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Toasts of the President and Prime Minister Adoula of the Republic of the Congo

February 05, 1962


I am sure you all join me in welcoming to this country the guest of honor and the members of his government. I don't think that any head of state of a new country has faced the difficulties and the challenges which have pressed upon him with so much force in the last few months.

The difficulties of our revolutionary experience, and the experiences of every other people coming into independence since the end of World War II, pale in comparison to the problems which the Congo has faced and which press upon the Prime Minister and his supporters.

What makes him especially welcome is the courage and the fortitude, the persistence and the judgment with which he has met these challenges--which would have overwhelmed a lesser people, a lesser country, a lesser man, a lesser government.

Prime Minister, we welcome you here for many reasons. The success of the Congo. is tied up, really, we believe, with the success of the United Nations. If you fail, and the Congo should fail, it would be a serious blow for the United Nations, upon which this country has placed so many hopes for the last 17 years. And because of the intimate association between the United Nations and your government, we are particularly glad that you are here to address them.

We are also glad to welcome you because of your own qualities, because you have set a course for your nation, of being independent, of being African, of being free, of being unaligned, of governing under most adverse conditions, through parliamentary democracy, at a time when some other new nations have been forced by events to move away from democratic processes.

We welcome you because of your own extraordinary record--rising because of your own efforts to a position of preeminence, where you have won the support of people, both within and without your country--and because of your own personal qualities.

We are vitally interested in the success of the Congo because we believe the success of your country is essential to the success of a free Africa. We believe strongly in the unity of free states, able to choose their own destiny and able to decide their own fate.

So, Prime Minister, we welcome you here. Many years ago, one of our distinguished Presidents--you examined his portrait this morning in President Lincoln's bedroom-Andrew Jackson, said, "Our Federal Union, it must be preserved."

We recognize your strong conviction that the same policy should follow for your own country, that the Congo must be preserved. And as a faithful member of the United Nations, we support--through the United Nations--the implementation of that policy.

So we welcome you here, and I hope that all of you will join me in saluting the people of the Congo, the country, and its distinguished Prime Minister.

Note: The President proposed the toast at a luncheon in the State Dining Room at the White House.

In his response (through an interpreter) Prime Minister Adoula admitted that the Congo had gone through a period of grave difficulties. He added that there were people in the Congo, men of good will, who had decided to fight to surmount and overcome those difficulties.

"However, I must say, Mr. President," the Prime Minister continued, "that there is one thing which you have left out of your speech, and this is that all those efforts of the people of the Congo, all the efforts of the government, of parliament, of the population itself, would not have availed very much if we had been left to ourselves.

"Fortunately for us, we have found in the world people of great understanding, people of great friendship. We have found countries which have helped us, and which have helped us continuously-without ulterior motivation. This help has enabled us to try ....
"This help, Mr. President, has come primarily from you, from your government, from your country, through the United Nations organization. This is a help which you have given us by helping the United Nations from its very beginnings--by helping the United Nations to carry out the directives of the Security Council and of the General Assembly's directives, which you have helped to forge ....

"So all I can say at this moment, Mr. President, is that in the name of our people first of all, in the name of our government, in the name of our chief of state, we say thank you to the United States.

"We say thank you for a help which has been efficacious, spontaneous, and sincere. We thank your administration for it, Mr. President, because we are quite sure, as I repeat it, that our efforts would have been to no avail if it had not been for the moral and material help which we have received from you .... "

John F. Kennedy, Toasts of the President and Prime Minister Adoula of the Republic of the Congo Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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