Statement by Principal Deputy Press Secretary Speakes on the Death of President Yuriy V. Andropov of the Soviet Union

February 10, 1984

The President has sent a message expressing his condolences to Mr. Kuznetsov, the Acting Soviet Chief of State, on the death of Chairman Andropov. In his message the President emphasized to the people and Government of the U.S.S.R. his desire for cooperation between the two countries in the search for a more peaceful world.

As the President reaffirmed in his address of January 16, the United States has sought and will continue to seek a constructive and realistic dialog with the Soviet Union aimed at building a more productive and stable relationship. Our objective is not dialog for its own sake, but a dialog that produces real solutions to the many concrete problems that divide us.

There are, to be sure, fundamental differences between the American and Soviet systems and our respective political beliefs. But the American and Soviet peoples have a common interest in the avoidance of war and the reduction of arms. It is this need to preserve and strengthen the peace that is at the heart of U.S. policy.

The President's policy toward the Soviet Union seeks to achieve progress in three broad areas: developing ways to eliminate the use and the threat of force in international relations; significantly reducing the vast arms stockpiles in the world, particularly nuclear weapons; and establishing a better working relationship with Moscow, characterized by greater cooperation and understanding and based on mutual restraint and respect.

At this time of transition in the Soviet Union, our two nations should look to the future in order to find ways to realize these goals. In the nuclear age, there is no alternative to dialog.

The United States hopes that the Soviet leader will work with us in this spirit and take advantage of the opportunities at hand to find common ground and establish a mutually beneficial relationship.

Note: Larry M. Speakes read the statement to reporters assembled in the Vista Mar Monte Room at the Sheraton Hotel in Santa Barbara, CA, during his daily press briefing, which began at 10 a.m.