The President. Prime Minister Fanfani and I have had productive discussions today covering a wide range of issues. We confirmed the broad consensus that exists between our two countries on matters concerning the Middle East, Western security and solidarity, international economic cooperation, and world peace.
I took this occasion to thank the Prime Minister for Italy's continuing vital contribution to the Western alliance, particularly in regard to INF, on which Italy's support has been exemplary. I can say without reservation that the United States regards Italy's role in NATO as second to no other member of the alliance and our friendship as a precious asset.
In recent months, Italy has been demonstrating its courage and its admirable sense of responsibility in the multinational force and observers in the Sinai and participating in UNIFIL and as a part of the multinational force in Lebanon. And Italy has been doing its share and more. This burden, as must be expected, has not been without cost. I expressed to the Prime Minister our deep regret over the death of Italian soldier Filippo Montesi and the wounding of several more Italians in Lebanon. These brave men stood side by side with our marines serving the cause of peace in that troubled country.
Italy has also been in the forefront of endeavors to promote harmony in the horn of Africa and in seeking tangible progress to alleviate world hunger. In the important area of East-West economic relations, the Prime Minister and I confirmed the significance we attach to current discussions aimed at achieving a broad transatlantic consensus. As we proceed on to Williamsburg, I'm most grateful to have the continuing benefit of Italy's wise counsel and advice.
We Americans share the values of democracy and individual choice. And since Italy's spectacular liberation of General Dozier from his Red Brigade captors back in 1982, the general feeling around Washington has been Viva Italia. The genuinely friendly nature of our relations and Italy's tangible commitment to preserving peace and freedom cause me to repeat that sentiment today.
America is proud to have Italy as a friend and as a partner in meeting the challenges ahead. And I personally look forward to having the continued counsel and support of Prime Minister Fanfani and other Italian leaders.
And welcome again, Mr. Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister. Mr. President, at the White House in the past, with President Eisenhower in 1958 and then again with President Kennedy in 1961 and 1963, I had already experienced those possibilities of understanding which exist between the United States and Italy. I thank President Reagan who, by his courteous invitation, has afforded me the opportunity to ascertain again how solidly the friendship that was so successfully promoted by Alcide de Gasperi has been maintained.
In his cordial welcome, President Reagan has pointed out some important aspects of this friendship, the Atlantic alliance, which commits us also with respect to intermediate-range nuclear forces, ensures peace through the necessary arms balance. Our common action in the Sinai and in Beirut facilitates the settlement of difficult situations. In Geneva, Vienna, and Madrid, we are seeking just solutions to the problems of disarmament and respect of human rights.
I also wish to recall two beneficial effects of this longstanding cooperation of ours: the rise of Italy from the situation in which it found itself at the end of the Second World War amid all the destruction, to the position of being one among the seven most industrialized countries in the world; and the cooperation given to the United States also by Italy in order to avoid that the 1962 Cuban missile crisis become the first nuclear war. These are two effects of a common action for progress and peace.
Today there are two major causes for concern for all people -- the economic crisis and the threat of a nuclear clash. The exchange of views with President Reagan allows me to consider today's meeting as useful in order to strengthen two great hopes -- the hope for economic recovery, which is to be consolidated at Williamsburg, and the hope for a constructive conclusion for the missiles negotiations currently taking place in Geneva.
With the fulfillment of these two hopes, the world's economy will benefit from the recovery we all seek. Peace, even today uncertain, will become finally secure. Millions of individuals will return to work. All peoples, especially those from the Third World, will resume the path to development. Funds, which will be subtracted from armaments, will given a decisive impetus to the third industrial revolution.
The clearing of the horizon will make the citizens of the United States and of Italy realize once again that cooperation between their two countries continues to be an important factor for peace and progress.
Note: The President spoke at 1:16 p.m. to reporters assembled at the South Portico of the White House. The Prime Minister spoke in Italian, and his remarks were translated by an interpreter.
Earlier, the President and the Prime Minister met in the Oval Office and then held a working luncheon, together with U.S. and Italian officials, in the Residence.