Meet and Greet With Embassy Staff in Oman

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Muscat, Oman
November 14, 2016

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, Marc, very, very much. Good morning, everybody. Assalamu alaykum. How are you?

AUDIENCE: (In Arabic.)

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you very much. It may be – being Secretary of State may be more fun. I’m – after the last few days, I guess I’m re-convinced that it’s not more important. But I’ve been privileged, really privileged, to serve as Secretary and to work with extraordinary people all around the world who are doing what you’re doing, which is helping to make a great difference. I thank you for that. I want to thank our ambassador – Marc Sievers is a veteran of just about everywhere out in this area. He’s been in Cairo, in Rabat, in Baghdad, in Riyadh, now here, so we’ve got a very expert hand in this fellow and I’m sure all of you sense that. And I also want to welcome – we have our ambassador to Yemen, who has been working constantly on the issue of trying to make peace. Matt Tueller is here somewhere. I saw him a few minutes ago. But I’m delighted that he’s here with us, as we have some important meetings today in an effort to try to advance the process.

But let me just say a quick word on – Oman has played a outsized role in a lot of things that we’ve been engaged in over the last few years. And I want to express my appreciation to the Sultan of Oman, His Majesty Qaboos, who has been a great friend. On a personal level we have become friends, but he’s been a friend to the region and to peace. And I thank Oman for the very important role that this country has played and continues to play in trying to find through dialogue and through negotiation the alternative to just fighting. Anybody can fight. It’s not hard to pick up a gun, and unfortunately it’s not too hard to lob a grenade or blow somebody up. It’s hard to sit at a table, and sometimes it takes more courage to be able to find a path to peace and negotiate through difficult issues. And those are the people who really make the difference. The scriptures – all of our scriptures, whether it’s the Qu’ran or the Torah or the Bible, all – or any of the major religions – Abrahamic religions, that is, and we are all linked in our Abrahamic religions – all speak of the importance of peacemaking and of loving other people and of caring about people and not being the first to cast the stone.

So I hope that we can make some progress here today and in the days ahead, because this region needs to be able to pay attention to its people, to growing its economies, to educating its children, to providing better health care, to doing things that allow everybody to share in the prosperity of today’s world, which should be for the many, not for the few.

So those are the values that guide us in the United States, and I want to thank all of the local employees. I see a lot of locally hired employees. I want all of you who are local employees – and over here we have employees who represent 30-plus years individually and total an enormous amount of service, and we thank you very, very much. But all of you – would every local employee please – all of you are local Omani hires who are helping us to do what we do. Please raise your hands just so we – all the country nationals. Yeah. (Applause.) Thank you very, very, very much. Thank you. Thank you.

Let me say to all of you, whether you’re a direct hire from the United States or you’re somebody who’s a national hired here, what we are doing is trying to create stability and offer people better opportunities for peace and tranquility and be able to have a family, grow their economy, and live peacefully with their neighbors. We sometimes have made mistakes in our history – we know that – and some that had an impact on this region, and we know that. But we basically, unlike many in history – you go back through history – we’re not conquering territory to subjugate people. We try to free people from subjugation so they can make choices about their own lives. We try to empower people. We respect the individual even as we respect the need to have countries organized around some governing philosophy, but we still respect the rights of individual human beings, and that is at the core of what we try to do.

It’s why we help countries to fight back against Daesh or Boko Haram or al-Shabaab, who don’t have a view of tolerance, who don’t want you to live in any other way except the way they tell you to. That’s why we try to help fight against diseases like Ebola or Zika virus or AIDS. And that’s why we try to help countries build capacity, and I’m proud of what we do in that regard.

But we work together. We are unified as we have been for almost 200 years. The relationship with Oman is an old, old relationship, and it goes way back from the first envoy that was sent to New York, who was a big hit, by the way. Everybody loved him, but that’s probably because he brought Arabian horses and gold swords and jewels and all kinds of great things. But it was a great, great relationship all of these years, and when I first came here as a senator and I met his majesty the sultan, we had a long conversation about the need to try to change what was happening. And that was really the birth of our efforts to try to deal with Iran in a new way, and that’s when we began talking about how we might be able to try to create a new relationship with respect to the nuclear program of Iran. And Oman played a very key role in that, and that’s why we even had some of our talks and negotiations – right here in this hotel we had meetings in the course of those negotiations.

So a quick thank you to all of you. I think that in life there are lots of different jobs. Some people are blessed to do something they love every single day, whether it’s a musician in the symphony orchestra or somebody who sings or somebody who’s a doctor or whatever. People find their gratification in many different ways, right? But this is special, because every single day, we get to get up and go to work representing an idea, representing some values, representing your country in many cases. And even those of you who are working with the United States, you’re representing your country and you are ambassadors with us for a whole set of principles that we share. So I want to say thank you on behalf of President Obama, on behalf of myself and the whole team back home in the State Department. We’re so proud of what everybody does in country after country, sometimes in the face of real sacrifice, sometimes in the face of risks, but always with a sense of purpose. We’re very grateful for what you do and I thank you for being part of this wonderful, wonderful team. It’s been my privilege to be able to share these four years as Secretary of State. Thank you very, very much. Thank you. (Applause.)