SECRETARY BLINKEN: Well, good afternoon, everyone. (Inaudible.) Good afternoon again. It’s very good to be here with the foreign minister from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Mr. Minister, welcome. Bienvenue. Very good to see you again.
We are very glad to be working with the DRC to advance our privileged partnership for peace, prosperity, and preservation of the environment. So we have a lot of work that we’ve been doing and will continue to do on that.
I’m very much also looking forward to discussing how we can support peace and security and stability in the eastern DRC, which is under some challenge. But we’re – we want to be very supportive of important (inaudible) efforts that are ongoing to deal with those challenges. And I must say, in particular we applaud the diplomatic efforts that we see underway for the Nairobi initiative and pursuit of a lasting peace in the region, something the United States very much supports.
So, Mr. Minister, again, welcome. Very good to be with you.
FOREIGN MINISTER LUTUNDULA: (Via interpreter) Mr. Secretary, the United States of America are traditional friends of the DRC. Since 1966, we gained independence. Today the DRC has been independent for 62 years (inaudible), and at all the stages of our history, any time the DRC went through turbulences, the United States were – was always with us. It is thus an important partner for the DRC. It is also a friendly people, a traditional friend of the Congolese people.
My delegation and myself are looking forward to being here at the State Department today to look at matters of common interest, both bilaterally and multilaterally. And I would like to also say on behalf of President Tshisekedi and of our other ministers, I would like to thank you, Mr. Secretary, for what you and President Biden are doing for our country.
We are going through difficult times at the moment, and all the efforts on the diplomatic front, but also in terms of financial contributions through the UN system – those agencies that are operating in the DRC. We do know that the U.S. is the largest contributor, for example, with MONUSCO – all of this is a testament to how solid our friendship is, and it shows the hope the U.S. has in the possibility that the DRC will play a role in Africa to consolidate democracy, the rule of law, and to become an ally that will take part in building those values that our peoples and our countries are fighting for.
You talked about the various matters that we will be covering. We will get into more details, indeed. Just know that my president, my people, and my fellow ministers say that you can count on us.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Merci. Thanks, everyone.