Ronald Reagan picture

Remarks at the Welcoming Ceremony for President Soeharto of Indonesia

October 12, 1982

President Reagan. Mr. President, I take particular pleasure in welcoming you and Madam Soeharto to the United States and to the White House. And Mrs. Reagan joins me in extending personal hospitality on this important occasion.

You're no stranger to these shores, Mr. President, having visited the United States twice before as leader of your great nation. As one of the world's longest serving chief executives, indeed, as a senior statesman of Asia, your views on world affairs carry special authority and add special meaning to our discussions today. Your viewpoints and wise counsel will be greatly appreciated.

I warmly recall my last meeting with you, Mr. President. My visit to Jakarta and private talks with you in 1973 were among the highlights of my international experience as Governor of California. And although I have not had the opportunity to visit your country since then, I know of the great strides made by Indonesia in national building under your leadership.

I'm sure that our talks during your state visit will further strengthen the bonds of friendship and mutual respect between our two countries. The United States applauds Indonesia's quest for what you call "national resilience." No nation in our era has shown itself more firmly committed to preserving its own independence than Indonesia; and yet, no nation has pursued that goal in a more responsible manner.

Indonesia has lived by and brought credit to the concept of genuine, constructive nonalignment. The United States, too, fought for its independence and over the years has jealously guarded certain fundamental principles. We, consequently, understand the striving of Indonesia for national resilience. We wholeheartedly respect it. It is this respect which lies at the heart of our excellent bilateral relationship.

President Soeharto, the challenges confronting our nations are great indeed. Both strive for world peace, whether in important areas of Asia such as Kampuchea, or in the Middle East, where particularly vexing problems await lasting solutions. The United States regards Indonesia as an important force for peace, stability, and progress. We value our bilateral relationship with your country most highly, and we hope to broaden and deepen that relationship.

On the economic front, I believe it is in the clear interest of both our countries to maintain and improve our economic and trade relations. Mutually beneficial economic cooperation, equitable two-way trade, and investment in enterprises which involve the transfer of technology to meet your country's pressing development needs are part of the fabric of healthy U.S.-Indonesian economic relations.

The United States will also continue to provide appropriate development and food assistance in the framework of the Intergovernmental Group of Indonesia. I am proud to say this consortium has had wholehearted American backing since its founding. Let me also assure you that the United States wishes to pursue actively joint collaboration in science and technology for the economic development of your country.

It is particularly fitting today to make special mention of the Association of South East Asian Nations, ASEAN, and of Indonesia's important role in it. The success which ASEAN has enjoyed during the 15 years-or 16 years of its existence would have been impossible without Indonesia's farsighted and enthusiastic participation. As one of ASEAN's founding fathers, Mr. President, you deserve a great measure of credit for the accomplishments of that organization in the economic and social areas. These accomplishments have far surpassed the expectations of most observers a decade and a half ago when ASEAN was established.

Since that time, the most important milestone for ASEAN has been the 1976 summit meeting in Bali, which demonstrated your personal commitment. Indeed, ASEAN now stands as a model for regional cooperation and, if I may use your term, Mr. President, of regional resilience. Let me assure you that support for ASEAN has been and will continue to be the keystone of American policy in Southeast Asia.

As we pursue our overall policy in Asia and the Pacific, we will never lose sight of ASEAN's concerns or neglect our commitments to the ASEAN countries. Let me also stress our full support for the important initiatives which ASEAN has undertaken to resolve the tragic situation in Kampuchea.

I also extend a special warm welcome to Madam Soeharto. Her good works on behalf of charitable organizations for handicapped, needy, and disadvantaged people are recognized at home and abroad. These activities are in line with the spirit of voluntarism which Mrs. Reagan and I have encouraged in our own country.

And, once again, I welcome you, President Soeharto, and you, Madam Soeharto, in a spirit of friendship and respect. Mrs. Reagan and I are personally delighted with your visit. Welcome to Washington and, again, welcome to the White House.

President Soeharto. Your Excellency, Mr. President, and Mrs. Reagan, ladies and gentlemen:

I'm deeply moved and would like to extend my heartfelt appreciation for the warm hospitality accorded me at this moment, and also by the kind words of Your Excellency, Mr. President. All of this reflects the profound sense of friendship existing between our two countries and, indeed, it is to promote the close, friendly relations and to reinforce the mutual understanding between our two countries that truly become the principal objective of my visit to this great country.

My present visit to the United States is actually for the third time. I have deep impressions about my previous visits, particularly from the exchange of views with prominent leaders of this country and leaders of various circles. These have all added to my understanding about the United States, namely its views, its attitude, and its steps.

Today, 7 years have passed since my last visit to this country. The world has changed considerably. The political and economic map of the world has undergone great changes. This is the reason, Your Excellency, that on my current visit to the United States, I will use it to have an exchange of views with Your Excellency and leaders of this country based on identical, fundamental attitudes of aspiring for a world which is more peaceful and prosperous for the whole of mankind. I attach great importance to this visit, because the world is presently undergoing various, successive upheavals that are long drawn out. Our two countries and all countries in the world have the common responsibility to exert all their will and ability to overcome those upheavals for the sake of the tranquility and the safety of all.

With a different weight, because our respective capabilities are also different, our two countries should nevertheless have the common duty and hold the responsibility of contributing to the efforts of preserving world stability and peace in order that we can bequeath a better world—a world filled with peace, prosperity, and justice—to generations which hold together the future of the world.

It is my sincere hope that my visit to the United States this time will further reinforce the bonds of friendship and enhance the mutual understanding between our two countries, as well as expand the cooperation in various fields which are mutually beneficial to both our peoples.

Thank you.

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

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

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