Meeting With Embassy Staff and Their Families

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Raffles Hotel le Royal
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
July 13, 2012

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much, Ambassador. Well, it is a great pleasure for me to have this chance to see you and to say thank you. Thank you for another successful trip. I know it took about eight months of planning and a real team effort to prepare for ASEAN, EAS, ARF, LMI, FLMI – lots of acronyms but lots of important work which we could not do without all of you. Thank you so much, Ambassador. That’s quite a compliment, 30 years of service, and you’ve got such a wonderful team here.

But it’s not those special occasions that I particularly want to thank you for. It’s really the work you do day in and day out for the relationship that we have, the building and deepening over the last three and a half years. And I know that there is an enormous amount of effort. Under Ambassador Todd’s leadership, there’s been a lot of innovation and energy that is really helping us focus our efforts. And I want to thank DCM Jeff Daigle for his great work. He’s been wearing a lot of hats over the past year. They all seem to fit pretty well.

This is the end of a 10-day trip to the Asia Pacific for me before we go to Siem Reap today, and then tomorrow I head to the Middle East. But expanding our engagement and attention in this region has really been one of our top priorities. And if you look at Cambodia emerging from three decades of such a brutal conflict, it started to write its own chapter. And if you look at the events just of the last few days, it’s remarkable because a few years ago, people would never have suggested that Phnom Penh host this kind of a forum.

And we’re proud to be playing a part in helping the people of Cambodia. When you teach families how to diversify their crops, their diet, their incomes, you help them build a brighter future for their children. When you monitor elections, you give voters reason to trust their voices will be heard and their votes will be counted. When you deliver medical supplies and needles to provinces from Pailin to Kep, you’re helping fight HIV/AIDS. In the last decade alone, thanks largely to U.S. Government help, NGO help, there’s been a 60 percent drop in new cases. Your work with the Cambodian NGO community to fight human and drug trafficking is saving lives. And I’m especially proud of all that you’re doing to bring to justice those who violated universal human rights and international law under the Khmer Rouge.

And I think it’s important that we keep focused on the people of Cambodia, on their rights, on their potential, on their future. I said yesterday we’re working to try to make sure babies live till their fifth birthday, that mothers don’t die in childbirth, that people do survive not only HIV/AIDS but other terrible diseases that are still all too prevalent, that we support human rights, that we support the NGO community. And you do all of this in difficult circumstances. I know monsoons can keep you trapped in the Embassy for hours. Traffic on Norodom or Russian Boulevard can make your commute nearly impossible. I know the wage freeze has been tough; I understand that, and especially with the cost of living going up. And I want you to know I will continue to raise this with members of Congress.

And for many of you, this work is not only professional, it’s personal. And I particularly want to thank our locally employed staff. I know that our Cambodian staff has been the real backbone of this Embassy, that ambassadors come and go and secretaries of state come and go, but our locally employed staff is really committed, and we’re very appreciative of all you are doing.

Now, you will have to – as soon as I leave – take a quick break, a respite, and then pretty soon start planning for the President’s visit in November. And if you think this has been complicated, wait till you see that. (Laughter.) I’ve been on both sides of this equation. In the ‘90s I traveled around with the President, and then as you know, I now see the effect that a presidential visit has, but it’s a wonderful sign of where our relationship is and the attention we’re paying to the region that the President is now representing us in the East Asia Summit.

So thanks again for all your long hours of work and your unending commitment to this relationship, and I look forward to shaking some hands. And just keep up all of the energy and the focus and the attention on to what really matters, and that is helping the people of this country have a chance to fulfill their own God-given potential. Thank you all. (Applause.)

PRN: 2012/T68-30