John F. Kennedy photo

Remarks of Welcome to President Sukarno of Indonesia and President Keita of Mali at Andrews Air Force Base.

September 12, 1961

I TAKE great pleasure in welcoming once again to the United States President Sukarno. We appreciated the opportunity of your visit with us last spring, and we're delighted that you have come to visit us again.

It is a great pleasure and satisfaction to welcome President Keita to the United States for the first time, and we hope that though his visit may not be long he will come to understand our country and our people better for his visit with us.

On behalf of the people of the United States and the Government of the United States, I extend a warm welcome to our two distinguished visitors who come representing the leaders, the states, and the people who were assembled at the recent conference in Belgrade, Yugoslavia.

We realize that they come on a mission of peace, and we want them to know that the people of this country share their great desire that the problems which disturb the tranquility of the world be settled in a peaceful manner, in a manner which. represents the desires of the people who are involved to live their own lives in freedom, a peace which is real, which permits an orderly settlement of difficult problems, a peace which represents the basic aspirations of people everywhere--a matter of such great importance, quite rightly, to the people who met in Yugoslavia--to live out their own lives in the way they choose.

So we are delighted, Mr. President, to welcome you. We are grateful to you for making the long voyage. We recognize that in coming, as you have, around the world to visit us here in the United States, that your objectives are those which you share with us: a desire that the world may continue to move forward, and that the people of the world may live out their lives in the way they wish, and in the peace they want.

Mr. President.

Note: President Sukarno responded as follows:

"My dear President Kennedy:

"Today I am again in Washington, and for the fourth time. It was indeed, as you said, a long voyage from Belgrade to Washington, but it was a very pleasant one.

"I thank you, Mr. President, for the kind reception, and for your kind words. We both--President ' Keita and I--have come here, as you said, emissaries of the Belgrade conference of nonalined nations. The previous times I came here as a representative of the Indonesian Republic, a representative of 92 million people. But today I have come here, together with President Keita, as an envoy of the Belgrade conference, representing about 750 million people.

"Our task is not a task of mediation. No, our task is to communicate the thoughts and concerns of the Belgrade conference to you, Mr. President-our thoughts and concerns about the present situation in the world.

"The world in which we are living now is a world in transition, and a world in transition to a new world is always full of conflicts--minor conflicts, medium conflicts, big conflicts--big conflicts especially when big powers are involved.

"I spoke about our thoughts and our concerns of the Belgrade conference about the present situation. We, members of the Belgrade conference, 25 nations, we do not command physical power, we do not command military power, we do not command big economic power. But we nonalined nations are the least inhibited in developing our thoughts and conceptions for the formation of a new world, a new world of freedom, of prosperity, of friendship, and cooperation and brotherhood amongst nations.

"I am sure that, as you said, Mr. President, also the American people and you, yourself, Mr. President, you also are very concerned about the world situation. And that is why I express the hope that our talks will bear fruit, in order to save this world from calamity and catastrophe. "Thank you."
President Keita responded (through an interpreter) as follows:

"Mr. President, I come here as representative of the Belgrade conference with my friend, President Sukarno. I come here for my first contact with this great country and the great people of the United States, people and country about whom I have heard so much for so many years.

"And yet I come here at a moment which is extremely serious. I come here to bring to you, Mr. President, and to the American people, the greetings not only of the 25 nations of the Belgrade conference, but also of the people which I represent myself, the people of Mall.

"And we are bringing to you a grave burden, Mr. President. We are bringing to you a message of trust, because we are quite certain that the people of the United States wish to live in peace and only in peace.

"We bring to you also a message of brotherhood, because we know that man, whatever be the color of the skin, wants to live together and work together in this common civilization--the civilization of the universe.

"We bring to you also, Mr. President, a message of peace. We bring to you this message because the young countries need peace. We need peace even more than the great countries and the great powers need it, because, as President Sukarno said, we have neither military nor economic power. And moreover, we have the need of the help of the great nations to build up our own countries, to build up our own economies.

"However, as I said, we need more than anything peace, and that is why we need the peace and peace alone even more than the great powers need it.

"I would take advantage of my presence here, Mr. President, to establish a contact with the great people of the United States, the people whose struggle for its own development we have followed. Thank you."

John F. Kennedy, Remarks of Welcome to President Sukarno of Indonesia and President Keita of Mali at Andrews Air Force Base. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/235593

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