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A White House state dinner honors a visiting head of government or reigning monarch and is one of the grandest and most glamorous of White House affairs. It is part of an official state visit and provides the president and first lady the opportunity to honor the visiting head of state and his or her spouse. It is a courtesy—an expression of goodwill—a way of extending hospitality. It brings to mind the tradition of breaking bread with friends to seal a friendship. It is an event that also showcases global power and influence. The traditional toasts exchanged by the two leaders at the dinner offer an important and appropriate platform for the continuation of the serious dialogue that has taken place earlier in the day. Let’s now listen to the Toasts of President Reagan and Prime Minister Thatcher at the first State Dinner, on February 26, 1981.
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