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Visit of Prime Minister Kriangsak Choreanan of Thailand Remarks at the Welcoming Ceremony.

February 06, 1979

THE PRESIDENT. It's a delight for me, on behalf of the people of the United States of America, to welcome back to our Nation a very distinguished international leader and a friend of our people, Prime Minister Kriangsak of the Kingdom of Thailand.

Our friendly relationships have been historically very important to our country. One hundred and forty-three years ago this month, for the first time with any nation in Asia, our country signed a treaty of peace with the people of Thailand, then known as Siam. This was the first peace treaty that we signed with any peoples of Asia. Since then, we've experienced years, even generations of friendship, growth, and change. And throughout all these years—sometimes years of testing and trial—the friendship between our two countries has been very valuable to the people of the United States.

We've been allies in times of peace and war. Our distinguished visitor fought alongside American troops in Korea. And I understand from one of my staff members who recently visited your home, that on your private home walls, there are photographs of you and American GI's as one of the dear possessions in your personal life.

Our Nation is intensely interested and deeply committed to the integrity and to the freedom and the security of Thailand, that your borders stay inviolate. And as you well know, the bilateral commitment and the multilateral commitments made in the Manila Pact are the bases for our security agreements with you and with your people, Mr. Prime Minister.

You come here at a very important time, when your own region of the world is again witnessing conflict at your very shores and borders, a time of mutual concern. Following the visit of Vice Premier Deng of the People's Republic of China, my conversations with you will be very valuable to me and to the people of the Nation that I represent.

You come not only representing a great country but also the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, ASEAN countries, within which you are an acknowledged and respected leader.

We are very deeply interested in the independence and the security of the people of Southeast Asia. We believe in a stable system of governments, joined in peace, with independence of each nation preserved and inviolate.

So, in politics and in security affairs, our relationships have been of great mutual importance. In addition, economic interrelationships have been dear to our own people and to yours. Heavy American business investments and interests in Thailand have been very profitable for both our people.

We witness under your own benevolent administration, with great appreciation, a strong example of the preservation of human rights. Your country has, through great difficulty, welcomed and helped to care for 140,000 or more refugees. Our country has received a like number. And, as you know, this is important to the people of the United States, because our country is a nation originally formed by and built by refugees.

Later on this spring, in April, democratic elections will be held under your leadership to establish a parliamentary form of government based on the principles of democracy. And the improvements in your judicial system and in the general benevolent attitude toward the rights of individuals have indeed been an inspiration to us all.

So, Mr. Prime Minister, we welcome you, your beautiful wife, your son, your daughter, your political party representatives to our country.

After frequent visits to our Nation, you have made many friends in the past who welcome you here today. And I have no doubt that this visit will let you depart from our Nation, after an extensive tour, with a large number of new friends for you, your family, and the people of your great nation.

Welcome to the United States, Prime Minister Kriangsak.

THE PRIME. MINISTER. Mr. President, Mrs. Carter, [fiends, ladies and gentlemen:

This is for us an auspicious day. On behalf of my colleagues, I want to thank you for this warm and generous welcome. It is a special pleasure to return to a country which has so many close ties with Thailand and so many happy associations for me, personally.

We in Thailand look at our relationship with the United States as something special. Like you, we cherish our independence, our freedom, and our way of life. Our nations have worked side by side to advance these cherished beliefs in Southeast Asia and throughout the world. Our ties are based on mutual interest and respect, and our peoples have benefited from our common endeavors. I am confident that they will persist.

But our relations transcend politics. Some 100,000 of my countrymen have attended schools and universities in the United States. Our peoples also retain close ties with Americans through professional associations, business partnerships, and frequent travel.

Throughout these contacts and shared experiences, the links between our peoples are firm and progressive. Most importantly, our peoples get along well together. We Thais enjoy your openness and informality. On our part, while I cannot say we outdo your famous Southern hospitality, Americans seem to feel at home with us.

The nations of Southeast Asia have witnessed many dramatic events during the past few years. I regret that the peace and stability that we long for in Southeast Asia has not yet been established. The killing still goes on. While the present situation has dangers, we are confident that the strength and the resiliency of the Thai people will enable us to withstand all challenges.

We also know that we have the support and encouragement of the United States and most other countries of the world. Both the material and moral strengths of the United States are vital to the peace of the world.

The Thai people are pleased with your continuing recognition that the peace and well-being of Asia is of vital interest to the United States, and with your determination to continue to play an active role in the region. We believe such an active and constructive American presence is essential if we are to achieve peace and continue with our political and economic development.

We appreciate your commitment to the security of Thailand. Your response to the unfortunate developments in Kampuchea is evidence of your concern and your values. For its part, Thailand has tried hard to improve relationships with all our neighbors, based on the principle of mutual respect, territorial integrity, and noninterference.

Elementary prudence requires us to improve our own defenses. We will rely on the strength of our own people, but we will need your cooperation in improving our military deterrent. But we also recognize that the security of Thailand depends on more than weapons. It rests, also importantly, on national unity, based on a just and prosperous society and on longheld Thai values.

We are working hard to move closer to such a society. We will devote major efforts and resources to improving the lot of our poorer farmers. We will protect our unique historical and cultural patterns as we protect the rights of our citizens. We have maintained our humanitarian principles and have granted asylum to large numbers of Indochinese refugees.

My own experience is illustrative of the special relationship which exists between our nations and the warm bonds which mark personal relations between Thais and Americans.

With a number of my colleagues here, I fought with your forces under the united flag in Korea—the United Command Flag in Korea. For 30 years I have worked closely and intimately with the officials of your country in numerous common endeavors. I, personally, am grateful to the doctors and the nurses at Waiter Reed Hospital, surely one of the world's great medical centers.

Our ties with America are simply unique. My colleagues and I look forward to our meeting with you, Mr. President. We look forward to renewing old friendships and forging new ones with the American people.

In the years ahead, I am confident that with your encouragement and support, our two countries will build on the strong foundation of friendship to enhance and develop new areas for mutual cooperation. My colleagues and I humbly dedicate our visit to this cause.

Mr. President, thank you for receiving us so warmly. Although this is our first meeting, we feel we are among close friends. We look forward with great anticipation to what I know will be a warm and successful visit.
Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 10:38 a.m. on the South Lawn of the White House.

Jimmy Carter, Visit of Prime Minister Kriangsak Choreanan of Thailand Remarks at the Welcoming Ceremony. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/249060

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