Remarks Following Meetings With President Hissein Habre of Chad

June 19, 1987

President Reagan. We welcome President Habre to Washington as the leader of a nation that has recently beaten back the violent aggression of an outlaw state. In winning its stunning victories, Chad has acted to preserve its freedom and handed a forceful message to aggressors. That message is: African nations will defend their sovereignty and foreign aggression will be defeated.

In our discussion today, President Habre and I reviewed some of the events that led to this aggression. We also discussed the current situation in Chad. The United States has proudly joined France, Zaire, Egypt, and other friends in the effort to provide President Habre's government the means to fight and win. Although the struggle is not over, we believe the victories on the Chadian desert bode well for peace and stability in Africa. Chad's triumph underscores the valor of the Chadian people and makes clear that they and other African peoples will remain free and independent.

Chad's accomplishment is admired by the free world and will benefit all of Africa. By shoring up regional stability, Chad has helped its neighbors, who now can focus more of their energy and resources on country-building endeavors. Unfortunately, Chad and neighboring countries must remain vigilant against new threats, but Chad now knows it can count on its friends. For our part, the United States is committed to maintaining an appropriate level of security assistance to Chad.

In our meetings, President Habre and I also looked to his country's future economic and development needs. Years of warfare have left Chad's economy in ruins. Reconstruction efforts have been set back by a cycle of severe drought, locust plagues, and other problems. For our part, the United States has tried to help to the degree possible in each emergency, yet the challenge remains great. Today we maintain an innovative, flexible program of development aid and budgetary support for Chad in an effort to move its fundamental economic situation.

Today President Habre emphasized that his government is committed to building a better life for the Chadian people, committed to reconstruction and economic growth. I assured him that we will continue to do our best, to work with France and other steadfast partners in the international effort to help reach President Habre's laudatory goals.

President Habre and I discussed a number of issues of international and regional concern, as well. We noted, for example, that this week marks the anniversary of the terrible riots in the South African township of Soweto. It is our mutual hope that the parties in South Africa will show the courage to work toward a peacefully negotiated end to the scourge of apartheid.

Finally, the friendship between Chad and the United States reflects our shared commitment to freedom and international cooperation. President Habre and I are convinced that the relationship between our countries will continue to be strong and productive, one which will serve the interests of both our peoples. It was an honor and a great pleasure to have had him here as our guest.

President Habre. Mr. President, may I, first of all, thank you for your very kind words directed to me and for my country. May I also express my thanks to you very sincerely for the invitation that you extended to me to visit your country and to tell you how honored I am by your very warm welcome and by the very special attentions bestowed upon my delegation and myself since we arrived in your great country, the United States, pioneer in the struggle for independence and champion of the defense of freedom. In this connection, Mr. President, may I say, at the risk of hurting your modesty, that your vigorous action at the head of the United States has enabled you to give new luster to these essential values: the independence of all people, liberty of all nations. Our visit is also an excellent illustration of the strong and very good relation of friendship, cooperation, and solidarity that are so active and so interactive between our two countries.

Mr. President, the constant and varied assistance and support of the United States has been very valuable to us in our legitimate struggle for the defense of our dignity, of our independence, and of the integrity of our territory against Libyan expansionism and colonialism. And this is, indeed, the place, Mr. President, to express our deep gratitude to yourself, Mr. President, to the American people, for your solidarity with the people of Chad, who were so unjustly aggressed and humiliated. It is, indeed, thanks to your firm commitment and that of our other friends on the side of justice and law -- it is, indeed, because of that that the Chadian people yesterday recovered the greatest part of the territories that had been taken away.

As you yourself have stressed so aptly, Mr. President, Chad remains under threat and must pursue its fight in order to put an end once and for all to encroachments upon our freedom and in order to live in peace. I know, therefore, with great gratification after my discussion with President Reagan, the reaffirmed determination of the United States to help Chad complete the national liberation task and tackle, in a lasting manner, the battle for the economic and the social development of our nation to foster the welfare of our people.

Mr. President, we in Chad, as you in the United States, cherish to the highest degree, peace, freedom, justice, protection of human rights; and we firmly believe in coexistence among nations and peoples. Because Chad has suffered and continues to suffer in body and soul from the lack of peace and the violation of these rights, we feel great solidarity with all those who are victims of oppression and racism -- wage their own liberating struggle. And we know what an important and determining role you, President Reagan, and your country play in this entire process so that mankind will be immune from the major threat against it.

That is why we are greatly confident to know that relations between the United States and Chad are of the most excellent character and that we are determined to work together to give them new impetus in strengthening our cooperation so that we may help bring about a world with greater justice and solidarity.

Thank you.

Note: President Reagan spoke at 1:25 p.m. at the South Portico of the White House. President Habre spoke in French, and his remarks were translated by an interpreter. Earlier, the two Presidents met in the Oval Office. Following their meeting, they had lunch in the Residence.