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Toasts at the State Dinner for President Abdou Diouf of Senegal

September 10, 1991

President Bush. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the White House. And to President and Mrs. Diouf and members of the Senegal delegation, a very special welcome.

Nine years ago, Barbara and I were hosted in Senegal, never forgotten that trip. And today, we have the opportunity to try in this manner to repay Senegal's marvelous hospitality. And we welcome to America's home, to this White House, a first citizen of the continent of Africa. This week provides an opportunity for our countries to renew the shared interest which link our two nations and peoples and the values that join us, the values we hold so dear. We both revere liberty and human dignity and respect for the rights of man. And we each believe for individuals, choice; for society, pluralism; and for nations, self-determination.

And together, by lifting minds and horizons, we are helping to shape a new world order. You see, Senegal was the first sub-Saharan African nation to say to Saddam Hussein, "Your aggression will not stand." And America, sir, applauds your courage in opposing this threat to world security. You lifted up, you buoyed the coalition, and you showed that strength of character will always outlast strength of arms.

Mr. President, you know, as recent events have verified, totalitarianism is crumbling because democracy would not, will not be denied. And now, let us all pledge to help Senegal's democratic system serve as a model for those countries seeking to embrace the principles of self-government, self-determination, and freedom of expression.

We seek a world in which the lamp of liberty brightens every corner of the Earth. And in that spirit, I would like to close with words from Leopold Senghor, a poet-politician who was the first President and founder of independent Senegal. Forty-six years ago, near the end of World War II, President Senghor wrote "A Prayer For Peace," and he spoke of the peoples of Europe, Asia, Africa, and America and concluded this way: "Grant that their warm hands embrace the Earth in a band of brotherly hands under the rainbow of your peace."

Mr. President and ladies and gentlemen, now I would ask that you guests and others join me in a toast: to the health of our good friend, President Diouf, to the happiness and prosperity of the Senegalese people, and to those brotherly hands which can build a peace for our children and all the children of the world.

God bless you, Mr. President. Welcome to the White House.

President Diouf. Mr. President, allow me to say how happy my wife and I, and also the delegation accompanying me, are to be in this great country and among its friendly people. I come at the invitation of a very close, personal friend and a great respected leader, whose dynamism in terms of ideas, clear-sightedness, and steadfastness of purpose evoke admiration.

I come to meet a great people who have established themselves as staunch defenders of the ideals of freedom, democracy, peace, and respect for human rights. They are the people whom you have referred to as "a beacon of hope shining for the whole world."

The developments that have taken place in recent months have brought to the fore how you view these peoples' responsibilities, and they have demonstrated the correctness of your vision. They have given us Senegalese added reasons to be proud to be counted among your friends and to share with you the same ideals.

By this, I'm not just referring to the crucial part that your country played in solving the Gulf crisis. What I also have in mind, and I should like to emphasize this, is the triumph of the principles which form the basis of the societies we are striving to build and our common wish to see a new order prevail in international relations. I know that I also speak for you when I stress that this new order should be characterized more by the rule of law, a greater solidarity among peoples and nations, as well as a full respect for human rights and basic freedoms. But I hasten to point out that it should also foster a process of democratization of international relations so that we are able to entrench democracy better within all states and to usher in a world in which the ballot paper will permanently replace the bullet. This would indeed be a wonderful posthumous victory for one of your illustrious predecessors, who said of the ballot that it is stronger than the bullet.

The United Nations, which has yet again proved its usefulness and effectiveness, appears to me as the prime instrument to achieve that objective. And with the United States at the forefront, the outcome of the struggle is never in doubt. For all these reasons I should like to express, in addition to my compatriots' deep admiration for Your Excellency, my government's determination to intensify, strengthen, and diversify the excellent relations that happily exist between our two countries. Better still, we want to reinforce day by day the age-old links that our two peoples have established and that will be symbolized by the Goree-Almadies Memorial.

The exceptionally warm welcome showered on my wife and me and on my delegation, and your determination to help Senegal succeed in its development efforts, are clear indications that you are similarly well-disposed towards us. That is why my visit could not have got off to a better start. That is also why I look forward to seeing our already exemplary bilateral cooperation develop further. And I'm delighted to meet again a very dear friend of mine.

With this fond hope, I invite you, ladies and gentlemen, to raise your glasses and drink to the health and personal happiness of His Excellency, Mr. George Bush, and Madam Barbara Bush, to whom I pay my humble respects: to friendship and co- operation between the United States and Senegal, to the sustained prosperity of the friendly American people, to freedom and democracy for all peoples.

Note: President Bush spoke at 8:08 p.m. in the State Dining Room at the White House. In his toast, he referred to President Diouf's wife, Elizabeth, and President Saddam Hussein of Iraq. President Diouf spoke in French, and in his remarks he referred to a memorial to slaves brought to America from Senegal.

George Bush, Toasts at the State Dinner for President Abdou Diouf of Senegal Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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