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Videotaped Remarks on Eid al-Fitr

January 29, 1998

On behalf of all Americans, I want to extend my personal greetings to the entire Muslim community in the United States and around the world as you celebrate the Id al-Fítr.

This week marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan. It's a time for rejoicing and celebration, a time of family and community. It is also a time for reflection and for recommitting ourselves to the values of tolerance, mutual respect, and understanding. In a world where many Muslims suffer the terrible consequences of war, poverty, and unrest, we must renew our efforts to resolve conflicts and remove the causes of strife.

The United States is determined to do all it can to bring a just, lasting, and comprehensive peace to the Middle East. As I told Chairman Arafat, Palestinians should be allowed to realize their aspirations to live as a free people, and Israelis should be able to live in security, recognized by all their neighbors. Our goal is to help the people of the region end this age-old conflict and to give their children the future of hope and promise they deserve.

Today our sympathies are with the people of Algeria and Afghanistan, who have endured too much suffering, and we pray that a time of healing will soon come for them. We are also deeply concerned by the hardships that afflict the people of Iraq, and we will continue working within the United Nations so that they receive the food and medicine they need.

To the people of Iran, I would like to say that the United States regrets the estrangement of our two nations. Iran is an important country with a rich and ancient cultural heritage of which Iranians are justifiably proud. We have real differences with some Iranian policies, but I believe these are not insurmountable. I hope that we have more exchanges between our peoples and that the day will soon come when we can enjoy once again good relations with Iran.

Let me say to the Muslims of South Asia, I look forward to visiting your region later this year and to deepening the bonds between the United States and the peoples of the subcontinent.

On this occasion, let us rekindle our commitment to the cause of peace among all the peoples of the Earth. If we are dedicated in our belief and constant in our labor, we can build a better future, one of cooperation, understanding, and compassion for ourselves and for generations to come.

As the new moon ushers in this holy celebration, let me say to all who follow the faith of Islam: As-Salaamu alaykum. May peace be with you, and may God grant you health and prosperity, now and in the years ahead.

NOTE: These remarks were videotaped at approximately 6 p.m. on January 23 in the Cabinet Room at the White House for later broadcast on the U.S. Information Agency WORLDNET, and they were released by the Office of the Press Secretary on January 29. In his remarks, the President referred to Chairman Yasser Arafat of the Palestinian Authority.

William J. Clinton, Videotaped Remarks on Eid al-Fitr Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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