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Toasts of President Reagan and President Mohamed Hosni Mubarak of Egypt at the State Dinner

February 03, 1982

President Reagan. President and Mrs. Mubarak and distinguished guests, tonight we honor a man who has emerged as a source of quiet strength at a time when such traits are sorely needed in the world. He is uncompromising about his principles, and this is something that should be admired.

Years ago, as the superintendent of the Egyptian Air Force Academy, he was asked to bend the rules and permit one student to begin class before all the necessary formalities had been completed. The request was denied. The young man making the request was the brother of President Gamal Abdel Nasser, the President of Egypt. This says a lot about the man we honor tonight. It is this dedication to duty, equality before the law and doing the job right, that engenders our respect and our trust.

President Mubarak is now the political leader of a great nation, but his chosen career was that of a military officer. In that profession, he exhibited courage and skill as a pilot, efficiency as an administrator; and this quality now serves his country well.

During our talks today, I could see that what he had learned in the military was deeply ingrained. Like all good military men, President Mubarak understands that the purpose of military power is not to fight, but to keep the peace. Those who must fight when war comes know better than others that peace is not achieved through platitudes or excessive emotion. It requires hard work, resolution, and sacrifice.

In his speech before the Egyptian parliament, President Mubarak said, "Peace to us is a firm strategic commitment, not a tactical position that can change." We, today, have rededicated ourselves to that noble goal. What has been accomplished so far is a tribute to the commitment of the Egyptians, the Israelis, and, I think we're all proud to say, the Americans. Our meetings have reassured me that further progress is within our grasp. While it's not easy, progress rarely is.

As a young man, President Mubarak played soccer, and, understandably, he captained his school soccer team. Mr. President, I have to tell you a little story. We're not as familiar with soccer—getting more so in this country; our game of American football has dominated our taste and our thinking for many years. But back some years when soccer was very little known in this country, there was a great football coach named Knute Rockne at Notre Dame University. And he had a turnout of so many men that he knew he would have to dismiss many of them before long, and he decided to kind of accelerate this selection system. So, he got a soccer ball, and he gathered them around, and he said, "Now, this is a soccer ball." And he said, "Just to kind of get started," and he said, "I want you to remember, football is a game that takes courage." He said, "I'm going to divide you up into two groups, and then we'll put the ball down between you, and the idea will be to kick the ball—to try to kick it over the other fellows' goal line." "Now," he said, "in the course of this, remember, you may have to kick a few shins. But," he said, "remember, football is a game of courage." And then he looked down, and the ball was gone. And he said, "Wait a minute. Who took the soccer ball?" And the littlest guy in the front rank on one side said, "Never mind the ball, Rock. When do we start kicking?" [Laughter]

Team sports teaches that winning depends on knowing what's required and working seriously with those seeking the same goal. One also cultivates the concern for others and a respect for playing by the rules. President Mubarak expressed this in his inauguration speech when he stated, "Freedom means a commitment for freedom to others, and democracy means respect for the legislature and the laws." Well, these words reflect a world view that is consistent with America's ideals and aspirations as well as, I'm sure, those of his fellow countrymen.

President Mubarak, I look forward to working closely with you as we move toward the goal of establishing a just and lasting peace. Clearly, the Egyptians, Americans, and all the people of the Middle East who seek this goal are on the same team. To succeed we must continue cooperating, and we've already demonstrated cooperation, and cooperation that we thought would have been impossible only a decade ago. But we're doing these things necessary to achieve this goal. We will win the victory we seek. The leadership and quiet strength of the man that we honor tonight makes us all more confident of that.

So, will you all join in a toast to President Mubarak, to Mrs. Mubarak, and to the great people of Egypt.

President Mubarak. I have a card in my pocket. I'll just take it up and read what's written on the card. [Laughter] It's signed by Mrs. Reagan. [Laughter]

President Reagan, Mrs. Reagan, dear friends:

Before I start I would like to—let me first congratulate Mrs. Reagan for the new china, which is very elegant and very beautiful.

We are extremely touched by the warmth of your reception. Every time we come here in Washington we are met with open arms and open hearts. Every time I meet with you, Mr. President—although it is the second time, but I could feel that I've met you several times—I feel the depth of your sentiments towards Egypt and the Egyptian people. We too attach great importance to the friendship between our two peoples. We are determined to strengthen the bonds of this friendship and double our cooperation. This is a constant line of our policy.

We appreciate the assistance you have given us without any conditions. Your partnership with us in the peace process is a valuable asset to all parts concerned. It is the pivotal factor for widening the scope of peace to encompass every corner of the region. The talks that we held today, Mr. President, were an added source of satisfaction and reassurance. They reaffirmed our faith in the future, and they reinforced our determination to pursue our goal hand in hand. Together we have made a new beginning. I am certain that it will be recorded in the annals of history as one of the greatest events of our time. And together we shall continue our endeavor until it bears fruit.

I am happy to say that I find President Reagan a statesman of vision and courage. I have no doubt that we will succeed in our endeavor. I realize that the way ahead will not be easy, nor do we. believe that the remaining issues lend themselves to simple solutions. Great is the challenge in front of us, but so is our resolve and determination.

A few days ago President Reagan renewed his commitment to world peace in his State of the Union message. He said that he will strengthen his country's position as a force for peace and progress. He proposed to achieve that by promoting negotiations wherever both sides are willing to sit down in good faith. We support this view.

The United States can make a great contribution to peace through promoting a meaningful and unconditional dialog between Israel and all other parties willing to negotiate. No party should be excluded from this process. A further step in this direction is an American dialog with the Palestinians. This would encourage moderation and rekindle the spark of hope in the hearts of millions of your friends.

Ladies and gentlemen, permit me to invite you to rise in a tribute to our dear friend, President Reagan, and his esteemed spouse, Mrs. Reagan, to each and every American, and ever-growing friendship between our two nations.

Thank you.

Note: President Reagan spoke at 9:43 p.m. in the State Dining Room at the White House.

Ronald Reagan, Toasts of President Reagan and President Mohamed Hosni Mubarak of Egypt at the State Dinner Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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