AMBASSADOR SHANNON: It’s a tremendous pleasure to have you all here today and to have with us the Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Madam Secretary, I would like to present to you the men, women, and children of the American Embassy in Brasilia and their families. This is an incredible group of people, Americans and Brazilians, committed to the relationship between the United States and Brazil, in recognizing that we are building a partnership for the 21st century. And as part of that partnership, we are building an essential component and an essential driver for making this partnership a reality.
So it’s with enormous pleasure that I present to you, the men and women of – and children of the American Embassy here in Brasilia, and Madam Secretary, the stage is yours.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much, Tom. (Applause.) Well, it’s wonderful to see you all again, many of whom were here when I last stood in this spot, I think, in 2009?
AMBASSADOR SHANNON: 2010.
SECRETARY CLINTON: 2010. So let me begin by expressing my delight to be able to come here and thank you in person for everything you do on behalf of this absolutely essential relationship. I think it’s fair to say that our relationship has changed quite a bit since Ambassador Shannon served here as a special assistant to Ambassador Melton in 1989. But clearly, that experience was good training because Tom has become a great ambassador and leader of an absolutely fabulous team consisting of all of you.
I know that you have a bunch of Washington visitors coming, and Secretary Salazar and I are here today, but I want to let you know this is a time when our relationship is really poised to get to the next level. The meeting between President Dilma Rousseff and President Obama last Monday, just a week ago, was an extraordinarily constructive one. And you have made a lot of progress in advancing our relationship. We’re not only working on people-to-people ties and economic ties, but we are becoming strategic and political partners.
Let me just mention two quick examples. When President Rousseff announced a program to send a hundred thousand Brazilian students overseas to study science and technology, you leapt into action and made sure that the United States was the first country to open our doors. So now we have nearly 700 young Brazilian students already beginning their studies in the United States. Hundreds more will join them in the fall, and I think that other than the fact that they had to eat Tom Shannon’s and DCM Chapman’s hamburgers at the – (laughter) – Burgers Without Borders event, they’re still excited about – (laughter) – coming to our country. And we couldn’t be doing this without your leadership.
And in the past two years, you’ve expanded consular operations at lightning speed. So as a result, you’ve already handled more visa applications so far this fiscal year than you did in all of 2010. And that spike in travel from Brazil has helped to create more than 8,000 new American jobs. It also has helped a lot to forge personal ties. And I know a lot of the changes are challenging for you – you’re bringing out a lot of new staff members, I think you’ve had a bit of a parking problem here. (Laughter.) But you’re making progress and it’s noticeable, certainly to those of us in Washington.
And I’m so pleased to see family members here, particularly the young ambassadors who are with us, because they also are serving our country and representing the United States in everything that they do. And a special word of thanks to our locally employed staff for the backbone of this Embassy, especially as the mission expands so quickly. I thank all of our locally employed staff. You’ve been dedicated to this mission, some of you for many years, and I know that a number of you have even volunteered for assignments in Afghanistan and Iraq.
So please know that we in Washington appreciate what you are doing here in Brasilia and across the country in our consulates, that we value your work very much and we’re seeing the results every single day because of a stronger, more dynamic relationship between two such extraordinary democracies as the United States and Brazil. Thank you all very much. (Applause.)