Statement by Assistant to the President for Press Relations Fitzwater on President and Mrs. Reagan's Conversation With President and Mrs. Gorbachev About the Earthquake in Armenia


December 8, 1988


The President and Mrs. Reagan telephoned General Secretary and Mrs. Gorbachev at the Soviet mission in New York this morning to convey their sympathy at the earthquake in the Soviet Union and to wish them well on their journey to Moscow. The Reagans spoke from the family quarters on the second floor of the White House. The President spoke to the General Secretary from 10:21 to 10:28 a.m., and Mrs. Reagan spoke to Mrs. Gorbachev from 10:28 to 10:34 a.m.


The President told General Secretary Gorbachev: ``I received word last night of your early departure from New York and wanted to tell you how sorry I am that you must leave. I fully understand, however, that you have no choice but to return to your own country and be with your people following the early morning earthquake. I know I speak for all Americans when I express my deep personal sorrow at the loss of life caused by this earthquake. We understand that it was a very serious one. If there is any way in which we can be of assistance, either bilaterally or through the international community, please let me know. I want to tell you again how much both the Vice President and I enjoyed meeting with you yesterday. I think it was a very useful meeting for both sides. I wish you much success in the future and a safe journey home. Godspeed.''


The General Secretary thanked the President for his understanding and condolences.


Mrs. Reagan told Mrs. Gorbachev: ``I also wanted to convey to you directly my personal sorrow and concern over this tragedy. I'm so sorry. If we can do anything at all to help you, we're more than willing to. We look forward to seeing you either in the Soviet Union or California. Have a safe trip back.''


Mrs. Gorbachev thanked Mrs. Reagan ``for remembering us, for calling, and for your support.''