Bill Clinton photo

Remarks at a Dinner Hosted by Prime Minister John Major of the United Kingdom in London

November 29, 1995

Prime Minister and Mrs. Major, ladies and gentlemen, let me begin by saying how very grateful Hillary and I are to be here personally and representing the people of the United States. This has been a fine opportunity for me to meet with the Prime Minister and representatives of Her Majesty's Government to talk about our common interests, our shared values, our future agenda. It's also been a great opportunity for me personally to come back to this wonderful city which I love so much and where I have such warm memories.

Prime Minister, I want to thank you especially for welcoming here at your table my stepfather, for a personal reason. My late mother would love to be here tonight, and I miss her tonight especially because I tried in vain for 25 years to convince her that not every meal in London was steak and kidney pie or fish and chips. [Laughter]

I want to say to all of you that I meant every word of the speech I gave in Parliament today. We have a relationship that is enduring and very special. If I might paraphrase one of my very favorite British citizens, 007, our relationship can never be stirred nor shaken. [Laughter] It will always be there; it will always be strong.

And now we have a special responsibility. We have all the unique opportunities that are apparent to us to make peace and to make progress. But it will not happen unless we work at it, and it will not happen if we try to work at it alone. It will only happen if we work at it together.

In Northern Ireland—I thank the Prime Minister for what he said—but the real thanks go to Prime Minister Major and to Prime Minister Bruton and his predecessor who were willing to take risks for peace. The United States supports those who take risks for peace. The risks may be political. We know they are severe. There's always a high risk of failure, as I said in Parliament today, and even if you fail, the people who wish you hadn't tried will hold it against you. Sometimes the risks are far, far greater, as the Prime Minister and I saw not so long ago when we buried our friend Prime Minister Rabin. But the work of peace is always important. Today, it is imperative because we can achieve it in so many places where just a short while ago it was impossible.

The philosophy of the United States is simple and consistent. It runs in a seamless way from Northern Ireland to Bosnia to the Middle East. We will support those who take risks for peace. We will not attempt to tell people what peace they should make but only to urge on them the need to make peace at the soonest possible date in a fair and honorable and decent way.

I look forward to my trip to Northern Ireland, and I look forward to doing whatever we can, consistent with our policy and the willingness of the parties to move on the path to peace.

I'd like to also thank the Prime Minister and again the British people for the sacrifices they have made in Bosnia over the course of that long and painful war, for the risks to your soldiers, for the extraordinary humanitarian aid, for all the nameless people who are alive today because of what Great Britain has done in that terrible and difficult conflict.

And I want to thank you anew for the very strong statement you made today in terms of the depth of commitment that you are prepared to make to implement this peace agreement. Together with our French and other allies, through NATO and with other nations who work in partnership with us, I believe we have a better than even chance to help bring peace to Bosnia because the parties made their peace at Dayton. And the parties, if they will keep their minds straight and their hearts pure, can make the peace live in the lives of the people of Sarajevo and throughout the nation. These are the kinds of things we have to do.

I believe that the best days for democracy and freedom are before us but only if we face our challenges and only if we face them together.

I brought only one note tonight I wanted to read because I don't want to mix the words up. In one of history's stranger coincidental meetings, Mark Twain appeared in New York City on a cold night in the year 1900 to introduce a lecture by a young adventurer and writer by the name of Winston Churchill. So much for your—I'm trying to remember—Rudyard Kipling said, "Never the twain shall meet." He was wrong. [Laughter] In the introduction, this is what Mark Twain said about the British and the Americans: "We have always been kin, kin in blood, kin in religion, kin in representative government, kin in ideals, kin in just and lofty purposes." Mark Twain was not being humorous on that night. He was right then; he is right tonight.

I ask you to join me in a toast to Prime Minister and Mrs. Major and to the people of the wonderful nation of Great Britain.

NOTE: The President spoke at approximately 8:05 p.m. at 10 Downing Street. In his remarks, he referred to the Prime Minister's wife, Norma.

William J. Clinton, Remarks at a Dinner Hosted by Prime Minister John Major of the United Kingdom in London Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Filed Under




United Kingdom

Simple Search of Our Archives