John F. Kennedy photo

Toasts of the President and the President of Mali

September 13, 1961

I want to express our great appreciation to President Sukarno and President Keita for--as I said yesterday--coming halfway around the world to visit us on behalf of the seven hundred million people gathered together in Belgrade.

We are delighted to see them, because we recognize the vital interest which the nations assembled at Belgrade, and indeed all nations, including the Soviet Union and the United States, have in maintaining peace in the world.

And, therefore, though the trip is far, I am sure that the two Presidents both feel that any contribution that they can make to the relaxation of tensions is well worth the longest journey.

In addition, we are glad to see them because of the countries they represent. They represent countries which have become newly independent in the years since the end of the Second World War. We recognize the desire and the necessity of the people of those countries to build their own societies, to build a life of freedom and associate themselves with their own tasks and their own future.

I do want them both to know that that is the basic objective of the policy of this country towards Mali and Indonesia. Thirdly, we are proud to have them because of their own leadership, because they played leading parts in the liberation of their own two countries, and because they represent the living aspirations of their people in their own personalities.

We are very glad to have here also the Ambassadors from some of the countries that were represented at Belgrade--the Ambassador of Yugoslavia, the Ambassador of the UAR--the Charge d'Affaires of India, and the others who were associated in the conference that was held a week ago.

So as you leave us this afternoon, President Sukarno--and President Keita, as you leave us tomorrow--to take your journeys home, we hope that you will carry with you a message: That this country wants peace, and that it will go to any effort, that those of us who hold official responsibility in our Nation will undertake any journey and meet with any group that promises to advance peace and the aspirations, the legitimate aspirations, of people everywhere.

We are also very proud to have the son and daughter of the President of Indonesia with us--he has let them study in the United States, to teach us as well as to learn. And also the young lady--she represents the ladies of the unaligned world today.

So will you join me in drinking a toast to the two Presidents.

Note: The President proposed the toast to President Sukarno of Indonesia and President Keita of Mali at 2:20 p.m. at a state luncheon at the White House. President Keita responded (through an interpreter) as follows:

"Mr. President, Excellencies:

"In the name of President Sukarno and myself, I should like especially to thank President Kennedy, and through his person the people of the United States, for the welcome which we have received here today.

"In undertaking this mission, we were certain we would not be disappointed by the welcome which we have received in this country, always attached to liberty and whose present policies have evolved from the fight for liberty and independence.

"We also knew that the President and the people of the United States would share fully our concern for the peace of the world and the welfare of all, that we know that you are determined to use all means to find a peaceful solution for the tensions in which the world now finds itself.

"As for me, this is my first visit to the United States. I have not had before the pleasure of meeting President Kennedy and the American people--unlike President Sukarno who has been here before. But I can say that my first appreciation and first impression talk with frankness and directness of the American people.

"I am sure that they will use all means at their disposal to see that the crisis in which we are now passing through will be peacefully resolved.

"Therefore, I should like to ask you to raise your glasses to the President of the United States, and God willing that we may have peace in the world."

During his remarks the President referred to Marko Nikezic, Ambassador of Yugoslavia; Mostafa Kamel, Ambassador of the United Arab Republic; and D. N. Chatterjee, Minister and Charge d'Affaires ad interim of India, who represented their countries at the Conference of Nonaligned Nations held at Belgrade, Yugoslavia, September 1-6, 1961 The President also referred to Mohammed Guntar Sukarnoputra and Megawati Sukarnoputri, the son and daughter of President Sukarno.

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

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