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President Urges Publishing Pictures Of Missing Children; Calls For Support On MX Missile

March 8, 1985

WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Reagan asked a group of newspaper editors and publishers Thursday to undertake a ″mission of mercy″ by publishing pictures of the nation’s missing children.

″Even if it only finds one missing child, it’s worth it,″ Reagan told about 150 members of the National Newspaper Association.

The president also asked editorial support from the group for his drive to fund 21 new MX missiles, arguing that the weapon is ″one of the most important items on the national agenda.″

On the subject of missing children, Reagan said that more than a million disappear each year, causing anquish to all who know them.

″Parents cry out for help, many through letters to me,″ Reagan told the group. ″But a president can only do so much.″

Reagan said he had learned about the case of Jonelle Matthews, of Greeley, Colo., ″who would have celebrated a happy 13th birthday with her family just last month. But five days before Christmas, Jonelle disappeared from her home.″

Massive searches have been conducted in the area of the north-central Colorado city, but so far investigators have turned up no trace of the missing teen-ager.

The president said such cases touch him deeply and he has tried his best to help.

After noting that his administration has helped open a national center for missing children that runs a toll-free hotline, Reagan asked the editors to help police glean information by publishing regular stories, pictures and discriptions of such children.

Reagan apologized for ″sticking my nose into your business,″ but asked them ″to enlist your newspapers in this mission of mercy.″

On the MX, Reagan told the group that ″the world is watching″ the vote.

A vote against the MX would be interpreted as ″a sign of weakness″ by the Soviets, something they might try to exploit in the Geneva arms reduction talks that start next week, the president said.

″I can’t tell you that passing the MX would guarantee a good arms reduction treaty with the Soviet Union, but I can guarantee ... that not passing it will make that kind of a treaty much more difficult, if not impossible,″ Reagn said.

Congress is scheduled to vote later this month on releasing $1.5 billion for the missiles. The first group of long-range missiles was approved last year, but the administration faces four votes in the House and Senate after the arms talks in Geneva begin.

The president has engaged in a daily lobbying effort this week for the long-range, 10-warhead weapon, holding daily private meetings with House and Senate members whose votes are deemed crucial for approval.

White House spokesman Larry Speakes said Thursday that the White House believes that it’s lobbying effort has had a positive effect, but he added that the administration continues to believe that the vote will be close.

The newspaper association, which is comprised of about 5,000 community weekly and daily newspapers, is celebrating its 100th anniversary.

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