Remarks by the President in Dinner Toast

Office of the Press Secretary
(Buenos Aires, Argentina)

For Immediate Release October 16, 1997


Ballroom of Rural Center
Buenos Aires, Argentina

9:35 P.M. (L)

PRESIDENT MENEM: Mr. President of the United States of America, distinguished Mrs. Clinton, members of the U.S. delegation. Head of government of the city of Buenos Aires, Ministers of the Executive in Argentina, members of the Congress -- the National Congress and the Provincial Congress -- governors of the provinces of Argentina, members of the diplomatic corps, former President of Argentina, and ladies and gentlemen.

We feel deeply honored with the visit to Argentina of President Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary, and the important and distinguished U.S. delegation. We celebrate in this enjoyable company the friendship bringing our people together through a solid dialogue and mutual cooperation. It is because of you, my dear friend, that with your open and friendly attitude you have invited us to be at this time enjoying a moment of cordiality.

The United States of America, along this century that is coming now to an end, has been a leader in the great causes. Standing firmly in times of misfortune and strong, generous and understanding in victory, the United States of America is the synonym of democracy, the fulfillment of the law, the respect of human values, above anything else.

There is no better way of showing the fresh and vital attitude and the poetic spirit of the United States of America than through the lines written by Walt Whitman and Longfellow, or the witty humor of Mark Twain that meant so much joy in our childhood, with Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. Because the American spirit is positive and optimistic, it is vigorous and stimulates the individual in its struggle for a system that creates opportunities for everybody. We are living today in a great world transformation. We need then nuances that will allow us to adapt to a world that changes suddenly and profoundly. But we are aware that this profound change in no case should forget the human being.

Mr. President, it was in 1994 that you gave momentum to this new hemispheric dialogue that was started during the Summit for the Americas in Miami. Argentina accepted with enthusiasm that challenge, with full conviction that it is necessary to strengthen the relations we have with our true allies. This enterprise is now going hand in hand with our own will of creating integration in the subregional area, and it is an unprecedented road that will bring renewal and unity. Mercosur is a clear example of that thought.

Your presence in Argentina, Mr. President, has all the political strength and the value of a symbol. It is the fundamental landmark for Argentine-American relations.

I will now ask President Clinton and his charming wife, as well as the members of the U.S. delegation, to join me

in a toast. Quoting the words of our National Anthem that say, to the great Argentine people, salute. It is my wish that this expression would be extensive to both people and that the relations that will bring us greater strength will be seen in the economic, cultural and human affairs. And also, a very special toast for the personal happiness and the best of stays in our country for our dear President Bill Clinton. Thank you. (Applause.)

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Mr. President, Zulema, to the members of Congress and the Supreme Court, Mr. Mayor and governors, former President Alfonsin, members of the diplomatic corps, distinguished guests.

Mr. President, thank you for your fine statement, your warm welcome, and the extraordinary hospitality that Hillary and I and our entire delegation of Cabinet, administration and congressional members have received from the people of Buenos Aires and Argentina.

Mr. President, as you know, like you, I come from a small rural state, where some people still value their horse more than their automobile. (Laughter.) And with this remarkable feast, you have reminded us with barbecue that we are truly at home. (Laughter and applause.)

Exactly 150 years ago, in the autumn of 1847, a young man from Argentina visited the United States and was profoundly affected by the experience. He thought that we Americans ate our meals too quickly -- (laughter) -- that our young people had strange courtship habits, and that the White House was not big enough for the President. (Laughter.) Still, he was impressed by a nation in which individuals were valued for their capacity and their work, where education was prized as the great equalizing force of democracy, where a multitude of people of different backgrounds and languages came together -- in his words -- "as if they were one family, joining one another, mixing with each other, parts of old societies forming the new, most daring republic in the world."

Mr. President, that young man was Domingo Faustino Sarmiento. (Applause.) Today, 150 years later, America looks across the great expanse of our hemisphere at Argentina and we are inspired by Argentina today as Sarmiento was by America then. We see a nation shaped, like us, by waves of immigrants from the Old World and the experience of frontier life in the New World. Here, where so many languages are spoken, from Basque to Ukrainian, from Arabic to Welsh, we see a nation drawing strength from its remarkable diversity.

Today we see an Argentina grounded in democracy, committed to economic reforms that have put it on the road to more widespread prosperity, and to educating its people for the demands of the new economy.

I speak for all Americans when I say how very pleased I am that in the last decade our nations have built a strong, new relationship, driven by shared values, based on partnership and respect.

Argentina and America have joined together in common cause. We pledge to create a free trade area of the Americas by 2005, to bring new prosperity to all people of our hemisphere; to turn the revolution in information technology to our children's advantage by opening a world of knowledge to all -- all -- our children.

One hundred fifty years ago, education was Sarmiento's great passion. Today, it is central to our ability to prove that democracy works for all people and to the future we are trying to build together.

We are also partners in helping those around the world who take risks for peace. I thank the people of Argentina for sending peacekeepers into troubled places all over the Earth and setting an example for all nations.

The robust bonds of friendship between Argentina and the United States are rooted in our shared commitment to peace and freedom, to prosperity and security, to the integrity of the individual, the family and the community. They are at the heart of all we dream for our future.

President Menem, I salute you for the extraordinary leadership you have shown in helping our nations turn this corner in history. No one in our hemisphere has done more to seize the opportunities of this new era. Generations to come will remember this as a moment when our two nations served the deepest interests of our people. (Applause.) And tonight, the United States is proud to work alongside Argentina, an Argentina that is fulfilling Domingo Sarmiento's greatest hopes.

Ladies and gentlemen, let us raise a glass to the new partnership between our people for peace and prosperity, here and throughout the world. (Applause.)

South American Remarks

Remarks at reception in Brasilia

Remarks to the People of Venezuela

Remarks to the pool

Dinner Toast

Signing of Declaration on Education

Remarks at Wreath-Laying Ceremony

Remarks at Signing of U.S.-Venezuela Agreements

Remarks at Arrival Ceremony

Buenos Aires Business Community

Remarks to Business Leaders

Argentine Reporters Interview President

Remarks to Students, Teachers, and Community Leaders

Remarks in Television Town Hall

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