Friends and distinguished guests, welcome to all of you, especially our guest from the Soviet Union. It is my great honor to welcome to the White House the president of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev.
Mr. President, just over a year ago I said that the United States wanted to move beyond containment in its relations with the Soviet Union toward a new era, an era of enduring cooperation.
When we last met in Malta, we agreed to accelerate our efforts on a full range of issues. Today differences remain, of course, but in the short six months since the Malta summit we have made encouraging progress, and I want this summit to take us further still, and I know that that is your view as well, Mr. President.
We have seen a world of change this past year and now, on the horizon, we see what just one short year ago seemed a distant dream, a continent truly divided East and West has begun to heal with the dawn of self-determination and democracy.
In Germany, where the Wall once stood, a nation moves toward unity in peace and freedom. And in the other nations of the most heavily militarized continent on Earth, at last we see the long era of confrontation giving way to the prospect of enduring cooperation in a Europe whole and free.
Mr. President, you deserve great credit for your part in these transforming events. I salute you as well for the process of change you've brought to your own country.
As we begin this summit, let me stress that I believe we can work together at this historic moment to further the process of building a new Europe, one in which every nation's security is strengthened and no nation is threatened.
Around the world, we need to strengthen our cooperation in solving regional conflicts and building peace and stability. In Nicaragua, for example, we've shown that we can work together to promote peaceful change.
In Angola, our support for an early resolution of that country's tragic conflict is a resolution acceptable to the Angolan people. It's now paying off.
So let us expand this new spirit of cooperation, not merely to resolve disputes between us, but to build a solid foundation for peace, prosperity and stability around the world.
In that same spirit, Mr. President, let me quote the words of one of your nation's great minds, one of the world's great men in this or any age, Andrei Sakharov.
Fourteen years ago, he wrote, "I am convinced that guaranteed political and civil rights for people the world over are also guarantees of international security, economic and social progress."
Sakharov knew that lasting peace and progress are inseparable from freedom, that nations will only be fully safe when all people are fully free.
And we in the U.S. applaud the new course the Soviet Union has chosen. We see the spirited debate in the Congress of People's Deputies, in the Soviet press, among the Soviet people.
We know about the difficult economic reforms that are necessary to breathe new vigor into the Soviet economy and, as I've said many times before, we want to see perestroika succeed.
Mr. President, I firmly believe, as you have said, that there is no turning back from the path you have chosen. Since our meeting in Malta, we have reached agreements in important areas, each one proof that when mutual respect prevails, progress is possible.
But the agreements we've reached cannot cause us to lose sight of some of the differences that remain. Lithuania is one such issue.
We believe that good-faith dialogue between the Soviet leaders and representatives of the Baltic peoples is the proper approach, and we hope to see that process go forward.
Over the next four days, we're not going to solve all of the world's problems. We won't resolve all of the outstanding issues that divide us, but we can and will take significant steps toward a new relationship.
This summit will be a working summit in the strictest sense of the term, one where we mark the real progress we've made by signing new agreements and where we address the differences that divide us in a spirit of candor, in an open and honest search for common ground.
In a larger sense, though, the success of this summit depends not on the agreements we will sign, but on our efforts to lay the groundwork for overcoming decades of division and discord, to build a world of peace in freedom.
Mr. President, together your great country and ours bear an enormous and unique responsibility for world peace and regional stability.
We must work together to reduce tensions, to make the world a little better for our children and grandchildren. And to this end I pledge you my all-out effort.
Mr. President, you brought us a beautiful day, and you brought back Mrs. Gorbachev. That brings joy to all of our hearts. A hearty welcome to her as well.
And so it is my privilege to welcome you to the White House. And may God bless our peoples in their efforts for a better world. Welcome, sir.