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Remarks to Embassy Employees and Members of the American Community in Madrid, Spain

June 26, 1980

Buenos dias a todos. Es una gran placer para nosotros estar aqui con ustedes. [Good morning, everyone, it's a pleasure for us to be here with you.]

In a few minutes we will have to leave Madrid after too short a visit and continue our journey to Portugal, and then later on this evening we'll be back in Washington.

It's impossible for a President to come to Madrid without remembering our first emissary to the great nation of Spain. While our country was still fighting for its own independence in 1777, the father of the Foreign Service came here to represent our great country. He was a diplomat of great ability, an author, a scientist, a thinker who was one of the great Americans of all times. I refer, of course, to Benjamin Franklin, who came here to marshal support for our Nation in a time of war, so that we might later enjoy blessings of peace.

He exemplified in his own life what you exemplify in yours—the ability and the dedication and the courage required in times of peace, through sound diplomacy accurately representing what our Nation is, to prevent or to reduce the prospects of war.

We have a lot of wonderful people in our Foreign Service around the world. We have great Ambassadors who serve us. There is none that I know of in any post in the world more accomplished and more competent and more effective than Terence Todman, and I'm very deeply grateful to him and to Doris for what they do.

I first knew him, during the few months when I began to be President, as an Assistant Secretary in charge of the entire region of Latin America. As you well know, this is a very important post, to be responsible for a whole region of the world. But because of the significance which we attached to Spain and the rapid evolution that Spain has demonstrated to the entire world in shifting toward a completely democratic government, we believed that this fine man should be stationed here. He agreed with the significance of this task, and his transfer to Spain was done with his full agreement and approval.

It's impossible for us to recognize how much diplomacy has changed. You're here, involved in testing military and peaceful relationships, preparing for every eventuality, studying the problem of narcotics, problems of space exploration, the problems of trade, communications, tourism—quite different from what they were as problems for diplomats in the time of Benjamin Franklin, but still exactly the same purpose: accurately and fruitfully to represent the greatest nation on Earth, the United States of America, in a great nation, an ally and a friend, the nation of Spain.

We have a lot of interests here, a lot of common commitments, a lot of common goals and ideals and principles. I've had a very fruitful period of discussions, both with King Juan Carlos and his beautiful wife and also, of course, with the Prime Minister, the President, and with the members of the Cabinet and the opposition parties, to try to assess personally, as best I could here in Spain, what we might do even to improve already excellent relationships.

Your duties are not easy. I understand that very well. In a way, I'm part of the diplomatic corps of our country. Secretary Muskie accompanied me on the first part of our trip to Rome and to Venice, and then he went to Ankara in Turkey to meet with the Foreign Ministers of the European nations, and then went to Kuala Lumpur to meet with the Foreign Ministers and leaders of the ASEAN nations in Southeast Asia.

This constant effort to project the good side of our country and to learn how best to deal with our friends and to minimize the impact of potential adversaries is an Important part of your life and mine.

Your life is not only a difficult and dedicated one but also, at times, dangerous. In the last 6 years, for instance, four American Ambassadors have been killed in the line of duty. And I can never look into the faces of anyone who serves in the Foreign Service without thinking about the 53 American hostages, who are innocent, who are held as a horrible act of international terrorism, condoned and supported by the official Government of Iran.

This problem is constantly on my mind, and I never meet with a foreign leader or in a group of foreign leaders without very early raising this problem with them, urging them to do everything they possibly can, through diplomatic or private channels, to hasten the day when these 53 brave Americans will be free and will be back home where they belong.

Don't ever forget how deeply grateful the American people are to you for the fine service that you render here. I know that in addition to the difficulties and the challenge and sometimes the danger in some countries, there's also a great sense of gratitude that you can not only serve a great country but live in a foreign country which is also great and pleasant and exciting and a friend.

I want to add my personal thanks also to the citizens of Spain who work with you here in all the multitudinous duties of the American Embassy. On behalf of 220 million Americans who don't have the opportunity to come and stay in Spain, let me say that all of us are deeply grateful to you and wish for you God's greatest blessings.

Note: The President spoke at 8:45 a.m. at the Chancery at the Embassy.

Jimmy Carter, Remarks to Embassy Employees and Members of the American Community in Madrid, Spain Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/251371

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