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Clinton and Shipley Exchange of Toasts

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary
(Christchurch, New Zealand)

For Immediate Release September 15, 1999

REMARKS BY PRESIDENT CLINTON AND PRIME MINISTER SHIPLEY IN AN EXCHANGE OF TOASTS

Wigram Air Museum
Christchurch, New Zealand

6:56 P.M. (L)

PRIME MINISTER SHIPLEY: Ladies and gentlemen, as we prepare to end this very important state visit by the President of the United States, I know that you wish to welcome him to this gala dinner, the last official occasion that he will take part in.

Mr. President, you are very welcome here, and the people of New Zealand have just loved having you. And I asked the guests to welcome you formally. (Applause.)

Mr. President, thank you for your leadership. Leadership in an international sense matters. And the people of New Zealand feel that we share common values as we cherish freedom and try to do what is important. People respect the leadership that you exercise on behalf of many of us in the free world.

Thank you for your leadership in regional terms. New Zealanders have been privileged to see you this week be able to bring your expertise, your ability, your relationships and associations together so that when it matters, people can be galvanized into action, and by knowing each other and working together, things can make a difference. And in this instance, in the relationship -- or in relation to East Timor, I believe your presence here at APEC and in New Zealand has significantly made a difference to this important regional issue. (Applause.)

Thank you also for your friendship in bilateral terms. New Zealand and the United States have been able to make some very good progress over recent months. And your visit here today and our talks up at the Sign of the Takahe have been symbolic, but also significant. We have taken one or two very important steps forward. And New Zealanders appreciate the relationship between New Zealand and the United States. And we thank you for that clarity and decisiveness today.

Thanks also for bringing such style to this visit. You wore the black coat and the silver fern in the way that New Zealanders would want you to, and we appreciate that. (Applause.) You've been able to show a warmth to our people and they have responded. And I know that New Zealanders would want me to say that they have welcomed your visit. And I hope that you've had a sense that the relationship between New Zealanders and the people of the United States is as strong as it ever was. And they wanted to demonstrate that to you.

Thank you also for allowing us to showcase our beautiful country. This is a small, smart nation, and we are very proud of who we are and what we've got. And by your presence and your positioning, we have allowed the world to look through our window with you there, and that world has been able to also see our country.

So thank you for helping us let the world know that we do exist, and that we do value things that are important; that we are at the cutting edge of many things that we think others should come and look at. And we think that you've been a pretty good ad for the things that matter to us. (Laughter and applause.)

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Thank you.

PRIME MINISTER SHIPLEY: So what matters, Mr. President, in relationships, are those things that endure. New Zealand and the United States have enjoyed a strong relationship for many years. Your visit to New Zealand, I think, has been a huge step forward in cementing the strength of that relationship, and I thank you for that.

I believe that New Zealanders can look forward to moving from strength to strength. And we hope that before you finish your presidency, you will pick up that opportunity you referred to this morning, of coming again to New Zealand on your way to Antarctica, a place that both of us value as well.

Ladies and gentlemen, it's my pleasure, on behalf of all of you here, to ask you to raise your glasses, and to drink to friendship between the people of the United States and the people of New Zealand, people who are very good friends.

Mr. President, to friendship.

(The toast is offered.)

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Thank you very much. Forgive my hoarseness.

First, Prime Minister, to you, your family, your government and the people of New Zealand, I cannot thank you enough for the wonderful welcome that our party and my family members have received here. I apologize for having to rush home, but all of you know of the great storm that is now hitting the American coast. We had to move over 2.5 million people today in an attempt to minimize the loss of life. So I hope you'll forgive me, but let me say I have had a wonderful time here.

I'm glad that the fashion people approved of the way I wore the beautiful outfit you gave me. (Laughter.) You know, I've been President seven years now, I've been all over the world, I've received any number of items of clothing. And when you go to these meetings very often the people who are there get the native dress and we wear them. And usually, when I go home there is someone making fun of how I looked in the dress of whatever country I was. This is the smartest outfit I've ever been given. (Applause.)

In the calendar cycle, we in the Northern Hemisphere are moving in the opposite direction, so we're coming into fall and winter. And if you watch the television, I'll probably in your outfit several times more before the end of the year. (Applause.)

Let me say from the bottom of my heart, this has been a magical trip. I think every person, when he or she is young, dreams of finding some enchanted place, of beautiful mountains and breathtaking coastline and clear lakes and amazing wildlife, and most people give up on it because they never get to New Zealand. This has been an amazing thing for me and for all of us.

You might be interested to know that on the front page of The Washington Post today, there is a picture of my National Economic Advisor bungy jumping. (Laughter and applause.) We all had to remind him that he wasn't supposed to be Houdini and slip the cords, you know. (Laughter.) And so the whole story was about how much fun we were all having.

I hope that it will also be reported that at this meeting we took a strong stand for freedom and human rights in East Timor, and we are going in there, together with our friends from Australia and others in this region, to try to protect the integrity of the referendum for democracy and independence, and save lives. And I thank New Zealand for its leadership in this cause.

We also stood for the proposition that we can best lift the world's fortune by having more free and fair trade. And that, too, was profoundly important.

We celebrated today our partnership in Antarctic and talked about the importance of Antarctica to our whole future. I have mentioned often that, as all of you know probably, when the new millennium dawns it will dawn first on New Zealand. I will be proud to cross that bridge into the 21st century with you, knowing that we will be partners for peace and prosperity, and a more decent and humane future for all our children. And I thank you for that partnership.

I'd like to ask all of you to join me in a toast to the Prime Minister, to her wonderful husband, to her government, and to the people of New Zealand.

(The toast is offered.)

Thank you very much. (Applause.)

END 7:06 P.M. (L)


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