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Remarks Welcoming President Jacques Chirac of France

February 01, 1996

President and Mrs. Chirac, members of the French delegation, to all the distinguished guests here, French and American alike, at the White House today: On behalf of the American people, it is my pleasure to welcome back to Washington the leader of a great nation and a great people, President Jacques Chirac.

Let me begin by saying that I know I speak for all Americans when I express our condolences to the people of France on the loss of our friend President Mitterrand, a leader and statesman whose half-century of public service made a vast contribution to France and to the world.

The friendship we celebrate today, the friendship we strengthen today, was forged in the very infancy of the United States. Two hundred and eighteen years ago this very week, our nations signed a treaty of alliance. Today, our partnership and the ideals at its core—life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, liberte, egalite, fraternite—are making a difference to people all around the world. From the Persian Gulf to Haiti, from Burundi to Bosnia—France and America, side by side, standing for democracy, for progress, and for peace.

France was America's very first ally. Today, after all these years, France remains among our best allies and best friends. Now, at the dawn of a bright new century, we must build on our legacy of leadership. To expand opportunity for people within our borders, our vision and our strength must extend beyond our borders. We must unite our people around the promise of peace, as our predecessors joined against the peril of war, and that is what we mean to do.

Together, we are raising the flag of an undivided Europe, where the language of democracy is spoken in every land. We are supporting the spread of strong market economies across the entire continent. We are transforming NATO to meet new challenges and opening its door to new members. And I welcome France's historic decision to participate once again in NATO's defense councils.

Together, we are helping Bosnia find its way from war and devastation to peace and reconstruction. I salute France, its humanitarian organizations, and especially its soldiers for the tremendous sacrifices they have made to help the Bosnian people. The United States is proud to work with you to help the peace take hold and endure.

Together, we are leading the fight against the forces of destruction—the terrorists, the organized criminals, the drug traffickers—the forces that threaten our children, our communities, and our future.

Together, we are bringing the great institutions of global cooperation into the 21st century, from renewing the United Nations to revitalizing the G-7, which France will host in Lyons later this year. France and America are partners for progress.

Mr. President, in your Inaugural Address you declared: "France is an old country. But it is also a young and enthusiastic nation, ready to give its best as long as it is shown a horizon instead of walls." So let our two nations and our two great peoples march toward the future together, shaping those new horizons of hope and opportunity for France, for America, and for the world.

NOTE: The President spoke at 10:47 a.m. on the South Lawn at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to Bernadette Chirac, wife of President Chirac, and Francois Mitterrand, former President of France.

William J. Clinton, Remarks Welcoming President Jacques Chirac of France Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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