Meeting With Staff of Embassy Islamabad

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Islamabad, Pakistan
May 27, 2011

Thank you. Thank you, all. Well, thank you so much, Cameron, and thank you, Marilyn, wherever you are. And I did want to just take a brief moment to express my appreciation to all of you. Admiral Mullen and I have just come from a very long but, we believe, productive meeting with the leadership of Pakistan, and we spoke very honestly and openly and made it clear that we recognize we have shared interests, we have common challenges, and yes, we have areas of disagreement, which is true for any relationship.

But we recommitted ourselves to the strategic importance of this relationship, and we want to make our partnership a success. It’s a crucial one. It matters greatly for the security, stability, democracy, and prosperity of the Pakistani people, but also for the region and ultimately, as you know so well, for our own security back home.

This post is the heart of that partnership. All of you here, Americans and Pakistanis alike, you are working so hard. I know it, I’ve been here before, I’ve had a chance to meet with either you or your predecessors, and I’ve heard great things about the work that you are doing. And despite what you may have read in the newspaper, I’m also here to tell you that this is not an airstrip being built behind us. (Laughter.) It is, however, the loss of a nice little wooded area. But because of the growth in our post here, it’s one of those necessary but somewhat regrettable changes.

I know you work long hours, you’re away from your families, and I want to thank you for your sacrifice and determination. And I hope the next time you Skype with your families or email or communicate in any way, you’ll let them know how much Mike and I appreciate their sacrifice as well.

I especially want to extend my word of gratitude to our Pakistani colleagues, because secretaries of state come and go, ambassadors come and go, and so do officers and representatives from all of our combined USG agencies, but our Pakistani compatriots are the ones who often continue to providence the guidance, the historical record, and demonstrate real courage. I know that sometimes being part of this Embassy team may not make you the most popular person, but I want to let you know we know the sacrifice especially that you and your families make because you are committed to building a cooperative, respectful relationship between the governments and peoples of our country.

So thank you, and you can see that my team is leaving because I couldn’t convince Chairman Mullen to waive the crew rest requirements. (Laughter.) But I couldn’t pass up this opportunity. I will be back, so then I will hopefully have a chance to shake your hands and maybe take a picture or two, but I just wanted you to know that we’re always aware of what you do every day, but especially in these last weeks. We’re not only aware, we’re very proud. We’re proud of this team and we’re proud of what you’re doing on behalf of our country, and I just can only say God bless you and God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)

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PRN: 2011/T47-12