Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks of Welcome at the White House to Haile Selassie, Emperor of Ethiopia

February 13, 1967

Your Imperial Majesty:

It is a very great honor this afternoon to welcome His Imperial Majesty once again to American shores.

He has been our firm and cherished friend for more than five decades. He and his people have inspired us by their heroic example in time of war. And they have impressed us by the wisdom of their advice in time of peace.

The most destructive war in human history might well have been prevented if the world had only listened--30 years ago--to the Emperor of Ethiopia. Mankind has seldom been offered so accurate a prophecy. And it has never paid a grimmer price for ignoring one of its prophets.

I would like to repeat a statement His Majesty made to the world in those dark days before the Second World War. "Apart from the Kingdom of God," he said, "there is not on this earth any nation that is higher than any other."

No one has ever offered a better prescription for destroying the cancer of war.

Only when this simple, moral truth is finally accepted by all the leaders of every land can we truly hope for lasting peace.

His Imperial Majesty has never raised his voice in the halls of nations except to counsel wisdom, restraint, and justice. He once described the foreign policy of his own land in these words:

"We believe that war has become too dangerous a method for solving international disputes. Man must be as wise as he is advanced. He must allow his wisdom and his commonsense to prevail over temptations that can only lead to the destruction of civilization itself . . . the only safe way for the settlement of international disputes is the method of peaceful negotiation, conducted in good faith, and with the aim of insuring peace and justice to all."

Your Majesty, I am told that in your country there is a proverb which says: "Truth, and the morning, become light with time."

Much time has already passed, Your Majesty, since you first tried to light our way toward a better, and toward a more peaceful world. I hope and believe that men are closer to reaching that long-sought destination than ever before in history. And our voyage has been guided, in no small part, by the courage, the example, and the wisdom of Ethiopia.

Your Majesty, we are greatly honored to have you with us in the White House this afternoon. We look forward with great anticipation to your visit with us in the days ahead.

Note: The President spoke at 5:14 p.m. in the East Room at the White House following ceremonies on the North Portico, where His Imperial Majesty had been given a formal welcome with full military honors, Emperor Haile Selassie responded as follows:

Mr. President, Mrs. Johnson, distinguished guests:

First of all, Mr. President, I wish to state my satisfaction on the fact you have recovered as spiritedly from your recent difficulty with your health. It is nice to see you in the state that I find you today.

Each generation thinks that the situation it faces is the most serious one, the most difficult one than that which was faced by generations of the past. However, this may be true today. I believe, when we say the task of this generation is burdensome, we mean it.

Because of the progress mankind has achieved and because of the difficulties that are at times part and parcel of progress and prosperity, we find ourselves at a crossroad where we might make the world safe for our future generations or we might all perish together.

The friendship between the United States and Ethiopia is one of long standing. Our association in the past many decades, I hope, has been fruitful for both our peoples. Because the United States and Ethiopia believe in the same fundamental and essential goals, it is necessary that we should put our efforts together so that we may make maximum contribution for the safety and prosperity of the generations to come.

In our discussions, Mr. President, I hope we will have the occasion of considering the certain questions of mutual concern, of exchanging views in a frank and open manner, and arriving, I am confident, at a consensus of understanding.

I believe that leaders must from time to time come together, face each other, and discuss problems they share in common. It is not enough that we deal through diplomatic channels.

Mr. President, I know of the hard work that you have in your country. I know of the immense responsibility you carry for the safety of mankind, for the maintenance of peace. I know also of your splendid effort in maintaining national peace and security. I am glad, under the circumstances, that you are able to consider my coming to the United States for the purpose of dealing with matters of mutual interest.

Ethiopia and Ethiopians are laboring today not only for the peace and prosperity of our people, but also realizing the fundamental common interest which we share with other African people, we have dedicated ourselves to building a united and a more prosperous Africa. We found that the interest that affects Africa affects also Ethiopia and vice versa, because our destiny with the African Continent is a Common one.

We have to put up a common effort to see that the continent's interests are protected. As it is well known, the Organization of African Unity was established in Addis Ababa. I believe this organization has made a good beginning in the interest of all of the African people.

I hope, Mr. President, during our private conversations I will have an opportunity of exchanging views with you about matters of mutual concern, as well as matters that relate to the Organization of African Unity.

Let me say, again, that I am glad to be in the United States today and I pray that our discussions will bear fruit.

Thank you.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks of Welcome at the White House to Haile Selassie, Emperor of Ethiopia Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Filed Under




Washington, DC

Simple Search of Our Archives