Public Papers

Remarks to American Embassy Employees and Their Families in London


The President. Thank you so much for that warm welcome back. Thank you, Mr. Secretary. I'd like you to meet some that have been traveling with us to NATO and Italy, and then to Germany. I see General Scowcroft standing over here, who I know most of you feel you know because of his many years of public service -- Brent Scowcroft. In that far corner over there is a household word for those who plug into CNN: Marlin Fitzwater, my esteemed -- standing right over there. I don't see our Chief of Staff, John Sununu, but maybe he branched off. [Laughter] But in any event, I owe them a tremendous vote of thanks, to say nothing of our able Secretary of State, for the job that they did as a team representing our interests -- the United States interest and, I think, the interest of the free world -- at NATO. Their support was absolutely superb -- their imagination, their creativity. Jim Baker, who gets tired when he drives to work in the morning -- [laughter] -- stayed up until about 1:30 hammering out in the darnedest way an agreement that has received strong support around the world. And I am grateful to him and, as I say, Brent and all those who are part of our team, to say nothing of the support of Bob Blackwill and others who are with us who did an awful lot of heavy lifting.

So, we come in here today feeling encouraged, not overconfident. But I think the alliance is strong; I think it's together. And I think now we have to follow up and do those things that our joint communique committed us to do. And of course, we will be needing the support of the able Foreign Service offices in every post to get this job done.

I have standing next to me -- or I did before I came to this podium -- our mystery guest. [Laughter] And I know that all of you -- it doesn't matter what your religious convictions are -- have the same respect and love for Billy that Barbara and I have -- Billy Graham, Dr. Graham, who is here once again doing the Lord's work. And I ran into him downstairs, not just by accident, because if he hadn't come to see me, we'd have darn sure gone to see him. And so, I just wanted to welcome the great son of North Carolina.

I want to thank everybody in this Embassy. We're now shifting to bilaterals, as we say, because I have been on the receiving end of Presidential visits. And they can be a pluperfect pain. [Laughter] What is your admin officer?

Audience member. Larry Russell.

The President. Larry Russell. Is Larry still speaking to me? Where is he? [Laughter] But I want to thank him, wherever he is, because these admin officers bear a disproportionate share of the load. I don't want to single him out, because I know there is political; I know the military play a part in all of this; security plays a part on it; communicators are overworked. And the only thing I can say is, you can breathe easy tomorrow about 10, because I promise to leave on schedule. [Laughter] But thank you, in the meantime, for the fantastic support of this, one of the greatest embassies that the United States has anywhere in the world.

I meant what I said about the Foreign Service. I think you have had an outstanding DCM [deputy chief of mission] here, and the fact that he will be assuming very, very high-level responsibilities back in Washington is of enormous comfort to me. And Ray is going to do a superb job back there, taking on the breadth of responsibilities that not many have in that department. And I personally look forward to working with him, and I know I can learn an awful lot from what you taught him right here in this Embassy. [Laughter]

I want to mention the Marines -- sometimes we forget them, but I don't. And I have great respect for them, and I want to thank them for the job they do. And let me also mention the citizens of the U.K., with whom we all work in the Embassy. And I expect some are here, but you can't tell them from us. [Laughter] And that's one of the great things about it. [Laughter]

But really, I am indebted to each of you, because I know you never lose your allegiance to your own country -- you never should. But the contribution you make to an embassy of this nature is simply incalculable, and I am grateful to all of you. And I hear from the Ambassador and from all of those with whom I have contact back home of the great job that the Brits do who are part of our Embassy. And I hope you feel loved and wanted, because that's the way we feel about you. So, thank you for your contribution to the American foreign policy and to the success of this Embassy.

I, too, want to mention what Jimmy said about -- Secretary Baker, I mean, said about -- [laughter] -- Marie Burke. We can't dwell on it, but she was a valued member of the Foreign Service, and I was told that -- serving since 1971 in a number of posts. And all I can do is express my condolences to her friends and, obviously, her family, and my sympathy. And I would like to think that someday the culprit can be found and all of that. But the main thing is, I know you all miss her, and I want you to know that I respect that concept of service that she epitomized.

This Embassy has got a new Ambassador, and I have known Henry Catto and his wife, Jessica, for a long time. And he will be an outstanding Ambassador to the United Kingdom. It is one of the very most important posts we have. And the fact that I asked him to come here and that he accepted I hope sends a signal to our British friends that in him they have somebody who is very, very close to this President and who has my full confidence. And I hope that's something that brings joy to you, because I think an Ambassador often is seen as the President's personal representative in these countries. That's the way the law has it, and that's the way it is. And Henry has my full confidence, and as you come to know him, get used to his eccentricities. [Laughter] I don't know who to blame for the cow on the front yard at Winfield House, but nevertheless -- Jessica? [Laughter] No, Jessica and Henry are going to do a first-class job here, and I just wanted you to know from me that I have full confidence in them.

We came here just a few days ago, it seems. We went to Italy, and there we not only had a marvelous bilateral visit, but I had the opportunity to go to Nettuno and there honor our war dead, those who fell at Anzio beachhead. And the spirit of the Italian people -- not just at Anzio but in Rome itself -- for the American flag as it went by was really wonderful; and I think our relations are good there. And in Belgium, of course, the emphasis was multilateral, although again, we have good relations with Belgium. The emphasis was on trying to bring NATO together and project ourselves out into an optimistic future with strength. And as I say, I think that was accomplished.

We have a big job to follow up on all that now. And again, the political section here, I know, will be asked to present accurately and fully, as will our military here, our position to our friends in the United Kingdom. We've got to stay on the same wavelength with them, and we will. We've been strong, Margaret Thatcher being extraordinarily gracious in her comments about this U.S. initiative and this NATO collective decision. So, that went well.

Yesterday in Germany -- I wish all of you could have been with us, not just for the trip that Barbara and I had down the Rhine on a beautiful sunny day, getting to -- excuse me, Billy -- kiss the wine princess and things like that. [Laughter] But again, you'd have been proud, because all along the way, and these castles and tourist hotels, where the American flags were out for about 2 hours -- going down the Rhine River on this marvelous cruise boat not only with the Chancellor of the Federal Republic and the Foreign Minister but many of the leaders of Germany.

And so, I can report to you -- and I think I can sort through cosmetics and reality -- that it's real. The job that many of you have done when posted on the Continent itself is paying off, because the bilateral relationship with Germany is strong. And then today our meetings with Margaret Thatcher went very well, indeed. And of course, we just were honored to be received by Her Majesty the Queen. And we had a delightful luncheon at which the Queen presented Barbara with a picture of the Queen and one of our puppies that she just saw down in Kentucky. [Laughter]

So, it's been a wonderful day, and I will simply end where I began by thanking you -- all of you -- whatever end of this complex Embassy you're in, for your service to the greatest, freest, most wonderful country on the face of the Earth. Thank you, and God bless all of you.

Note: The President spoke at 3:15 p.m. at the U.S. Ambassador's residence in London. He was introduced by Secretary of State James A. Baker III. In his remarks, the President referred to Brent Scowcroft, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs; Marlin Fitzwater, Press Secretary to the President; Robert D. Blackwill, Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs; evangelist Billy Graham; Raymond Seitz, Assistant Secretary of State-designate for European Affairs; and Marie Burke, a Foreign Service officer murdered while serving in the U.S. Embassy in London.