Toast at the Official Luncheon in Honour of President George W Bush
9 July 2003

Mr President,
Mrs Laura Bush,
Honoured members of the United States delegation,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies, gentlemen and friends

I am delighted to extend a very warm welcome to you Mr President, Mrs Laura Bush, Barbara Bush and the rest of the US delegation. I am also pleased, Mr. President, to congratulate you on your 57th birthday, which you celebrated last Sunday.

I am happy that during your short visit to our country we have managed to discuss a number of issues that confront both our countries and the world, in an open and friendly manner.

Mr President:

You have come to a country that has old and valued links to yours. The very first patriots in our country, who mobilised our people for the democratic victory we secured in 1994, were educated in United States universities in the 19th century.

In the 20th, when we needed the support of the peoples of the world to attain our liberty, the people of the United States stood side by side with us. In the aftermath of our democratic victory, your country, Mr President, has worked with us to overcome a centuries-old legacy of racist domination and apartheid, which it continues to do.

As the eminent representative of such a people, Mr President, we could not but receive you as a friend and an honoured guest. Thank you very much for calling on us, accompanied by your dear wife and daughter and your distinguished compatriots.

You have graced our shores, the cradle of humanity, at an important moment in the history of our continent during which, as Africans, we envisage the real possibility of the dawn of a new age.

We know that we face formidable challenges on the road to that new day. But we are convinced, Mr President, that millions of Africans share a common determination to succeed.

To achieve that success, we need the continued support you have already demonstrated. Acting in partnership, I am confident that our peoples have the possibility to make a valuable contribution to the rebirth of the continent from which slaves were transported across the oceans from Goree Island, which you visited in Senegal, and from elsewhere on our eastern and western shores.

Mr President:

A significant number of our compatriots live and work in your country, contributing to the development of the United States, and enjoying the benefits it offers. Many of your citizens, whose ancestors were transported as slaves out of Africa, feel a close affinity to our country and continent, in the same way that we feel close to them.

A growing number of your compatriots, both black and white, live and work in our country, contributing to the historic effort to create a new South Africa and a new Africa.

What these ordinary Americans and South Africans are doing at both ends of the Atlantic Ocean surely says to both of us that we, as governments, should join hands in the common striving to help bring about a better life for all. We are greatly strengthened by the knowledge that we have you as our partner and friend.

Ladies and Gentlemen, please rise and raise your glasses - to the health of President and Mrs Bush, and friendship between the peoples of South Africa and the United States of America. The President!

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