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Remarks of Welcome to Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto of Pakistan

September 18, 1973

Mr. Prime Minister, Mrs. Bhutto, all of our distinguished guests from Pakistan, and all of our other distinguished guests from the United States:

Mr. Prime Minister, you are no stranger to our country. You not only have made many visits here, we are very proud of the fact that in my native State of California you attended the great University of California for 3 years.

I am no stranger to your country. I have visited it with Mrs. Nixon when I was Vice President on two occasions, on two occasions or three occasions when I was out of office, and then again in 1969.

As you come to our country today, however, you come in a different capacity. For the first time, it is my honor on behalf of all of our guests and the American people to welcome you as the head of your government. In welcoming you, it gives me an opportunity to remind the American people and the people of Pakistan, and for that matter the people of the world, of the friendship that has bound our two countries together for over a generation. You, who have seen our country, know that friendship. I, who have visited your country, know it well.

I can only say that it is a friendship that will continue in the years ahead. And I can add this: that the independence and the integrity of Pakistan is a cornerstone of American foreign policy.

I can also add that our hearts have gone out to you in the difficult times through which Pakistan has passed over the past few months--and years, for that matter. And certainly you deserve the congratulations of the whole world for the way that you have guided your country in this era of trying to restore the nation after the ravages of war. And as if that were not enough, then to have come upon your country one of the worst floods in history would seem to have been too much for a brave people, as your people are brave, but also for a new leader.

But even in that period, too, your people have shown that whether it is war or whether it happens to be the ravages of nature, you will survive and you will come through stronger in the end, and with your leadership, you have demonstrated that over and over again.

In our meetings, we will, of course, discuss the bilateral issues which we have between us in which we find ourselves on basic agreement in so many areas. We will discuss what contribution we can make to an era of peace in the whole subcontinent, as well as in the balance of Asia, and I trust also we will have the opportunity to get your views on world problems generally, because no country in the world can any longer be apart from the rest of the world, and what happens halfway around the world, in Pakistan, for example, affects us, and what happens halfway around the world from you affects you. And so together, I am sure that our talks will contribute to not only better relations between our two countries but also a more peaceful world for our children in the years to come.

And finally, on one, shall we say, symbolic note, as you know, we are having this ceremony in the East Room, and only a few of those who wanted to welcome you could be here. I woke quite early this morning, at 7:30, and it was raining, and all of the splendid honor guards that had trained for weeks for your arrival were gone, and I thought of the fact that on your previously scheduled visit that I contracted pneumonia, and you were unable to come at that time, and the rain was coming down. And I reluctantly gave the order, because we could not tell how long the rain would last, that we would move inside.

But now as you arrive at 10:30 today, the skies have cleared, and so your country, which has had the ravages of floods--you now see clear skies, and I think these clear skies indicate that for the time ahead, Pakistan and the United States can look forward to a better time, a time of peace and a time of progress.

Note: The President spoke at 10:40 a.m. in the East Room at the White House.

Prime Minister Bhutto was given a formal welcome with military honors at the North Portico. Then, because of inclement weather, the President and the Prime Minister proceeded to the East Room for the exchange of remarks. The Prime Minister responded as follows:

Mr. President, Mrs. Nixon, distinguished friends:

Mr. President, your kind and generous words of welcome are heartwarming, and I am overwhelmed by the sentiment you have expressed.

As you have said, I have come to these shores before as a student and on many occasions as a representative of my country. I have seen the magnificent evolution of the relations between your great country and my country; vast oceans and continents separate our two peoples, and yet there is an ease of communication and of understanding.

Our relations are not burdened or encumbered by modern postulations and sermonizations to each other. We share a host of common affinities despite the diversities and the distances that separate us.

I can assure you, Mr. President, that the people of Pakistan warmly cherish this relation. ship with your country and your people.

We are aware of the wholesome contribution that your country and your Government have made to the cause of peace and to the normalization of relations in the subcontinent. We value your contribution, and as we admire the search you are making for a new international structure based on the concept of lasting peace which has eluded us so far, we feel confident that with the imagination you have demonstrated and the tenacity you have shown to evolve this structure of peace, that your efforts will succeed. And to whatever extent Pakistan can travel with you on this magnificent search for a lasting peace, we will wholeheartedly offer that cooperation to the extent that our limited goal traverses with your worldwide responsibilities.

The memories of the past are many, but I can assure you that these memories do not in any way displace or dispel the newness of this occasion when I come here to represent my country as its Prime Minister.

I am looking forward to our discussions. We know that you are well-acquainted with our problems. At one time it was said that in the recent past your Administration tilted towards Pakistan. That, Mr. President, was a tilt for justice and a tilt for equity, which is characteristic of your distinguished career as a statesman and a builder of peace.

I am sorry that the ceremonies were somewhat marred by the rains, but nothing can mar the eternal friendship and warmth between our two peoples, and that is more important. It has augured well by the sudden reappearance of the blue skies, and I am glad that the blue skies are smiling at us.

Thank you.

Richard Nixon, Remarks of Welcome to Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto of Pakistan Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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