THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Rabat, Morocco) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release July 25, 1999
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT TO EMBASSY PERSONNEL The Hilton Hotel Rabat, Morocco
7:05 P.M. (L)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. First, thank you for your warm welcome. To those of you who brought the children here today, thank you, especially for bringing them. I would like to thank Congressman Gilman and Congressman Martin Frost who is with him from Texas for joining us. I thank Secretary Christopher and Secretary Baker for dropping everything at a moment's notice to make this trip, to manifest their respect for King Hassan and the friendship between the United States and Morocco.
I'd like to say a special word of thanks to President Bush, who came here, again, on a moment's notice and had to leave early because he now has to go down to Casablanca to take a plane to Belgium to meet another appointment. But I'm very grateful to him for making this trip.
And I'd like to thank all the people from the State Department and the National Security Council, represented by Mr. Berger up here, for putting this trip together in a hurry. And Ambassador Gabriel, thank you and Kathleen and the other members of our embassy community for making us so welcome.
I'd also like to say that the First Lady would very much like to be here to thank you for making her trips to Morocco so successful. And Chelsea is here, and Hillary's mother is here -- who, as I'm sure you know, has been here at least twice, maybe more, since I've been here. I think she's thinking of moving to Morocco. (Laughter.)
We are all profoundly grateful for the friendship between Morocco and the United States and for the personal kindness and friendship that His Majesty King Hassan displayed to me, to my family, to many of us on this podium and to President Bush and to so many others over the years. So this is an important day for us. And Hillary would be here, but she and Chelsea and my mother-in-law have gone to visit with the mother and the sisters of the new King, and that is why they are not here. But they asked me to give you their best and to thank you.
Now, let me say, especially to the Moroccans who work for the American Embassy here, I know this is a difficult day for many of you. King Hassan was the only King most Moroccans ever knew. And I hope it is some measure of comfort to the people of this nation that among the throngs, the millions, of his fellow citizens who came out to honor his passing today were leaders from every part of the world, from every political and religious background, united in their support for Morocco and their respect for the life that he lived.
King Hassan knew every American President since John Kennedy. He, himself, endured great turbulence and personal risk. The thing that always impressed me about him is he was never embittered by the dangers that he faced and, over time, he grew in wisdom, stature and standing in the world and as he grew, so did Morocco. I'm told he was known as the great survivor and, of course, we all know those survivor stories. We had another laugh about them on the plane over and shook our head in amazement.
But I think that, in effect, to call King Hassan a survivor is not to do justice to him. Because when we think of a survivor we think about someone who is very clever, all right, but just -- just enough to escape the slings and arrows that fortune places in our path, just enough to survive. And His Majesty King Hassan did more than that. I think of him instead as a path finder; a leader who survived, yes, but who survived to expand the possibilities of the Moroccan people and all the people of this region.
He showed it is possible to be commander of the faithful and a champion of tolerance and a bridge between faiths. He showed it is possible to represent continuity and stability and to build the society that is more and more democratic and open -- open to competing ideas and other people. He showed it is possible to promote Islam's holy sites in Jerusalem and to reach out to Israel and the dream of peace, dignity and security for all God's children in this region. He was a leader of the Arab world and a friend of America.
With our modern world still so bedeviled by ancient animosities of race and religion, King Hassan believed that there is no inevitable clash of civilizations -- but, instead, a clash between those brave enough to seek a future of peace, prosperity and harmony and those who fear it. He was brave enough to seek that kind of world. He belonged to a generation of brave leaders: King Hussein of Jordan, Yitzhak Rabin of Israel, Sheik Isa of Bahrain, a generation that brought this region to the turning point we now face. The opportunity for lasting peace is now at hand.
I met with your new King this afternoon. I spoke with him also shortly after I learned that his father had passed away. I have confidence in him. We spoke about the challenges ahead. We spoke about my family's gratitude for all the trips that they have taken to Morocco and the kindness that his Majesty extended to them. King Hassan made her feel not only at home, but a part of his family. And I told King Mohammed that now we would be proud to have him feel a part of our family.
The people of Morocco should know they are in the thoughts and prayers of the American people today and that our partnership can only grow stronger. You know, sometimes we come together to mourn the death of a friend and we are heavy with sorrow because we think about what might have been. Today we pay tribute to the long life of a wise King and a good man. And we think about what still might be because of the life he lived. We are grateful for that life and we pray for the future that he worked for. We pray for the future partnership and peace of the peoples of this region. And we hope our prayers will be answered, for we remember the words of the prophet that: rewards for prayers by people assembled are twice those said at home.
Thank you for assembling for our country every day. God bless you. (Applause.)
END 7:12 P.M. (L)