Remarks of the President and Prime Minister Kare Willoch of Norway Following Their Meetings

February 18, 1983

The President. Well, I can tell you that I'm very pleased -- and we all are -- with the meetings that we've had with Prime Minister Willoch. Norway and the United States enjoy close ties that long predate our alliance, and it's always a happy occasion when we find a friend like Prime Minister Willoch paying us a visit.

Our discussions today come at a critical time for our alliance, a time when it's more important than ever for freedom-loving people on both sides of the Atlantic to reaffirm their shared security interests. For our part, I assured the Prime Minister of a firm American commitment to the preservation of peace and freedom and of our continuing efforts in coordination with our allies in the North Atlantic Community to achieve reductions in the military arsenals of both the East and the West.

The Prime Minister and I also discussed general NATO security issues and the importance of Norwegian energy supplies to the West. Our talks on all of these matters were positive and upbeat, as was our discussion of the international economic issues.

I'm deeply impressed that in these challenging times Norway and the United States, two longtime friends, continue to have strong commonality of interests. I hope that Prime Minister Willoch found the visit as useful as I did, and I look forward to maintaining a close and friendly relationship that is traditional between the leaders of our people and our two countries.

Mr. Prime Minister, it's been good to have you here.

The Prime Minister. Thank you.

Mr. President, I would first like to thank you for your gracious words. My visit to Washington, my discussions with a number of the American leaders, and of course, in particular, the meeting with you, Mr. President, today, has indeed been very, very useful to us. And I would like to add that we feel here, as we felt in Minnesota earlier this week, how close our two nations are.

I have had the opportunity to present Norwegian views on a number of problems facing us today. The most important current issue is the question of disarmament and arms control, and in particular, the Geneva negotiations.

The Western goal remains clear. We want to reach a balance of forces in Europe with as few nuclear weapons as possible. The zero option with no intermediate nuclear weapons on either side is the optimum outcome. We know that the U.S. will make all possible efforts to get an agreement with the Soviet Union as close to this optimum as possible. And to achieve this, it is of the utmost importance that the allies stand united.

We also had the opportunity to discuss a number of other issues, as the President mentioned. We discussed, among other issues, the economic outlook and the possibilities for improved international cooperation to achieve a revival of our economies and a reduction of unemployment.

Mr. President, I wish to thank you once again wholeheartedly for your kindness and for all the useful discussions we have had. Thank you so much, Mr. President.

Q. Mr. President, there may be $50 million missing from the Superfund. Does that disturb you, sir? Fifty million dollars missing from the Superfund, there may be, according to a Congressman. Does that disturb you?

The President. It would disturb me if it were true. This is what we've said we're going to find out, if there's anything to support any of these charges. And we're doing our utmost to find that out.

Q. Are you going to reach an agreement today on the papers, sir, turning them over or not?

The President. [Inaudible] -- you wouldn't expect me to read the mind of those people up on the Hill, would you?

Note: The President spoke at 1:22 p.m. to reporters assembled at the South Portico of the White House. Earlier, the President and the Prime Minister met in the Oval Office, together with United States and Norwegian officials, including the Vice President, Secretary of State George P. Shultz, and U.S. Ambassador to Norway Mark Evans Austad. The President and the Prime Minister and their delegations then held a working luncheon in the Residence.