Prime Minister Khalil, Chairman Considine, President Lesher, distinguished friends from the United States of America and the Arab Republic of Egypt:
I never thought I would speak to an American audience to introduce a foreign head of state and feel at least as much at home with the visitors as I do with my own people. But I've spent much more time recently with President Sadat and his Cabinet than I have with my own Cabinet. And I feel like I'm coming home when I sit next to my good friend. [Laughter]
My role is to introduce him. But I would like to say a few words at the beginning.
About a year ago, my wife and I and Amy got up early one Saturday morning to come to the museum of art to see a remarkable exhibit of King Tutankhamen, a very tiny portion of the ancient treasures of Egypt. We arrived early before the museum opened, and when we arrived the sidewalks for several blocks were covered with blankets and pallets and sleeping Americans who had spent all night waiting to get in to see the beauty of ancient Egypt.
I couldn't believe my eyes when I these treasures. I had never been to Egypt. And now I've come to realize that this is indeed just a tiny portion of the tangible demonstration of the craftsmanship, the sensitivity, the idealism, the competence, the dedication, the intelligence, the inspiration of the people of that great and ancient land.
Recently, I had a chance to visit the Pyramids and the Sphinx, to see a superb statue of Ramses in the heart of the great city of Cairo.
I was blessed to ride with President Sadat on a train, in an open railcar built in 1870, across the Nile Delta from Cairo to Alexandria. I saw there people who were industrious. I grew up on a farm when there were no machines—and still, in many parts of Egypt, with the extremely rich land, four crops per year, beautifully irrigated, superb variety of the produce of that country, people-hard at work, still using in some instances oxen, camels, water buffalo, their hands, as well as the most modern tools of agriculture.
Forty million people, only recently an independent nation after almost 2,000 years of foreign domination, a country ready to expand rapidly economically; and now, because of the leadership of an inspired man, those 40 million people changing their whole attitude and commitment from war to peace.
I'm proud to have been part of it. But my thought, as I made my brief trip through that country, was how rich an opportunity existed there for the realization of the hopes and ambitions of many of my own fellow Americans.
As you know, my background is as an engineer and a businessman. And I could think of the immediate prospects for drastic and prosperous change when the Suez Canal is now opened to Israeli ships. In 2 months, we expect the borders to be open to unrestricted travel between Egypt and Israel, an end to the crippling and constraining embargo. Government-to-government interrelationships have already been established at almost every Cabinet level between the United States and Egypt.
But the most important interrelationship has not yet been adequately explored. I believe that the peace just confirmed will last, not because Carter, Sadat, Begin can be in office many more months or years, but because once those borders are open and thousands of students, tourists, mothers, fathers, tradesmen, merchants, scholars, archaeologists move back and forth across those borders, the benefits of peace will be so obvious and so tangible and so precious that a change in the leadership of those two countries in the future cannot possibly have a deleterious effect.
I want to see very rapidly the relationship between our country and Egypt change in the same way. Ours is a system of free enterprise, where our Government plays a minimal role compared to the thrust of our dynamic economic system, where the major progress and the quality of life of our people has been attributable to people, leaders like yourselves. And I sincerely hope that this dream that I have of Egypt and you joining together to realize a great, mutual advantage will be rapidly realized.
Today I had a private luncheon with Prime Minister Khalil, also an engineer, a businessman, a volunteer in government who was sought by President Sadat, a man who is Prime Minister, who manages the day-by-day affairs of the Government, a man of unimpeachable integrity, of quiet competence, who will in the future play an expanded role in guaranteeing that the routine and almost inevitable bureaucratic obstacles will be rapidly removed, a man who's approachable by those who see an opportunity to invest in Egypt for the benefit of the people whom he serves.
I want to see you and me and other Americans help to build an even greater Egypt.
What are their needs?—the same as ours a few years ago: more food, more food production, homes, roads, seaport facilities, airport facilities, telecommunications, power, water—the things that American genius and American business is so easily able to provide on a profitable basis.
I and all the members of my Cabinet, Secretary of Commerce Kreps here in front of me, will be eager to cooperate with you. The good will of the people of the United States now reaches out to encompass the people of Egypt in the most heartfelt, sincere, and intense way. And I want to be sure that that good will is exemplified in tangible benefits for the quality of life of the people of Egypt, whom I also have come to love.
It's a time for us to explore those new horizons. I wanted to come tonight to add my personal voice in this effort to realize the enormous, mutual benefits that can come from this new and increased interest and investment in a great and a rich and a growing and expanding, a dynamic land.
And now it is my good duty to introduce a man who has come to love me and whom I have come to love as a brother. I have the greatest possible personal affection and admiration for him. He's a man of unmatched political courage.
It certainly has required no courage on my part to participate as a mediator between Israel and Egypt, but President Sadat on a daily basis has shown not only great political courage but physical courage as well.
He's a man of great intelligence, instantly able to comprehend the most complicated diplomatic nuances and bring order out of them when that would serve his own people. He's a man who's sensitive about the needs of those whom he serves. He's a man whose word is his bond. I have never once had him tell me that this is the position of Egypt and then subsequently, under the most intense pressure and when the temptations must have been real and genuine and strong, had him deviate one iota from what he pledged to do. And I would almost stake my own reputation in guaranteeing you that that would be the attitude of himself and Prime Minister Khalil as they work with you in the future.
He's a man who's convinced that the future will bring great spiritual, moral, political, and economic riches to his own people, and he's willing to give his life for those goals. He's a man worthy of admiration by all who know him and who know of him.
And now, I would like to introduce to you a friend of mine, a man whom I introduced almost a year ago and would like to introduce now as the world's foremost peacemaker, President Anwar al Sadat.