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SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, good afternoon, everyone.  It is a special honor and a special privilege to have His All-Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew here with us today at the State Department.  I’ve had the pleasure of being with then-Vice President Biden and being received by you.  It’s a great pleasure today to be able to have you here.

The United States stands strongly for the principle of religious freedom, and we stand for that in our foreign policy, and of course we stand for that in our own country.  His All-Holiness’s church extends across the globe and here in the United States.

So I’m especially pleased to see him.  I know you’ll be seeing the President.  I know how much forward he looks to seeing you and to receiving you.  But welcome, it’s wonderful to have you here.

PATRIARCH BARTHOLOMEW:  Thank you.  Thank you very much.  It’s a privilege for us – for me personally and our delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate – to be received by your excellency.  We bring to you, to the American nation, the blessings and the greetings of the Church of Constantinople, the center of worldwide orthodoxy.

It is not the first time I am in this room.  I remember my previous visits.  I had the privilege to be received several times by your predecessors as well as by the previous presidents of the United States, as it is the case also today.  This afternoon we shall have the honor and the privilege to be received by President Joe Biden.

We are grateful to the American administration, the administration of the United States, for the continuous support for the Ecumenical Throne and its ideas and values which we try to protect, struggling at the same time to survive in our historic seat in Istanbul.

Thank you, Mr. Secretary.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you again.  It’s so wonderful to have you, and I should also mention how much we appreciate the remarkable leadership of His All-Holiness when it comes to the challenge of climate change as we head into a truly, truly important meeting of the world in just a week.  The focus that you’ve brought to this issue I think has made a tremendous difference, and we’re grateful for that as well.


SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you all.


U.S. Department of State

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