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Remarks of Welcome to Prime Minister de Jong and Foreign Minister Luns of the Netherlands

May 27, 1969

Mr. Prime Minister, Mr. Foreign Minister:

On this beautiful day we are very honored to welcome you to Washington, D.C., our Nation's Capital, as the first official visitor from a Western European country.

It is appropriate that you should be the first visitor in several respects. Next year the United States marks the 350th anniversary of the Pilgrims arriving in the New World. It was from a Dutch port that the Pilgrims embarked from the Old World to come to the New World.

Through that 350 years, your country and ours have been so closely associated in friendship and in good causes. We are not unaware of the fact that you were one of the first of the major countries to recognize the new Nation in 1782. Then, through the period that has passed since then, we have worked together, we have shared problems together, and today we are strong partners in the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance.

You also have given to our country so many of your own people and we are proud of the Americans of Dutch heritage who have added so much to our culture and who have enriched our land.

Today, as you arrive for this official visit, we want you to know that we hope that we can continue to work with your people and your government in the pursuit of peace which has been a cause to which you and your people have been so greatly devoted.

I think all of our guests here today would be interested to note that the Government of the Netherlands is one of the very few countries of the world that has earmarked a portion of its armed forces for U.N. peacekeeping duties. This is an indication of foresight and an indication also of the kind of cooperation that the United States desires to have with other free peoples throughout the world.

Mr. Prime Minister and Mr. Foreign Minister, you are most welcome. We trust that the sun will shine on you during this visit and all of the years ahead in your own country as it does today.

Note: The President spoke at 10:55 a.m. on the South Lawn at the White House where Prime Minister Petrus J. S. de Jong and Foreign Minister Joseph M. A. H. Luns were given a formal welcome with full military honors. Prime Minister de Jong responded as follows:

Mr. President, on behalf of my colleague, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and myself, allow me to say a few words of thanks for your warm words of welcome.

When we approached your shores yesterday, we received the happy news of the safe arrival and the splashdown of the astronauts. Before I say anything, I want to extend my most warmest and sincerest congratulations to you and the American people on this magnificent performance. The whole world followed the voyage of the astronauts with bated breath. I think all mankind rejoices with you in this glorious victory of mind over the limitations. A very great performance.

As we proceeded, Mr. President, by way of contrast, to Williamsburg, we had an interesting experience of going back to the 18th century. We saw where George Washington and so many of your American patriots of global fame have lived. The name of the town itself perpetuates in your history the idea of King William the Third, the Prince of Orange, who as Stadtholder of the Netherlands, became at the same time King of England in what in British history is known as "The Glorious Revolution."

From those days, Mr. President, the first alliance between your country and ours was forged. In 1776, just half a year after the Declaration of Independence was written, the first time the Stars and Stripes were saluted by a foreign power was by a Dutch fortress at St. Eustatius, one of the Windward Islands in the Caribbean, now forming part of the Netherland Antilies.

In 1780, the English declared war on us and gave as the principal war reason the fact that we gave too great a support to the American cause for independence.

In 1782, we concluded a formal treaty of friendship between the United States and the then Republic of the United Netherlands.

But as we crossed the Atlantic yesterday, Mr. President, in a few hours and in, incidentally, more comfortable circumstances than our ancestors did, I felt the same words could still apply, that the very first Minister to the United States spoke in the Congress of Princeton in 1783, when he said, "We know the value of independent freedom, and we appreciate the greatness of your aims. We will do all that is in our power to help you further the ties of friendship and further the alliance as much as We Can."

I don't think, Mr. President, there are very many countries in the world which share such long ties of friendship as your country and ours. The efforts and the sacrifices of the United States for the liberation of Europe and the reconstruction afterwards have not been forgotten by my country. With you we share a continued dedication to the ideals of peace, freedom, and democracy. Those ideals will guide us during the talks we hope to have together.

Thank you.

Richard Nixon, Remarks of Welcome to Prime Minister de Jong and Foreign Minister Luns of the Netherlands Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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