Radio Address to the Nation on the Soviet-United States Summit Meeting in Moscow and the Toronto Economic Summit
June 4, 1988
My fellow Americans:
It was just yesterday that I returned from my historic Moscow summit meeting with General Secretary Gorbachev. And it so happens that later this month I'll be visiting Canada for an economic summit with the leaders of the world's industrialized nations. I thought I'd take a few moments to tell you about both.
First, my meeting with General Secretary Gorbachev in Moscow -- the event that held perhaps the most immediate historic importance took place on Wednesday. It was then that General Secretary Gorbachev and I exchanged the instruments of ratification, bringing into effect the INF treaty. The effect of this treaty will be, very simply, to eliminate an entire class of U.S. and Soviet intermediate-range nuclear missiles. The significance of the INF treaty can hardly be overstated. For the first time ever, the levels of nuclear arms will actually be reduced rather than having caps placed on their growth. These missiles will not simply have been shuffled around on the map or placed in storage; they will have been destroyed.
The exchange of these instruments of ratification alone would have made the Moscow summit a success, but the General Secretary and I made important progress in other areas as well. We moved ahead on START negotiations, negotiations that would lead to a dramatic reduction in both sides' arsenals of strategic nuclear arms.
On bilateral issues, I'm especially pleased by our agreement to hold increased exchanges involving high school students. The number of students will at first be in the hundreds, but could grow into the thousands. Imagine it -- hundreds and then thousands of young people who have firsthand knowledge of each other's country and, yes, who have made friends. Turning to regional conflicts, Mr. Gorbachev and I discussed ways to reduce tension in areas around the globe -- Southeast Asia, Africa, Central America, the Persian Gulf, and the Middle East. The withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan, of course, represents an historic step in itself, one that the General Secretary and I agreed could serve as a model for settling other regional conflicts.
A key part of my agenda for this Moscow summit, as for my previous meetings with the General Secretary, involved human rights. Recently, the Soviets have begun to show somewhat more respect for human rights. In the past year, for example, they have released some 300 political detainees from detention. It's my hope that what took place on my Moscow visit will lead to still greater individual freedom for the peoples of the Soviet Union.
You see, in addition to my meetings with Mr. Gorbachev, I held other meetings -- with monks at a monastery in Moscow; with nearly 100 dissidents and refuseniks, men and women who have worked for years for the freedom to speak, to worship, to assemble, and to travel; and at Moscow University with students, indeed, with the very students likely to become the Soviet Union's next generation of leaders. To the dissidents and refuseniks, I was able to say: The people of the United States and elsewhere support you. To the students, I suggested: there is another way to live and govern your country, a way of democracy and economic growth, a way in which creative human energies are released. If anyone had suggested, even as recently as 10 years ago, that an American President would one day be able to meet with Soviet dissidents inside Moscow itself or be able to speak to Soviet students in their own university about human freedom, well, I think you'll agree that a prediction like that would have been dismissed. But this past week, it happened. Seeds of freedom and greater trust were sown. And I just have to believe that, in ways we may not even be able to guess, those seeds will take root and grow.
Accompanying these new political freedoms are a series of economic reforms that may begin to inject elements of free enterprise into the Soviet economy. In 2 weeks, I'll be attending my final economic summit in Toronto, where the Western countries will celebrate the success of free markets. It's my belief that liberty should be as important a concern in Toronto as it was in Moscow. Liberty in the economic sphere means low taxes. It means paring away needless regulations and reducing counterproductive government planning and interference. And it means keeping down barriers to international trade, here and around the world.
Until next week, thanks for listening, and God bless you.
Note: The President spoke at 12:06 p.m. from the Oval Office at the White House.