Remarks and a Question-and-Answer Session With Reporters on Meetings in Moscow Between Secretary of State Shultz and Soviet Leaders

April 16, 1987

The President. I have a statement here. I have just received a full report from Secretary Shultz on his talks in Moscow and his consultations with our allies. And George, as usual, put forward our positions in Moscow with firmness and great skill. It's clear to me that the visit was very useful in advancing the dialog between our countries in a number of areas -- human rights, bilateral relations, regional issues, and arms reductions.

The contacts the Secretary had with divided families, church groups, private individuals, paid public tribute to the courage of those in the Soviet Union struggling for human rights. He made clear to the Soviet leaders that self-determination for Afghanistan and Soviet troop withdrawal were essential to peace. Important progress was made in arms reductions. On intermediate-range nuclear missiles, we've narrowed the gaps a little more. After we consult further with our allies, we may have new ideas to offer. I remain optimistic about an agreement this year. There was movement on nuclear testing talks and on a ban on chemical weapons. On strategic defensive reductions and defense in space, the talks were detailed and useful, and will intensify.

When I return to Washington, I will meet with the bipartisan congressional leadership to review this week's progress. It's my hope that the process now underway continues to move forward and that Mr. Gorbachev and I can complete an historic agreement on East-West relations at a summit meeting. And in that connection, I will consult personally with our NATO allies on further negotiations and plans. And again, I am deeply grateful to the Secretary.

Secretary Shultz. Thank you, Mr. President.

Q. Mr. President, has Gorbachev boxed in the alliance with his position on shorter range missiles at this point?

The President. George, would you like to answer that one? I don't think -- I don't feel boxed in.

Secretary Shultz. I don't say so at all. I think that we had a very good meeting in Brussels this morning and reviewed the whole process, and I think the opportunities before us -- and we have different alternative ways to go -- are all very positive.

Q. Well, did the NATO leaders indicate that they're prepared to give up not only the medium-range option but also the shorter range option at this point?

Secretary Shultz. Well, we're discussing that, and they're taking counsel, and we'll come to a view.

Q. Is it fair to say a disagreement at this point, Mr. Secretary?

Secretary Shultz. No, it isn't fair to say that. It's fair to say people are considering an important offer that the Soviets put on the table when I was in Moscow. And you don't just react to things like that; you think them over.

Q. But the President said there was not much progress on START. Do you -- are you reconciled that there will not be time in your Presidency to negotiate a cutback with strategic missiles?

The President. No, I'm not reconciled to that at all. We feel -- take that very seriously, and we intend to keep on that path also.

Q. Are you eager to see a summit this year, Mr. President, regardless of whether you've got an agreement in hand on INF?

The President. I think that it -- I look forward to and am hopeful that we can have a summit. But it must be one that is carefully planned and prepared and that there must be something that we feel we can accomplish.

Q. An arms agreement -- does it have to be on the table at that point?

The President. There has to be some substantial agreements that would make it worthwhile having a summit.

Q. Mr. President, were you suggesting a moment ago that there will not be another summit unless there is virtual agreement on some kind of arms control -- --

The President. No, I'm saying that it must be carefully prepared and that we should have a prospect there of being able to arrive at some very substantial agreements.

Q. Mr. President, what about embassy security? Is there any progress, any change?

The President. That is -- --

Secretary Shultz. Well, one was clear when I was there, that the advance teams and the communications people did a terrific job. The old ``can-do'' American spirit came out, and they provided me -- I've been to Moscow quite a few times -- with the best communications setup, the best set of confidential meeting places that I have had the experience of using. So, our guys came through.

The President. Well, I think we've all been here enough, and George has to get back down the mountain.

George -- --

Secretary Shultz. Thank you.

The President. Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 6:50 p.m. at his ranch in Santa Barbara County, CA. Prior to his remarks, the President met with Secretary of State George P. Shultz; Howard H. Baker, Chief of Staff to the President; and Frank C. Carlucci, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs.