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Written Responses to Questions Submitted by Die Welt of the Federal Republic of Germany

June 12, 1987


Q. Mr. President, you will visit Berlin on June 12. What will be your message to the Berliners?

The President. My message to Berliners, and indeed to all citizens of the world, is that freedom brings prosperity; freedom pays. That conclusion is inescapable for anyone who views the difference between East and West, so sharply visible in divided Berlin. Even the Soviet leadership seems to be coming to acknowledge the benefits of freedom. If they really do come to understand, then there is one step they could take that would be unmistakable: Tear down the wall, open the gates.

Today represents a moment of hope. We in the West stand ready to cooperate with the East to promote true openness—to break down the barriers that separate people, to create a safer, freer world. And surely there is no better place than Berlin, the meeting place of East and West, to make a start.

I salute the people of Berlin for their history, courage, their steadfastness, and their dedication to freedom. We hope and expect that the Berlin of the future will be even more splendid than it is today. I intend to work with President von Weizacker, Chancellor Kohl, Mayor Diepgen, and our French and British colleagues to ensure that this future becomes reality.

Arms Control

Q. Are you in full harmony with the German standpoint on disarmament, as expressed in the statement of the Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl in the Federal Parliament, especially about the connection between conventional and nuclear reductions?

The President. Yes, I strongly share the key messages contained in the Chancellor's statement, specifically:

—We agree that our guideline is the reliable prevention of all wars, both conventional or nuclear.

—We agree that for the foreseeable future there is no alternative to the defense strategy of flexible response developed by the alliance.

—We agree that this means the alliance will continue to have to rely on a balance of conventional and nuclear forces, and that, therefore, for as long as this is the case, we cannot support any attempt to remove all nuclear weapons from Europe.

—We agree that the level of U.S. and Soviet nuclear weapons should be reduced, and that we should maintain no more nuclear weapons than are necessary for the security of the United States and her allies.

—We agree that the linkage between the security of the United States and that of NATO is guaranteed by the presence of U.S. troops and their families in the Federal Republic.

—We agree that disarmament is not an end in itself, and we agree that it must never lead to less security.

—We agree that the complex interactions of disarmament steps and strategy require a thorough examination during the associated decisionmaking in each alliance country and within the alliance as a whole.

—And we agree that the goal should be to establish a stable, balanced ratio of forces at the lowest possible levels.

Q. Do you think the German Government is right that there should be negotiations with the Russians about reduction of the short-range missiles under 300 miles after an agreement about INF?

The President. It is essential that we always keep in mind that the negotiations on intermediate-range missiles are only one of the negotiations in progress. These negotiations are not an end in themselves but part of a wider, more comprehensive process.

The NATO allies are working hard for progress in arms control on a wide front. We have proposed a 50-percent reduction in strategic nuclear arms which can strike targets at virtually any range. We have proposed the total elimination of chemical weapons. We are seeking to redress the current imbalance in conventional arms. Most importantly, we must have the vision to see these efforts as parts of a larger whole. In this context, I continue to favor the total elimination of all offensive ballistic missiles. However, achieving that objective must be accomplished in an orderly and realistic manner.

Q. Do you agree with Bonn that the Pershing IA missiles of the German Bundeswehr should not be included in an INF agreement?

The President. Yes, of course. Both the United States and NATO have insisted from the very beginning that the INF negotiations must cover U.S. and Soviet missiles only. These negotiations are bilateral between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. We have consistently maintained the firm position that the U.S. will not deal with third-country systems or change existing patterns of cooperation with its allies in such bilateral negotiations.

Further, our objective in these and other negotiations is to establish equality between the U.S. and U.S.S.R. at lower levels of arms. However, the Soviet Union has long tried to assert a right to equality with the U.S. and various other nations put together. To grant them this would threaten Western security and create a dangerous precedent across the entire front of negotiations. The Soviets did not demand a limit on German Pershing IA missiles in the 1981-1983 INF talks or in the current talks, which began in 1985. They did not raise this issue in the 1985 Geneva summit, the 1986 Reykjavik meeting, or in the meetings between Secretary Shultz and Soviet leaders in Moscow in April of this year. I doubt that the Soviets will block an INF agreement by creating a new and artificial issue.

Ronald Reagan, Written Responses to Questions Submitted by Die Welt of the Federal Republic of Germany Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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