Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks of Welcome at the White House to Prime Minister Thanom Kittikachorn of Thailand

May 08, 1968

Your Excellency, Lady Chongkol, Secretary and Mrs. Rusk, General and Mrs. Chapman, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen: Welcome to the United States.

It has been many months since we began planning this visit. Yet, because of the events of the last few days, your arrival today is especially timely.

There is a fresh breeze of hope circulating around the world. It concerns both of our Nations, as well as many other nations.

Thus, it is a good time for men to meet and to reflect. It is a time to set our long term aims and our aspirations for the days ahead.

Mr. Prime Minister, America's aims are simple and straightforward.

We believe that freedom and peace in America can only be secured if America remains involved in, and concerned with, the future of human freedom throughout the world.

We believe that the cause of freedom and progress can be worked for both economically and politically.

The experience of Thailand over recent years shows that great economic progress is possible when a motivated people seek it, and work toward it, in freedom. The Thai economic growth rate over the last 7 years has surpassed 7 percent per year---one of the highest rates in all the world.

We believe that human freedom thrives best when men have the right to determine their own political destiny.

That has been our aim in Vietnam: to help a nation in its struggle to determine its own destiny. As that simple--but very difficult-objective becomes secure, the American role in Vietnam will diminish and disappear. I stated that in Manila in 1966; it was stated by General Westmoreland again in late 1967; it has been stated by our Secretary of State; and Secretary Clifford restated it just a few weeks ago.

In Bangkok in 1966, at your beautiful university there, I said to the leaders in Hanoi, "Let us lay aside our arms and sit down... at the table of reason .... Enough of this sorrow. Let us begin the work of healing .... "

There is hope now, finally, some hope that that offer will bear fruit and that an honorable peace could come.

The world knows that the brave Thai people have been in the front rank of those who fought the good fight for freedom in Southeast Asia. Thailand was the first nation--the first nation--to join with America in the successful U.N. effort in Korea in 1950. Thailand was the first member to ratify the SEATO Treaty. Thai troops today stand and fight shoulder to shoulder with us in South Vietnam.

Mr. Prime Minister, it is good to have such a staunch ally by one's side as we begin this time of hope and recommitment to our principles.

Welcome again. We look forward with great pleasure to the time that you can spend here with us and to the profitable exchanges that we sincerely believe will take place.

Note: The President spoke at 11:40 a.m. on the South Lawn at the White House where Prime Minister Thanom Kittikachorn was given a formal welcome with full military honors. In his opening words the President also referred to Lady Thanpuying Chongkol, wife of the Prime Minister, Secretary of State and Mrs. Dean Rusk, Gen. Leonard F. Chapman, Commandant of the Marine Corps, and Mrs. Chapman.

The ceremony was to be telecast by satellite to Thailand to inaugurate the new Sri Racha earth station there.

For the President's remarks at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, see 1966 volume, this series, Book II, Item 557.

The Prime Minister responded as follows:

Mr. President, Mrs. Johnson, ladies and gentlemen:

May I express my heartfelt appreciation, Mr. President, for your generous words of greeting.

My wife and I have been happy to accept your kind invitation to visit the United States and to bring with us for you, Mr. President, and for Mrs. Johnson and the American Nation, the greetings and good wishes of Their Majesties the King and Queen. as well as those of the Thai people.

We also vividly remember your visit to our country, the first official visit ever paid by a President of the United States to Thailand. The Thai people greatly rejoiced in welcoming you as the Chief of State of a country we, in Thailand, hold to be our great friend and ally.

Mr. President, while some people may not be clear in their thinking, as their minds are beclouded by doubts, we in Thailand fully realize and appreciate how much the United States and its gallant soldiers have done and are still doing to help defend small nations against aggression and, thus, to preserve the delicate peace in the world.

We know the extent of sacrifices such a decision involves, but the lesson of the recent past tells us that they are smaller than those which would have to be borne if the aggressors were allowed to strengthen themselves with the spoils of their victims.

The Thai Nation and, indeed, the free nations of Asia, will always remember you, Mr. President, as the courageous defender of freedom in Asia and as the man who has spared the United States and the world from another holocaust.

Thailand, on its part, has accepted to shoulder its share of sacrifices and responsibility. At the same time, the Thai Nation and people are with you and those enlightened Americans in your incessant quest for a lasting and meaningful peace--a genuine peace which is not a facade covering a surrender--but a peace which guarantees freedom and the fight for small nations to exist with dignity and independence.

With this purpose in mind, we have come to Washington to join with you, Mr. President, in our unrelenting search for a peaceful and progressive future in Southeast Asia.

Thank you.

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

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