February 25, 1987

On January 23, while the Iranian assault against Iraqi forces was especially intense, I reiterated the deep concern of the United States at the suffering and instability which the Iran-Iraq war has brought to the Gulf region. Since that time, although Iraq has stopped the Iranian attack east of Basra and pushed it back somewhat, the fighting in this tragic conflict has continued on the ground, in the air, and at sea.

Clearly, the peoples of the region cannot rest secure until there is a negotiated end to the conflict. We have frequently called on Iran's leaders to join in working toward a negotiated settlement, as the Iraqis have repeatedly offered to do. Regrettably, the Iranian Government has so far proved unresponsive in the face of all efforts to encourage reason and restraint in its war policy. It has also persisted in its efforts to subvert its neighbors through terrorism and intimidation.

We continue to work for a settlement that will preserve the sovereignty and territorial integrity of both Iran and Iraq. Toward that end, I have asked Secretary of State George Shultz to take the lead in an international effort to bring Iran into negotiations. Secretary Shultz has recently named Under Secretary-designate Ed Derwinski to be responsible for our ``Operation Staunch.'' This effort has my full support.

As I emphasized in January, this conflict threatens America's strategic interests, as well as the stability and security of all our friends in the region. We remain strongly committed to supporting the self-defense of our friends in the region and recently moved naval forces in the Persian Gulf to underpin that commitment. We also remain strongly committed to ensuring the free flow of oil through the Strait of Hormuz. Finally, we are determined to help bring the war to the earliest possible negotiated end. With that goal in mind, the United States calls for an immediate cessation of hostilities, negotiations, and withdrawal to borders. I urge the international community, in the appropriate fora and through the appropriate mechanisms, to cooperate in the endeavor. The time to act on this dangerous and destructive war is now.