Toasts of the President and Sultan Qaboos bin Said of Oman at the State Dinner

April 12, 1983

The President. Good evening, and welcome to the White House. Tonight we honor His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said, Sultan of Oman.

Some time ago the Queen of England awarded him the Knight Grand Cross of St. Michael and St. George on an order that was founded in 1818 with the motto: ``Token of a better age.'' Well, Your Majesty, after spending time with you today and discussing serious matters of concern to both our nations, I can fully appreciate why our cousins in Great Britain paid you that compliment.

Those ancient orders of chivalry, however, tend to associate grace, decency, and other majestic qualities with the past, often the very distant past. But here, Your Majesty, on this side of the Atlantic we look for such traits in those around us because we seek first and foremost to build a better tomorrow. And it's clear that leaders like yourself -- proud, yet humane individuals -- will, indeed, make tomorrow a better age for mankind.

In my welcoming remarks this morning, I touched on a few of your many wonderful accomplishments. These were not products of a faint heart or indecision. Modern education systems, sophisticated health organizations, the infrastructure for economic progress don't just spring into existence, especially in so short a time. These advances are the result of hard work and good government. They reflect on extraordinary level of leadership; they reflect values which are deeply cherished here and reaffirm our high regard for the people of Oman and for you as an individual.

The Sultan's enthusiasm for building a well-functioning, modern country is a legend, but how many are aware of his enthusiasm for horses? Your Majesty, you probably know I enjoy riding, myself. With all your pressing responsibilities, I'm sure you agree that there is nothing so good for the inside of a man as the outside of a horse. [Laughter] I also understand you have an appreciation for Gilbert and Sullivan, an interest that's shared by many here in America. Well, we can all be grateful that the Sun will never set on Gilbert and Sullivan.

But as much as Americans admire and identify with horsemanship and music, Your Majesty, we revere your personal courage and commitment even more. We're keenly aware that the progress you've made for your people was done in spite of a Communist-inspired, externally supported insurrection early in your reign. But you are not a man who is easily deterred.

In an interview you said, ``I go everywhere. I drive my own car. I usually like to drive in the first car of a convoy, because that way I can see more of my people and my country. And that's what I live for, and that's what I will die for.''

Your Majesty, I salute you. The American people are lucky to have you as a friend and proud to stand side by side with the people of Oman.

Thank you. God bless you.

The Sultan. Mr. President, Mrs. Reagan, honored guests:

I have been deeply touched by the warmth of the welcome you have extended to me this evening and by the generous words of appreciation with which you have referred to my country.

It is, indeed, a pleasure for me to visit your great city of Washington again. And this time to do so as a formal expression of the friendship and understanding which exists between our two countries.

As I am sure you are aware, the past decade has made heavy demands on Oman. Not only have the most sustained and intensive efforts had to be made in our determination to provide a better life for our people, but at the same time, we have fought to preserve our independence from foreign-inspired aggression.

Today, happily, that aggression has been defeated, and great strides have been made in the improvement of the quality of life of our people. But we are under no illusions. We realize that the important geopolitical position we occupy at the mouth of the gulf and the unstable situation that exists in the region make it imperative that we develop our country and its defenses to the maximum of our ability. This we are doing and shall continue to do.

We do not expect others to shoulder these burdens for us. We fight our own battles. But we realize that in the present state of the world no country can act in isolation, that a concerted effort must be made by the free world if freedom itself is not to be extinguished. We, therefore, look to our friends for their support, just as we offer ours to them in the trials and dangers that jointly face us. This is, therefore, Mr. President, why I particularly welcome this opportunity to acknowledge the valuable contribution which the United States has made and continues to make to the development and the interests of Oman.

The expert technical and other resources upon which we have been able to draw and the sustaining good will with which they have been provided has been of the greatest assistance in the work to improve the quality of life of my people and to safeguard the independence and territorial integrity of our country.

Mr. President, the inescapable burdens which lie upon your great country are, indeed, heavy. But your untiring work for peace and your active concern for the oppressed and underprivileged in this troubled world command the respect and admiration of all who place the destiny of humanity above cynical, political manipulation and exploitation. In this, your continued search for an acceptable and honorable solution is vital if the dangerous and intractable situation in the Middle East is to be resolved honorably and finally.

I have welcomed the opportunity to discuss this and other matters of mutual concern with you. And I believe that our frank and constructive exchange of views has made a real contribution to an understanding of the problems which face our two countries and has been a positive step towards their solution.

Mr. President, I should like to assure you that you have Oman's sympathetic support and understanding in the great work for peace and humanity of which you are engaged.

Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 9:41 p.m. in the State Dining Room at the White House.