President Ziaur Rahman is the first Bangladeshi President to be invited to the White House of the United States as a president’s guest. He went to visit President Jimmy Carter, the 39th President of the United States at the Oval Office on August 27, 1980. After their 20-minute-long meeting, they met key officials in the cabinet room.
President Carter, after all the formalities, escorted President Zia to the South Grounds of the White House premises where they exchanged remarks in the presence of the press and addressed each other.
President Jimmy Carter was the first to share remarks on Zia.
It’s a great pleasure for me this afternoon to welcome to the White House and to our Nation, President Ziaur, the very fine leader of Bangladesh. Since their war of independence in 1971, tremendous progress has been made under his leadership. And with the courage and determination of the people of his great country, with a population of about 90 million, and with tremendous opportunities for economic improvement, President Ziaur has been in the forefront of making the lives of the Bangladesh citizens better each year.
The world suffered along with Bangladesh in recent years because of extreme hunger and deprivation among the citizens there, but President Ziaur and I have been discussing, in the last few minutes, the possibility—he says the inevitability-that Bangladesh will in the near future be self-sufficient in food production—perhaps even able to export food to other countries.
We also had a chance to discuss the advantages of democratization of the Bangladesh political system. The open and free election process which resulted in the election of President Ziaur has been an inspiration to the world. Also we have been very grateful at the leadership that President Ziaur has played personally, not only among the Moslem nations and the community there but indeed throughout the entire world community.
As a member of the United Nations Security Council, Bangladesh played a very important and statesmanlike role during the difficult months just past. We are deeply grateful that President Ziaur has come here. We observe with great interest his statement to the United Nations General Assembly, where he called upon the OPEC nations to provide oil to the poor and developing countries of the world at lower prices and also encouraged the OPEC nations with their tremendous influx of capital to invest in the developing nations, like Bangladesh, to provide a better life and employment for the people there.
President Ziaur, we’re delighted to have you with us. It’s an honor for our country to have you here, and we share with you the basic principles in a completely compatible way as we face the future together. And I’m very honored that you would come here to pay me this visit.
President Ziaur Rahman shared his remarks after that:
Mr. President, it has been a great honor for me and my delegation to have the opportunity to meet you at a time when you are so very busy for the election and you have so much work at hand.
Mr. President, let me tell you how grateful the people of our country are to the people of your great country for the moral support that was rendered to us, in fact, support in all possible manner. Those were rendered to us during our war of independence in 1971, and the massive economic aid that we received from you, from your great country thereafter to meet. the many necessities, which otherwise would have, if not met, would have created tremendous problems for us.
We are very grateful indeed, Mr. President, for your special interest for the development, the economic development, in Bangladesh, for which, during your period, we have received full support, and specially in the food sector the support that you have given us, I can assure you that our people are grateful to the American people and to you, Mr. President.
In the short meeting that we had a few minutes ago, we had discussed all possible aspects of our relationship, and we discussed some of the important problems facing the world, both economic and political. And I must say how happy I am that in these cases our views are identical.
Mr. President, the important role that your great country has played—the people of the United States and yourself— to uphold the charter of the United Nations for maintenance of peace and stability in the world, is something that we praise you for and especially your value that you attach to the question of human rights and human dignity is something that all of us, the whole world could be proud of.
Mr. President, I wish you success. I wish the American people success and stride in the future.
Thank you very much.
The remarks from the Presidents are available at the American Presidency Project.