Discussions With President El Hadj
Omar Bongo of Gabon
July 31, 1987
Reagan. President El Hadj Omar Bongo has been a very
welcome guest at the White House. This has been a long-awaited visit that has
given us a chance to return the generous hospitality President Bongo personally
accorded to so many representatives of this and earlier administrations.
20 years President Bongo has led his country in an era of stability and
progress. Under his leadership, Gabon has consistently
encouraged the peaceful settlement of regional disputes, siding with reason,
dialog, and moderation over bloodshed, war, and terror. Recognizing this, the
Organization of African Unity asked President Bongo to help find a solution to
the conflict in Chad.
Bongo has been a champion of African development and has worked tirelessly for
the welfare of his people and all Africans. The United States and Gabon have cooperated closely
in the effort to achieve these noble goals. We have enjoyed a positive and
friendly relationship for the past two decades, a relationship that has served
both our countries well. I've greatly valued President Bongo's advice and
counsel concerning America's role in Africa's political and
President Bongo and I found ourselves in harmony about many of the key issues
that confront Africa. We agreed that
economic reform, which is the best hope for growth, self-sufficiency, and full
economic sovereignty, must proceed. The United States has encouraged reform
through special aid funds and increased contributions to international
financial institutions. Gabon is contributing, as
well, by setting an example, taking positive steps toward reform on its own and
in coordination with the IMF [International Monetary Fund]. We admire this
commitment and wish President Bongo great success. For our own part, we will
soon be signing a bilateral debt rescheduling agreement with Gabon. The U.S. investors have had a
favorable experience in Gabon. President Bongo is
working to make the investment climate even more attractive, and we're working
with him to promote increased U.S. investment there.
Bongo and I also reviewed the situation in southern Africa. We share the
conviction that negotiated, peaceful solutions to the disputes that afflict
that region are urgently and clearly possible. The evil of apartheid is no
exception. President Bongo and I are committed to working together, along with
other African leaders of good will, to set the region on a peaceful course.
United States will continue to stand
unequivocally by the side of Africa, with our counsel, our
friendship, and our assistance. Constructive meetings, like the one I held
today with President Bongo, bolster that commitment. I was very much heartened
by our discussions and pleased to have President Bongo as our guest.
Bongo. Mr. President, I'm deeply touched by the attention lavished upon us and
friendship and sympathy that my delegation and myself have received during this
official visit, which is now beginning, which it is my privilege to carry out
throughout your great and beautiful country. I'm also touched by your kind
words towards me, and touched also by the confidence you displayed toward my
country. May I thank you for this, Mr. President, and
tell you, in turn, on behalf of the people of Gabon and in my own name, how
much esteem and friendship we feel towards you personally and towards the
you, the American people finds its perfect embodiment,
because beyond your great statesmanlike qualities, it has found the leader
which has given back confidence and greatness and dignity back to the American
nation. No country can stand idly by and watch what is going on in the United States, and Gabon watches with keen
interest, the deep and rapid shifts taking place under your leadership within
this political world in which we live, the United States built its own nation,
predicated upon the diversity of origins of your people. Thus, you have become
an example for all countries which love liberty, solidarity, and peace.
Therefore, speaking as a leader of an African nation, may I state that we
follow very carefully all your efforts to put an end not only to apartheid and
regional conflicts but also to put an end to the steady deterioration of the
economic situation of the African continent.
our part, Mr. President, we have set up with the IMF an austerity program which
imposes drastic constraints upon us if we want to preserve the future. The IMF
and the Paris and London Clubs have been made aware of our determination and of
our will to honor our commitments. In this connection, may I tell you how much
I appreciate to the full extent of the impact the rescheduling measures taken, vis-a-vis our debt, that you were
kind enough to undertake in this very difficult situation. We wish, Mr.
President, for the spirit of solidarity to prevail in the end and for our
export commodities to gain access to world markets and their remunerative
level. Solidarity, indeed, must become the reality in relationships among
this connection, distance between our two countries, the difference in our
levels of development, and in our respective economic impact must not be an
obstacle to cooperation in many areas. Gabon is a peaceful and
peace-loving country, stable, and a welcoming country; and there is security in
Gabon. Gabon is the special preserve
of no one. Gabon seeks to diversify its
partners, and in this connection, we know that there is a place for your
country. The United States, indeed, can bring us
their know-how, their technology, and their capitals in order to contribute to
President, the United States and Gabon have for some years now
enjoyed a harmonious relationship. We have a few American companies in Gabon already. What I wish
for in the future is to see our relations enjoy a new impetus, particularly
after we sign the bilateral agreement on treaty protection and investments.
Finally, Mr. President, may I express my best wishes for your personal
happiness and your success, for the prosperity of the great American people,
and stronger cooperation between our two countries.
Note: President Reagan
spoke at at the South Portico of the White House. President Bongo
spoke in French, and his remarks were translated by an interpreter. Earlier,
the two Presidents met in the Oval Office and then had lunch in the Residence.