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Public Papers - 1991 - July

Remarks Prior to a Meeting With Foreign Minister Aleksandr Bessmertnykh of the Soviet Union

1991-07-11

The President. Someday I want to get Mikhail up there to the seashore. I think he would enjoy that. In the summer; the winter is hell -- it's cold.

But, again, my sincere thanks to both of you for making this trip. I know it is an inconvenience. You did it on very, very short notice, and I think it demonstrates President Gorbachev's interest, your interest, Moiseyev's interest in reaching accord on START, which is important to both our countries. But thank you very, very much for coming.

And I think the American people see this as a significant step of principle by the Soviet Union. I want to encourage that view because that is exactly what it is, on very short notice, to come here to try to work out these details.

Foreign Minister Bessmertnykh. We very much appreciate this opportunity to share the views and positions on the remaining issues of the START. And President Gorbachev has sent you a letter on this issue -- helpful. So we shall develop with the Secretary, I think, the final stage of the treaty. There is a chance that both sides will come -- we'll try together. I think -- --

The President. We'll see how we do on it. I still remain convinced that it is in our interest -- I am just thinking now of the United States -- to have a meeting with President Gorbachev in the Soviet Union, in Moscow, because there are so many issues -- other issues that we need to discuss, too. But we've all set this one as kind of a sine qua non, so I hope we can get it resolved.

Foreign Minister Bessmertnykh. Yes.

The President. Will you please extend my best wishes and say that -- I know I speak for others that will be at the Economic Summit in saying we are delighted he is coming there. And I just -- I think it will go well. We all remain committed to the dramatic changes that you have undertaken there and the reforms. So, we'll see where that goes. And I'm sorry I won't be here all day long to work with you on this. Some of it is so technical we've got to rely on the experts.

Foreign Minister Bessmertnykh. Yes.

The President. I'm not overlooking you, but -- -- [laughter].

Foreign Minister Bessmertnykh. I understand.

Q. Mr. Foreign Minister, Secretary Baker said yesterday that the U.S. is hoping you are coming here with answers to the very concrete proposal tabled in Geneva. Do you have those answers?

Foreign Minister Bessmertnykh. In Geneva, we have made definite progress on both sides. We have moved on certain positions, but still there are three major technical things to overcome. And we have some ideas from the United States and we have brought some of our ideas, so we'll try to merge them. And I hope that we shall have a productive discussion.

Q. What do you think the chances are that you will be able to break those problems at this meeting?

Foreign Minister Bessmertnykh. Well, I am hopeful. We'll try. We'll try.

The President. The man is looking for odds. We don't give odds in the Oval Office. [Laughter] It's like handicapping a horse race. Can't give it to you, Norm [Norm Sandler, United Press International]. Nice try, though.

Note: The President spoke at 7:35 a.m. in the Oval Office at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to President Mikhail S. Gorbachev of the Soviet Union and Chief of the Soviet General Staff Mikhail A. Moiseyev.

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