Remarks on the Outcome of the Soviet-United States Diplomatic Talks

 

September 18, 1987

 

The President. Secretary [of State] Shultz has reported to me on the results of his talks with Soviet Foreign Minister Shevardnadze. As you know, the talks covered arms reduction, regional conflicts, human rights, and bilateral issues. Although we have serious differences in many areas, the tone of the talks was frank, constructive, and notable progress was made.

 

Secretary Shultz and Foreign Minister Shevardnadze have issued a joint statement, which I believe you all have now. And I'm pleased to note that agreement in principles was reached to conclude an INF treaty. They'll meet again in Moscow next month to continue their efforts and to work out the details of a summit between me and General Secretary Gorbachev later this fall.

 

I want to congratulate Secretary Shultz and Foreign Minister Shevardnadze and their delegations for their outstanding efforts over the past 3 days. And the Secretary is going to take your questions.

 

Q. What caused the breakthrough?

 

The President. What?

 

Q. What caused the breakthrough?

 

The President. Well, I'll tell you, I think the one who can best answer that and is going to take your questions is the Secretary.

 

Q. You can't say?

 

Q. Mr. President, what about the shooting of an American soldier in Germany?

 

Q. What about the Evil Empire?

 

Q. What about the shooting of an American soldier?

 

Q.  --  -- the conservative critics who say that you're in too much of a hurry, sir?

 

Q.  --  -- shooting at an American soldier --  --

 

The President. I was going to ask Andrea [Andrea Mitchell, NBC News] to interpret for me -- [laughter] -- but I heard that phrase about the --  --

 

Q.  --  -- the shooting --  --

 

The President.  --  -- the shooting and --  --

 

Q.  --  -- at an American soldier by Soviets in Germany?

 

The President. The Secretary has already launched a -- heard that a protest --  --

 

Q. What about your insistence over the years --  --

 

Q. Let him answer the question.

 

Q. What about conservatives, sir, who say that you are in too much of a hurry, sir, to sign an arms deal?

 

Q. Could you answer the question, Mr. President?

 

Q. Could you speak to the conservatives who are saying that you're in too much of a hurry for the summit?

 

The President. I don't know of anything in my life I waited over 6 years for. [Laughter]

 

Q. Could you answer the question of the shooting for --  --

 

Q.  --  -- arms deal --  --

 

The President. I spoke about this INF treaty and pretty much the same basis that has finally been agreed at, certainly, 4 or 5 years ago.

 

Q. What about the Evil Empire?

 

Q. Mr. President --  --

 

Q. What about the shooting --  --

 

Q. President Reagan, what about the Evil Empire?

 

Q. Bill [Bill Plante, CBS News], let him answer the question about the shooting of an American soldier.

 

Q. Well, in any order --  --

 

The President. I told you that the Secretary has already launched the protest.

 

Q. All right, what about the Evil Empire? Mr. President, you have opposed it for years; why, now, are you ready to make a deal with them?

 

The President. Oh, I don't think it's still lily-white.

 

Q. What about the fact that the Senate has just voted to restrict SDI testing? How do you view that in terms of what's happening now between the U.S. and the Soviets? And how does that affect the negotiations, perhaps on strategic weapons --  --

 

The President. You just spoiled my day. [Laughter]

 

Q. What does it make --  --

 

The President. No, I think some foolish things are being attempted when Members of the Congress start to get into where they can interfere with what we're trying to negotiate and the progress that we've made. But listen --  --

 

Q. Well, has there been progress?

 

Q. Are you planning -- at the ranch for Thanksgiving?

 

The President. What?

 

Q. Are you hoping to ask Mr. Gorbachev to the ranch for Thanksgiving?

 

The President. I'm afraid to say anything about a specific date, because there's still a tendency then to think that I've killed that date if I mention it.

 

Q. But has there been progress on strategic weapons?

 

Q. Mr. President, you didn't say whether or not the summit would be in the United States. It will be, I assume?

 

Secretary Shultz. Where else?

 

The President. Yes.

 

Q. But has there been progress on strategic weapons, on sublimits on the big missiles? And is there some flexibility on SDI, sir?

 

The President. These are questions that I think he can speak specifically to because of the long hours of meetings. And I must say for all of the people who have been on our team here as well as their team -- they really have gone beyond the call of duty with the hours that they have put in.

 

Q. Well, what tipped the balance on this?

 

The President. What?

 

Q. You don't know what actually caused this?

 

The President. I think you'll find that out from his --  --

 

Note: The President spoke to reporters at 9:03 a.m. in the Briefing Room at the White House.