Statement on the Vice President's Trip to Europe and the Secretary of State's Trip to the Far East

February 11, 1983

It was a pleasure for me today to welcome home Vice President Bush and Secretary of State Shultz, who have just completed important diplomatic missions in Europe and Asia. Both men accomplished their missions with calmness, competence, and strength -- and helped to reaffirm our country's commitment to peace.

The Vice President and the Secretary of State briefed me and my national security advisers today on the details of their trips. Clearly their journeys have reinforced American policy and have set the stage for added progress in the future in two areas of the world enormously important to our country and our people.

Vice President Bush went to Europe first and foremost to listen. His trip illustrated that NATO -- in contrast to the Warsaw pact -- is a voluntary alliance of free people based on consultation and consensus.

The Vice President also carried a message from me that was simple and clear. First, he emphasized that our zero-zero intermediate-range nuclear forces proposal is a serious one that would represent a real breakthrough in arms control. As such, it contrasts dramatically with the Soviet proposal which would merely preserve an existing Soviet advantage that is dangerous to the West. Second, he made it clear that our initiative -- which would eliminate an entire category of missiles -- is a fair and a moral position. Third, the Vice President made it clear that we are willing to explore any serious Soviet proposal and that I, personally, am prepared to meet Mr. Andropov anywhere, anytime, to sign an agreement to eliminate all land-based intermediate-range nuclear missile weapons from the face of the Earth. Finally, the Vice President conveyed our belief that progress at Geneva depends now -- more critically than ever -- on continued allied unity and the determination to deploy the missiles requested by our NATO allies if results cannot be achieved which make this unnecessary.

I am deeply encouraged by the report that the Vice President has given me. We and our allies are as one in wanting genuine arms control and in our commitment to the dual track decision. The message that the Vice President carried and the favorable responses he received reflect a solid expression of allied unity we can all be proud of.

The trip of the Secretary of State to Asia was also of great significance strengthening our relations with three countries very important to the people of the United States -- Japan, China, and Korea.

Secretary Shultz's trip to this very important region of the world was an extremely successful one. He also achieved the goals I set for him.

The Secretary reported to me that he comes back from his trip more convinced than ever that much of the world's future is tied up with events in Asia and the Pacific. I fully agree with this assessment. He emphasized to me that Asians share our concerns about the need for significant arms control measures to ensure worldwide peace and security.

In Japan, building upon my recent meetings in Washington with Prime Minister Nakasone, the Secretary reaffirmed the strength of the U.S.-Japan alliance structure and the partnership for peace to which both of our countries are committed. He followed up on the discussions we had in Washington on ways by which Japan can better assume its appropriate responsibilities in defense and trade matters.

In his meetings at Beijing with the Chinese leadership, the Secretary agreed on the need to develop mutual confidence and trust and to continue the dialog between our two countries in order to achieve a strong and enduring relationship. In this connection, I am pleased that Premier Zhao has accepted my invitation to visit the United States. The time will be agreed on through diplomatic channels.

In the Republic of Korea, the Secretary, in his discussions with leaders of that country and by his visit to American troops in the Demilitarized Zone, made clear the U.S. determination to stand by the Korean people and to maintain our pledge to defend Korean independence against outside aggression.

In Hong Kong, the Secretary chaired a conference of U.S. Ambassadors in East Asia and the Pacific. They discussed economic and political issues in the region, particularly pointing to the strength of our relationships with our friends and allies there.

Note: The President met with the Vice President and the Secretary of State in the Oval Office at the White House. They then attended a meeting of the National Security Council in the Roosevelt Room.