Chairman's Statement

James A. Baker III
(as prepared)
Houston, 10 July 1990

The Political Declaration released today celebrates the historic advance of democracy since the Seven met last summer in Paris. In the Declaration, we reiterate our support for the peaceful democratic movement that is bringing freedom to Central and Eastern Europe and uniting Germany. But the great events in Europe should not lead us to overlook other opportunities and other needs.

During our discussion, we cited Namibia as a positive model for democratic evolution elsewhere on the African continent. Most of the leaders here have met recently with Nelson Mandela and some with South African President de Klerk. We believe the focus of our efforts should be on encouraging negotiations to bring about a non-racial democracy in South Africa.

In Central and South America, we welcome the return of democracy to Chile and Panama and free and fair elections in Nicaragua. And the winds of freedom have not bypassed Asia, where we are witnessing important changes taking place in Nepal and Mongolia.

We acknowledge some recent actions taken by the Chinese government, but for now the measures put in place at last year's Summit remain. We will explore, however, whether there are World Bank loans that would contribute to reform of the Chinese economy, especially to meet environmental concerns.

We also devoted considerable discussion to the evolution of events in the Soviet Union and how a reforming Soviet Union can play an important role in addressing both old and new challenges facing the international community. President Bush will review that discussion for you in more detail tomorrow.

The Declaration closes by suggesting actions Western nations can take to help secure and promote democracy's advance in all regions of the world. The Declaration notes that political freedom and economic liberty are mutually reinforcing and cannot flourish in an environment of intolerance.

A separate statement was issued on the transnational problems of terrorism and the proliferation of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, as well as ballistic missiles. These dangers, like the illicit trade in narcotics that will be addressed in tomorrow's Communiqué, know no boundaries. In the case of nuclear proliferation, the deliberations here take on added significance in this 20th anniversary year of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

In addition to the topics covered in the documents released today, regional conflicts were discussed. We recognize each conflict's unique nature and the responsibility of the parties on the ground to take the lead in seeking negotiated solutions. We believe, however, that free and fair elections have a key role in bringing peace to these regions. In Afghanistan, Cambodia, and Angola, we want to see negotiated settlements providing for ceasefires, arms cutoffs, and transition periods supported by the UN and regional organizations, all leading to free elections.

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We discussed the current situation in the Middle East and, although different approaches were raised, we all agreed on the need for movement in the peace process. We expressed the hope that the cycle of violence and repression would give way to early dialogue between Israel and Palestinians that will lead to free, democratic elections and negotiations.

Regarding the human tragedy in the Horn of Africa, we discussed, among other actions being taken, the recent agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union to launch a joint effort to deal with starvation and conflict in Ethiopia.

We also noted with particular concern developments related to Kashmir. These events threaten regional stability, and could imperil the growth of political and economic freedoms in two democracies, India and Pakistan. We are encouraged by recent moves toward dialogue between the two countries and agreed to use all means at our disposal to encourage and support this process.

We expressed our concern that the Asia and Pacific region has yet to see the same process of conciliation, military disengagement, and reduction of tensions that has characterized East-West relations in Europe. In this regard, we support the early resolution of the Northern Territories issue as an essential step leading to the normalization of Japanese-Soviet relations. The Korean peninsula remains an area of sharp concern, especially because the North has yet to sign and implement a nuclear safeguards agreement. We welcome the recent talks between North and South Korea and hope they mark a turning point in inter-Korean relations.

In sum, the Summit partners share the imperative of our time: to help promote and secure democracy around the world. We are committed to turn the hopes of today into the solid achievements of tomorrow.

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Source: Released by the Houston Economic Summit, 10 July 1990