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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release January 11, 1999
                       REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT 
                      AT STATE ARRIVAL CEREMONY

                             Grand Foyer

9:45 A.M. EST

PRESIDENT CLINTON: President Menem, members of the Argentine delegation, distinguished guests. It's a very special pleasure for me to welcome President Menem to the White House for this first state visit of the new year. The United States is proud of its strong relationship with Argentina, and I am grateful for the personal and national partnership that President Menem and I have developed together.

Mr. President, over the last decade, the Americas have turned a page in our history. Our future has never been brighter. Last year, Argentina and the United States helped to resolve a border dispute between Peru and Ecuador that had persisted for decades. This year, we are a hemisphere at peace, essentially without international conflict, moving beyond historic animosities to discover new opportunities.

In every nation but one, democracy has replaced dictatorships, open markets have replaced command economies, a marketplace of ideas has replaced the battle zone of ideologies. From Point Barrow to Patagonia, the peoples of the America are greeting a new American century with a conviction that this will be our best time yet.

Mr. President, under your leadership Argentina has been at the forefront of Latin America's resurgence. You have built trust with neighbors and strengthened relationships with nations around the world. By courageously examining their past, the Argentine people have set an example for other nations seeking to bolster human rights. Argentina's wise economic policies are helping the region to recover from economic challenges and to restore confidence in open markets.

We are also particularly grateful for Argentina's leadership beyond the Americas. Day in and day out, your peacekeepers promote stability in Haiti, Cyprus, Bosnia, the Persian Gulf and other trouble spots, often working side-by-side with our troops. President Menem has consistently worked to encourage constructive dialogue between nations, and to oppose those who would intimidate their neighbors through military aggression.

Finally, he has shown real vision and courage before one of the great challenges of the new century, securing his people's prosperity while protecting the environment for future generations.

In 1999, our two nations will continue to work together closely, building a vibrant, open international economy while preserving natural resources; forging international peace and stability; honoring individual rights along with the larger community to which we all belong.

Mr. President, our two nations have come far together over this past decade. But, thanks in no small measure to your leadership, there is no limit to our progress in the century ahead. Bienvenidos, welcome to America. (Applause.)

PRESIDENT MENEM: Mr. President, my friend in the United States of America, President Clinton; distinguished Mrs. Clinton; Mr. Vice President of the United States of America, Mr. Al Gore; distinguished Mrs. Gore; Madam Secretary of State; military officials, representatives of the U.S. Government, and distinguished delegates of the delegation that has come with me; ladies and gentlemen.

This is the beginning of my second state visit to the United States of America, and it is at the beginning of my 10th and last year in my second term of office as President of Argentina. I would like, Mr. President, to thank you very much for the praise that you have showered upon me and the good words you have said about me personally and my country. It has been an honor for me, together with you, to build this new relationship between our two nations. Our joint agenda is full of positive events.

To give you an example, Argentine meat is once again on the American market. We have been appointed major non-NATO allies of the United States. And we have jointly performed activities in space and in environmental protection. The trust you have showed, Mr. President, and the mutual respect that we feel for each other, has been the basis of the many points of agreements in our life together and also have been the basis for the solutions to be found to our rare moments of dissent.

What we have been able to build, Mr. President, is solid enough so that future generations, both of Argentines and Americans, will be able to enter into the next century with a glorious future in sight. And that future that we will share, it will be based on peace, justice, the preservation of the environment, the respect for human rights, the full-fledged application of democracy and all the peace that we want for the world.

In the name of my people, Mr. President, and in the name of my own person, I would like to congratulate you for the strong position of leadership that you have shown, not only within your country, but in the world as a whole. You, Mr. President, and your people, are the friends of Argentina; and the Argentines, and this President, are also the friends of the United States of America. We are friends and, of course, allies.

Before closing, I would like to warmly congratulate the Argentine School in Washington, that is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. They have been educating 300 students a year, one-third of them being Argentines. I would like very specially to underline the fact that this community effort is done with no subsidies, and based on the work of professors, students and parents. For all the delegation of that school here present I would like to propose a round of applause. (Applause.)

President Clinton, Mrs. Clinton, thank you for this invitation, and I thank you for this visit. And I want you to know that you have in me a true friend. I may be the President now, I will be a citizen in the future; but I am sure that we will be still working together to promote peace in the world, to promote equality among the inhabitants of the world, to work for the greatness of each one of our nations and for the happiness of our people.

I thank you and may God bless you. (Applause.)

END 10:00 A.M. EST