Remarks at Embassy Meet and Greet

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Marrakech, Morocco
November 3, 2009

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you all. Thank you very, very much for those really kind remarks, Ambassador. It’s a delight to be here with both Sam and Sylvia who pursue whatever objective or responsibility they are given with such passion and incredible commitment, and it’s wonderful to see you in this new position. I also want to recognize the consul general who is here, Elisabeth Millard. There are so many people who have made this trip possible, which I am very grateful for, and I am delighted that we have many of you from our posts in Rabat and Casablanca. Who’s here from Rabat? Oh, big Rabat group. And who’s here from Casablanca? Excellent.


Well, it is exciting to see you all, and you’re aware of the fact that you are the stewards of our nation’s longest diplomatic relationship going back over 220 years. And after a statement like that, I am tempted to say please don’t mess it up – no. (Laughter.) It is exciting for me to be back in Morocco, especially for this important forum, both because our bilateral relationship is critically important to us. It’s not just the history; it’s what we are doing today and what we hope to do in the future. And it is also because of the sponsorship of this forum which is an important statement about how we bring the region together to pursue some common goals.


The emphasis that we’re placing on both diplomacy and development is an important statement of our understanding of what we need to be doing, that we need to be, of course, reaching out with the very best we have, which includes all of you, to develop those relationships, and we need to be working in partnership on the development of the people of this country as well.


Morocco is one of the 10 pilot countries for the new country assistance strategy. It’s a whole-of-government approach to implementing foreign assistance. And I know that the Millennium Challenge Account is alive and well – is anyone here working on the MCA – with Morocco’s $700 million commitment which we are enthusiastic about and will be working to make sure it produces results.


We also would be remiss in not recognizing that Morocco is home to our second largest Peace Corps operation. Anybody here from the Peace Corps? (Applause.) And I have to recognize – I just learned about this last night – Muriel Johnston. Muriel? Stand up, Muriel. (Applause.) My young staff said, “Oh my goodness, Muriel Johnston, she’s the oldest Peace Corps volunteer in the world.” I said, “That’s not the way we think about it.” (Laughter.) No, Muriel and I might say she is one of the best Peace Corps volunteers in the world. (Applause.) And it’s also a great reminder that in America in the 21st century, there are not only second acts; there’s third acts and fourth acts and fifth acts and – if you’re ready to embrace new challenges.


I also wanted to say a word of particular appreciation to the Government of Morocco under King Mohammed VI’s leadership to empower more women politically. As part of the Middle East Partnership Initiative, the so-called MEPI, the USAID staff provides training for women interested in running for office and serving in government. And last June, Moroccans elected 3,400 women to local councils. And I am delighted to have had the opportunity to meet Mayor Mansouri, because she is one of the many women who have been entrusted by the people of Morocco to serve and lead them.


I also want to recognize the importance of the U.S.-Morocco Free Trade Agreement. And that was not easy. I voted for it as a senator. It happened because of good cooperation between our governments, our private sectors, and the hard work of people like Johanna Merejo. Is Johanna here? Is Johanna – oh, thank you. (Applause.) I also want to recognize Taly Lind of USAID, who is leading an innovative interagency program to lower recidivism rates among young people in prison. So, Taly? Where are you, Taly?


PARTICIPANT: Taly’s working.


SECRETARY CLINTON: Taly’s out working probably. (Laughter.)


So this is a whole-of-government approach and you’re one of our demonstration projects, and we’re going to look to you to give us feedback, tell us what works, what doesn’t work. But we’re trying to get away from the stovepipes and the compartmentalization. I traveled a lot as First Lady, I traveled a lot as Senator, and when you go into a country and you say that you want to talk to everybody who’s doing aid and development work and representatives from 10 different agencies show up and they haven’t met each other because there’s no effort to try to network and focus, that is not the most efficient way for us to make an impact with our partner nations like Morocco.


So it is my goal as Secretary of State to do a better job in bringing our own government together and then to turn to you on the ground – both our Foreign Service, our Civil Service, our locally-engaged staff – to really help implement what our policies are. So it’s a great privilege for me to thank you.


I also know that when a visit like this happens, it imposes a lot of extra work on you. You do a lot every single day, and then all of a sudden, somebody like me is going to show up and then you have even more to do. I’m not sure Sam and Sylvia know this yet, but there is a time-honored tradition in our missions around the world that when someone like me who has imposed all this extra work on you finally leaves, when you see the plane taking off, it’s time for a wheels-up party, Sylvia – (laughter) – because then I become somebody else’s responsibility. And you have all made a difference.


I wanted to recognize our Assistant Secretary for Near East and Asia Jeff Feltman. (Applause.) We have opened up some websites that really invite you to offer suggestions, and I have been quite pleased. You can do it anonymously if you would prefer – things that you think would work better, ideas that you have, constructive criticism of any sort. Because we want this to be a two-way street. We want the State Department, USAID, all of our neighbor and associated efforts from the rest of the United States Government to be the best we can be. I think President Obama has set a very high standard for that and we want to help fulfill his vision of America’s role in the world.


So again, let me thank each and every one of you for being here. I know it’s not a hardship post. I understand that. But in some ways, that demands more of you because the expectation is high as to how much more we can do together. And I expect a lot of you as well. So I’m going to be kept informed about how this demonstration project works here in Morocco. I will look to see the ideas that you bring to the table of our efforts to have the first-ever quadrennial development and diplomacy review. It’s modeled on the QDR, which is the Quadrennial Defense Review.


I served on the Armed Services Committee for six years. It seemed to me that the Defense Department was able to present its views and make its requests very effectively, in large measure, because they were so organized in doing so. So we’re going to do our own QDDR and we’re going to set forth our vision of diplomacy and development so that then we can go to the Congress and the American people and make the case why investing in diplomacy and development is in the interest of American values, American interests, and the American future that we’re trying to help achieve. Thank you all very much. (Applause.)


PRN: 2009/T14-33