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Toasts at a State Dinner During the Visit of Prime Minister Kriangsak of Thailand

February 06, 1979

THE PRESIDENT. Prime Minister Kriangsak, Mrs. Virat, all the distinguished guests from Thailand, and our friends from throughout our country:

First of all, let me say that it's a great honor for me to welcome all of you guests to the White House and, particularly, our honored guest, who comes here representing a great nation and a great people.

This is the first time since 1968 that we've had a Prime Minister from Thailand come as an honored and official guest to visit the White House. And I think it was in 1967 that King Phumiphol came here with Her Majesty, the Queen, to visit the President.

So, this is indeed a rare pleasure and a long overdue visit, Mr. Prime Minister, on your part, to the White House, to pay homage to the friendship that has existed between our two countries for more than 150 years.

As I mentioned today in my welcoming remarks, the first nation in Asia with whom the United States signed a treaty of peace was with the people of Thailand, then known as Siam, in 1833, February 1833, 145—146 years ago. And we are very deeply grateful for the tremendous benefits that have accrued to our country from this long relationship between our people.

Thailand has been a country with very sound judgment, wisdom among the leaders-not always perfect, but close to it.

In 1861, for instance, King Rama was not very well advised. He offered to give a fleet of elephants to then President Lincoln to help expedite the end of the War Between the States. [Laughter] Fortunately for the South, President Lincoln did not accept the gift— [laughter] — otherwise, the North might have won the war— [laughter] —and because of the elephants, President Lincoln might even have become a Republican. [Laughter]

I want to say that we have enjoyed this visit. And since I've been in office, I've tried to continue the goal of our Nation to establish very close and friendly relationships with the people of Asia.

We've been commenting lately that for the first time, certainly in my memory, we now have a close friendship, personally and officially, with the great nations of Asia—with India, Japan, China, as well as the rapidly growing economic organization known as the ASEAN countries. Thailand is certainly one of those leaders.

But when you travel down the coast of Asia, the Western Pacific, Eastern Asia, we have growing friendships with that extremely important region.

We've recently concluded a new base agreement with the Philippines, and I think that the recent visit of Vice Premier Deng Xiaoping has been, perhaps, one of the most notable occurrences, certainly in my term as President. And the far-reaching historical effects of that change in relationships may, perhaps, be the most important development, historically speaking, during my own term in office.

And Prime Minister Kriangsak very early saw the advantages of this new relationship and expressed his public approval of this change which can help to provide increased opportunities for stability and peace throughout Eastern Asia.

At the same time, as the Prime Minister and I discussed today, we still retain our friendship, our allegiance, our trade, our cultural relationships with the people of Taiwan, and we believe that the security of Taiwan has not at all been weakened and the prospects for their future peace and security may even have been enhanced.

We have strengthened our ties with Australia, New Zealand. So, I believe that in that region of the world, we have been making excellent progress.

I have benefited greatly from the sound advice and counsel of Prime Minister Kriangsak, both before he came here and obviously during this visit. He's a man who represents the political leadership of a great nation and a people who have long looked upon our country as intimate friends.

During the Korean war, under the auspices of the United Nations, the people of Thailand fought with us, and then Major Kriangsak was a blood brother, defending freedom alongside Americans. And this is still looked upon by him as one of the most notable experiences of his life.

We have come to value the principles that have been exemplified, without interruption, among the people of Thailand—a country dedicated to peace, a country dedicated to personal freedom, a country dedicated to the extension of their own beneficial influence among their neighboring nations, a nation that has never tried to dominate others and which has always been using its influence, again, to help preserve the independence of peoples and countries throughout the world.

Even during the time European colonialism was extended almost entirely throughout the Asian world, there was one nation that stayed free, and that was the people of Thailand. This shows a strength founded not on overwhelming military might, but on wisdom, justice, and the principles on which our own Nation was founded.

We are honored because we have found so much in common with the people of Thailand. And the security relationships, the political relationships, the economic relationships that have naturally come to be shared between our two people have been of intense value both to them, as expressed by the Prime Minister to me today, and obviously have been of great value to the people of our own country.

We are concerned about recent developments in Kampuchea, or Cambodia, the invasion of that country by their neighbors, the Vietnamese. We joined with Thailand and the other countries of the ASEAN region in the United Nations, in a proper way, to condemn this violation of international borders, again, not plotting against anyone, but expressing the concern that we feel very deeply and the concern of the overwhelming number of governments throughout the world about this threat to the peace of the region.

But again, Thailand stands like a rock, honored and respected by their historical friends and allies, also honored and respected even by their potential adversaries.

I read the biographies of the leaders of Thailand who came here today with the Prime Minister. And in almost every intimate and, I think, accurate biography that I read in preparation for the visit, there was a phrase that caught my eye, referring to intense, personal honesty or a total absence of fraud and corruption throughout the political career of those who serve Thailand.

So, the cleanness and the decency and the patriotism and the personal commitment to the service of one's fellow human beings is indeed a permeating characteristic of the Prime Minister and those who serve with him in this great country.

The name Thailand itself comes from "the land of freedom." And I'm very deeply honored tonight to share with you other Americans the role of host to the leaders of a great people.

I would like now to propose a toast: To His Majesty the King of Thailand, to Prime Minister Kriangsak, his family, and those who've come with him, and to the great and free people of the land of the free, Thailand.

THE PRIME MINISTER. Mr. President, Mrs. Carter, distinguished guests and friends:

We have been warmed and delighted by your welcome for me and my colleagues today, and we all wish to express our profound gratitude for the hospitality and friendliness we have encountered since our arrival. It is indeed a special occasion to be once again in the United States, where we have so many good friends and so many happy associations.

Earlier today, we had an opportunity to discuss together some matters of mutual concern and of vital importance for the future well-being of my country, of Southeast Asia, and, perhaps, of the world.

For the past 40 years, the United States has been the leader of the world. You have been in the forefront of scientific and technical developments. You have led the effort for a peaceful world. You have been a major moral force for human betterment which has intensified under the leadership of President Carter. The United States has been indispensable, Mr. President.

I'm pleased that you share our strong views about the importance of the American presence in Asia and the Pacific and the need for an active and constructive U.S. role in Southeast Asia. Such an American role and presence quite simply is needed if peace is to be strengthened and prosperity expanded. We, for our part, have been grateful for American help in protecting our security and expanding our economy.

I hope that I was able to give you and our American friends and colleagues an accurate picture of Thailand today. We are a proud but peace-loving people who cherish our traditional institutions and our way of life. Monarchy, Buddhism, and nation are all integral parts of the Thai fiber. In most of our domestic and foreign policy, we share with you a wide convergence of views and a strong mutuality of interests.

Our highest priority at home is to build a modern, just, and prosperous society and, at the same time, preserve that culture which defines our national identity. Toward that end, my government is concentrating on helping our poorer farmers and accelerating agricultural growth. I have named this year in Thailand the Year of the Farmer, and my government will do its utmost to give meaning to that phrase.

Like Americans, the Thai people recognize the importance of human rights and the connection between economic prosperity and the development of human potential.

Like you, we favor economic growth spurred by individual initiative. We also want to see American investment in Thailand. We need and welcome your businessmen. They can both serve themselves and serve the people of Thailand as well.

In foreign affairs, we seek to build stable friendships with all nations in Asia, based on mutual respect and noninterference without regard to ideology.

The establishment of relations between the United States and the people of the republic of China will be a major contribution to the peace and stability of Asia. Similarly, although we are small and less directly involved, we welcome your efforts to develop a more constructive relationship with the Soviet Union and to conclude a SALT agreement.

We live in an age where peace is indivisible and where peace is essential among the great powers.

One area of particular concern to Thailand is the continually troubled Indochina. Peace has not yet come. Cambodia, or Kampuchea, with which we have a long common border, remains beset by war. The tragic exodus of Indochina's refugees continues at even higher levels, and the burden has fallen most heavily on Thailand and Malaysia.

But here, also, your country has played an exemplary role. The Thai people do not expect anyone to solve our problems. That is our responsibility. And we are confident we will meet it. But we do need the understanding and cooperation of the international community and, most importantly, the commitment of the United States to help us deal with international problems which start beyond our borders but impact heavily on Thailand.

For this reason, we ask for your continued awareness and support in meeting the challenge to our common humanitarian principles posed by thousands of refugees arriving on our shores and those of other countries in Southeast Asia.

We ask your cooperation in helping us to purchase, on a timely basis, the means we need to defend ourselves. And we look to you as a friend and as the world's most advanced nation for the knowledge and technology to help advance the social welfare of our people. And that is all we ask.

Mr. President, Thailand and the United States have a long history of close friendship, common interests, and shared values. The United States helped Thailand in extraterritoriality, and you have consistently helped us maintain our integrity. No other nation has been as close to us these past 40 years, and no other nation's intentions and values do we hold in such high esteem.

We hope that this visit, together with Vice President Mondale's visit to Thailand in May of last year, will underscore to our people and to the rest of the world the determination of Thailand and the United States to continue to cooperate for peace and stability in Asia.

I and my colleagues wish to express our deepest thanks to you and Mrs. Carter and, through you, to all American people, for your hospitality, graciousness, and thoughtfulness for Thailand.

This is a very special occasion and we want to say simply how pleased my colleagues and I are.

Ladies and gentlemen, I would like you to join me in a toast: To the President of the United States.

Note: The President spoke at 9:30 p.m. in the State Dining Room at the White House.

In his opening remarks, he referred to Mrs. Khunying Virat Choreanan, the wife of the Prime Minister.

Jimmy Carter, Toasts at a State Dinner During the Visit of Prime Minister Kriangsak of Thailand Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/249361

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