Remarks Following Discussions With Prime Minister Giovanni Goria of Italy

 

December 16, 1987

 

The President. It's our great pleasure to welcome to the White House a guest from a country with which we Americans have indissoluble ties of history, culture, and shared values: Prime Minister Goria from Italy. Although this is the first time that the Prime Minister and I have had the opportunity to talk alone, I welcome him as I would an old friend for Italy is an ally whose friendship America values and whose counsel we seek and trust.

 

Mr. Prime Minister, you are visiting the United States at a moment when our European allies are very much on our minds. Just a week ago, Soviet General Secretary Gorbachev and I signed the INF treaty. We in the United States are keenly aware that it was the political will and determination of European governments and peoples and our joint commitment to the NATO alliance that enabled us to conclude that treaty.

 

INF has given us a lesson that we should apply in all areas of East-West relations. We were tough from the start; we stood together, and we got what we wanted. Yes, we had a plan: building a safer peace and freedom through strength. We stuck to the plan, even when many who are now taking bows tried to force us to abandon it, and the plan worked. Mr. Prime Minister, from the moment in 1979 when Italy stepped forward to do its part in deployment of INF weapons, it has been an indispensable partner and leader in this process for peace.

 

In addition to developments in Europe, the Prime Minister and I discussed the Persian Gulf, where the Italian and American Navies work side by side to keep international sealanes open. Both our countries understand that the war between Iran and Iraq poses dangers that extend far beyond that troubled region. Both our nations will continue strong support in the United Nations Security Council for the efforts of the Secretary-General to bring an end to the conflict.

 

When Prime Minister Goria and I last saw each other, he was Minister of the Treasury, and we were both participants in the Venice economic summit. Today we again talked about the international economic situation and the steps necessary to strengthen international trade and finance.

 

Over the next few days, Prime Minister Goria will be meeting with Secretary Shultz, Secretary Baker, Secretary Carlucci, congressional leaders, and private businessmen, among others. I'm happy to report that as he embarks on the remainder of this busy and important visit U.S.-Italian relations could hardly be better. Mr. Prime Minister, we're indeed pleased and honored to have you as our guest.

 

The Prime Minister. I am deeply grateful to President Ronald Reagan for the particularly friendly welcome he extended to me in Washington today. This testifies to the longstanding friendship; solid alliance; and common cultural, moral, and ideal values which historically bind Italy to the United States.

 

I have conveyed to President Reagan the greetings which the Italian Nation; the President of the Republic, Honorable Francesco Cossiga; and the Government send to him and to the American people, a greeting which in its warmth reflects our enduring friendship, our present sound cooperation and alliance, and our common and firm conviction of the need to work together for the future of our two countries.

 

I had the pleasure of recognizing, once and again, in President Reagan a statesman that the whole world respects and the friend which the Italian Nation particularly admires -- the statesman who was able to give a new and radically innovative dimension to the problems of nuclear disarmament by accomplishing the destruction of arms not through other arms but by means of an international treaty. Our talks were marked by a great mutual cordiality and have proved to be extremely fruitful. We reconfirmed our common commitment to seeking a more secure, more stable, and less threatened peace that we will be pursuing in the framework of the alliance which binds us.

 

I listened with the utmost interest to what the President told me about his recent historic meeting with the General Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party, Mikhail Gorbachev. I very much wish to personally express the Italian Government's profound satisfaction in the results achieved during this summit, along with the deep-felt hope that the understandings reached may further develop, thus opening new negotiating prospects in the field of nuclear as well as conventional and chemical disarmament.

 

The agreement reached has the full support of the Italian Government, which expresses the hope that it will be promptly ratified. The agreement resulted in great part from the cohesion and steadfast determination which the Atlantic alliance demonstrated. In this context, President Reagan has particularly valued the role which Italy played in maintaining Western solidarity. We expressed the common hope that within this framework of renewed dialog with the Soviet Union a solution may also be found to the question of Afghanistan.

 

The President of the United States and I have reviewed the situation in the Middle East and the prospects of overcoming this longstanding crisis in the full respect for the sovereignty of the states and the rights of the peoples in the region. A common concern was expressed over the war between Iran and Iraq in the Persian Gulf and the continuing conflicts and tensions in that delicate area despite United Nations repeated appeals for a cessation of hostilities.

 

I also exchanged views with President Reagan on the various regional crises, in particular, those concerning a continent, Latin America, which is especially close to us.

 

Particular attention was devoted to economic and international trade issues, to the prospects for encouraging a sustained and lasting development of trade, as well as to the problems of indebtedness.

 

I confirmed to President Reagan our commitment towards seeking a solution to these questions, also within the framework of the seven most industrialized countries of the West, in view of the Toronto summit next June.

 

We restated our intent to ever increasingly develop the bilateral relations between Italy and the United States and to promote trade and cooperation in all fields, as their progress must fully reflect the excellent political relations existing between our two countries. We agreed that the same open spirit must inspire the relations between the United States and the European Community, a community which Italy considers a major point of reference and an essential political goal, which our country unanimously wishes to strengthen.

 

I will return to Italy in the awareness that my visit strengthened the special ties binding our two countries as well as my personal feelings of respect and friendship for President Reagan.

 

Note: The President spoke at 1:32 p.m. at the South Portico of the White House. In his remarks, the President referred to Secretary of State George P. Shultz, Secretary of the Treasury James A. Baker III, and Secretary of Defense Frank C. Carlucci. The Prime Minister spoke in Italian and his remarks were translated by an interpreter. Earlier, the President and the Prime Minister met in the Oval Office and then attended a luncheon in the Residence.