July 26, 1982
President Reagan. It's been an honor and a pleasure to meet with President Ahmadou Ahidjo of Cameroon and to discuss the views and hopes of a major U.S. trading partner in Africa.
Our discussions today reconfirm the mutual respect our two countries have enjoyed for over 20 years. Our meeting covered a wide range of issues. Particularly useful was our discussion of southern Africa and the Middle East. I listened with interest to President Ahidjo's views on these difficult issues, and I hope he has also gained a better understanding of the role that we're trying to play.
We also had a useful discussion of the enormous economic burdens faced by Africa's developing countries and a possible role for the United States private sector in addressing these problems. An American trade and investment mission, headed by Secretaries Baldrige and Block, visited Cameroon and several other African countries last January. We continue to believe that private enterprise is the most effective means for fostering sound economic development. And I'm very pleased that Cameroon has opened its doors to American businessmen. I hope that our two countries will enjoy increasingly close economic and trade relations in the years ahead.
Finally, our discussion gave me an opportunity to commend President Ahidjo for his outstanding leadership concerning the refugee problem. Over the past several years, Cameroon has hosted over 200,000 refugees fleeing civil wars and harsh regimes in neighboring countries. The United States has tried to help where it could, working through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, to alleviate the heavy burden that this has brought to Cameroon. We urge other nations to contribute to the international effort and give continuing support to the countries of first asylum and to the refugees themselves.
I know that the President will be meeting with a wide range of administration officials and Members of the House and Senate during his Washington stay. And I am certain that he will find them eager to expand the excellent working relations that we have with the Government of Cameroon. His discussions here are laying a foundation for enhanced cooperation and ever closer ties of friendship between the United States and Cameroon. And we're delighted to welcome him here to the United States.
President Ahidjo. I am pleased after my last visit to the United States of America in 1967 to have been given this opportunity to come back once more to this great and beautiful country on the kind invitation of President Ronald Reagan, with whom I have just had cordial and fruitful discussions.
With regard to our bilateral relations, the discussions were an opportunity to reaffirm the esteem that the Cameroonian and American people have for each other and to express our satisfaction with the close links of mutually advantageous cooperation existing between our two countries for over 20 years now.
With regard to the determination expressed on both sides and with the potentials of our two countries, there is no doubt that this cooperation will grow and be consolidated in the future. This is already evident in the four agreements recently signed in Yaounde by our two governments to finance interior agricultural projects and training programs for a total amount of $12,000,200.
We also carried out a wide review of problems of common interest in Africa and the world. With regard to Africa, we expressed the need to accelerate the accession of Namibia to independence and to work towards the elimination of apartheid for the advent of majority rule in South Africa. We also expressed the hope that the present crisis in Chad and within the Organization of African Unity will be satisfactorily solved as soon as possible.
With regard to world affairs, we expressed our common determination to support in all circumstances the right of peoples to progress, peace, and self-determination. In this connection, we acknowledge the need to work in a concerted manner to ensure respect for the basic principles of international relations such as nonrecourse to force, the peaceful settlement of conflicts, and peaceful coexistence, as well as the promotion of a more just, balanced, and stable framework of cooperation between industrialized and developing countries as part of global negotiations to usher in a new international economic order.
Lastly, I wish to seize this opportunity to extend my sincere thanks to President Reagan and to the government and the people of the United States for the warm welcome accorded us.
Note: President Reagan spoke at 1:08 p.m. to reporters assembled at the South Portico of the White House. President Ahidjo spoke in French, and his remarks were translated by an interpreter.
Earlier, the two Presidents met in the Oval Office at the White House. They then attended a luncheon in the State Dining Room.