Statement by Principal Deputy Press Secretary Speakes on Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev's Interview With Time Magazine

September 3, 1985

We welcome General Secretary Gorbachev's statement that he is prepared to submit serious proposals at the meeting with President Reagan in November. For the United States, the President is taking a serious approach to the relationship, and he is willing to meet the Soviets halfway in an effort to solve problems. The President hopes that the meeting in Geneva will lay the groundwork to address the issues that face our two nations. Our views of the causes of present U.S.-Soviet tensions are quite different from that presented by Mr. Gorbachev, but we do not intend to enter into a debate in the media. Preparations for the meeting in Geneva are best conducted in confidential diplomatic channels.

We are pleased that Mr. Gorbachev was able to present his views to the American public. The interview is a prime example of the openness of the American system and the access the Soviets enjoy to the American media. If President Reagan had a comparable opportunity to present his views to the Soviet people through the Soviet media, this would doubtless improve our dialog and indicate Soviet willingness to accept a degree of reciprocity in an important aspect of improving our relations. Direct access for President Reagan to the Soviet people would go far in improving understanding between our people. The objective of such an exchange would not be to debate, but to make clear the views of each side.

Note: Larry M. Speakes read the statement to reporters in the Briefing Room at the White House during his daily press briefing, which began at 12:08 p.m.