Thank you so much, Ambassador. Thank you. Wow, it is wonderful to see you here and to have a chance to thank you in person for everything that you do every single day to further and deepen the relationship between our two countries. And I want to thank you, Ambassador. I know that you have served here before, and I am delighted that we could send a Tajik-speaking ambassador back to Tajikistan.
And I want to thank you all for doing everything you’ve done to organize this trip, to make it efficient and hopefully very successful, because we want to convey a strong – a sense of friendship and partnership to the government and people of Tajikistan. I want to also thank DCM Sarah Penhune for her work and for leading a lot of the incredible efforts on my trip and elsewhere.
And in addition to thanking all of the Americans, I want to thank all of our local staff, because you’re really the backbone and the memory of this Embassy and this mission here. I know very well that the entire operation could not function without you. Secretaries of State and ambassadors and consul general and Foreign Service officers, we come and go, but you stay here and help to cement the positive relationship between our two people.
I know that you’ve accomplished an enormous amount since the Embassy opened and the American staff were able to return. And it’s particularly important that you’re here, because Tajikistan is at a critical moment in its history. And we’re hoping to make contributions that will give the people of the country a better future. And you’re doing that. Earlier this year with USAID, you helped connect farmers in remote regions with seed merchants from here in the city. You’re working with NGOs to help – or I guess, what do we call them – public organizations to make the connections to how people learn how to start businesses and acquire trades. You’ve rehabilitated water systems that will provide clean drinking water to thousands of people. You’ve worked with over 500 teachers on new ways of reaching students. And all of it is done against the backdrop of a country that is still dealing with the after-effects of war.
The most wonderful thing for me is to see all of these children here and young people. I am so happy that this is now a family post and that your families can be here with you and experience the culture and learn about the history of this country and the region.
So I want to thank the family members and others who are with us, and I want to have a chance, I hope, to maybe take a picture with all of the children. Because what the work we do every single day is really all about is what happens to our children – American children, Tajik children, our children everywhere.
So give yourselves a big round of applause for the excellent work that you’re doing and thank you for all the efforts on this trip. Thank you very much. (Applause.)