Remarks and a Question-and-Answer Session With Reporters on Strategic Arms Reduction Talks

December 8, 1983

The President. I've been waiting for the sound to get a little less. I just wanted to say something, and then I'm not going to take any more questions, or anything. I've got to get aboard to go to Indianapolis.

But I just wanted to say something about this supposed breakoff of negotiations in START and call to your attention that the Soviet Union -- this was a regular adjournment; it was scheduled to take place -- and the Soviet Union, in departing, simply said that they were not prepared at this time to set a date for resumption of meetings.

But I thought also that it might be a pretty good time to state our own position on this and why we're going to continue attempting these negotiations. It was just 30 years ago today, on December 8th, 1953, that President Dwight Eisenhower made a speech on this very subject of nuclear weapons. And in that speech, he said, ``To the making of these fateful decisions, the United States pledges before you . . . its determination to help solve the fearful atomic dilemma -- to devote its entire heart and mind to find the way by which the miraculous inventiveness of man shall not be dedicated to his death, but consecrated to his life.'' And this administration endorses this view completely, and this is what we are dedicated to.

Q. So, you're not concerned about the breakoff at this time? I know it was the end of the talks but -- --

The President. Yes.

Q. -- -- it also sounds very tough and final.

The President. Well, other than in this one, I think -- they're pretty careful about their choice of words. And all they said in this one was that they were not prepared at this time to set a date for when they would come back.

Q. So, you're convinced they will?

The President. I am very hopeful they will. I think this is more encouraging than a walkout and simply saying they won't be back.

Q. Will Shultz meet Gromyko in -- --

Q. Mr. President, do you think it may be time for a summit meeting?

Q. Do you think Secretary Shultz will meet Gromyko in Sweden?

The President. He's taking that up with the ministers right there now, and I would support such a thing. I think that it would be -- and that would sort of answer your question, too. I think there's some preparation. There's been no indication from them of any desire for such a meeting. But Secretary Shultz meets Gromyko in Stockholm at that meeting. And we have not been out of touch. We have kept in communications in a number of levels.

Deputy Press Secretary Speakes. Mr. President, we'd better get underway.

Q. Mr. President, is there any thought being given to moving the marines away from the airport in Beirut?

The President. There has been some talk for a long time about a change in assignment there, and that still goes on.

Q. Are you likely to approve that -- changing their position?

The President. Well -- [inaudible] -- it as a move that dovetailed in with the Lebanese military force, and I don't know what the military problems are or what they might be resolving right now.

Q. Is Mr. Baker going to be a baseball commissioner?

The President. I'll leave that to him.

Note: The President spoke at 1:37 p.m. at the South Portico of the White House as he was leaving for a trip to Indianapolis, Ind.