Richard Nixon photo

Remarks of Welcome at the White House to President Lleras of Colombia

June 12, 1969

Mr. President:

I am very honored to welcome you and the members of your party here to Washington today in three capacities: first, as the representative of your country, which I have had the privilege of visiting; second, as the representative of a great continent; and third, as an individual.

As a representative of your country, it is very appropriate to note that you were the first state visitor to the United States from the American family to the south. It is very appropriate that you should be the first, coming as you do from Colombia, because we all recall the great events in which your country played such an important role in developing the organizations which created the American family that we know today.

It was in 1948 in Bogota that the Organization of American States was set up. It was in 1960 that the Act of Bogota was adopted, which became the foundation for the Alliance for Progress.

And just a month ago--and incidentally, primarily through your leadership-the Andean Common Market had its birth in Bogota.

So, the role that Colombia has played in the greater problems of the hemisphere in developing the spirit of the American family, we honor today in receiving you in Washington, D.C.

We also welcome you today in your capacity as an individual. We know your background, going back over many years in the field of government, in the field of education, in the field of politics in the very broadest sense.

And we know that you have contributed, through your thought, to the ideas, the exciting ideas, which we are going to need, if we, in this American hemisphere, develop the programs which are adequate to the tremendous challenges that we face.

I am looking forward to the talks we will have, not only in the bipartisan and also bilateral context in which they will be conducted--because it is bipartisan in this country whenever we speak of foreign policy, but particularly whenever we speak of the American family--but also because, in the broader sense, we believe that you are one of the new voices speaking for the American family that needs to be heard.

We know that your ideas will be ideas that should be considered in developing new policies which will meet the common goals that we all want to achieve for the Americas.

So, because you represent a great country, a country with which we have had such friendly relations, because you represent a great continent, a continent so close to us, not only geographically, but in our hearts, and because, as an individual, you represent ideas that we need to hear and that we want to discuss with you, we welcome you most warmly today to the United States.

Note: The President spoke at 10:47 a.m. on the South Lawn at the White House, where President Carlos Lleras Restrepo was given a formal welcome with full military honors. See also Items 240 and 242.

President Lleras responded as follows:

Mr. President:

Thank you, Mr. President, for your generous words of welcome. They are an admirable reflection of the traditionally warm friendship that exists between Colombia and the United States, of your special interest in inter-American affairs, and your own personal awareness of the issues and problems pertinent to the common welfare of the hemisphere.

Several years ago I had the honor of greeting you and Mrs. Nixon in Bogota. As Vice President of the United States you were providing at that time ample proof of your desire to obtain firsthand information on all the foreign policy matters concerning your country.

Today, as I arrive in response to your kind invitation, you are burdened with the full weight of the supreme responsibility for the direction of United States foreign policy as head of state.

You have shouldered that burden, Mr. President, with admirable decision and courage. You have understood that the leadership role of the United States requires no less. You have considered useful for the relations between our peoples and our Governments an exchange of ideas; and I greatly appreciate this opportunity to express to you, with frankness, my viewpoints.

I am grateful for your kind references to the achievements of the Colombian Government, the Colombian people, and to my personal contribution in that task. I have tried to be consistent with my belief that a man that has chosen public service as a career must dedicate all his energy and all his time, as you have done, to the welfare of his fellow men.

This is my only merit, and the words with which you have enhanced my efforts are, Mr. President, a further demonstration of your friendship.

You have mentioned Colombia's contribution to the economic integration of the Andean countries. This is, I hope, another step toward a closer economic union of Latin America as a whole and to a more comprehensive economic relationship with the other countries of this hemisphere.

I look forward to our talks with interest and hope, in the firm conviction that they will be fruitful. They will be inspired by our common ideals of fraternity between nations and by mutually shared awareness of the problems of mankind.

The days which my wife, my companions, and myself will spend here will undoubtedly be very pleasant. I believe that they will also be useful for a more complete understanding of our problems and for the strengthening of the links which have traditionally existed between our countries.

Please accept, Mr. President, the most cordial and friendly greeting on behalf of the people of Colombia.

Richard Nixon, Remarks of Welcome at the White House to President Lleras of Colombia Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Filed Under




Washington, DC

Simple Search of Our Archives