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Remarks at the Welcoming Ceremony for Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan

June 06, 1989

The President. Prime Minister Bhutto, Mr. Zardari, and distinguished guests, Franklin Roosevelt once called this the house owned by all the American people. Well, on behalf of all the American people, Barbara and I are honored to welcome you to the White House.

Your visit marks an occasion for both of us to celebrate and renew the ties of friendship between democratic Pakistan and the United States and to chart new ways to strengthen old bonds in the many years to come. These bonds are formal, but they are also personal, for you are no stranger to America nor to Americans themselves. We remember you as a college student, eager to learn, eager to teach us about your homeland. And I remember first meeting you at your father's side at the United Nations, as he pleaded the cause of Pakistan with such eloquence. And we remember your visits as a courageous opposition leader, tireless in your zeal to foster democratic change. And now we are proud to greet you as Prime Minister and leader of a great nation.

Woodrow Wilson once said: "I believe in democracy because it releases the energies of every human being." And Madam Prime Minister, the people of Pakistan have chosen you to help democracy flourish in Pakistan. This return to democracy under your leadership deserves and has won America's profound admiration. It has strengthened America's already firm resolve to work closely with Pakistan. And I congratulate you and the people of Pakistan, and I salute those in your country, civil and military, whose adherence to the constitutional process was so important in bringing about democracy in Pakistan.

Madam Prime Minister, your visit is a time to reaffirm an historic relationship, newly forged on the anvil of democracy; but it is also a time to look ahead, to reaffirm liberty and freedom. And both our governments are in their first year, and let us use that to our advantage by building on the fundamental strength of our friendship. Let us craft new ideas, new initiatives to meet the challenges of our changing world.

I have looked forward to this meeting very much. And you will find us frank and open, as befits old friends, and attentive listeners who value your judgment. To America, you are a woman of great personal courage and faith. To America, you are a wise leader who embodies the very spirit of her people. And to all of us, you are a living symbol of those who risk all and sacrifice much so that others might know democracy and freedom.

Madam Prime Minister, welcome to the United States of America.

The Prime Minister. Mr. President, Mrs. Bush, and distinguished guests, I'm delighted to be in Washington, the capital of freedom, as the guest of a President who knows Pakistan well and has been its friend. I recall our first meeting in 1971 at the United Nations, at a crucial turn in Pakistan's history. The U.S.-Pakistan friendship has grown in strength; we are friends and partners.

Standing here on this beautiful lawn, one sees the monuments which recall America's odyssey of freedom. As I look at these monuments, I think of Pakistan, which too has traveled a long and difficult way along the path of freedom. It was not so long ago that Pakistan was a dictatorship and I was in prison. But as you said, Mr. President, giving heart to all those living under tyranny, the day of the dictator is over.

Today I am privileged to stand here as the elected Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, a woman Prime Minister of a Muslim country, whose people have given a verdict against tyranny and for freedom, progress, and human dignity, for justice and for the rule of law. Our two nations are united in a partnership inspired by common goals and shared interests, a partnership now bound by democracy.

The United States and the people of Pakistan have also stood together as partners over the last difficult decade, helping restore freedom and independence to Afghanistan. Our countries have developed a vital security relationship and a major program of economic cooperation. This has enabled Pakistan to work with confidence for peace in our region. And today, Mr. President, we begin our discussions of a new partnership. We are here today with new priorities to talk to the world's greatest democracy. New challenges confront us in the closing but complex phase of the Afghan war and as we focus on the economic, social, and educational needs of our people. We come to talk about how we, together, as partners, may take our relationship and our people into the 21st century.

And as we begin on this auspicious day in this magnificent country of freedom, achievement, and opportunity, I offer a simple prayer: May God bless all countries of the world with the enduring values of freedom, achievement, and opportunity that we see in this great country of yours. I thank you, Mr. President.

The President. Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 10:11 a.m. at the South Portico of the White House, where Prime Minister Bhutto was accorded a formal welcome with full military honors. Following the ceremony, the President and the Prime Minister met in the Oval Office.

George Bush, Remarks at the Welcoming Ceremony for Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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