Remarks of the President and Prime Minister Kamisese K.T. Mara of Fiji Following Their Meetings

November 27, 1984

The President. It's been both an honor and a pleasure to have Prime Minister Ratu Mara of Fiji and his wife as our guests. And this is an historic occasion. The Prime Minister is the first head of state from the nine independent Pacific island nations to pay an official visit here at the White House. The Fijian nation he so ably represents is a model of democracy and freedom, a tremendous example for all the countries of the developing world.

Fijians can be proud, indeed, that in their country people from diverse religious, racial, and cultural backgrounds live and work together in peace and freedom. This accomplishment -- and it is a great accomplishment -- is a tribute to your democratic institutions and to the character of your people. Mr. Prime Minister, when you return to your country, I hope you will convey to your citizens the deep respect and admiration of the American people.

Fijians are our brothers and sisters in the family of democratic nations. We share values that are at the heart of our societies, the most important of which is our abiding love of human liberty. That was underscored to many Americans who fought alongside Fijians in the Second World War during the Solomon Islands campaign, a turning point in the Pacific Theater. We stood together then in the cause of human freedom. That bravery is matched today by the magnificent commitment that your people have made to the cause of peace. Under your leadership, Mr. Prime Minister, Fiji has become a vital part of international peacekeeping missions in the Sinai and in Lebanon. And America knows all too well the price that peacekeepers sometimes pay. Your fallen heroes of peace have a place in our hearts.

Fijians have put themselves on the line and won the gratitude of peace-loving people everywhere. If more nations were as responsible in their international community as Fiji, it would be a far better world.

The Fijian peoples' sense of decency in the conduct of international affairs has been expressed on many occasions in recent years. And we, again, have found ourselves standing shoulder to shoulder in our condemnation of the brutal invasion of Afghanistan and the deliberate shooting down of a civilian Korean airliner. Americans also deeply appreciate your support of our efforts to rescue our students and restore democracy to the people of Grenada.

And I've enjoyed this opportunity to get to know Prime Minister Ratu Mara. He is a man to look up to in many ways. Oxford-educated and deeply religious, a man of conviction and wisdom, he has provided exemplary leadership for his people in the crucial beginning stages of democracy. His support of free enterprise and a market economy has enabled his people to enjoy stable economic progress. He has kept Fiji on a steady course and has always defended the principles on which his country was founded, principles that we Americans share. I'm particularly grateful for the sense of responsibility that he has demonstrated in the area of regional security. Having weighed his legitimate concern over nuclear issues against the defense needs of his country and the Oceania region, in 1983 Prime Minister Ratu Mara reopened Fiji's ports to all our American naval vessels. I know that such decisions are not easy and reflect a high degree of political courage. I applaud your statesmanship, Mr. Prime Minister.

I've thoroughly enjoyed our exchange of ideas today. The Prime Minister taught me the meaning of doing things the ``Pacific way.'' He represents a vital and dynamic way. He represents an area of the world that is becoming increasingly important to the United States. We want to work more closely with the people of Fiji and Oceania to help their region continue on a course of stable economic progress and democratic government, free from international tensions and rivalries.

We seek cooperation and improved relations for the betterment of all our peoples. The Prime Minister's visit has been a significant step forward. For this visit, and for sharing your insights, I give you my heartfelt thanks: vinaka. I look forward to working closely with you in the future, and, Mr. Prime Minister, the people of the United States wish you and your wife a pleasant visit in the United States and a safe journey home. Nisa moce.

The Prime Minister. Well, Mr. President, I'm very pleased, indeed, that it has been possible for you to find time in your busy schedule to meet me on this occasion and soon after your reelection to the Presidency. This is an indication of the warm ties of friendship between our two countries.

Our meeting and discussions this morning has brought our relationship onto a new and exciting level. There is now much greater understanding and appreciation of each other's views and aspirations. Our two countries have stood together for those common principles of justice, freedom, and fairplay.

Fiji was used as a transit base for the American troops in the South Pacific during the Second World War. Our men fought side by side in the Pacific war in defense of our respective ways of life and shared values. Like your country, we stand for peace and appreciate determination to maintain peace and security everywhere.

We believe in peace, and we are ready to play our part in order to demonstrate that belief. That is why we are involved in UNIFIL and the multinational force and observers in Sinai. But as a small island nation -- and like others in the South Pacific and elsewhere -- we look to you and your country for support and guidance in many of our endeavors.

This outlook is both sensible and logical in view of your vast size and what appears to us to be a country of unlimited resource. Moreover, there is a basic similarity and broadly common origin of many of our economic and political institutions. All these go to help our people feel at home in each other's company and make dialog and communication between our two countries meaningful and enjoyable.

Many young men and women from your country gave us loyal and devoted service through the Peace Corps. They worked with us at different levels of our administration and with our people in rural areas. Your South Pacific AID program has been of considerable assistance to the development activities of the Fiji Government, voluntary organizations, and regional institutions in our country.

We are confident that your assistance will continue in the future, because we believe that you see it as part of your overall responsibility in our part of the world. And this is an effective guarantee for peace and stability in our islands.

Our meeting this morning gives us confidence that our relations will grow from strength to strength in the interests of both our countries and our peoples. Thank you, Mr. President.

Note: The President spoke at 1:17 p.m. at the South Portico of the White House.

Earlier, the President and the Prime Minister met in the Oval Office. They then joined their advisers for a working luncheon in the State Dining Room.