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SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you very much. Thank you, thank you. Yeah, our colleagues have probably heard enough from me over the last few days – (laughter) – already, but thank you. Thank you, my friend.

It is – first let me say thank you for the moment of silence that you offered to former Prime Minister Abe. I think everyone is still in shock at his assassination, shock at the loss for his family, his friends, and the world. And so I appreciate you doing that. I know it’s so deeply felt throughout the region as well as around the world.

On a much happier note, it’s wonderful to be here. And I guess patience is a virtue. I was almost here a few months ago, and then we had, as you know, a COVID incident among our traveling party. So playing it safe, we had to postpone, but I’m so grateful to be here now. We’ll have lots to say and do throughout the day, but particularly, not only reaffirming our alliance, but showing its breadth and its depth through the joint statement that we’ll be signing shortly.

So I very much look forward to that, and look forward to the work that we’re continuing because, as you said, we’ve been engaged in this for many, many months now. We deeply appreciate and have followed your leadership with APEC. We’re looking forward to taking the baton from you. We’re so pleased to have you as a founding member of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework. We’ll talk about that, of course, all the work that’s being done through ASEAN, and our own partnership.

So much to be said, much to be talked about. Thank you for having us here today. I think you know all of our team, but we’re happy to get down to work. Thank you.


U.S. Department of State

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