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Remarks of Welcome to President Urho Kekkonen of the Republic of Finland

July 23, 1970

Mr. President:

I am honored to welcome you again to the United States and to welcome you to this house.

We in the United States have a very great respect for your country and for your people. We know your people because of the great contribution that has been made by Americans of Finnish descent to the United States.

We know your country, too, from its history and particularly from its participation in world affairs today. We respect you and your country as a strong country and a strong people. We respect your country as a progressive country.

We find, for example, as we study the problems of the environment in our country that some of the greatest progress in this field has been made in your nation, and we are learning from you in this area.

We respect you in the field of foreign policy, a policy of independence and a policy of neutrality, but not the neutrality that refuses to participate in peacekeeping missions but a neutrality that plays a part in international organizations, as indicated by the fact that you serve on the Security Council of the United Nations today.

In this connection we express appreciation to you and your people for being the host to the historic conference on limitation of strategic arms in Helsinki. We trust that this conference may lead to an historic agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union which could contribute to the cause of peace for generations to come.

Finally, you who have visited this country and have been received in this house on several occasions before, we welcome you personally and very warmly as one of the world's most respected elected leaders.

Note: The President spoke at 10:45 a.m. on the South Lawn at the White House where President Urho Kekkonen received a formal welcome with full military honors.

President Kekkonen responded as follows:

Mr. President:

I wish to thank you for your friendly words and to extend to you, to the people of the United States, the warm greetings of the Finnish people.

Our two peoples are bound together with lasting ties of friendship. There are no problems between us. I hope that my visit to this country will further strengthen our relations and contribute to mutual understanding between our nations.

I am also looking forward to discussing with you, Mr. President, current issues of international life. As a neutral nation, Finland refrains from taking sides in the controversies between the great powers. We Finns are used to relying on our own efforts to safeguard our freedom and security. Accordingly, we do not seek aid or assistance from any side. Nor do we, on our part, wish to offer advice to others on how to conduct their affairs.

But neutrality does not mean passive withdrawal from international life. On the contrary, our policy makes it possible for us to cooperate without prejudice with all countries in the interest of promoting a peaceful world order. It is in this spirit, Mr. President, that I approach our talks.

Let me add that I look forward with keen interest and pleasure to this opportunity of getting to know you personally and to renew my contacts with the American people for whom we in Finland have the greatest respect and affection.

Richard Nixon, Remarks of Welcome to President Urho Kekkonen of the Republic of Finland Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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