Ronald Reagan picture

Remarks at the Welcoming Ceremony for Sultan Qaboos bin Said of Oman

April 12, 1983

The President. Your Majesty, it's always a pleasure for me to meet good friends on behalf of the American people. But welcoming you, a courageous and admirable leader, is, indeed, an honor. I've read of your many accomplishments, your commitment to your people, and your dedication to your ideals. And I've looked forward to this day when we could meet face to face.

Your Majesty, the American people are deeply impressed by what you've achieved. Since you assumed leadership, your country's progress-economically, socially, and politically—has established your reputation as a compassionate leader who can get things done. In an inspiring commitment to the long-run interest of your people, you've built a modern education system of which any country would be proud. Similarly, the level of health care available to your people is testimony to the humane character and businesslike efficiency of your leadership, and your building the infrastructure of a modern economy, fulfilling the prerequisites for progress for your people.

Your Majesty, we're pleased that as your friends we were able to make some small, but we hope significant, contribution to your bold endeavors. In your 1980 National Day address, you put forth a goal to your people. You said, "Self-reliance is to be the keystone of all our plans for the future." With this as a guidepost, you have moved forward to diversify your economy. Now the people of Oman are able to rely on agriculture, mining, industry, fishing, and other commercial endeavors, in addition to oil, to support an acceptable quality of life. We applaud this farsighted approach and hope that we can continue to play a helpful role.

But, Your Majesty, as you're keenly aware, peace and security are irreplaceable ingredients for progress. It is no secret that vital national interests motivate the United States in the Middle East. We and our allies depend on oil originating there, much of it moving close to your shores through the Straits of Hormuz. Yet, unlike another world power which encourages and exploits conflict, the United States sees its interests fulfilled in regional peace and stability. We are thus committed to work with those in the Middle East who need our help to secure peace and to deter outside aggression. To this end, we've made rapid progress in recent years, developing the capability of coming to the assistance of our friends, wherever they may be.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you, Your Majesty, for your support of our efforts to deter aggression. The brutality we've witnessed in Afghanistan—the attempt to suppress an entire population, the debasement of its religion and the use of chemical weapons and other crimes against civilization—suggests that our concerns are well founded.

In recent years you've made many laudable contributions to peace. We appreciate, for example, your continued support for peaceful accommodation between Israel, Egypt, and its other Arab neighbors. The United States remains morally committed to further progress in the direction of peace and security for all the peoples of the Middle East.

The plan I outlined on September 1st last year is still on the table. While there may be bumps along the way, we will not be deterred from our long-term objective, which is a broad-based settlement firmly grounded on United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 and consistent with the Camp David framework.

As we speak now, radical elements are seeking to prevent an agreement which would permit King Hussein of Jordan to join the peace process. The choices facing the Palestinian leaders are clear—either the status quo and the continued frustration of their people's aspirations or a bold and courageous move to break the deadlock. For our part, we will not permit the forces of violence and terror to exercise a veto over the peace process.

Commenting about the conflicts surrounding Israel, you recently observed, "People now want to see the problem solved once and for all in every respect." Your Majesty, that is certainly our desire. And I can assure you, we will spare no effort to put an end to the killing and to bring this dreadful chapter in Middle East history to a conclusion acceptable to all sides. I look forward to discussing this problem and other important matters relating to Middle East peace with you today.

Lasting peace will come when individuals of good will, though in disagreement at times, work together to prevent conflict. We have followed with interest your own efforts to foster regional cooperation, particularly the improvement in your relations with South Yemen. We wish you continued success in your attempts to eliminate the causes of tension and instability in the Gulf.

Your Majesty, we're proud to be on your side in your quest for a better life for your people and your search for peace and stability. Relations between our two peoples have spanned a century and a half. I am confident that your visit today will serve to further strengthen the bonds between us.

We're happy that you have come to visit. Welcome.

The Sultan. Thank you very much.

Mr. President, I greatly appreciate the warm and generous words with which you have welcomed me to your great country today. It gives me particular pleasure that this, my first state visit, should so happily coincide with the 150th anniversary of the establishment of those friendly relations which have remained constant between our two countries to the present day.

That these relations should have stood the test of time with which constancy is hardly surprising, for our two peoples share common and deeply cherished traditions which lie at the very foundation of our national existence. Indeed, it was these profound beliefs in tolerance, justice, and determination to defend freedom and to uphold the sanctity of human rights which provided the great impulse which brought men from many parts of the world more than 200 years ago in a pilgrimage to this beautiful land to realize their dream of a new life and to found a nation which would enshrine those principles forever.

Mr. President, over the years the United States of America has striven unceasingly to make this world a better place for humanity, but nothing you have achieved has surpassed the example of your steadfast championship of those principles often at great sacrifice and in the face of the most daunting obstacles. I and my people who have, ourselves, fought through many bitter years of struggle to maintain our country's freedom-and will do so again should the need ever arise—are deeply conscious of this, for we know from our own experience that peace must go hand in hand with dignity and freedom; that life, if it is to be worth living, can only be founded on justice and respect for humanity and that these prizes are not easily won or preserved.

I believe that the world has never stood in greater need for these values than it does today. In recent years, the forces of aggression, intolerance, and lawless ambition have increasingly sought to impose their will on mankind. The world has had no respite from the continuing threat of instability.

Nowhere has this threat been more acutely felt than in our own region of the Middle East, where we and our brother states of the Gulf Cooperation Council have pledged ourselves to work together in the closest accord to safeguard our peoples and our ancient culture.

Mr. President, I welcome the constructive understanding your country is showing of the problems which confront our region. And I am convinced that the measures you have taken will greatly contribute to the maintenance of peace and security there. I also warmly commend the endeavors you have made to help bring about an honorable solution to the strategic Middle East situation, endeavors which, as you know, Oman has unswervingly supported. It is imperative that efforts to achieve this solution continue not only in the cause of common humanity but because so long as the present situation persists, then so long will it present a continuing threat to world peace and provide the opportunity for those forces which exploit the misery and dissention it perpetuates to further their own ambitions.

Mr. President, I am sure that my visit will not only serve as a reaffirmation of the cordial relationship that has for so long existed between our two countries but will further strengthen the mutual confidence and understanding upon which that relationship rests.

Note: The President spoke at 10:15 a.m. on the South Lawn of the White House, where the Sultan was accorded a formal welcome with full military honors.

Following the ceremony, the President and the Sultan met in the Oval Office. They were joined by the Vice President, Secretary of State George P. Shultz, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs William P. Clark, U.S. Ambassador to Oman John R. Countryman, and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Yusuf al- 'Alawi 'Abdullah and other Omani officials. The President and the Sultan, together with their delegations, then met in the Cabinet Room.

Ronald Reagan, Remarks at the Welcoming Ceremony for Sultan Qaboos bin Said of Oman Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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