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Remarks at the Welcoming Ceremony for President Mohammed Hosni Mubarak of Egypt

January 28, 1988

President Reagan. Mr. President and Mrs. Mubarak, welcoming good friends to Washington and to the White House is one of my more pleasant responsibilities as President. I'm especially pleased today to greet, once again, President Mubarak, a personal friend and a friend of the United States. President Mubarak is the proud leader of a proud land: Egypt, a country with a special fascination for Americans; Egypt, a venerable society rich in culture, a country not unaccustomed to making history.

Americans learn from their earliest school days about Egypt's extraordinary place in the history of civilization. And recent history records that our two countries were partners in one of the monumental events of our era: the securing of peace between Egypt and Israel. The first step toward ending the cycle of violence in the Middle East was as arduous, painstaking, and fraught with danger as any that a country ever made. It was a tremendous accomplishment and a tribute to the vision, courage, and sincere desire for peace on both sides. And, President Mubarak, we're heartened by the progress that continues under your dynamic and responsible leadership.

In the past few months, Arab countries that broke relations with Egypt years ago have resumed diplomatic relations with your country. It's a victory for the cause of peace and a tribute to your steadfastness as well as a recognition that Egypt is again exerting the leadership role it has traditionally played in Arab councils. We applaud you at this moment, when time and events have proven you right.

The United States and Egypt continue to work together to broaden the peace that started with that first step 10 years ago. The recent explosion of violence in the West Bank and Gaza and the sad toll it has taken in lives and injuries, vividly remind us that much remains to be done. The danger of allowing the Palestinian problem to fester is evident and reinforces the urgency of moving toward negotiations: Hard work, creativity, and a willingness to take practical, not merely rhetorical, steps are needed.

Mr. President, if peace is to be achieved, if another giant step is to be made, much depends on Egypt and the United States. We are partners in this endeavor, and Egypt's own experience provides it with special insights. I'm looking forward to discussing with you your ideas as well as our own thoughts on how to ensure that hope displaces despair and real progress is made toward peace.

Both of our countries also look with distress on the seemingly endless conflict between Iraq and Iran. The latter's aggressive measures to intimidate and destabilize other countries in the Gulf and elsewhere in the Middle East are reprehensible and reason for alarm. Both the United States and Egypt strongly support U.N. Security Council efforts to end the war, and we share a firm commitment to freedom of navigation in the region and the security of friendly Gulf Arab States. President Mubarak, as your recent trip to the Gulf clearly demonstrates, Egypt has a vital role to play in the pursuit of these goals; and I'm pleased to have this opportunity to discuss how we can work together to achieve them.

The scope of our cooperation, of course, goes far beyond the formulation of foreign and diplomatic policy. Egypt and the United States have also made common cause in advancing Egypt's economy and bettering the living standard of her people. America's contributions to agriculture, industry, power generation, and private sector development stand as visible symbols of our broader partnership for progress, a partnership that we expect to benefit both our peoples for many years to come.

Mr. President, all Americans are especially delighted that your visit will take you beyond Washington. I hope that in the limited time you have you'll capture a glimpse of America's heart and soul. You'll find it in cities and towns across the country, in businesses, in universities, and in our churches. And there you'll find a love of freedom and a genuine good will to you and the people of Egypt. Your visit, I know, will strengthen the bonds and expand the potential of American and Egyptian friendship.

In closing, I'd like to share with you a bit of history. Some may not realize that the U.S.-Egyptian collaboration on security issues goes back over 100 years. Shortly after the American Civil War, General Charles Pomeroy Stone and General William Wing Loring, together with some 50 other officers from the Union and Confederate Armies, went to Egypt to work with the Egyptian Armed Forces. They worked on military training, helped strengthen coastal defenses, and shared their ideas and their experience.

General Stone left Egypt in 1878, and his last job after his return to the United States provides a fitting symbol of our enduring relationship. Stone was asked to design and construct the base for a huge statue, designed and constructed by a Frenchman, presented to the United States by the schoolchildren of France. Stone went to work with his usual energy. He gave lectures on Egypt to help finance the project, and enlisted two of his former colleagues from his days in Egypt to help with drafting the plans and erecting the structure. So, Mr. President, when you look at the Statue of Liberty, you can be proud that those who built its solid base spent nearly a decade in the service of Egypt, building a base as well for our relationship.

Today we offer you our warm welcome and celebrate the solid friendship between our countries. President Mubarak, welcome.

President Mubarak. President Reagan, Mrs. Reagan, dear friends, once again we meet in your glorious Capital in order to strengthen the bonds of friendship and understanding between our peoples. The Egyptian people are sending you and each and every American warm greetings and heartiest wishes for success and fulfillment.

They value the United States as a friend and a partner in the search for peace and progress. This friendship is a lasting one, for it is based on mutual respect and a profound conviction that all nations, regardless of origin and decree, share a common interest in the preservation of peace and maintenance of security. Over the years, our American friendship has served as a force of stability and progress; today it remains a source of hope and promise. We are determined to deepen this friendship and intensify our cooperation for our common good.

President Reagan has made a great contribution to the process of strengthening these ties and deepening their roots. He's a man of wisdom and conviction. During the past few years, he has taken many steps for the purpose of enhancing world peace and security. We commend him on his recent achievement and congratulate the American people on the courageous steps that are certain to reduce tension and pave the way for a better future for mankind.

People of good will should build upon it in the years ahead to maintain insecurity—to eliminate insecurity and stop violence and suffering throughout the world. Sincere and concrete and concerted efforts are urgently needed for solving regional conflicts. In this respect, the Middle East is a region that requires special attention and top priority. It is confronted with great challenge and rising dangers. The United States can do much to help all nations of the Middle East to cope with these problems.

A few days ago I met with most of the area's leaders, and it was their consensus that certain steps must be taken urgently and effectively in order to check the continuous deterioration of the situation in different parts of the Middle East. This is needed not only to safeguard the interests of the region's people and save the lives of millions of innocent individuals but also to protect vital American interests.

The futile war which is raging in the Gulf threatens the safety and the security of all parties. It endangers the freedom of navigation and blocks the flow of strategic materials that are essential in international trade as well as the prosperity of many nations. It's an illusion to speak of restricting the theater of operations. Even if it happens, the fallout from the war would certainly spread throughout the region. Therefore the only real solution is to end the war immediately and to bring the dispute to the negotiating table.

The tragic situation in the West Bank and the Gaza is another source of alarm and concern. It is evident that the continuation of occupation and oppression would bring loss to and inflict damage on all the parts without exception. It would badly hurt American interests in the Middle East. It deals a devastating blow to our peace efforts at a time when we are looking for a breakthrough.

In the course of our discussion today, we shall focus on these issues in full awareness of their importance and ramifications. We shall exchange views candidly and sincerely and examine certain ideas designed to generate a new momentum and initiate movement. We realize that many governments are preoccupied this year with domestic matters and international events. But history does not stop, and it is an absolute must that we continue to move forward to attain our objectives. This is the crux of public responsibility.

In the past few weeks we noticed with satisfaction that the United States, under the leadership of President Reagan, has taken courageous steps in the right direction. This active role must continue for our mutual benefit. The risks involved here cannot be compared with the damage that is certain to result from inaction and stagnation.

African problems need greater attention, too. The debt problem is crippling growth and development in most parts of our continent. An equitable solution must be reached if we want to save the lives of millions who face the danger of starvation and fatal disease. On the other hand we cannot accept the continuation of the worsening situation that exists in southern Africa today. The fundamental rights of our fellow Africans are being violated, and their security is being endangered every day. The fight for human rights and the dignity of man—indivisible, and we must maintain our firm commitment to work for a better future for coming generations.

I am looking forward to a stimulating and fruitful discussion with President Reagan and his able associates, and we shall continue to an objective exchange of views during the months ahead. We shall always be guided by the spirit of genuine friendship and sincerity, which has dominated our relations consistently. Together we shall endeavor to serve the cause of peace and derive hope in the midst of despair and frustration. Together we shall overcome. Thank you, Mr. President.

Note: President Reagan spoke at 10:05 a.m. in the East Room at the White House, where President Mubarak was accorded a formal welcome. Following the ceremony, the two Presidents met in the Oval Office.

Ronald Reagan, Remarks at the Welcoming Ceremony for President Mohammed Hosni Mubarak of Egypt Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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