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Toasts of the President and the Shah of Iran at a Dinner at the Iranian Embassy

July 25, 1973

Your Imperial Majesties and all of the distinguished guests here this evening from Iran and from the United States:

It has often been my favorite pleasure to respond to remarks by His Imperial Majesty, and it is always difficult to find adequately those words which will represent the feelings that are in my heart and, I am sure, in the hearts of all of the American people as he visits our country.

Perhaps I might be permitted a personal reminiscence on this occasion, because as we stepped into this magnificent Embassy with the old and the new blended--the old Persia, the new Iran-all these rooms that are so splendid in their appearances, as we all enjoyed this magnificent dinner with all of these famous dishes from Iran, which we are familiar with, 'those of us who had the privilege to visit that country, and as we enjoyed the unexampled hospitality of our friends from Iran, we realized several things, and I realized and would like to share with you a couple of points in particular.

I reminded our guests last night that it was 20 years ago, almost to the day, perhaps a few months later, that Mrs. Nixon and I, after a very long journey through some very warm places in Asia, the Far East, we finally arrived in Iran.

It was a wonderful visit in every way. It was the end of a difficult time for Iran and the beginning of a great new time. There were those who were not sure it would be a great new time, but our Ambassador then, Loy Henderson, one of the great Ambassadors, told me it would be, and I know that the Emperor felt that it would be, and I remember that the father of a now Ambassador to the United States, the former Foreign Minister and former Ambassador to Britain, General Zahedi, gave me confidence that it would be.

But only 2 months after the great difficulty, the traumatic experience that Iran had passed through, one might wonder as to what the future would be. I had great confidence after our brief stay there, and that confidence was because in the people that I saw, the leaders that I saw, and particularly the confidence that I had in the young Emperor who, because of his sincerity and his devotion to his people, and his vision about the future.

I think everyone in this room who was not born to royalty must wonder how it would be, and all of us would agree that to be born in a royal family perhaps poses the greatest challenge that life can pose, because it would be so easy just to live that royal life that one receives without having given anything for it and enjoy it, receive the adulation of the crowds, and end it without contributing much or, perhaps, taking away much from the people among whom he or she works.

But Iran was blessed with the fact that the young man who became its Emperor was not that kind of royalty. He was a man who said very early--he wrote his autobiography--that peace should not be just the absence of war, it should be creative peace.

He was one who wrote very early, he from royalty, from monarchy, said, "Iran needs a new revolution." And over a period of 20 years, what he has done, he, with the assistance of so many of his colleagues in this room from Iran and also with the support of a splendid people, 31 million strong, have created a new, strong, vital nation there. New and strong and vital in one sense, but with its roots very, very deep in history, over 2,500 years.

And it is out of such things that great nations are built. Leadership, which our host tonight, the Emperor, represents, and a people with a sense of mission and destiny and also with a great history behind them which they must live up to.

These are some of the thoughts that came to me as I sat here tonight, 20 years later, here in this bit of territory of Iran in the United States of America. And, Your Imperial Majesty, I want you to know that for Mrs. Nixon and for me it was just as great a pleasure tonight to walk into this bit of Iran as it was to come there 20 years ago after that long, long trip through Asia, South Asia, and other parts of the world.

I know that many of you have other feelings you would like to express, and I cannot adequately express them for you. I can only say this: that as we look at the peace of the world, we know that the area of the world in which His Majesty plays such an important role is an area that could cause very grave problems, but the fact that he is there, the fact that he believes so strongly in the kind of peace that can survive, a peace not based on weakness, but a peace based on strength, not the strength of arrogance, but the strength of competence, confidence, ability, magnanimity.

When we have that kind of a leader there, that kind of a people with that kind of a background, then the chances for peace in that world to survive and to grow and to be creative are much greater, and that is why we are fortunate that he is there with his leadership and also by his side his Empress, who has made such a great impression not only in her visits here but such a splendid contribution to the people of Iran in all of the villages and communities as well as in the great city of Tehran, which most of us know.

And so, I know all of you will want to join me in the toast I propose. It, of course, is to our continuing friendship between the American people and the people of Iran. It is, of course, to the peace, the creative peace that we want for all of our people, wherever they may be, in any part of the world and both of which we are dedicated to, and most of all, of course, it is to those who are our honored hosts tonight in this bit of territory of Iran here in Washington.

Their Imperial Majesties, the Shahanshah and the Empress of Iran.

Note: The President spoke at approximately 10 p.m. at the Iranian Embassy in response to a toast proposed by the Shah of Iran.

Earlier in the day, the Shah met with the President at the White House to conclude 2 days of meetings.

The toast of the Shah was as follows:

Mr. President, Mrs. Nixon, distinguished guests:

I cannot say how much the Empress and myself have been overwhelmed by the hospitality that you have shown to us and, in my opinion, the very fruitful talks that we have had, and also the very concrete results.

I must also mention the happiness I have had to see many old friends, because the new friendship between our two countries--by meaning new is when we recovered our independence back in 1953, when our country was menaced by grave danger, and when the United States showed to us a fulfilling of friendship, but we have many old friends who would try to make new friends and continue our friendship in an ever-growing way.

I have the pleasure, honor, and opportunity to meet with members--the distinguished members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and also the Congress. Everywhere they showed keen interest in the fate of my country, and this is heartening to have such friends in our present world. It is true a changing world, but we hope for the better.

So, I cannot finish my remarks without once again, in proposing a toast to the health of the President of the United States of America and Mrs. Nixon, my fervent prayers for the welfare and the everlasting happiness, prosperity of the people of America.

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

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