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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release March 15, 1995
                      REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
                    AND KING HASSAN II OF MOROCCO

The State Dining Room

8:45 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Ladies and gentlemen, Your Majesty, Your Royal Highnesses, members of the Moroccan delegation, distinguished guests: Hillary and I are delighted to welcome you to America's home. I have been grateful for this opportunity to get to know Your Majesty and to appreciate the wise counsel you have given to every American president since John Kennedy.

In fact, your relationship with our country's leaders, I have learned, goes back even further than that. In January of 1943, at the height of World War II, you were present when your father, Mohammed V, hosted the Casablanca Summit between President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill. History does not record what advice you gave President Roosevelt and the Prime Minister, but I did note that, thereafter, the war turned decisively to the allies' advantage. (Laughter.) So, clearly, you gave good advice.

I also noted that when President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill were in Casablanca, Mr. Roosevelt thought he had to come home and go to work, and Prime Minister Churchill made him stay in Morocco for three more days to see the beautiful sights. My staff never lets me do that. (Laughter.) So we have not made progress in every respect since the 1940s.

Your Majesty, you have written that in the joyous following the declaration of Morocco's independence, your father pulled you aside and said, "We have passed through a difficult trial. But the road ahead will be long and hard. We do not have the right to disappoint the faithful and courageous people who have placed their trust in us."

For the past 34 years, you have lived by your father's admonition. And by pursuing progress for the Moroccan people and peace for all the peoples of your region, you have truly fulfilled his legacy.

The American people especially admire your steadfast devotion to securing a comprehensive peace among all the peoples of the Middle East. In a region where passion and hatred have so often overwhelmed cooler heads and clearer minds, yours has always been a voice of reason and tolerance.

Quoting from the Koran, you have said: "If two groups of believers fight each other, endeavor to reconcile them." You have been tireless in your pursuit of reconciliation. You have helped the countries of the Middle East turn on the past and start a new chapter of peaceful coexistence.

Your Majesty, you have spoken of your beloved Morocco as a bridge between East and West, between Islam and the Judeo-Christian faiths, between respect for tradition and openness to the future. Under your leadership, that bridge which runs from the tip of Europe to the sands of the Sahara and joins the Atlantic to the Mediterranean, that bridge has risen high as a beacon of hope.

And for all those reasons, ladies and gentlemen, honored guests, please join me in raising a glass to His Majesty, King Hassan II, to the Prince and the Princess who are here, and to the people of Morocco, who have done so much to build the bridges of understanding and peace.

(A toast is offered.) (Applause.)

KING HASSAN: Mr. President and great friend, Mrs. Clinton, ladies and gentlemen. Once again, I wish to thank you, Mr. President, for your warm welcome and hospitality; and thank Mrs. Clinton for putting in the special touch that will make this evening a memorable event.

The important talks we had today, Mr. President, were stamped with healthy frankness. They were motivated mainly by a major aim to bring tensions down, particularly in the Middle East. Now, the Soviet Union is no longer. The task of the United States of America is not any easier; rather, because it's better identified, this task is more delicate.

We remain convinced, however, that because of its genius, its creative faculties, and its altruism, the American people will tackle successfully global issues. This I know you will accomplish with sensitiveness and humanism, despite the specificity and diversity of the issues on hand.

I pray all of you, ladies and gentlemen, to join me to raising a toast to the President of the United States of America and my great friend, Mr. Bill Clinton. Long life to the United States of America. Long life to the Moroccan-American friendship.

(A toast is offered.) (Applause.)

END8:54 P.M. EST