Remarks on Signing the Canada-United States NORAD Agreement and Endorsing the Joint Report on Acid Rain

March 19, 1986

The President. I'm delighted to join with my good friend, the Prime Minister, in putting our signatures on an agreement to extend the unique Canada-U.S. partnership in the North American Aerospace Defense Command, known as NORAD. The last time this agreement was renewed was during my visit to Ottawa in March of 1981, which was my first trip abroad as President. I'm sure that the Prime Minister would agree that NORAD has served our mutual interests and has been a significant factor in enhancing deterrence, promoting global stability in the nearly 30 years of its existence. It's therefore entirely appropriate that we extend this joint command for an additional 5 years.

Another topic of particular interest to the Prime Minister and me was the report of our Special Envoys on acid rain, Drew Lewis and Bill Davis. Drew, unfortunately, couldn't be here today; Bill Davis is. And we undertook this effort because we recognized that acid rain was a serious concern affecting both our countries and our relations with each other. The study we commissioned was in keeping with the long history of U.S.-Canada cooperation in dealing with environmental issues. And today I would like to commend Bill and Drew, even though he's absent, for their thorough and conscientious work. Their joint report attests to the serious and practical manner in which they discharged their duties, and I know that Prime Minister Mulroney shares my appreciation and admiration for their balanced and well-drafted joint report. I'm pleased to say that I fully endorse the report and will shortly issue a press statement to this effect.

I wish I could say that our action today takes the acid rain issue off our bilateral agenda; unfortunately, this cannot be. Serious scientific and economic problems remain to be solved. But in the spirit of cooperation and good will, which has come to characterize the way Canadians and Americans approach their common problems, I am confident that we have begun a process which will benefit future generations in both our great countries.

The Prime Minister. Mr. President, I'm very encouraged by your statement and appreciate your personal commitment to resolve our common problem in acid rain. And your undertaking that you have made, sir, in regard to your personal commitment, that of your administration, as well as your undertaking to secure appropriate funding is very welcome.

Acid rain imperils the environment in both countries. At Quebec we commissioned two personal envoys, Drew Lewis and Bill Davis, to take charge of this issue and to break new ground. They didn't let us down. I salute Bill Davis, who's here today. And I was honored to meet with Drew Lewis yesterday at a meeting with Secretary [of State] Shultz. I think they've produced a balanced and a realistic document. We now have an agreed foundation on which to build. Your full endorsement of this report, Mr. President, represents a significant step, in my judgment, in the right direction.

We have a proud tradition of resolving transboundary environmental problems. We intend to carry on that tradition and to carry it forward. As neighbors and custodians of our common heritage, we must do no less, and much remains to be done. By agreeing to keep acid rain on our agenda, Mr. President, we signal our joint determination to solve this problem. Your Secretary of State, our Secretary of State for External Affairs, and other Cabinet officials will report on this vital effort regularly to us. I am confident that we can move to early and substantial reductions of damage to our environment. This remains our urgent goal, and I'm very grateful to you, Mr. President, for your personal support in meeting this challenge.

Mr. President, on behalf of the Government of Canada and on behalf of my colleagues and friends in regard to this issue and so many others, we have had a very productive and constructive meeting with you, as we've had in the past. And I want to thank you on behalf of Canadians for your attention and your sensitivity to Canada's problems and to the great obligation of solving these problems constructively together. Canada will always work with the United States to build new opportunities and new prosperity for our people. And we thank you for the warmth of your welcome and the courtesies extended to all members of our delegation. Thank you, Mr. President.

The President. Well, Mr. Prime Minister, believe me, the feeling is mutual between our two countries and our two peoples.

Note: The President spoke at 1 p.m. in the Roosevelt Room at the White House. Prior to the ceremony, the President and the Prime Minister had lunch in the study adjoining the Oval Office.