Speeches, etc.

Margaret Thatcher

Speech at lunch for the King of Morocco

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: No.10 Downing Street
Source: Thatcher Archive: speaking text
Editorial comments: 1315 for 1330. MT’s next appointment was at 1700.
Importance ranking: Minor
Word count: 772

King HassanYour Majesty, Your Excellencies, My Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen.

May I first extend to you, Sir, a very warm welcome to No. 10 Downing Street on the occasion of your State Visit to the United Kingdom. It is a great occasion and we are delighted that you have honoured us in this way. We hope your brief stay will be a happy one. [end p1] We also welcome all the members of your delegation, whom we are very pleased to have with us.

Your country has a long and proud history. Its very name in Arabic—Al Maghreb Al-Aksa or Land of the Last Sunset—evokes Morocco's position as the western-most extension of the great Arab culture and people. In legend it was the Garden of Hesperides, where Hercules [end p2] sought the golden apples, in reality the tangerines which still grow round the city of Tangier.

Nowadays many thousands of our people visit Morocco every year. They are heirs to a tradition which goes back to the time of the first Queen Elizabeth IQueen Elizabeth, when our first envoy to Morocco was sent. [end p3] One hundred years later Tangier actually came into our possession as a wedding present, to King Charles IIKing Charles. But that did not last long and you very promptly and properly took it back from us in 1685.

Our histories have interlocked in other ways. When through a decision taken in this very building we lost our American colonies, Morocco [end p4] was the second country in the world to recognise the newly independent United States of America. And it was a former tenant of this house, Sir Winston Churchill, who travelled to Morocco in 1943 to meet President Roosevelt at Casablanca, a meeting which marked the turning point of the Second World War. [end p5]

And of course Winston Churchill returned many times thereafter to your country which he loved and where he painted Morocco's marvellous scenery.

If I may say so, Sir, I thought I heard an echo of some of Winston 's inspired use of the English language in Your Majesty's speech at the State Banquet last night. [end p6]

You kindly referred to this country as a lighthouse on the path of human progress and the promoting of Mankind.

Your Majesty, Morocco's history is also your family's history. Your dynasty was founded more than 300 years ago, and is thus one of the most ancient which rule today. [end p7] Their enlightment and attachment to progress was symbolized by your father's speech in November 1955, on the restoration of Morocco's independence, when he spoke of a policy for an independent Morocco predicated on liberty and democracy. You, Sir, have served your country for over a quarter of a century. In that time you have shown outstanding leadership and courage. [end p8] An example which is particularly in our minds is your historic meeting with Prime Minister Peres last year, when you said that nothing was ever lost by exploring the views of one's opponents. That must be right.

In our talk before lunch we paid particular attention to the problems of the Middle East. I told you of Britain's support for a Security [end p9] Council resolution to bring an end to the Iran/Iraq war—and our readiness to subscribe to an arms embargo if necessary. We also discussed the prospects for an international peace conference in the Middle East, which would act as a framework for direct negotiations between the parties. We agreed that we should not miss the opportunity to take a major step forward, and I will be urging President Reagan to lend his [end p10] full support to this when we meet later this week.

We also discussed how the links between Britain and Morocco could be further strengthened and improved. The presence of so many of our leading businessmen at this lunch is evidence of how keen we are to expand trade. I am very pleased to be able to announce that [end p11] we have decided to extend our official credit cover for British exports to Morocco to help achieve that. We have also agreed on arrangements to promote more educational and scientific exchanges.

Your Majesty, I have talked of the past in these remarks because both our countries are proud of their history and their ancient friendship. But I have ended with the future, because we [end p12] both want to look forward: —look forward to a better life for our peoples; —look forward to peace in the Middle East in which all peoples including the Palestinian people can live in dignity; —and look forward to even stronger links between Britain and Morocco. [end p13]

I ask you all to rise and join me in drinking a toast to the health of His Majesty, to the success of this State Visit and to the happiness and prosperity of the people of Morocco.