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Remarks of Welcome in San Francisco to President Chung Hee Park of South Korea

August 21, 1969

Mr. President:

It is a very great honor for me to welcome you and Mrs. Park and the members of your party to the United States of America.

And it is particularly significant that you are being welcomed in the State of California and in the city of San Francisco. I am proud that, as President of the United States, the first welcome to a head of state outside of Washington, D.C., is in my home State of California for the President of Korea.

It is particularly appropriate that this should be so, because California looks to the Pacific; and San Francisco, for over 100 years, has been known as the Gateway to the Orient. But your visit to our country has significance far beyond these historical and geographical considerations.

It was 16 years ago that the war, in which Americans fought side by side with Republic of Korea soldiers, came to an end. I visited Korea in the winter of 1953, and I saw there a country where 25 percent of the people were homeless and where many outside observers thought that the people of Korea could never come back.

But in these 16 years, we have seen a remarkable progress which has excited the admiration and respect of the people of the United States and all the people of the world.

The Republic of Korea maintains armed forces that are strong enough to assume the major share of the responsibility for defending Korea against the threat from the north.

And we are also keenly aware of the fact that the Republic of Korea, next to the United States of America, furnishes more men fighting in South Vietnam than any other nation, except for the South Vietnamese themselves.

We are grateful for the sacrifices that are made there by the 50,000 men from South Korea. But we also have tremendous respect for the fact that despite the military burdens that the Republic of Korea must bear that economic progress has moved forward at a dimension no one thought was possible.

The Republic of Korea has received aid from the United States of America, but the people of Korea are determined that they will stand on their own feet and their economy has moved forward to the point where they can look to the day where they will be able to stand on their own feet without outside aid.

And so, Mr. President, because of this record, because of our association together in war, because of our working together in peace, and because the people of the Republic of Korea have demonstrated a spirit, a courage in war and peace, which has brought admiration from our people and people throughout the world, we welcome you especially with a warm heart on this very beautiful day in San Francisco.

We are proud to have stood together with a strong, self-reliant people in the past, and we shall be proud to stand together with you and your people in the future.

Note: The President spoke at approximately 1:45 a.m. at Crissy Field, San Francisco, Calif., where President Chung Hee Park of South Korea was given a formal welcome with full military honors.

An advance text of the President's remarks is printed in the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents (vol. 5, P. 1168).

President Park responded as follows:

Mr. President, Mrs. Nixon, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:

On behalf of the Government and the people of the Republic of Korea, I wish to express my deep appreciation to President and Mrs. Nixon for the kind invitation extended to Mrs. Park and me. I would also like to thank the Mayor and the citizens of this beautiful city of San Francisco for their warm welcome. And I have particular pleasure in again visiting this great country which has so recently succeeded in placing the first men on the moon.

I think it very significant that our meetings will take place in the city of San Francisco, the birthplace of the United Nations, a city which has knitted a special relationship with Asia and the Pacific, a city which has developed such close historical ties with Korea as to be mentioned frequently in the history of our independence movement.

Mr. President, I am pleased to say that we are in accord with the Asian policy which you have recently put forth. I am sure the meetings here will provide us with an excellent opportunity for a full exchange of views concerning Korea and Vietnam, both of which remain under constant Communist threat, and also concerning problems of Asia and the Pacific as a whole.

Citizens of the United States who are here to welcome us, I wish to take this opportunity to convey the deep appreciation of the Korean people to you for the genuine friendship and unsparing support which you have extended to the Korean people in our efforts to defend ourselves and to achieve economic reconstruction of our homeland, the Republic of Korea.

Thank you.

Richard Nixon, Remarks of Welcome in San Francisco to President Chung Hee Park of South Korea Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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