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Remarks of Welcome to Prime Minister Harold Wilson of Great Britain

January 27, 1970

Mr. Prime Minister, I am delighted to welcome you here today as an old friend; as an old friend not only in government, but as an old friend personally.

I noted from reading the background, that this is your 21st visit to the United States, and your seventh visit as Prime Minister of your government.

And I noted, too, in looking at the relationship that we have had since I assumed office a year ago, that we met twice in London, once in February, again in August; that we have had a great deal of correspondence; we have talked several times on the telephone. But what is even more important is the substance of those conversations.

The substance did not involve differences between your country and ours. The substance of those conversations was with regard to the great issues in which we have a common interest and a common purpose, the development of peace in the world, progress for your people, for our people, for all people. This is the way it should be. This is the way we both want it. And it is an indication of the way to the future.

Winston Churchill once said on one of his visits to this country that, if we are together, nothing is impossible. Perhaps in saying that nothing is impossible, that was an exaggeration. But it can be said today--we are together, and being together, a great deal is possible. And I am sure that our talks will make some of those things possible.

Note: The President spoke at 10:42 a.m. on the South Lawn at the White House, where Prime Minister Wilson was given a formal welcome with full military honors.

See also Item 17.

The Prime Minister responded as follows:

I should like to thank you, Mr. President, most warmly for your welcome to the White House this morning.

This is, as you say, the third opportunity I have had for discussions with you on world affairs, and on the mutual problems of our two countries and the world, since your inauguration just a year ago.

Today my colleagues, the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary [Michael Stewart], and I will have the privilege of discussing with you, with the Secretary of State, and other leading members of your administration, many of the pressing and urgent problems of world affairs, particularly those on which you and I have been exchanging messages ever recent months and, as you say, we shall be doing this together; discussions on grave international human problems, the suffering and hunger in Nigeria and what we can do, each of us, to meet the requests which the authorities there addressed to us; discussions on world aid and poverty; discussions on international problems of war and disarmament; on international economic and financial problems.

It is urgent, too, that we discuss together the immediate prognosis in world economic affairs.

But I believe the circumstances of our meeting which you have described are such that we may have more time on this occasion, not only to discuss the immediately urgent issues, but to take a longer and cooler look at the problems of the world--of Europe and Asia and Africa and elsewhere--through the seventies and beyond.

And in the spirit of some words I addressed on American soil last night, I know we are both ready to exchange and to share on the basis of common problems our common experience and common thinking on the challenging issues which confront almost every advanced industrial civilization; issues which have always been there which conventional establishment thinking has tended to brush aside, but which now a new generation of statesmen have determined shall not be thrust aside; issues which must now be put in the forefront of national and international agendas.

It is in that spirit, Mr. President, I sought in New York last night to interpret what our historic special relationship of the past will mean in the seventies and the eighties. That relationship was born of an alliance directed to fighting evil and repressive forces in world affairs. Now I hope it will be increasingly directed to the examination of social evils in our own countries and throughout the world.

For the message of the 1970's for all of us is that it is not enough to achieve and to defend our traditional freedoms. Freedom can be eroded from within. Our countries have not led the world in the assertion of freedom in order that our people shall become the slaves of a scarred and poisoned environment of our own making.

Mr. President, my colleagues and I look forward to the talks we shall be having and conscious, as we all are, of the importance and the extent of the challenge facing us on this occasion, I will delay the start of these talks not a moment longer.

Mr. President, I thank you.

Richard Nixon, Remarks of Welcome to Prime Minister Harold Wilson of Great Britain Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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