I am honored to welcome you to this city and to this house.
This is the first time you have visited our country, and it is the first state visit of the President of France to the United States since President de Gaulle was here 10 years ago and met with President Eisenhower.
We are honored to welcome you particularly because France has a special place in the hearts of Americans. Two hundred years ago, a young Frenchman came from the heart of France, the Province of Auvergne, to America, and Lafayette lives in our hearts. He lives also in this city, as you will see as you travel through it.
You, too, came from the heart of France, Auvergne, and as we welcome you as the head of state of your country, we recognize that France is our oldest friend, our oldest ally in the world.
We know, too, that as we meet and discuss the great problems of the world, that we shall find means to work together toward our common goal, the goal we had 900 years ago, the goal of liberty and independence for all people. That is the same goal we have today.
I am sure our talks will contribute to achieving that goal for our own people and for all people in the world.Note: The President spoke at 10:15 a.m. on the South Lawn at the White House where President Pompidou received a formal welcome with full military honors.
See also Items 53, 56, 59, 60, and 65.
President Pompidou responded in French. A translation of his remarks follows:
Mr. President, my wife and I and my suite are deeply moved by your words of welcome, I am indeed gratified to be your guest today and that of the United States of America. Having been elected a few months ago President of the French Republic, it was natural for my first official visit to be to the American people, our oldest, our greatest, and our most constant friend and ally.
And that is why I responded immediately to your friendly invitation. Our meeting, sir, without any doubt, will be extremely useful. First, it will afford me the opportunity of establishing with you the personal relations which are ever more necessary between heads of state.
Furthermore, this meeting of ours will be particularly trustful. It will enable us, as you just aptly said, to speak freely of all world issues as well as of those which more directly concern the relations between our two countries. And we will find that nothing fundamental stands between us. How could it be otherwise?
The American people have not forgotten that the bulk of the troops among your ranks at Yorktown was French and the people of France remember that twice your soldiers came to our aid, and little more than 25 years ago played a decisive part in our liberation.
In other words, Mr. President, both our heart and the sense of our national interest require of us that we should understand each other and work together--and that we are going to do--to serve peace for the good of our two nations.
Long live the United States of America. Long live our friendship.