Your Imperial Majesty and [fiends of Iran and the United States who are gathered here at the White House tonight:
We are honored again to receive His Imperial Majesty in this house and in this room. Before the dinner, I found that this, of course, is not the first time that His Majesty has been here; but you will be interested to note that he is one of the few leaders, heads of state in the world, who has been a guest in this house and in this room as the guest of President Truman and then of President Eisenhower and then President Kennedy and then President Johnson and now, tonight, as our guest.
I would say on that count he is far ahead of me. [Laughter] He is somewhat younger than I, although he will celebrate a birthday on Sunday.
I found in checking into his background that we had one thing in common--a love for sports. We both played football. There was a difference. I sat on the bench. He was captain of the team.
But in welcoming him here tonight, I could speak of those usual pleasantries and diplomatic cliches that grace such occasions; but I think because there are so many here who know his country and have for his country the affection and admiration that I have and Mrs. Nixon has; because there are so many here from his own country, that you would like it better if I shared with you a personal view of the leadership he has provided for his country and the cause of peace and freedom in the world.
In 1953, my wife and I had a very great privilege to travel around the world, and particularly through the countries of Asia. In that period, not too long after World War II, the great leaders of World War II were still living and still active and powerful on the world scene.
I remember them well, now. The names, most of them you will recall, some are still active: Yoshida in Japan, Syngman Rhee in Korea, Chiang Kai-shek in Taiwan, Menzies in Australia, Nehru in India, Ghulam Mohammed in Pakistan, and many others.
The last stop on that long trip of 70 days was Iran. On that stop we met for the first time our very honored guest tonight. He made a very deep impression on me and on my wife at that time, a deep impression because of his own personal character, and also with regard to the various other leaders that I had seen, each of whom had greatness in his own way, because in 1953 Iran had very difficult problems.
There was martial law in the land. The father of the now Secretary for Foreign Affairs was Prime Minister,1 and His Majesty was the symbol, and not just the symbol but the actual leader of authority who kept the nation together, to whom all of those in government and the people of Iran turned in a moment of crisis.
1Ardeshir Zahedi and his father Fazollah Zahedi.
There were those who thought that Iran in 1953 might not make it. When I left Iran, I knew it would make it. I knew it because of the men I had seen. I knew it not only because of the Government leaders to whom I have referred, but particularly because of the personality and the strength and the character of the man who is our honored guest tonight.
He was a young head of state then, just as he is really a young head of state today. I was a young Vice President. But what I recall was this: Despite the deep depression of spirit which seemed to infect many of those who observed Iran in that period of crisis, His Majesty saw the problems but also had a vision for the future.
Omar Khayyam has referred eloquent ...
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