Remarks of the President and Head of State Samuel K. Doe of Liberia Following Their Meetings

August 17, 1982

The President. It's been a pleasure to welcome Liberian Head of State Samuel K. Doe on his first visit to the United States.

It's especially fitting that we should be meeting this year as the United States and Liberia celebrate 120 years of diplomatic relations. Our discussions gave us an opportunity to reaffirm the special friendship and mutual respect between our two countries.

Clearly a firm bond unites Liberians and Americans who have come together professionally and socially throughout the years. Our two governments have a long history of cooperation on bilateral and international issues.

Chairman Doe told me of his government's ambitious goals, including the return to democratic institutions and economic stabilization. We welcome his emphasis on bringing the benefits of development to every corner of Liberia. And today we discussed how the United States can assist Liberia in achieving these goals.

As I stated clearly in our discussion, the United States stands by its commitments to Liberia, and looks forward to continued, mutual cooperation. My meeting with Chairman Doe marks the beginning of his 2-week visit to the United States. And he made me a little envious when he told me that his next stop after Washington is going to be -- well, not exactly the next stop, but the next one after -- is going to be Los Angeles, California. But in addition to meeting with a wide range of administration officials and Members of the Congress, he will have an opportunity to meet many Americans outside the government and Liberians who live in the United States as well.

The personal ties among our private citizens play an important role in the special relationship between our two countries. I hope the longstanding ties between our two people and between our governments will be further strengthened in the years ahead.

And, Mr. Chairman, you're most welcome.

The Chairman. Ladies and gentlemen of the press, I am extremely happy to be in the United States of America, long considered the land of the free and the home of the brave. My visit here today is in response to the kind invitation extended me by President Ronald Reagan, a man of abiding courage, strong will, and foresight.

As you know, Liberia and the United States have a long and historic friendship -- we span more than 150 years. However, as Liberia's first leader to visit the United States, my presence here is significant in two principle respects: firstly, to first reaffirm our traditional friendship with the United States; secondly, the portrayal to the world the United States continuing identification with and support for Liberia.

In discussions with President Reagan, I have explained the causes of the Liberian revolution and the economic problems which presently confront the country. I also voiced my country's hopes and aspirations for the maintenance of the free enterprise system and our adhering to democratic ideals. Together President Reagan and I discussed matters of international concern, particularly the war in Lebanon and independence for Namibia. I also outlined the economic measures being taken by our government to achieve economic recovery and promote private sector investment. We are sure that these conditions are indispensable to the achievement of the smooth transition of a civilian government in 1985.

Ladies and gentlemen of the press, President Reagan assured me we can continue to count on America's understanding and support for the fulfillment of the objectives of our revolution. This is a most welcome assurance. It demonstrates the Reagan administration's commitment to maintaining the United States economic and strategic interests in Liberia.

Our country serves as a mirror through which African nations can assess America's support and commitment to developing countries. It is our belief that with the kind of mutual interests we share, the United States should recognize that Liberia could serve as a mirror through which its support to developing countries could be assured.

Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 12:59 p.m. to reporters assembled at the South Portico of the White House. Earlier, the President and Chairman Doe, Head of State and Chairman of the People's Redemption Council, met in the Oval Office. They then held a working luncheon, together with U.S. and Liberian officials, in the State Dining Room.