Remarks at the Welcoming Ceremony for King Hussein I of Jordan

November 2, 1981

The President. It is a distinct pleasure and an honor to welcome Your Majesties to Washington. I've been looking forward to meeting King Hussein longer than I've been President. One of the advantages of age is the perspective it gives to looking back. I've watched King Hussein from a distance for many years, watched as he ascended the throne and accepted great responsibility while still in his teens. And in the years since, he's proved himself time and again a brave man and, I might add, a wise leader.

Our friendship with King Hussein has stood the test of time. It's based on shared interests, but also on common values and mutual respect. During the three decades that he has led Jordan, America has maintained an unwavering dedication to the search for Middle East peace. And over these many years, King Hussein has been our friend. Such loyalty is not lightly regarded by the people of the United States.

Let it be understood that America seeks peace with honor and security for all the states and people of the region, undoubtedly a similar goal to your own. Yet at this moment, Your Majesty, there's much to discuss about how to reach our mutual goal. Recent tragic events make it even more imperative that we work together if solutions are to be found.

Today, let us achieve an understanding about ourselves and then reaffirm to the world that there are no differences between us that we cannot overcome and none that will lessen the friendship between the United States and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

For our part, no one should doubt that the preservation of Jordan's security, integrity, and its unique and enduring character remains a matter of highest importance. Your Majesty, over the years your concern for the well-being of your people, your creative statesmanship, and your good sense have enriched Jordan. Under your leadership, King Hussein, the Jordanian economy has yielded fruit, literally and figuratively, to all the citizens of Jordan. And in Jordan today, the private sector is thriving and the standard of living is increasingly a model for developing nations.

In the last two decades, the literacy rate rose from 32 to 70 percent. Educated Jordanians now fill skilled jobs all over the Middle East. Meanwhile, unemployment has almost disappeared, and Jordan boasts an average annual economic growth rate of 9 percent. Your success offers hope that people who've known grievous adversity can rise above their conflicts to build a new life. Similarly, there are tremendous opportunities for economic betterment in your region, while political problems work themselves out.

Given freedom to do so, people who live in such proximity will interact to better themselves, even though divided by politics. Such peaceful interactions should be applauded. Furthermore, the United States encourages any mutually beneficial economic cooperation between nations. The problems of water and transportation, for example, are areas of potential benefit to you and your neighbors if a farsighted approach is taken.

Your Majesty, there are, however, other forces which seek to widen and exploit the divisions among the peoples of the Middle East. Tension and conflict both reflect and increase the power and influence of such hateful forces. When focusing on the internal problems of the region, we must never lose sight of the role of external powers in aggravating those problems.

In your book, ``Uneasy Lies the Head,'' you proclaimed, ``I fear only God.'' Well, in your life you've demonstrated this courage in so many ways -- as a pilot, as a soldier and, most important, as a statesman. But the point of that statement is not alone that you are brave, but that you are devout. It highlights your belief in and respect for the Supreme Being who's Father of us all. Americans admire such values.

Years ago, your grandfather, King Abdullah, a giant in the Arab world, in his memoirs wrote, ``It is the duty of all Arabs to bear witness to the world that they possess a place and constitute an entity among the nations of the world and that they stand today at the side of the democracies in the contest between fear-inspiring communism and popular democracy.''

Your Majesty, during your reign you have demonstrated the wisdom of your grandfather by maintaining a perspective on potential dangers while still providing leadership on the immediate issues confronting you and your neighbors.

The United States is concerned about outside threats to the Middle East, as well as those issues which most directly affect the people of the Middle East. We're sincerely attempting to do all that can be done to end the ongoing tragedy that has plagued that area of the world. A lasting peace is in our interest, just as it is in the interest of all people of good will. Respecting our differences and knowing you as we do, we're confident that you share our heartfelt desire for peace and stability. Your courage and integrity earned this trust and respect long ago.

The story is told that early in your reign, you decided to stay the night at a Bedouin encampment which was under threat of attack. And while walking in the darkness, you heard the voice of an elder tribesman proclaim from inside a tent, ``Abdullah would be proud of his grandson.'' Well, we think that's even truer today, and we want you to know that we, too, are proud, proud to have you as a friend.

Welcome to our country.

The King. Mr. President, Mrs. Reagan, dear friends, it's indeed a moving moment for me as I express my sincere gratitude for the warm welcome to both Noor and myself and to our Jordanian colleagues who are with us today.

It is a great pleasure for us to be once again in the United States of America in response to your kind invitation, and to visit with you, the leader of this great nation. This year indeed marks the 25th anniversary of a unique relationship between the United States and Jordan, unique in its length and durability. It is a relationship seasoned by time and trouble. I recognized, as the leader of Jordan, 25 years ago, that the values and principles on which your nation's foundations were created were the same ones which are so dear to the Arabs and which were the foundations of the Arab awakening and resolve from the beginnings of this century.

It was my commitment to those ideals and principles that prompted me to proudly seek the establishment and consolidation of a friendship between our nations a quarter of a century ago. Meaningful and dynamic relations must always be based on mutual understanding. Throughout these eventful years, I've been totally committed to both the cause of the Arab people, which is my cause and motivation, and to a realization that it is an honorable and just cause. I deemed it my duty to present it and defend it and explain it to the best of my ability.

I'm a firm believer in the proverb that says you can hide the truth from all the people half the time, half the people all the time, but not all of the people all of the time, and that justice must inevitably, finally prevail. We must not permit the distortions of others to become a barrier to the understanding on which our relationship is based.

I know you, Mr. President, to be a man of honor, dedicated to the highest of ideals and principles. I know also that you have the courage of your convictions. You have displayed this throughout your public life and, because of it, have the respect of those who know you. I am confident that working together with all who truly seek peace and security for the people of the Middle East, that these qualities will provide the source of strength which that goal requires.

At this most turbulent and critical of times, I see in jeopardy not only Arab rights and legitimate interests but a threat to the very Arab identity and the rights of future Arab generations. I also see the larger threats to world peace, as well as to the vital interests of all those concerned with the security of our region, including the United States of America.

I hope that at this time I shall be able to present our case convincingly in the interest of us all, and thus achieve greater mutual understanding. In doing so, we can pave the way towards formulating proper policies and build once more lasting and strengthened relations between us, based on clear and solid foundations. It's a great task and a great challenge. It is, indeed, a duty. Despite the difficulties that surround us at this most critical juncture, I am optimistic, and I am determined. I am hopeful that upon my return home, I shall be able to carry to my people and to my colleagues at the next Arab summit, promising impressions and favorable news.

I can but do my best in these coming days. I hope it will be adequate, for what is at stake is both of our national interests and the future of so many. I am confident that on the basis of our long, close friendship and with courage, dedication, and God's blessing, we can -- and indeed, must -- successfully meet the challenge before us.

Mr. President, we are deeply in your debt for your friendship and the warmth of your welcome. May God bless you, protect you, guide your steps in leading the great American people towards a brighter future and in serving the cause of all mankind.

Thank you, sir.

Note: The President spoke at 10:13 a.m. on the South Lawn of the White House, where King Hussein was given a formal welcome with full military honors.

Following the ceremony, the President and the King met in the Oval Office. Also present at that meeting were the Vice President, Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig, Jr., Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs Richard V. Allen, and Richard N. Viets, U.S. Ambassador to Jordan. That meeting was followed by an expanded session which included, in addition to the above participants, Counsellor to the President Edwin Meese III, Assistants to the President James A. Baker III and Michael K. Deaver and, on the Jordanian side, Prime Minister Mudhir Badran, Foreign Minister Marwan al-Kasim, Chief of the Royal Court Ahmad Lawzi, 'Abd al-Hadi 'Atallah al-Majali, Jordanian Ambassador to the United States, and Lt. Gen. Sharif Zaid Bin Shaker, Commander in Chief of the Jordanian Armed Forces.