Statement by Principal Deputy Press Secretary Speakes on the President's Meeting With Natan Shcharanskiy

May 13, 1986

The President met privately with Natan Shcharanskiy for 30 minutes today in the Oval Office. Vice President Bush, Secretary Shultz, Donald Regan, and John Poindexter were also present.

Mr. Shcharanskiy thanked the President for his unflagging support for human rights in the Soviet Union and his role in securing his release from a Soviet prison camp. He gave the President his assessment of the situation of Soviet Jewry, particularly the plight of 400,000 Soviet Jews who have expressed a desire to emigrate from the Soviet Union. He urged the President to continue his efforts on their behalf.

The President expressed his admiration for Mr. Shcharanskiy's courage and fortitude and reaffirmed his determination to do everything possible to help those who have been denied the right to emigrate, practice their religion, or maintain their Jewish identity. The American people and the world will not forget them.

Note: George P. Shultz was Secretary of State, Donald T. Regan was Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff, and John M. Poindexter was Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs.