The President. Chancellor Schmidt and I have just concluded another of our meetings at a critical moment in world affairs. The primary topic on our minds, of course, was Poland and the imposition of martial law in that unhappy land.
We thoroughly discussed the extent of Soviet involvement in the repression being waged against the Polish people and the need for forceful Western measures to induce both the Polish and Soviet authorities to lift martial law, release all those who have been detained, and permit resumption of a national dialog leading to genuine reform.
In that connection, I reviewed with the Chancellor the series of steps that I had announced in my Christmas message and on December 29th. I emphasized my belief that a tangible Alliance response to the Polish crisis must be made now. Should we fail to insist that the Soviet Union stop pressuring Poland directly and indirectly, the gravest consequences for international relations could ensue.
Our conversations today covered a wide range of related political, security, and economic issues. For example, we discussed the importance of the negotiations on intermediate nuclear forces in Geneva which began on November 30th and our hope that the Soviet Union will avoid sterile propaganda and respond constructively to our zero-level proposal for genuine reduction of nuclear arms.
Other international issues on our agenda included the prospects for strategic arms reduction talks -- what we call START; the situation in Central America, in the Middle East, and in southern Africa; and the status of the CSCE [Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe] process, particularly in light of the Polish crisis.
We also reiterated the concern we both feel over the continued Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and our support for initiatives by the European Parliament and the United States Congress to establish March 21st as Afghanistan Day.
For its part, the United States, through the U.S. International Communication Agency, is today releasing for overseas distribution a book which eloquently documents the human face of the Afghan struggle against Soviet invasion forces. I have personally presented a copy to Chancellor Schmidt.
Above all, we agreed on the importance of the U.S.-German partnership and the need for continued close consultations. We hope to broaden and deepen these contacts. We also make clear to public opinion in both countries, especially the younger generation, the responsibility that we all share of maintaining both our friendship and our commitment to the one instrument which has kept peace for over 30 years -- the North Atlantic Alliance.
Chancellor Schmidt, welcome.The Chancellor. Thank you, Mr. President. Ladies and gentlemen, I can fully subscribe to what your President just told you about the contents and the results of our discussions. There are three points which I would like to stress.
Number one, as regards the sad events in Poland, I had a chance to relay to the President the results of the meeting of 10 foreign secretaries of the 10 European member countries of the European Community who met in Brussels yesterday morning on that question. And the President was satisfied with that. He welcomed that statement. It includes the three points which the President just has made as regards the lifting of martial law, the freeing -- the release of the prisoners, and the taking up again of the dialog within Poland between the different social and political factors, including Solidarnosc.
It was rather easy for the German Government to come to that resolution in Brussels yesterday morning, because we could act on the basis of a resolution which was taken almost unanimously in the German Parliament on the 18th of December, 6 days before Christmas and 5 days after the Polish event. The resolution was taken after discussion upon a speech which I gave to my Parliament, and it already then comprised the three points which we have just now reiterated.
Secondly, I would like to stress what the President has said about the overriding importance of the Geneva talks on arms control, arms reduction especially, in the field of Euro-strategic nuclear weapons or inter-medium-range nuclear weapons as they are being called in this country. INF is the mostly used abbreviation.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you, Mr. President, for that effort, especially for the outlook you have given to the world and given to your allies in Europe and given to us Germans in particular, in your moving and at the same time foresighted speech at the 18th of November, dealing with that subject.
Thirdly, I would like to mention that the President and his secretaries and aides, as well as Foreign Secretary Genscher and I and our aides, have also talked about the economic situation of the world. I would not hide from you the fact that we are worried about the high rate of interest -- [inaudible] -- all over the globe, in the middle of a deep recession, and both of us feel that joint effort is necessary to jointly get out of that recession in order not to plunge into a worldwide depression.
In the end, Mr. President, I would like to take the opportunity again to thank you for your hospitality, to thank you for the discussions we had, to thank your secretaries as well. I would also like to, as well, on behalf of my wife, to thank the American nation for the friendly hospitality which has been shown to us during our short stay for a holiday in Florida.
Let me assure our American friends that the great, vast majority of Germans stand firm for the alliance with the United States and will, as in the past, also in the present and in the future, hold the German-American friendship in very high esteem. We think that it's a decisive factor in our national life.
Thank you very much.
Note: The President spoke at 1:37 p.m. at the South Portico of the White House as Chancellor Schmidt was departing. Earlier in the day, the President and the Chancellor met in the Oval Office and then attended a luncheon in the State Dining Room.