Remarks at a Reception in Support of the United States' Bid to Host the 2023 World's Fair

John J. Sullivan
Deputy Secretary of State
U.S. Diplomacy Center Pavilion
Washington, DC
October 26, 2017

MS NAUERT: Hi. Good afternoon. Welcome, everyone, to the State Department. And if I may have your attention for just a moment, please. Isn’t this such a beautiful center? It is incredible. Often, I walk through this center on my way in to work and it’s pretty sparsely populated, so it’s wonderful to see so many people in here this afternoon.

Thank you so much for joining us today. I want to extend a special welcome to our many distinguished guests, including the Diplomatic Corps and those from the great state of Minnesota. Where are all the Minnesotans here? (Applause.) Raise your hand if you’re from Minnesota. You’re from Minnesota, you’re from Minnesota, you’re from – my husband’s from Minnesota. (Laughter.) We have a lot of great folks there. Do you all know how nice Minnesotans are? You’ve heard it? You’ve heard “Minnesota nice?” Let me tell you how nice these folks are.

I would go running sometimes in Minnesota with my husband in the middle of winter – January, February – and we’d be on along for a run, and it’s maybe 15 degrees outside, Fahrenheit, and people would smile and they would say hello at you. In the middle of winter while you’re running. So we hope that you will consider Minnesota. We are big fans of it certainly here at the State Department.

I would like to acknowledge the U.S. Diplomacy Center for allowing us to use this space today. It is a beautiful pavilion. It was completed last January and funded with private donations as part of a private-public partnership. It will be home to the first museum and educational center telling the story of U.S. diplomacy and also American’s diplomats.

We’re here today to highlight the strong national support enjoyed by Minnesota-USA bid to host Expo 2023 and to inspire member-states of the Bureau of International Expositions to vote for the U.S. bid on November the 15th. Please, mark your calendars. We would love your vote. (Applause.) Thank you. The Minnesota-USA project is private-public partnership that started more than two years ago and is a part of our global campaign to bring a World’s Fair back to the United States. We would love to see that.

I would like to thank the Office of the Under Secretary for Public Affairs and Public Diplomacy for coordinating the State Department’s efforts and putting today’s event together. I know they have been hard at work at this. An initiative of this magnitude requires a true champion to advocate on its behalf. Our Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan is here, and he has embraced this task and is working tirelessly to mobilize not only the department but the entire U.S. Government in support of the Minnesota-USA bid.

Deputy Secretary Sullivan is a native of Boston with decades of experience in both private legal practice and public service, including positions at the Defense Department and also Commerce Department. His ties to diplomacy and the State Department started long before he was sworn in as deputy secretary. His uncle served as a Foreign Service officer for more than 30 years, and we all know how important our Foreign Service officers are to the work that we do here every day.

As Deputy Secretary of State, he serves as principal advisor to Secretary Tillerson, providing guidance and firsthand assistance to the Secretary in the formulation of conduct of U.S. foreign policy. We’re honored that he is with us here today and that he is such a strong advocate for Minnesota-USA’s bid to host Expo 2023. Please join me in welcoming Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan, and he is a terrific guy if you’ve not had a chance to meet him.


Sir. Thank you.

DEPUTY SECRETARY SULLIVAN: Thank you, Heather, for that kind introduction. I have one qualification to Heather’s remarks: I am from Boston and grew up as a hockey player, a hockey coach, a hockey fan, so I’ve spent a lot of time both in my youth and then when I was coaching my children’s youth hockey teams in Minnesota – Brainerd, Red Wing, Winona, Rochester – I’ve been all over the state, been in many of your hockey rinks, tournaments, summer hockey camps, and Minnesotans, as Heather said, are just the most wonderful, sweetest persons, except when they hop over the boards to take a shift in a hockey game and then they’re pretty nasty. (Laughter.) So I can speak from personal experience on that.

But I’m delighted to see so many people here to support this bid and all of those who have played an instrumental role in the United States bid for Expo 2023. I want to recognize the foreign diplomatic corps are present this afternoon, as many of the foreign ambassadors who are here. Thanks to all of you for being here and for standing behind this important cause.

Four months ago, I met with many of you at the department as one of my first public appearances as Deputy Secretary of State, at which time I spoke about the United States initial efforts to bring the World’s Fair back here to our country. I’m thrilled to report that since that time, the U.S. proposal has advanced to the final round. Our teams have been very busy highlighting why the United States, and more particularly Minnesota, is the ideal location with the perfect theme for that state – health and wellness – to host the World’s Fair or Expo in 2023.

As Heather mentioned, the expo is a public-private partnership, one that’s driven by grassroots efforts of the Minnesota World’s Fair Bid Committee under the dedicated leadership of the committee president and chief executive officer, Mark Ritchie. Thank you, Mark, for all your work. Many of you know Mark, who is the former Minnesota secretary of state, and in a moment he’ll provide us with the latest update on the bid, including details on the recent announcement of the proposed expo site in Minnesota.

Before Mark comes up here, I’d like to highlight the impressive work done thus far to effectively mobilize international support for this important commercial and diplomatic initiative. I want to thank our terrific Under Secretary for Political Affairs Tom Shannon, who himself is a Minnesota native, and his colleagues from the regional bureaus present here today for their diplomatic engagement in support of the expo. Many have moved mountains to get us here to this point.

In May, Congress passed legislation by unanimous consent authorizing the United States to rejoin the Bureau of International Expositions, or BIE, which is the Paris-based organization that governs participation in the World’s Fair. Secretary Tillerson then signed the treaty accession documents that were deposited in Paris. Thank you to the Minnesota congressional delegation, as well as the leaders of the House Foreign Affairs and Senate Foreign Relations Committee, for getting this legislation passed. You’ll hear later in the program from two members of the Minnesota delegation that are with us today: U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar and U.S. Representative Tom Emmer. Thanks to all of you for your help in getting us to where we are today.

In June, the Bureau of International Exposition’s general assembly voted to advance the U.S. bid to the final round that will be held in Paris on November 15th.

Earlier this month, the United States once again became a voting member of the Bureau of International Expositions, and I look forward personally to traveling to Paris next month to cast the U.S. vote in support of this expo, the first in more than 15 years. (Applause.)

My colleagues in the United States and around the world, including my former colleagues and friends from the Department of Commerce, have spoken to you and representatives in your capital about the Minnesota-USA bid. There is strong federal support for this public-private partnership in what would be the first World’s Fair that’d take place in the United States in almost 40 years.

BIE delegates have attended U.S.-hosted expo events in Paris, Brussels, and London, and many of your consuls general in the United States have attended expo events in Minnesota and Chicago as well.

I understand that several of you will join Deputy Chief of Protocol Cam Henderson in the Office of the Chief of Protocol’s Experience America trip to Minnesota in the near future.

For those ambassadors or charges who have not yet signed up for the trip, please speak with protocol today before you leave. It’s not too late to join. We want you to experience Minnesota as we seek to bring the world there in 2023.

We can all agree that there’s something inspiring about a World’s Fair, a time when the world comes together to celebrate, explore, and discover the promises and opportunities of new technologies and partnerships; in this case, to focus on the increasingly important areas of health and wellness.

Minnesota, home to some amazing medical technology companies and a region regularly ranked as one of the healthiest metropolitan regions as a – regions in the country, is an ideal location for such an expo. The Smithsonian’s American History Museum even included Minnesota’s Medical Alley as one of the featured regions in their current exhibition, Places of Innovation.

I still fondly remember my experience as a child when my parents took me to the New York World’s Fair in Queens in 1964. For those of you who have not been to the Queens Museum in New York City, there’s a great World’s Fair exhibit that captures that time and experience through a fantastic scale model of the city. It’s really something to see.

If you haven’t been to a World’s Fair yet – and I stress “yet” – I hope that we will have the opportunity to come together in Minnesota in 2023 for the Healthy People, Healthy Planet Expo. However, in order for that to happen, we need your support, and we need your vote on November 15 in Paris at the BIE general assembly.

So again, I thank you all for coming this afternoon and appreciate your ongoing efforts to make the 2023 expo in Minnesota a reality. Thanks very much. (Applause.)