Remarks of President Reagan and President Seyni Kountche of Niger Following Their Meetings

December 11, 1984

President Reagan. It's been an honor and a pleasure to welcome President Kountche to Washington.

Our meeting takes place at a time when the world's attention is focused on the serious food crisis in Africa. Niger has not been spared the ravages of the drought. However, through the constructive efforts of President Kountche's government and the help of the international community, including the United States, the effects of the drought in Niger will be reduced.

Those who know President Kountche know that food self-sufficiency and the well-being of his people are his primary goals. He has gone about these objectives with pragmatic policies. President Kountche represents an impressive example of the kind of serious, concerned leadership that Africa will need to overcome its economic problems. His reputation as a dedicated and capable leader has been confirmed by his visit to Washington today.

In our conversations this morning, and at lunch, we covered many of the important international problems of the day, particularly those concerning Africa. We have benefited from President Kountche's views on the problems of drought and economic development in the Sahel, as well as the political problems of that region. We support Niger's efforts to maintain its independence and territorial integrity.

In many areas our views converge. On a few others, in a spirit of mutual respect, we've agreed to differ. We have an excellent bilateral relationship to which we both attach considerable importance.

Niger and the United States together are committed to the resolution of international problems through the pursuit of realistic dialog in international organizations and through the exercise of rational economic policies at home. And I have assured President Kountche of our support for him and his country, and I've expressed our admiration for his accomplishments at home and abroad.

President Kountche. Ladies and gentlemen, I have just had a very extensive discussion with President Ronald Reagan. We discussed bilateral cooperation, as well as African and international issues regarding the effects of world recession, the persistent drought and famine in Africa, and the flashpoints existing in almost all the continents. Our discussions were also especially focused on the role of the United States of America in the search for a better international political, economic, and military balance. And I can say that the views of our two countries were consistent with each other, and there were a good understanding on most of the issues discussed.

As far as Africa is concerned, you know that we are currently preoccupied by the harsh drought that is once again affecting extensive areas of our continent, the result of which is the reappearance of hunger in many countries, especially in extensive regions of the Sahel, in the whole of Africa, and eastern Africa.

I'm glad to note that both President Reagan and his administration are fully aware of this situation and that not only do they sympathize with us, but they are also seriously concerned by the great sufferings affecting several thousands of Africans that have been seriously hit. President Reagan and the American administration have already provided substantial food aid, and Niger is grateful to them for that. The President also assured me that the United States will continue to use significant means to decisively help in the crusade against hunger and death in Africa. And this is essentially in a humanitarian spirit.

We have also discussed the political issues that are currently haunting the African countries -- Chad, western Sahara, but especially southern Africa, where the delays in the independence of Namibia and the persistence of apartheid in South Africa engender an untenable situation in the frontline states. President Ronald Reagan and I agree that more consultation between Africa and the United States of America will make it possible to remove the obstacles and solve these problems in serenity, in justice, and in the rule of law.

Besides, I would be right to say that through these discussions we were able to compare our common desire to see peace and security prevail throughout the world on the basis of the great ideals of the right of the peoples to self-determination and liberty, respect for all the countries' sovereignty and territorial integrity, respect for the countries' domestic political choice, and respect for the rules of good neighborliness and peaceful coexistence among the nations.

Naturally, we did not lose sight of the economic issues, because Niger and all Africa are severely hit by the economic crisis that unfortunately affects all the continents. In this regard, we both recognized that the United States have a top role to play in order to safeguard peace in the world and, mostly, to save the stability of small nations.

My conclusion, therefore, is that I am fully satisfied with these talks during which I congratulated President Ronald Reagan for all the efforts that he has been making and for the great vigilance that he has personally shown concerning Niger and regarding the problems of Africa. You know that in recent years, President Ronald Reagan and his administration have launched a diversified, dynamic, and especially friendly and fruitful cooperation with my country. And I can say today that the United States of America are among our most active and most effective partners.

As for the President, he appeared as a man most devoted to his duties and to his nation. Moreover, I have been seriously impressed by the fact -- by his awareness of the global problems, his worshiping of liberty and the fulfillment of man, his determination to build an American society ever stronger and more prosperous.

I wish him good health, a continuous clearmindedness, a growing clear sight to fulfill the well-deserved new term of office with which he has just been entrusted by the people, following his reelection, that in all aspects was a personal triumph and a general satisfaction expressed to him by the great American people.

I thank you.

Note: President Reagan spoke at 1:23 p.m. at the South Portico of the White House. President Kountche spoke in French, and his remarks were translated by an interpreter.

Earlier, the two Presidents met in the Oval Office. They then held a working luncheon, together with U.S. and Niger officials, in the State Dining Room.