Informal Exchange With Reporters in Knoxville, Tennessee

September 24, 1985

Q. Tell us what you think about Shevardnadze's proposal for ``star peace''? Will you join him for ``star peace''?

The President. I have already seen some items that suggest to me that I was misunderstood in trying to call an answer over here. First of all, we have received no proposal officially of a 40-percent cut as I was asked about, and when I made a remark that I wish it were more if he had done it, I was doing that in the context of the fact that both Mr. Gorbachev and myself said that we would both like to see the missile done away with entirely. But I was not turning down any offer; we've received no offer, either here or our negotiators in Geneva have received no proposals.

Q. Would you go for deeper cuts than the 40 percent which seems to be bandied about and he may propose to you this week?

The President. Well, all I know is that no one on our side has heard anything, but just this report that he has said this.

Q. But would you go for deeper cuts?

The President. I told you, our goal, if we could make it, would be total elimination, but we are perfectly prepared to take whatever mutual reduction we can get with the idea of eventually getting there to zero.

Q. What do you think of this ``star peace'' proposal?

The President. That again, I have just heard that it was said in a speech. I'll wait until we get together and I hear exactly what they are talking about.

Q. Mr. President, Shevardnadze specifically said that the Soviet side has given detailed proposals in Geneva and has heard nothing back in substance from the United States.

The President. I'm sorry, but our negotiators there have had numbers out on the table that we have put there as to a reduction in weapons, and there have been no counteroffers as yet to those other numbers suggested or any thing of the kind. There has been no negotiating position presented by the Soviets.

Q. How do you think this tit for tat bodes for Friday and your meeting with Gorbachev?

The President. No, you mean Shevardnadze. No, I'm going to see what we say to each other, but I'm not going to pay any attention to statements that are made publicly until they are presented to us formally.

Q. Are they lying about having put anything on the table in the way of -- [inaudible].

The President. What?

Q. Are they lying?

The President. As far as I know they have unless something has been done since I have talked to our people. Our people have never had any numeral count suggested to them either agreeing or suggesting a difference from the figures we've presented.

Q. Thank you.

Note: The exchange began at 2:45 p.m. at McGhee Tyson Airport. The President then returned to Washington, DC.