John F. Kennedy photo

Toasts of the President and Prime Minister Fanfani

January 16, 1963

All of our colleagues in the National Government and also all the American people join in welcoming the distinguished Prime Minister of Italy to the United States, and also the members of his Government.

I want to say how impressed we have been, Prime Minister, here in the United States with the extraordinary miracle of Italy to which I referred briefly on your arrival. This is a matter which does interest us greatly--a growth rate of 8 percent; an unemployment rate which is now below our own; a balance of payments which is an envy to us, some $3 1/4 billion has been built up to at a time when ours has been sharply declining. For a country which 10, 11, 12, 13, or 14 years ago faced staggering internal problems, this is the most extraordinary miracle, and it has required, as all miracles do, a good deal of human effort, and the Prime Minister has played a most significant role in that effort.

He is also involved in an effort politically at home which has a good many implications not only for his country but for other countries in Europe and also in Latin America.

It reminds me of a story of Abraham Lincoln. After he was elected President, someone said, "What are you going to do with your enemies, Mr. President?" Lincoln said, "I am going to destroy them. I am going to make them my friends."
The Prime Minister is doing that in Italy. Prime Minister, for your very strong leadership at home, for your constant friendship with us abroad, for the firm position which Italy has played in the NATO alliance, for the strong convictions which you have brought to this great effort in which we are all engaged to maintain that alliance, building it, making it modern, making it fit for the sixties as it was for the riffles for all these reasons, and because you are an old friend of the United States, we are very glad to welcome you here.

The Prime Minister was generous enough to offer this morning to make those well publicized pictures available in Washington. The Mona Lisa's brothers will come down here to be shown at the National Gallery.

So we are very glad to have you, Prime Minister, and I hope you will all join with me in toasting him, his Government, and the good health and prosperity of the Italian people and especially to the President of the Republic of Italy.

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

In his response, Prime Minister Fanfani reminded the President that the renewed economic health of his country had not been won without the aid of the American people. He expressed the belief that the United States, with the help and cooperation of its friends, would also restore its balance of payments to a healthy condition. "At this very place in the month of June 1961," he continued, "the President chose to recall an effort and an attempt that we were making in this respect at this time. We need not repeat, of course, that the solidarity existing in the balance of political matters does not, of course, close out an interest in defending the economic situation, and, of course, what we had the pleasure and honor of doing a years ago we are disposed to continue to do. Of course, this should lend testimony to all that this is a solidarity based on sentiment as well as on reason.

"We are united in international relations, Mr. president, but our people, I would agree, as I am sure the people of the United States would agree, that this union comes about on the basis of profound ideals which also operate on the internal level." He recalled matters of emphasis in the President's State of the Union Message--school construction, roads, hospitals, and financial matters--the "very problems that we have been tackling for the last 2 years. So this shows that we seem to advance to the forefront of efforts in developing not only the world but also the internal situation in our two countries, geared not only to reality but also to justice."

Recalling a psalm which ends "Go forward in certainty," the Prime Minister expressed the thought that the United States had long walked "in certainty along the road of justice and liberty," but had always found itself in the company of friends both old and new.

The Prime Minister said he felt honored and fortunate in arranging for the display in Washington of the panels of Pollaiolo to which the President had referred. "I am sure," he added, "that in these difficult times Mona Lisa will be very pleased to be flanked by two Hercules, especially the Hercules that smites the Hydra and Antaeus."

Mr. Fanfani concluded by proposing a toast "to your good fortune, Mr. President, to the prosperity of your country, to the freedom and the progress of the whole world, and also to your forthcoming trip to Italy in order to give us the opportunity to reciprocate on the part of the Government and the Italian people and show our true friendship and gratitude toward your country."

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

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