Remarks of President Reagan and President Alessandro Pertini of Italy Following Their Meeting

March 25, 1982

President Reagan. Ladies and gentlemen, I've just completed extremely useful talks with a man who embodies the essential qualities we have in mind when we mention such terms as ``principle,'' ``staunchness,'' ``courage,'' and most important, ``friend.'' I refer to the distinguished President of the Italian Republic, Sandro Pertini. President Pertini in a very real sense not only symbolizes but indeed helps forge the close ties which bind our two peoples and countries.

In our talks this morning, I made a point of reiterating to President Pertini the deep admiration which Americans feel for the constructive and courageous role Italy is increasingly playing on the world stage.

Our country, of course, has special reasons for appreciating that role. We applaud Italy's consistently strong support for the Atlantic Alliance. We applaud her decision to participate actively in the search for a Middle East peace. We're deeply moved by the tireless battle she is waging against the scourge of international terrorism -- a battle so recently dramatized for us with the heartlifting liberation of General Dozier by Italian security forces.

President Pertini's long and sometimes lonely fight against the evils of totalitarian oppression give him exceptional credentials as a man of integrity and resolution. He was among the first to speak out publicly against Soviet actions in Poland. For this reason, I welcome the chance to share his insights on a number of critical international issues, including the Polish crisis, the continuing Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, and our joint determination to defeat international terrorism, the situation in Central America, and the status of the peace process in the Middle East.

It's a great honor to have President Pertini with us, and I look forward to seeing him again when I visit his country in June.

President Pertini [In Italian]. I am very pleased with my meeting with President Reagan, which I looked forward to for a long time and which has fully met with my expectations. I was certain that we would immediately understand one another. Our talk was characterized by that cordiality and frankness which mark the relationship between our two countries.

Even before leaving on this trip I had had the opportunity to emphasize to you members of the press how sincerely we Italians share with the other Europeans, possibly to an even greater degree, the deep appreciation for the decisive help given us by the Americans during the last two world conflicts, to defend the independence and liberty of our continent, how deeply we feel the need to keep alive the common ideals of our Western civilization -- a love of freedom, of social justice, of peace, of human rights, and therefore the reciprocal understanding between these two shores of the Atlantic.

I have also recalled how there exists between Italy and the United States still another deep bond -- as sentimental as it is real -- that of the presence in America of so many citizens of Italian origin. All these reasons for a strong and lasting understanding, based on common ideals, have been recalled by President Reagan and me in our meeting today, a meeting which, from the very beginning has engendered between us a spontaneous flow of friendship.

We have also reviewed those political and economic issues most relevant to the current international climate, which will be discussed in depth by Secretary of State Haig and Foreign Minister Colombo. We will be able to continue our warm and fruitful exchange of ideas when President Reagan returns my visit in Rome next June.

I'm looking forward to furthering my direct contact with the dynamic American way of life, here in Washington and in my successive visits to other great cities in the United States. I will be happy to meet firsthand the generous American people, for whom I have deep admiration and who have moved me with the warmth of their welcome.

[In English] Thank you very much.

Note: President Reagan spoke at 11:47 a.m. to reporters assembled on the South Grounds of the White House. President Pertini's remarks were translated by an interpreter.