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Toasts of the President and President Diori of the Republic of Niger.

September 26, 1967

Mr. President, Madame Diori, Mr. Vice president, Mr. Under Secretary of State, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:

Tonight we are honored to greet not one but three Presidents.

President Diori is first and foremost the President of his country.

He is also President of a group of 14 French-speaking nations that are cooperating for common progress.

Finally, he is President of a council of five neighboring West African nations that are sharing natural assets and development goals.

Your land, Mr. President, is larger than Texas and California together. It is equally vast in potential.

You have not spent your natural treasure on showy government mansions. Instead, you have doubled your cropland since 1955. That is solid progress, the kind of progress that Americans admire and encourage.

But you have other equal priorities. You cherish political freedom. You have rejected the deceptive "convenience" of one-man rule for the more strenuous, but infinitely more satisfying, life of democracy.

The force of your examples and beliefs, Mr. President, also make you a vital force for African unity. Your vision and practicality have inspired the firm fruits of partnership--the common sugar market--the airline--the postal and telecommunications union--the mutual aid and guarantee fund-development plans for the two great water systems of West Africa.

These are first and critical steps. They foretell a uniquely African fusion of independence and cooperation. They promise to transform the continent--and to establish our guest as the quiet man of destiny in the emergence of a new Africa.

Join me now in a toast to that man and to that future. I am proud to pay tribute to a great leader and a great unifier, President Diori--to his lady--and to all the people of their beloved Republic and continent.

Note: The President proposed the toast at 10:04 p.m. at a dinner in the State Dining Room at the White House. In his opening words he referred to President Diori Hamani and his wife Aissa, Vice President of the United States Hubert H. Humphrey, and Under Secretary of State Nicholas deB. Katzenbach. As printed this item follows the text released by the White House Press Office.
President Diori responded as follows:

Mr. President, Madame Johnson, Mr. Vice President, ladies and gentlemen:

I am very much moved by the compliments you have just given and which I realize are equally sent through me to the Nigerian people. I sincerely thank you.

Allow me to express the honor and happiness I feel in finding myself next to you tonight in this select company, in this White House full of historical remembrances, in this atmosphere of warm and cordial sympathy.

Tonight marks the end of the second day of the visit I am making in your beautiful and great country. I can only repeat, once more, the strong impression I have of efficiency, power, and rational organization that this brief contact with American life and civilization has given me.

Though informed of the rhythm of American life, I have realized, during these last 2 days, that the reality was much more than I have imagined, whether it is the material realities of the economical and even political conceptions and the means and the way in which they operate--but which strikes the observer of good faith--or the immensity and the speed, essential characteristics of your world.

Africa in general, and my country in particular are attempting an important effort to adopt and to utilize your techniques, to follow in your path, to reach the same standard of living. But we know in this particularly painful effort to come out of underdevelopment we can rely on your lasting and generous help.

Long live the United States of America. Long live the Republic of Niger. Long live the friendship between our two peoples.

May I propose a toast to President Johnson and the people of the United States of America, and the friendship between our two peoples.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Toasts of the President and President Diori of the Republic of Niger. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/237594

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