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Remarks at the Welcoming Ceremony for President Joao Baptista de Oliveira Figueiredo of Brazil

May 12, 1982

President Reagan. I am delighted today to welcome President Figueiredo and Mrs. Figueiredo to Washington. Over our many years of friendship with Brazil, Mr. President, your country has often been described as the nation of the future. Well, the future is here. Brazil is increasingly looked to not for its potential, but for its capabilities; not for what it will accomplish, but for what it is accomplishing.

We in the United States rejoice with the people of Brazil for the progress that you have made economically, politically, and socially, and look forward to expanding on the mature relationship we've developed. The ties that bind us are firm, with mutual respect and trust reinforced by time and shared values.

Our friendship, Mr. President, goes back to the early days of Brazilian independence, when the United States was the first country to recognize your sovereignty. Brazil was the first South American nation to have an Ambassador in Washington.

The American people will not forget, President Figueiredo, that in both the First and Second World Wars, Brazil joined with as to confront the threat to freedom. Since the war years, our two countries have collaborated on many fronts to meet diverse challenges to the security and well-being of our peoples.

Brazil is an independent force for moderation and balance in this hemisphere. And while our two countries have had disagreements, which is only natural and to be expected among friends, we have never lost that mutual respect and admiration so characteristic of our relationship.

Your leadership, Mr. President, is built upon the qualities of which I've just spoken. During a state visit to Colombia last year, you explained in extreme situations, political wisdom requires utmost levels of tolerance. We learned that tolerance and moderation don't bring bitter fruits and are uncontestable demonstrations of fidelity to the true ideal of democracy. This and other statements you've made speak well of your ideals and those of your country.

Mr. President, the motto of Brazil is "Order and Progress." And during these trying times, your country has proven that it takes these words seriously. Especially hard hit by rising energy prices, your government made an impressive commitment to do what was necessary to protect your people's standard of living and the Brazilian way of life. As a result of this commitment, your country is now a leader in the development of alternative energy resources, especially the use of alcohol as a fuel and the harnessing of hydroelectric energy.

That Brazil overcomes such obstacles is no surprise to us. We share a similar pioneer heritage. Our two peoples are also similar in that they represent a melting pot of cultures and ethnic backgrounds. But the most significant comparison remains the respect for individual enterprise and diversity that has developed in our two countries.

The Amazon River is, to many, synonymous with Brazil. Its grandeur, enormity, and power stagger the imagination. But so too does Brazil. Let us pledge that we shall always remember, and never take for granted, the good will between us.

President Figueiredo, it has been 11 years since a Brazilian President honored the United States with a state visit. This is too long a period for nations which have so much to contribute to one another. Let us confirm that the personal bonds we develop through this visit will reinforce the friendship between our peoples.

Vice President Bush visited your country and consulted with your government in October. He reported to me the constructive and amicable approach with which he was met. So today, I look forward to our discussion. I have much to learn from you and seek your counsel on matters of mutual concern.

In your annual message to the Brazilian Congress last year, you said of Brazil: "We seek to understand and to be understood." Well, let this be the basis of our talks today. Two old friends in a period of change, honestly and with sincerity, seeking good will and understanding.

And with that said, President Figueiredo, I welcome you to the United States.

President Figueiredo. Mr. President, thank you for your words of welcome.

For over 150 years, Brazil and the United States have maintained balanced relations. Ours is a heritage of mutual esteem, understanding, and respect. My visit to this country is, therefore, only a natural development of our bilateral relations. Our relations with the United States play an important role in the framework of our foreign policy.

Brazil's progress is predicated upon the diversification and enhancement of its terminational presence. It is a Brazilian better adapt our bilateral relations to world of today. To this end, the exchange of information and ideas between our governments should be intensified.

Under the present difficult circumstances, I regard the opportunity of having an open discussion with you, Mr. President, as particularly positive. The harshest of realities demonstrate repeatedly that dialog is an invaluable diplomatic tool. I arrive in Washington willing to examine together with you the problems that concern us both in the political and economic fields. I'm willing to listen and to speak frankly and objectively.

We in Brazil wish to take a lasting and creative approach to the commonality of interests and values existing between us and your great country. The breadth and range of our relations encourage us to anticipate favorable results. As our countries have their own unique characteristics and play distinct roles in international as well as regional politics, it is only natural that differences of opinion should exist. We will endeavor to smooth them out through the exchange of ideas, views, and clarifications.

Mr. President, it is a known fact that in Brazil we are going through a specially significant chapter of our political history during which democratic institutions are being consolidated. From a diplomatic standpoint, we adopt a universalistic approach. Our foreign policy is diversified. Brazil is both a Western and a Third World country. It is a Latin American country with a strong African heritage, among others. Brazilian foreign policy endeavors to reflect this wealth of historical experience.

In a world where crises multiply, diplomacy must continue to build bridges between states. Even in times of despair and conflict, agreement, however difficult, has to be found. In the international sphere, some impasses still remain, such as the issue of nuclear disarmament, of vital importance for the destiny of mankind. The North-South negotiations do not progress. Forging links of cooperation among peoples has never been so vital and so urgent.

Americans and Brazilians have built a tradition of friendship throughout history. In times of crisis, we must resort to mutual inspiration and counsel. The purpose of Brazilian diplomacy is, in essence, to strengthen the ties of mutual confidence among the countries of this continent so that the spirit of conciliation and peace may prosper.

These are the foundations for my dialog with you, Your Excellency. Our governments are accustomed to mutual understanding. Such is our tradition. May such be our future.

Note: President Reagan spoke at 10:13 a.m. on the South Lawn of the White House, where President Figueiredo was given a formal welcome with full military honors. President Figueiredo spoke in Portuguese, and his remarks were translated by an interpreter.

Following the ceremony, the two Presidents met privately in the Oval Office. They were then joined by the Vice President, Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig, Jr., Brazilian Foreign Minister Ramiro Elysio Saraira Guerreiro, and Brig. Gen. Danilo Venturini, Chief of the Military Household of the Presidency. The Presidents, together with their delegations, then met in the Cabinet Room.

After the bilateral meetings had been completed, President Reagan and President Figueiredo met with members of the Brazil-U.S. Business Council in the Roosevelt Room.

Ronald Reagan, Remarks at the Welcoming Ceremony for President Joao Baptista de Oliveira Figueiredo of Brazil Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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