Remarks at a White House Meeting With Soviet Exchange Students

 

October 16, 1987

 

The President. Well, thank you. And I want you to know I'm very pleased to welcome you all to the White House today. And when General Secretary Gorbachev and I met in Geneva, as you've said, we agreed that exchanges of high school students would be an excellent way to increase understanding between our two countries. Seeing the actual results of the agreement -- that gives me a great deal of personal satisfaction.

 

As I'm sure all of you know -- being there -- the Phillips Academy signed that agreement with the Physics-Mathematics Institute for this reciprocal exchange of students, and it's enabled all of you to study here in our country. And I can say -- you probably wouldn't be hesitant to say -- Phillips Academy is a famous part of our American educational heritage. And through your experience at Phillips, you had the chance to learn about the American educational system at the secondary school level. And in addition, you undoubtedly were able to improve your language comprehension through classroom and informal social situations.

 

I hope that your exchange is the first of many between our two countries so that other American and Soviet students will have the opportunity to study together, to learn each other's language, and to understand better each other's aspirations and cultures. General Secretary Gorbachev and I place great importance on these exchanges, as you've been told, between our people, and particularly our young people; for you are our hope for the future. I want to express my support for you and all the other citizens of our two countries who are contributing to the effort to expand exchanges between the United States and the Soviet Union.

 

And this weekend while you're in the Capital, I hope you have the opportunity to go sightseeing and visit some of our museums. We're very proud of our Capital City and hope you'll have a wonderful time while you're here.

 

Reporter. Mr. President, we know you must be terribly concerned about your wife. Would you --

 

The President. Of course.

 

Q. How is she taking this, and how are you feeling about this upcoming procedure?

 

The President. Well, I think you've said it. It's very evident. But then I think I have to let you go, because I have a limited time here for visiting with these young people. But, well, of course I'm concerned, and so is she. But at the same time, I have great confidence in the medical personnel who are in charge of this case.

 

Q. Mr. President, how can you let Iran get away with this attack without retaliating?

 

The President. I think maybe you're jumping to conclusions here. I cannot and will not discuss what our future action may be. But we're in discussions with the Government of Kuwait, and it would be very unwise to hint or suggest at anything we might do.

 

Note: The President spoke at 1:05 p.m. in the Roosevelt Room at the White House. The reporters' questions referred to Mrs. Reagan's scheduled surgery for cancer and the sinking of the Kuwaiti tanker ``Sea Isle City'' by an Iranian missile on October 16.