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Toasts of the President and President Abboud

October 04, 1961

Speaking on behalf of all of us here, and also on behalf of all of our countrymen, Mr. President, I want to express the welcome of the oldest of the Republics and the youngest of the people to the youngest of the Republics and the oldest of the people.

It is a source of interest to those of us who are the beneficiaries of the Anglo-American system of culture, that on the day that you left your country there was buried the grandson of the Mahdi who led the charge against Winston Churchill as a young man in your country, about 30 miles from Khartoum--many Americans' only connection with your country.

But I think that your visit here, and the visit of your Ministers, is a most important event for us. You occupy--your country-a most significant geographic position in Africa, a continent which has been relatively unknown to most of us in this country in the last decade, and which we have now come to realize is a most vital area of the world. And therefore, Mr. President, it is a great pleasure to welcome you here, and in welcoming you here to indicate to our people and indeed to the whole Western World the significance of your country, the willingness of your country to bear the burdens which go with sovereignty, with independence, and also your willingness to bear the responsibilities which go with leadership in your continent.

I have not been to your country, but I have been impressed by the fact that one of our most distinguished predecessors came to your capital, Theodore Roosevelt--whose picture hangs outside--who said, "I speak of Africa and golden joys. It is the strong attraction of silent places, the wide, vast spaces of the earth, unmourned of man and changed only by the slow change of ages through time everlasting."

The only other time that Theodore Roosevelt ever got so excited was when he visited the Western United States. Therefore, Mr. President, I think he would have gotten as excited by visiting the Western United States today and by visiting your country today, to see a new country, newly independent, playing in the year 1961--the spring of 1961 and the winter of 1961 especially--a most significant role in the maintenance of freedom in your continent, and the maintenance of freedom throughout the world.

Therefore, I hope that all of you here who are my fellow countrymen will drink to the country, and most particularly to the President, who has demonstrated in difficult times the courage and reliance and character of the people-of the Sudan, the people of Africa.

Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the Republic of the Sudan.

Note: The President proposed this toast at a state dinner at the White House. President Abboud responded (through an interpreter) as follows:

Mr. President and Mrs. Kennedy:

During these pleasant hours in the White House, which I feel is both a historic shrine and very much a home to which Mrs. Kennedy has added so much, I have felt the presence of such great men as Adams, Jefferson, Madison and others who put their names to your Declaration of Independence--of Lincoln, whose spirit still shines as a beacon light of compassion to all those throughout the world Who cherish freedom and strive to realize it--of Jackson, Wilson, and of all the great men who have occupied this Mansion, some of whom were, like myself, soldiers. Perhaps it is not too much to suggest that with the present occupant, there may be starting a new tradition of distinguished service in Naval uniform prior to occupancy of the Executive Mansion.

It is my warm wish that one day you, Mr. President, and Mrs. Kennedy may sense the antiquity which is also felt in our capital city of Khartoum where the White Nile and the Blue Nile meet to form the river which gave rise to our civilization.

I would like to suggest that our host has demonstrated not alone the courage of action in uniform, but the courage of principle in his valorous adherence to the cause of individual freedom and national sovereignty. Not only since he was elected to the Presidency, but in his years in the Congress where he consistently displayed an interest in the emerging nations. Not only in his adherence to principle, but in his specific contributions as Chairman of the African Affairs Subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

I would like to say that in recognizing the sincerity of purpose of those nations which like my own honestly feel that they must look first to their own struggle at home against poverty and social injustice as their contribution to international stability, President Kennedy has opened a New Frontier in foreign policy which bespeaks the very highest order of courage on his part, and on the part of your great nation.

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

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