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Visit of Prime Minister James Callaghan of Great Britain Remarks of the President and the Prime Minister at the Welcoming Ceremony.

March 10, 1977

THE PRESIDENT. It is with a great deal of pleasure personally, and on behalf of the American people, that we welcome to our country and to our National Capital our good friends from the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Callaghan and his wife, Audrey.

I think it is not an exaggeration to say, nor is it any reflection on our other friends and allies to say, that we enjoy a special relationship with Great Britain, with the other countries of the United Kingdom. They are our closest allies and friends. We share security agreements with them, trade agreements with them, that are not shared with any other country.

There has been an intimate relationship for decades and generations with the people of Great Britain that has carved out between us an unshakeable friendship and mutual commitment.

We are honored today to have the Prime Minister with us because of his superb leadership capability, demonstrated in having held the three highest positions in the Government of Great Britain, even before he became Prime Minister.

He also comes here with a special honor, paid to him by the other nations of the European Community. He is the President of the European Community, and in my own discussions with him today and tomorrow and tonight, we will .be talking about matters that are bilateral in nature, that involve our security based on the NATO interrelationships, and also he will represent the European Community itself, nine nations, there.

We have just celebrated last year our 200th birthday, and the people of the entire United Kingdom participated in an extraordinary degree in helping us reconfirm our commitments to the essence of the American spirit.

This is a silver jubilee for Great Britain, for the United Kingdom, and we will be honoring the Queen, who has served so well over the last 25 years.

There has not been a visit by an American President to Great Britain since, I believe, 1970. But because of our own interest in strengthening ties and because of the leadership capabilities of Prime Minister Callaghan, I and the leaders of several other nations will assemble in London in May to talk about matters of great mutual interest. I look forward to going back to my own mother country. Although we have people in our Nation from many, many nations, I think that all of us recognize that, historically and politically, Great Britain is still America's mother country.

So, I look forward to going to London in May. I am very grateful to have Prime Minister Callaghan come here. I look forward tonight to a banquet. I am going to ask the Prime Minister and the Vice President to sing a duet for us as they did when the Vice President visited London not too long ago.

And I think that this combination of very serious security matters, very important economic matters, a spirit of historical friendship and, also, personal friendship, will exemplify this visit of our most distinguished visitor.
Thank you very much.

THE PRIME MINISTER. Mr. President and Mrs. Carter:

Thank you very much indeed for your very warm welcome this morning and for your very kindly words and for the weather, if I may say so, too.

I am very grateful to you for what you said. I am not sure it is all true about me, but it is certainly true that I have held all the major offices. But I feel a little like the French aristocrat after the revolution who was asked what he did. And he said, "I survived." And I have got a feeling that in politics, to survive is probably the most you can hope for. You can influence events a little, but that is about it.

At any rate, I always arrive here, Mr. President, as you well know, with a very keen sense of anticipation for the discussions that we have and, on this occasion, it is especially invigorating to be here at the beginning of your new administration.

Now you know, sir, as I know, that the friendship between our two countries embraces all parties and all administrations on both sides of the Atlantic, whatever they may be. But nevertheless, in renewing the bonds of friendship--and I hope, sir, that you and I will be able to strike up a personal friendship--let me say that I do so with a particular sense of excitement, an excitement of sharing your new hopes, your new aspirations, your intentions, your new policies, being here at the beginning of a new administration.

And Vice President Mondale, whose words I found very valuable when he came to London--I am not sure that his singing was quite up to that standard-but certainly, he communicated to us some of the excitement of being in at the start of this new administration in the United States.

You bear much of the burdens of the free world--military burdens, economic burdens, aid burdens. But what is more, Mr. President, what you can do and what you have already begun to do is to influence the political tone of the world in a very marked degree. And I would like to thank you, sir, and indeed the whole American people, that in the leadership that you give to the world today, that you carry your responsibilities with spirit and with a marked constructive thinking, and imaginative thinking, too.

You referred, sir, to the fact that for the time being, I am President of the European Community. Let me hasten to disabuse our friends who gather here, that has nothing to do with my capacity. It is as we say in the United Kingdom, "It just happened to be Buggins' turn," and I am Buggins.

But what I can say on behalf of them all is that every member of the Community is desirous that there should be a close partnership and a strengthening of relations between the United States and Europe.

You and I, Mr. President, will be holding our discussions in a world which has now experienced 4 years of recession, the deepest since the 1930's. Of course, the free world can and will emerge from this recession, but we need concerted intergovernmental action' if we are to do so as speedily as possible.

No one group of nations and no one nation can survive permanently as an island of prosperity if the remainder of the world is in recession. And our task, sir, if I may be bold enough to say so, is to see how we can help poverty and unemployment among the world's people, in an era of rapid change that has been caused by the unprecedented speed of technological development.

This is going to cause us many problems. And I was heartened yesterday, sir, to see you calling for a new program to help the young people of the United States who need training and who are unemployed and who you wish to see trained and get back into employment.

Sir, we shall also need to discuss the eternal problem, the never-ending problem of how best to maintain and enhance the liberty for our own citizens and for people in all parts of the world.

We shall have to consider how to strengthen our work for peace and enhance our own security, how we can live with the different systems, political systems, from our own, those that are not based on parliamentary democracy, as ours is, for if we don't learn how to live with them, then with the rapid advance of nuclear technology we shall certainly die with them.

And so, we have much to talk about, and I look forward to our conversations on these and many other matters.

We shall be able to carry the results of our discussions with us into the international gatherings to which we both belong, and especially, sir, to the Downing Street summit in London on May 7 and 8 to which you have kindly accepted my invitation. I hope that we shall be able to have prior discussions that will lead to positive results from that particular conference.

You, sir, have referred to the relationship between our countries. When I was young I used to say what I would like to do is have 6 months in the United Kingdom and 6 months in the United States. Getting a bit old now, but even so, it is a wonderful place to be.

You have got an invigorating country here. You have problems, but your attitude is always how can we lick them? That is what I like to see. That is why it is such a pleasure to be back here with you, sir, at the beginning of your administration, to wish you every success in the tasks that you are going to have to carry through and which you will have our great support in all that you endeavor to do, because we know that as leaders of the free world you will get plenty of criticism. But you also need support and encouragement, too.

So, I can assure you, Mr. President, in conclusion, you will receive a very warm welcome when you come to London. We are very honored that you should do so on May 7 and 8. And I thank you again for your most kindly welcome, you and Mrs. Carter, here this morning.

Note: The President spoke at 10:40 a.m. on the South Lawn of the White House.

Jimmy Carter, Visit of Prime Minister James Callaghan of Great Britain Remarks of the President and the Prime Minister at the Welcoming Ceremony. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/242948

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