President Josip Broz Tito was a towering figure on the world stage. After leading his partisan forces to a hard-fought victory during World War II, he founded and led the postwar Yugoslav State for nearly 35 years. During that period he and his peoples faced many challenges, but met them with a resolute determination to maintain Yugoslavia's independence and unity and its own unique approach to domestic and foreign policies.
He was the last surviving member of that group of statesmen who founded and led the nonaligned movement to its present prominence in world affairs. President Tito's position in the history of his era is assured for all time.
President Tito's many meetings with Americans, including those during his highly successful state visit to the United States in March 1978, gave many of us the opportunity to become acquainted with him and to learn from him the wisdom and perspective that came from his years of experience and his strength of conviction. He was a man who sought practical and lasting solutions not only to the issues confronting his own country but to those affecting countries and peoples far from Yugoslavia's shores.
I share with the Yugoslav peoples the sense of loss that they and many others throughout the world feel at the passing of this commanding leader. On behalf of the American people, the United States Government, and myself, I wish to extend sincere condolences and deepest sympathy to the peoples of Yugoslavia at this tragic moment.
For more than three decades, under administrations of both parties, it has been the policy of the United States to support the independence, territorial integrity, and unity of Yugoslavia. President Tito's death comes at a particularly troubled time in international relations. I reaffirm today that America will continue its longstanding policy of support for Yugoslavia and do what it must to provide that support. I pledge again that this Government will not tolerate terrorist acts directed against Yugoslavia or its representatives here.
We have confidence in the new Yugoslav leadership, duly established in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution of Yugoslavia, to lead the nation and its economy through this period. I have already informed the Yugoslav President, Mr. Kolisevski, of my condolences and my Nation's support.