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Public Papers - 1991

Remarks Welcoming President Vigdis Finnbogadottir of Iceland and Queen Sonja of Norway

1991-10-09

President Bush. Please be seated this sunny day in the Rose Garden. But let me just say what a pleasure it is to welcome President Vigdis Finnbogadottir -- excuse me, I have such difficulty, and I've known her a long, long time -- of Iceland, and of course, Queen Sonja of Norway, to Washington.

The ties between our two lands go back nearly 1,000 years to the time of the voyages of Leif Eriksson and his companions, the first Europeans to set eyes on North America. This year we also celebrate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the United States and Iceland.

On Leif Eriksson Day we commemorate the voyages of Leif the Lucky, Son of Iceland, Grandson of Norway. His bold and adventurous spirit is an inspiration to peoples on both sides of the Atlantic who continue to work on the frontiers of knowledge in many areas. This is also a time to celebrate not only the strong relationship between our countries but also our shared commitment to the ideals of democracy and peaceful cooperation between nations. Our common views regarding a strong NATO symbolize our faith in these ideals.

In recognition of Vinland Revisited and the events surrounding this occasion of President Vigdis and Queen Sonja's visit, I would like to present each of them with a copy of the Presidential declaration proclaiming October 9th Leif Eriksson Day and then turn to them for comments.

President Finnbogadottir. Mr. President, I wish to thank you very much and the people of the United States for the warm welcome that they have given us here when we come on an important mission with our Viking ships and with the Gaia that is to symbolize our wish to make a better world, ecologically speaking.

We are having the young children in mind, we are having the future in mind when we come with friendship, as we always do. And may I present you, on behalf of Iceland and Norway, ``The Viking Discovery of America,'' a special edition, the first copy signed by His Majesty the King of Norway, Harald V, and myself.

President Bush. How beautiful a present. Thank you so very much. It's lovely. Thank you.

Queen Sonja. Mr. President, I am very happy also to be here in Washington on this important occasion. And I have the privilege to present to you a replica, but in silver this time, of the Gaia. We believe and hope it will fulfill its promise to help out children in our world. Also like the President of Iceland said, to help the future and the future generation to be able to profit by this wonderful planet Earth. Thank you very much, Mr. President.

President Bush. Beautiful. Thank you.

Queen Sonja. And also, I hope it will strengthen our ties between Iceland, Norway, and your country, the United States. Thank you.

President Bush. Well, thank you very, very much.

Note: The President spoke at 2:55 p.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House.

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