SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much, and what a personal pleasure it is for me to be here. Ambassador, your leadership of this mission and, of course, your long, personal relationship with this country and your commitment to building a stronger partnership between Liberia and the United States is really exceptional, and I just thank you for your service. You have a great team here, and I know especially how dedicated this team has been not only in the last three and a half years of democracy, but in the years before.
I’m delighted to finally be here and to have a chance to say thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you for your courage, thank you for your dedication and professionalism, and thank you for your commitment to advancing the interests that the United States has in seeing a peaceful, unified, prosperous Liberia. And I just finished addressing the legislature and told them that the United States would stand with them. We expected to see the kind of progress that is important for the betterment of the people of Liberia, but we would be at the side of the Liberians as they move forward.
I also have to say that Embassy Monrovia has a reputation throughout the State Department and USAID. (Applause.) I have heard stories of the heroism and sacrifice that many of the employees here exhibited during the civil war. I know there were numerous evacuations. Those of you who have been here for a long time, particularly our locally engaged staff, had to endure separations from your children and your spouses for days and weeks because of the conflict in the streets. And of course, we will always remember the ultimate sacrifices by the more than a dozen courageous Liberians who lost their lives protecting this Embassy. And I want to extend my appreciation and my sympathy to their families and to their loved ones, if you would convey that for me.
During all those years of strife, the employees of this Embassy stayed behind to feed, house, and protect the remaining civilians while others were evacuated. These doors never closed in all that time. There are people in Washington who said, “We want to move them out, it’s too dangerous.” But I have to tell you that the poor staff here said, “We are needed here, and we must stay.” And this Embassy was instrumental in pushing the warring parties to achieve peace.
Now, fortunately, this country is no longer torn by violent conflict. But there is still so much work to be done. Peace is fragile. The stability is fragile. The democracy is fragile.
President Obama in his historic speech in Ghana made very clear that the future of Africa is up to Africans. The future of Liberia is up to Liberians. But we’re going to do everything we can to help that future turn out to be a bright one for the people here (inaudible). (Applause.)
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