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Bush Urges Gorbachev to Help Seek ‘New World of Freedom’

November 23, 1989

WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Bush, in a Thanksgiving message previewing the superpower summit, is urging Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev to help ″bring down the last barriers to a new world of freedom″ and end the Cold War.

In a televised speech to the nation, Bush on Wednesday night offered a ″new partnership″ with the Soviets, while at the same time cautioning that ″a time of historic change is no time for recklessness.″

Thus, he said, he will act with prudence when he meets on shipboard with Gorbachev in the Mediterranean next week.

″I want President Gorbachev to know exactly where the United States stands. Let me be clear - America stands with freedom and democracy,″ Bush said, lauding the moves toward reform in Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Bulgaria.

″We welcome the appeal of the president to use this meeting in order to break out of the boundaries of the policy of containment″ Foreign Ministry spokesman Gennady I. Gerasimov told a news briefing today.

″We are concluding the period of development after World War II and coming to broad and open cooperation,″ Gerasimov added.

Bush delivered the Thanksgiving-eve address from the presidential retreat at Camp David, Md., where he and his wife Barbara are spending the holiday with family members and friends.

Offering a look at his agenda for their Dec. 2-3 meeting off the coast of Malta, Bush said he and Gorbachev will ″begin the work of years.″

He said he would seek Gorbachev’s assurance that the process of reform will continue in Eastern Europe. ″And we will give him our assurance that America welcomes reform not as an adversary seeking advantage, but as a people offering support.″

″The peace we are building must be different than the hard, joyless peace between two armed camps we’ve known so long,″ Bush said. ″The historic task before us now is to begin the healing of this old wound.″

He called Gorbachev ″the dynamic architect of Soviet reform.″ He said he would tell the Soviet leader ″that America wants the people of the Soviet Union to fulfill their destiny. And I will assure him that there is no greater advocate of perestroika than the president of the United States.″ Perestroika is Gorbachev’s policy of restructuring for his country’s ailing economy.

House Speaker Thomas S. Foley, interviewed on CNN after the speech, said that in the past Bush appeared ″perhaps too detached and too calm, too relaxed about things that are truly exciting.″

″But,″ he added, ″I think that ... Democrats now expect the president to approach these historic issues with determination and prudence.″

Foley, D-Wash., called Bush’s speech a ″fine and eloquent address, one that every American can wholeheartedly agree with.″

On Friday, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher will visit Bush at Camp David. The president told reporters earlier Wednesday he will consult with her on the upcoming U.S.-Soviet summit.

″On other Thanksgivings, the world was haunted by the images of watchtowers, guard dogs and machine guns,″ Bush said in his speech to the nation. ″But now the world has a new image - reflecting a new reality - that of Germans, east and west, pulling each other to the top of the wall, a human bridge between nations.″

″This is not the end of the book of history, but it is a joyful end of one of history’s saddest chapters.″

Looking ahead to the summit, he said, ″I am reaching out to President Gorbachev, asking him to work with me to bring down the last barriers to a new world of freedom.″

″Let us move beyond containment, and once and for all end cold war.″

Bush offered assurances that he and the Soviet leader would not mastermind a superpower plan for Europe - ″after all, the peoples of Europe are determining their own future.″ He added, however, ″Though there will be no surprises sprung on our allies, we will miss no opportunity to expand freedom and enhance the peace.″

The president answered in advance a possible Soviet move to remove all U.S. and Soviet troops from Europe. He stated he would entertain no such notion, although reductions in U.S. forces in Europe are a plausible goal.

When he meets with allied leaders in Brussels after he sees Gorbachev, Bush said, ″I will assure them that no matter how dramatic the change in Eastern Europe, or in the Soviet Union itself, the United States will continue to stand with our allies and our friends.″

Bush reiterated administration statements that he will not attempt an arms control agreement at the Malta summit, and that he will press Gorbachev on using its influence with the leftist government of Nicaragua.