John F. Kennedy photo

Remarks of Welcome at the White House to King Sri Savang Vatthana of Laos

February 25, 1963

Your Majesty:

I take great pleasure in welcoming you to the United States and also your son, your Prime Minister, who honored us by a visit here some months ago, and the members of your government. You, sir, have known this country, represented your own country at the signing of the Japanese Peace Treaty, and you have borne, with great courage and persistence, the burdens of your responsibility in a difficult time in the life of your country, the life of the world.

We are especially glad to have you here on this visit, because, as a signatory of the Treaty of Geneva as well as a country which has long been directly concerned with the maintenance of the independence of Laos, we are glad to have you and your Prime Minister, who have been so identified with this effort

Your Majesty, your country is on the other side of the world from us. It is a long way from the United States, but it is a matter of the greatest possible concern to our country. I am sure you know that you can count on the friendship of the United States, the good will of the United States and the determination of the United States to bear our share of the burdens in assisting you and your countrymen who wish to maintain their independence.

Your Majesty, you come at a most appropriate moment and I am very proud to welcome you here on behalf of my countrymen.

Note: The President spoke at noon on the North Portico at the White House following the awarding of full military honors to His Majesty King Savang Vatthana. His Majesty responded as follows: "Mr. president:

"Coming here to Washington you have welcomed us with such warmth, such friendship and cordiality, I wish to thank you for this welcome, because our visit here is placed under the sign of friendship, under the sign also of the new status of Laos, the status of neutrality, the status to which the United States has helped contribute so much.

"In undertaking this journey, we wanted to strengthen this neutrality of Laos, because it corresponds to the wishes, to the will of the entire people of our country. It is also our purpose to break, to destroy, all obstacles to the genuine independence, the genuine sovereignty of Laos. And this is why we came here.

"We came here with a will to pay a tribute to the generous part by the United States, important part played by the United States, at the Geneva Conference. We wish also to restate here the great friendship which has united our two countries for a long time already and express a wish that this friendship will continue.

"It is a solemn moment, Mr. President, in which I bear to the people of the United States the greetings of the people of Laos and in which I thank you once more for your kind words of welcome."

In his opening remarks President Kennedy referred to Prince Souvanna Phouma, the Prime Minister of Laos, who accompanied his father on the visit to the United States. He also referred to the Prince's July 1962 visit (see 1962 volume, this series, Items 308 and 312),

John F. Kennedy, Remarks of Welcome at the White House to King Sri Savang Vatthana of Laos Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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