Reagan in L.A. on First Leg of Trip
President Reagan flew into Los Angeles today on the first leg of the longest trip of his presidency, a 22,300-mile journey to the Far East that will climax in Tokyo with a seven-nation summit meeting set up to discuss economics but likely to be dominated by the specter of terrorism.
Reagan, in brief remarks as he left from Andrews Air Force Base just outside Washington, said he is going to Asia “to reaffirm and renew our economic, strategic and political ties.”
“It is a journey we are very excited about,” Reagan said, mentioning talks he will have in Indonesia and Japan but making no reference to terrorism, whose importance on the agenda was evident from a new sign at the base gate.
“Terrorist Condition,” it said. “Threatcon Alpha. Actual.”
Low Alert Level
The sign, which went up after the U.S. bombing raid against Libya early last week, indicates that actual counterterrorism measures are in effect and that they are not part of a test. The level of alert--Alpha--is relatively low.
Reiterating the theme the White House has sought to set for the trip, Reagan repeated its “Winds of Freedom” slogan, saying, “They are brisk and bracing winds, sweeping out the old and, I believe, ushering in a new era of freedom, an era in which democracy is once again recognized as the new idea.”
Asked whether he has any concern about possible terrorist attacks directed against him or Mrs. Reagan, he said: “I’m superstitious. I won’t even mention it.”
As he left the White House for the helicopter ride to Andrews, hundreds of White House employees, as well as Vice President George Bush and members of the Cabinet, gathered on the South Lawn to wave and cheer.
Week to Reach Tokyo
With him were Secretary of State George P. Shultz, national security adviser John M. Poindexter, White House Chief of Staff Donald T. Regan and presidential spokesman Larry Speakes.
With a schedule designed to give the 75-year-old President time to adjust to the 13-hour time difference, Reagan will take a week to reach Tokyo with stops in Los Angeles, Hawaii and the Indonesian island of Bali. He returns to the United States via Anchorage, Alaska, on May 7 at the end of the 12-day journey.
The President arrived in Los Angeles just before noon today and was scheduled to meet with members of the Ronald Reagan Library Foundation at the Century Plaza Hotel. He was to spend the bulk of his overnight stop preparing for his transpacific trip. First Lady Nancy Reagan joined the President at the Century Plaza after stopping in Phoenix to visit her aged mother.