Remarks With Haitian President Martelly Before Their Meeting

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
February 5, 2014

SECRETARY KERRY: It is a great pleasure for me to welcome President Michel Martelly from Haiti, and really with great respect for the road that he has put Haiti on and the enormous commitment that he has made to transition from reconstruction into a long-term development program. And under his leadership, elections are now on the horizon, which could for the first time provide the filling out of all of the electoral positions to Haiti and begin to stabilize and hopefully build on the progress that he has achieved with respect to economic development, the improvement of the economy, the improvement of health. The indicators have gone up, and that’s the direction that we want to see it going.

So as I was telling the president a minute ago, I had the privilege of representing Massachusetts for many years as senator. We have a very large and proud Haitian population in and around Boston and throughout the state, and so there was huge concern when the earthquake took place. I remember personally attending a mass, a service, prayer service at the cathedral, and all of us trying to signal how important it was that this recommitment to Haiti was going to be different from the past.

We still have the opportunity to fulfill that promise. And so I’m very happy to welcome the president here and I look forward to our conversation.

Thank you, sir.

PRESIDENT MARTELLY: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. I am very happy to be with you here, me and my delegation.

I’d like to take a minute to thank the people of the United States, you, your government, for always supporting Haiti, particularly at the time of big struggle. Today, I am here to talk to you about this new Haiti, a Haiti who wants to distance itself from aid and prioritize investment so we can create jobs, wealth, and (inaudible).

SECRETARY KERRY: Okay. Thank you very, very much. Looking forward to our conversation. Thank you.

QUESTION: Can you just shake hands, please?


QUESTION: Shake hands, please.

SECRETARY KERRY: Of course we can. (Laughter.) He was telling me he misses being a musician, and I was telling him I’m an occasional guitar guy, so we’re –

PRESIDENT MARTELLY: So most likely sometime we will get together. (Laughter.)

SECRETARY KERRY: All right. (Laughter.)