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Public Papers - 1989

Remarks Upon Signing the Bill Implementing the Bipartisan Accord on Central America

1989-04-18

Please be seated. And distinguished leaders of the Congress here today, my thanks for joining us. Four weeks ago, for the first time in many years, the President and Congress, the Democratic and Republican leadership in the House and Senate, spoke with one voice about Central America. And by signing a bipartisan accord on Central America, we joined hands for the good of that troubled region, and by placing principle above party, we reaffirmed the cornerstone of America's foreign policy.

Last week the Congress passed legislation to implement the bipartisan accord, and today I am very proud to sign this legislation. My friends, you've shown that bipartisanship works. And I want to thank you for acting quickly, honorably, and in the national interest.

Our objective in Central America is a democratic Nicaragua which does not subvert or threaten its neighbors and whose people enjoy the social and economic fruits of a free society. Our continued assistance to the Nicaraguan resistance represents the commitment of the United States both to Esquipulas -- the peace process -- and to sustain those who struggle for freedom and democracy. Under the Esquipulas accord, insurgent forces have the right to reintegrate into their homeland under safe, democratic conditions with full civil and political rights. And that's the desire of the Nicaraguan resistance. And we will support it through concerted diplomatic efforts to reinforce this regional agreement.

Here, in particular, let me thank the Congress. For by supporting my request for continued assistance at current levels through the elections in Nicaragua, scheduled now for February 28, 1990, you have reaffirmed the will of this government to ensure peace and freedom in Central America.

The success of the Central American peace process and the prospects of national reconciliation in Nicaragua depend on full and honest Sandinista compliance with their repeated pledges of democracy and freedom. We've yet to see genuine Sandinista compliance; thus far, they've refused to negotiate with the opposition regarding the necessary conditions for fair elections. It's clear that close international scrutiny and sustained pressure will be critical to induce Sandinista compliance. It's also clear that the Soviet Union must match its rhetorical support for the peace process with concrete action to halt military aid, to end subversion in that region, and to promote genuine democracy in Nicaragua.

It is fitting to recall what Franklin Roosevelt said when he addressed the Nation in 1940: ``Today we seek a moral basis for peace. It cannot be a lasting peace if the fruit of it is oppression or starvation or cruelty or human life dominated by armed camps.''

Our accord envisions a democratic Central America and a more just and tranquil hemisphere. And above all, it points us toward the future -- for America and for the people of Central America.

So, let us seize the moment. Thank you, Mr. Speaker and Mr. Majority Leader, minority leaders, distinguished Members of the Congress; and thank all of you for being here. And now it's my pleasure to sign the legislation implementing the bipartisan accord on Central America. Thank you all.

Note: The President spoke at 2:18 p.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House. In his closing remarks, he referred to Jim Wright, Speaker of the House of Representatives; George J. Mitchell and Robert Dole, majority and minority leaders of the Senate, respectively. Thomas S. Foley and Robert H. Michel, majority and minority leaders of the House of Representatives, respectively. H.R. 1750, approved April 18, was assigned Public Law No. 101-14.

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