Bill Clinton photo

Remarks Welcoming Prime Minister Tony Blair of the United Kingdom

February 05, 1998

Thank you very much. Mr. Prime Minister, Mrs. Blair, members of the British delegation, welcome to America and to the White House. We apologize for the rain, but the Sun is shining in our hearts today because you are here. Today we celebrate the unbreakable bond between our two nations. It led the fight for freedom in the 20th century, and we set our sights now on renewing our alliance for a new century with all its promise and challenge.

At the heart of all we have done and all we will do together in the future is the unshakable conviction that our people have the inalienable right to pursue their dreams in peace, security, and freedom, and the sure knowledge that we can always depend upon each other to stand for that conviction together.

These are good times for the people of the United States and Great Britain. Freedom and democracy are taking hold around the world. In both our nations, a vibrant new economy is growing, rooted in new ideas, new technologies, new scientific breakthroughs, changing the way we live and learn, the way we work and compete, the way to relate to each other and the rest of the world.

In both our nations we have moved to build a government for the 21st century going beyond the dogmas of the past, focused on giving our people the tools to make the most of their own lives: a world-class education, the ability to move from welfare to work, a system of retirement security as strong for our children as it has been for our parents. In this new era, a new Britain and a new America, true to our oldest and most cherished values, can blaze new paths for the world.

Our 21st century alliance, by example and exertion, must protect the promise we are working so hard to secure. We will stand together for peace, as in Bosnia where our troops are working side by side to secure the Dayton accords. We will search the new solutions to stubborn strife, as in Northern Ireland, where the Prime Minister's courageous leadership and the determined efforts of the Irish Government are clearing a pathway to peace. We will stand against those who defy the will of the international community, bringing terrorists to justice in the case of Pan Am 103, maintaining stability in the Persian Gulf, where the British aircraft carrier Invincible is patrolling the waters alongside our U.S. Fleet, something that our men and women in uniform find great strength in, Mr. Prime Minister.

Our 21st century alliance embraces the idea of a Europe strong, prosperous, democratic, and undivided for the first time in history. So as Britain maintains its friendship with America, it is playing a leading role in shaping that new Europe: a healthy European Union, reaching out to new members; a strong NATO taking in new allies; practical partnerships with new democracies, including Russia and Ukraine, all important steps on the road to a more peaceful 21st century.

Mr. Prime Minister, the earliest English settlers who came to this country had the vision to see over the horizon. Like them, you have shown the foresight, the imagination, the daring to envision a new world and the determination to make that vision real. You have invigorated Britain, issued an exhilarating challenge for a proud people whose best days, clearly, still lie ahead.

T.S. Eliot, who has been variously claimed by both our countries, once wrote in the "Four Quartets," "The end is where we start from." At the end of a century of friendship, let us pledge to connect our storied past to the unwritten promise of our future. Mr. Prime Minister, welcome to the United States.

NOTE: The President spoke at 11:09 a.m. in the Grand Foyer at the White House, where Prime Minister Blair was accorded a formal welcome with full military honors. In his remarks, the President referred to the Prime Minister's wife, Cherie. The transcript released by the Office of the Press Secretary also included the remarks of Prime Minister Blair.

William J. Clinton, Remarks Welcoming Prime Minister Tony Blair of the United Kingdom Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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