Toast at a Luncheon Honoring Prime Minister Prem Tinsulanonda of Thailand

October 6, 1981

Prime Minister Prem, on behalf of the American people, it is a pleasure and an honor to welcome you and your colleagues to the White House today. I have enjoyed this opportunity to get to know you. Our conversations reinforced for me the importance of maintaining the security, stability, and national development of Thailand. Let me assure you that we value your counsel and views on trends and developments in your region.

Your country, Mr. Prime Minister, is truly named ``Land of the Free.'' Blessed by nature, the Thai people are peaceful, hardworking, and have never menaced their neighbors. Blessed equally by brilliant and dynamic leaders, their nation has remained independent for more than seven centuries.

Thailand's relations with our own country date back more than 100 years and have been characterized by warm friendship and close cooperation. Our sons and daughters have studied side by side in each other's schools and universities; our soldiers have fought and died together in two wars. We share a relationship that's truly rare between two countries, especially since we're separated by 12,000 miles of ocean.

Your open society and free enterprise system are a shining example for the rest of Asia. The other day I had the great privilege of addressing the 36th annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank that was held here in Washington. And one of the points I made to that distinguished audience was: the societies which have achieved the most spectacular, and broad-based economic progress, in the shortest period of time, are not the most tightly controlled, not necessarily the biggest in size or the wealthiest in natural resources -- what units them all is their willingness to believe in the magic of the marketplace.

I could have been speaking about your Thailand, Mr. Prime Minister. You can be very proud of what you and your government and your people have achieved. The American people are very proud to have contributed in a small way to your success. And let me just add that we intend, within our means, to maintain this contribution.

Now a menacing shadow threatens your country. We've talked about that this morning -- threatens the world, for that matter -- the aggressive actions of the Vietnamese Communists, backed by Soviet sponsors, and they pose a menace to your security, stability, and territorial integrity. Supported by your ASEAN [Association for South East Asian Nations] partners, you stand in the front lines of the great ideological struggle of our century -- one between free people who wish to live in peace in societies of law, and on the other side, the totalitarians who despise human freedom and seek to subvert or destroy it everywhere they can.

With Vietnamese occupation of Cambodia, you and your ASEAN partners buried your differences and joined together to face the common danger. The outcome of the International Conference on Cambodia, in the overwhelming vote to prevent the Vietnamese puppet regime in that country from gaining a U.N. seat, and the continuing efforts to rally the Khmer people against the illegal occupation of their country, all prove to be noble resources of the ASEAN endeavor.

The nations in your region are cooperating to defend their security, and the way is open for ultimate success. I can assure you that America is ready to help you and ASEAN to maintain your independence against Communist aggression. The Manila Pact in its clarification of our bilateral communique of 1962 is a living document. We will honor the obligations that it conveys.

Mr. Prime Minister, the American people join me, I'm sure, in conveying a warm greeting to the royal family and the people of Thailand. Nancy, my wife, would also like you to convey a message. She looks forward with great pleasure to the visit of Her Majesty, Queen Sirikit, to the White House on November 5th.

Now, I'm going to depart a little bit from normal custom here in proposing a toast. In view of the tragedy that has just happened, there is a -- normally, you know, we rise for a toast. In one city in our land, Philadelphia, they have had a tradition for years that you only stand to toast the dead. So therefore, I'm going to propose a toast today with all of us still seated. And it is to you, Mr. Prime Minister, to Their Royal Highnesses, Their Majesties, the King and Queen, and to the people, and to the continuation of close relations between our two countries.

Note: The President spoke at approximately 12:48 p.m. in the State Dining Room at the White House. At the time of the luncheon, the Egyptian Government had not officially announced the death of President Sadat, so the President remained seated for his toast. Prime Minister Prem responded to the President's toast. His remarks were not included in the White House press release.