John F. Kennedy photo

Remarks of Welcome to President Sekou Toure of Guinea at the Washington National Airport

October 10, 1962

Mr. President, I am glad to have the opportunity to welcome you here to the United States. As President, I recall our meeting some years ago in California, and I am delighted to have this chance to meet with you on this occasion, as I regard the happy relations between the United States and your country as of vital importance to America and I hope of significance to the people of Guinea.

We are very well aware of the great role you played in the fight for independence for your country, and also in many ways the more difficult and more significant role that you've played in maintaining its independence and building a better life for its people, and also the extraordinary effort you've made to provide for closer ties between all the people of Africa, particularly those bordering on the western side of Africa.

This is a very difficult time for us all, both in Africa and in the Western Hemisphere, and many grave and serious problems press upon us. It is the responsibility of both of our countries, the responsibility of those who occupy positions of leadership, to attempt to guide our countries through this period, to maintain the 'peace, to maintain their vital interests, to maintain their security and provide in this environment a more prosperous and fruitful life for our individual citizens.

So, Mr. President, we recognize your commitment to this cause and to the life of your people, so that we're very proud to have you here, and I hope that you realize when you come to the United States on this occasion, you come to visit friends.

Note: In his response President Toure recalled his first meeting with the President in Los Angeles. "I believe," he said, "that the conversations we had on that occasion may have even further contributed to your excellent understanding of the question of Africa, of the efforts of the people of that continent fighting for their independence. This is something to which you have tremendously contributed, Mr. President, and we know that."

President Toure then referred to the gaining of independence by African nations as the end of the first phase in their development. The second phase-that of economic development--would require even more understanding and friendship on the part of the peoples and their governments. "As far as we are concerned, Mr. President," he stated, "I can only assure you of our will to go ahead. Will alone is not enough. Will is necessary, but so are means, means for action. We in our underdeveloped countries have many needs and few possibilities. That is why we are counting so much on the cooperation of the United States of America. That is why we are also so happy, so grateful for the cooperation which the people of Guinea have received from the United States hitherto, and which also other nations of Africa have received from the United States."

President Toure concluded by reiterating the will of the people and government of Guinea to cooperate with the President in maintaining peace, and by thanking him "for the help which you have so wonderfully given us in the past."

John F. Kennedy, Remarks of Welcome to President Sekou Toure of Guinea at the Washington National Airport Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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