Remarks Following Discussions With President Mohammed Hosni Mubarak of Egypt

March 12, 1985

President Reagan. I have enjoyed this opportunity to host President Mubarak and to exchange views with him on issues of mutual interest and importance to Egypt and the United States.

As close friends and partners in peace, we've had a good discussion, including a thorough review of developments in the Middle East area. The substantial economic and military assistance that we're requesting for Egypt reflects our strong commitment to Egypt's security and economic well-being.

Earlier this morning our representatives signed agreements which will result in $215 million in U.S. assistance to support rehabilitation of Egypt's infrastructure, $300 million in balance-of-payments support which will enable Egypt to buy needed goods from the United States. Egypt faces economic difficulties, and as your friend and full partner in the Middle East peace process, we'll be giving careful and sympathetic consideration to what we might do to help.

A major focus of our talks today was how to broaden the historic Middle East peace process. And Egypt's experience as peacemaker and your leadership in the region uniquely suits you to help build new bridges of understanding, confidence, hope, and trust.

Recently, President Mubarak, you've made suggestions which have helped renew interest in the peace process. I regard them as a positive contribution, and I appreciate the constructive spirit in which you offered them. We note particularly your realistic assessment that the path to peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors is through direct negotiations.

The United States continues to believe that such negotiations should take place on the basis of United Nations Security Council Resolution 242, which provides both for the restoration of Arab land and the right of Israel, as all states in the region, to live in peace within secure and recognized borders. As reaffirmed in my initiative of September 1st, 1982, the United States also believes that the outcome of this process must recognize the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.

Let us hope that the positive trends that have recently begun in the region will be strengthened and, that with Egypt's valued help, they will open the path to direct negotiations. In the full knowledge that the parties are still a long way from the negotiating table, the United States takes an active interest in these developments, and we'll support the parties' efforts to build on this promising beginning.

The road to peace in the Middle East has been long, frustrating, and marked by great tragedy. Fortunately there have also been great achievements, such as the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty, which reminds us that success is possible -- it's not only possible, it's imperative.

I reassured President Mubarak of the commitment of the United States and my personal commitment to work with Egypt and our other friends in the area to achieve a just and lasting peace.

I thank you, and God bless you.

President Mubarak. President Reagan, it was a great pleasure to meet with you once again, in the spirit of friendship and the fraternity which characterizes our relations.

As ever, I found the conversations were most constructive and rewarding. Our friendly meeting today reaffirmed my belief that you are a man of honor and vision. It's a good omen that our meeting today coincides with the 150th anniversary of the establishment of relations between our two countries. Throughout these years we have endeavored to set up a model for cooperation among nations. Our bilateral relations are moving from good to excellent. We encounter no problems in setting the stage for more cooperation, which is equally profitable.

We conduct our relations on the basis of mutual respect and profound understanding. Your appreciation of the efforts the Egyptian people are exerting on the road of economic development and reform is recognized by every Egyptian. On the other hand, your commitment to peace and justice in our part of the world is unwavering. I am pleased to note that we agree, together, on the centrality of the Palestinian question to the situation in the Middle East. It is the key to progress and the source of despair and tension. Hence, we should devote ourselves to reaching a just and honorable solution, therefore, without delay.

I believe that no nation is more qualified than America to support the Palestinian peoples' right to self-determination. This is a stand that is consistent with the American heritage and values. This country was founded on the principle that all men are equal and were created by God Almighty to live in freedom and dignity.

I also believe that no leader is more equipped to play an historic role and fulfill a sacred mission in the Middle East. Destiny has chosen you to lead this great nation at a time when a golden opportunity for peace is emerging.

The Jordanian-Palestinian agreement to pursue a peaceful settlement is a major development that should not be discounted or discarded. We cannot afford another missed opportunity for peace, and not during your Presidency. I'm confident that the United States will act without delay in order to keep the momentum going and to pave the way for further progress. We have discussed the variety of available options for following up this move.

In the months ahead we shall work together as faithful partners on the road to peace. We shall persevere in our drive which aims at bridging the gap existing between the positions of the parts and ushering in a new era of peace and reconciliation.

We realize that the task is difficult and the challenge is great, but the cause is greater. President Reagan, during the past few years you offered your help to African countries suffering from the drought and famine; this has been appreciated by fellow Africans. May I suggest that the United States champions a worldwide effort to cope with the problem on a long-term basis. May I also express our confidence that the United States will spare no effort in order to help end the plight of our brothers in southern Africa and secure the immediate independence of Namibia.

Again, Mr. President, thank you, dear friend, and I'm looking forward to meeting with you again in pursuit of our common goals, and thank you.

Note: The President spoke to reporters at 1:24 p.m. at the South Portico of the White House. Earlier, the two Presidents met in the Oval Office and then attended a luncheon in the Residence.