Written Responses to Questions Submitted by Deutsche Presse- Agentur of the Federal Republic of Germany
Soviet-U.S. Summit Meeting
Q. According to recent European news reports, you and Mr. Gorbachev will meet in September for a summit. Can you confirm this?
The President. No summit meeting has been scheduled. You may remember that in November 1985, when General Secretary Gorbachev and I met in Geneva, we agreed to intensify the dialog between our two countries. As part of this process of dialog, I invited the General Secretary to visit the United States. My invitation to Mr. Gorbachev remains open, and I will welcome him whenever he chooses to come.
Q. You have said you will consult with your European and Asian allies on arms control. What does consultation mean to you? Are you willing to give the allies "veto power" in sensitive issues or just the right to voice concerns? For example, would you be inclined to sign an arms control agreement without the alliance's consensus?
The President. We, of course, consult closely with our allies on the whole range of security issues as well as many other important questions. One topic in particular, INF, has been the subject of especially intense consultations throughout my administration. In 1979, in response to the new and unprovoked threat to our allies posed by the deployment of new triple-warhead Soviet SS20 missiles, NATO made a decision to pursue a dual track of modernization of longer range INF nuclear forces in parallel with U.S.-Soviet arms control negotiations. U.S. positions at the INF negotiations have been developed in close collaboration with our NATO allies as well as our friends and allies in Asia, particularly Japan, and have been fully supported by them.
Recently, we also have been consulting within the alliance on the question of reduction or elimination of shorter range INF missiles. There will be no decision until the consultation process has been concluded. Whatever decision is reached, the United States remains fully committed to effective deterrence and the NATO strategy of flexible response, which requires U.S. conventional and nuclear forces in Europe as well as U.S. strategic forces.
Q. You will visit Berlin. Do you favor closer contacts between East and West Berlin? How do you view the initiative of West Berlin Mayor Eberhard Diepgen to invite East German head of state Erich Honecker to West Berlin? Should he be encouraged to continue that course?
The President. We favor not only close contacts between East and West Berlin but the elimination of all barriers between the two parts of this single city. In a word, we want the Berlin Wall to come down so that the reintegration of all four sectors of the city into one unit again becomes a reality. Moreover, preservation of the city's current legal status remains vital to protect the freedom of the Western sectors. Visits and exchanges which can be carried out without undermining that status are to be welcomed, but clearly caution and close consultation among the Governments of Berlin, Bonn, and the three protective powers are essential. Such consultations have worked smoothly in the past and, I'm certain, will work well in the future.
I would add that the East Germans have demonstrated provocative contempt for the status and stability of Berlin over the past year. They harassed diplomatic personnel last May by attempting to restrict their movements. They subsequently attempted to exploit CDE procedures to undermine Berlin's interests. And they declined cooperation on 750th anniversary events except when it served their narrow interests. Furthermore, brutal killings on the Berlin Wall have increased recently.
Q. The United States is pressing her major trading partners to stimulate their economies and is, in the case of Japan, even applying sanctions. Do you really think these nations are obligated to "bail out" the United States, as critics have put it? How do you respond to the view that the U.S. economy is not sufficiently focusing on foreign trade? Will you be able to prevent trade conflicts with the European Community, for instance over agriculture, from getting worse?
The President. Let's get the facts straight: We are not looking for a "bail out" of the United States by her trading partners. The serious imbalance we face in world trade today was caused by a number of factors. The U.S. economy has grown faster since the early eighties than other major economies. This fact combined with the excess of investment demand over savings in the United States generated large capital flows into the United States. As a result, for the last 4 years the United States has been a net importer from other countries to the tune of $550 billion. This pattern cannot be sustained. To reverse it, all major trading countries will have to cooperate. The shifts in exchange rates since early 1985 are contributing to the adjustment of external imbalances. Japan, the largest creditor nation in history, must reduce its trade surplus by strengthening its domestic growth and importing more. The FRG, the world's largest exporter, must also do more to promote domestic demand. The United States must continue to reduce government spending. I agree that U.S. firms need to be more responsive to foreign buyers in order to take advantage of recent exchange rate movements. Most of our trade problems with Europe stem largely from mutual concerns about agricultural support programs. We, the EEC, and the major agricultural trading nations of the world have agreed to make a serious effort in the Uruguay round to reach agreement on a fundamental reform of agricultural policies. By allowing market forces to guide production and trade, we can avoid serious trade conflicts in the future.
Q. The United States wanted to discuss the fight against terrorism in Venice, and the Europeans objected. Do you feel the Europeans let you down?
The President. No, that is not true. At Tokyo there was a good discussion on terrorism, reflected in the final declaration. All summit participants agree that terrorism continues to be an important issue and that through multilateral cooperation important progress has been made in the fight against terrorism. No one should lose sight of the fact that the decline in international terrorism in Europe over the past year shows that by working together democratic governments can take effective measures against terrorists and that these policies are positively reflected in public opinion. Terrorism is on the agenda at Venice, and we welcome such discussion. There are no differences at the summit on the need to combat terrorism by continuing cooperative efforts.
Q. According to polls, many Europeans consider Gorbachev the politician more aggressively looking for disarmament and detente than you. Is he simply a better communicator than you, or do you accept that view?
The President. The last guest to arrive at a party usually gets the attention, and I think that is what's happening with the Soviet Union these days on arms control. I know from my meetings with Mr. Gorbachev that he is an effective spokesman for his country. And if he is eager for arms reductions and better relations with the West, all of us in the West would welcome that. But the search for peace requires more than slogans and reassuring words; it requires genuine actions and concrete proposals that deal with real problems. We in the West have always been in the forefront in this regard. Look at what we have accomplished in arms control over the past year or so.
We are very close to an agreement that would drastically reduce longer range INF missiles, hopefully even eliminate them worldwide, which is our strong preference. Both are in fact U.S. proposals, based on our consultations with the FRG and our other allies. We have made progress toward deep reductions, 50-percent cuts, in strategic nuclear arsenals. This is an idea that I have been advocating for almost a decade, and I'm glad the Soviets are finally accepting it.
Working with our allies in the 35-nation CDE, we concluded an agreement at Stockholm last year on measures that will improve military openness in Europe, reduce the risk of surprise attack, and increase the political cost of using military force for political intimidation. The measures agreed to in Stockholm are based on NATO proposals. The Soviets wanted an empty, declaratory accord. We held out for something concrete that would enhance our security, and we got it.
Note: The questions and answers were released by the Office of the Press Secretary on June 4.
Ronald Reagan, Written Responses to Questions Submitted by Deutsche Presse- Agentur of the Federal Republic of Germany Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/252404