Public Papers - 1989
Remarks at the Welcoming Ceremony for Prime Minister Robert Hawke of Australia
The President. Prime Minister and Mrs. Hawke, Barbara and I are very pleased to welcome you as old friends to the United States and to the White House. We had the opportunity to enjoy Australia's renowned hospitality in 1982 during Australian-American Friendship Week. And so, Barbara and I are just delighted to try to return that marvelous hospitality.
And there's another reason why it is so fitting for Australia's Prime Minister to be among the first official guests. Our nations share a similar heritage: a pioneer heritage in the taming of two vast continents, a heritage of democratic ideas, and a heritage of common sacrifice in war and common efforts in peace. And in our last visit, Barbara and I joined your countrymen in the commemoration of one of the most costly battles of the Second World War, the Battle of the Coral Sea -- a poignant reminder of how much Americans and Australians have sacrificed four times in this century in the defense of freedom.
So, this is not just an alliance between two great powers. It is an intimate partnership between two peoples. And your visit reaffirms the vigor of this partnership, the enduring strength of our alliance.
The giant strides that we've made recently toward many of our common goals -- major progress in arms reductions; major progress in resolving conflicts in Afghanistan, Angola, and Cambodia -- all were made possible by the resolve of the West. Our countries prize peace, but recognize that peace comes only through Western strength and vigilance. And we must maintain our alliances and stand by our friends if we are to fulfill the promise of a new era of lessened tension and confrontation. And that is why the United States is so grateful for Australian leadership in our common defense.
America also admires Australia's bold leadership in foreign policy, both close to home and far from your shores. From the South Pacific to Africa, Australia is a force for economic growth and a beacon of democracy. And we value your contribution, your good judgment, and your advice.
Mr. Prime Minister, we have much to discuss at an important moment in history. Events in China call for close consultation among the free nations. And the United States and Australia have a longstanding tradition of such consultation on important issues, and I am interested in hearing your assessments of recent world events.
There are many pressing international issues. And, Mr. Prime Minister, your leadership in organizing global efforts to cope with the threat of chemical weapons is one position that is greatly admired by Americans. The United States supports Australia's efforts, and you may be assured of our commitment to the early achievement of an effectively verifiable treaty banning these weapons.
And so, today we shall discuss world events, arms control, trade, Pacific regional cooperation, economic cooperation, other subjects. But, Mr. Prime Minister and Mrs. Hawke -- Bob and Hazel, if you will -- you have a busy schedule in your very brief time with us, but we hope to make your visit to Washington as pleasant and as memorable as ours was to your great country. Welcome to Washington, sir.
The Prime Minister. Mr. President, Barbara, it's an immense pleasure for me, in these 3 days in Washington, to renew our long friendship. And it is a special pleasure and privilege to join with you as the elected Chief of the greatest democracy in reaffirming the deep, abiding friendship of our two countries. In you, Mr. President, the Western World has an experienced and forward-looking leader. And in you, Australia has a valued and longstanding friend.
Today, as you've said, Mr. President, I look forward with you to continuing the exchange of views on all the issues affecting our countries in the spirit of friendship and of frankness which has always characterized our association and which befits the relationship and, if I may say, the partnership between Australia and the United States. As you say, Mr. President, we are meeting at a time of historic and far-reaching change across the world. There now exists unparalleled new opportunities, challenges, and, may I say, responsibilities for leadership and positive achievement on crucial issues of peace and security, East-West relations, economic progress, world trade, and the protection of the world environment.
You have already demonstrated, Mr. President, your determination to give leadership. Your constructive approach to East-West relations is demonstrated by your creative and bold proposal for the reduction of conventional weapons in Europe. In this and other arms controls endeavors aimed at reducing nuclear armaments and, as you importantly emphasize, banning chemical weapons, you know, Mr. President, that you can count consistently on the support of Australia.
In this new and challenging era, the constancy, the depth, and the vitality of the alliance between Australia and the United States will remain crucially important to the national interests of both our countries. But it has a wider regional and, indeed, global significance. Under ANZUS [Australia, New Zealand, United States security treaty], the joint Australia-United States defense facilities in Australia are significant elements in maintaining the peace and in supporting the effectiveness of arms control and disarmament agreements. Over recent years, our cooperation and consultations at the highest levels have been stronger, broader, and more productive than at any other time since ANZUS was formed.
But, Mr. President, as we both agree, our alliance goes far beyond our defense alliance. It encompasses dynamic economic links and broad and deep human and cultural associations. But above all, it is based on the firmest of foundations: our shared commitment to democracy and to individual liberty within the rule of law.
Mr. President, it is precisely because of the depth and the maturity of our relationship that the differences of views that do exist between us can be faced openly and honestly -- as, for example, on some trade matters, particularly aspects of agricultural policy. I am quite confident that today we will be able to focus on ways to minimize, if not entirely resolve, such differences. I look forward to exploring with you means of cooperating in the current Uruguay round of multilateral trade negotiations to achieve some progress toward the goal that we both want: an international trading system based on free and fair competition.
I know that we both understand that moving in the opposite direction toward a world of separate and competing trade blocs would be economically disastrous and quite possibly strategically destabilizing. That is one of the reasons, I might add, why earlier this year I suggested the development of closer regional economic cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region. Implementation of my proposal could, I believe, improve significantly the chances for success in the Uruguay round, as well as acting for a catalyst for further growth in our dynamic region. I'm very keen, Mr. President, to exchange views with you on this proposal. And may I say, Mr. President, that I indeed welcome Secretary [of State] Baker's support last night for a new mechanism for multilateral cooperation among the nations of the regions as an idea whose time has come. I am delighted that the United States supports my call for a ministerial meeting this year as a first step if, as I hope and expect, there is consensus in the region.
Mr. President, I make this final point. The American presence has been a prime factor in creating and in maintaining the conditions for stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region. America's continuing involvement in our region remains a key to its future progress. As you say, Mr. President, we have before us an imposing dialog that we have to deal with.
What gives this visit and our discussions their real substance, however, and what will make them so mutually beneficial is the sense of common purpose that we bring to these matters, based on our common national and international interests and on our common commitment to peace and to freedom.
Mr. President -- George -- I thank you again for the warmth of your welcome not merely today but since I have arrived. May I say, not just the warmth -- [laughter] -- we're used to that. And I know you have enormous power, perhaps more than any in the world, but I know there are limits to your power. [Laughter] That warmth is a coincidence, but, George, there is no coincidence about the personal warmth that you and Barbara have extended to Hazel and myself. For that, I thank you. And I conclude, George, by saying this: You have visited Australia, as you say, as Vice President; and I look forward to welcoming you to our country as President of the United States and as a true friend of Australia.
Note: The President spoke at 10:10 a.m. at the South Portico of the White House, where Prime Minister Hawke was accorded a formal welcome with full military honors. Following the ceremony, the President and the Prime Minister met in the Oval Office.