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Remarks of the President and King Faisal Ibn Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia at a State Dinner in Jidda

June 14, 1974

Your Majesty, Your Royal Highnesses, Your Excellencies, and distinguished guests:

Your Majesty, speaking for all of us here who are your guests from the United States, I express appreciation for this magnificent dinner and also for your very gracious remarks.

This is indeed a very historic visit as far as I personally am concerned and as far as the United States is concerned, because, of the five nations that we are visiting on this journey for peace through the Mideastern area, Saudi Arabia has the longest record of unbroken friendship with the United States of all those nations. And while I have had the opportunity on several occasions to receive not only Your Majesty but others representing your country in the United States and to meet and talk to you there, I am honored that this is the first visit of an American President to Saudi Arabia.

And I believe that it is important and significant to point out to all of those assembled here that this visit is not one that is necessary because of any differences we have in a bilateral sense, because as Your Majesty pointed out and as Prince Fahd's recent visit to the United States1 underlined, we have embarked on new areas of cooperation in the economic and security fields which we are sure will serve the interests of not only our two countries but the interest of peace in this part of the world.

We live in a very decisive time in the history of world diplomacy. Over these past 3 years, we have seen the United States of America establish a new relationship with the People's Republic of China, where one-fourth of all the people in the world live. We have seen the end of America's longest and most difficult war in Vietnam. We have had a series of meetings with the leaders of the Soviet Union to resolve differences and develop, where possible, areas of cooperation for peaceful purposes.

But I would be certainly much less than candid if I were not to admit that despite these advances in the cause of peace, we know how difficult and long the road ahead is if we are to have a permanent peace.

I think, for example, of His Majesty's background, the fact that when he was only 14 years of age he attended a conference at the end of World War I, a war that was described at that time as one that would end all wars. But that, of course, was not the case. Versailles left only the seeds for a war that was to follow in the next generation.

And then His Majesty attended another conference after the Second World War in San Francisco, the conference that set up the U.N. And yet with all the high idealism that motivated so many of those who attended that conference, it did not produce a framework which guaranteed what so many wanted, a lasting peace, because wars continued to come.

And that is why, to the extent that we can contribute to a great goal, our goal is not simply a peace that will be an interlude between wars but a peace that can last, and such a peace must be built carefully, step by step, having in mind the fact that if mistakes are made in the making of the peace, the result inevitably will be simply another conflict.

So, I can say tonight that while we do have a new and promising relation with the People's Republic of China, while we do have a dialog discussing many constructive items with the Soviet Union, we realize that the process of peace is one that never ends. We must continue to work in order to preserve it.

And that brings me, of course, to the area of the world in which we are most interested at this time--the Mideast. We want to play a helpful role. And our Secretary of State, we believe, has played a helpful role working with the governments in the area to settle longtime differences. But we are aware that we cannot produce an instant formula to solve all longtime differences. But what is new in the present situation is that the United States is playing a role, a positive role, working toward the goal of a permanent peace in the Mideast.

And it is for this reason, Your Majesty, that this visit to Saudi Arabia, clearly apart from the very great pleasure it gives us to see you personally again and to see so many of our friends, it is for this reason that this visit is important. Because over the past 27 years, I have had the privilege of meeting and knowing the leaders of over 80 nations in the world.

And I can assure all of those assembled here that in terms of years of experience, in terms of wisdom, in terms of vision, not only for his own country and his own area but for the whole world, there is no man on the world scene who can surpass our host tonight, His Majesty King Faisal.

I know that most people--at least, it is assumed that most people come to Saudi Arabia to get oil. We can use oil. But we need more, something that is worth far more than oil. We need wisdom.

And that is why I am sure that the talks that His Majesty and I have already been privileged to have and that we will continue tomorrow, will help me, help the Secretary of State in our developing the policies and developing the programs that can continue the momentum toward the goal that we all seek, a just and lasting peace for the people of the Mideast and all of the nations in this area.

And finally, just to demonstrate that I am somewhat of a practical politician, let me say that while we will treasure most the wisdom that we will take with us after this visit, we, of course, will need the oil to carry us to our next stop.

And, Your Majesty, I just want to make clear, we, of course, will pay the world price.

1 See Item 166.

Note: The President spoke at approximately 9:30 p.m. at the Royal Guest Palace in response to remarks by King Faisal.

King Faisal spoke in Arabic. His remarks were translated by an interpreter as follows:

Your Excellency Mr. President, honorable gentlemen:

I extend to you a warm welcome in this land of the heavenly message that illuminated for all humanity the path of righteousness and wisdom.

Mr. President, we have always endeavored to maintain the friendship which was founded by His Majesty the late King Abdul Aziz, may God bless his soul, between the people of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the American people. We have always been concerned with the improvement and strengthening of this friendship and constantly advised our friends in the United States of America to do likewise and not to give anyone the pretext to harm it.

Mr. President, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia appreciates fully and realizes her responsibility towards the world community whose members should cooperate together for their common happiness and prosperity.

But at the same time, she cannot approve of any harm which may be inflicted upon any of its member nations, especially if such harm is directed against her.

Mr. President, the injustice and aggression which were wrought upon the Arabs of Palestine are unprecedented in history, for not even in the darkest ages had a whole population of a country been driven out of their homes to be replaced by aliens.

The Arab nation has appealed to the conscience of the world for more than a quarter of a century to regain their lost rights and to undo the injustice which had been committed, but these appeals were in vain, and they had no alternative but to resort to arms in the defense of their rights, their lands, and their sacred shrines.

Mr. President, we seek a peace based on right and justice, because only with such peace can security and stability throughout the world be obtained.

In this respect, we highly appreciate this step forward which has been realized on the road to peace under Your Excellency's guidance and by the wise and decisive efforts of your Secretary of State, Dr. Henry Kissinger. We hope that the United States of America will continue her efforts for a just and lasting peace in the area so that it may live in peace and security, because it is peace and security that form the basis for its development and prosperity. Thus the United States of America would be fulfilling her responsibilities as the most powerful nation of the world.

We believe that there will never be a real and lasting peace in the area unless Jerusalem is liberated and returned to Arab sovereignty, unless liberation of all the occupied Arab territories is achieved, and unless Arab people of Palestine regain their rights to return to their homes and be given the right to self-determination.

Mr. President, the step performed by Your Excellency in visiting the area is such a wise act which wins our thanks and appreciation. We hope that it will bring peace and prosperity to this part of the world. We assure Your Excellency that we value the friendship of the United States of America and wish to cooperate with her for the benefit of the Arab world in general and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in particular.

We also hope that the visit which our brother, His Royal Highness Prince Fahd, has just paid to the United States of America will be the beginning of a constructive and fruitful cooperation between the two friendly nations.

Mr. President, may you convey to our friends in the United States and to the friendly American people our deepest thanks and great appreciation.

Once more, Mr. President, I welcome Your Excellency and the distinguished members of your party in our country, wishing you all a happy stay.

Thank you.

Richard Nixon, Remarks of the President and King Faisal Ibn Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia at a State Dinner in Jidda Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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