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Remarks at a Dinner for the APEC Forum and Business Leaders in Seattle

November 19, 1993

To my fellow leaders of the APEC nations and distinguished guests, we gather here tonight in Washington State at an historic moment. At least two other times during this century a great global struggle has ended and a new era has dawned. That has happened again today. It falls to each of us, as it fell to leaders then, to imagine and to build a new future for our people. I deeply appreciate the willingness that each of you has shown to make the long trip here to be together today.

I want to express my appreciation for the warm hospitality of the people and the elected officials of this beautiful city of Seattle in the Evergreen State of Washington. All of us in the Asian Pacific live as neighbors in a region that has long been characterized by both its commerce and its conflicts. The question for our future is whether we can reap the bounty of the Pacific without bringing its storms. There are vast differences among our economies and our people; yet these can be a great source of enrichment.

I hear the complex music of our many differing languages, and I know that in each of them our words for work, for opportunity, for children, for hope carry the same meaning. I see the roots of our many ancient civilizations, whether Confucian or Islamic or Judeo-Christian. I know there is much we can learn from each other's rich and proud cultures. Above all, I look at the perpetual motion of this region's ports, its factories, its shipping lanes, its inventors, its workers, its consumers, and I know we are all united in a desire to convert that restless energy into better lives for our people.

Tomorrow all of us will go for a day of discussion on beautiful Blake Island. I believe that discussion can help to foster among us a sense of community, not a community of formal, legal economic integration as in Europe but a community such as neighbors create when they sit down together over coffee or tea to talk about house repairs or their children's schools, the kind of community that families and friends create when they gather on holidays to rejoice in their common blessings. Such gatherings are not driven by charters or bylaws but by shared interests and aspirations, bonds that are often more powerful, enduring than those which are written down.

So it is with this community I hope we can create together. We have common concerns about the conditions in our neighborhood, about regional trade barriers, about our shared environment. We have common aspirations: good jobs for our workers, rising standards of living for our children, and peace among our nations. And now we have a common forum for pursuing our common goals. Tonight and tomorrow let us continue developing a shared sense of purpose as expansive as the ocean that unites our lands.

Our great novelist Herman Melville once wrote this about the Pacific Ocean. He said it rolls the midmost waters of the world, the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic being but its arms. Thus this mysterious, divine Pacific zones the world's whole bulk about, makes all coasts bay to it, seams the tide beating of the Earth.

Working as partners we have an historic opportunity to harness the tides of the Pacific so that they may lift all our people to a better future.

Tonight I ask each and every one of you here to join me in a toast to the Pacific community, a region at peace, prosperous, and free. Hear, hear.

Thank you.

NOTE: The President spoke at 8:30 p.m. in the Spanish Ballroom at the Four Seasons Hotel.

William J. Clinton, Remarks at a Dinner for the APEC Forum and Business Leaders in Seattle Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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