Remarks at the Heads of State Luncheon
Secretary of State
Secretary General, heads of state, excellencies: on behalf of President Obama and our government, let me again warmly welcome you here on behalf of the host country. And let me also express our very great appreciation to the Secretary General for your leadership, sir.
You have, over the course of your time at the helm of the United Nations, continued a reform effort as well as advanced and advocated for a number of important initiatives, and we salute you and express our deep gratitude.
As the Secretary General just said, we meet in the wake of a great loss, not only for the United States, with the killing of our Ambassador and three of his colleagues, but also a reminder of the important work that these men and women do every single day. The blue-helmeted peace keepers, the dedicated aid workers – they are out there at our behest. Our governments ask them to serve; the United Nations and other multilateral organizations do as well.
And in the last weeks, we have seen the price that too many of them pay. As the Secretary General said, in addition to our loss, very recently an Algerian diplomat also lost. Last year, Nepalese, Norwegian, Romanian, Swedish, UN officials and guards killed in Afghanistan; all those lost in the bombing of the UN facility in Nigeria last summer. As President Obama said this morning in his address to the General Assembly, attacks such as these, against embassies, consulates, diplomats anywhere in the world, strike at the heart of the mission of the United Nations.
So let us stand together against violence and extremism on behalf of those values and principles that we ascribe to and that we aspire to see fulfilled. And let me ask you to raise our glasses in a toast to all of our diplomats and development experts from every nation serving and sacrificing far from home. They represent the best traditions of our international community. They are committed to the peace and progress that brought about the establishment of this extraordinarily important institution, and we owe them our full support and gratitude.