Statement by Principal Deputy Press Secretary Speakes Following the President's Meeting With Ciriaco De Mita of Italy

January 17, 1986

The President met this morning with Ciriaco De Mita, head of the Italian Christian Democratic Party. They discussed the promising evolution of democracy in Latin and Central America. The President, noting today's meeting between Deputy Secretary [of State] Whitehead and Prime Minister Craxi, emphasized the need for concerted responses to the scourge of international terrorism. The President and Mr. De Mita stressed the continuing strong relationship between Italy and the United States.

Mr. De Mita provided the President with a review of his recent trip to Central America. They agreed that the tide was turning in the region toward those advocating freedom and democracy. The President commended the Italian Government for its firm stand against global extremism and its support for American efforts to isolate those responsible for fomenting terrorism. They further agreed on the need to support those who advocate accelerating the peace process in the Mideast. The President and Mr. De Mita agreed that alliance cohesion played a crucial role in securing a more forthcoming Soviet approach to security issues and the arms control negotiating process. They also reviewed the positive developments in East-West relations flowing from the Geneva meeting between the President and Soviet General Secretary Gorbachev.

Following the Oval Office meeting, Mr. De Mita also spoke at length with the Vice President on a range of international issues. Particular attention was focused on the report of the Vice President's task force on terrorism. The Vice President and Mr. De Mita discussed encouraging developments in Central America, including the recent inauguration of Guatemalan President Cerezo, which they both attended.