Remarks to Reporters on the Central American Peace Proposal

April 15, 1985

The President. I think you all recognize our visitors here this morning.

Q. Can you get closer?

Q. Closer, please. Come on right up.

The President. I've been pleased to confer with these distinguished Americans, and they agree with me that if any area of the world is of vital interest to the United States, it is neighboring countries in Central America. Former Secretary of State Kissinger also has asked me to express his continuing support for our Central American policy.

Our April 4th proposal asking for both sides to lay down their arms and enter a church-mediated dialog for peace offers new hope for the region. It could open the path to conciliation.

Our plan has been endorsed by Nicaragua's neighbors; Presidents Duarte, Suazo, and Monge have all sent letters of strong support. Other Latin American nations view it as a positive step. El Salvador's President Duarte called it the right step at the right time and urged Members of Congress to support it.

I'm asking Congress to give this peace initiative and democracy a chance. I'm asking Congress to work with me to stem the flood of refugees, the threat of hostile forces on our borders, and the loss of faith in America's commitments around the world that could definitely result if we do not act quickly and responsibly.

I'm asking Congress to join me in the bipartisan spirit so essential to our security in providing this small amount, $14 million, for the more than 15,000 Nicaraguans who are struggling for democracy. It is so little, yet such an important symbol of our resolve, a signal to all of Central America and, yes, to those everywhere in the world who depend on us.

Our overall policy in the region has been working, but continued success depends on Congress' prompt release of aid for the Nicaraguan democratic resistance. Democracy and peace deserve a chance. The freedom-loving people of Nicaragua deserve a chance.

To accomplish this and protect our country we must stand together. These distinguished Americans know, in a very personal way, how crucial bipartisan unity is to a successful American foreign policy.

End of statement.

Q. Mr. President, how does the vote look now on Central America?

The President. In this photo opportunity, I'm not going to take any questions except to say -- that one, I haven't had a count on that, having just returned.

Q. Are you confident?

The President. I'm always cautiously optimistic.

Note: The President spoke at 10:21 a.m. in the Oval Office at the White House following a meeting with Zbigniew Brzezinski, former Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, James R. Schlesinger, former Secretary of Energy, both serving during the administration of President Carter, and Ambassador Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, former United States Representative to the United Nations.