Richard Nixon photo

Remarks of Welcome at the White House to the Shah of Iran

October 21, 1969

Your Imperial Majesty and our guests here on the White House lawn this morning:

This is the ninth time over the past 20 years that Your Majesty has honored our country by a visit to the United States, and never in all that period will you be more welcome, both personally and officially, than you are today on this truly brilliant autumn day in Washington, D.C.

We welcome you because of the proud and ancient land that you represent. We welcome you because of the title which you bear with such distinction. But we welcome you also because of the personal qualities, which those of us who know you as I know you--those qualities you have exemplified in your leadership of your country.

Today on this parade ground we see the flag of the United States and your flag; and the colors of your flag are green and red and white--green standing for the rich spiritual heritage of your country, red standing for courage, and white standing for peace.

We know, Your Majesty, that you, in your life, stand for those great virtues. But we also know that you stand for more than that. In a period in which many new nations are being born, and in which old nations are being born again, and in which all nations are going through change, you have provided an example of leadership in your nation for all the world to see and for many to follow.

That example I have seen firsthand in my visits to your country. I recall that many years ago you gathered your ministers together; and speaking from the position of royalty which you held, you made a comment that has since been remembered around the world. You said to them: Make a revolution in this land.

And you have made a revolution in your land, a revolution in terms of literacy, the great progress that all of us have noted there; a revolution in terms of land reform in which you, yourself, set the example by giving much of your vast lands to the people; a revolution in terms of social and economic and political progress.

But the key to your success has been in the nature of that revolution. It has been a revolution designed not to destroy and to tear down, but a revolution to build--a peaceful revolution.

It is this example that the world sees in Iran. It is this example that is your legacy, not only to your country but to those who seek progress--peaceful progress in nations around the world.

Your Majesty, we welcome you here today--welcome you because of those qualities that I have mentioned and welcome you also because of the personal friendship that we have had the opportunity to enjoy, going back over so many years.

We know that all of the American people, during your brief stay here, will want to express, as I have tried to express in my words today, their admiration, their respect, their affection for you and for the people of Iran.

Note: The President spoke at 10:55 a.m. on the South Lawn at the White House where His Imperial Majesty Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, Shahanshah of Iran, was given a formal welcome with full military honors.

See also Items 401 and 405.

His Imperial Majesty responded as follows:

Mr. President:

First of all I would like to thank you from deep in my heart for the words that you were kind enough to pronounce towards myself and my country.

It is true that I am not a newcomer to your wonderful land, but this time in particular it is a distinct pleasure and honor to be your guest; that is, the guest of the President of the United States of America, a President who has shown in all his life how well he understands the problems of our world, the problems of today and the problems of the future; in addition to this, to be welcomed by somebody who has been following with interest the development of our country in the last 20 years or so, in some days maybe the darkest days of our history, and today, I am happy to say, in a period of renaissance.

It is a comfort to know that you have, in this great country, a President who has those friendly sentiments and also that knowledge of your country.

You have mentioned that we have undertaken a revolution in our country which is really covering every aspect of our life. We believe that all of our countries are passing through periods of either evolution or revolution, but my prayers are that the result of all that will be for a better world, better understanding between the people, and the realization of the aspiration of mankind for the betterment of not only the living condition but also of the spiritual one.

I am very proud to say, on behalf of myself and the people of my country, that never in the long-established relationship between our two countries--although our relations have always been excellent--never have we enjoyed such a state of complete mutual trust, understanding, and respect.

I have to add that it is with deep gratitude of your attitude of the past, your unselfish and generous attitude toward my country--and, I could say, toward all the countries of the world--that we want to express this feeling of ours, and in return, wish for your people, your good-hearted people, ever increasing prosperity, and your great country ever increasing progress and order in the world of today.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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

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