Bush Vows Closer Soviet Ties to Help East Bloc Reforms
President Bush said today that a new world is in sight and he vowed to aid reform in Eastern Europe by improving U.S. ties with the Soviet Union.
“Today, as when the Pilgrims left this city, a new world lies within our reach,” Bush said in remarks at the Dutch town from where many of America’s 17th-Century Pilgrim fathers sailed for the New World across the Atlantic.
Bush, who made a dramatic visit to the Iron Curtain countries of Poland and Hungary last week to encourage fledgling political and economic reform movements, pledged to seek “an international climate in which reform can succeed in the Communist countries.”
“That is why America’s relations with the Soviet Union are so important. Improved relations with the U.S.S.R. reduce pressure on the nations of Eastern Europe--especially those on the cutting edge of reform,” he said.
And Bush declared that Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev’s bid for economic cooperation with the West was “the latest example of the Soviets moving in our direction, coming our way.”
He was referring to a letter from the Soviet leader to the economic summit of the major non-communist powers. The letter delivered to French President Francois Mitterrand during the Paris summit Saturday proposed closer economic ties between East and West.
The first U.S. President to visit the Netherlands, Bush repeated recent assurances that Moscow had nothing to fear from reform among its Eastern Bloc allies.
Bush, who has said he wants to move beyond the post-war policy of “containment” under which the West sought to bottle up communism, declared today that his aim was European unity.
“The new world we seek is a commonwealth of free nations working in concert--a world where more and more nations enter a widening circle of freedom,” he said.
Earlier, Bush and his wife, Barbara, had tea at Nooreheinde Palace with Queen Beatrix and Prince Claus. Bush then met privately with Dutch Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers.
The Netherlands was the last stop on a grueling 10-day European tour that Bush, 65, conceded had worn him out.
“We’re kind of running out of gas,” Bush told a press conference in Paris on Sunday evening.
In Leiden, Bush placed a wreath at a memorial to John Robinson, pastor of the Pilgrim community that sent about 50 of its members to America on the Mayflower in 1620.
Bush is said to be a descendant of Mayflower passenger William Bradford. Bradford took refuge in Leiden because of religious persecution in England. He lived in the Netherlands for 13 years before sailing to America.
Bush was to return to Washington on Tuesday.