Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks of Welcome at the White House to the Secretary General of the United Nations

August 06, 1964

Mr. Secretary General, Congressman Halleck, Members of the Senate, ladies and gentlemen::

On behalf of the American people, I am very privileged this morning and very 'proud to welcome you, Mr. Secretary General, to our Capital City.

Our honor today is not honor alone for the office you hold or just the organization that you serve. It is rather an expression of our esteem and our respect for you and for your achievement as the faithful public servant of the entire world.

The world has lived through difficult hours during your tour as Secretary General. Your wise and willing search for reason during those seasons of unreason has served us all well. The people of my country are grateful.

The United Nations lives today as evidence of the wish and the will of men everywhere for peace. That wish and that will runs nowhere stronger in all the world than in the United States of America.

In all that we do, America's purpose is to prevent war and to prevent others from provoking war.

This Nation has acted and this Nation will always act when necessary in self-defense.

Our actions have been and will be consistent with the principles and the purpose of the Charter of the United Nations.

Our Nation has great strength and, with it, a sense of great trust. Our strength supports all men who cherish their independence and stand up for their freedom and respect the rights of others to govern themselves.

Likewise, our strength opposes those who would abridge the independence, those who would breach the peace, those who would violate the rights of other men or other nations.

These convictions are deep in the character of my country, and that is why American Presidents and American Congresses and the American people support and will continue to support the United Nations.

That is why the United States believes in--and the United States works for--a stronger United Nations.

We want a United Nations that is better able to help keep the peace wherever and whenever and by whomever the peace is threatened.

We want a United Nations that is better able to arrive at peaceful solutions, to help settle world problems through negotiation and mediation and conciliation, arbitration, and adjudication.

We want a United Nations that is better able to foster and to expand and to respect the rights of man.

We want a United Nations that is better able to serve as a center for growing cooperation among nations in the sciences and the arts and in all the works of human 'progress.

Yes, Mr. Secretary General, we want in our country a United Nations that is better able to serve the world community by virtue of being solvent.

We stand ready today as we always have in the past to pay our fair share of the necessary cost. The pledges we make to the support of the United Nations are pledges that we shall keep.

So it makes me very happy this morning to be able to welcome you here to Washington, to the White House, to our Rose Garden where many of the leaders of this Nation have come to greet you and to express their personal welcome.

Our Nation is honored to have you as our guest, and we are so pleased that you can spend the next few hours with us.

Note: The President spoke shortly before noon in the Rose Garden at the White House, where Secretary General U Thant was given a formal welcome. The Secretary General responded as follows:

"Mr. President, Mrs. Johnson, Your Excellendes, and friends:

"I am, you may be sure, deeply appreciative of your kindness in asking me to come to Washington at this time.

"I recall most soberly my visit here last fall when all the world shared your Nation's grief at the tragic loss of your highly distinguished predecessor. Permit me, Mr. President, to mention now the profound admiration I had for the remarkable strength you, Mr. President, demonstrated at that critical juncture which did so much to restore the confidence of a shaken world in this great country.

"I feel that my visit here now is especially fitting and timely since, as you know, I have only just recently completed an extended journey more than halfway around the world.

"During that trip, I had talks with the leaders of three states which are permanent members of the Security Council as well as with a number of heads of African states in Cairo, and with leaders of my own country.

"I am certain that my talks with you and your associates in the United States Government will be equally useful and constructive to the further strengthening of the United Nations so that it may more effectively serve the cause of peace and good neighborliness amongst nations as provided for in the Charter.

"May I express on this occasion the profound gratitude I feel for your Government's long-standing and unwavering support of the United Nations and and the support which was just reiterated by you, Mr. President, and here I may stress the United Nations peace-keeping activities throughout the world. I am quite convinced that you share with me, Mr. President, as well as with the leaders of other member states with whom I have talked recently a mutual desire to see the United Nations develop into an ever more viable instrument of peace and human advancement in freedom, in rights, and in general well-being.

"I am looking forward today to our discussions which will certainly touch upon some important aspects of the overriding issues of these times.

"While I was traveling at jet speed across three continents a few days ago, I learned of the incredible technological feat that was achieved by the space scientists and engineers of the United States in obtaining through the marvelous performance of Ranger VII the first truly close-up photographs of the surface of the moon. I extend to you, Mr. President, heartiest congratulations and also to your Government and to the American people, on this remarkable achievement in the peaceful application of science and technology which unquestionably constitutes a major contribution to man's knowledge.

"Again, let me thank you, Mr. President, and to you, Mrs. Johnson, for having bestowed upon me and my colleagues who have accompanied me this morning the high honor of being your guests in the Capital of your country and for your warm welcome here at the White House.

"Let me also offer my very sincere thanks to you, Mr. President, for your very gracious words, not only about the United Nations to which you and your Government have been dedicated, but also to me in particular.

"Thank you once again."

In the President's opening words he referred to the Secretary General of the United Nations, U Thant, and Representative Charles A. Halleek of Indiana, House minority leader.

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

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