Gerald R. Ford photo

Remarks on Arrival in Martinique, French West Indies, for Meetings With President Valery Giscard d'Estaing of France

December 14, 1974

Mr. President, Madame Giscard d'Estaing, ladies and gentlemen:

Thank you for your most gracious welcome to this beautiful, gorgeous island. I am delighted to be here.

Mr. President, this is an opportunity for us to become personally acquainted and to discuss the serious issues which confront our two countries. Our meeting vividly demonstrates the importance we attach to working together.

General Lafayette stopped here on his way to assist America to achieve its independence. The friendship of our two countries spans the oceans as well as the centuries. It is fitting that you and I, both given responsibilities for leadership in our respective countries this year, are taking this early opportunity to address problems of common interest and common concern.

We must combine our efforts with those of our friends and our allies if we are to meet the challenges of the last quarter of the 20th century. The list of the challenges is long, including such vital issues as food, energy, finance, and of course, the fundamental security of our people and the quest for further reductions in international tensions.

Just as our talks mark the beginning of a personal relationship, I am confident that our nations will reaffirm the tradition of Franco-American cooperation in great endeavors.

I look forward to our meetings for the exchanges they will permit and our resulting understandings. In meeting here, we, of course, will be mindful not only of American and French interests but the contributions our efforts can make toward a more peaceful, stable, and prosperous world.

Note: The President spoke at 4:57 p.m. at Lamentin Airport in response to President Giscard d'Estaing's remarks of welcome.

President Giscard d'Estaing spoke in French. His remarks were translated by an interpreter as follows:

Dear Mr. President:

It is a great honor for this French land of the West Indies to welcome the President of the United States of America.

It is a real pleasure for me to extend to you, and to all those accompanying you, a most cordial welcome. As soon as you came into office, we both felt that we should establish a direct and personal contact. Such a contact is in keeping with the traditional relations between France and the United States. And in the present circumstances, we thought this would be especially useful.

Faced with the enormous changes taking place throughout the world, our two countries have, in different capacities and to various degrees, responsibilities to bear.

Belonging to the community of liberal democracies, their personality and their situation leave them sometimes--quite naturally, I would say--to assume different stands in the face of such changes. However, too old are their ties of friendship for them not to wish to harmonize such stands whenever necessary, and they are too deeply attached to the same ideal of freedom, progress, and peace not to be determined to succeed.

All this points to the importance of our meeting, as stressed by our partners in the European community, hence also the frankness and cordiality with which I trust our talks will start and be concluded.

Mr. President, France of the Martinique offers to you, and all those accompanying you, its charm and its beauty. From the bottom of our heart, I wish you an excellent stay.
Welcome, Mr. President.

Gerald R. Ford, Remarks on Arrival in Martinique, French West Indies, for Meetings With President Valery Giscard d'Estaing of France Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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