Mr. Secretary and Nancy and the party that have spent so many hours and days in the Middle East:
Let me say with great emphasis that I am delighted to welcome you, Mr. Secretary, back from this very important mission of peace in the Middle East.
The success of that extraordinary mission is of tremendous importance, not only to the parties immediately involved but, in my judgment, all the world. The interim agreement that Secretary Kissinger negotiated with great skill and with enormous diligence provides an important contribution to our continuing efforts toward an overall settlement in the Middle East. For that, all of us have great reason to be most grateful.
As far as both sides were concerned, war was an unacceptable alternative in the Middle East. Both sides felt that the risks of peace in the long run were more acceptable than the dangers of war. The agreement initialed this past week provides time that will be needed to work--and we intend to work very, very hard--toward concluding a lasting peace agreement in the Middle East.
America can be very proud of its role as peacemaker in these negotiations, a role which demanded the respect and the trust on each side, a role which demonstrated again America's credibility. We can be confident that the civilian American technicians who will help monitor the agreement will be making a similar contribution to peace. I trust that the Congress will agree that this very small contingent is an altogether proper contribution for the United States to make a stabilizing and secure situation in the Sinai.
Tonight, however, our thoughts are primarily centered on welcoming Secretary Kissinger back home. And welcome you are, Henry. Henry has carried the flag of peace through weeks and weeks of very difficult negotiations. His achievements on this occasion, as in the past, have been remarkable.
I am very delighted, Henry, to welcome you back with this successful negotiation. I know from personal experience how long and hard you have worked, how difficult the task and the problem has been, and I can say from a very personal point of view that I am most appreciative and deeply grateful. And I think my words are the words of millions and millions and millions of Americans. We thank you very, very much.