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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release February 1, 1996
                      REMARKS BY PRESIDENT CLINTON
                              UPON ARRIVAL
                             The South Lawn    

10:47 A.M. EST

PRESIDENT CLINTON: President and Mrs. Chirac, members of the French delegation, to all the distinguished guests here, French and American alike, at the White House today, on behalf of the American people, it is my pleasure to welcome back to Washington the leader of a great nation and a great people, President Jacques Chirac.

Let me begin by saying that I know I speak for all Americans when I express our condolences to the people of France on the loss of our friend, President Mitterrand, a leader and statesman whose half-century of public service made a vast contribution to France and to the world.

The friendship we celebrate today, the friendship we strengthen today, was forged in the very infancy of the United States. Two hundred and eighteen years ago this very week, our nations signed a treaty of alliance.

Today, our partnership and the ideals at its core -- life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness -- "Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite" -- are making a difference to people all around the world. From the Persian Gulf to Haiti, from Burundi to Bosnia, France and America, side by side, standing for democracy, for progress, and for peace.

France was America's very first ally. Today, after all these years, France remains among our best allies and best friends. Now, at the dawn of a bright new century, we must build on our legacy of leadership to expand opportunity for people within our borders, our vision and our strength must extend beyond our borders. We must unite our people around the promise of peace, as our predecessors joined against the peril of war; and that is what we mean to do.

Together, we are raising the flag of an undivided Europe, where the language of democracy is spoken in every land. We are supporting the spread of strong market economies across the entire continent. We are transforming NATO to meet new challenges and opening its door to new members. And I welcome France's historic decision to participate once again in NATO's defense councils.

Together, we are helping Bosnia find its way from war and devastation to peace and reconstruction. I salute France, its humanitarian organizations and especially its soldiers for the tremendous sacrifices they have made to help the Bosnian people. The United States is proud to work with you to help the peace take hold and endure.

Together, we are leading the fight against the forces of destruction -- the terrorists, the organized criminals, the drug traffickers -- the forces that threaten our children, our communities and our future.

Together, we are bringing the great institutions of global cooperation into the 21st century, from renewing the United Nations to revitalizing the G-7, which will host in Lyons later this year. France and America are partners for progress.

Mr. President, in your Inaugural Address, you declared: "France is an old country. But it is also a young and enthusiastic nation, ready to give its best as long as it has shown a horizon instead of walls." So let our two nations and our two great peoples march toward the future together, shaping those new horizons of hope and opportunity for France, for America and for the world.

PRESIDENT CHIRAC: Mr. President, Mrs. Clinton, ladies and gentlemen: May I tell you today what a joy it is for me, Mr. President, to be here again with you in this country that is very close to my heart. And I would like you to know how very much my wife and myself appreciate the warmth of your welcome.

Now, this is the first state visit of a French President for 12 years, and I wanted the keynote of this visit to be the friendship between our two peoples, a friendship which, as you said, Mr. President, goes back a very long time, that has, in fact, been shaped by history, during which we so often were seen fighting side by side for the same ideals.

It is a firm friendship based on common values, the values of civilization: liberty, human dignity and peace. It is also a friendship that is very much alive, as is indeed shown by the diversity and the wealth of our relations and the outstanding cooperation between out two countries.

Today, as in the past, France and the United States share the same determination to work together in building the world of tomorrow, a world which will be safer, more prosperous, and with more justice. When they band their efforts together to serve the same cause, our two countries can push back the hand of fate in order that hope be rekindled.

We are showing this in Bosnia, where American and French soldiers are combining their efforts to ensure that peace should take hold. And beyond that, let us work together to shape the security architecture of the new Europe and in order to adapt this alliance that is so essential, the Atlantic alliance.

Let us respond together to the great challenges of our time. I have in mind first of all the aid that we owe to the poorest countries in the world. And I also have in mind what we must do in order to deal with those other problems, which are the preservation of our environment. And in order to combat the scourges of our times, such as drugs, organized crime, and terrorism, and also those terrible pandemics, such as AIDS.

Mr. President, later on during the day I'll have an opportunity of discussing with you these great and important subjects, and I will also be discussing them before the members of the United States Congress.

Mr. President, Mrs. Clinton: I also wish this visit to mark the strength and the wealth of the diversity of the ties between France and America in the fields of science and commerce, research and culture.

Beyond our two countries, I would like to speak of the Euro-American relationship. Now, let us organize for the 21st century the necessary partnership between the United States that the world needs more than ever and the European Union that is building itself up and is asserting itself more and more as one of the pillars of the world of tomorrow. Let us organize a genuine global partnership in the interest of our peoples and of peace in the world.

At the beginning of my visit to your country, I would wish to express to the great American people, the friend and the ally always of the French people, the warm greeting of France: Long live the United States of America, long live France, long live Franco-American friendship.

Thank you. (Applause.)

END 11:05 A.M. EST