Well, thank you, and it gives me great pleasure to be here with this Embassy community on my very first trip to Algeria to thank each and every one of you for the work you do, not only to support a trip like this, but what you do every single day to support and promote the important relationship between the United States and Algeria.
I want to thank Ambassador Ensher and DCM Elizabeth Aubin. I think that the Ambassador was here 12 years ago as the first U.S. official to travel outside the Embassy after we restored full diplomatic relations. And after working 10 years in Afghanistan and Iraq, he was very excited to come back to Algeria and to see what has been happening and to make very clear the commitment of the United States.
I want to thank every one of our U.S. Government employees, not only from the State Department or USAID, but from the entire United States Government. I want to thank your families and those who support you in doing this work. I also want to thank our locally employed staff, the Algerians who come to work on behalf of the United States Embassy. You’re really the backbone and the heart of this mission. We could not do it without you. And I know that some of you have worked for the United States Government for a long time, and we are especially grateful because you provide continuity to ambassadors and others who are serving.
I want to thank you also for the work you are doing to reach out to the Algerian people, particularly young people. I appreciate your efforts to work with hundreds of Algerian Ph.D. students to improve skills in doing research and teaching English, helping entrepreneurs get the skills and the connections they need. We just had a visit with the Algerian NAPEO group. We’re very strongly supporting entrepreneurship, the private sector, because we think that’s the kind of partnership that really represents the full range of American values and interests. I think the – from what I hear, the newly opened Information Resource Center has been a big hit, introducing a great many Algerians to job opportunities here in Algeria, study opportunities in the United States. This is not just a U.S. Embassy in Algeria; it is also a U.S. Embassy for Algeria.
I heard that you had a blizzard here two weeks ago. (Laughter.) I have to say – I mean, I grew up in Chicago, I live in New York – I never knew you had blizzards in Algeria. But it sounds very familiar to what happens in Washington with the shutdown of stores and banks and even the government, but you stayed open throughout the week, and I’m very grateful that you not only dug yourself out but worked to help Algeria dig out as well.
So for me, this is a great opportunity to meet officials in the government, representatives of the private sector, civil society. But I have to say I came here first to thank all of you, because without you, everything we hope to do to deepen and strengthen this very critical relationship would obviously not be possible. So thank you for the extra work you put in to support my trip, and I hope that you will continue to do whatever you can to make sure that the American people and the Algerian people have stronger connections and understanding for years to come.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)