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Mexico City, Mexico Remarks of President Jose Lopez Portillo and President Carter at the Welcoming Ceremony.

February 14, 1979

PRESIDENT LOPEZ PORTILLO. Mr. President of the United States of America, Mrs. Carter, upon your arrival to Mexico in the name of the people of Mexico, in the name of the country, in the name of the government, in the name of my family, I cordially welcome you.

Two years ago it was my pleasure to be the first foreign head of state to visit your country during your administration. Now you are reciprocating this visit. Thus we continue with the possibility of the dialog that was started at that time.

At that time we said, and we say so once again now, that it is good for neighbors to be friends. It is my conviction, sir, that from our personal contact, a good friendship was started. This friendship is now being renewed.

Very objectively, Mr. President, that few countries in the world have so much to talk about, so many matters as we do.

In Mexico you will find that there is enormous interest in this visit and results that it will bring with it. For us, among all of our relations with the rest of the nations of the world, the ones that have more importance are those that we have with the United States. Expectation you will find in accordance with our pluralism and our freedom. You will find this expectation in all mass communication media—press, radio, television—in the streets and also on signs on the walls.

As regards all the subjects that we are going to deal with, I believe that we have already set up the system for such dealings with the system that we set up during my visit to Washington.

This system was established on the principles that are common to us both, and on mechanisms that we agreed to set up. However, I am completely certain that the most important thing of all is good will and a good disposition in order to take care of our problems; a will to agree, a will for peace, a will to establish our decisions on the mandates of the law; and perhaps the most important will of all, the will to be friends, which means reciprocal respect and dignity in our dealings.

Mr. President, we receive you within the framework of this spirit. We hope that in our future and, for us, very important talks, it is this spirit that will prevail.

This is what our people expect from us in fulfilling our responsibility. We welcome you, sir, and we hope your sojourn in Mexico will be a happy one.

[At this point, President Carter responded to President Lopez Portillo's remarks in Spanish. He then translated his remarks into English as follows.]

PRESIDENT CARTER. And now I would like to say in my own language, for the benefit of the people of my country, that we are very delighted and honored to come again to the great country of Mexico, to increase my own understanding of the Mexican people and to enjoy an official visit with my friend, President Lopez Portillo.

My wife Rosalynn and I have come to Mexico many times—first when I was a young naval officer, and later on a 3-week visit when we traveled through this great country trying to make ourselves understood in Spanish and to learn more about the impressive culture and history of Mexico. Also, I came here to visit for a promotion of trade when I was Governor of Georgia. But I've never had a welcome like this.

I come here now to reunite with my friend President Lopez Portillo to discuss very important issues between Mexico and the United States. It's very important to strengthen the fundamental relationships between our two countries.

The basis for our discussions, of course, is a sincere recognition of some very important problems that require solutions, and also an appreciation of the common objectives and purposes and the great opportunities that we have between our two countries, in a spirit of peace, friendship, and mutual respect.

We live in a time of great change, dramatic and emotional change in Mexico, in the United States, and in the problems and opportunities we face together. We have a great deal to accomplish.

My wife and I, the entire party from the United States come here very pleased at a new opportunity to turn to your beautiful country to reinspire ourselves, to strengthen even further the friendship that binds us together with you, Mr. President, your wonderful family, and the people of this great country.

I cannot imagine a more appropriate day for our own reunion and to express the feelings that the people of my country have toward yours.

Happy St. Valentine's Day! Long live Mexico!

Thank you very much.

Note: The exchange began at 11:20 a.m. at Licenciado Benito Juarez International Airport. President Lopez Portillo spoke in Spanish, and his remarks were translated by an interpreter.

Following the ceremony, President Carter proceeded to the Palacio Nacional for a meeting with President Lopez Portillo.

Jimmy Carter, Mexico City, Mexico Remarks of President Jose Lopez Portillo and President Carter at the Welcoming Ceremony. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/248722

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