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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release June 20, 2000
                        REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT

                             The South Lawn

10:24 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Your Majesty, members of the Moroccan delegation, ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of the United States, I am delighted to welcome the King of Morocco to America. (Applause.)

Your Majesty, as we were just discussing, it was 22 years ago when the people of the United States first welcomed you to this house, when you came as Crown Prince with your father, His Majesty King Hassan II. Today we welcome you back in the same spirit of friendship that has joined our two nations since the beginning of the American republic.

Your Majesty, America will never forget that in 1777, the first nation in the world to recognize the United States was the Kingdom of Morocco. (Applause.) Ten years later, our two countries approved a treaty of peace and friendship, which today remains the longest unbroken treaty of its kind in all history. In the days since, we have stood together to live up to that treaty's ideals and to secure its blessings for others.

During the second world war, more than 300,000 Moroccans fought alongside the allies against Nazi tyranny. Today, Moroccan soldiers stand shoulder to shoulder with Americans, as we keep the peace in both Bosnia and Kosovo. Morocco's location has made it a bridge between east and west. Morocco's leadership has made it a bridge between peoples.

During the second world war, King Mohammed V resisted efforts to target and capture Moroccan Jews. In our time, King Hassan worked hard to bring people together to secure a comprehensive peace for the people of the Middle East. He reminded us of the ancient wisdom of the Koran that if two groups of believers fight each other, we should endeavor to reconcile them. He helped bring us closer than we have ever been to a real and lasting peace.

Your Majesty, I was proud to walk with the people of Morocco on that sad day last July, when we crossed the city of Rabat to lay your father to rest. Providence called upon you to be one of the voices of a new generation of Arab leaders, and you have responded with courage and conviction, healing old wounds, promoting democracy, lifting those left behind, touching the hearts of your people. Morocco is a sterling example of Islamic tolerance, a force for peace, rooted in the common values of humanity.

In the 20th century, Morocco helped to make the world safe for democracy. In the 21st century, let us, together, make it also safe for diversity.

On the day that he died, His Majesty King Hassan, had a letter sitting on his desk ready to be signed, a letter he had asked to be drafted, that reaffirmed what he called, "our shared principles of freedom and solidarity, and our unshakable belief in the values of democracy, peace, prosperity and progress." That letter was written on the very same kind of parchment as the letter passed between Sultan Mohammed III and President George Washington, more than two centuries ago. Your Majesty, in the days ahead, may we affirm that letter and our old, old friendship with deeds, as well as words. May the partnership between our nations continue to show the way for the rest of the world.

Your Majesty, we are honored that you are here. We are honored by the way you represent your nation and the potential we have to build on our rich, long partnership. Welcome to the White House. Welcome to America. (Applause.)

KING MOHAMMED: Mr. President of the United States of America, your excellencies, ladies and gentlemen. For my first state visit to the United States of America, and from within the White House, my first thoughts are of my father, this great king who worked tirelessly to strengthen the longstanding friendship between America and Morocco

It is with great emotion and gratitude that I shall always remember that you, Mr. President, with the First Lady, your wife, Mrs. Hillary Clinton, and your daughter, Chelsea, at your side, made a point of accompanying the late king to his final resting place. Sharing my sentiments of gratitude, the Moroccan people convey their affectionate wishes to you and your family for every happiness and divine protection.

Mr. President, the relations which our two countries have cultivated tirelessly for more than two centuries are, indeed, special and exemplary. United by one of the oldest treaties of amity and peace, which has been in force since it was signed by King Mohammed III and President George Washington, our two countries have fought together unrelentingly for liberty and the triumph of the lofty principles of humanity.

We have always had at heart the establishment of democracy, the prevalence of human rights, the end of precariousness, and the rule of justice everywhere, and for the sake of all. Aware of the need to create a climate favorable to the establishment of a strategic partnership in its African dimension, its Middle Eastern depth, its Mediterranean scope, and its European extension, and fervently wishing to raise our economic relations to the level of our political dialogue, we act with determination to design a new framework for our cooperation, which is in accord with the vast and profound geopolitical changes, in step with the great advance in technology and symbiotic with the new economic partnerships.

It is with all this in mind that Morocco is implementing the institutional reforms necessary to the accelerated economic development, while offering foreign investors the best guarantees of security and profit. Our economic stage has thus grown more attractive as it upholds the true international criteria of transparency and probity which are the features of good governance and a state of law.

Furthermore, sure that regional integration takes part in globalization, and because it is a first step and necessary stage, we have made the Arab Maghreb Union a strategic objective, and are determined to work together with all the countries in the region in a climate of mutual respect and beneficial cooperation for the well-being of our nations and for the stability and prosperity of the region.

Mr. President, two major events have recently highlighted the remarkable convergence of interests in the African continent -- the Euro-African summit held recently in Cairo, and the National Summit on Africa held in Washington last February. Both constitute a prelude to a stronger cooperation between the United States, the European Union and Africa. There is today an imperative need to take concerted action with regard to Africa. The unbearable sufferings witnessed in many African countries make it a moral obligation for us to put this stricken continent back on the road to peace and progress.

In this respect, their limited access to commercial and financial markets, and the extent of their indebtedness, prevent the developing countries from upgrading their economies. We are convinced, therefore, that it is particularly indispensable now to review the architecture of Bretton Woods and to come up with creative formula for solving the acute problem of how to finance development.

Mr. President, your decisive action and constant commitment to achieving a just and lasting peace in the Middle East will surely go down in history inscribed in gold. You will certainly agree with me when I say that we cannot speak of the quest for peace in the Middle East without referring to the tireless efforts exerted by my late father, His Majesty King Hassan II, and his pioneering role in building the bridges of understanding between the sons of Abraham.

Likewise, we recall his anxiety as he witnessed the perils that will besiege this peace for as long as the concerned parties do not honor their commitments in every respect. The Israeli withdrawal from the Golan and all other occupied Arab territories does not become reality, and the independent state of Palestine, with Al Qods Sharif as capital, does not see the light of day.

Mr. President, in its latest resolutions, the Al Qods Committee, which I have the honor of chairing, issued a warning about the grave situation in this city, three times holy; a city that should become, as in the past, a place where religions, civilizations and cultures meet and co-exist without undergoing any alteration to demographic make-up or places of worship.

Rest assured, Mr. President, that I am determined to pursue the work initiated by my late father, and to add my efforts to yours to reactivate the peace process set in motion in Madrid in 1991, to promote dialogue and to defend legality so that all the peoples in the region may finally live together in dignity, stability and concord.

Mr. President, the ancient and strong ties which unite us, as well as the similar views we share on today's issues, will increase our cooperation and bring us closer together as we consider the potentialities of expanding opportunities.

On behalf of the delegation accompanying me, I should like to thank you and Mrs. Clinton most sincerely for having been so attentive to our every need since we arrived in the United States. Rest assured that I shall fervently promote the Moroccan-American friendship, which my ancestors had the inspiration to instigate and which we have upheld since the birth of your great country.

I pray the Almighty to bless the American nation and to grant it great happiness and prosperity. (Speaking Moroccan.) (Applause.)

END 10:35 A.M. EDT