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Remarks Welcoming President Fernando Cardoso of Brazil

April 20, 1995

President Cardoso and Mrs. Cardoso, distinguished guests. I am pleased to welcome to Washington a good friend of the United States and one of our hemisphere's most dynamic leaders.

Mr. President, let me begin by expressing my appreciation and the appreciation of the American people for the call and the message you sent to us yesterday in the wake of the terrible incident in Oklahoma City. Let me say again, those responsible will be brought to justice. They will be tried, convicted, and punished. We will never let the forces of inhumanity prevail in the United States.

At this moment, the rescue efforts in Oklahoma City continue. And we hold out hope that more survivors will be found. To all those carrying on this dangerous work, to the families and loved ones of those still missing, our prayers are with you. And to all those here watching and those who are watching us through the airwaves, I have ordered all our flags today throughout the United States to be flown at half-mast. And I ask you now to join with me in a moment of silence for the victims.

[At this point, a moment of silence was observed.]

May God's grace be with them.

Mr. President, as the largest democracies in the Americas, our countries have a special responsibility to work together, to support the extraordinary trend toward democracies and open markets throughout our region. Today we will pursue that joint action. We both know it is needed to manage our common problems and to seize our shared opportunities.

Mr. President, your own life embodies the resilience of the democratic spirit of the Americas. Thirty years ago, you were forced into exile by the enemies of democracy. But instead of giving in to bitterness, you carried on the struggle for freedom with reason and reconciliation as your only weapons. And you prevailed.

Now you lead a nation that has remained at peace with its neighbors for more than a century. That strong tradition of peaceful relations and your personal commitment to democracy give Brazil a vital role to play in strengthening cooperation among the nations and deepening the roots of civil society throughout our hemispheres. The United States welcomes the opportunity to work with you in this noble cause.

We must also work to further the goal we set at the Summit of the Americas, to create a free trade area of the Americas by the year 2005. The building blocks of free trade, the North American Free Trade Agreement and MerCoSur, are in place. Now let us move forward to transform our vision of a commercially integrated hemisphere into concrete reality.

The emerging partnership between our two countries extends beyond supporting democracy in emerging markets. We are also joining forces to stop the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, to protect the environment, to fight against drug smuggling, and to keep peace in countries that are threatened by ethnic conflict and civil war. The United States is counting on Brazil's continued leadership in meeting these major challenges of our time.

Mr. President, you represent a vibrant people whose pride in the past is matched only by their hope for the future. Your own efforts to bring economic stability and social justice to Brazil are responsible for much of that promise of tomorrow. On this solid foundation and under your leadership, Brazil is poised to take its rightful place as a shining example for all the Americas and all the world.

Mr. President, we are honored to have you here. Welcome to the White House. Welcome to the United States.

NOTE: The President spoke at 10:42 a.m. on the South Lawn at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to Ruth Cardoso, wife of President Cardoso. The proclamation commemorating the victims of the Oklahoma City bombing is listed in Appendix D at the end of this volume.

William J. Clinton, Remarks Welcoming President Fernando Cardoso of Brazil Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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