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Public Papers - 1990 - May

Remarks Following Discussions With Prime Minister Michael Manley of Jamaica

1990-05-03

The President. Mr. Prime Minister and members of the Jamaican delegation, thank you for coming to the White House. We are pleased and, indeed, honored that you are with us here today. It's been my pleasure to host Prime Minister Manley on this first official visit to Washington. Columbus may have had something going correct when he said in 1494 -- he called it ``the fairest isle that eyes have beheld,'' speaking about Jamaica. And those of us who have been there, and I'm included, understand exactly what Christopher Columbus meant.

The United States and Jamaica enjoy a very close relationship, and that's because we have so many bonds of friendship and family. Some 5,000 Americans have made Jamaica their home, while 400,000 of your people have settled here in the United States, and I think that's to the enrichment of both countries. Early in this century, one Jamaican couple moved to this country. They raised a son, told him to do something with his life. Their son grew up to be the man that both Jamaicans and Americans can be very proud of, and I'm talking about our Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Colin Powell. I had a chance to discuss him behind his back with the Prime Minister at lunch, and he assured me that Jamaicans have that same high regard that we do for our Chairman.

In our meeting today, we not only renewed a friendship that I value, but I had a chance to express to him the total satisfaction that I feel about the cooperation between our countries. We talked about some difficult problems: the economic and financial situation. The Prime Minister, no holds barred, told me of some of the problems that he faces in terms of an external debt. That was coupled with some news he gave me about the dynamic growth in the Jamaican GNP. I commended his efforts to meet the difficult economic and developmental challenges through diversification. And then again, he's been out front on the private sector investment front, and I salute that and told him so.

The United States wants to help in these efforts, and I'm afraid I cried on his shoulder a little about some budget limitations that we face here in the United States. But we will continue to support development and growth in Jamaica. And as neighbors that share democratic traditions, we explored the historic political developments in the Caribbean and Latin America. I asked him for his views about what was happening in Central America as well as the Caribbean, and he shared them with me -- a very insightful presentation.

I do appreciate his insights, and I very much appreciate the role that Jamaica plays in regional affairs. We gave particular applause to his efforts on behalf of democracy and economic reform. I think we see eye to eye on the need for that to continue. I've commissioned Secretary Brady and asked Secretary Eagleburger [Deputy Secretary of State] both to undertake some specific assignments to see how much flexibility the United States can have in helping Jamaica in the ways that would benefit their move towards more privatization, more economic growth, and more to the benefit of all Jamaican people.

So, we touched on the subject of cooperation in narco-trafficking. Jamaica has been steadfast in working with us, determined to cut down this trafficking. We want to salute those individuals in Jamaica who are working in cooperation with the United States in the war on drugs. The Jamaican efforts are crucial, and we look forward to continued cooperation in this area.

So, all in all, it was just the kind of visit that I, at least, look forward to: a frank discussion between friends. We also shared with the Prime Minister our global view of our relations with the Soviet Union and our insight into developments in Eastern Europe, knowing that, though, the way we handle these matters affect countries here in the Caribbean and all around the world.

Your country's motto, sir, ``Out of many, one people,'' and ours is ``E Pluribus Unum,'' which is pretty much the same thing. So, we've got different people, one common aspiration, one common goal -- and that's freedom. So, let's not rest until all the nations of our hemisphere enjoy the fruits of democracy and freedom. I guess what I really want to say is: Good luck, sir. I'm glad you came our way.

The Prime Minister. Mr. President and distinguished members of the administration, I'd, first of all, like to thank you very much for this invitation and for the marvelous hospitality, courtesy with which we've been received and for the very interesting discussions that this made possible.

I'd like to say to everybody that when the next winter comes, if anybody has the slightest doubt about where they should go, I refer them to the President of the United States quoting Christopher Columbus. [Laughter]

I might also say that I assured the President that we Jamaicans regard General Colin Powell as perhaps our most distinguished export, of whom we are very proud.

We had, as the President has said, extremely interesting discussions, and very frank. We share your delight in the increasing triumph of democracy all over the world. On the other hand, we have been concerned that some of us who have been in the trenches of democracy all along might get forgotten in the new excitement. But I am very confident from things that we had observed in President Bush's administration and from our talks today that you do not intend to divert from our immense needs but rather to seek new ways of helping new friends -- you might say, new members of the family of democracy.

I must also say that we have been very impressed with the feeling that the President has a genuine interest in this hemisphere outside of North America. We really have felt his personal interest in the Caribbean, Central America, and Latin America. And I must say, Mr. President, that even though we argue strongly not to divert resources from us but equally realize that the United States is under tremendous pressure, has tremendous problems of its responsibilities all over the world.

And I think that, to me, the most interesting and constructive single thing that came out of these talks is that we feel that when you look at debt, when you look at problems of capital formation -- where do we get the capital to sustain economic development in a country like Jamaica -- that we can't so much try to find new money to throw at the problem but what we have to do is to use our ingenuity, use our sheer brains and imagination to find ways that take resources that are there and put them to work. And it has been a great source of encouragement to me, Mr. President, to feel that you and your administration are responsive to that. I think together, if we just put our imagination to work, put our brains to work, we can accomplish remarkable things.

And as I say, when next you plan to travel, Jamaica is there and within reach. Thank you very much, Mr. President. God bless you and your great country.

The President. Thank you very much. Just beautiful. Thank you, sir. That was wonderful.

Note: The President spoke at 1:18 p.m. at the South Portico of the White House. Prior to their remarks, the President and the Prime Minister met privately in the Oval Office and with U.S. and Jamaican officials in the Cabinet Room, and then attended a luncheon in the Old Family Dining Room.

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