Excerpts From an Interview With Conservative Columnists Following the Soviet-United States Summit Meeting

 

December 9, 1987

 

Q. What reassurance can you offer to our conservative friends that this INF treaty is in the national interest and in their interest?

 

The President. Well, it is. And I know that most of the things we hear is that they believe that somehow by this INF agreement we have changed the balance of power in Europe, and that the Soviets, who do have, admittedly, a conventional superiority, have been given an advantage. But that isn't so. There are still hundreds and hundreds of nuclear weapons left in Europe -- the tactical battlefield weapons. And those are the weapons that do equalize that imbalance in conventional weapons.

 

Now, before you would go into any treaty about those tactical battlefield weapons, that would have to follow parity in the conventional weapons because if we eliminated and they eliminated the tactical battlefield weapons they automatically would end up with a great superiority if it was reduced to conventional weapons. And in this instance, I feel they're so wrong because they are giving up four times as many warheads as we have to give up. In our Pershings and cruise missiles, we didn't have anywhere near the number of warheads, and their intermediate-range missiles were not targeted on military targets. They covered all the way to London.

 

Q. Sir, can I ask you how did you feel this morning when you woke up? Is this the happiest day of your life? [Laughter]

 

The President. Well, I felt good. I think that yesterday was quite a day. After years of debate and discussion and walking away from things without settlement, I thought it was quite a day.

 

Q. Does this mean that you expect the Soviets to pull out of Afghanistan soon and stop supporting the Sandinistas soon in Nicaragua?

 

The President. They have -- he has expressed and is -- in fact, not just to me but publicly, that they want to get out of Afghanistan. And I can't go beyond that, other than that saying that the people we have working on all of these things are working on that particular question right now, as to when and how.

 

Q. How did you like Raisa Gorbachev?

 

The President. Oh, well, she seems very pleasant, and we just had a little moment here. Maybe I shouldn't give this away, but I will. His schedule was very busy today, and our meeting ran over here in the Oval Office. And I kept -- finally, as I told him, I said, I've been told that I'm to take him over to the Diplomatic Entrance there to meet his wife who was with Nancy, and then so they could go on with their schedule. And then when we got there, we found out that Nancy and Raisa were having coffee together, and they were late. [Laughter] So, when we stood down there in the Dip Room waiting for them to come down, I suggested something to him, and we both did it -- that when finally they came around and through the door, he and I were both looking at our watches. [Laughter] We got a laugh.

 

Note: The interview began at 2 p.m. in the Oval Office at the White House. Participants in the interview included Philip Geyelin, Georgie Ann Geyer, R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr., and Joseph B. Wattenberg. A tape was not available for verification of the content of the interview.