Reta Jo Lewis
Special Representative for Global Intergovernmental Affairs
Washington, DC
June 7, 2011

Good Afternoon everyone. I am honored to be here today to witness the signing of this Sister City agreement between Washington, D.C. and Rome. First I would like to thank Mayor Gray and Mayor Alemanno for inviting me here and signing this agreement today.

Since Secretary Clinton created the office of Global Intergovernmental Affairs a year and a half ago, I have seen firsthand the overwhelming power of Sister City relationships in citizen diplomacy and cultural exchanges.

Washington, D.C. and Rome make what could be described as a historic “power couple.” Throughout world history, some of the most significant events have happened in these two cities. Moreover, both capitols are beacons of culture and diplomacy for their respective nations.

To absorb this history and culture, Americans flock to Washington to marvel at historic sites that are more than 200 years old; meanwhile Italians flock to Rome to marvel at historic sites that are more than 2,000 years old!

Another aspect of culture is sports and both cities are very passionate about their local sports teams. And though we love our teams we must keep in mind that both Rome and Washington are the seats of government and the locations where influential world decisions are made. Therefore, some might say that in these cities politics was, is, and always will be the sport of choice.

Thus I believe that this Sister City relationship between Washington, D.C. and Rome will form strong bonds across a wide range of issues including culture, history, and politics. It is a relationship between cities, but more importantly, a relationship between the people of those cities. I hope to see a growing presence of Washingtonians in Rome and Romans in Washington as Sister Cities provides an excellent avenue for citizen diplomacy and cultural exchange. On behalf of the U.S. Department of State and Secretary Clinton, I would like to congratulate Washington, D.C. and Rome on their new Sister City relationship.