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It's Time to Get on With Job He Was Elected to Do, Reagan Says : Calls Missile Pact With Soviets Now 'Within Reach'

March 05, 1987|From Times Wire Services

WASHINGTON — President Reagan, one day after his address to the nation on the Iran- contra scandal, said today that it is time to move on from "inside-Washington politics" and finish the job "the American people sent me here to do."

Reagan followed up his 12-minute nationally broadcast address on the subject with remarks today to the National Newspapers Assn., a group for publishers and editors of weekly and smaller newspapers, in which the President continued his effort to put the controversy behind him.

"We've spent enough time the last few months on inside-Washington politics, who's up and who's down, who's in and out," Reagan said.

"The investigations will continue and they should. And the committees will continue to meet and they should," he said. "I've said the Administration will give them every cooperation and it will.

"But so far as I'm concerned, the American people sent me here to do a job and there are just two years left to get it done."

No New Insights

In his first response Wednesday night to the Tower Commission report on his management of the National Security Council, Reagan expressed anger, disappointment and distaste for the Iran-contra affair but offered no new insights into how it happened. He said others will have to find answers to the whereabouts of payments from the arms sale. (Story on Page 8.)

Today, Reagan devoted the bulk of his speech to arms-control efforts, saying that "part of that job is to strengthen the foundations of world peace."

Reagan said that an agreement with the Soviets on reducing medium-range missiles "is now within reach" and that this is "a great moment of hope for all mankind."

He said the recent change in the Kremlin position that it would discuss intermediate-range missile reduction without tying it to limits on the U.S. "Star Wars" space defense program is a "great breakthrough."

He said the Administration's "preparedness, patience and firmness" had brought about "this change in the Soviet position."

Never More Optimistic

"I've never felt more optimistic about the prospects of success in this area than I do today," Reagan said. "That's because this past week, we've had a major breakthrough on the path toward agreement on mutual and verifiable reductions in arms between ourselves and the Soviet Union.

"The arms-reduction agreement as a result of the Soviet statement is now within reach," he said. "This negotiation will be conducted without strings attached."

"The Soviets have dropped their demand that we abandon our Strategic Defense Initiative as a pre-condition on INF (intermediate nuclear forces) and I welcome these developments," the President said.

"This is a great moment of hope for all mankind.

"This change in the Soviet position is a great breakthrough and shows that in working for the cause of peace, preparedness pays, patience pays and firmness pays," Reagan said.

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