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The President. Mr. Prime Minister and Mrs. Andreotti, and friends of Italy. Barbara and I are pleased to welcome the President of the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Italy, Giulio Andreotti, and his wife, Livia, to the United States and to the White House. Prime Minister Andreotti's public career is rich in achievement, unrivaled in modern Europe. He served his nation with distinction as statesman and diplomat and, of course, as Prime Minister. But Prime Minister Andreotti is also a man of letters, known for his humor and integrity. And here in America, he's known as a good and close friend -- the leader of a strong nation and a strong people. And we are proud and honored to have him as our guest today.
Forty-five years ago the giants of modern history -- Churchill, Truman, and de Gaulle -- were embarking on the great task of rebuilding Europe, what would later be known as the Marshall plan. And another giant worked with them, a man who helped build the strong Atlantic community we have today -- Prime Minister de Gaspari of Italy. I mentioned that Prime Minister Andreotti is a renowned author. Well, he wrote a biography of de Gaspari, and it is in the tradition of his subject that Prime Minister Andreotti leads Italy today.
Like his predecessor, Giulio Andreotti is a leader who fights for freedom, peace, and democracy in an evolving Europe. This week's visit by the Prime Minister bears witness to Italy's continued leadership in the swift-moving stream of events in Europe and to America's steadfast partnership with Italy and Europe through it all. I look forward to exchanging views with you, Mr. Prime Minister, this time on the dramatic developments in Europe -- East and West. Over the past two decades, we've seen Italy's role in world affairs grow under your leadership, both as Foreign Minister and as Prime Minister. And during that time, the United States and Italy have been the firmest allies. Our dialog is constant; it is substantive; it is productive.
We agree on the foundations of a new Europe. We welcome the prospect of overcoming Europe's artificial division and building a Europe whole and free. We look to the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, the CSCE, to play a greater role in Europe's future, particularly in guiding the economic and political transformation of the rising democracies in Eastern Europe. We agree that the EC must play a vital role in new Europe. A more united Europe, able to take its rightful place in world affairs, is good for the United States of America. As Italy assumes the Presidency of the European Community beginning in July, Prime Minister Andreotti and I will work to improve economic and political ties between the United States and the Community. In this role, Italy will have the opportunity to lead the EC in the battle against organized crime and narcotics trafficking -- a fight in which our two nations remain strong, determined, and united.
Above all, we share a common commitment to NATO and the conviction that the United States must and will remain a European power. We are true partners in the Atlantic alliance which serves as the foundation for stability and our common security. So, Prime Minister Andreotti and I have much to discuss about Germany, the alliance, East-West relations, U.S.-EC ties, and other topics. And I am confident that we share the commitment that Chancellor Kohl and I expressed at Camp David 9 days ago: that a united Germany should remain a full member of NATO, including participation in its military structure. In all these areas I look forward to serious and productive talks with Prime Minister Andreotti, a true and valued friend of the United States.
Americans have always held a special place in our hearts for Italy. It was the American novelist Henry James who once wrote: ``We go to Italy to gaze upon certain of the highest achievements of human power, representing to the imagination the maximum of man's creative force.'' Well, together we can achieve even more, and today's visit will strengthen the deep bonds between us. And we share 12 million Americans who proudly call Italy their ancestral home, and because of them, America is a richer place -- because of their commitment to family and faith and their zest for life. Let me, in closing, express to you, sir, my hope that you have a most successful visit, a safe journey, and a delightful time here. Mr. Prime Minister, welcome back to Washington, DC.
The Prime Minister. Thank you very much for your warm words of welcome. In return, I would like to express to you the great esteem in which you are held by the Italian government and people. My visit is but a continuation of a solid tradition of alliance and cooperation between our governments, a tradition which forms part of the much broader alliance and solidarity between Western countries to which we owe this extraordinarily long period of peace in Europe and prosperity in the world. Within this framework Italy is actively working, as it deems the alliance to be ever more valid and necessary.
The very close links between the United States and Europe is still, for Italy, an essential point of reference in a world in which ideological confrontation is waning and military tensions will everywhere have to yield to a new climate of dialog. We rejoice to see the dawn of democracy in Eastern Europe. We look forward with hope towards a new relationship with the Soviet Union under Gorbachev. These are fresh and exciting prospects that are awakening in Europe today. New balances lie on the horizon, full of promise, yet also fraught with problems. By updating and reviving the spirits and the models of NATO and Helsinki, we must all together seize the challenges that are facing us.
And what challenges: the backwardness in so many parts of the world, the dreadful degradation of the environment, organized crime and, above all, the scourge of drugs that so deeply jeopardizes our society. This is the message of our nation that is profoundly committed to building up a European Community soundly founded on the values of freedom and progress; a country that is open to the world, including those parts of it which are less fortunate, and sensitive to its needs and problems; a country, lastly, that has always been an integral part of the great mosaic of Europe, but also one which is vitally interested in the problems of the Mediterranean area towards which our attention shall not be lessened following to what is now occurring in Eastern Europe.
Mr. President, I am now thinking about what links America and Italy by history and culture. I'm not referring only to the role of that ingenious Italian Renaissance man, Christopher Columbus, in marking the birth of this country, an event which we shall be delighted to celebrate with the American people on its anniversary in 1992. I'm also thinking to the many millions of Americans of Italian descent whom you have recalled, Mr. President, who are such an important and active part of this country today. My message goes out to them also in the hope they may look more and more to Italy's tradition as well as its contemporary reality for a precious heritage and cherished sense of belonging.
Mr. President, in conclusion I wish to say that Italy desires to continue looking to the United States with sentiments of solidarity that long decades of shared political and military partnership have made so strong and rich, and with that friendship that is now an invaluable asset of both our peoples. It is with these same feelings, Mr. President, that I wish to thank you for your welcome and extend to you my best wishes for the prosperity and well-being of all the American people.
The President. Sir, thank you very much.
Note: The President spoke at 10:10 a.m. at the South Portico of the White House, where the Prime Minister was accorded a formal welcome with full military honors. The Prime Minister spoke in Italian, and his remarks were translated by an interpreter. Following the ceremony, the two leaders met in the Oval Office.