Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks of Welcome at the White House to General Ne Win, Chairman of the Revolutionary Council of the Union of Burma

September 08, 1966

Your Excellency, Madame Ne Win, distinguished guests:

It is a very great pleasure for me to welcome you here to the White House today.

I know, Mr. Chairman, that you and Madame Ne Win are not strangers in this country. This visit will provide the opportunity to renew old friendships as well as to make new ones.

This occasion has a special significance, for it is the first visit to the United States by a Chief of State of Burma. We greet you today as the leader of a nation with a long and proud history and a rich cultural heritage. We are delighted that you can be here with us.

We have watched with great interest your country's struggle for independence--a struggle to which you have devoted your entire life.

Mr. Chairman, your views and opinions are valued here. And I look forward with anticipation, in the next 2 days, to discussing many matters of interest and concern to the people of the world and particularly to our two countries.

The world knows and appreciates Burma's dedication to peace and to the right of all nations to decide their own destinies.

Your country's consistent support of the United Nations, your signing of the limited test ban treaty, and your participation in the 18-Nation Disarmament Conference all demonstrate this dedication. They reflect your nation's dedication to peace and international order--qualities which you have shared with the world through the distinguished and devoted service of U Thant as Secretary General of the United Nations.

Under your leadership Burma has followed an independent foreign policy designed to serve your country's national interests. Burma has sought nothing from its neighbors but to be left in peace and to develop as it sees fit. Mr. Chairman, this is a policy which we in the United States understand. For the right of people to choose their own form of development has been a fundamental principle of United States policy, a deeply held article of national faith, for 200 years.

We had the good fortune to grow from a handful of isolated colonies to a position of great responsibility in the world. We did not deliberately seek this position; in a real sense the force of history shaped it for us. But we have the duty not only to strive to achieve justice and a better life for all of our own people and the people of the world, we also have the responsibility to use our strength to help others to protect their right to live and develop in peace.

Nowhere in all the world today are the burdens and responsibilities which our position has thrust upon us heavier or really more difficult for us than in Southeast Asia.

Mr. Chairman, our goal in Southeast Asia is a very simple one. We want the countries in that area to have the opportunity to develop in peace. We want them to be able to prosper free from outside interference or aggression.

We look forward to the day when the energy and the resources now being used in conflict can be used instead in a great cooperative effort to create a better life for all the peoples of that area. This is America's hope, Mr. Chairman. This is our dream. This is our goal. And that day cannot come too soon for us.

Finally, I want to express my very sincere hope that the friendship between our two peoples--based upon mutual understanding and appreciation--will grow steadily through the coming years.

Mrs. Johnson and I are very pleased to extend a very warm welcome to you, your lovely wife, and your distinguished party to Washington and the United States.

Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 11:40 a.m. on the South Lawn at the White House where General Ne Win was given a formal welcome with full military honors. General Ne Win responded as follows:

Mr. President:

First of all, may I express to you and Mrs. Johnson and to the American people our heartfelt thanks for the warm welcome extended to me and my wife and the members of my party.

I have come to Washington on a mission of friendship and good will. I have great pleasure in conveying the warm greetings and sincere good wishes of the Union of Burma to the people of the United States of America.

It is my fervent hope that my visit will promote greater understanding between our two peoples and strengthen the bonds which bind our two countries in cordial friendship.

I have looked forward to meeting you, Mr. President, and other American leaders, because I am convinced that such personal contacts will serve to create a better understanding and appreciation of each other and thereby enable us to cooperate fruitfully in the common task of building a peaceful and prosperous world.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks of Welcome at the White House to General Ne Win, Chairman of the Revolutionary Council of the Union of Burma Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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