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Public Papers - 1991 - September

Remarks at the Welcoming Ceremony for President Abdou Diouf of Senegal

1991-09-10

President Bush. To President and Mrs. Diouf, ladies and gentlemen, a sincere welcome. And on behalf of the United States of America, long known for its fidelity to freedom and human dignity, I am honored to welcome President Diouf, the President of a nation which so clearly echoes those beliefs.

A Senegalese proverb says, ``Misunderstandings don't exist; only the failure to communicate exists.''

And, Mr. President, because you have communicated to the world what Senegal embodies, there can be no misunderstanding about the ideals and aspirations that link our two societies and peoples.

For those who follow Senegalese history, it is obvious why Senegal has become one of our closest friends in Africa.

Ever since its independence in 1960, Senegal has adhered to the principles of a democratic political system. Your robust, free press can publish the full spectrum of political thought and opinion. And like us, you have an independent judiciary, vital to any government which operates by the rule of law. And let me mention, too, your enviable record in the field of human rights.

These facts, of course, could describe, we think, our country, the United States of America. We both share a fundamental commitment to the peaceful solution of conflicts. We both believe in the inalienable rights of all. In Senegal it's said, ``Man is the best cure for his own ills.'' Well, Mr. President, the whole world has begun to vanquish the ills of tyranny and totalitarianism. Bayonets and barbed wire cannot conquer man's yearning to be free.

Last year at this time, Senegal was preparing to send 500 soldiers to the Gulf to participate in Operation Desert Shield. Shortly after the end of Operation Desert Storm, a tragic plane crash in Saudi Arabia claimed the lives of 93 of those brave Senegalese soldiers as they returned to their base near the Gulf after a pilgrimage to Mecca. So, Senegal paid proportionately the highest price of any coalition partner in freeing Kuwait from naked aggression.

We mourn your lost countrymen but know that they died for the noblest cause of all: the unstoppable tide of freedom that today is changing history swiftly, dramatically. Future generations will look to our age and say, ``Here, here in the 1990's began the new world order.''

And thus, we welcome not only an old and dear friend to Washington, but a friend who shares our values, who will fight for freedom, and who has a deep appreciation and respect for the American way of life. Mr. President, just as your people love America, so does America love the nation of your birth. God bless you and Senegal and the United States of America. And once again, welcome to our shores.

President Diouf. Mr. President, the words of welcome you have just spoken are those of a true friend. I was deeply moved by them and by the warmth of this beautiful ceremony. Allow me, therefore, at the very outset, to express heartfelt thanks to you on behalf of my wife and on my own and that of the delegation accompanying me.

Mr. President and dear friend, Madam Bush, Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, this is the third time in the space of 2 years that I find myself in this great and beautiful country. This time, however, my visit is of special significance. To begin with, it is my first state visit and the second one by a Senegalese President. It is also significant because it takes place in the background of a particular international setting marked by the end of an era and the heralding of a new order on which we Senegalese and Americans are pinning equal hopes. Add to this the fact that with the strengthening of the Senegalese democracy, our approach becomes more identical to yours. And this in turn makes your model more appealing to us.

Lastly, I note that since the end of the Gulf war, I am the first African President to be received on a state visit by your country. I fully appreciate the significance of this gesture. And I should like to express my gratitude for the thoughtful demonstration of friendship towards me and my country.

At this juncture I should like to dedicate my profound thoughts to the worthy sons of America fallen on the field of honor. As my country suffered the loss of 93 soldiers in Saudi Arabia, I can well appreciate the grief of those who lost their loved ones and to whom I should like to offer once again my condolences. We can take comfort in the fact that their sacrifice has not been in vain, for despite the Gulf war and its aftermath, despite the institutional tremors that have shaken the Soviet Union over the past few weeks, the international atmosphere is, happily, one of detente which our peoples long for.

The progress made in arms reduction with the signing of the START treaty, following the adoption of the Paris Charter for a New Europe, the triumph of democratic demands across the world and particularly in Africa, the dismantling of the legal basis of apartheid -- we still have to draw inferences from it -- are all encouraging signs as we approach the end of the 20th century.

Indeed, never before in the history of mankind has the sound of freedom resounded so loudly and so far and wide. Never have freedom and peace combined so harmoniously for so many human beings and peoples. Yet, this is no permanent achievement. Quite the contrary, it is frail because of the major challenge that is still confronting us, poverty. This is a challenge to us all. Mr. President, I know that this cause is so dear to your heart. I know and I appreciate the efforts your Government is making to face up to it.

Africa, which had apprehended that it would be marginalized to the benefit of the countries of Eastern Europe, is now resolutely committed to the fight for integration, a must for its development. The adoption and signing of the June 1991 OAU [Organization of African Unity] summit of the treaty establishing the African Economic Community is a clear manifestation of this commitment. In my capacity as the current Chairman of the ECOWAS [Economic Community of West African States], I will leave no stone unturned to translate that commitment into concrete achievements within our subregion. I am confident that countries like yours, together with international institutions which have always been by our side, will support us in our endeavors.

Mr. President, I cannot end without expressing once again my thanks for the warmth of your welcome, without renewing my determination to continue striving with you for the triumph of our common values and ideals for the greater well-being of all men and the whole of mankind. I hope that our efforts to that end will be successful, and I express my most sincere wishes for you and your family's good health and happiness and for the sustained prosperity of the friendly American people.

Note: The President spoke at 10:02 a.m. on the South Lawn of the White House, where President Diouf was accorded a formal welcome with full military honors.

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