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National Archives

Public Papers - 1989

Statement by Press Secretary Fitzwater on the President's Meetings With Soviet Chairman Mikhail Gorbachev in Malta


President Bush was very impressed by his reception on the Forrestal. As a former naval officer, he relished the enthusiasm of the crew and also identified with the naval aviators. On board Marine One, from the Forrestal to the Belknap, the President received another update from General Scowcroft on the status of the situation in the Philippines. General Scowcroft said that President Aquino feels her situation is improving. The government forces had retaken one of the airfields. Other troublespots were being cleaned up. However, at that time, it must be said that the coup attempt was still in progress.

On the Belknap, the President went immediately to his quarters, Room NTD 02 - 78 - 2, the admiral's quarters. A new brass plaque had been placed on the door reading ``President Bush.'' The President's quarters include three rooms: an office and lounging area, a bedroom with double bed and lounge chair, and a conference room. The suite has a deep-blue carpet, blue leather furniture, and a mahogany desk with U.S. and Soviet flags in the same holder. The small office area also includes a coffeemaker, three telephones, a desk pen set on a brass submarine, pictures of the fleet under full steam, and other photographs of Adm. J.D. Williams with his friends. President Bush exchanged his suit coat for a royal blue NASA jacket, given to him by astronauts. It has a U.S. flag on one shoulder, Presidential patch on the other.

At approximately 3:30 the President convened a meeting of his advisers, including Secretary James Baker, Governor John Sununu, General Brent Scowcroft, Marlin Fitzwater, Under Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, Under Secretary of State Reginald Bartholemew, Robert Zoellick, Assistant Secretary Raymond Seitz, Margaret Tutwiler, Robert Blackwill, Condoleezza Rice, and General Graves. The meeting convened in the ward room, around a long table with a blue tablecloth and small holders with U.S. and Soviet flags.

The briefing focused on the first meetings Saturday morning: format, content, and major discussion points. The President and the Chairman will have consecutive translation, and President Bush is expected to offer the opening presentation. The President commended the team for their extensive preparatory work and their organization of issues to be discussed. The President plans to lay out a number of issues that represent U.S. interests in the Soviet Union, and which will demonstrate the U.S. desire for progress and improvement in East-West relations.

The two delegations at tomorrow's meeting will be: On the U.S. side: The President, Secretary Baker, Governor Sununu, General Scowcroft, Robert Blackwill, and interpreter; and on the Soviet side: President Gorbachev, Foreign Minister Shevardnadze, A. Yakovlev, A. Bessmertnykh, A. Chernyayev, A. Dobrynin, S. Akhromeyev, and interpreter.

The President is eager for the meetings to begin. I will try to provide a readout, either written or to the pool, following Saturday morning's session. In addition, I will brief at the filing center Saturday night, at a time dependent upon the conclusion of the dinner.

Note: In the statement, Press Secretary Fitzwater referred to Brent Scowcroft, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs; John H. Sununu, Chief of Staff to the President; Paul B. Wolfowitz, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy; Reginald Bartholemew, Under Secretary of State for Security Assistance, Science and Technology; Robert B. Zoellick, Counselor of the Department of State; Raymond G.H. Seitz, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Canadian Affairs; Margaret Tutwiler, Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs and Spokesman of the Department; Robert D. Blackwill, Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs; Condoleezza Rice, Director for Soviet and Eastern European Affairs at the National Security Council; Lt. Gen. Howard D. Graves, Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Aleksandr N. Yakovlev, Secretary and Chairman of the International Policy Commission of the Soviet Central Committee; Aleksandr A. Bessmertnykh, First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs; Anatoliy S. Chernyayev, foreign policy adviser; Anatoliy F. Dobrynin, foreign policy adviser; and Sergey F. Akhromeyev, principal military adviser to Chairman Gorbachev.

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