Remarks of the President and Prime Minister Wilfried Martens of Belgium Following Their Meeting

February 17, 1982

The President. Ladies and gentlemen, I'll make this very brief.

Prime Minister Martens and Foreign Minister Tindemans and their party and the other representatives of the Government of Belgium -- but also the Prime Minister is the President of the European Community Council -- we've had a very valuable meeting, covered a great range of issues, found ourselves in great agreement with regard to the double-track of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces.

We had great discussion and found great agreement and support here with regard to our position in El Salvador and a recognition of what is at stake there, and a very fruitful discussion of the economy, economic trade, and what we can do to be mutually helpful.

So, Mr. Prime Minister, we're very proud and happy to have had you here and look forward to further meetings.

The Prime Minister. Ladies and gentlemen, first of all I would like to repeat my thanks to the President for his generous hospitality. It is indeed for the Belgian delegation an honor and a particular pleasure to be here in Washington.

Secondly, I can fully subscribe to the statement that the President has just made. In my capacity of Prime Minister of Belgium and as Chairman of the European Council, I had the opportunity to explain to our American friends both the Belgian and the European positions. The discussion with the President and his advisers, though they will be pursued right away with the Secretary of State, have proved very useful in fostering mutual understanding.

The Atlantic Alliance, the Western economies are going through very difficult times, and our solidarity is being put to the test. I have always been convinced that the partnership between Europe and the United States not only can meet this challenge but can also come out stronger after open and frank exchange of views.

I am today comforted in that opinion. And I am sure that the will exists on both sides of the Atlantic to pool our efforts to cope with the difficult situation we are facing. Our two countries have the same goals -- peace, prosperity, and the democratic ideals of individual freedom. The differences, when they occur, are more on tactics than on substance. I am looking forward to pursuing this conversation along with other allies when we will meet again at the next NATO summit in June.

I thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 1:15 p.m. to reporters assembled at the South Portico of the White House.

Earlier in the day, the President and the Prime Minister met in the Oval Office, along with the Vice President, Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig, Jr., Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs William P. Clark, Charles H. Price II, U.S. Ambassador to Belgium, Belgian Foreign Minister Leo Tindemans, and J. Raoul Schoumaker, Belgian Ambassador to the United States. The President and the Prime Minister then attended a working luncheon with their delegations in the State Dining Room at the White House.