AMBASSADOR MCKINLEY: Secretary Clinton, the fabulous Embassy Lima team and their family members, and if I could ask Embassy Lima to give a rousing welcome to Secretary Clinton, who is – (applause) – we thank you all so much for being here with us today.
Secretary Clinton, over to you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much, Ambassador. Well, it is wonderful to see all of you today, and I am delighted to see so many of the young people who are associated with this Embassy and our mission here in Peru.
I want to thank the Ambassador. Ambassador McKinley and his family, Mrs. McKinley and their three children, have been a dynamic team and are being nominated to move not too far away, as you know, to Colombia. But in our estimation, this mission is one of the hardest working and most dynamic that we have. And I thank each and every one of you, and I also want to recognize DCM Jim Nealon, who is on his way to Canada.
It is one of the both joys and sorrows of the Foreign Service that people come and go, but we are so grateful for each and every one of you. And some of you have been here working on behalf of this mission for a very long time. Your work on the Free Trade Agreement, which was passed and now Mike is going to have to go and try to convince the United States Congress to pass the one with Colombia – but Peru did a great job and I thank you for that. Your work on transnational challenges such as terrorism, narcotic trades, your efforts to work with the Government of Peru in expanding economic opportunity to all of its citizens, supporting both our diplomatic and our development work here has enabled us to engage much more energetically, both in Peru and in the surrounding region.
And I so appreciate the work that was done with respect to President Garcia’s visit to Washington and my visit here in Lima. We think we had two very successful visits. And I know that your plate has been very full this year. You’ve not only had to handle plenty of high-level representatives from our government and many members of Congress, but 400 muddy Americans who needed to be evacuated from Machu Picchu. And we got lots of great reports about how well that was handled. You ensured the safety of that particular group of Americans, but you do it all the time, as people increasingly are coming to Peru.
Our partnership with Peru is a real bedrock of our relationship here in the hemisphere. And there are many of you who I would like to personally thank. But part of what we do is to reach out to wider audiences, particularly young people. The population of Latin America is very young, as it is in most of the world. And a lot of them don’t really have any set opinion of the United States. And everything you do to reach out helps to form a positive impression.
I want to thank Linda Gonzalez and the whole Public Affairs section for your work using the network of bi-national centers – thank you, Linda – to teach English and to help share our values and to make those people-to-people connections that are extremely important. I want to thank everybody who helped with the OAS General Assembly. Raise your hand so that I can thank you all who helped with my trip and helped with all the other people who were coming.
I have heard time and again that this is one of the best run, best managed embassies in the hemisphere, and I really appreciate what each of you have done. As you look around this room, you see colleagues not only from the Foreign Service and the Civil Service, not only from the State Department and USAID, but the Departments of Defense, Agriculture, Commerce, Homeland Security, the Peace Corps.
We have six locally employed staff members here whose work has helped to strengthen the relationship between the United States and Peru for 40 years or more. So who are those locally employed staff who have been here the longest? Let’s give them a round of applause and thank you so much. (Applause.)
Now, I go to a lot of missions in countries that are bigger than Peru that have smaller staffs. This mission is approaching 1,000 employees, and I think that is a real tribute because I know that ambassadors come and go, secretaries of state come and go, but locally employed staff remain, and they provide the real backbone of our mission. And I want to thank you for your commitment, your sacrifice, the efforts that your families put in to support you with all those long hours.
We’re at an incredibly important point in history. We are looking forward to try to determine how we can deepen and broaden our relationship with our neighbors in the hemisphere. When the Ambassador and I were meeting with President Garcia yesterday, he said, “So how would you describe the Obama Administration’s approach to the hemisphere?” And I said, “We want a partnership, a partnership for peace, progress, and prosperity.” He goes, “Too long, too long. It has to be shortened.” (Laughter.) And so anybody who has any ideas about how to shorten what we’re trying to do, let me know, because it really does embody – and we don’t want a relationship of patronage; we want a relationship of partnership. And that is what we are working on diligently every single day.
So now, I’m going to go take a picture with these very patient children – (laughter) – who have been gotten out of bed early, dressed up to look fabulous, and then I will shake your hands on the way out. But again, thank you, thank you, thank you for everything you’re doing. (Applause.)
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