Richard Nixon photo

Remarks of Welcome to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi of India

November 04, 1971

Madam Prime Minister, our very distinguished guests from India and from the United States of America:

On the many occasions when heads of government and heads of state have been welcomed at the White House, many very famous leaders have appeared here. Our distinguished guest today has the unique distinction, through the parliamentary system of India, that more people have voted for her leadership than for any leader in the whole history of the world.

Madam Prime Minister, we welcome you because you represent the world's largest free nation, the world's largest ,democracy. We welcome you also for another reason. We are not bound together by a treaty commitment in the technical sense, but India and the United States are bound together by a higher morality, a more profound morality that does not need a legal document to make it live.

I speak of the common devotion that the people of India and the people of the United States have to the cause of freedom, to the cause of representative government, to the right of every country in this world to be independent of foreign domination, and to the cause of peace. We are bound together also by our devotion to humanitarian concerns.

I know that as you arrive here, your heart is heavy because of various problems, but particularly more recently the floods that have devastated parts of your land. I can assure you that when a tragedy occurs in India, the hearts of millions of Americans go out to your people. Because we feel so close to you in those humanitarian concerns, there is a very special relationship between the 200 million people of America and the 500 million people of India.

Madam Prime Minister, today we stand in Washington on November 4, a winter day. In our country we call this kind of a day, with the sun shining, "Indian summer." We feel that in a real sense this is a day in which the sun shines on the relations between our countries. I trust that this is a good omen not only for the talks that we will have, very significant talks on very difficult problems affecting both of our countries, but a good omen for the future.

May the sun always shine on the relations between two peoples who share so much in terms of common ideals: devotion to peace, devotion to progress for all people throughout this world, and particularly those in those lands that are newly developing, and devotion to the cause of freedom and independence which you so magnificently represent.

Note: The President spoke at 10: 16 a.m. on the South Lawn at the White House where Prime Minister Gandhi was given a formal welcome with full military honors.
The Prime Minister responded as follows:

Mr. President, Mrs. Nixon:

It is a pleasure to be in Washington and to meet you and Mrs. Nixon once again. I am grateful for your invitation which has made this visit possible.

It has not been easy to get away at a time when India is beleaguered. To the natural calamities of drought, flood, and cyclone has been added a manmade tragedy of vast proportions. I am haunted by the tormented faces in our overcrowded refugee camps reflecting the grim events which have compelled the exodus of these millions from East Bengal.

I have come here looking for a deeper understanding of the situation in our part of the world, in search of some wise impulse which, as history tells us, has sometimes worked to save humanity from despair. I look forward to our discussions. I have no doubt that they will lead to the strengthening of friendship and understanding between our two nations, and to a lightening of our path as we work together for peace in Asia and the world.

We share a community of ideals, and there is no real conflict of interests between us. Our people value your friendship. They have great admiration for the spirit of quest of the American people, for their desire to reach beyond the immediate.

I bring to you, Mr. President, and to the people of America, the greetings of the Government and the entire people of India, and I fully and sincerely support the desire which you have expressed that the sun may always shine on our friendship and that we may always work for those ideals which our people and our countries have cherished through the years.

Thank you.

Richard Nixon, Remarks of Welcome to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi of India Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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