SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I am delighted to be here, and I want to thank all of you for coming out on a Sunday morning and apologize that, as is often the case, we got a little delayed, did some interviews and had some typical challenges. But all is well, and I’m especially pleased to join you here in this beautiful atrium.
As some of you might remember, when I came last December, you did not have an ambassador, so I would like to welcome and thank your new Ambassador for his service, and to thank all of you for the great cooperation and partnership that you have together. George understands, as he just said, the importance of Uzbekistan to the region and to our national interest – not just because of its central role in the Northern Distribution Network and our efforts in Afghanistan, but for growing trade and economic opportunities and a great opportunity that we have to try to help develop democracy here in Uzbekistan.
I’m delighted to be back for a third visit. When I was first lady, I helped open the nation’s first public health clinic for women. I’ll go back there today to see how they’re doing. And I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to travel in the country, from Tashkent to Samarkand to Bukhara and many places in between. I just finished an interesting, productive meeting with four representative civil society activists. I assured them that their messages and their concerns were being heard here, and basically assigned the Ambassador and all of you to follow up to make sure they know that.
I really want to also thank your DCM. Thank you so much for your assistance in putting together our visit, also Chip Layton and the human resources team and whole management section. I know that when somebody like me shows up, there’s even more work than what you usually are faced with, but as is the case, you have performed amazingly well.
I know too that this Embassy demonstrates what we call for in the QDDR. It is a great interagency team. Our State and DOD officers have shown real interagency teamwork as you strengthen the Northern Distribution Network. I know our State and USAID officers, working with local staff, have really taken on helping the Uzbek Government to tackle trafficking-in-persons, and we are making real progress, and I thank you for that. Others of you are helping to grow more food here, helping young people get jobs and economic experience. And we, of course, are very grateful to our Marine Guard detail.
So I thank all of you, and particularly the children who got up early and got dressed up and brought in for this occasion. And I am especially grateful to our local staff, our American and Uzbek alike. You are part of this team. And the Uzbek staff is absolutely instrumental in everything that we do. I know that this is not sometimes an easy post, and all of you, American and Uzbek alike, work under some difficult stresses, but you consistently operate at the highest levels.
So I wanted to come by personally, see this beautiful atrium, and to thank you and let you know how much what you do is valued back in Washington. And now, I’d like to say hello to as many people as I can, and enjoy the rest of your Sunday. Thank you. (Applause.)