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PRESIDENT ALI:  Thank you very much.  First of all, allow me to welcome Secretary Blinken and his team to Guyana.  We are very pleased to have you here.  As you’re all aware, the United States of America is one of our strongest partner.  We share many common values and principles.  We both believe in the rule of law, democracy, and ensuring that everyone, every country, abides and work within a democratic framework.

The United States is Guyana’s largest trading partner, with accumulated trade of over U.S. 3.9 billion in 2022.  The United States is overall ranked our number one export by destination: U.S. $2.7 billion in 2022; and our number one import by source: $1.2 billion.

Our relationship with the United States is one that spans many sectors.  Our foreign policy, the foreign policy both of us pursue, is to ensure that our world exists in a peaceful manner, one in which the rights of every human is respected, and one in which we build a stronger society on the values and principles of democracy.

We share common interests in three very important areas; that is, food security, energy security, and climate security.  As you know, Guyana is contributing significantly in all three of these areas.  The vision of Guyana is to position our country to be a leader, a global leader on energy security, food security, and climate security.

We are seeking to expand our partnership with the U.S. in all of these areas.  Whereas we continue to build our energy sector and expand our petroleum production, we have redoubled our efforts to renewable energy here in Guyana and ensuring we meet our target in terms of decarbonization.

We are also pleased to share with your – we are pleased to share with the U.S. our credentials on the forests and seek the U.S. partnership in promoting forests and ensuring that the forests becomes an important part of the agenda on climate change.

There are a number of other areas – crime and security, ensuring that we build systems to ensure that transnational crime is addressed, issues of drug trafficking.  The United States has played a tremendous role in the training of our security forces.  In the last two years, we had the greatest partnership in terms of the training of our security forces and partnership in combating many different forms of crime, and we have gained tremendous success in the last three years in these areas.

We are committed to continuing this partnership, expanding this partnership, building stronger relationship and trust, creating greater network.  And very soon the Tradewind exercise will be held here in Guyana once more, and that gives us an additional opportunity in building out our network and relationships.  The relationship with SOUTHCOM office is expanding, one that is dynamic and one that has brought us tremendous, tremendous results also.

So I believe that at this time of our development, the United States as a strategic partner is not only helpful and supportive in the development of Guyana, but, more importantly, they are playing a key role – the private sector of the U.S. also.  We have had tremendous investment from the U.S. private sector, and they continue to show greater and greater interest in our country.  So we must continue to build a society in which our systems, our institutions are strong, in which our institutions and system can withstand scrutiny, point to accountability and transparency so that we can continue to present Guyana as a sustainable destination for more U.S. investment.

Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you very much.  Thank you, Mr. President, and to everyone, good afternoon.  Mr. President, Foreign Minister Todd, all our colleagues: thank you for hosting us and hosting me on my first visit to the Land of Many Waters.  As a fellow Caribbean nation, the United States is fully committed to building a more prosperous, a more secure, a more sustainable region.

We greatly value the leadership of Caribbean nations on our shared priorities, and the president referred to a number of them: the strengthening of democracy in the Americas, to addressing the global climate crisis, to creating even greater and more inclusive economic opportunity for our people.

This trip to the region builds on the most significant and – will that help?  All right, how’s that?  Does that work?  Nope, try that again.  Let’s see.  Apologies.  Well, you can discount everything I just said.  (Laughter.)

My trip to the region builds on what has been the most significant, the most sustained engagement in decades between the United States and the Caribbean.  Our leaders have met at the highest levels, from President Biden and Vice President Harris on down.  Through the three U.S.-Caribbean action committees that we established at the Summit of the Americas last year, we’re partnering to improve the lives of people across the region – addressing energy security, food security, access to finance.  We’re committed to opening two new diplomatic posts in the Caribbean.

Yesterday in Trinidad, we joined CARICOM leaders, including President Ali and Foreign Minister Todd, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of that organization’s founding.  CARICOM has been a powerful force in improving lives of people across the Caribbean.  At the ministerial meeting, we agreed to strengthen cooperation on addressing climate change, hunger, the ongoing crisis in Haiti, among other shared priorities.  The large congressional delegation that accompanied us, headed by Leader Hakeem Jeffries, underscores the bipartisan commitment in the United States to further strengthening and deepening our ties.

Earlier today in Trinidad and Tobago, I met with Prime Minister Keith Rowley.  We discussed how we can enhance our own cooperation on a variety of issues, including energy security and including reducing gun violence.  And just now, with President Ali, with Foreign Minister Todd, with many of our colleagues from the government here in Guyana, we had very productive discussions on the full scope of what is already a very strong bilateral relationship between our countries, building on conversations that the president and I had in Washington last year.

The United States appreciates the increasingly significant role that Guyana is playing in addressing regional and indeed global issues: a leader on the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights; and, of course, starting in January, one of the new term members of the United Nations Security Council.

Among the many issues that we covered today, energy security and climate adaptation were front and center.  Every hurricane season provides a very stark reminder that Caribbean nations are on the front lines of the climate crisis.  That’s a key reason why the United States strongly supports reforming the multilateral development banks to better address disproportionate costs of climate on peoples in the Caribbean.  At the same time, through efforts like the U.S.-Caribbean Partnership to Address the Climate Crisis 2030, we are building on the resilience while supporting a clean energy transition.

Now, Guyana will soon be the highest oil-producing country per capita in the world, but it’s also a leader in forest conservation, demonstrating that it’s possible to prioritize climate mitigation and environmental protection while responsibly using fossil fuel resources.  Eighty-six percent of Guyana’s territory is covered by forests, making it a natural carbon global sink.

The government recently completed a historic deal to sell $750 million in internationally certified carbon credits to the Hess Corporation over the next decade, and the government is committed to reinvest at least 15 percent of these funds into the country’s indigenous communities.

Our own Export-Import Bank is working closely with the Guyanese Government on a major gas-to-energy project that’s going to cut emissions by 50 percent.  American companies can bring unparalleled expertise, high labor and environmental standards, and transparency to help power Guyana’s dynamic growth, to advance regional energy security, to deliver tangible benefits to all the people of Guyana.

As the president mentioned, food security is another critical priority for both of us.  We have the climate crisis, we’ve had COVID, we’ve had conflict – including the Russian aggression against Ukraine – form an almost perfect storm, all contributing to the Caribbean’s highest food prices in a generation.  We’re grateful to Guyana for co-chairing the U.S.-Caribbean High-Level Action Committee on Food Security, where the country is leading efforts to expand small farmers’ access to technology, reducing barriers to trade, and reducing barriers to transportation.

We’ve provided about $28 million in emergency food assistance over the past year.  We’re investing more resources into local capacity so that, ultimately, countries across the region can build their own sustainable production capacity.  As the breadbasket of the Caribbean, Guyana will continue to be a crucial part of this effort.

Guyana is also an important regional security partner.  We appreciate Guyana hosting SOUTHCOM’s upcoming Tradewinds exercise.  This is, I think, the 39th or 40th year we’ve been doing it.  That’s going to strengthen the Caribbean’s ability to combat transnational criminal organizations and other threats and respond to natural disasters.  Our law enforcement agencies are working closely together, cooperating to counter illegal narcotics.  We’re helping Guyana train police and reform its justice system to improve accountability and transparency, as you heard the president say.

We also emphasized the need to continue to work together to reduce violent crime.  Since launching the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative in 2010, the United States has invested over $830 million to strengthen law enforcement, to reduce illicit trafficking, to prevent youth crime.  We’re supporting CARICOM’s new Crime Gun Intelligence Unit in Port of Spain, which is improving information sharing, enhancing training, and helping disrupt the flow of illegal firearms.  And yesterday, our Department of Justice announced an experienced prosecutor, Michael Ben’Ary, as our first-ever Coordinator for Caribbean Firearms Prosecutions.  This will deepen our cooperation in actually bringing offenders to justice.

In endorsing the Los Angeles Declaration together with 20 other countries in our hemisphere, Guyana pledged to promote safe, orderly, humane, and regular migration.  And they have demonstrated that commitment by providing health care, education, and other services to Venezuelan refugees.  The United States has contributed about $4 million over the last year to help Guyana manage this challenge, and we’re grateful to the Guyanese people for their compassion and their generosity in the face of Venezuela’s ongoing crisis.

This kindness to new arrivals is really not surprising, given how central immigration has been to the story of so many families in this country and throughout our region.  We see it in vibrant neighborhoods like Little Guyana in my native New York City, in the Caribbean family roots of our elected officials, including Vice President Harris and many members of our Congress, several of whom, as I said, were with us on this visit, and yes, in the music of Rhianna as well.  I know the bonds between our people will only continue to grow.

So Mr. President, it’s really a pleasure to be here with you to continue our ongoing dialogue, the work that we’re doing together with one of our closest partners in the Caribbean at a moment of such profound transformation, such profound change, such profound hope.

With that, Mr. President, back to you.  (Applause).

MODERATOR:  Thank you, President Ali and Secretary of State Blinken.  Given the limited amount of time that Secretary of State Blinken has with us today, I will take four questions, two from the Guyana media and two from the United States media.  I would like to ask you to raise your hands if you would like to ask a question.  I’ll remind you to kindly state your name and the media host that you represent.  Thank you.  I acknowledge the young lady in the black top.

QUESTION:  Good afternoon.  Vishani Ragobeer with Newsroom here.  Just two questions.  First, you spoke about deepening cooperation on security and climate change.  Are there any new, concrete ways the U.S. is committing to support Guyana in this regard?   And secondly, has the removal of visa restrictions – easier travel for Guyanese to the U.S. – been something you discussed today?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  I’m happy to start.  To the second part of your question, that’s not something that came up in our conversations today, but I’m sure it figures in the conversations between our teams.  And as I said with regard to food security, to the climate, there’s been an ongoing effort that I think has been of great significance.

And we see that, as I mentioned, in the PACC 2030 initiative that leaders launched that is having a very practical impact on helping to build resilience, helping communities adapt, doing everything from helping small-hold farmers learn new techniques, including with low water usage for irrigation, bringing financing and technical expertise to the adaptation of clean technologies, making sure, as well, that countries are prepared to have a disaster response as we challenges emerge on a regular basis.

I mentioned that we put some additional resources into the food security piece itself, but the 2030 program is where the bulk of our efforts are targeted in this moment.  And as I said, that’s playing out in a variety of very practical ways that is going to have an impact, I think, on the lives, the livelihoods, and the resilience of communities.

But one thing I want to emphasize when it comes to food security more broadly is, look, we’ve been deeply engaged in making sure that we were doing our part in the emergency response that has been necessary to the crises that the world has been going through over the last couple of years, as again, exacerbated even more by the Russian aggression against Ukraine.  Just since that took place, we’ve provided about $13.5 billion around the world in emergency support on food.  In addition, the United States is by far the largest donor to the World Food Program.  We provide over 50 percent of its budget right now.

But what I hear again and again from my colleagues in the region and around the world is that, as important as this emergency assistance is – and we’ll continue to provide it – what matters even more is helping countries develop their own sustainable productive capacity so that they can effectively feed themselves and feed others.  And that really is the focus of the work that we’re doing through the 2030 program and in our bilateral programs with Guyana.

MODERATOR:  Thank you.  I will entertain a question from the U.S. media.  I see – I recognize the gentlemen in the third row.

QUESTION:  Is there a microphone?  We’re not as many journalists, so it’ll be easier.  Thank you for hosting us, Mr. President.

MODERATOR:  Could you identify your outlet?

QUESTION:  Leon Bruneau, Agence France-Presse.  (Inaudible.)  Thank you, Mr. President, for hosting us.  (Inaudible) hot and humid in your country.  I have a series of questions on Venezuela and on Haiti, if I may.  And Mr. Secretary, if I could start with you.  Venezuela is set to hold elections in 2024, and at the same time apparently some opponents have been disqualified.  And I was wondering if you’re concerned, both of you, that we could be heading towards a scenario like in 2018, where the United States did not recognize the process that was ongoing there.  And secondly on Venezuela, are you considering at all the exchange of U.S. prisoners for Alex Saab?  That’s a different question.

And if I may ask a question on Haiti, an important topic during your meetings.  There seems to be just as much a sense of urgency now as there was last fall when you were already talking about a sense of urgency.  And yet, here we are and no country has yet stepped up to lead the UN-backed multinational force.  So my question is very direct to the Secretary.  Is the United States ready or not to lead such a force?  And if not, who will lead such a force?  And just to finish on that, do you think the Security Council is united on this issue (inaudible) is not?  Thank you very much.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Leon, thank you.  Would you like me to start, Mr. President?  Thank you.

First, with regard to Venezuela, our focus, the focus of countries throughout the region and beyond is putting Venezuela back on a democratic path, and that starts with preparations for free and fair elections next year.  That is the objective and it’s clearly the desire of people throughout Venezuela.  There are a number of very practical steps that the regime in Caracas can take to demonstrate that it wants to move down that path towards free and fair elections.  What you just mentioned, that is the disqualification of a leading member of the opposition from competing in such elections, certainly sends the opposite message and something that I think is deeply, deeply unfortunate.

We’re determined to continue international cooperation and coordination to press the regime to commit to free and fair elections in 2024 and to take the necessary steps to allow free and fair elections to go forward.  And as I said, there are number of very practical things that it can and should do.  I’d also say more broadly that the purpose of the sanctions that we’ve imposed are not to create ends in themselves.  That’s not the objective.  Sanctions are a means to an end, and the end is to help respond to the desire of the Venezuelan people to restore democracy.  And again, as I said, that starts with free and fair elections.

With regard to prisoners, those who are arbitrarily detained, this is something that we’re engaged on constantly.  And as you heard me say many times, Leon, it’s one of my top priorities as Secretary of State, looking out for the security, the wellbeing of Americans abroad, notably those who’ve been arbitrarily detained, used as political pawns.  So we’re focused on it.  I’m not going to get into any of the engagements, diplomacy, deliberations that we have.  But I think as you’ve seen in the case of Venezuela, we’ve been able to bring a number of Americans home over the last year, and around the world we brought nearly 30 Americans home who’ve been arbitrarily detained in one way or another.  So it’s a constant focus, and I’m not going to get into any details of where and how we might do that.

With regard to Haiti, we are seized with a fierce urgency of now when it comes to Haiti.  We’ve been working very hard across a number of lines of effort: first, to, of course, support the Haitian people with humanitarian assistance and development assistance to try to make sure that they have the basic resources they need to survive.  Second, we’ve been supporting a process that would allow Haiti to reach a broad consensus on a return to democratic order.  And I met with Prime Minister Henry just yesterday when we were in Antigua[i] to talk about the work that’s being done to bring everyone together, to develop a consensus on the way forward toward the full restoration of the democratic order.

And third, we’ve been very focused on security or the profound lack thereof.  And there, we’ve spent time, resources, effort to try to strengthen and build up the Haitian National Police.  But it’s also our assessment that, while that’s necessary, it’s not sufficient.  And as you heard from leadership in Haiti, as you heard from the Haitian people, as you heard from the Secretary-General of the United Nations, as you heard from the OAS, there is a consensus on the need for some kind of multinational force to support the work of the police to try to create some space and a more secure climate so that the work that we’re doing to strengthen the police, to strengthen security services in Haiti has time to take hold, and the government can regain control of the country and not have it dominated, as it is in so many parts, by gangs.

We’ve in very active conversation with countries in the region and beyond about such a course.  We’re in active conversations, of course, with the United Nations about what it might do to give, of course, the proper imprimatur from the international community.  Part of this involves making sure that countries step up to play important roles in such a force, particularly identifying a country that would play a leading-nation role.  That’s something, again, we’re very actively engaged in.  So are they; so is the Haitian Government.  So what I can say to you today is it’s very much part of the conversation at CARICOM yesterday, very much part of the conversation that I had with Prime Minister Henry, and a focus of our work.  And we are seized with the urgency of moving this forward.

PRESIDENT ALI:  Thank you.  In relation to Haiti, as Secretary Blinken said – Haiti took up a substantial part of the agenda for CARICOM.  There are three issues that must be addressed in relation to Haiti – that is the security issue, the humanitarian issue, and the political issue.  And these three issues were distilled at CARICOM heads of government meeting.  We have President Kagame with us from Rwanda.  And we decided on a few things: one, the eminent group of leaders, which include former prime minister Kenny Anthony and Bruce Golding, they will continue to work with the leadership of Haiti – and when I say “leadership,” not only the government – the broad stakeholders of leadership in Haiti – to come up with a broadened representation in government.

And this is what is termed the transitional period, the transitional government.  Prime Minister Henry has committed to broadening this transitional government.  He has committed that he is not going to run in any future elections.  And Kenya and Rwanda will have jointly committed to putting some – putting together some form of troop to support the Haitian police and to have a presence.  Now, that has to be financed, and that has to come through a mechanism through the UN.  And this is where we now must – we now have to focus our work: how we get a UN resolution and how this mechanism is developed.

The third issue is the humanitarian issue.  We have to find a way and we are all committed to find a way in which we can have a line of control in Haiti that will allow humanitarian aid to get into the country and reach the people.  These are three critical issues that has discussed, and we are committed to working on this.

I must say that Prime Minister Henry, at those meetings yesterday, committed to working with the eminent group on the broadening of the transitional government, to include other stakeholders, so that we can build more consensus on the way forward.

In terms of Venezuela, we – I just want to make one point.  There is no price to democracy and the rule of law, and there is no time constraint to democracy and the rule of law.  As long it take, we have to toil until we achieve democracy and the rule of law.  That is what – that is what is going to build stability, strengthen society, and advance the prospect of the people of this region and of Venezuela.

So I always say we cannot give up.  We have to work to ensure that these fundamental values are intact.  Thank you.

MODERATOR:  Thank you.  I recognize the gentleman – just —

QUESTION:  Good afternoon – test.  Good afternoon, Excellencies.  Secretary Blinken, you spoke about —

MODERATOR:  Please identify your media hosts.

QUESTION:  Oh, sorry.  Derwayne Wills from NCN.  You spoke about the decarbonization and the forest preservation.  Guyana is exploring the possibility of selling carbon credits also to bilaterals.  Is this a conversation that popped up regarding U.S. purchasing of carbon credits from Guyana?  That’s the first question.

And the second thing I want to know is, considering Guyana’s now part of the UN Security Council, a temporary member – a permanent member – a temporary member, what are some of the areas of cooperation that we can foresee coming out of future (inaudible) certain (inaudible)?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you very much.  With regard to the second part of your question, what we just discussed – Haiti – is certainly one area of, I think, potential and important collaboration with Guyana on the Security Council, because – precisely because it’s going to be very important to have the endorsement of the United Nations for any force that goes in to support the police to create a more secure environment.  So that’s one of the areas that we actually talked about today.

But one of the things that I discussed with the president and with the team was our strong interest in learning from the government their thoughts, their agenda for the Security Council and for their tenure on the Security Council.  This will be an ongoing conversation between us.

When it comes to carbon credits, as is noted, the agreement that Guyana reached with a private corporation I think is of great significance and demonstrates in a very powerful way how Guyana is all at once using responsibly the abundant resources that it now has at hand, while also making investments in the climate future, making investments in transition to renewables, and also, of course, as I heard from the president very clearly, showing a very important and powerful commitment to preserving its forests, which are a resource from which many, many benefit well beyond Guyana.

So whether there are more such opportunities in the future, I think that will go to, for example, whether other private companies are interested in pursuing something, and we’ll leave that to them.

PRESIDENT ALI:  Thank you.  There was just two questions.  One, we want to ensure that our world is a safer place, and security is the foundation through which the global citizen enjoy prosperity.  There are many challenges that the world face lately – the war in Ukraine – and there are other challenges that contribute to conflict and contribute to barriers that does not allow the global citizen to enjoy the full prospect of life.  These are things that we will elaborate in much greater details very soon.  Our team that will be working at the Security Council will be meeting with our stakeholders in Washington and other stakeholders to further define and to prioritize action, because there are so many challenges, but we have to prioritize the actions that are critical today and the issues that are critical and must be addressed as we confront the challenges.

On the issue of climate change and the U.S. involvement, we – sometimes we forget that the role of governments is to set the tone, to create or define the policy, and also to create an enabling environment and framework through which all stakeholders can follow.  And we are both committed on the issue of climate change.  We are both committed on the issue of decarbonization.  We are both connected on the targets we set to achieve the results of 2050.

Now, we are creating an environment in which the private sector can also participate.  Like the example of Hess Corporation, a U.S. company, that is now part of a carbon (inaudible) arrangement in Guyana that has benefited communities and contributed positively in the climate change equation, but importantly, on demonstrating that a model of carbon credit sales from the forests is one that can be an important part in achieving the targets that we set.

So I would say that the U.S. and Guyana, we are working together on setting the right tone, creating the right policy environment, and supporting the right type of initiative that would – that will create a platform for all stakeholders to be a part of.

MODERATOR:  Thank you.  I will entertain the last question from the U.S. side.  Could you raise your hand (inaudible)?

QUESTION:  Thank you.  And thank you both.  I’m Shannon Crawford from ABC News, and please forgive me but I have to duck behind the camera while you answer; I’m wearing multiple hats today.  But I do have two questions, one for each of you.

First, President Ali, Guyana is China’s top trade partner in the Caribbean.  Now – and those ties seem to have only deepened during your time in office.  Do you see your partnership with China as an economic one or is there room for enhanced cooperation, perhaps even on the military front?

And Secretary Blinken, please forgive me for veering for the – from the region here, rather, but I believe this is the first opportunity that a member of the press has had to ask you about the State Department’s public version of the after-action report on Afghanistan that was released recently.  Now, that report found that the evacuation operation was hindered somewhat because it was unclear who at the State Department was in the lead.  Can you shed any more light on why that was?  And unlike the findings the White House released in April, the State Department report found that both the former president and the current president made decisions that were detrimental in that situation.  Why did it take so long to come out with that finding, to admit that?

PRESIDENT ALI:  Thank you.  So if you look at the numbers you will see in the last two years – in 2022 I gave a number of foreign direct investment from the U.S. in Guyana, stood at $4.2 billion U.S.  This is the highest in history.  And if you look at the investment from different countries, this is the highest investment over the last two years.  More importantly, we are now working with Ex-Im Bank on a $2 billion programming that can be unlocked for Guyana.

Now, the problem is twofold.  I said before publicly that the aggression from the U.S. private sector was not there in terms of going after the opportunities, but as a result of the strong bilateral relationship over the last two years and setting that tone and creating that policy environment and building that trust, we have seen a complete change from the U.S. private sector.  And this is as a result of both countries at the policy level saying to the private sector, saying to the investors:  There is the opportunity; we are welcoming that opportunity.  And that has created a positive shift.  More and more investment is coming from the U.S.

If you look at our investment portfolio from the public sector, you will see that today, if you go to our partners, UKEF – most of our new projects is coming out of the UKEF – the UKEF financing.  We now have a broad portfolio for financing that includes the Middle East.  We just concluded programs from the Islamic Development Bank, programs from the Saudi Development Fund.  We are now working with the Qatari Development Fund, the UAE.  So we have set ourselves some benchmarks in terms of what the cost of financing should be in this market, and also we are not going to borrow on variable rates.

Now, it might be surprising to you, but sometimes the – there is a misconception on the cost of financing, and we believe that in certain part of the globe the financing is cheaper.  That’s not the case today.  If you look at the rates that we are getting and where it’s coming from, you’ll be very, very shocked.

Now, having said that, we are a partner with many countries, and China is one of our development partner.  China has a huge footprint globally, and China – the Chinese company are very aggressive in the way they do business.  They go after opportunity, and that aggression is now being replicated by investors from different part of the world here in Guyana.

The fact is that we were – very little was known of us.  Very, very little was known of us – not that we did not exist.  The same forest we are celebrating today existed, but we did not have the type of public following or global following that we have today.  And sometimes I say that maybe what drives public following is the oil and gas sector, because since oil was discovered, we have seen a very welcome interest from the global community on Guyana.  And we are utilizing that interest to showcase Guyana not as an oil and gas producer but as a country that has the ability to provide strong global leadership on climate change, food security, and energy security.  Thank you.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Shannon, with regard to the After-Action Report on Afghanistan, first, it’s worth noting that the reason we’re talking about it today is because I instructed that that report be initiated and I insisted that it be released, first to our workforce and then, as we did recently, publicly.  Lessons learned, transparency, accountability – all of these things have been important to me from day one, and they’re reflected in the publication of the report.

More broadly with regard to the report, we’ve taken, I think by our count, more than 40 concrete actions to address issues raised in the report.  We’ve identified some additional steps to make the department even stronger, more effective, in response to future crises.  We’ve applied a number of the lessons that we learned from Afghanistan and that are outlined in the report in challenges that have come up since Afghanistan – in Ukraine, in Sudan, in Ethiopia.  There’s a lot of work that continues to be done and continues to need to be done, but I’m very proud of the fact that our workforce has really stepped up and, as I said, already applied many of the lessons learned from Afghanistan.

It’s also worth noting that – as the report does – that all told we evacuated more than 125,000 people, including about 6,000 American citizens, and that’s because of the extraordinary work that our people did on the ground in Kabul and, for that matter, around the world.  And I should also add I have an ongoing commitment when it comes to our Afghan partners to continue to bring out those who wish to leave.

With regard to the specific finding that you mentioned, this was an incredibly complex challenge that involved multiple parts of the State Department as well as many, many other agencies in our government.  I had senior officials reporting to me.  I’m proud of what the team was able to accomplish, including, as I said, the evacuation of more than 125,000 people.  But as I also said, I’m determined that we learn the lessons from this experience.  Going forward, we’re going to make sure and going to make it a standard that a single principal-level crisis leader is appointed to oversee all the lines of effort that go to responding to a given crisis.  That’s something that we’ve taken very seriously, taken away from the report, and that we’re going to follow going forward.

Thank you.

[i] Trinidad and Tobago

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future