Meeting With Staff and Families at Embassy New Delhi
Secretary of State
AMBASSADOR POWELL: Mr. Secretary, please. A very big thank you to you. We are delighted that you came. I think yesterday advanced our relationship with India, this very, very key relationship, in very important ways. And I assure you that team India not only has prepared for your visit, but we will prepare for the next one by working on that action plan that you talked about, and we are delighted that we were able to welcome you. We hope the rain will hold off just a little while longer, but I want to say how very, very proud I am of my team, including those who didn’t see mom and dad for a while while we were preparing, and to say, “Please come again, and thank you very much.”
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you so much, Nancy. Thank you very, very much. Thank you. (Applause.) Good to see everybody. Thank you. Thank you very, very much. Thank you all for taking time. I know it’s a trek to get over here to the Embassy, and it’s a little bit difficult and I’m really appreciative of – for all of you struggling to get over here. Does it get a little cooler when the rain comes or not? (Laughter.) I don’t know.
Hi, kids. How are you? You guys look great. Are you awake? (Laughter.) Are you? Come on up here. Come up here with me. I want all the kids to come up here. Come on guys. Come on. Come on up here. Because you guys are what this is all about. How are you doing, buddy? Are you doing all right? That a boy. (Laughter.) Come on up here, kids. Come on. Let’s just make a big crowd up here. You guys will make me look good. I can hide behind you. (Laughter.) Actually, I better get out of here so I can talk.
Anyway. How are you all? Are you guys having fun? Is this the – who’s first time trip to another country? Anybody here? So all of you have been somewhere else? This is your first time, right?
PARTICIPANT: Mm-hmm, yes.
SECRETARY KERRY: Where are you from?
PARTICIPANT: America. (Laughter and applause.)
SECRETARY KERRY: Okay. Where are you from?
PARTICIPANT: America and Thailand.
SECRETARY KERRY: America and China. That’s fantastic.
SECRETARY KERRY: Oh, Thailand. I’m sorry. (Laughter.) Thailand. Okay. Gosh, shame on me. And how about you? Have you been to other countries, too?
SECRETARY KERRY: Five countries. Wow.
PARTICIPANT: Including the U.S. (Laughter.)
SECRETARY KERRY: Including the U.S. Hey, all right. Well, I’m glad you’re including the U.S. That’s great. And who – how old are you?
PARTICIPANT: I’m 14.
SECRETARY KERRY: Fourteen.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thirteen?
SECRETARY KERRY: Eleven – twelve. (Laughter.) Well, did you just turn 12 today? (Laughter.) Okay. It’s hard to remember sometimes.
I was exactly his age when I went away as the son of a Foreign Service officer. And I went to Berlin, Germany, after the war in the – I’m going to date myself, now, guys. This was in the 1950s, and it was at the height of the Cold War, obviously. But it was really, really interesting. So you guys are going to have the experience of a lifetime and you’re going to have advantages over everybody else, because you’re going to know other countries and some languages and have a lot of fun, too, right? Right? Yeah. (Laughter.) Okay. Anyway.
Well, I want to thank everybody very, very, very much. It’s a privilege for me to be here at Embassy Delhi, and – no, stay up here guys. You can stay up here. Don’t go away. (Laughter.) Where you going? You got somewhere to go? (Laughter.)
SECRETARY KERRY: What did he say?
PARTICIPANT: Because they said so.
SECRETARY KERRY: Oh, they said so. No, no. That’s just the Ambassador. Don’t worry about her. (Laughter.) Ambassador. I want to thank – Ambassador Powell is one of our great professionals, and you all are very, very lucky to have her. She’s been in so many countries – Ghana and Africa and various places – Pakistan. We are very, very honored to have her expertise here in helping to build a relationship that is so important. And that goes for every single one of you. This is one of our largest embassies in the world, as all of you know. We have about 254 folks who are what we’d call direct hires, and a whole bunch of families over here, and about a thousand-plus local hires – and I see some of them here – (baby crying) – and I want to thank you because it’s time to eat over here. (Laughter.) He just wants to be part of the deal.
I really want to thank all of you who are from India or are from a third country because there’s no way possible for us to do what we try to do to build relationships with the people of your country without your help. And so everything that you do is so critical for us, and everybody, including those of you who are Indian or from another country, you’re kind of adopted in a way in terms of your responsibilities because you become ambassadors for us. And because you work with us and you work in this effort to try to build a relationship, every time somebody meets you they get a sense of you and they get a sense of us through you. And that goes, obviously, for every one of you who’s American, who is part of the Embassy – thank you on behalf of President Obama and your country.
This – India – I started coming here about 20 years ago – a little bit more actually – and I’ve always believed that the relationship with India is potentially down the – as we build it – literally one of the most important that we’re going to have on this planet. The reason for that is because this country is so teeming with energy and with innovation and a kind of excitement. There’s a freedom to talk about everything and anything. They love to debate, as you know. There’s a huge sort of confrontation with ideas, and yet there’s a huge diversity, this incredible diversity and pluralism that gets along. It works it. Not always; sometimes there are tensions. But there are tensions everywhere, including in the United States.
But fundamentally, this is a democracy, largest in the world, extraordinary place that is so important to everything that happens to the west of here, all the way to the Caspian Sea, what happens with Afghanistan, its relationship with Iran; all the way to the east, to China, to Japan, to the Asia Pacific. So its size of its economy, its values, and its aspirations and the energy of the people make India a vital partner to everything that the United States is fighting for and stands for.
So I just want to thank you, all of you, for everything that you do to do this sometimes lonely work, sometimes difficult – often difficult work as you carry the values of our country and try to build a relationship that makes a difference. What we’re working for is peace and stability and friendship and opportunity and a chance for people to live their dreams and reach their aspirations and share in the freedom that we have been blessed with ever since our founding fathers fought for it for our own independence.
So our journey should connect to people, and we need to do more. That’s part of our mission, to make sure that every moment that it does connect for all the right reasons. So I want to have a chance to say hello to everybody and relieve these moms from the burden of keeping their kids quiet – (laughter) – and take a moment here to say hi. And I just want to thank you all for coming out here. I want to thank you for what you do, and I look forward to having a chance to say hello and meet you. And I understand there’s a tradition that when I get out of town there’s a wheels-up party. (Laughter.) Okay, you guys have a good time. I’ll be going to work. But anyway, thank you all very, very, very much. Great to be with you. Thank you. (Applause.)