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Toasts of the President and King Hussein I of Jordan at a Dinner Honoring His Majesty

April 25, 1977

THE PRESIDENT. The first thing I want to do tonight is to welcome all of you to the White House to join with me in expressing our appreciation to a courageous man who's come to visit our country again.

This is his silver jubilee year. He's been in office now 25 years. And as I said this morning when we had the welcoming ceremony, he has been here to visit frequently; the first time, I believe, 18 years ago.

On this trip, he's going to be traveling around the country. He's going down to one of the better parts of our Nation, Atlanta, and then further south, a little too far south, perhaps, to Orlando. He's going to bring his young children over to join him and enjoy our beautiful country.

For a number of years we've enjoyed his friendship, and the close interrelationship that has existed between Jordan and the United States has been a great stabilizing force in the Middle East. In spite of the disharmonies that have existed there now for 29 years, there never has been a threat to the close cooperation and communication and friendship between Jordan and our country. And we are very delighted to have tonight the leader of that country come to see us.

We had a very fruitful discussion today about past history--which I have just described briefly--and the future. We recognize the difficulty of resolving the historical animosities that have existed in the Middle Eastern region. But I think there is almost a unanimous belief among the leaders with whom I've discussed this subject that 1977 can be a propitious year for major strides toward permanent peace.

We are blessed with a deep awareness of the devastation of previous wars. There is a widespread sense of waste and frustration in spending so much of a country's resources on weapons, when economic progress and better health care and education needs cry out to be met. And when Secretary Vance visited all the leaders in the Middle Eastern region, a unanimous statement was, "We wish that we could stop spending so much on the weapons of war."

I think there is also a sense of hope in the character of the leaders this year. We are blessed with a sense of moderation and an inclination toward peace.

And I think the last thing I'd like to mention is that all of us feel that because of these circumstances that an extraordinary effort is worthwhile during 1977. And unless we make some substantive progress toward resolving the historical differences, it may be a long time in the future before we can mount such an effort again.

By the end of May, I will have met with all the leaders of the countries involved and will have listened to their thoughts, their hopes, and their dreams and their plans for peace.

I think there is a general sense that the countries there trust our Nation, at least more than any other nation is trusted. And it puts a tremendous responsibility on me and the Vice President, the Secretary of State, and others not to betray that trust, to be fair and open and honest in our own discussions with the leaders who have honored us by coming to our Nation to visit.

I don't know whether or not we will be successful this year. That's a very difficult thing to predict. But I believe that one of the great potential benefits that we can observe and use is the courage and sound judgment and experience and the seniority and a sensitivity and, I think I can say accurately, the unselfishness of King Hussein of Jordan.

He's a natural leader. He's quietspoken, but firm. He's honest and courageous. He's our friend, and he's a good adviser and instructor for me, a new President, as I join with many of you around this table in searching for some opportunities to resolve differences that have divided peace-loving people too long.

So, I'd like to propose a toast now to a courageous King, to the people of Jordan, to King Hussein. Welcome to our country, sir.

KING HUSSEIN. Mr. President, my dear friends:

It's a privilege and an honor for me to be here, to have this wonderful opportunity to meet with you, sir, and to meet with friends once again, to bring you the sincerest wishes of the people of Jordan for every success not only in leading the people of this great Nation but in fulfilling the aspirations and hopes of so many throughout the world.

I thank you, Mr. President, for the opportunity you gave me today to speak to you frankly and to hear your views on many of the problems that beset the part of the world from which I come.

I can only say that despite the feeling that I have had which has caused me to be cautious in regard to the possibilities of real, genuine progress toward a solution to the Middle East problems, I have, as a result of meeting you, sir, and our friends today, felt more encouraged and more hopeful than I have for a very long time.

To me, sir, humility is one of the most important qualities in this world and in life and one of the greatest signs of greatness. Your humility, your genuine interests in problems of others, your courage and your vision, your desire to know the truth are all most encouraging to me and to those who have come with me from Jordan.

I am sure this feeling is shared by others who have had the privilege of meeting you, and I am sure that many others will share with us these feelings.

Twenty-five years have been short and long at the same time. Whatever remains, God willing, I will dedicate to one and one objective only: to do all I can that the future generations enjoy a better life than that which they would have had to live.

My greatest hope and dream is to feel that in some way I may, in what remains of life, contribute towards a just, a lasting peace, one which would enable all the people in our area to divert their energies and resources to build and attain a brighter future with stability that is their right. I pledge to you, sir, that I will do all that I can to work very closely with you towards that end.

Our faith in you is great, our pride and our friendship, and the pride in the fact that the same ideals are upheld by us, the same objectives are dear to us, and we share the same hopes for a better future.

I wish you every success. I will pray for you. And you can rest assured of our genuine desire to do all we can for us to arrive at our common objectives.

I thank you for your courtesy and your kindness and the warmth of your feelings. I treasure our friendship.

Gentlemen, I'd like you to join me in drinking a toast to the President of the United States.

Note: The President spoke at 8:40 p.m. in the State Dining Room at the White House.

Jimmy Carter, Toasts of the President and King Hussein I of Jordan at a Dinner Honoring His Majesty Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/243664

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