Remarks to Reporters Following Meetings With President Luis Herrera Campins of Venezuela

November 18, 1981

President Reagan. President Herrera and I have just concluded a series of productive meetings in which we reviewed the relations between our two countries and the international situation.

The overall relations between the United States and Venezuela are excellent, and we've discovered that both nations share similar concerns about the international situation. We took a close look at development in the Caribbean Basin Region and discussed what can be done to promote peace, freedom, and representative government in that part of the world.

We agreed to pursue the initiative begun by Venezuela, Mexico, Canada, and the United States for the Caribbean Basin Region. We will continue, and strengthen where possible, our individual assistance programs and encourage other states to do likewise. And furthermore, we agreed that we must promote the economic and social development of the hemisphere through international cooperation. We can be expected to continue our opposition to any interference in the internal affairs of Western Hemisphere countries.

We agreed that efforts must be made to strengthen democracy, liberty, and pluralism against extremism and totalitarianism. We continued discussions we started at Cancun about global economic relations and exchanged views on the alternative paths to Third World development.

Finally, we conducted a comprehensive and forthright review of the relations between Venezuela and the United States. We found that there is a high level of cooperation and respect between our nations and pledged to continue this friendly relationship.

In addition to the usefulness of reviewing these issues, I want to emphasize how much I enjoyed sharing the past 2 days with my friend President Herrera, with Mrs. Herrera, and the distinguished delegation that accompanied them. We expect to remain in close contact on matters of crucial importance to peace and to the well-being of the hemisphere.

President Herrera. Allow me first of all to thank very heartily the President of the United States, my friend Ronald Reagan, for the kind invitation he extended to me to visit this great democracy. Allow me to thank him for the excellent organization of this visit, for having made possible for us to have contacts not only at the highest level, that of the Presidency of the country, but also at the level of high officials and personalities coming from the executive and the legislative powers of the United States.

We shall return to Venezuela with our hearts filled with the attentions and the kindness shown to us by President Reagan, Mrs. Reagan, and all the Americans we saw and talked to.

I wish to say that I believe that this is a fortunate coincidence -- the fact that I was here in Washington the morning of the extraordinary speech made by President Reagan. And I believe that this speech will have a great impact throughout the world, especially in regard to the need of limiting nuclear armament in Europe both by the United States and the Soviet Union. I believe that the four points you stated, Mr. President, in your speech to the National Press Club will be a great contribution to detente. And I must say I am very happy to have been here this morning.

We studied the bilateral relations between Venezuela and the United States, relations which, I must say, are presently at an optimal level. And we reviewed the need to continue implementing agreements, signed in the past between our two countries, most of them related to matters of technical exchange.

We also analyzed the difficult political situation existing in the Central American area and the Caribbean. And I must say that I expressed the independent, dignified, and serious position of our foreign policies with frankness, and I expressed in this way the views of my government. And allow me to say also, that I was listened to with respect and not only with respect but also with cordiality and understanding. And the concepts of peace, liberty, and democracy were ever present, were like a backdrop to our talks on the area.

As you know, the line of action of my government, the one we have always followed, is a line of non-intervention and respect for the self-determination of nations and the projection of the good of democracy and of freedom. And when we spoke about such a delicate situation as the one existing in Salvador, we coincided in the need to encourage the achievement of a democratic way out that will enable that country to overcome the subversion coming from Marxist radical movements.

We know of the great efforts made by the junta of the government, presided by Jose Napoleon Duarte in El Salvador, surrounded by so many difficulties in order to achieve an institutional way out to the situation there.

We have ratified the will of the Governments of the United States, Venezuela, Mexico, and Canada, to promote an ambitious program of cooperation in the area of the Caribbean and Central America and also a program where not only we would participate, but also we would encourage other governments to cooperate in the political, cultural, and economic, social development of this crucial area.

It has been of utmost importance for us and the developing nations of the world to have heard throughout my talks with President Reagan, and again in the speech he made this morning, a ratification of the political will expressed in Cancun, favoring global negotiations to be held soon, and thus bringing hope for peace through concrete and effective actions to all developing countries.

And finally, let me insist in extending my thanks again for all the kindness shown by President Reagan, Mrs. Reagan, and the team working with them, to me, my wife, the members of the Venezuelan party, and the special guests on this trip I made to Washington. And allow me to say that I appreciate greatly the generous concepts you have formulated time and again for my own person, for the government, democratic government I preside [over] -- a government that tries to search for peace, development, participation, and respect of human rights everywhere.

Thank you.

Note: President Reagan spoke at 12:05 p.m. on the South Lawn of the White House.