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Good morning. Great location, great group. Thank you Stuart for the invitation to join this annual summit.

Thank you to the entire team at Meridian for being a critical partner to the State Department in strengthening our economic bonds, our youth engagement, and our diplomatic leadership worldwide.


We meet at a moment when that leadership is being put to the test.

On October 7th, we bore witness to Hamas’ vicious and inhumane terrorist attack against Israeli civilians.

The barbarism of this assault…the horrific images of those slaughtered and wounded…the innocents in Gaza now in harm’s way because of Hamas’ vile acts – all of it stirs a mix of rage and fear, concern and disgust, determination, and resolve.

There’s no rationalizing what Hamas did.

There’s no excusing it.

There’s no doubt that Israel has a right to defend itself, the way any nation would in the face of such an attack.

We support that right, and as our leaders have made clear, as long as there’s a United States of America, Israel will never have to stand alone.

But how Israel defends itself matters – and we’ve also made clear it must uphold its responsibilities under international law – protect civilians and allow for humanitarian aid. This is what distinguishes democracies like ours from the evil of organizations like Hamas.

Holding Hamas accountable and helping Israel defend itself is the beginning and not the end of our efforts.

At the same time, we must also keep striving to build a future of justice and freedom for Israelis and Palestinians alike…a future that affirms the rights and aspirations of the Palestinian people.

That is why the President affirmed last night that “as hard as it is . . . we cannot give up on a two-state solution. Israelis and Palestinians equally deserve to live in safety, dignity, and peace.”

Across the Administration, we have spent the past two weeks focused on four core lines of effort:

  • Supporting Israel’s defense of its people…
  • Preventing the spread of this conflict…
  • Working to release hostages, aid American citizens, and protect our embassies and workforce
  • And opening humanitarian corridors in Gaza to protect civilians.

We took a step forward on assistance yesterday, when the President secured agreement from the leaders of Israel and Egypt for the first shipment of humanitarian assistance from the United Nations to Palestinian civilians in Gaza.

We know many private sector firms, NGO partners, and individuals are looking for avenues to contribute funds, material, equipment, and aid supplies to Israelis and Palestinians on the ground. Some already have stepped forward.

USAID has a robust engagement on private sector donations, and we have asked Tracey Jacobson, an experienced Ambassador, to be our Point of Contact at the State Department. I encourage you to please be in touch with them and their teams if you wish to get involved with this effort.

On top of that, as we speak here, the Administration is sending a spending proposal to Congress to meet vital national security needs:

To ensure Israel has what it needs for its security…

To address urgent humanitarian needs in the region…

And to tackle the other crises happening simultaneously – from Russia’s ongoing aggression against Ukraine and its global effects to addressing the 20 million people on the move and displaced in the Western Hemisphere alone.


What’s happening in Israel and Gaza is what we’re handling around-the-clock. But even beyond this immediate conflict, our plates are certainly full:

As I mentioned, from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, to competition with China, to multiple coups in the Sahel and irregular migration in the Americas…not to mention borderless challenges like cyber, climate, and COVID . . . challenges that can only be addressed through multilateral cooperation.

Times like these remind us of the significance of essential pillars of America’s global leadership:

Our partnerships matter.

Our alliances matter.

Our bonds built on common interests and ideals…ties of trade and commerce…connections of family and history – they matter in moments of acute crisis, and they matter in the daily work of diplomacy.

Our relationships worldwide, how we deploy them for good, how we deepen and revitalize them – that is the heartbeat of U.S. foreign policy.

And it couldn’t be more critical today, as the world stands at what President Biden has called an inflection point:

A moment of choosing what kind of future we want to inhabit…what kind of planet we want our children to inherit…and how we can realize a vision of fair play and transparent governance, of an open, free, prosperous, and secure future.

Right now, it can feel like the stakes for that vision are higher than ever before…like the competition over the next era of the international system is as fierce as we can remember.

You’re not imagining it. We’re engaged in an intense campaign to preserve and strengthen the rules-based order.

And at the core of that effort is the main topic of today’s discussion: promoting economic interdependence as a source of strength.


How this plays out is vital. Because when economies succeed, we find a foundation for less conflict, less corruption, and greater social and political stability.

But when economies falter, resentment and division follow. Extremist and anti-democratic forces find a foothold.

Put another way: if we don’t lift people up – if we don’t offer the hope that comes with equal opportunity – then the risk to democracy metastasizes.

I’ve seen how our economic bonds and how our commercial engagements can make a difference for individuals the world over.

As Ambassador to India, I remember meeting innovators who founded the Jaipur Foot organization and who showed me how an Indian-American partnership building low-cost, innovative prosthetics had changed people’s lives.

As Deputy Secretary, I’ve visited Moldelectrica in Moldova, where a USAID investment is helping the country diversify its energy supplies and integrate its grid into Europe’s…

I sat down with ministers in Seychelles to explore how our joint fight against corruption can open markets and boost development…

From Bangladesh to Bucharest and beyond, I’ve seen where the rubber meets the road for our assistance and aid – in places where, no matter what’s happening in the headlines, our economic diplomacy is crucial…

Where our economic diplomacy can empower citizens, combat corruption, and, yes, build critical ties between nations.

And we’re reminded that our economic diplomacy must remain a cornerstone of our foreign policy.


But first, before we look at the many ways we’re deploying this tool of our leadership, we have to define what we mean by economic diplomacy.

For us, the core principle was articulated by Secretary Blinken last month: a world “where prosperity is not measured only in how much countries’ economies grow, but how many people share in that growth.”

This is part and parcel with President Biden’s focus on growing the economy from the middle out and the bottom up. What’s true at home must be our mission abroad as well.

In other words, our economic diplomacy is about broad-based prosperity, not just bottom-line GDP figures.

It’s about accessibility to prosperity.

It’s about prosperity that benefits workers of every station, businesses of every size, and families of every stripe, not just export levels and trade deficits.

Our approach is about prosperity that’s resilient and sustainable, inclusive, and equitable – that serves as a sturdy bedrock for healthy societies.


We also have to give our economic diplomacy every chance to succeed by updating our partnerships with multilateral institutions and the private sector to meet the pressing needs of our time.

That’s where we see our government pushing Multilateral Development Banks to deal more directly with challenges like climate and public health.

That’s where we see our Administration mobilizing hundreds of billions of dollars with the G7 to close the global infrastructure gap.

That’s where we see our collaboration with the World Bank and the IMF to relieve nations’ debt burdens, alleviate poverty, address food insecurity, and more.

That’s where we see public-private partnerships come into play, with the private sector currently mobilizing over $4 billion in investments in Central America…lending its resources to the ongoing recovery from COVID-19…and identifying options for planning and financing Ukraine’s post-war reconstruction.

This is where we see economic diplomacy efforts that literally circle the globe:

Whether it’s creating the Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity …

Forming the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework…

Or deepening aviation cooperation that makes air travel safer, sustainable, and secure.


Finally, if we want our economic diplomacy to be truly effective, we need to modernize development to improve people’s lives in ways they can feel and see and touch.

Often, that requires us to re-imagine how we partner with the nations of the so-called “Global South” to ensure American aid matches local realities…to deepen regional connections, reduce risks for private investors, bolster the rule of law and improve the quality of life.

This work reflects the very best of what we do – the quiet, compassionate, life-changing impacts of our diplomacy.

There’s the leadership of USAID, our flagship development agency that works tirelessly to maximize growth across all swaths of society.

It’s our work in science, innovation, financial inclusion, and so much more that our universities, NGOs, and corporations are leading in all corners of the world.

There’s the Development Finance Corporation, which partners with the private sector to finance solutions in the developing world.

Led by Scott Nathan, who will join us here on stage shortly, the DFC is part of the engine of global development, supporting everything from critical minerals in Mozambique, to clean energy in India, to small businesses in Ecuador, Turkey, Ghana, Sri Lanka, and elsewhere.

There are the efforts of the Millennium Challenge Corporation…another key piece of the architecture that’s made country ownership a hallmark of our development model, whether it’s supporting transport and land sectors in Malawi, clean water in Timor-Leste, the power grid in Kosovo, and more.


I could continue to go on with a list of programs. But ultimately, this work comes back to the underlying cornerstones of our diplomacy, economic or otherwise: collaboration, coordination, connection across borders and sectors.

In an era defined by what CIA Director Bill Burns defines as “problems without passports”… by questions too vast for any single nation to tackle…

It has never been more important to invest in our relationships…to commit to an economic order that is fair, a playing field that is level, and prosperity that is broad, equitable, and shared.

It is not enough to talk about democracy… democracy also has to deliver – and economic progress is at the root of that compact. Not just here at home but also around the world.

If we can forge that fundamental foundation, then I truly believe we’ll possess the will and wherewithal to confront any crises that come our way – and build a future of freedom and growth for everyone.

Thank you.

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future