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SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, good afternoon, everyone.  It’s a real pleasure to welcome Foreign Minister Bustillo here.  Francisco, welcome.  It’s great to have you.

Uruguay is a strong, democratic partner of the United States with a strong voice in the OAS, at the United Nations, one that we greatly value.

Indeed, we call clearly together for an end to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.

We already have a very strong commercial relationship, but one that we’ll talk about deepening today.

And we’ll have an opportunity to plan together for the upcoming Summit of the Americas at a critical moment for our hemisphere and for the work that we have to do together.  Uruguay is the chair of the Health Resilience Group for the summit.  This is critical for our future, and it is well placed to do that among other things because of its extraordinarily effective response to COVID-19.

So there is lots to talk about.  Without further ado, Francisco, again, welcome.  Over to you.

FOREIGN MINISTER BUSTILLO:  (Via interpreter) Thank you very much.  It is such an honor to be here with the Secretary of State Antony Blinken and with your team, and I am so pleased to see so many friendly faces among them.  It is very much an honor to be here with the Uruguayan Ambassador to the United States Andrés Durán, with the Chief of Cabinet Fernando Fabregat, as well as our Minister Adviser Gerardo Ruiz.

And of course, this is a great time for the United States and Uruguay to come together as we share traditional values that we have cultivated over the years.  So once again, I would like to thank you.  And I’m asked to slow down my sentences.

We are here at such a crucial time and we share such principles and values, so it is a pleasure to meet with you here today, Mr. Secretary.  Uruguay over the last century has had a history of being a Francophone country, and we are part of that international community.  And I believe that based on your past and growing up in France that it is very easy to locate ourselves within our shared principles and values.

As I said just a moment ago, we are in a very particular time in history for humanity, and as men of diplomacy, I know that this is a crucial moment where the United States has a role to play in the international scenario, and a lot of work to do, and specifically in this case with Uruguay.

We have great expectations for our meeting today, and we will discuss many issues, including the Summit of the Americas which is to be held in June in Los Angeles.  So without a doubt, this is a time to work together for the benefit of both of our countries and for humanity.

Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you all.


U.S. Department of State

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