Remarks Upon Departure for a Meeting With Soviet President Gorbachev in New York, New York

 

December 7, 1988

 

The President. I am delighted that later today I'll have the opportunity to welcome President Gorbachev to the United States and extend to him the hospitality and good wishes of the American people. As most of you know, our meeting today is under the gaze of Lady Liberty, and I think that's altogether appropriate. The quest for human rights and personal freedom is very much a part of the agenda of American-Soviet relations. And let me also say that, since they began in 1985, my discussions with President Gorbachev have been friendly, businesslike, and productive. And although our time together today will be brief, I welcome this opportunity for a final meeting between myself, President Gorbachev, and Vice President Bush that will demonstrate the continuity of the process we first put in place at Geneva in 1985.

 

The pursuit of peace is, of course, always in season. But I think it's especially appropriate that President Gorbachev should be here at this time of year, a time when the thoughts and prayers of all of us turn to the hope that someday nations and people from every part of the world will live in peace and harmony with one another. It's for this reason that I journey to New York.

 

And thank you, and God bless you.

 

Soviet Military Reductions

 

Q. Mr. President, what kind of troop reductions are being offered by the Soviets? Troop reductions by the Soviets?

 

The President. Well, we're pleased to hear that -- the fact that they're thinking in that term. We, too, have thought in it, and the idea of bringing conventional weapons down and achieving a symmetry between us, I think, would be another great forward step.

 

Yasser Arafat

 

Q. Yasser Arafat?

 

The President. Well, we haven't had time yet, because he held his press conference up until just a short time ago in Sweden, and we haven't had time to review what it is that he said there specifically. We're looking forward to do that.

 

I have to get going now. I can't be late for my luncheon.

 

Note: The President spoke at 10:55 a.m. at the South Portico of the White House. The last question referred to the U.S. denial of a visa to Palestine Liberation Organization chairman Yasser Arafat for a proposed visit to address the United Nations.