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Toasts of the President and His Imperial Majesty Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Shah of Iran

August 22, 1967

Your Imperial Majesty, ladies and gentlemen:

The poet Emerson has said that, "The ornament of a house is the friends who frequent it."

Our one regret this evening is that our warm friend and honored guest has not been able to ornament the occasion more-by bringing along his very beautiful and charming Empress. We miss her very much--because this administration champions beauty in all its forms.

His Majesty's coronation will take place in October, after a reign of nearly 26 years. This gathering of friends offers you heartfelt good wishes and prayers for still brighter success.

To them I must add special congratulations on Your Majesty's superb sense of timing. You have had the foresight to schedule your coronation when your polls are up.

You also have the satisfaction of looking back on a most impressive record of very progressive leadership. You have taught Iran's people that they have in their own strength and imagination the power to solve their own problems and to realize their own dreams.

When I visited Iran with Mrs. Johnson-just 5 years ago next week--the land reform program, that we discussed until late in the evening, was just beginning. Tonight, 50 percent of Iran's rural families farm their own land. Some 7,000 or more rural cooperatives have already been established--and more than 800 extension corpsmen are out helping the farmers of that country to acquire new agricultural skills.

This promise of new progress and dignity beckons all the Middle East. The people of that region have just suffered a very great shock. But that shock should and must not obscure the vision of what they can do to solve their problems constructively, peacefully--by working together, by working with their neighbors.

We stand ready tonight, as before, to help those who ask our help--to strengthen the independence of all who seek it in purposeful partnership. Now, as always, America seeks no domination--by force of arms, by influence of wealth, by stealth or subversion.

We seek to build in brotherhood. We want to continue giving and learning--as we will again when Iranian and American scientists soon begin to study ways to exploit Iran's water resources, and to employ the exciting new technology of desalting. Our cooperation will continue to grow in this and many other ways.

We take great pride in having with us this evening Mr. David Lilienthal who has done so much to plan and develop our own land and who is now giving his talented energies to your country.

But turning the dreams we all share into a shared reality asks a long journey of both our countries. We take heart from the knowledge that the people of Iran, under Your Majesty's leadership, have the fortitude and vision to continue their advance, and to so inspire all who would follow in hope.

Ladies and gentlemen, I can conclude this statement in no better way than to recall for you the words of a great Persian poet:

"Dig deep and sow good seed;
Repay the debt you owe your country's soil;
You need not then be beholden to any man."

Our distinguished guest this evening has truly sown good seed. I ask those of you who have come from throughout our land to join me in a toast to the architect of Iran's future, the distinguished sovereign and leader of the Iranian people, and our most valued and trusted friend, His Imperial Majesty, the Shah of Iron.

Note: The President spoke at 10 p.m. at a formal dinner in the State Dining Room at the White House. During his remarks he referred to David E. Lilienthal, chairman of the Development and Resources Corporation, which is engaged in economic planning in approximately 20 countries throughout the world. As printed this item follows the text released by the White House Press Office.

His Imperial Majesty responded as follows:

Mr. President, Mrs. Johnson, ladies and gentlemen:

This is the second time today, Mr. President, that you have showered upon myself, my country, and my countrymen such words of encouragement and friendship.

I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart that you think this way and appreciate what we are trying to do in our part of the world.

As I said before, we have been inspired in so many ways by the Americans in your humanitarian approach to the problems of life, in the wonderful achievements of your people in every domain, also in many of your great leaders.

If I may say so, the pleasure of meeting you, Mr. President, and Mrs. Johnson, 5 years ago, coincides, incidentally, with the reforms that we have undertaken in our recent history.

What you represent, the morality that you represent--and trying to really uphold it in our world--the confidence that you have created that your word can be taken as the word of a man and a judgment, and so many other aspects of your great qualities are a real contribution to all of us.

So I will always take this as a nice augury that your coming to our country coincided with our great effort to bring our country--even after 2,500 years of history--into the modern age.

We are proud of our history, but we cannot live only with the memory of our past glories. We have to live with the present and live with not only decency, but with pride and, if possible, with plenty, with happiness, and with joy.

Again, in that respect, your people and your countrymen have done a great deal and can stilt do a great deal.

I remember the first time I met and talked with this distinguished gentleman of yours, Mr. David Lilienthal. He spoke with me and talked about things in my own country that I personally didn't know about.

Because of his knowledge, because of his experience, he told me what could be done in one of the regions of my country, the fantastic prospects of development, the happiness that could be brought in that part of my country--in that part of the world.

The plan has been initiated. We have made some progress. But this progress cannot be as rapid as we wish it to be. We cannot wait a long time neither for ourselves nor really the world--we cannot wait a long time before seeing all its resources tapped, developed, and put at the disposal of the human race.

Again, I think in that field, in the promotion of agriculture, in the promotion of food production, speaking of so many other aspects and possibilities that exist in my country, you can do a lot by showing us how to best develop a land.

You have done it in your own country. Not many people can come and see it for themselves. But if you can do the same things in our part of the world, many more people could succeed and try maybe to do the same.

The interest that you show in the desalinization of sea water is something of the utmost importance. There must be an early solution to the economic way of doing it. I am sure that before long your scientists will come up with the answers.

Then, again, our region of the world may be one of the most interesting cases for experiencing this wonderful technological breakthrough. Water is the essence of life. Today it is needed more than ever.

I could continue on for a very, very long time praising the unselfish, humanitarian contribution of the American people in our country. That is the cause of this deep friendship existing between us-the trust that we have in you and, I hope, the trust that you have in us.

I think we are both trying to serve the same cause--the cause of human dignity, freedom, decency--in what we do. That is why it is also, again, a great pleasure for me to be once more in your beautiful land, among such good friends, and especially of having this opportunity of seeing you again, Mr. President, and having the friendly talks that we have had, as usual.

I would like to thank you, also, for the words that you have had for my wife, who had to stay back home. She has a lot to do, because, for the first time, I think, a woman will be crowned in our country.

Lately women have attained many rights--first, franchise, then equality with men, and now even equality in wearing a crown. We are considering now a change also in our Constitution to automatically appoint the mother of the Crown Prince as the Regent of the Realm, if anything happens to the King before the Crown Prince comes of age or is 20 years old.

This is to show that we are recognizing the value and the qualities of the women in our country. I think that really we all--everywhere--owe so much to the women of our country. I am not going very far. I just want to mention what Mrs. Johnson is doing in this country and the great contribution that she is making for the betterment of so many things.

As for the future, I can only say that I hope that with God's help and will we shall make the contribution that we can for the betterment of our own people and also in the humble way that we can for all the people in our world, and especially cherish the unselfish, solid, reliable friendship binding our two people together.

It is with the hope of good health to you, Mr. President, and to Mrs. Johnson, success in your work, the welfare of your Government and your people that I would like to propose a toast to the President of the United States of America.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Toasts of the President and His Imperial Majesty Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Shah of Iran Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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