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The President's News Conference With Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in London, United Kingdom

July 17, 1991

President Bush. Well, may I say that it was a pleasure to have President Gorbachev in this Embassy. We've made a good deal of progress, and we will -- he might have something to say about how much progress. But from the standpoint of the United States and the economic front and the arms front, we are very pleased with this meeting.

And once again, Mikhail, welcome, sir. I'm delighted to see you and your top people here.

President Gorbachev. Mr. President, it was very short, and that's because of the circumstances. In fact, we didn't have a lot of time at our disposal, but we used it very well and very productively, and we were able to talk about quite a few things. Again, there's not much time for the press conference, and maybe later you will be able to satisfy yourselves as far as what happens at our subsequent meeting.

Now, what I wanted to say was, in view of the fact that we were told that all of the issues are solved on the START treaty, we, with the President of the United States, have agreed to finalize everything in Geneva, and we will give commensurate instructions so that we could then sign that treaty. And this connection -- there's also the issue of the visit of the President of the United States to the Soviet Union.

Once again, I've invited the President to come to the Soviet Union on a visit at the very end of July, and I hope that everything is clear now about the visit -- the visit will take place. The Soviet people, all of us will be ready to give our hospitality to the President of the United States and, I also hope, to Mrs. Bush and to all those who will accompany him to Moscow. Welcome, Mr. President, to Moscow, and welcome all of you to Moscow.

And the last point: The President and I have had a discussion within the framework of what is happening in the context of this unique meeting with the G - 7. And we are pleased with the kind of discussion that has taken place on those issues. So, I'm through, too.

President Bush. May I simply say that we accept with pleasure President Gorbachev's invitation. I hope we can get a lot done. And we've already accomplished a lot in treaty negotiations.

The goal, of course, is an economic goal. We'd be cooperatively working with President Gorbachev and, I would say, the rest of the G - 7 and the rest of the world in integrating the Soviet economy into the rest of the world's economies. It's a big problem, a big project, but I pledge to him my interest and our efforts to do just exactly that.

But thank you, Mikhail, for your invitation. And before you change your mind, we accept with pleasure. [Laughter]

President Gorbachev. Well, I think that over the years of our cooperation you have seen, Mr. President, that we are true to our word in all those things: in working together, in accommodating you, your interests, and the interests both of ourselves and of our partners -- particularly the United States.

I think that we have to say that the President and I have very limited time and so will not be able to answer all the questions that you would like to ask. After the meeting with the G - 7, maybe then I will be able to answer all of your questions.

Soviet-U.S. Relations

Q. Does this mean you have a START treaty ready to sign now, and you are going to Moscow, and everything is on the line? Who caved? Who gave in?

President Bush. Helen [Helen Thomas, United Press International] always asks the questions where there has to be a winner or a loser or somebody continuing to fight each other; that's the way it is. There was compromise on all sides, and it's in the best interest of the United States, and I hope that the Soviet people feel it's in the best interest of the Soviet people.

Q. Well, does that mean that you will not build a new missile?

President Gorbachev. Let me say, I share what the President has just said. We will not be able to succeed either today or tomorrow in building new international relations, new international security, in achieving a balance of interest in the world if we try to achieve advantage and if we try to win. We have to move reciprocally towards each other in the interests of both our peoples, and I hope very much that the meeting that will take place in Moscow will be in the interest of all mankind, of all those who will be able to now breathe more quietly and to say that we have moved further away from the threat of nuclear war. So, it's our common victory, and I think that all those who have worked toward this important step -- they really deserve a lot of credit.

Q. About G - 7, what do you see as the strong position -- strong points of the Gorbachev proposal?

President Bush. I think it would be unwise and inhospitable for me to start talking about the G - 7 and what might happen to it until Mr. Gorbachev has a chance to come to this meeting hosted by John Major. That's the first point.

Secondly, leave out any communication between the two of us, let me simply say that in terms of our luncheon, I am convinced, as I have been, that President Gorbachev is determined to continue with economic reform. They face difficult problems. I'll be candid with you -- we face difficult problems at home in a budgetary sense. But all in all, I would leave anything coming out of the G - 7 until after the President has had a chance to discuss this with the other seven leaders.

Q. President Gorbachev -- --

President Gorbachev. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen.

President Bush. Are we finished? [Laughter]

Q. There's been talk during this summit of political support and technical assistance -- --

President Gorbachev. We have discussed with the President.

Q. Is that enough for you to take home in terms of economic aid, or are you looking for a bundle of cash here? [Laughter]

President Gorbachev. Well, that's my general answer. [Laughter]

President Bush. I've learned something about how to handle all these guys. This is good news.

Q. What's the date -- pin it down?

President Bush. Well, we're pinning it down, but I'd say the very end of July.

Q. How long will the summit be?

President Bush. Oh, 2 or 3 days, but that's up to our host.

Q. Will you actually sign it then?

President Bush. We're trying.

Q. Was President Gorbachev helpful to you on the Mideast? Was he helpful to you?

President Bush. Very much. He continues to be.

Note: President Bush's 92d news conference began at 1:25 p.m. in the garden of Winfield House, the residence of U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom Raymond G.H. Seitz. President Bush referred to Prime Minister John Major of the United Kingdom. President Gorbachev spoke in Russian, and his remarks were translated by an interpreter. Prior to the news conference, the two Presidents participated in a working luncheon at Winfield House. A tape was not available for verification of the content of this news conference.

George Bush, The President's News Conference With Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in London, United Kingdom Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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