Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks of Welcome at the White House to Prime Minister Holt of Australia

June 01, 1967

Mr. Prime Minister, Mrs. Holt, Ambassador Waller, Mrs. Waller, Australian friends, ladies and gentlemen:

Mr. Prime Minister, Mrs. Johnson and I are very happy that you and Mrs. Holt could join us here today for the beginning of what I know will be a most pleasant and enjoyable visit.

At the Manila Conference last fall, we, and the leaders of five other nations of Asia and the Pacific, proclaimed some goals that we felt all of our peoples could aspire to--to be free from aggression; to conquer hunger, illiteracy, and disease; to build a region of security, order, and progress; and to seek reconciliation and peace throughout this great region.

We are ready, Australia and the United States--and all of the nations of the Asian and Pacific region--to vigorously pursue those goals with all the strength and all the determination that we can muster. We are ready to reshape the future of the peaceful and secure Asia that is to be.

But today we fight shoulder to shoulder with our Vietnamese, Korean, Thai, Filipino, and New Zealand allies. We fight not because we like to, but only to insure the right of a small nation to make its own future and to have its own people determine what that future will be.

Tomorrow we shall work to build and to repair what has been broken, to make the harvest larger, and to make the future of all men brighter.

We shall do it with the power of electricity--not the power of bombs. We shall do it with tools--instead of tanks. We shall do it with teachers, doctors, and technicians.

We know--you and I--that this is going to be done, for we know that it has already been done in both of our countries.

Your country, the great land of Australia, has only just begun. Ahead of it lies the promise of rapid growth, of ever-increasing prosperity. Each day, almost, I seem to see • where you are discovering new sources of wealth, new buildings are rising up in your growing cities, new factories are open to make needed goods and to provide jobs.

Australia, I know, stands ready--as does the United States--to try to help others move down the path that we have trod from very simple and very hard beginnings to strength, independence, and wealth.

But these things will not come and they cannot come, unless there is a security, a dignity, and an opportunity. And security will never come to Asia unless there are men of courage and men who are prepared to stand up and resist when the aggressor moves in to steal, and to kill, and to conquer.

This is what a man whom we both admire so much once said--Winston Churchill. This is what he meant, when he declared: "Courage is the first of human qualities, because it is the one quality that guarantees all others."

The brave men who fight today wearing our uniforms--your men and ours and our other allies--struggle there to make all else possible. And we know that they will succeed.

Mr. Prime Minister, we take a great deal of pleasure in again welcoming you to this Capital City and to this country of ours.

I welcome you as a brave leader, as a longtime and a very loyal friend, and as a wise statesman.

I repeat, again, for Mrs. Johnson and my family, we are so glad that you and Mrs. Holt are here,

Note: The President spoke at 11:35 a.m. on the South Lawn at the White House where Prime Minister Holt was welcomed with full military honors. In the party were Australian Ambassador John Keith Waller and his wife. The Prime Minister responded as follows:

Mr. President, Mrs. Johnson, distinguished members of the administration and of the diplomatic corps, ladies and gentlemen:

Thank you, Mr. President, for the friendliness and the warmth of your welcome--a warmth and friendliness of welcome to Australia, to my Government, to Mrs. Holt and myself, and to those members of the official party who are with me.

We are looking forward to another valuable talk in that series of talks that you and I have had together, which, at all times, have proved informative and helpful to us.

We have many important issues to discuss. There is, of course, our mutual concern with the events in Vietnam, the peaceful progress of which you have spoken in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, to which you have given so much constructive thought; the implications for our two countries of the United Kingdora's application to join the European Economic Community; the military dispositions of the United Kingdom east of Suez--which concern us both.

There will always be between two countries who are so prominent--despite our difference in size and stature--in affairs of world trade, economic and trade problems which we can usefully and fruitfully discuss together.

It is, perhaps, a mark of our mutual interest, of our friendship, our close relations, and the many matters that concern us together that this should be the fifth in a series of talks you and I have enjoyed together in the past 12 months.

I question whether any other head of government has had the same good fortune to see you so often and speak to you closely on so many different occasions: my two visits to Washington last year; your own spectacular and historic first visit of a United States President to Australia; the Manila Conference, which you have just referred to, with its reminder of those high goals we set at that very fruitful conference there; and now, this series of talks together here in Washington.

As to Vietnam: On my journey here, I had the opportunity of a very valuable briefing from Admiral Sharp, your Commander in Chief of the Pacific Command. He was able to give me, in factual terms, evidence of the progress being made in all aspects of the military campaign.

Yesterday, in Los Angeles, speaking to the World Affairs Council, I was able to canvass some of the aspects of our joint interest in this conflict. If the reaction I received there is typical of the feeling of the people of the United States, I would believe that there bas been a growth in understanding and support for the place that the United States is playing in that significant conflict.

The last time I visited you, Mr. President, I was able to tell you something of the progress which, thanks to the shield of American protection--the free countries of Southeast Asia and the Pacific were able to make.

It seemed to me this had not been widely reported here. As one of those countries which had been able to take advantage of the security and the protection, the resistance to Communist aggression which had been made possible by the massive intervention of the United States of America, I was able to speak of the progress which we and other countries were making.

Now, nearly 12 months later, with many major developments, most of them favorable from our viewpoint, including the end of confrontation in Malaysia, the steady economic progress in countries running around the are of Asia and Southeast Asia, from Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, Thailand, the emergence in Indonesia of a strong anti-Communist government anxious to cooperate in tasks of rehabilitation and the reconstruction of the economy there--these things have been substantial gains for us.

In my own most recent visit, which included, as you know--visits to Cambodia, Laos, to neutral countries, and to Taiwan and Korea, I found every evidence of friendship for my own country.

I found in those countries, which have aligned themselves with us, not only an appreciation of all that your great country is doing, but a determination to press on with the economic progress which has been so spectacularly a feature of their recent experience.

So I think we meet together with hope in our hearts. Perhaps the struggle may still be long; perhaps it may be shorter than the superficial evidence would indicate.

I know from my own quite intimate contacts with you that there is no national leader in the world more anxious to secure a peace--more anxious to secure a just and enduring settlement in Vietnam than yourself. In all the endeavors that you make in order to bring about a peaceful conclusion to this struggle-which means so much to the free peoples of Asia and the Pacific and, indeed, to the free world as a whole-you have at all times been able to count, as you shall be able in the future, upon the friendly and loyal support of your ally, Australia.

We have countries with great needs of economic development. Even with the strength and power of the United States, I know that there are many tasks to which you would be willing and anxious to turn your hand if so much of your resources were not being deployed for the purposes of resistance to aggression, and the need to insure the peace.

In my own country, it is for us a deprivation to have to divert manpower and resources from the task of developing a continent of virtually the size of the United States.

So, apart from our own natural, humanitarian instincts, we have a vested interest in the material welfare of our countries in the securing of a peace.

I reject the criticisms of those who question in some fashion our good faith in this particular matter.

You, sir, are the third in line of United States presidents who have seen clearly the need to meet the aggression as it has come in Vietnam.

If peace is to be secured, it will not be by some wobbling in our actions, in our purposes. It will be by the demonstration of our unwavering resolution to press on, be it long or short, with the struggle, until a settlement, a just and enduring settlement, can be secured.

It will be in that spirit, I know, that you and I will embark on our fruitful talks together.

Thank you, again, all of you, for the warmth of your welcome to the head of an Australian Government.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks of Welcome at the White House to Prime Minister Holt of Australia Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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