Remarks
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei
July 2, 2013


AMBASSADOR SHIELDS: Hello everyone. I’d like to warmly welcome you. I don’t want to waste any time. A man who needs no introduction at all, our wonderful Secretary of State, John Kerry.

SECRETARY KERRY: I was in elected politics for 29 years, and as an elected politician you always need an introduction. (Laughter.) A long one, if possible, as long as it’s a good one. If it isn’t, you don’t want any introduction at all.

Hello, how are you?

AUDIENCE: Fine.

SECRETARY KERRY: I’m happy to see. Is everybody good?

AUDIENCE: Yeah.

SECRETARY KERRY: Apa khabar? (Laughter.) All right, I’m happy to see everybody. Thank you so much. First of all, Ambassador Dan Shields, thank you. He is a great expert in Asia and we’re lucky to have him. He’s a professional; he’s been in many, many different places and he’s doing a terrific job running Embassy Bandar. Thank you very, very much. We appreciate it.

And where is – where did Sangita go? Here she is. And Sanali, come on up here, Sanali. I want you to know I just learned that Sanali has a dog called Puss. (Laughter.) Now, go figure that, guys. And apparently, right after I’m here, she’s going to go out and decide whether or not she’s going to adopt a cat. I told her if you got a dog named Puss, you obviously want a cat. (Laughter.) So anyway, but I hope I’m not embarrassing you, right? (Laughter.) No, no, not at all.

Anyway, I am really, really pleased to be here. Thank you very, very much, all of you. And I gather that we’ve got a bunch of TDY folks – folks who’ve come in, raise your hands – who’ve come in. Wow, we’ve got a lot of TDY folks. (Laughter.) Well, who’s with the Embassy then? (Laughter and cheers.) All right, okay. Thank you so much. I think they call it – don’t they call this place the Abode of Peace?

AUDIENCE: Yes.

SECRETARY KERRY: I can tell why. It’s beautiful. And we want to thank you on behalf of the President of the United States and all of our fellow citizens for all the work you do out here.

Brunei is obviously not the biggest power in the region in a lot of ways that people measure it, but it’s a very big power. And it’s very important to our relationships, and they’ve done a brilliant job of hosting the ASEAN series of meetings in the last couple days. And thanks to many of you who came in to support this effort. These things don’t happen easily, as I know you know. By the way, I guess the minute I get out of here, you’re going to have a heck of a wheels up party, aren’t you, right? (Laughter.) Get him out, get him out of town. (Laughter.) Ahh, even the Ambassador is laughing. (Laughter.) All right.

But I just – I won’t take too long. I just want to thank you. Look, the Asia Pacific is the economic powerhouse of the world now, and the rules are changing, the world is changing, and so you’re on the cutting edge of all of that. Whether it’s a multimillion dollar deal that comes out of here with Brunei and with businesses or whether it’s Blackhawk helicopters that you’re helping to make arrangements for, there’s so many different pieces of this puzzle, and every single part of it matters.

The meeting we had here this week, this last couple days, is critical to so many different facets of our relationships in the region, which is why we had foreign ministers from so many places that extend beyond what you would normally say is the Southeast Asia. You have the Russian Foreign Minister, you have the Indian Foreign Minister, you have folks from Pakistan and the entire community, including we had a representative at the early meeting this morning from North Korea who was able to hear our views about why denuclearization is so important without talking directly, but listening.

So this is part of building relationships. This is how you build peace and stability. And it doesn’t matter whether you’re one of the 75 fulltime staff here or whether you’re one of the TDY people or whether you’re Foreign Service or Civil Service or local hire, we have a lot of folks who live here. This is your home. But you have adopted us and been willing to come and work with us to try to bring the values and the hopes, the aspirations of democracy and freedom and of all the things that come with economic development and education and healthcare. And those are worth fighting for, right?

AUDIENCE: Yes.

SECRETARY KERRY: So I want to say thank you. I was a – I just learned the other day – I thought I was just a Foreign Service brat – (laughter) – but I learned the other day that I was a Dip Kid, which Diplomatic Kid or something like that. Anyway, I learned early on what it means to serve in the Foreign Service, and I’m grateful to every single one of you who pack your bags and travel and bring your kids and your families and move from place to place because you care about making the world better for other people.

So for those of you who live here who are – for whom this is your country, we thank you for sharing our efforts to reach your people and a lot of other people, and we thank everybody here for being part of an adventure where you get up every day and you try to make the world better for other people.

So I want to say hello to all of you and have a chance to shake hands and take a few pictures. Thank you all very much for being part of this and God bless everybody here. Thank you. (Applause.)

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PRN: 2013/ T09-22