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Remarks of Welcome to Prime Minister Emilio Colombo of Italy

February 18, 1971

Mr. Prime Minister, and all of our distinguished guests today:

It is a very great honor, Mr. Prime Minister, to welcome you, both as the representative of a nation with which the United States has such close and friendly ties, but also to welcome you as a personal friend.

And on this magnificent--I would describe it Roman--day, we think of those ties that bind our two countries together. There are nine million Americans who proudly claim their Italian background.

In fact, Mr. Prime Minister, I understand there are more Italians living in the United States than there are in Rome. And they have contributed enormously to the vitality and the strength and the vision of this country.

We think also of what your country through the ages has contributed to all nations and particularly to ours: the heritage of law, of culture, the arts, of all the areas with which we are familiar.

But on this day, we think of the present and of what we can do in the future. We think of the fact that Italy and the United States are part of a great, peaceful partnership, a partnership which exists not just for defense, but exists for the kind of progress for our people, all of our people, a better life, the people of Italy, the people of the United States, the people of Europe, and, for that matter, the people of the world.

This is a great goal. In our conversations that we had in your country just a few months ago, we talked about that goal and how our two countries could work together to achieve it.

And I know that as we meet today with you and with the other members of your party, we will develop further programs where Italy and the United States will work together in the cause of peace and friendship and progress for all the nations of the world.

Note: The President spoke at 10:47 a.m. on the South Lawn at the White House where Prime Minister Colombo was given a formal welcome with full military honors. See also Item 66.

The Prime Minister responded in Italian. A translation of his remarks follows:

Mr. President:

I wish to express to you my very sincerest thanks for the very kind and cordial way and cordial words which you have used to welcome me here as an individual and as representative of my country, as well as the welcome you extend to the members of my party, particularly Foreign Minister Moro.

When one comes to the United States, Mr. President, one cannot help but recall the great epic adventure which saw the birth of this great Nation, and one must, of course, recall all the millions of men and women who came from Europe as some of the great protagonists who have taken part in this epic adventure of building your great country.

There are so many persons, people who have come here from other shores to help build the institutions of freedom and individual dignity of this great civilization which has found birth in this country.

And, of course, among these Europeans, as you have recalled, there are many, many Italians in this great land who have brought the very definite characteristics of their own, characteristics of personal sacrifice and self-denial, industriousness and intelligence.

And, of course, Italians are among the most numerous of the nationality groups that have come to form your great country and are profoundly identified with your great land.

And they are also identified in a great faith in the future in that their future is closely linked with the future of the United States.

And, of course, in this respect, they are extremely proud to be U.S. citizens with the memories that they preserve of the old country.

Of course, the United States and Italy are bound together by links of solid friendship. We very much recall, we are always mindful of the help that you extended to us when there was a time in which we had to rebuild our country and also to set about the work of constructing democratic and free institutions in our country. We have come a long way, Mr. President. And, of course, now we range among the most advanced industrialized countries of the world.

But we are aware that there is still much work to do in order to continue to progress and build the great civilization and the values which we represent.

In fact, today in Italy we are engaged in the work of improving our society, of bringing about necessary reforms. In doing this we face many great obstacles, but our ideals are so great and our values so firm that we have complete trust that we will be able to overcome these obstacles.

But as you know, and we know also, we cannot undertake this task alone, Mr. President. And, therefore, we have a very profound sense of friendship and alliance. We are members of the Atlantic Alliance, a defensive alliance which serves as an instrument of security, stability, and equilibrium, but which we believe must also serve as an instrument for relaxation of tensions throughout the world because our ideal is the ideal of a peaceful world, toward which we work as partners with the other countries of Europe, with the intention of building a Europe which will be open, which will be outward looking to the rest of the world.

And we know that also in this great work of ours that we can rely on the friendship of the United States, so that this alliance will become more and more solid and that we will be able to go forward in the great work of cooperation between our countries on either side of the Atlantic.

So that once again, Mr. President, I would like to express my gratefulness for the invitation that you have extended to us to visit your country in the certainty that our contacts here will contribute even greater elements to the firmness and happiness of the links which bind our two countries together.

Thank you.

Richard Nixon, Remarks of Welcome to Prime Minister Emilio Colombo of Italy Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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