Remarks at the Welcoming Ceremony for President Chadli Bendjedid of Algeria

April 17, 1985

President Reagan. Mr. President, it's a great pleasure to welcome you and Madame Bendjedid to Washington today. Yours is the first state visit to the United States by an Algerian President.

As the head of Africa's second largest nation and an acknowledged leader in the Arab, African, and nonaligned nations, your views on a wide range of issues carry great importance.

Our mutual concerns about Middle East peace, North African stability, and African economic development and political process -- or progress, I should say, are among items which I look forward to discussing with you. Through these discussions we seek understanding and progress. We seek to enhance the cooperation of our governments and improve the well-being of our peoples.

The ties between our two peoples and governments have grown over the past few years. We Americans particularly welcome the return of cordial relations, which existed in the early days of your independence. Your visit gives us an opportunity to further strengthen our bilateral ties.

In this respect, I note with satisfaction that we will sign tomorrow an agreement to establish a joint economic commission and will shortly conclude an accord on cultural exchanges. These achievements are tangible signs that the relations between the United States and Algeria are moving in a positive direction. And they're only two of the areas in which our interests coincide and are growing.

Your visit should serve as a catalyst for further friendship-building activities between our peoples and governments. The United States is already one of Algeria's major trading partners. We buy hydrocarbons from you and market American goods, services, and technology in your country. And this exchange benefits both our peoples. Let us continue to explore ways of encouraging this commerce and equalizing our balance of trade so we can invigorate both our economies.

I'm aware, Mr. President, of your particular interest in American agriculture, especially our irrigation methods and farmer technology. Your trip to California, after your visit with us in Washington, should be most enlightening, and we're delighted you're going. There in my home State, you'll have the opportunity to see American know-how put to use in producing food and fiber and to visit firms which already are working with Algeria.

This is even more appropriate, Mr. President, because of the similarity in climate between California and Algeria. And that similarity gives me a good idea of just how wonderful your country really is.

Americans are proud of our past participation in Algerian development projects, and we hope to build upon what has already been accomplished. Your material resources in Algeria are vast, Mr. President, but I'm sure you'll agree that the Algerian people are your greatest treasure.

We're gratified that at this time Algerian students are studying at American universities and technical institutes. The knowledge they gain will enable them to contribute to Algeria's progress and to help create a more prosperous future for your country. They will also serve as a human bridge of friendship between our peoples. This is the kind of technology transfer that we can all be proud of. American educational institutions are open and will remain open to those who would master the keys to development. In doing so, we seek to build a more prosperous world and to establish with you relations based on good will and mutual respect.

Mr. President, again, I give to you my good wishes and those of the American people. And in closing, I want to express our collective gratitude for the role which you and your government played in obtaining release of our Tehran hostages in 1981. It was a gallant effort and was in keeping with Algerian tradition. The records show that your great national hero, Abd Al-Qadr Al-Jaza'iri, personally saved Americans and others from similar danger in Damascus in 1860. And we're grateful that you're following in his proud footsteps.

I look forward to spending this time with you in our discussions on matters of importance to both of us.

Mr. President, we greet you as a friend.

President Bendjedid. Mr. President, thank you for your warm welcome and for the quality of the reception given to both my delegation and myself upon our arrival. I should also like to express the pleasure I feel coming for the first time to this rich land that has brought together people from all lands into one great nation.

We are here to bring a message of friendship and respect from the Algerian people to the American people. The Algerian people have a strong sense of communion with the principles that animated and guided the American Revolution, which represented one of the turning points in the history of the quest for freedom. They also recall the ties that our two nations developed very soon after the independence of the United States of America.

It is only natural that once it had regained its sovereignty, Algeria dedicated itself to restoring a dialog with your country. I can say that through the years this dialog allowed us to know each other better, to define our perceptions, and to better understand our respective approaches toward the challenges of our times.

This visit will be an opportunity to enhance our communication with regard to bilateral as well as international issues that are of common interest. Through cooperation and trade, the United States and Algeria have undoubtedly experienced benefits to both our economies. It is undeniable that there is room for development of a dynamic cooperation that respects the interests of both partners.

Mr. President, my country is strongly committed to the ideals of the goal of the United Nations to achieve peace and development for all the nations of this world. It is an established fact in this context that progress and peace should maintain an intimate and interacting relationship. The objective of the interdependent prosperity called for by the nonaligned countries is founded on the principle of mutual interdependence and upon a quest for a world of peace and progress.

While crises accumulate and areas of tension multiply, there is, more than ever, an urgent need for the international community to combine its efforts, to summon up its collective imagination, and to take the actions necessary to bring about an era of peace, security, and worldwide development. Algeria believes that man is endowed with limitless abilities that can benefit the collective work of peace and progress. And as long as these capabilities are shared in order to achieve the most important task, human destiny will take a course other than that of dissension and poverty.

Thank you, Mr. President.

Note: President Reagan spoke at 10:12 a.m. at the South Portico of the White House, where President Bendjedid was accorded a formal welcome with full military honors. President Bendjedid spoke in Arabic, and his remarks were translated by an interpreter. Following the ceremony, the two Presidents met in the Oval Office.