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Remarks at the Welcoming Ceremony for President `Ali `Abdallah Salih of the Yemen Arab Republic

January 24, 1990

President Bush. Mr. President, it is my great honor to welcome you to the White House and to extend to you the greetings of all Americans on this historic visit to our country, the first ever by the President of the Yemen Arab Republic.

And I know this is a proud day, too, for the over 40,000 immigrants of Yemeni heritage who have settled here in the United States, and I know that you'll be meeting with members of this American-Yemeni community during your stay. And, Mr. President, I want you to know that I share with them the hope that relations between our two nations will continue to prosper and grow.

Barbara and I remember our own visit to your nation back in 1986 -- a fascinating trip -- our stay in San`a, your capital, the rich history of the Old City. And as an old drilling contractor, I won't ever forget the trip out to the Yemeni desert, near the ancient city of Marib, to attend the opening of the Alef oilfield. And all along the way, wherever we went, Barbara and I still remember the warm welcome that we received from the people of Yemen. We are delighted today to have this opportunity to return the genuine hospitality that we enjoyed in your country.

President Salih, in an era marked by great change in the Middle East and around the world, you have been a pillar of stability for your nation. Under your leadership, the past 11 years have brought the people of the Yemen Arab Republic genuine economic progress, progress that has meant real improvement in the living standards of all Yemenis. And I am proud that my country has been able to help Yemen develop its resources and begin to realize its full economic potential. And I also am gratified that the democratic trend now unfolding in so many nations around the world has taken root in Yemen with the free election of your nation's Consultative Assembly in 1988.

Mr. President, in just a few minutes we'll move inside to begin our discussions, discussions on issues of mutual interest ranging from strategic trends in the region and the world to bilateral aid to your rapidly growing role as an oil exporter. And let me assure you that America remains committed in the Middle East to help maintain security and to promoting the pursuit of peace.

There are few regions where the conflicts and challenges are so complex and where the United States finds such critical interests at stake -- in the Gulf region, where the U.S. and so many other nations have an interest in unimpeded access to vital energy resources; in Lebanon, where we hope the present political impasse will be resolved so that the Lebanese people can at long last live in unity and peace; in the Arab-Israeli conflict, where the United States is and will always be committed to a lasting solution, a truly comprehensive and lasting peace that ends that long and costly conflict. And of course, on an issue of intense importance to the Yemen Arab Republic, I look forward to receiving President Salih's views on the prospects for improving relations between the two Yemens and the importance of these developments for regional peace and stability.

And so, sir, I look forward to our talks and to the opportunity that we'll have to build on what already is a strong and stable relationship. Once again, welcome to Washington. God bless you, and may God bless the Yemen Arab Republic. Thank you very much, and welcome.

All yours.

President Salih. President George Bush, Mrs. Bush, it gives me great pleasure to express my appreciation for your gracious invitation to visit the United States of America for the first time. Your beautiful country is also the country of freedom and democracy. I also wish to thank you for your kind words and this excellent welcome, which reflects the spirit of mutual cooperation between our two countries.

I look forward to your meetings with you. We shall discuss matters of mutual interests at the bilateral, regional, and international levels. I am sure that this visit will strengthen our cooperation with the United States of America. That cooperation has improved significantly since your visit to Yemen in 1986. I am confident that we will be able to open new avenues for economic cooperation and American investment in the Yemen Arab Republic. As you know, our country started its efforts in development and modernization 20 years ago with the lowest standard of living known in any developing country. However, with the diligence of our people and the help of our friends, we have been able to achieve considerable progress and improvements for our people in the economic, educational, and cultural aspects of their life. At the same time, the people of Yemen have strived to force their democracy and freedom as a prerequisite for the true development and progress.

Dear friends, our visit comes at an historic moment in the life of Yemeni people because we and our brothers in the South Yemen are embarking on reunifying our country in a democratic and peaceful way. That unity will be achieved under a new constitution to be approved by both legislatures and by universal referendum. This new constitution is based on democracy and freedom and establishes a multiparty system and direct elections of the legislative council on the basis of one man, one vote. Mr. President, I'm certain that united Yemen will become a positive factor in the security and stability of the Arabian Peninsula.

Meanwhile, our efforts in reunifying our country has not detracted us from participating in inter-Arab cooperation. Just about a year ago, we established the Arab Cooperation Council, which includes the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the Republic of Egypt, and the Republic of Iraq. The main objectives of the Arab Cooperation Council is to expand economic, technical, and scientific cooperation among its members, as well as cooperation with international organizations and other regional economic communities.

Dear friend, I would like at this occasion, and in this capital of a nation which advocates with conviction the respect of human rights throughout the world, to remind the American people about the fate of the rights of Palestinian Arabs and their occupied territory since 1967, because you are fully aware of the suffering of Palestinians who wish to see an end to occupation and to live free on their land. Mr. President, despite all the suffering, we trust that the United States of America, which was established on the basis of justice, equality, and freedom and sponsored the right of self-determination for all nations and considers adherence to human rights as a prerequisite for international legitimacy, will be able to convince the Israelis to accept peace initiatives and to abide by international decisions which give the Palestinians the right to self-determination under the leadership of their sole and legitimate representative, the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Dear friends, the cessation of hostilities in the Gulf war was heartily welcomed. However, the people of that region remain anxious about the final settlement and the establishment of permanent peace by direct negotiation between Iran and Iraq. Therefore, we hope that the international community and the United Nations Security Council will be able to establish permanent peace in the region through the implementation of Resolution 598.

Mr. President, dear friends, our world is now entering the last decade of the 20th century, a century which has witnessed the most violent wars in human history as well as the greatest scientific achievements of mankind. It is therefore our hope that this last decade will bring more freedom and democracy for our nations. We also hope to see wider economic cooperation among all nations, as well as a final resolution of the debt burden of the Third World countries, in order to achieve greater development for the world at large.

Finally, Mr. President, I hope that the cooperation between our two countries will continue to expand. And I wish you, dear friends, more happiness and good health. Thank you.

Note: President Bush spoke at 10:12 a.m. at the South Portico of the White House, where President Salih was accorded a formal welcome with full military honors. President Salih spoke in Arabic, and his remarks were translated by an interpreter. Following the ceremony, the two Presidents met in the Oval Office.

George Bush, Remarks at the Welcoming Ceremony for President `Ali `Abdallah Salih of the Yemen Arab Republic Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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