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Remarks at a State Dinner Hosted by President Mauricio Macri of Argentina in Buenos Aires, Argentina

March 23, 2016

President Macri. Good evening, everyone. Thank you for being here on this very special day.

[At this point, President Macri spoke in English as follows.]

President Macri. Welcome to Argentina. We thank you, your family, First Lady, your team for visiting us. And let me tell you that I want to insist that we appreciate the moment of this visit. We recognize this as a gesture of affection and friendship. And let me tell you, Michelle, that I named my wife the sorceress, but after watching you today, I think that we have the visit of another one in Argentina. [Laughter] Everybody has been fascinated by you.

And let me tell you that everybody is very excited and happy of receiving you in Bariloche. But there is a little problem that I am trying to fix because they are a little bit disappointed because you are not staying a few days more. But already, I have solved it, so I forgive you, because I have promised that next year, you are going to come with more time and stay several days in Bariloche.

Dear President, as you may know, the first republic that recognized the freedom of Argentina was your country.

[President Macri spoke in Spanish, and his remarks were translated by an interpreter as follows.]

President Macri. And our country grew with the same views and values as yours. And this room is called "the room of emblems," and each column has an emblem representing a Province, equivalent to each of your States. And your commitment is to have Argentina be—our commitment is to have Argentina be a federal country. We are accompanied by many governors today, with the purpose of providing equal opportunities to all Argentinians, wherever they were born.

Your visit, Mr. President, comes at the perfect time. It's been perfect timing. It's a time when Argentinians have understood and decided that we want to build mature, sensible relationships with all countries, worldwide, based on three essential commitments: dialogue, mutual benefits, and shared responsibilities.

And when I talk about shared responsibilities, I'd like to mention your words at the Summit of the Americas in Panama, when you talked about the opportunities that our continent has ahead of it that forces us to lead aside all hatred and look into the future. Clearly, the American continent has nowadays—or is nowadays in a situation of privilege. It can be the continent providing the best opportunities to its peoples and allowing them to live in peace. But for that, we have to work together. When I talk about shared benefits, mutual benefits, I refer firstly to having the continent be a continent without poverty, and that requires better education and good-quality jobs.

Moreover, it calls for us to fight together against drug trafficking and terrorism, because that is what will make our people live at ease. And finally, we have to improve and allot the quality of our democracy, advocacy of human rights, and our quest for transparency. Based on these three pillars, I think we have a lot to build. Pope Francis, our Pope that was before here in Buenos Aires, quoted Thomas Merton in Congress. He talked about dialogue and mutual understanding, and everything is in its place so that between sovereign peers, dialoguing with respect, we can build solutions for our people to live better day after day. And that doesn't mean automatic alignments or ungrounded confrontations; don't expect that from us. With us, you'll find dialogue, good faith, and the belief that all that we are going to build is based on trust. In that, we have to invest and be consistent, day after day.

Argentina, just like the U.S.A., dear President, is a country of dreamers and entrepreneurs that came this far and has a lot more to do. So we fully trust our strength, our creativity, our capacity, and we look into the future with great optimism.

So that's why I believe that your visit, this startup of clever and mature relationships, has a lot to give the Argentine and the U.S. peoples. So I wish to thank you once again for your visit, and I remind you that we expect you, your family, and all U.S. families to visit us and share with us. I invite you to toast for the welfare of our peoples and for our mutual peace. Thank you.

[A toast was offered.]

President Obama. Muy buenas noches. Good evening, everybody. President Macri, Mrs. Macri, Michelle and I offer our deepest gratitude for your extraordinary and warm welcome, and we bring with us the warm greetings of the American people in return.

And let me say at the outset, I will not make a liar out of you, and we will make sure to come back—[laughter]—because this country is extraordinary and its people are wonderful.

In 1961, the year I was born, two of our predecessors, President John F. Kennedy and President Arturo Frondizi, sat down for a meeting in Florida. One of the agenda items was what to do about Cuba: what actions, if any, to take against their Government, or exclude them from our hemisphere.

I don't remember this meeting; I was only 4 months old. [Laughter] President Macri was just a toddler. But I mention this because almost 55 years and a lot of history later, we meet in Buenos Aires at a new and very different era in our hemisphere. I've just come from Cuba, where the United States growing engagement there is aimed at improving the lives of the Cuban people. And I'm here in Buenos Aires because, Mr. President, the world has noticed your eagerness to reengage Argentina with the global community and to reassert the global leadership that, historically, Argentina has played. And we welcome that very, very much. It's good not just for the region, but it's good for the world.

I enjoyed very much our work together today, and I was extremely moved by the visit to the Metropolitan Cathedral. I was inspired by the young people who I interacted with, their talent and their optimism and their vision for the future. I understand the business forum our countries held together was fruitful; it will lead to what we both want so much for our people, which is more jobs and more opportunity. I know that our spectacular First Ladies outshone us, as they usually do, and highlighted the vital importance of opportunity and education and equality for our girls and our women.

This has all been a great reminder that the people of my country and the people of yours have so much in common. We share the same values of freedom and opportunity and a commitment to justice and human rights and rule of law. We try to live up to the example of a singular Argentinian, His Holiness Pope Francis, who I was honored to host last year at the White House, and we know that our work as nations must be about lifting up the most vulnerable and caring for the least of these and treating people as we would want ourselves to be treated. We even possess the same pioneering, frontier spirit. We have different names for it: We call it cowboys; you call it gauchos. And I've confessed that I have been intrigued to visit a country that maybe eats more red meat than the United States of America. [Laughter] That's hard to find. That's not an easy claim to take from cowboys. [Laughter]

But my hope is that, given the extraordinary history between our two countries, that this is a new beginning. I am coming to the end of my term as President of the United States. Michelle, by the way, is quite pleased about that. [Laughter] You are just getting started. But as we meet here today, what we recognize is that the opportunities and possibilities for our two countries are not bound by just two leaders. They're bound by our fellow citizens and the friendships and the bonds and the common interests that we share and that we can promote. And if we do, that will be good for the world because both of our countries have extraordinary strengths, and because we are democracies, both of our countries have the capacity to learn from some of the tragedies and pain of the past. And that makes us, I think, uniquely situated to help to promote those things that we care about so deeply.

So, in the spirit of renewed friendship and partnership and engagement, I'd like to close with the words of one of Argentina's great gifts to the world, Jorge Luis Borges, who once said, "And now, I think that in this country we have a certain right to hope."

I think we have a certain right to hope as a consequence of the extraordinary work we're doing today. So let me propose a toast. To Mauricio and Juliana, to the friendship between our peoples, to our inviolable right to hope: ¡Al gran pueblo Argentino, salud!

[A toast was offered.]

NOTE: The President spoke at approximately 8:12 p.m. in the Shields Hall at the Centro Cultural Kirchner. In his remarks, he referred to Juliana Awada, wife of President Macri. President Macri spoke in Spanish, and his remarks were translated by an interpreter. President Macri's remarks could not be verified because the audio was incomplete.

Barack Obama, Remarks at a State Dinner Hosted by President Mauricio Macri of Argentina in Buenos Aires, Argentina Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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