Embassy Meet and Greet With Staff and Families of U.S. Embassy Manama, Bahrain

John Kerry
Secretary of State
U.S. Embassy
Manama, Bahrain
April 7, 2016

AMBASSADOR ROEBUCK: I’m just going to say a word quickly to introduce our guest of honor here today. We’re delighted to have Secretary of State John Kerry with us. I first met Secretary Kerry years ago as a control officer in Damascus, Syria, where he visited, did a great visit. And it was a delight to show him around then. He’s a great friend of the Foreign Service and of the embassies overseas. He’s a son of the Foreign Service and knows our work well, and is a great supporter. Longtime U.S. Senator, as you know, and is now breaking records in his travels and visiting countries as Secretary of State.

So please, let’s give an Embassy Manama warm welcome to Secretary of State John Kerry. (Applause.)

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, good afternoon, Manama. How are you?

PARTICIPANT: Fine, thanks.

SECRETARY KERRY: Everybody good?


SECRETARY KERRY: Yeah. (Laughter.) We’ve got some energized young folks here. Thank you for coming. I’m really happy to see you guys.

PARTICIPANT: And we’re happy to see you.

SECRETARY KERRY: Who said that? (Laughter.) Give me five. All right. Thank you, buddy.

PARTICIPANT: (Inaudible.) (Laughter.)

SECRETARY KERRY: You’re happy too? Oh, that’s so sweet. Thank you very, very much. I really am happy to see you guys here.

First of all, a great big thank you, big round of applause – so grateful for the leadership of Bill Roebuck. Thank you, Bill, for the great job you’re doing here. (Applause.)

And DCM Tim Pounds, grateful also for (inaudible). (Applause.)

And to all of you, we’ve got about 75 – I guess 75 U.S. – 75 Americans working out here with three agencies, and nearly 100 local employees. And I’m looking around, I see a few of you. I just want you all to know we can’t do this job without you. And we are so thankful for what you’re doing. Thank you, thank you. (Applause.)

You are absolutely extraordinary. In fact, there are three I want to single out. Let me just quickly – Zahed Khan. Is Zahed here? Where’s Zahed? (Applause.) Zahed – this is the guy – if you need to get anywhere, here’s the guy. (Laughter.) He knows every road everywhere. He’s been the ambassador’s driver for 39 years. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you.

And Joyce Fernandes – is Joyce here? (Applause.) Joyce has been a consular specialist for 33 years, helping us here (inaudible). Thank you so much.

And finally, is Waleed Elmawieh here? (Applause.) Waleed has been the director of the information resource center for 24 years. And I hate to say this, folks, but Waleed is retiring. Oh, it’s sad. No, maybe you won’t retire now. What do you think? (Laughter.) Anyway, thank you. God bless. Thank you, sir. Thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause.)

I wanted to single them out. I mean, 39 years of service and 33 years and 24 years really says something a lot about the folks who come in here that work with us. And I just, as a quick message to all of you, would emphasize that it’s hard work in any country to represent the other country – another country. And I’m sure that these folks have gone home and one night or another or have been in a restaurant or walked somewhere, some friends turns to them and says, why do you work for those guys? They did this or they did that, or they represent this or they represent that. And it may well be a complete misrepresentation of what we represent, but if that’s the perception those people have and they dump it on their friends, then we have to say a very special thank you to those friends for staying our friends. And it makes a huge difference, so thank you very, very – thank you. (Applause.)

We’ve got a great United States Marine Corps detachment back here, everybody. I want to thank them for keeping everybody safe and all that they do. (Applause.) Thank you, guys.

So just a quick word, because I don’t want to keep you standing around. The last thing you need is a speech. And if you’re watching any of American television right now, I know the last thing you want is a speech. (Laughter.)

This is very, very important work, and this is a very important place. And I was reminded by His Majesty the King – we just came from a very nice luncheon in which we were talking about the length of time of our relationship. The relationship with the United States of America began in the late 1800s because some brave missionaries came over here and started a small clinic to care for people. And that clinic is now a hospital here and still cares for people.

That was the beginning of the relationship with the United States of America and Bahrain. And Bahrain has gone through many transitions since then. But Bahrain has been a leader within the region in trying to break through on creating change that involves its citizens in its politics and opens up space and possibilities. Women, for instance, work in Bahrain. They don’t work next door in some other countries. But they work here and so forth – many different things that people aren’t aware of where Bahrain has been a leader.

And Bahrain is also particularly engaged with us now in this fight against radical terror. We are privileged to have a major base here. We have over 8,000 American personnel working to help do things we need to do in our own interest as well as the interests of this region in order to have peace and stability and fight back against the radicalization of sectarian divisions and people who want to create greater tensions and even violence in order to try to push on people their view of the world.

So our relationship here is very important right now, because we’re interdicting weapons that are flowing from one country to another, because we’re trying to keep people from bringing terrorists into the country, because they are a base of operations in complete concert with us to fight back against the evil of ISIL/Daesh and to help us try to settle this area down so that it can have the peace and the prosperity and the future that people really want.

I – that’s about as important a set of objectives and work as any people could get to do anywhere at any time. So every day that you guys get up and go to work, you are going to work for something that will make this region safer and for something that will make our fellow citizens in the United States of America and our friends and allies in the region and elsewhere safer. So I want to say thank you to all of you. There aren’t a lot of jobs where you get to work in another country, learn about another culture, make friends in another part of the world, take your values and your beliefs and your commitment to your own country and help to integrate it into the lives of other people who want you to be there and want to work with you. That’s a blessing.

So I thank each and every one of you for having committed to this. Thank you for President Obama and the American people for being part of the American Foreign Service presence here in Bahrain. God bless you all, and may we all find the peace and the prosperity and the tranquility and the future that we want. Thank you very, very much. (Applause.)