Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks of Welcome at the White House to the Amir of Kuwait

December 11, 1968

Your Highness, Secretary Rusk, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:

It would be hard for us to produce a colder day, or a warmer greeting. So welcome to America.

You are the first Amir of the State of Kuwait to visit our country. And you are the last visitor to the White House during my term as President of the United States. But there are, Your Highness, other statistics that interest us more than these. They describe the contributions Kuwait is making, not only to the welfare of its own people, but to the development of its neighbors. The Kuwait Fund has become a beacon of leadership in mutual assistance.

Since your state achieved its independence in 1961, it has assumed a mature and responsible role in regional affairs--a role of leadership that is far out of proportion to your size. Kuwait's generosity and leadership are a source of encouragement to all of us who believe that regional cooperation is an important key to world peace and progress.

For more than half a century, Americans have worked closely with the people of Kuwait. We are proud of these associations, and I know that your visit will be both a celebration and a strengthening of those ties.

I am told, Your Highness, that there are certain similarities between your state and mine--in both terrain and resources. In any event, I do know that your traditional Arabic words of greeting have meaning for Texans and Kuwaitis alike; you are, indeed, "among friends in open country."

I look forward to our conversations together. I know they will add much to the mutual respect and friendship which have bound our countries and our people for many years.

Thank you very much for coming. We are delighted that you are here.

Note: The President spoke at 11:40 a.m. on the South Lawn at the White House where Shaikh Sabah al-Salim al-Sabah, Amir of Kuwait, was given a formal welcome with full military honors. In his opening words the President also referred to Dean Rusk, Secretary of State.

The Amir responded as follows:

Mr. President, first of all I should like to express my sincere thanks to you for making available to me this opportunity to meet you and visit your great country.

This visit has a very special significance to me, for on the one hand, it affords me the opportunity to meet you personally and to exchange views with you on various questions of interest to both our countries, and on the other hand, to witness the splendid achievements realized by the American people under your wise leadership and that of your predecessors, the former Presidents of the United States.

Your country, Mr. President, stands out today not only as a principal power in the world, but also as a formidable example of progress in the various scientific and technological fields.

You, Mr. President, have done a great deal in order that your country might become an example to be followed in its splendid achievements in all walks of life. The great progress achieved in this country is indeed a major contribution towards the building of human civilization and the realization of greater prosperity and a better life for all mankind.

It also represents a step toward the objective of protecting man against many of his shortcomings and inadequacies.

As we look at your progress here in such light, we cannot but consider it a significant part of human civilization which belongs to all human beings regardless of time and place.

We in Kuwait look at your achievements with great admiration, because we see in them man's unlimited capacity to push forward the wheel of progress and to undertake the exploration of new and larger areas in the struggle for the realization of his ambitions and aspirations.

This particular feeling on our part is our motivating force in Kuwait so that we may achieve the kind of progress we seek, not only in our country, but indeed, in our Arab world, that part of the world which was the cradle of religion and all human civilization and which provided a beacon of light for the world throughout a long period of man's history.

The Arab nation, like all other nations, believes that it has the capabilities, the potential, the legacy, and the enthusiasm of the present generation from which it can derive the strength to become a creative power.

The Arab nation can thus make up for whatever it may have failed to do in relation to improving its own lands and contributing its share of human progress and the creation of more favorable conditions for the emergence of a better world and a better life for all mankind.

Allow me, Mr. President, to make here a passing reference to the fact that we in our country and area fully realize that we live in a changing world and that this fact requires a continuous effort on our part to adjust to the ever changing conditions of life.

It is therefore no exaggeration to say that in spite of the fact that it has been only a few short years since the various components of the Arab world-- of which Kuwait is an integral part--gained their independence, they have made remarkable strides in all fields of development and reconstruction.

But the road ahead remains long and the task difficult. It is to our great satisfaction that by the will of God we are determined to move ahead on this road until we achieve our goals and realize our aspirations, so that future generations may reap the harvest of this struggle and these endeavors.

In our world of today, we are establishing the foundations and the landmarks for those who are to succeed us so that the efforts of present and future generations may together serve the same noble purpose in a coordinated, organized manner.

In closing, allow me, Mr. President, to begin my visit to your country by delivering the greetings of the Government and people of Kuwait to the great Government and people of your country and by expressing our sincere gratitude and appreciation and very special thanks to you, Mr. President, and Mrs. Johnson.

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

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