Well, good morning. All of us are obviously delighted to welcome you here, Madame Secretary.
I think everyone is aware that the Secretary has been here to Thailand many times in the past. What many people don’t know is that she not only is a great friend of His Majesty, the King and Her Majesty, the Queen, but also the Thai people, just as importantly.
As an example, Sophia and I were up in Chiang Mai a month after we arrived here last year, and the great consulate general staff up there took us to the edge of the city. And we drove out at the end of this dusty road and went to the New Life Center, which was a center established to help victims of trafficking. And we were chatting with all the ladies. We spent a good morning there. And we were walking through the center, and in a dorm room, as we were going through – in this very sparse dorm room with very happy young women there, up on the wall was this photo. And it was the Secretary visiting there over a dozen years ago. So you beat us well to the punch.
But I think it shows the depth and breadth of this relationship, and how well the Secretary knows it. And we are delighted to have you with us here today, Madame Secretary.SECRETARY CLINTON:
Thank you so much, Ambassador. Thank you very much.
It is wonderful to be back in Thailand, and especially to have this opportunity to thank all of you who work so hard every single day on behalf of our relationship with this very important ally going back more than 175 years. I’m delighted to be here, to have a chance to reaffirm the commitment that President Obama and I feel to this extraordinary partnership, and to work on behalf of our bilateral relationship, but also to deepen our regional work. And that’s what I know many of you are directly involved with, as part of this mission.
I want to thank Ambassador John and Mrs. John, and their son and daughter, Adam and Nicole, and also Jim Entwistle, who helped to superintend this visit, which has been extraordinarily important.
I also want to really personally express my appreciation to Ambassador John for his outstanding service during the years that – the year-and-a-half – that he has been here, and of course, his long and distinguished career. But particularly in the last year-and-a-half, to help us also reach out to the rest of Southeast Asia. I am going from Bangkok to Phuket for the ASEAN meetings, and the importance of our demonstrating a commitment to the entire region is one that I know the Ambassador strongly supports, and that many of you are part of, as well.
This is one of the largest American embassies in the world. And it is an embassy that has an extraordinary civilian and military foreign service, civil service, other agencies, and our wonderful foreign local nationals. This is a place where so many things are happening that will literally affect the rest of the world.
The groundbreaking outreach on HIV/AIDS, I thank all of you who are working on that. The work you did around the clock with the airport closure last Thanksgiving – you are on the job 24/7, and your professionalism and your commitment is noticed, literally, from here to Washington and all places in between.
Now, just a few days ago I announced that the United States State Department and USAID were going to be working on what we call a quadrennial diplomacy and development review. Some of you associated with the Defense Department know that the Defense Department has done this for years. It’s called the QDR. Ours is the QDDR, because we’re trying to make diplomacy and development on a – as much of an equal plane with Defense as possible, because we think those are the three pillars of our foreign relations. And we’re going to fight hard for the resources we need to do the jobs that we’re expected to do more efficiently, and to maximize the impact.
So this is, for me, a really wonderful stop, as we make clear to not only our friends in Thailand but our friends throughout Southeast Asia and East Asia that we are truly committed to this region.
Now, I have been to Thailand, as the Ambassador said, before. And I have traveled around the world now for about 17 years in different capacities: as First Lady, as a senator, and now as Secretary of State. And I am well aware of the fact that a trip like this taxes you, because you have to do this on top of everything else that you’re expected to do, and that there is a tradition called the wheels-up party, which is something that I wholeheartedly support.
Now, I know that some of your colleagues are in Phuket, waiting to be part of our mission there. But I hope that you take a deep breath after I finally leave – (laughter) – and know that I’m very grateful to each and every one of you for your commitment to our country, to your commitment to Thai-U.S. relations, and to your commitment that we very clearly are focused on, out of the State Department and USAID, to a more peaceful, progressive, and prosperous world. Thank you all very much. (Applause.)SECRETARY CLINTON:
Oh, and I am going to – these young people have been extremely patient. (Laughter.) And I see one young man with what I had on my arm not so long ago. What I thought we would do – I would like to – if you have the children, we have this raised platform. If we can get all the children on there, then I’m going to stand, and we can get a children’s picture. But that’s, like, under 18. (Laughter.)
Some night, I’ll see (inaudible) and I turn around and say, “What’s a DCM standing next to me for?” (Laughter.) Only kidding. So we will get that set up, and then I want to greet as many of you as possible. Thank you very much.