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Public Papers - 1990 - July

Exchange With Reporters

1990-07-03

The President. Smile. [Laughter]

Houston Economic Summit

Q. -- -- a few surprises at Houston, Mr. President?

The President. No surprises. I think we're in good shape for that meeting, though -- those meetings. We'll have a chance to get a preview talking to some of the leaders at the NATO summit about Houston, too -- but it will go well. There are some big issues to discuss -- trade, particularly.

Q. What would you like to see come out of the Houston summit?

The President. Well, I'd like to see us move forward on the Uruguay round, which means we've got to get moving on the question of agriculture. I've been saying that for some time, and that's very important. We spent a lot of time on that this morning, and it's important work.

NATO

Q. Have you got any feedback from the allies yet on the language concerning last resort -- --

The President. I'm ready to discuss that with them. I talked to the Prime Minister of Belgium and the Prime Minister of Denmark just now, and we didn't go into that specific, but I think the general approach that we're proposing seems to be getting wide acceptance. I don't want to comment, Jim [Jim Miklaszewski, NBC News], on that one because we didn't discuss that particular issue.

Q. Well, why is it now that we have to assure the Soviets that NATO is a threat? What's different? Or not a threat -- I'm sorry -- [laughter].

The President. Well, I think as things change we want to be sure that everybody understands that NATO is the stabilizing factor that we think it should be and will be. And it's not a question -- we don't have to assure them of anything, but I want them to understand the facts. I spent a lot of time working with Mr. Gorbachev when he was here to see that he did understand that a unified Germany in NATO is not a threat to the Soviet Union. And if there are certain things we can do to expand NATO's role that drive that point home, so much the better.

Q. Is there anything really different about this last resort?

The President. Well, you have to wait and see what comes out of it. You'll notice I'm not even commenting on your question because I told you, I think, yesterday that I wanted to discuss the specifics with our NATO partners.

Economic Assistance for the Soviet Union

Q. Mr. President, are you going to still reject the Soviet economic aid package in Houston?

The President. Well, I've explained to our economic summit partners and to the Soviets and to others that we have specific problems with, you know, giving money to the Soviet Union at this point. So, we'll be discussing that at Houston, and we had a good briefing on that here today.

Q. Are you afraid that the money might be wasted?

The President. Well, I still feel the same way I did: that economic reform is essential. And to Gorbachev's credit, he's trying to reform the economic system there.

Q. What are you proposing on the environmental front?

The President. We've tried it the other way, you see, with Poland several years ago and before economic reform, and I think everybody recognizes that that money did not help do what it was intended to.

Houston Economic Summit

Q. Any proposals on the environmental front in Houston?

The President. There will be a good discussion of the environment, yes.

Mr. Fitzwater. Thank you, Mr. President. [Laughter]

The President. What do you think, Marlin?

President Gorbachev of the Soviet Union

Q. How do you think Gorbachev handled himself yesterday? He was pretty tough, wasn't he?

The President. I haven't gotten a full report on that, so I can't comment on it.

Interest Rates

Q. How about bringing down interest rates in Houston, worldwide? Is that one of your goals?

The President. It's always a goal. I don't think that's a specific agenda item -- worldwide interest rates.

Golf With the President

Q. Mr. Vice President, did you throw the golf game yesterday? There was a story that you went into the tank to purposely lose -- [laughter] -- --

Q. Widely speculated.

The Vice President. I went into the tank, and I stayed there. The President won, as he should.

The President. I think he played well.

Q. Well, he was in the sand all the time. Every time I saw a picture, he was hitting out of the sand.

The President. He got five birdies -- no, six birdies. That's pretty good golf.

Q. You got six birdies?

The President. Yes. That's not bad.

Q. You started the story then, that you lost.

The Vice President. That's because when the camera was there, I double-bogied the 9th hole and I hit it in the sand on the 18th hole -- just record it. I wanted the bad part of the golf game recorded -- --

The President. Secretary Brady's team won the match. Did you get credit for that, Nick?

Q. No, he wouldn't tell us.

The President. He didn't? They were the victors.

Q. I thought you won. The Vice President said you won.

The President. No, no. Oh, he was just being pleasant, I'll bet.

The Vice President. He won on the first tee.

The President. Won one hole. That's what he meant.

Well, let's go suit up.

Note: The exchange began at 11:20 a.m. at the President's home at Walker's Point in Kennebunkport, ME. During the exchange, the President referred to Wilfried Martens, Prime Minister of Belgium, and Poul Schluter, Prime Minister of Denmark. Marlin Fitzwater was Press Secretary to the President.

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