Meets With Embassy Djibouti Staff and Families

John Kerry
Secretary of State
U.S. Embassy Djibouti
Djibouti, Djibouti
May 6, 2015

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you very much. Subax wanaagsan. (Laughter.) Except that it’s now afternoon. I don’t know what we’re going to do about that. Anyway, assalam aleikoum. Thank you very much. And I’m really happy to be here with everybody. Bonjour. Bon apres-midi. I’m so proud to be here with this embassy in particular because you’re really at the crossroads and all of you are doing such amazing work – from building a relationship with Djibouti to standing at the crossroads of a region that is filled with too much terror, and you get some of the consequences of that. And when people come here you welcome them with open arms. You’ve done all kinds of extra work and you’re building the future.

So I am profoundly grateful for the opportunity to be able to be here today. And I understand we have a whole bunch of folks. How many total are working – how many local hires are there here?

AMBASSADOR KELLY: Three hundred.

SECRETARY KERRY: Three hundred. Can all of you who are local Djiboutians who are working with us raise your hands, everybody who’s here? (Applause.) Wow, amazing. That’s most of the embassy. Well, we can’t work without you. (In French.) I mean that. And so we thank you very, very much. (Applause.)

And kids – I have a couple of folks here. Is Farah Farah here? Farah Farah?


SECRETARY KERRY: You are Farah Farah. And Abdi Djama Moussa. Both of you come up here a moment. You guys got to come up here. (Cheers and applause.) Abdi and Farah, these guys have worked here, each of them, for more than 30 years. (In French.) Merci.

So we really thank you for your loyalty. Thank you for being very special to the embassy. Thank you. Merci. Merci beaucoup. Alors. Merci. Merci beaucoup. (In French.)

So let me – hi kids. How are you? I love your crown. (Laughter.) Is that – are you a princess? Is that something – you are? You are? That’s great. I love it. It’s really beautiful. Thank you all for coming out here. What day is it of the week – I don’t even know what day it is – Wednesday, right? What? No school today, though, right? Did you have school?

PARTICIPANT: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY KERRY: No school? Okay. Well, thank you very, very much for coming out here and thank you for – journey. I guess you didn’t have any choice but journeying along with your parents. I was there once. I remember what it was like to not have any choice. (Laughter.) And it was fun.

Can I say to everybody here, those of you who are local employees, we are very grateful to you because you take on the burdens of the embassy and the burdens of our country in your own country. And I know sometimes that can be difficult. So I simply want to say to you that I hope that what we do to make life better, to help refugees, to try to stop terrorism, to provide opportunity, to open doors to the future, provide scholarships, to work with young leaders and young people, and so many other things – I hope that you feel the same pride that we do every day when we go to work.

And to all those of you who come from the United States who have dedicated your lives either to the Foreign Service or the Civil Service or the military or one of the agencies of our government, and you’re here on duty of one kind or another, you are lucky enough to be able to be part of a great family and a great enterprise that every day goes to work to try to bring peace, to try to make life better for people, to try to go into conflicted areas, bring people together and find tolerance, find, hopefully, possibilities of democracy. It’s really a blessing in many ways. Lots of people never get to work in as an exciting and as rewarding a way as you do.

And at this particular moment in the world, the world needs leadership. The world needs people to stand up for values that don’t exploit and steal and hijack a very beautiful and legitimate religion and try to turn it into a killing machine. The world needs people who are going to stand up for decency and for rule of law and for opportunity and fight for a set of values that a lot of people have given their lives for through history. If you think of the history of the last century, world wars and other conflicts and all that the League of Nations and then the United Nations and all the efforts of countries to come together and build a system by which we actually work to help other people and to live with civility and rule of law, it’s an extraordinary legacy that you are part of.

And we’re at the dawn of the 21st century now when countries are bursting out with a whole lot of new energy – some of them in chaos because of the absence of governance and the absence of some of the opportunities that have guided other nations through the years. They’ll find their way, ultimately, and they’ll find their way because people like you and a lot of other people will stand up for virtues like a justice system, an education system, for democracy, for a parliament, for presidents who don’t stay for life and who aren’t engaged in large-scale criminal enterprises as they are in certain countries in certain parts of the world. Those are the differences that are worth fighting for. So I just want to come here today to say to every single one of you, thank you. President Obama is so proud; he talks constantly about the sacrifices people make, who go abroad, who have to live under very constrained circumstances in certain places and who, nevertheless, are joyful in the enterprise and who give back not only to our country but to the countries that they are visiting. That’s all of you.

So thank you for being at the crossroads of one of the most strategic locations in the world today. The only place we have a military base in all of Africa – right here. And the place that, as we all know, a deep-water port, a place that is at the gateway to the Horn of Africa, critical to what will happen in Somalia, critical to what will happen maybe even in South Sudan, and certainly to a host of other challenges that we face in this region.

I’m proud to be here. I wish I could be here longer. But thank you so much for a generous welcome and thank you especially for everything you do. Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you very much. And a big thank you to your Ambassador Tom Kelly who does a fantastic job. And Christine Higgins – where’s Christine? There she is. Come on up here.