SAN FRANCISCO -- President Reagan, applying the domino theory to Central America, says the entireWestern Hemisphere is threatened by the Communist-backed rebellion in El Salvador -- including U.S. security.
Reagan told a Commonwealth Club luncheon meeting Friday in San Franciso he is considering increasing the number of military advisers in El Salvador beyond the current 55 limit, but reaffirmed assurances that no combat role is contemplated for them.
'We believe that the government of El Salvador is on the front line of a battle that is really aimed at the very heart of the Western Hemisphere and eventually at us,' Reagan said.
While he insisted that there is 'no parallel' with U.S. involvement in Vietnam, Reagan did invoke the domino theory U.S. leaders applied to Southeast Asia during that conflict.
Saying that the threat 'is more to the entire Western Hemisphere and toward the area than it is to one country,' Reagan said that if El Salvador falls, 'I think Costa Rica, Honduras, Panama and all of these would follow.'
And he noted that '50 percent of everything we have to import comes through the Panama Canal.
'It is vital that democracy be allowed to succed in these coutries,' he said.
The president and Mrs. Reagan celebrated their 31st wedding anniversary aboard the royal yacht Britannia and were overnight guests of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip.
Several members of the Cabinet and White House aides and their wives were invited to the anniversary party in honor of the Reagans hosted by the queen.
Today, Reagan flies to Klamuth Falls, Oreg., to tour a lumber mill and to discuss the revival of the hard-pressed industry. Both industry and labor leaders have described the state of the economy in southern Oregon as a 'depression,' but in recent weeks there has been some increase in employment.
The president also will attend a reception sponsored by Republican supporters before leaving Klamuth Falls for Washington, ending a week-long stay on the West Coast as host of Queen Elizabeth's visit to the United States.
Reagan conferred with Secretary of State George Shultz and Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger Friday to discuss wide-ranging foreign policy matters.
Reagan was expected to consult with congressional leaders before making any further moves in El Salvador.
In recent days, the administration has expressed growing concern about the military pressure on the government of El Salvador by the anti-government fighters armed by the Cubans and the Soviets.
Reagan has asked for $60 million in additional military assistance for that country. Confirming reports that the administration is considering lifting the cap on the number of military advisers in El Salvador, Reagan said that the expansion of the contingent is 'only for the sake of training their forces down there.'
He said the Salvadoran government troops need training and so far there are only 45 military advisers doing that job. 'We may want to go beyond that 55,' he said, 'but in no sense are we speaking in participation in combat by American forces.'
Reagan did not touch on reports, confirmed by other administration officials, that he also is seeking to lift restrictions so that the advisers will be able to go into combat zones with the troops.