Remarks With Panamanian Vice President Isabel de Saint Malo de Alvarado Before Their Meeting

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
September 2, 2014

SECRETARY KERRY: Good afternoon, everybody. It’s my pleasure to welcome the Vice President of Panama Isabel de Saint Malo de Alvarada – Alvarado. And she is coming here to follow up on the important discussions that we had when I had the pleasure of being in Panama for the inauguration of President Varela.

We’re very much interested in the initiatives that the president and his administration are taking, very focused right now on domestic issues in Panama, particularly on water and sanitation issues but also obviously on the economy and the budget. We’re also very much looking forward to the Summit of the Americas, which is an important moment of leadership for Panama, and we look forward to a summit that will particularly, we hope, focus on all of the issues of security and concern between us but also issues of democracy and human rights, which are important in the Americas.

Panama and the United States boast of a very long and important relationship. We share mutual concerns for the hemisphere and particularly today a great deal of cooperative effort with respect to security issues. So I’m delighted to welcome the vice president here to Washington, and we look forward to some good discussions. Thank you.

VICE PRESIDENT SAINT MALO: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Good afternoon, everybody. It is very nice to be here in this first official visit to the United States. Panama’s and the United States’ relations have been very strong for many, many years. We’ve worked together through some very difficult times for Panama, and the United States has always been supportive, and we’re very grateful.

We’re here, as the Secretary has said, to discuss some issues of mutual interest. President Varela’s foreign policy priorities are based, one, in the Panama as a country that promotes dialogue, Panama as a country that promotes consensus building, Panama as a country that helps bridges – build bridges among countries. It’s a role that we’ve played before in Panama’s history and that we hope to play again. And also we wish to push our foreign policy in terms of the global development agenda, which is very closely tied with President Varela’s domestic priorities for Panama also.

So we’re very happy to be here. These two foreign policy priorities, of course, will be important in the hosting of the seventh Summit of the Americas to be held in Panama next year in April, and we hope to have a successful summit. We expect President Obama to be present and the rest of the leaders of the region, and we do hope to be able, during the summit, to discuss issues of importance and of relevance to the region in terms of development, in terms of migration, in terms of other issues, such as energy, and of course, in terms of the priorities of the summit, such as democracy and human rights.

It is very nice to be here, and we thank you for hosting us.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you so much. You’re welcome.

VICE PRESIDENT SAINT MALO: Thank you. Thank you.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, do you believe that the video showing the beheading --


QUESTION: -- of Steven Sotloff is authentic?

SECRETARY KERRY: I’m going to be making some comments either later or tomorrow on that. Thank you.