Mr. Prime Minister:
It is with the greatest personal pleasure that I welcome you to the United States.
My interest in your country and its state goes back a number of years, and, therefore, I take particular pleasure in welcoming the head of state of a new country which stretches back through history for thousands of years and which has a great place to play now not only in North Africa, but throughout all of the world.
I am particularly glad to have you here as a strong patriot who has given many indications under the most difficult circumstances of your devotion to your country and your love for freedom. So, Mr. Prime Minister, we are glad to have you and the members of your government.
We hope this visit here will give you an opportunity to make a judgment of the United States and its people and also recognize the hand of friendship which we extend to the people of Algeria in this common desire to maintain our national independence and the peace of the world.
Mr. Prime Minister, we are very proud to have you here.Note: The President spoke at 11:45 a.m. Prime Minister Ahmed Ben Bella responded (through an interpreter) as follows:
"I want first of all to thank you for a kind word which you have addressed to me and in which you have spoken on my country.
"I would like to state it clearly that our country is devoted, our people are devoted to the values of friendship and of understanding among all of the peoples of the world. I would like also to take advantage of the opportunity which is offered to me here to express to you in the name of our country, in the name of our people, the warmest regard which we have for a clear and courageous stand you have taken many years ago already in favor Algerian independence.
"I am certain, Mr. President, that you will continue to be the artisan of the task of building friendship and cooperation between our two peoples.
"In conclusion, Mr. President, I would like to thank you for the invitation you have extended to us, for the honor you have extended to us by receiving us here, and I wish to express the most sincere wish for the prosperity, for the happiness of our two peoples. Thank you."
Mr. Ben Bella was the first foreign chief of state to be accorded an official welcome at a ceremony on the South Lawn at the White House. Varicolored flags of the 50 States were arrayed on the lawn where the welcoming ceremony, including a 21-gun salute, was held.