Remarks and a Question-and-Answer Session With Reporters Upon Return From the International Meeting on Cooperation and Development in Cancun, Mexico

October 24, 1981

The President. Throughout these 3 days in Cancun, I have participated in a unique and highly productive exchange of views with leaders of developed and developing nations. I hope I speak for the many other world leaders there in saying that Cancun was a substantial success.

The spirit of this conference, as the Cochairman described it, was extremely constructive and positive. The exchange was direct, frank, wide-ranging, and free of recrimination. We dealt with hard issues, and yet succeeded in finding many areas of shared priorities and of common ground.

The fact that we could suceed demonstrates the possibility for a more fruitful dialog conducted with candor and mutual respect. I believe that all those who attended found our expectations fulfilled and even exceeded. Together we succeeded in creating a spirit of new hope, which we want to translate into progress to revitalize the world economy and accelerate the growth of developing countries.

Last week in Philadelphia, I spoke of the goal that motivates our effort: the enhancement of human freedom and economic opportunity. We evaluated the record of succeeds and proposed a program to address the fundamental problems facing the developing countries and the world economy.

At Cancun, we stressed many of those same important themes and the commitment of the United States to work with those countries in their development efforts. There was broad agreement on steps which had to be taken by the developing countries themselves, and by developed and developing countries together, to stimulate the process of growth. There was broad acceptance of many of the approaches proposed in Philadelphia and a strong desire to work with the United States in these areas.

All participants recognized the fact that economic prosperity in any country or group of countries depends both on individual countries own efforts and on close international cooperation. We didn't waste time on unrealistic rhetoric or unattainable objectives. We dealt with pragmatic solutions to the problems of growth -- efforts to improve food security and agricultural development.

There was agreement with our proposal that task forces should be sent to developing countries to assist them in finding new agricultural techniques and transmitting to farmers techniques now in existence. I have directed the Agency for International Development to coordinate these U.S. efforts and to report to us on the progress made.

We also discussed ways to increase trade and industrialization, and there was strong support for working together at the GATT Ministerial. In addition, ways were discussed in which the developing nations can increase their energy production, and monetary and financial issues were reviewed.

I return home reminded again of the importance of American leadership in the world. At Cancun, we made a good beginning toward more constructive and mutually beneficial relations among developed and developing nations and toward a more prosperous world. We have an enormous opportunity now to advance mutually beneficial economic relations with our developing country partners.

I look foward to continuing our efforts in the constructive spirit that characterized the Cancun discussions. By sustaining that spirit, the American people, the people of the developing nations, and the entire world will be better.

End of statement.

Q. Mr. President, do you foresee any problems -- when you were gone, a number of Senators have expressed the way they will vote on AWACS. And do you see any further problems for you in that area? Are you still expected to win?

The President. Well, I repeat my cautious, but optimistic, statement, but say that's what I am back to get busy with again, and see if we can't continue to get some of those who are undecided to realize that the greatest security for the United States and the greatest security for Israel rests with the sale of the AWACS to Saudi Arabia. And those Senators who refuse to see this, I'm afraid are not doing their country a service.

Q. Were there any futher discussions with Prince Fahd while you were there? Did you discuss AWACS at all?

The President. Never mentioned it.

Q. Is there any possibility that you will withdraw the sale from the Senate?

The President. No.

Q. In what ways are the Senators not doing their country a service?

The President. Because I don't think they're being realistic about the dangerous situation in the Middle East, the threat of the Soviet Union there, and the need for the United States and our allies to make their presence felt in that area.

Q. [Inaudible]

The President. We discussed that, discussed Egypt, and what we view as Egypt's progress now. And all in all, it was a very optimistic discussion.

Q. Do you think that Saudi Arabia has gone as far as it can go in terms of assurances and guarantees, and do you think they are sufficient enough to convince the 18 Senators you are going to meet next week?

The President. Helen [Helen Thomas, United Press International], they certainly should be, because I can say that with all my heart, we have guaranteed the security of the technology and the security of Israel.

Q. Mr. President, do you still leave open the option -- or do you leave open the option of bypassing the Senate if they do not go along with the sale?

The President. Well, that's something that I refuse to even think about or discuss while we are still talking to Senators who are honestly uncommitted and undecided and waiting to make up their minds.

Q. Thank you very much.

The President. Thank you all.

Note: The President spoke at 4:22 p.m. at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. Following the question-and-answer session, the President returned to the White House on Marine One.