Good afternoon. It is a pleasure to be here today to witness the signing of the Sister City Agreement between Washington, DC and Brasilia. Thank you, Mayor Gray and Governor Queiroz, for inviting me and for signing this important agreement. We are grateful that Ambassador Vieira is here with us today.
As the Special Representative for Global Intergovernmental Affairs, I have witnessed firsthand the overwhelming power of Sister City relationships in citizen diplomacy and cultural and economic exchanges across the United States and around the world.
I am delighted to see Mary Kane here today. I would like to take this opportunity to commend Sister Cities International for the role it has played for more than 50 years in renewing and strengthening important global relationships. In this new millennium, Sister Cities International continues to expand its reach to new and emerging regions of the world to strengthen global citizenship.
As we gather here today, we celebrate the strong ties between Brazil and the United States. The relationship between our two countries is grounded in common values and a shared history of family and friends. When Brazil gained its independence in the 19th century, the United States was the first country that formally recognized its statehood. Today, we are continuing to strengthen and deepen our relationship.
It is indeed fitting that our capital cities, Washington, DC and Brasilia, are embarking on a long-term partnership to link our citizens, city governments, and our business, cultural, and academic communities. I am confident that this cooperative venture will be highly beneficial to the diverse and cosmopolitan citizens of both capitals who serve as beacons of culture and diplomacy for their respective nations.
Just this morning, I returned from Brazil. I visited Brasilia and Rio de Janeiro, where I met with federal, state, and local officials and business representatives. Thank you, Governor Queiroz, for your hospitality and collaboration. In my meetings in Brazil, we discussed partnerships to advance U.S.-Brazil subnational engagement in line with the U.S.-Brazil Memorandum of Understanding to support state and local cooperation signed in 2012. We are excited that the Washington, DC-Brasilia partnership will serve to further state and local cooperation as set out in this agreement.
The Sister City relationship between Washington, DC and Brasilia is a relationship between cities, but more important, a relationship between the people of those cities. On behalf of Secretary Kerry and the U.S. Department of State, I would like to congratulate Washington, DC and Brasilia on their Sister City Agreement.