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Opening remarks by President Clinton, King Hussein and Prime Minister Rabin at the White House

(July 25. 1994)

On 25 July 1994, President Clinton once again served as host to two leaders from the Middle East who came to Washington at his invitation to sign a declaration of principles. Both were welcomed by the president as "visionary statesmen" who "have sought peace in place of violence. " Following is the text of remarks made by the three leaders prior to the signing of the Washington Declaration:

PRESIDENT CLINTON: History is made when brave leaders find the power to escape the past and create a new future. Today two such leaders come together, as we welcome King Hussein and Prime Minister Rabin to the White House on this extraordinary occasion.

On this morning of promise, these visionary statesmen from ancient lands have chosen to heal the rift that for too long has divided their peoples. They have seen the outlines of a better day where others have seen darkness. They have sought peace in place of violence.

On both sides of the River Jordan there have lived generations of people who thought this day would never come. King Hussein and Prime Minister Rabin have reached out to each other across the river, to build a future where hatred gives way to hope.

The Koran instructs us, "Requite evil with good, and he who is your enemy will become your dearest friend." And the Talmud teaches, "That man is a hero that can make a friend out of a foe." Before us today stand friends, and heroes.

King Hussein, Prime Minister Rabin, all Americans welcome your presence here today. You give us great hope that this House, our people's House, will be a constant witness to a lasting peace that spreads to embrace your region.

KING HUSSEIN: Mr. President, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, ladies and gentlemen: Out of all the days of my life I do not believe that there is one such as this in terms of the feelings, the emotions relating to a long, long struggle; the memory of those who passed away; the memories of the victims of war. Feelings towards the present and the future, feelings of responsibilities towards generations to come, and Israel and Jordan, the whole Arab world and our entire region.

For many, many years, and with every prayer, I have asked God, the Almighty, to help me be a part of forging peace between the children of Abraham, as Moslems, for the word Islam means submitting to the one God.

This is a dream that those before me had - my dead grandfather, and now I. And to feel that we are close to fulfilling that dream and preserving future generations in our region with a legacy of hope and openness, where normality is that which replaces the abnormal in our lives, which, unfortunately, over the years, has become normal, where neighbors meet, where people meet, where human relations thrive, where all seek with their tremendous talents a better future and a better tomorrow.

This day is a day of commitment, and this day is a day of hope and vision. And we must admit, Prime Minister, and for myself, that we owe President Clinton and our American friends much in having made this possible. You are our partners as we seek to construct and build a new future in our region for all our peoples and for all mankind. Thank you very much, indeed, for your courtesy and kindness and the warmth of your reception; we are proud to be here with you today, Sir. Thank you.

PRIME MINISTER RABIN: The President of the United States, King Hussein, the King of Jordan: They say that the ancient custom of shaking hands developed out of the need to prove that neither person was holding a weapon. The first public handshake between His Majesty, the King of Jordan, and myself a minute ago symbolizes much more than that two peoples will no longer [take] up arms against one another,

Honorable Mr. President, Your Majesty the King, what is actually transpiring here? Hundreds of millions of people around the world shake hands many times each day. It's perhaps the most routine action, done almost automatically, without thinking, and it is actually [a] greeting of peace that unites almost all of the peoples of the world.

And here the handshake and excitement, the many photographers, the live broadcasts of television to all corners of the globe, I share this excitement and know that at this moment in Jerusalem and Amman, perhaps all over the Middle East, a new era is dawning.

What I do wish you, Your Majesty, [is] that there will be another day of excitement and another, and that finally, no one will photograph our handshakes; it will have become part of the routine of our lives, a custom among all people, the behavior of every human being. And meanwhile, Your Majesty, the entire State of Israel is shaking your hand.

Source: Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs