I speak to you, Secretary of State George Shultz is on a diplomatic mission
that reflects the breadth, the intensity, and the importance of our country's
foreign policy efforts. Today he's in the Middle East. He'll meet with the
leaders of Israel, Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia.
the past we've proven ourselves a nation of good will and a reliable ally to
these friends and to others. Today our Navy plies the waters of the Persian Gulf helping to keep the
shipping lanes open. Freedom of navigation in international waters is a
cardinal principle of our policy and, especially in that region of the world, a
vital interest. We've had a naval presence in the Gulf since 1949. Any risk to that
naval presence or to U.S.-flagged commercial ships operating peacefully in the
waters of the Gulf will be dealt with appropriately.
wider role in the Middle East -- perhaps more than in any other region -- is
that of peacemaker. We are doing our best to help narrow the differences
between Israel and her Arab neighbors
so that real negotiations for peace can get started. The desire for peace and
the will to make peace are growing in the region. Our job is to help. In the Persian Gulf we play a similar role.
Along with the initiative in the United Nations Security Council, we are
seeking a peaceful resolution of the Iran-Iraq war -- one of the great
tragedies of our time. A vigorous diplomatic effort is essential, and that is
what Secretary Shultz' mission is all about.
conferring with key leaders of the Middle East, he heads to Moscow. In his talks there, he
will bring up the Arab-Israeli conflict and the Gulf war, as well as other
conflicts like Afghanistan, Central America, Angola, and Cambodia. We've made it clear
that if our two countries are to have better relations we must see a change in
Soviet actions in these regional conflicts. We are concerned with human rights
in the Soviet
itself. This has always been at the top of my agenda. It's impossible to have a
constructive relationship with a government that tramples upon the rights of
its people. There are also, as one would expect, bilateral issues between our
two countries concerning trade, travel, and other items that will be on the
agenda in Moscow.
always felt that, even between systems as different as ours, if we remain true
to our principles and firm in the advocacy of our own interests, some common
ground can be found. This has been the basis of the arms reduction proposals
we've made to the Soviet Union. As a result, we're moving toward an agreement
that would eliminate an entire class of U.S. and Soviet
intermediate-range missiles, known as INF -- the first real reductions in
nuclear arsenals in history. A number of essential details need to be worked
out, however, like effective verification. And our proposals call for the most
stringent verification regime in the history of arms control. We can settle for
nothing less. We are hopeful, but we're in no rush. There is no politically
imposed deadline. It must be done right or not at all.
have worried that an INF agreement would leave the NATO alliance exposed. Well,
I share their concern for European security, but concern over this agreement is
misplaced. The kind of INF agreement we're working toward is a tribute to the
firmness and solidarity of the alliance. That firmness and solidarity must
continue. A sound nuclear arms reduction agreement need not undermine our unity
or weaken our nuclear and conventional deterrent which have
kept the peace these last four decades. And we will indeed maintain effective
deterrent forces. Secretary Shultz will also press hard for an agreement
reducing strategic arms. Progress there is possible, but the Soviet Union will have to show far
more flexibility than it has up to now.
as Secretary Shultz continues his mission, we would do well to remember
Secretary Shultz is not just my representative -- he is our representative.
Certain proposals in Congress, especially those that would tie our hands or
even enact Soviet negotiating positions into American law,
don't help us at the bargaining table. And they undermine chances of achieving
mutual arms reduction. I can assure you, I will veto any bill with provisions
that hurt our national security.
am hoping that we can stand together as America continues to further
the twin causes of peace and freedom. I know we all wish our top diplomat
Godspeed and a safe return.
next week, thanks for listening, and God bless you.
Note: The President
spoke at from the Oval Office at
the White House.