and nuclear deterrent.

In the Declaration of Brussels last December, the NATO Foreign Ministers affirmed our offer to establish constructive contacts and dialog with the Soviets. I reaffirmed to Chancellor Kohl today my personal commitment to explore every possible avenue for improvement of relations with the East. And I'm ready to meet personally with the Soviet leadership if such a meeting is well prepared and holds promise of fruitful results.

Chancellor Kohl and I also discussed the strengthening of Western economies and the peaceful cooperation between our peoples. We're especially optimistic about the increasing team effort our countries are demonstrating in the exploration of space. The November mission of the shuttle was the first to include a non-American astronaut, a German. And I was delighted that the communications hookup allowed Chancellor Kohl and myself to talk with each other and with the astronauts in space. It was an exciting achievement and a reflection of the good will upon which future progress can be built.

This morning I presented Chancellor Kohl with a plaque commemorating that mission, which bears photographs and the U.S. and German flags that were flown on that mission in space. As the inscription says on the plaque, we look toward future German-American cooperation to strengthen peace, build prosperity, and expand freedom in developing space—our next frontier.

I am particularly pleased with our success in expanding the human side of the German-American relationship. The tricentennial of German immigration to America heightened our awareness of the deep personal and family ties between our two peoples. The German-American Friendship Garden, established during the tricentennial, symbolizes this relationship. And the newly launched Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange Program will assure that these important contacts continue unabated.

Mr. Chancellor, after only 17 months in office, you are in the forefront of leadership in the Western World. There's rarely an issue of international significance on which your views are not sought and where your influence is not felt. Chancellor Kohl, I count on your friendship as Americans count on the friendship of the German people, as we rise together to meet challenges of the coming decade.

Thank you for visiting us in Washington here today, and I look forward to our next get-together.

The Chancellor. Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, first of all, I would like to extend to you—dear Mr. President and dear friend—very warmly for the extremely friendly welcome you extended to me and for the intensive and detailed conversations we had on that occasion.

In the last few months, I felt it with particular strength how important it was for us not only to agree on political issues but also on fundamental personal values. Well, for us, the Germans, in order to preserve peace and the liberty of our countries, we have to rely on two fundamental principles. First of all, they are the close ties with our friends in the United States of America, and the second issue—the second principle of equal importance is our close relations within the allies with our friends, the United States of America.

You, Mr. President, in particular, made special contributions towards this end, particularly as regards to friendship between our two governments—but when I think back on the tricentennial celebrations—also the contribution to the friendship between our two nations. We discussed thoroughly and in detail the perspective and prospects for future developments between East and West, and there is a far-reaching agreement concerning future developments.

Our two governments stand firmly by the proven and by the balanced concepts of the alliance. We would also in future assure the defense capability of the West by seeking military balance and equilibrium at as low a level as possible.

You referred to the statement in a declaration issued by the alliance on the 9th of December, 1983, and you, Mr. President, reaffirmed that declaration in the fundamental speech you made on the 16th of January, 1984. And we in Europe have considered that speech of yours as a great message of peace.

Mr. President, over the last 2 years, I have met in you a man who has always been aware of his personal responsibility for the peace in the world and who is also ready to bear and to shoulder that responsibility. And for that very reason, I again recommended to you, and in this very spirit, to seek, not as a propaganda coup, but as a political step, an early and a well-prepared meeting with the new Secretary General of the Soviet Union, Mr. Chernenko. And this meeting should not be a propaganda exercise. The Federal Government and I, as Federal Chancellor, do not consider ourselves to be mediators in that context. But nevertheless, if such a meeting is well prepared and if this opportunity is wisely used, we would consider such a meeting to be of great importance and helpful for shaping future East-West relations.

The President and I underlined the importance and the significance which attaches to the current arms control negotiations. And we were in "agreement that the West should take the initiative in the negotiations about mutual and balanced forces reductions in Vienna and in the negotiations about a worldwide ban on chemical weapons and that it should make new proposals along these lines. And I was grateful to note, Mr. President, how much support you are giving to the proposals made by Secretary of State Shultz concerning a ban on chemical weapons.

We have also discussed questions of our national economies, questions which are of mutual concern and interest. We also discussed in that connection—in connection with the discussion of our economic—the state of our national economies, the fact that it is important for us to ensure that protectionism will not prevail and will not spread in our countries and in our continents, because protectionism is not a means to foster free economy. It's only free trade and free commerce which will ensure the future, which will ensure prosperity, and which will make for a free exchange of goods and ideas.

And of course, among friends there are also subjects on which one is not fully in agreement, on which one does not completely see eye to eye. A European who is here in the White House has got to speak about the high level of interest rates and the impact that has on the European economies. And it is quite clear this is a European problem.

Well, and even before that background, I would like to point out that these conversations once again showed to me the very strong foundations on which German-American partnership and friendship rest. This was a conversation among friends, and what better there you could say?

Note: The President spoke at 1:25 p.m. in the East Room at the White House. Chancellor Kohl spoke in German, and his remarks were translated by an interpreter.

Earlier, the President and the Chancellor met, together with U.S. and German officials, in the Oval Office. They then hem a working luncheon in the State Dining Room.

Ronald Reagan, Remarks of the President and Chancellor Helmut Kohl of the Federal Republic of Germany Following Their Meetings Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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