Exchange With Reporters on the Death of Major Arthur D. Nicholson, Jr., in the German Democratic Republic

March 25, 1985

Q. Mr. President, the Soviets say that the soldier that they killed was a spy -- was taking pictures. Can you comment on that?

The President. This is a tragedy that never should have happened, and we challenge that. But we have already registered our protest for the tragic death of this man.

Q. Have you protested personally, or has it been done by the State Department, sir?

The President. No. What's done there is done in my name.

Q. Was he a spy, Mr. President?

The President. No. I know that we can't go on with this other subject, and I don't want to take it up here. We've got another subject in our minds. But I think if you'll check, you'll find that each country, the Soviets and the United States, are permitted under the terms of the Four Power Agreement -- we each have 14 military personnel. We have them in East Germany; they have them in West Germany. And what they can do and the areas that they can go into are all delineated, and he was doing nothing except what we're entitled to do under the agreements.

Q. Was he taking pictures?

The President. What?

Q. Was he taking pictures of military installations?

The President. I'm still waiting for a lot of details on this, but that is permitted in both areas.

Q. There seems to be a lack of outrage on your part, sir.

The President. A lack of outrage? No, you can't print what I'm thinking. [Laughter]

Q. Would something like that prevent a summit meeting?

The President. No, it would make me more anxious to go to one.

Q. Thank you.

Note: The exchange began at 1:46 p.m. in the Cabinet Room at the White House.