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Remarks on the Departure of President Lleras of Colombia

June 13, 1969

Mr. President, Mr. Foreign Minister, and gentlemen:

As you, Mr. President, complete your official visit here, I want you to know first how much we have enjoyed knowing you and your family personally and how much we have profited from the opportunity of exchanging views with you, not only on the bilateral matters which we have discussed and on which we have made considerable progress, I believe--as I understand you will cover some of those matters in your own statements, both here and when you return--but also in terms of the broader aspects of the policies of the United States in the American Hemisphere.

You are the first visitor, as we have pointed out, from Latin America during this new administration. We recognize the urgency of this problem. We recognize the need for new ideas. We recognize the need for new programs, and we want those new ideas and those new programs to be ones that we share together in which we not just talk, but in which we listen and in which we learn.

In our wide ranging discussions, not only of our bilateral problems, but in a broader sense, of the problems of the hemisphere, I cannot think of any leader in Latin America who could have contributed more to our own thinking.

I think your visit will mark a major step forward in the development of new policies by the United States in its relationship with our friends in Latin America. And I think that next week at the Economic Conference [Inter-American Economic and Social Conference] that is being held in Trinidad we will see some of the first fruits of those new directions and certainly the credit for these new departures-they will be modest to begin with, but the promise for the future will be very great--the credit will go to you and to this visit. Without your visit we might not have moved as fast as we should have.

Note: President Nixon spoke at 12:03 p.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House. The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Colombia was Alfonso Lopez Michelsen.

See also Items 237 and 240.

President Carlos Lleras Restrepo responded as follows:

Mr. President, gentlemen:

The talks which President Nixon and I held during my visit to Washington were fruitful and comprehensive. They have reaffirmed the traditionally warm friendship which exists between Colombia and the United States. They have given us an opportunity to review the principal issues on the inter-American agenda. I believe they will contribute to the new era of hemispheric cooperation, which Latin America, as well as the United States, is looking forward to.

I have found an open and understanding attitude everywhere, in the White House and at all levels of the United States Government, towards the problems that confront the hemisphere.

Both President Nixon and I are convinced of the need to continue the inter-American dialogue in an atmosphere of cordiality and friendship and of the urgency of implementing adequate solutions.

Our discussions covered such topics as the improvement of financial and commercial relationships within the hemisphere, basic commodities with special references to coffee, the physical integration of the Americas, including the accelerated completion of the Pan American Highway, the transfer of science and technology and, of course, the ways and means of working together in close collaboration on these issues.

I am certain that this exchange between our two Governments on matters of mutual interest will strengthen our bilateral relations and will lead to the enhancement of the Americas' role in the world.

I wish to express my heartfelt thanks to President Nixon and the United States Government for the warmth and friendship extended to me, my family, and my fellow Colombians.

Seldom in my public life have I encountered a comparable open-mindedness or a more pleasant human relationship.

Richard Nixon, Remarks on the Departure of President Lleras of Colombia Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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