While President Nixon’s visit to Romania in 1969 was not his first to that country, it was the first visit by a President of the United States to Romania, the first to a socialist country, and the first to a state of Eastern Europe. Two years prior, having had his visa application to Poland rejected, RN was surprised to receive an invitation from Romania. Visiting in an official capacity in ‘69, he was relieved to have been welcomed in the same warm and hospitable fashion by the Romanian people that characterized his previous visit despite their drastic difference in social systems.
President Nicolae Ceauşescu greeted Nixon by stating, “I hope that your visit to Romania… will enable you to get more closely acquainted with the endeavors made by the Romanian people for the development of economy, science, and culture, their determination to build a dignified, free, and prosperous life, and also with their aspirations for peace and cooperation with all of the states of the world, irrespective of their social system.”
RN responded, “Our meetings represent, I am sure, the desire of the Romanian people and of the American people that we do not allow our differences to prevent a deeper understanding of our national points of view… and the purpose of my visit here, is to improve communications between our two nations. This is a useful and a peaceful purpose.”
President Nixon knew Ceauşescu would prove to be an invaluable asset in dealing with both North Korea and Communist China. Ceauşescu had solid relations with the Chinese despite Soviet pressures and he was obviously pleased to hear that the United States hoped to normalize communications with Peking after Vietnam simmered down. RN also knew that everything they discussed in their talks would be related to Hanoi which allowed him to subtly and indirectly reiterate this plead for a peace agreement in Paris. Nixon’s visit to Bucharest consequently led to an invitation to Peking three years later.
“Traiasca prietenia noastra. La revedere.” (Long live our friendship. Until we meet again) were RN’s final remarks to Ceauşescu as he departed from Otopeni Airport in Bucharest.
Photo: Ceauşescu with RN at the White House in 1973.