The American Presidency Project
John T. Woolley & Gerhard Peters • Santa Barbara, California return to original document
• Richard Nixon
Toasts of the President, President Kristjan Eldjarn of Iceland, and President Georges Pompidou of France at a Dinner in Reykjavik.
May 31, 1973

Mr. President and Mrs. Eldjarn, President Pompidou, Mr. Prime Minister,1 and all of our distinguished guests:

1 Olafur Johannesson was Prime Minister of Iceland.

This is a very historic moment for me, both personally and in my official capacity, because I am the first American President ever to visit this country.

I want to thank you, Mr. President, and your wife for the gracious hospitality that you have extended to us on this occasion and also for all of our visit.

I would remind you that it was several years ago in 1956 that as Vice President, along with Mr. Rogers, we visited your country. It was in the dead of winter at Christmastime. The snow was 12 feet high. It was the coldest winter, I think, in history. And now we are here on one of the most glorious days at the beginning of summer.

But whatever the differences in the weather, whether it be in the cold of winter or in the beautiful warmth of summer, there is one thing that does not change, and that is the warmth of an Icelandic welcome. We thank you for that. We have seen it on every occasion, and we have seen it tonight.

As we come to your capital, we are aware, of course, of the proud tradition of this country and of its modern significance as well. We realize that this house in which we have dinner tonight is older than the White House, which for America is a very old house.

We also know that you are a member of our Atlantic community, and in a sense, you are in the center of it. That is why it was a very appropriate place for President Pompidou and me to meet. Each of us came halfway, but I should point out to President Pompidou, I came a little more than halfway, because his trip was only 4 hours and mine was 5 1/2. Now, whether I came more than halfway in our discussions will remain to be seen.

Also, I would like to say on this occasion that I have appreciated the opportunity to again have very serious and constructive talks with President Pompidou. In these meetings, and in others we have had, we have carried on a continuing and comprehensive European-American dialog.

Now, that dialog is designed to strengthen our relationship, to reinvigorate it.

France, as everybody knows, is America's oldest ally, and it is an ally with whom we have stood side-by-side on many occasions. Lafayette, in the very, early days of our country, once told George Washington that Franco-American friendship would live forever. But we know that even the oldest and staunchest alliance, even the oldest and staunchest friendship must constantly be renewed if it is to be of the greatest possible effectiveness in our changing world.

President Pompidou put it very well when he said that we believe we can achieve genuine European-American unity only while respecting the individual personality of each sovereign nation. That is my philosophy as well.

Within our unity there can be individuality, and if there is not individuality, that unity will mean nothing in the world in which we presently live, in which so many proud peoples play a part.

Looking at our present situation, as President Pompidou and I agreed today, it is our interests that unite us. We have so many things in common: our common political heritage, our common cultural tradition, our common concern for the security of the Atlantic community.

And so, what differences we have-which are inevitable even among friends-pale into insignificance as they are compared with those great interests which do unite us in this great community which we share.

I am confident that the conversations we have had on this occasion will result in an even closer appreciation of our common interests and of our common objectives and also a greater determination to see that those interests and those objectives are always foremost and that the tactics designed to meet them will be only supplemental to those interests.

It is in this spirit of European-American friendship--French, Icelandic, American friendship--that I offer a toast this evening, a toast which has never been offered before, because such a meeting as this never occurred before and may never occur again.

A toast to the President of Iceland, a toast to the Prime Minister of Iceland, and a toast to the President of France and to this great community which we are proud to share together.

Citation: Richard Nixon: "Toasts of the President, President Kristjan Eldjarn of Iceland, and President Georges Pompidou of France at a Dinner in Reykjavik.", May 31, 1973. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=3862.
 
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