Mr. President, Mrs. Bush, ladies and gentlemen, comrades, thank you for this welcome. May I also greet all Americans on behalf of the peoples of the Soviet Union?

My present visit to the United States is a confirmation that Soviet-U.S. relations are acquiring greater stability, clarity and predictability. I am convinced that both the Soviet people and the Americans approve such changes. I think that they are also properly appreciated throughout the world.

Therefore, it is the great responsibility of the president and myself to make sure that the capital of trust and cooperation accumulated in recent years is protected and constantly increased.

I remember well my first visit to the United States, and not only because I saw America for the first time then. During those days in December 1987, President Reagan and I signed the treaty on the elimination of INF {Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces} missiles.

That was truly a watershed, not only in our relations, but in the history of modern times. It was the first step taken together by two powerful countries on the road leading to a safe and sensible world.

Since then, our two great nations have traveled a long way toward each other. Thousands of American and Soviet citizens, dozens of agencies, private companies and public organizations are involved in political and business contacts, humanitarian exchanges, scientific and technological cooperation.

In the same years, the world around us has also changed beyond recognition.

Mr. President, this generation of people on Earth may witness the advent of an irreversible period of peace in the history of civilization. The walls which for years separated the peoples are collapsing. The trenches of the Cold War are disappearing. The fog of prejudice, mistrust and animosity is vanishing.

I have come to the United States with the impressions still fresh in my mind of how our people celebrated the 45th anniversary of the victory over Nazism, and of my meetings with war veterans.

I have recently had many meetings with my countrymen. They all understand the importance of Soviet-U.S. relations.

They look upon their improvement with hope that the tragedies of the 20th century, those horrible wars, will forever remain a thing of the past. I think that this is what the Americans want too.

Mr. President, living up to these hopes of our two nations is your mission and mine. This meeting is part of it.

My colleagues and I have come to do serious work in order to make a decisive step toward an agreement reducing the most dangerous arms, which are increasingly losing their political significance, and to provide further impetus to interaction between our two countries, interaction and, of course, cooperation in solving international problems in trade, scientific, technological and humanitarian fields and cultural exchanges, in expanding information about each other and in people-to-people contact.

We want progress in relations between the Soviet Union and the United States of America.

I am looking forward to meeting with the Americans and, to the extent possible, getting to know better your unique and great country.

On behalf of Mrs. Gorbachev and myself and of all those who have come with me to your nation's capital, I thank once again President George Bush and all those present here for this warm welcome.