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Toasts of the President and Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia

May 15, 1973

Your Imperial Majesty and our very distinguished guests:

As I sat here in this room tonight thinking of this very distinguished company, I thought how fortunate all of us are. This Nation is 195 years old, this house is about 185 years old, and in the whole long history of this Nation, no chief of state, no head of government has been received more often, honored more often, than is the man we honor tonight.

Many of us remember him, of course, from those days when he stood at the old League of Nations as the Lion of Judah, 37 years ago, and captured the imagination of everybody who loved freedom and independence all over the world.

But through the years, those of us who have followed him since know that this man, the man we receive again in this house tonight, stands for far more than his own country, great as that country is and long as its proud history is, because His Imperial Majesty, who for 57 years has been the head of state--57 years--His Imperial Majesty is not only the revered leader of Ethiopia, as anyone who has visited that country knows--and I have visited it twice---he is the acknowledged leader of Africa, and the Organization of African States, of course, is located in his capital.

And so tonight, I could propose a toast to him as the leader of Ethiopia, a country that the United States is proud to have a long and very, very friendly relationship with over the years. I could propose a toast to him as a great leader of Africa, that continent with all of the promise that it holds for the future. But tonight we are privileged even beyond that, because in our midst, here again in this house, being honored more than any man who has ever been in this house, is the senior statesman of the world, and how privileged we are to raise our glasses to the senior statesman of the world, His Irapedal Majesty, Haile Selassie.

Note: The President spoke at 9:56 p.m. in the State Dining Room at the White House.

Earlier in the day, the President met with Emperor Haile Selassie at the White House.

Emperor Selassie responded to the President's toast in Amharic. His remarks were translated by an interpreter as follows:

Mr. President and Mrs. Nixon:

I wish to express very sincerely my appreciation for the generous hospitality you have accorded us since our arrival in Washington and for this most enjoyable evening you have arranged in our honor tonight.

I also wish to express my appreciation for the very kind words you have said about the leadership we have provided for our people and the role we have played in the community of African nations. Those sentiments, I must add, reflect the generosity of the spirit that has always characterized your disposition towards us.

Having had the privilege to visit the United States early in your first Administration, we find this particularly gratifying that we should have this opportunity once more to meet with you and exchange views on matters of common interest at the beginning of your second Administration.

The 4 years since we last met have seen profound changes in international relations, especially in relations between the big powers. True to the promise that you have given to your country and the world, at the onset of your first Administration, you have helped launch an era of negotiation replacing the dangerous threats of confrontation of yesteryears.

Believing that the big powers should set an example to the rest of the world, you have traveled far and wide, to Peking, Moscow, and the capitals of Eastern Europe in search of new direction in international relations.

In renouncing the victory of arms for negotiated settlement, you have, Mr. President, led your Nation away from war and on to negotiation and peace.

Thanks to the wisdom of your leadership and the persistence of your effort, there is today a fresh breeze in the relations of the big powers. This breeze has spread to all comers of the world carrying the message of realism and common interest.

Mr. President, your kind invitation has enabled us to share your views on recent developments in international relations. We have valued today's exchange of views as we have on several occasions in the past.

Because of the mutually beneficial cooperation of long standing that has existed between our two countries, we have also had ample opportunity to review matters of bilateral interest. These relations, covering a wide front of our mutual interests, required that they be sustained at increasing levels. Ethiopia has always appreciated the assistance she continues to receive from the United States in many spheres of national endeavors. Ethiopia is gratified to know that she can always count on the continuation of this assistance.

Distinguished guests, may I at this point ask you to kindly join us in a toast to the health and well-being of the President of the United States, Richard Nixon, and Mrs. Nixon, and of the continued prosperity of the great American people.

Richard Nixon, Toasts of the President and Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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