Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Toasts of the President and King Mahendra of Nepal.

November 01, 1967

Your Majesties, Your Royal Highness, Mr. Secretary, Ambassador and Mrs. Goldberg, distinguished guests, my friends, ladies and gentlemen:

Your country, sir, has a romantic reputation. It is confirmed by an unusual bond between our two nations.

We have today diplomatic relations, I believe, with 110 other nations. But only your country, Your Majesty, in effect, has two American Ambassadors.

Our official representative is the charming and talented Carol Laise. She loves Nepal.

Our unofficial representative is Ellsworth Bunker, a very wise and skillful man who served earlier as our Ambassador to you. He also loves Nepal.

Ambassador Laise and Ambassador Bunker were married this year in your capital. Their union is our good fortune--and yours--and theirs.

It is also a union that is unique in the diplomatic history of America. And our State Department has not been the same since.

I understand, confidentially, that Secretary Katzenbach has had now to take on extra duties--as department marriage counselor.

And Secretary Rusk has had some interesting proposals, too--though none of them has yet come from Hanoi.

If we pay you double tribute, Your Majesty, with the services of two outstanding Americans--you more than acknowledge and repay us with your friendship and example.

Every American finds inspiration in the new spirit of your country--and in your people's timeless devotion to independence and to pursuing peace.

Yours is a romantic country, yes. But you touch our hearts in new ways today. You are a nation launched on the romance of modernization--of man filled with the love of life and challenge--of men raising up, of men pushing forward, of men reaching out for new decency and greater dignity.

Your leadership, sir, has been the spark to that awakening. Your vision has seen that independence is but the gateway to security. Men must first and always be secure from their true enemies--the ancient enemies of all of us--ignorance, hunger, disease, and fear.

Sir, you have determined to drive them out of your kingdom. You are already succeeding. You will know final success because your children will know better how to meet the challenges that come to them.

In 1951, you had only 321 primary schools in all of your nation. Today you have not 321, but 5,600.

In 1951, there were only 9,000 children in the schools of your nation. Tonight there are 380,000.

That is success--and more. For every child is the seed of another and larger success.

This day, Your Majesty, marks the start of a great Hindu holiday in your country. I think it is appropriate for us to celebrate that holiday with you--by wishing that all of your children, all of your seeds, grow up tall and strong in the light of learning. No leader could do more for his people; no leader could leave them with a brighter legacy.

Let that be our toast here tonight. The leaders in our Government, the Majority Leader, the Members of the Senate and the House who have come here, the representatives of the Cabinet, our distinguished Ambassador to the United Nations--let us all join tonight in celebrating the future of a very proud people, a brave land, and a wise ruler.

Ladies and gentlemen--His Majesty, the King of Nepal.

Note: The President proposed the toast at 11 p.m. at a dinner in the State Dining Room at the White House. In his opening words he referred to King Mahendra, Queen Ratna, Crown Prince Birendra, Secretary of State Dean Rusk, Arthur J. Goldberg, U.S. Representative to the United Nations, and Mrs. Goldberg. During his remarks he referred to, among others, Nicholas deB. Katzenbach, Under Secretary of State. As printed this item follows the text released by the White House Press Office. King Mahendra responded as follows:

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

Please accept our grateful thanks for the kind sentiments just now expressed by Your Excellency about Nepal and her people.

I and my entourage long remain grateful to Your Excellency for the invitation to visit your prosperous country which has made it possible for us to meet each other, to exchange ideas, and to explain and understand each other's problems and viewpoints. I am seeing your country for the second time after 7 years. During these 7 years, many events occurred in several parts of the world and there were great changes. Nepal, also, had a share of these.

Under the compulsion of circumstances, many things altered. Today we are marching along the road of a party less Panchayat democratic system.

It would be no exaggeration to say that this system has served us as a good instrument for steadily bringing about an adequate degree of popular awakening, as well as for accomplishing national reconstruction works.

Although in comparison to other systems current in the world today, our Panchayat system appears to be new. It has proved itself suitable to our country as a system in which people's representatives have a more active share in the administration of the country at various levels.

Rastraya Panchayat functions as the highest legislation which is held in high esteem by the people and their representatives. All the Ministers, including the Prime Minister, must be its members.

We do not mean that ours is the best system and others should imitate it, but we have no hesitation in affirming that it is the only democratic system suited to the time and circumstances and our country and society.

Compared to America, Nepal is a small country on the lap of the Himalayas in central Asia. Although a small developing country, we Nepalese are proud of our culture, its history, tradition, and status.

The independence and sovereignty of our country is extremely dear to us.

Even as we respect others' honor and friendly traditions, we expect others to respect our independence and friendliness. We can never take an offensive attitude toward others, nor can we tolerate any offensive attitude toward us.

Nepal believes in maintaining peace and friendship with all, especially her neighbors, now and ever after.

She believes in the greater efficacy of love, mutual good will, understanding, and universal welfare than of fears and threats.

It is Nepal's conviction that the way of peace, friendship, and cooperation is better and easier than the way of war for reaching the goal, for realizing the ideal of the well-being of one's country and society.

Nepal can never agree that world peace is possible through unnecessary interference and encroachment in others' affairs or through putting pressure upon others by any power--big or small.

Cherishing these hopes and objectives, Nepal has been fortunate to receive aid and cooperation from various friendly countries for her reconstruction.

It still remains her policy to welcome gladly all aid and cooperation attuned to her needs and offered to her on friendly terms.

Nepal is very grateful for the aid and cooperation received from your great country in her progress and development. Nepal is also grateful to your advanced country for the opportunities granted to the Nepalese, including my own son, Crown Prince Birendra, to study as well as to teach in many of your institutions for higher studies.

I believe every year more and more American citizens are having increased experiences of the pure and peaceful atmosphere of Nepal and the friendly feelings of the Nepalese people. This has resulted in a greater degree of fellow feeling and understanding between our two countries and peoples.

On the official level, also, exchange of visits is gradually going up. Today on this happy occasion we extend to Your Excellency and Mrs. Johnson an invitation to visit Nepal in the full hope that you will give us an opportunity to receive you in our hospitable country.

Before concluding, I, on behalf of all the Nepalese, again express our sincere best wishes for the ever increasing progress and prosperity of the American people and request Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, to join me in proposing a toast to the health and long life of His Excellency, the President and Mrs. Johnson, and the American people.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Toasts of the President and King Mahendra of Nepal. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/238419

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