Meeting With the Staff and Families of Embassy Bandar Seri Begawan
Secretary of State
SECRETARY CLINTON: Good morning.
EMBASSY STAFF AND FAMILIES: Good morning.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yay, good morning. (Applause.)
AMBASSADOR SHIELDS: Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, colleagues, I’ll be very brief. It’s my great honor to have the opportunity today to introduce to you the very first U.S. Secretary of State ever to set foot in this building, the wonderful Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, Ambassador. Thank you all so much. Well, Ambassador Shields, thank you for your leadership of this important mission and in furtherance of our relationship with the Government and people of Brunei. I want to acknowledge your wife Sangeeta and your daughter Sonali. Thank you both for being here.
We are building a very strong friendship and partnership between us and Brunei. Twelve years ago, my husband and daughter represented the United States at the APEC Economic Leaders Meeting here in Brunei, and they could not stop talking about how friendly the people were, how green it was, how graciously hospitable everyone was, what a fabulous time they had with the Sultan and his family. And it was like family lore the way my husband talked about his time here.
So I was determined – and I told His Majesty, I told the Foreign Minister, I told everyone – I was going to get to Brunei. And so here I am to see for myself. And I also wanted to come to thank you for the work that you do on behalf of this relationship.
Brunei may be a small country in size and population, but what happens here has both regional and global importance. It has emerged as a dynamic center of trade, a burgeoning country in a geopolitically critical region, and you’re helping us make those ties between us even stronger.
In just the past year, you helped broker a deal with Sikorsky and the Brunei Government to sell 12 Blackhawk military helicopters, supporting more than 1,000 American jobs and helping the military of Brunei become more capable. You travel around the country to introduce U.S. business leaders to what is available here in this great market. U.S. exports are growing fast, from just $100 million in 2009 to more than $180 million last year. And the number of students from Brunei studying in the United States has increased eight times over, and I just met the young woman who is our 100th student to receive a study visa.
So much of your work may not make headlines, but it’s the day-to-day impact that is making such a difference. And I am looking forward to seeing His Majesty when I go to Vladivostok. After dinner that he hosted for me and my delegation, which was just a wonderful time to catch up with him and his family, he went off to the APEC Leaders Summit and I will be joining him.
I also want to thank our locally engaged staff. All of our locally engaged Brunei employees, raise your hand and let me say thank you. Thank you to each and every one of you. And let me also say a special word to all of our Americans who represent the entire Government of the United States – civilian and military alike.
We have a lot of work ahead of us not only in our relationship with Brunei but in the Asia Pacific, and we could not do it without all of you. So it may be a small Embassy, but never underestimate how important what you do is. Brunei will host the ASEAN Ministers and Heads of State next year. It’s a very important time for ASEAN. I’ll be leaving here to speak with the Foreign Minister about the agenda for ASEAN going forward.
So you should know that President Obama and I are very grateful for what you do on behalf of the United States and this vital relationship. And let me now shake some hands so I can personally thank you. Thank you all. (Applause.)