John F. Kennedy photo

Toasts of the President and King Sri Savang Vatthana

February 25, 1963

We are especially honored to have a visit from His Majesty, and the Prime Minister, His Majesty's son, and the members of the government, because Laos occupies a most significant place on the world scene. All the countries which are signatories to the Geneva agreement, and they consist of the United States, the Soviet Union, the Chinese People's Republic, Great Britain, and others, stretching all around the globe, have joined together, even though these countries are in great disagreement on many issues, have joined together to pledge themselves to the neutrality and independence of Laos.

In addition, Chairman Khrushchev and I, meeting at Vienna, committed our two countries to that objective. So, we believe, not only for the security and well-being of Laos, but also as a demonstration that it is possible for countries of varied viewpoints to unite on a single question, to commit themselves and to maintain their commitment, we believe it important for the peace of the world that this effort succeeds.

So, Your Majesty, we are glad to have you here. You have been to Moscow, you come to Washington, you go to Peiping, you go back to your own country. I hope that you leave here convinced, as I know you will be, that the United States means to fulfill its efforts, that it hopes for the same from all the other signatories of the Geneva Accord, that we are wholeheartedly behind your effort to maintain the freedom of your people and we wish for you what we wish for ourselves, and that is peace and an opportunity to develop our country.

So I hope that all here will join in drinking to the prosperity and peace of the people of Laos, to the well-being of the government under the Prime Minister, and to the very good health of His Majesty the King. Your Majesty.

Note: The President proposed the toast at a luncheon in the State Dining Room at the White House. In his response King Sri Savang Vatthana pointed out that his country had been the center of many difficulties, international as well as internal, and that the march of events had caused a number of countries to take an active interest in his country. In order to preserve world peace, he added, thirteen countries, representing more than half the population of the earth, had, in spite of their different political outlooks, united and signed "an agreement for the status of Laos, for a true independence, a true neutrality, an accord which also provides for the true neutralization of my country."

"We came, therefore, on this trip," he continued, "not only to give an expression of our gratitude to these countries but also to ascertain their own feelings as to the possibility of continuing this agreement into the future. And, thus, we come here today and we hear from the President of the United States that he confirms the intention to maintain the neutrality and the independence of our country and not only that but that he will assist to that end and we thank you, Mr. President, and we thank the people of the United States for this expression."

John F. Kennedy, Toasts of the President and King Sri Savang Vatthana Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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