Remarks on Departure for the Venice Economic Summit

June 3, 1987

The President. Well, thank you all for coming to see us off, and a special thank you to the Marine Band for that great music. As you know, Nancy and I are leaving today for the economic summit in Venice. Many of you have helped me prepare for this meeting, and I'm most grateful. Others of you will, in the months ahead, join with me in helping to chart the course, not only for our economy but, in large measure, for the entire world's economy. Of course, I'm looking forward to continuing our common work.

But for a moment, rather than address you, the men and women who are my partners in shaping our nation's policies for the future, I would like to direct my words to some very special guests, to those of you here today who are the future, you graduates of James Madison High School. The man your school was named for, James Madison, has been called the Father of our Constitution, and he was also our fourth President. And, no, I was not one of his staff or advisers. [Laughter] But in his first inaugural address, Madison said these simple and profound words: ``It has been the true glory of the United States,'' he said, ``to cultivate peace by observing justice.'' Well, this is a particularly good moment for remembering that wisdom.

On this trip, I will commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Marshall plan. Yes, 40 years ago the United States said that if Europe were ever to see an end to the specter of war that had haunted that great continent for over two centuries all of its people would have to know freedom, democracy, and justice. And so we extended both to allies and former enemies a helping hand, a hand of compassion, and a hand of hope. The Soviet Union declined to take part in the Marshall plan, as did the countries under its control, but to the rest of Europe, we gave help. What we know now as Western Europe was rebuilt. And today, in part as a result of the Marshall plan, those countries and the United States as well as Japan have known the longest period of general peace in this century and the greatest prosperity in the history of man.

At this economic summit, I will look around the table and see, thanks in part to the generosity and wisdom of our nation over the past 40 years, not the leaders of broken, desperate, and despotic nations but the leaders of strong and stable democracies, countries that today are our partners for peace on the world stage. Next week each leader at that table will be asking the same questions. How can we help make the next 40 years as prosperous as the last 40? How can we help our peoples live in a world of even greater opportunities in the next decade and the next century?

Well, some of the answers to these questions are clear. Our countries should move forward to end unsustainable trade imbalances, to reform agricultural policies, and restore stability to the international currency markets. The major economic powers of the world must also work to eliminate inequities in the international trade environment to keep markets open and to keep commerce flowing. Economic growth and free markets are everybody's business.

At Venice we'll talk about how to improve East-West relations. We will discuss arms reductions, human rights problems, regional conflicts, and bilateral cooperation. Our discussion in Venice will help strengthen Western solidarity, which is indispensable to progress on issues of contention between the East and West. We will also address various regional issues and other problems, such as international terrorism, where we can point to stepped-up and increasingly effective Western fronts -- or efforts, I should say, especially after last year's summit in Tokyo.

Despite this long agenda, we won't find all the answers to those questions about our future at this summit -- not by a long shot. In fact, many of the answers will come from where mankind's greatest energy and vision have always come: from you, from those like you throughout the world, from the hope that lives in the hearts of free people everywhere. But we will take steps; we will continue the work of, as Madison said, cultivating peace by observing justice. I'll outtalk it [referring to an airplane flying overhead]. And as I sit at that table and remember Madison's words, I will see not just the faces of those other leaders but your faces as well.

So, thanks again for coming here today, and God bless you all.

Student. Thanks for having us, sir.

The President. Thank you. Thank you very much. Well, again, thank you all. Flowers and the United States flag -- we've got to do all right when we get there. Thank you all.

Note: The President spoke at 8:37 a.m. at the South Portico of the White House.