Remarks at the Welcoming Ceremony for President Moussa Traore of Mali

 

October 6, 1988

 

President Reagan. Mr. President, it's an honor and a pleasure to welcome you on your first official visit to the United States. You and all the people of Mali are good friends of the United States. In addition to deeply appreciating your support on international issues, we admire Mali as a country where people of different ethnic and religious backgrounds respect each other and live together in peace.

 

You and your country have also courageously embarked on an economic reform program. As a result, Mali has been one of the major aid recipients in Africa, and we're pleased to have been able to assist you with this program.

 

Mr. President, we're also pleased by your visit because you represent not only Mali but also the Organization of African Unity, of which you were recently elected chairman. And we ask you to accept our congratulations on your election to this important post. Earlier this year, the OAU celebrated its 25th anniversary. During its history, the OAU has played a vital role in resolving regional conflicts in Africa and has helped African countries to work together to solve problems and promote economic development.

 

Under your leadership, Mr. President, I'm confident the OAU will continue with these crucial activities. You have already demonstrated your interest in helping to promote regional settlements in southern Africa and the western Sahara. We hope the OAU can play an even more active role in solving those regional problems and play a key role in promoting development in Africa by encouraging economic reform and cooperation.

 

Mr. President, I understand there is a Malian proverb that goes: Bolokoni kelen te bele ta -- One finger cannot lift a rock. I think this proverb expresses perfectly the goal and the strength of the Organization of African Unity. Africans must pull together and work together. And we wish you and the OAU great success in working together to achieve common goals during your time as chairman and throughout the OAU's next 25 years.

 

Mr. President, we look forward to talking with you over the next few days, not only about bilateral concerns and African regional issues but about concerns we share in other parts of the world. For Africa, I believe -- which represents nearly one-third of the member nations of the United Nations -- truly has come of age as a participant in the international arena. Let me say again how pleased we are to welcome you to the United States. We wish you an enjoyable and profitable visit. Thank you, and God bless you.

 

President Traore. Mr. President, I should like on behalf of my delegation and my own name to express my very sincere thanks to you for the kind invitation extended to us to visit this great nation, the United States of America.

 

Our visit meets two concerns; first of all, the concern of making even stronger the friendship and solidarity which have been a trademark of relations between our two nations. May I cite in this connection Vice President Bush's memorable visit in Mali on March 8th and 9th, 1985. It was for our people tangible evidence of the unwavering commitment of the United States to the Republic of Mali.

 

May I now express my honest wish to bring to the American people in my capacity as president of the OAU a message of friendship from the peoples of Africa. Indeed, over and above the worldwide role played by the United States, there are between your nation and the African continent human, cultural, and spiritual relations becoming stronger every day, to the greatest benefit of the American and African peoples.

 

I know for a fact, Mr. President, that my visit will give us a chance to discuss together the major issues of common interest. And I am convinced, Mr. President, that our discussions will enable us to make progress in the search for a solution to the problems which are of concern to both our sides. Mr. President, I thank you.

 

Note: President Reagan spoke at 10:15 a.m. at the South Portico of the White House, where President Traore was accorded a formal welcome with full military honors. President Traore spoke in French, and his remarks were translated by an interpreter. Following the ceremony, the two Presidents met in the Oval Office.