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Public Papers - 1991

Remarks Announcing the Nomination of Robert Strauss To Be United States Ambassador to the Soviet Union


The President. Let me just say that I am delighted to announce my intention to nominate an old friend and an experienced diplomat, Robert Strauss, to be our next Ambassador to the Soviet Union.

Bob Strauss has taken on difficult and delicate assignments in the past for Presidents of both parties. I know that he's the right man to represent the United States in this fantastic period of change in the Soviet Union. And at this moment, we are considering any number of ideas to foster democratic reform, to foster economic change in the Soviet Union. And at the same time, the status of East-West relations is being redefined by the emerging democracies of Eastern Europe and by President Gorbachev.

We have an important role in leading and defining a new world order in which the United States and the Soviet Union continue to work cooperatively for the betterment of mankind. And I frankly can think of nobody, no one, more qualified or more talented to bring to this representation what we need: contacts with high officials, a knowledge of America, a guarantee that two ships -- big ships, important ships -- won't pass in the night for lack of understanding. And I'm very proud that he will be our representative to the Soviet Union during this important, I would say, critical period.

And Bob, I just can't tell you how grateful I am to you and I ought to say to Helen, too, your wife, for being willing to undertake this important assignment. It's a wonderful thing for our country. And I am confident that this appointment will be well-received by your many friends on both sides of the aisle of the United States Senate, of the Congress, and certainly by the American people. So, thank you for suiting up once again, and I believe it's a wonderful thing for the United States. Thank you for being willing to do this.

Now, please say a word, if you will. And then we'll get the Secretary.

Mr. Strauss. I have no statement to make other than, a week ago if anyone had told me I would be standing here, I would have thought they were crazy. I spent the last several days in consultation with the President and with the Secretary of State and with Helen Strauss, I might add. And I have concluded that if there is a role I can play, I'm delighted to play it with the Secretary of State and with this President.

I enter this administration as a Democrat, as all of you know. It's a nonpolitical appointment, if ever there was one and could be one, and I certainly will come out a Democrat. And in the meantime, I'll do my damnedest, Mr. President, to represent this nation as you and the Secretary would want me to.

I'll take a question or two later on after the Secretary says something, if you like.

Secretary Baker. Mr. President, Ambassador Strauss, let me simply echo, Mr. President, what you've said with respect to this appointment. We are extraordinarily pleased that Ambassador Strauss is willing to undertake this responsibility. It is a real plus for America. It's a plus for the American people. It is a plus, a big plus, for the developing relationship and the emerging and continually positively forward-moving relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union.

The President. Bob, thank you. And I have an 11:15 a.m., but if you want to fire a couple of questions at -- --

Q. Mr. President, are we going to have a summit at the end of the month?

Q. Mr. President, are you going to Moscow at the end of the month?

The President. We're talking about that all in the next couple of days here. I have no comments on any of these stories right now. I want to keep the focus on this wonderful new appointment. And Bob will take some questions. And I don't know whether -- Jim, do you want to stay with him?

Note: The President spoke at 11:07 a.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to President Mikhail Gorbachev of the Soviet Union; Mr. Strauss' wife, Helen; and Secretary of State James A. Baker III. Following the President's remarks, Mr. Strauss, who was a former U.S. Trade Representative, responded to questions from the press.

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