Remarks of the President and Prime Minister Rudolphus Lubbers of the Netherlands Following Their Meetings

March 15, 1983

The President. It's been a pleasure for me to meet and confer with Prime Minister Lubbers. This is his first visit to this country since becoming Prime Minister, head of the Dutch Government, and we've used the opportunity to discuss a wide range of issues.

One of the subjects discussed was, as you could well imagine, INF, the intermediate nuclear force discussions. We agreed that Western unity behind modernizing NATO's defensive capabilities and serious arms negotiations are essential to maintaining peace and security. Throughout the discussions this morning in the Oval Office and during a working lunch, it was evident the Netherlands and the United States continue to share a common outlook and a unity of purpose.

As the Dutch-American bicentennial reminded us last year, our bonds are tied by 200 years of friendship. We believe in the Atlantic Partnership, which has not only kept peace for 30 years or more but which has also improved the quality of life on both sides of the Atlantic. I have no doubt that we in America and the Netherlands, cemented by shared values and common interests, will continue to work closely together, seeking a world that is free from war, in which liberty and freedom of choice are respected.

Mr. Prime Minister, it's been a great pleasure to welcome you here, you and your associates.

The Prime Minister. Ladies and gentlemen, it was a real pleasure for me to talk with President Reagan as allies in the Atlantic partnership. How different in scale our countries are, we share a common task -- prosperity and freedom for our people, respect for the individual, and responsibility among nations.

We discussed the road to economic recovery, the importance of free trade and of fair trade relations between the United States and Europe, of compromises instead of harming each other -- the need, also, of monetary and budgetary policies which lower interest rates.

As NATO allies we discussed also security problems, the important and adequate contribution of the Dutch to a defense posture, sufficient to disencourage aggression. Of course, we discussed also INF. Preparations for the deployment of these weapons as a political and a military answer to the Soviet threat, the SS - 20's threat, are underway as scheduled. The Soviets have to understand that Geneva talks have to become now Geneva negotiations. President Reagan stated to me a deep, personal commitment to achieving an arms reduction agreement. In that endeavor, the alliance is united.

And then we discussed also our responsibilities in connection with Third World countries, the strengthening, especially, of international institutions.

Ladies and gentlemen, respect for every individual wherever she or he lives, responsibility and freedom, freedom and responsibility, that's our common ground.

Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 1:25 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 and then held a working luncheon, together with U.S. and Dutch officials, in the State Dining Room.