Written Responses to Questions Submitted by Cambio 16 of Spain

April 25, 1985

Spanish Membership in NATO

Q. The relations between the United States and Spain are in an excellent moment now. However, there are four subjects that could disturb this relationship, the first of which is: What is your opinion about the promise of Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez to hold a referendum about whether Spain remains in NATO?

The President. Well, first let me talk about the purposes of my trip to Europe.

I am going to Europe for the Economic Summit of Industrialized Nations in Bonn and for state visits to Spain, Portugal, and the Federal Republic of Germany. It's a very important trip for me. I'll be working with the leaders of other countries to make progress on economic and political issues and to strengthen the ties between good friends. But I will be asking for European help and support in the greatest moral challenge of our time. I am going to ask help in encouraging freedom throughout the world.

Americans and Europeans have many great challenges ahead of us. There are some who say the West lacks energy -- the moral and spiritual energy to carry forth our great hopes and plans, but that is just not true. Europe, including Spain, is greater than ever in history. Europe is the treasury of centuries of thought and culture. As the leader of an allied country and friend, I value the ties between the United States and Europe; and the United States and Spain have never been closer.

One of the longstanding ties between Europe and the United States is a new one insofar as Spain is concerned. I am talking about the linkage to NATO. The position of the United States on NATO is very clear: Peace is strengthened whenever NATO is strengthened. Having Spain as a member strengthens NATO; I believe it also adds to Spain's own security.

And I am pleased, too, that Spain and Portugal are entering the European Economic Community. That is also something the United States has consistently supported.

Whether Spain stays in NATO is clearly a decision for Spain to make, as was the decision to seek partnership in the Economic Community. We respect the right of the Spanish people to make their own decision on this.

U.S. Military Bases in Spain

Q. In Spain there are big sectors that are for the elimination of the North American bases in our country. Mr. Gonzalez said that he would like a reduction in the amount of American soldiers. Has your administration plans to eliminate any base or to reduce the amount of military presence in Spain?

The President. The United States and Spain work together closely in the military field in accordance with the 1982 agreement on friendship, defense, and cooperation. We will continue to do so. The only plans we have are to do our best to carry out all our obligations under the terms of that agreement.

U.S. Deployment of Nuclear Weapons in Spain

Q. Last January this correspondent wrote about the Pentagon's plans to deploy nuclear weapons in eight Western countries, among them Spain. Was the Government of Spain aware of these plans? Which political steps would have been necessary for the Defense Department to carry out this nuclear weapons policy?

The President. There has been a lot of misunderstanding about this question. The 1982 agreement between the U.S. and Spain is unambiguous: No nuclear weapons can be stored or installed in Spain without the agreement of the Spanish Government. I stand by that agreement fully and completely.

United States-Spain Relations

Q. The fourth problem is: How do you explain that a friendly country like the United States, which has a treaty signed with Spain, sent two American diplomats to take pictures of the residence of Prime Minister Gonzalez?

The President. I wouldn't comment on a report like that.

Q. My last question would be: As one of the principal leaders of the West of conservative ideology, what is your opinion, Mr. President, of Felipe Gonzalez, one of the younger Socialist leaders in Western Europe?

The President. I was very impressed by Prime Minister Gonzalez when he visited Washington in 1983, and I look forward to meeting with him again on my visit. I think we have an excellent working relationship, and we consult frequently on a range of issues. We both want to maintain the ties of friendship that are key to the relations between our two countries. As a Californian, I am particularly aware of the Spanish heritage that is a part of America. I will work with your Prime Minister to maintain and expand on the strong and cordial relations between our peoples.

Note: The questions and answers were released by the Office of the Press Secretary on May 5.