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Toasts of the President and the Shah of Iran

July 24, 1973

Your Imperial Majesty:

This is the third time that we have had the honor of welcoming you in this room since I have been President of the United States, but this time we are especially honored because we welcome not only you but one of the most glamorous and gracious ladies in the world, Her Majesty, the Empress of Iran, and we are so happy that she accompanied you on this trip, and you are both doubly welcome.

As we think of those meetings that we have had previously, and as we look back over the years, we also realize how much has changed in the world since we first met 20 years ago and also how much has changed even in the brief period of time since our meetings here in this house.

This is the first time, for example, that we find that no longer is the United States at war in Vietnam, since your visits to the United States. For that, we are thankful.

We also take note of the fact that as we look back over the span of 20 years, as you were saying earlier in our conversation, that despite all of the problems that exist in the world, there is perhaps now a better chance for building a structure of peace for all people in the world than at any time since the end of World War II. And this is a chance that all of us world leaders must not allow to slip by.

This has been the subject of our talks today. And I can only say, in speaking to this very distinguished group of your friends, friends of Iran--and everyone in this room and those listening to us on this recording are friends of your country--I can say to them that as we think of the peace of the world, that Your Majesty plays a very central role in terms of keeping that peace and of building it.

For example, when we think of where Iran is, its place in history, going back 2,500 years, its place geographically, where it is the bridge between Europe and Asia, where it is the opening to the Indian Ocean and South Asia, and also to the Mideast, when we think also of the very strategic place that Iran occupies in that critical area of the world which many believe is potentially the most explosive part, the whole area of the Mideast and the Indian Ocean, I can only say that those who want peace, as you want it and as I want it and as all of us in this room want it, those of us who believe in peace, we are fortunate that Your Majesty occupies the place of leadership that you occupy today.

For the 20 years that I have known you, Your Majesty, you have worked for the progress of your own people with remarkable results, and you have also worked for peace and stability in not only your part of the world but in all the world. And looking to the future, we know that your leadership will be critical in determining that we can find a way to avoid any kind of eruption which could lead to breaking the peace in that part of the world, which all of us look upon today as potentially dangerous.

Having spoken of these very serious subjects, may I say on a very personal note that Mrs. Nixon and I recall our visit to your country in 1953, to Tehran, and how graciously you received us, and then again in 1967, when I was there alone, and then, of course, again last year, just after our visit to the Soviet Union.

We have a very special place in our hearts for the people of Iran and a very special place for you--a special place for you, first, as a courageous leader of your own people, as one who has worked for progress for the people of Iran, your people, and also as a world statesman who has contributed so much in the past and, we know, will contribute so much in the future to building that structure of peace which is so essential for all of us to enjoy.

For these and many other reasons that people in this room will share, I know that all of you will want to join me in the toast that I will propose to His Imperial Majesty, the Shahanshah, and to Her Majesty, the Empress of Iran..

Note: The President spoke at 10:07 p.m. in the State Dining Room at the White House.

The Shah of Iran responded as follows:

Mr. President, Mrs. Nixon, distinguished guests:

Each time you speak, Mr. President, you shower upon me, the Empress, our people, and our country so many warm words that with your natural eloquence, it makes us, and me, feel difficult to answer you, and the only way of answering is just simply saying, thank you.

It is true that our association has been of a very long standing, starting back in 1953. That is exactly 20 years ago. If we look back at all the events that have taken place in these 20 years, I think that the conclusion that we can draw is that the world is in a better shape, is in a better condition. Prospects for peace are greater than ever before.

I remember that in your speeches, sometimes in the communication that we had together, you started by saying the time of confrontation should be over and negotiation should replace confrontation. When you said that you were going to get out of Vietnam with honor and dignity, what all those things that you have said, you realized them, one by one, in an inexorable march toward attaining those noble goals.

The guns are silent in Vietnam. There is hope that the people there will start to reconstruct what has been lost. Hope is created for the future.

In your actions and decisions for the detente, great progress has been made in your talks, where which is called SALT, and other world conferences. The communiqué that you issued with the General Secretary of the Soviet Union Communist Party was heralding peace, giving hope that there won't be any nuclear holocaust.

This, obviously, has created new hopes in the hearts of all the countries of the world, given them assurance that they, their children will not be threatened by this nightmare of nuclear war, by all the possibilities of cooperating, collaborating in the advancement of science, technology, for the betterment of the human life.

But I have got to stress that if that has been achieved, it was achieved because what was professed and said was said in earnest, but also not from a position of begging and mendacity.

We know in our old history the meaning of all these words. You can be magnanimous, you can be farsighted and wise, if you are strong. You can be right in your judgments, but be completely wrong in action if you are weak. So, the element of success, really, is to combine strength with wisdom and dedication to a noble cause, the cause of peace, understanding, and collaboration.

Our country has been through many periods of greatness and, sometimes, decadence in its old history. Actually, circumstances are such that our country has begun a period of progress-progress, fortunately, in every field.

In the meantime, we have always been aware of the keen interest and friendship and cooperation of the United States of America. We are grateful for that. We won't forget that.

But then again, because of our geographic location, because peace is vital to us, because without peace we could not attain our national goals, in order to keep peace in our region, it must be done from a position of magnanimity, of wisdom--I am afraid I am repeating myself--of strength that could only give you the wisdom to act in the right way and direction.

We shall work for that. We will never be tired. We will do all in our power to assure the progress of our region, the betterment of the life of our own people, and, to the extent we could, contribute to the life of other countries, and all in a very faithful way to the ideals of humanity, of the civilization that we know, the civilization that we admire, the civilization for which we are living, and again, I repeat, the civilization for which we are ready to die, if necessary.

Thank you again for your wonderful hospitality, for your very kind words of greetings.

It is on behalf of the Empress and of myself, and the people of Iran, that I wish you, Mr. President, who has been wise, determined, successful in just doing and bringing about the things that you have touched upon, that have touched upon, all our best wishes for continuous success; to Mrs. Nixon, the fulfillment of all her wishes; and to the noble American people in this wonderful country.

I am sure that all the distinguished guests tonight will make a toast with me for those wishes that I hope will all come true.

Richard Nixon, Toasts of the President and the Shah of Iran Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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