Secretary Antony J. Blinken At the African and Diaspora Young Leaders Forum

13 Dec

Washington, D.C.

National Museum of African American History and Culture

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Good morning, everyone.  Wow, it is wonderful to see this incredible auditorium full.  I think hopefully you managed to get a little breakfast before this.  But I’m here simply to say this:  Welcome to the African and Diaspora Young Leaders Forum.

Your Excellencies, President Weah of Liberia is in the house.  (Applause.)  President Maada Bio of Sierra Leone in the house.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Thank you both for traveling to Washington for the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit.  It means a great deal to have this time in person with you.

And I also saw in the house Greg Meeks, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.  (Applause.)  There may be some other members of Congress here as well.  It’s wonderful to have you this morning.

So to everyone joining us this morning – members of the African diaspora, African and American youth leaders, students in the United States and Africa who are tuning in virtually – thank you for all that you do to strengthen the bonds between African countries and the United States.

Now, it is fitting that we are meeting here at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, a national treasure.  On its top floor – and I don’t know if you’ve had the opportunity to visit, but on the top floor of the museum there is an exhibit called “Cultural Expressions.”  It explores, in part, the contributions of the African diaspora and how its members have shaped American culture and life – through fashion, the arts, dance, language, food, music.

Across the exhibit and museum, we see the unique culture in objects like a recipe book brought by Pierre Thiam, a great chef who brought the flavors of Senegal to New York City through his beloved Teranga restaurant.  Or a flag of the United States whose colors have been replaced by the colors of the Pan African flag, titled “The African American Flag,” which has served as a symbol of African American and African pride in protest movements throughout our history.

As this museum shows, the United States continues to be enriched immeasurably by the African diaspora: from the piercing comedy of Trevor Noah, who we will miss on “The Daily Show” – (applause) – to the Alté of Tems, who I happen to have on my phone – (applause) – to the speed-skating of Maame Biney, who I don’t have on my phone – (laughter) – among so many others.

Often, we see members of the diaspora return to the countries to which they’re connected, and empower people there.  This past August, I was in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and I met with someone who may be familiar to some of you – a certain NBA Hall of Famer, Dikembe Mutombo, whose foundation has provided high-quality health care to more than 30,000 patients, regardless of their economic status.  I can also say Dikembe is very, very tall – a wonderful, wonderful person.

The importance of the diaspora – to the past, to the present, to the future – of both African nations and the United States is why this is one of the very first events of the Africa Leaders Summit.

Earlier this year, in South Africa, I had an opportunity to set out the administration’s new strategy for sub-Saharan Africa.  It’s a strategy rooted in one key word – partnership – and in recognition that we can’t solve any of our shared priorities unless we work together.  And it’s a strategy that recognizes the immense role that the African diaspora and young people will play in shaping and strengthening that partnership.  And in fact, that’s exactly what you’re already doing.  Back in August I had a chance to meet with members of the diaspora and African‑American youth leaders right here in Washington to hear a little bit about some of the work that they were doing.

One young leader, who has mobilized climate finance to make the water sector more resilient in South Africa, is now sharing the lessons that she learned at a U.S. government agency.  Another, fresh off her experience fighting infectious disease in Malawi, was sharing her insights with nonprofits and businesses in the United States.  Others were expanding educational opportunities for children, conducting environmental research, creating job opportunities for youth in both African countries and the United States, and demonstrating exactly why the diaspora is such an unparalleled asset for people on both continents.  It’s these interconnections, the back and forth, and the benefits that flow to African nations and the United States alike that is so incredibly powerful.

The United States is committed to ensuring that young people can continue to bring their talents and hard work to the benefit of people across the continent and to the benefit of people in the United States.  We’ve got a number of programs that are doing just that – programs like the Young African Leaders Initiative – and through our economic development programs, like the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs program.  Now, since its inception in 2019, that program has provided more than 5,400 women throughout Africa with the training and the networks that they need to start and to scale small businesses.

Over the next few days, we will be announcing additional investments to make it easier for students to participate in exchange programs between our countries, to increase trade opportunities for members of the African diaspora, and to support African entrepreneurs and small businesses.  Each of these investments is guided by one overarching goal: to continue building our partnership so that we can better address the shared challenges we face.  And ultimately, we can build a safer, more secure, more prosperous future for all of us.

And now I have the great pleasure and the honor of introducing his excellency President Weah of Liberia.  Now, President Weah, I happen to have been in Qatar for the World Cup, and I didn’t get an opportunity to speak to you in detail then, but I wanted to thank you for all you’ve done to strengthen the bonds between Liberia and the United States – (applause) – including through your support of the Liberian diaspora.  And thanks for all that you and your family have done to support that goal too, including, quite literally, by scoring a few goals.  (Laughter.)

So I was there – first match between the United States and Wales, and I got to cheer your son, Timothy, scoring the first goal for the United States Men’s soccer team in the World Cup.  (Applause.)  But the best part of that was turning around and getting a quick look at your face as you watched your son score that goal, and I could see the extraordinary pride that was there and an entire stadium cheering him on.  So I guess the apple just doesn’t fall too far from the tree in this case.  Ladies and gentlemen, the president of Libera.  Thank you very much.

(Applause.)

Assistant Secretary Kritenbrink’s Travel to the People’s Republic of China (PRC), the Republic of Korea, and Japan

10 Dec

Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink and National Security Council Senior Director for China and Taiwan Laura Rosenberger will travel to the People’s Republic of China (PRC), the Republic of Korea, and Japan from December 11-14.  During their visit to the PRC, they will follow-up on the President’s meeting with President Xi Jinping in Bali last month to continue responsibly managing the competition between our two countries and to explore potential areas of cooperation.  They will also prepare for Secretary Blinken’s early 2023 visit to the PRC.  In the Republic of Korea and Japan, they will hold consultations on a range of regional and bilateral issues.

APEC Informal Senior Officials’ Meeting Previews U.S. APEC Host Year

10 Dec

This week, the United States was proud to host the APEC Informal Senior Officials’ Meeting (ISOM), our inaugural meeting for the U.S. APEC host year in 2023.

In Honolulu, Hawai’i, the United States gathered senior officials and delegations from APEC’s 21 member economies to build on the outcomes of the 2022 APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting and share our 2023 priorities with APEC economies and other stakeholders.  U.S. officials also met with a range of representatives from the local community to demonstrate how engagement with the APEC region supports economic prosperity for Americans, expands women’s participation in the global economy, and supports U.S. innovation in the digital economy.

Hosting APEC in 2023 demonstrates the United States’ enduring commitment to inclusive and sustainable economic growth throughout the Asia-Pacific region.  Engagement with APEC economies is critical, as members account for approximately 40 percent of the global population and nearly half of global trade.  As of 2021, fellow APEC members were the destination for more than 60 percent of U.S. goods exports. In addition, seven of the top 10 U.S. overall trading partners are also members.

The United States looks forward to building on these successes during our host year under the theme “Creating a Resilient and Sustainable Future for All.”  As Secretary Blinken laid out during the formal handover of the APEC Ministerial Meeting to the United States, our work with APEC economies will focus on priorities in the following areas:

  • Interconnected – we will work to build a resilient and interconnected region that advances broad-based economic prosperity.
  • Innovative – we will work to enable an innovative environment for a sustainable future.
  • Inclusive – we will affirm an equitable and inclusive future for all.

The United States looks forward to building on our shared successes and hosting further APEC meetings in Palm Springs, California (February 2023); Detroit, Michigan (May 2023); Seattle, Washington (August 2023); and San Francisco, California (November 2023).

For further information, please contact the U.S. APEC Team at DOSAPEC@state.gov.

Under Secretary Fernandez’s Participation in the National U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce’s Ambassador of the Year Award Ceremony

10 Dec

Under Secretary of State for Economic Affairs Jose W. Fernandez participated in the National U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce’s (NUSACC) 19th annual award ceremony honoring the organization’s “Ambassador of the Year.”  This year’s honoree was H.E. Shaikh Abdulla bin Rashid Al Khalifa, the Kingdom of Bahrain’s Ambassador to the United States.  Under Secretary Fernandez congratulated Ambassador Al Khalifa and highlighted the strong bilateral relationship between the United States and Bahrain, which emphasizes security, regional integration through the Negev Forum and the Abraham Accords, and advancing sustained progress on human rights.  The Under Secretary also focused particularly on Bahrain’s unique economic relationship with the United States, from its Free Trade Agreement to its recently opened U.S. trade zone.

Under Secretary Fernandez’s as prepared remarks are available here.  For press inquiries, please contact: E_Communications@state.gov.

Deputy Secretary Sherman’s Meeting with Czech National Security Advisor Pojar

10 Dec

Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman met with Czech National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister Tomas Pojar today in Prague.  Deputy Secretary Sherman commended the Czech government on its stalwart efforts in support of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and its contributions to enable Ukraine to defend itself.  The Deputy Secretary and the National Security Advisor also discussed bilateral defense cooperation and energy security.

Joint Statement of the First Meeting of the U.S.-France Comprehensive Dialogue on Space

17 Nov

The following joint statement was released by the Governments of the United States and France at the first meeting of the U.S.-France Comprehensive Dialogue on Space.

Begin Text:

Pursuant to their shared goal of advancing bilateral space cooperation as declared by their leaders, the Government of the United States of America and the Government of France held their first meeting of the Comprehensive Dialogue on Space in Paris on November 10, 2022.

This meeting was co-chaired by representatives from the Executive Office of the President’s National Space Council and National Security Council for the United States, and by representatives from the Secretariat-General for Defense and National Security (SGDSN) and the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs from the French side. Principal participants were the Departments of State, Defense, Commerce, Homeland Security, and Transportation; the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA); and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence from the U.S. side, and the Ministry of Economy, Finance, and Industrial and Digital Sovereignty; the Ministry of Armed Forces (MINARM); the National Centre for Space Studies (CNES); the French Space Command (CdE); and the Ministry of Higher Education and Research (MESR) from the French side.

The convening of this first Comprehensive Dialogue on Space begins an initiative announced by U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris and French President Emmanuel Macron in November 2021 to ensure a whole-of-government approach to bilateral space cooperation. This Dialogue underscores the importance of the U.S.-France alliance’s more than 60-year relationship in space and recognizes the growing nexus of civil, commercial, and national security space activities and the increasingly interconnected nature of all three sectors.

At the inaugural meeting, U.S. and French officials exchanged information on respective space policies, including the U.S. Space Priorities Framework and U.S. National Security Strategy and France’s national-level space policies and strategies. Both sides reiterated their strong determination to expand already robust bilateral cooperation in a variety of areas, including addressing the climate crisis; consulting on the development and implementation of guidelines and norms, rules, and principles of responsible behavior to promote the long-term sustainability of the outer space environment and the security and stability of space activities; advancing national security space cooperation; and enabling a sustainable space economy that preserves the benefits of space for future generations.

The participants held extensive discussions about challenges to our shared economic and national security interests. Both sides are determined to continue their close coordination in strengthening the global governance of space activities by promoting the development and implementation of guidelines and norms, rules, and principles of responsible behavior for the long-term sustainability of the outer space environment and the security and stability of space activities.

Both sides resolved to deepen the bilateral coordination of national security space capabilities. They also resolved to strengthen the coordination of national security space activities within NATO and with allies and partners around the globe. Both sides also confirmed their interest in working together to strengthen the security of space systems and protect space-related critical infrastructure.

The participants discussed ongoing bilateral cooperation in space exploration and science and opportunities to strengthen our partnership in these areas. Both sides are determined to continue collaboration on scientific missions to enhance understanding of our solar system and investigate the origins of our universe, including through NASA’s Artemis program. The participants also noted important science and Moon to Mars advances through the Mars Sample Return program.  The participants also discussed potential cooperation on lunar surface activities.

Both sides celebrated France’s signature of the Artemis Accords in June 2022 and the September 2022 in-person gathering of Artemis Accords signatories in Paris. The participants affirmed their shared commitment to maintaining a robust dialogue with Artemis Accords signatories and utilizing multilateral fora to advance the peaceful, responsible, and sustainable exploration and use of outer space.

Both sides celebrated the United States’ signature of the Space for Climate Observatory Charter in June 2022, fulfilling the commitment made by U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris during her November 2021 visit to France. Both sides recognized the important role of Earth observation and space science, to include weather observation and global environment observation from space, in supporting climate change mitigation and adaptation, and noted the upcoming launch of the NASA-CNES Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission. The participants noted that SWOT will be the first global survey of Earth’s surface water, providing data for extreme events and long-term environmental changes that will improve our understanding of our changing climate. Both sides reaffirmed their commitment to global climate leadership through the open dissemination of Earth observation data and decided to continue to develop operational tools to make this data actionable for governments and local communities. Both sides recognized the already unprecedented science return from the James Webb Space Telescope launched on December 25, 2021, which was made possible by robust contributions from both the U.S. and French sides. Both sides expressed their intent to explore future potential cooperation activities in the field of Earth observation, in particular regarding the Atmosphere Observing System mission.

The participants recognized the important contributions of the private sector in expanding our capabilities in outer space and welcomed efforts to strengthen industry cooperation. Both sides acknowledged their shared desire to create a safe and transparent environment for commercial activities in outer space, including evolving and emerging space activities, by clarifying government and private sector roles and responsibilities and supporting a timely and responsive regulatory environment. To create a free and fair market competition internationally, both sides noted the need to update and harmonize space policies, regulations, and other measures that govern commercial activities worldwide.

The participants also discussed multilateral cooperation, including our work in the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNCOPUOS) and the United Nations General Assembly Open-Ended Working Group on Reducing Space Threats (OEWG), two distinct but complementary fora. Participants recognized that the fora have vital and complementary roles to play in ensuring that human activity in outer space is safe, secure, and sustainable so that space systems can continue to deliver benefits to humanity into the future.  Both the United States and France reaffirmed their commitment to working through UNCOPUOS to promote the responsible and sustainable use of outer space for peaceful purposes. For both sides, implementing the UNCOPUOS Guidelines for the Long-Term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities is a priority. The United States and France look forward to continued engagement on this topic in the recently formed UNCOPUOS Long-Term Sustainability working group. Both sides also underlined the importance of continued close coordination, bilaterally and with like-minded partners, to support the work of the OEWG and its success in 2023. They stressed that the development and implementation of voluntary norms of responsible behavior, combined with enhanced mutual understanding, dialogue, transparency, and sharing of space domain awareness, will help to reduce risks of misunderstanding and unintended escalation. In this regard, both sides welcomed the United Nations General Assembly First Committee’s recent endorsement of the draft resolution UNGA A/C.1/77/L.62 on destructive direct-ascent anti-satellite missile testing.

Both governments recognized the importance of the Comprehensive Dialogue on Space and reaffirmed that this Dialogue would support cooperative relations between the two countries across ministries, departments, and agencies.

Both sides concurred on holding the second meeting of the Dialogue in Washington, D.C. in 2023.

End text.

Second U.S.-ROK Working Group Meeting on the DPRK Cyber Threat

16 Nov

Seoul, South Korea

Deputy Special Representative for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) Dr. Jung Pak and Republic of Korea (ROK) Ministry of Foreign Affairs Director-General for North Korean Nuclear Affairs Lee Taewoo led the second U.S.-ROK Working Group Meeting on the DPRK Cyber Threat on November 16 in Seoul. The meeting gathered U.S. and ROK government representatives to discuss the DPRK’s malicious cyber activities, cryptocurrency heists and laundering, and information technology workers who generate revenue for the regime’s unlawful weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs.  

The United States and the ROK are pursuing a wide range of responses to DPRK cyber threats in partnership with the private sector and the international community. The working group discussed U.S.-ROK policy coordination in addressing the DPRK’s unlawful cyber activities and developing cyber sanctions and further shared information on facilitators who assist with the regime’s money-laundering activities.   

For more information on the DPRK’s malicious cyber activities, please see the cyber threat advisory here. 

For more information on the DPRK’s technology workers, read our statement to the press here

Secretary Antony J. Blinken At a Conversation with YLAI Alumni

6 Oct

Santiago, Chile

Confiteria Torres

AMBASSADOR MEEHAN:  Mr. Secretary, bienvenido a Confiteria Torres.  I am thrilled to introduce you to four, really inspiring and amazing alumni, Chilean alumni of the YLAI program, the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative.  I have had the opportunity to spend a couple of minutes with them, learning from them about their projects, their communities, the impact that the program has had on them, and I really cannot wait for you to hear all of the great work that they are doing and the ideas that they have.  So, I’d like to invite you to say a few words to kick us off, and then we’ll get started with the conversation.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Great.  Thank you, Ambassador.  Thank you all for being here.  One of the things that most inspires me are the exchange programs that we’ve had, and we’ve built over the years.  And I’ve seen these powerful connections that are made between people participating in the programs and my country, and they tend to be lasting connections.  And so, I’m hugely trying to find a way to connect with the people who have taken part, to learn about what the experience was like, what you got out of it, but also, critically, what you’re doing now and how your participation in the program may have had some impact on that.

But what I was particularly looking forward to today is talking to the four of you because entrepreneurs, which each of you is, are truly engines of growth in both of our countries.  And you’re focused on trying to solve problems (inaudible), but you’re also social entrepreneurs, which means that you’re also trying to make a difference in your communities, and that’s a very powerful thing.  If we can marry these two things together, it creates opportunity, it creates growth, and it creates positive change, and I know that each of you is doing that in different ways.  So, I was particularly anxious to hear, and as the ambassador said, we’re – so much of this is about learning from you, learning from your experience, learning what’s worked, what hasn’t – and also, going forward, how our governments can help or maybe get out of the way and not help, as the case may be.  (Laughter.)

But I think it was striking to me as well because I had a chance to spend some time with President Boric today and other colleagues in the government.  And so many of the things that we’re trying to do, both the United States and Chile, when it comes to building more equitable societies, inclusive growth, this is very much also what you’re doing (inaudible).

So, I’m much more interested in listening than talking.  (Laughter.)  It’s great to have all of you here.  Thank you.

AMBASSADOR MEEHAN:  Great.  So, Mr. Secretary, I’d like to invite each of the fellows to briefly introduce themselves, share a little bit about the impact that YLAI has had on them and their work.  And we will start with Camila Roa.  Por favor.

MS ROA:  Mr. Secretary Blinken, Ambassador Meehan, we’ve been waiting for you.  (Laughter.)

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Yes.

AMBASSADOR MEEHAN:  (Off-mike.)

MS ROA:  So, it’s such an honor for all of us to be here with you today and share the meaningful experiences we have with YLAI.  My name is Camila Roa.  I’m a teacher of English.  And I participated in YLAI in 2017, together with Paulina.  And I participated with a project that is called Desde Fuera del Centro, which is an educational and cultural project that aims to decentralize contemporary music through workshops and concerts in (inaudible) school for children.

Nowadays, I’m the president of Becarius for Impact, which is one of the two alumni associations that we have.  And with them, I’m working on a new project that is called Wilegeau, which means “creating a future” in Mapudungun.  Mapudungun is the native language of Mapuche community, and we are carrying out our project with workshops about Mapuche culture through English so that teenagers can have a greater appreciation for their own culture, like feel proud of their culture, and also learn a language that will allow them to share the culture with anyone in the world, and of course improve the – our job and career opportunities.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  That’s wonderful.  It’s interesting too, because English is about connectivity.  We have digital connectivity, but we also have personal connectivity.  For this moment in our collective history, English is one way we connect, do it’s very powerful that you’re doing that at the same time.

I’m curious about – (inaudible).

MS ROA:  Yes.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Tell us a little bit about how the access to music program works.

MS ROA:  Well, we started in a local school.  My husband is a composer, and he composes contemporary music, which is a little bit – it’s non-traditional so it can be difficult to have access to it, because you have to live in a main city where you can have a like, a concert hall, you can – you need the money to pay for the tickets.  So, we realize that it’s something that you can only find here or at universities where they have music programs.  So, it’s (inaudible), you see.  So, we don’t want that – I mean, for some people, music is just something they can, like, buy – like a product.  But for us, music and art is something that children have the right to have access to.

So, we take musicians to schools, and – and composers – and they compose music.  The first time it was for toy instruments, so it can be closer for kids.  I have the pictures here.  So, these are the ears of all these students that participated.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Oh, that’s wonderful.

MS ROA:  Because one of the soft skills that we taught was listening – not only music, but each other.  It’s so important. So, there we have the composer with the toy instruments.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  That’s wonderful.

MS ROA:  And all the kids.  It was wonderful.  And we had concerts only for them.  They were the audience.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Is this program continuing or —

MS ROA:  Not anymore, sadly.  Yes, that’s an issue, continuity.

AMBASSADOR MEEHAN:  Something to discuss, yeah.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Something to take a look at and also – but also inspiring to me, too, because the way – there’s more we can do (inaudible) back in the United States to create better access.

AMBASSADOR MEEHAN:  And the Secretary is a huge music lover himself.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Yeah, I am.  I’m particularly intrigued with that.

AMBASSADOR MEEHAN:  (Off-mike.)

MS ROA:  Okay.  (Laughter.)

AMBASSADOR MEEHAN:  So, thank you, Camila.

MS ROA:  Thank you.

AMBASSADOR MEEHAN:  And I’d like to thank the Chilean and U.S. press for sharing these stories and look forward to seeing you at any future events.  Thank you so much.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thanks everyone.

U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Information Resource Management (IRM) Holds Information Technology Workshop on the Future of Work

29 Sep

During the week of September 12-16, 2022, the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Information Resource Management (IRM) held a five-day worldwide workshop to further modernize information technology and solidify IT innovation advances achieved by the Department.  Information Management Officers (IMOs) from over 200 U.S. embassies and consulates around the world came together to strategize and carry out Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s call for modernization of American diplomacy.

The State Department continues to make advances in its IT capabilities, to meet the needs of 21st century diplomacy, including to leverage cloud, big data, and secure communications.  U.S. diplomats are among the world’s most tech savvy diplomats and their work is supported by a global cadre of IT professionals who convene annually in one location to exchange best practices and ensure cybersecurity for Department networks.

For further information, please contact Steve Aguzin, Public Affairs Officer for the Bureau of Information Resource Management, at AguzinSM@state.gov.

Secretary Antony J. Blinken Remarks at the Strengthening Atlantic Cooperation Ministerial Meeting

20 Sep

New York City, New York

Palace Hotel

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, good morning, everyone.  There’s an almost-reverent silence in the room.  (Laughter.)  It’s really good to be with all of you.

Foreign Ministers, friends, colleagues, we’re delighted to have you here to discuss the shared interest that everyone around this table has on the future of the Atlantic Basin.  And I especially want to thank our colleagues from Angola, from Brazil, Ghana, Portugal, and Senegal, whose governments have been working with us over the past year to try to imagine together what greater cooperation across the entire Atlantic Ocean – both North and South – might look like.

As fellow Atlantic nations, this group understands the ocean’s centrality to our lives and to our shared futures.  The Atlantic Ocean is home to the world’s largest and busiest commercial shipping routes, some of its most vital natural resources, and so much of its biodiversity.  More commerce flows across the Atlantic than any other ocean.

The Atlantic economy supports 49 million jobs in Africa, $21 billion in GDP in Latin America. Two-thirds of the world’s renewable energy is generated in the Atlantic.  And the Gulf Stream, of course, dictates the Earth’s climate.

We see the Atlantic’s influence right here in New York City.  If you walk just a few blocks from here, you run into the East River.  Its storied Brooklyn Navy Yard was created by President John Adams in 1801 to protect the Atlantic trade of our nascent nation.  Fifty years later, a U.S. ship built in that navy yard teamed up with a British ship to lay an undersea telegraph cable, through which Queen Victoria transmitted the very first transatlantic Morse Code message.  Over a century later, in his first visit to the United States as president, Nelson Mandela announced a new trade office in New York to expand economic ties between our nations and our peoples.

Today, the Port Authority is working to combat the climate crisis with more aggressive greenhouse gas reduction targets and a new generation of fuel-efficient container ships.  And New Yorkers are working to restore the oyster reefs that once lined the harbor and to bring back the woodlands, salt marsh, and wetlands that once dominated this coastline.

The commercial, communications, and conservation challenges and opportunities you see right here in this city are shared by the community of Atlantic nations.  We know we can’t take for granted the free and open maritime trade that employs so many of our citizens, the undersea cables that connect us, the fish stocks and wildlife that sustain us.  Only together can we address rising challenges and threats to our Atlantic future.

Piracy; illegal, unreported, unregulated fishing; transnational organized crime; climate change; pollution; environmental degradation – these are just some of the challenges that we have to face together.

Consider just for a minute illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing.  According to the FAO, one of – one in five fish on the market come from illicit fishing – one in five fish on the market.  That translates to losses of between $10 and $23 billion a year to lawful fishing industries in the region.  That harms coastal communities that rely on sustainable fish stocks for their income, for food.  It fuels corruption.  It threatens the health and biodiversity of our oceans.

The joint statement that we’re adopting today affirms our shared responsibility to try to foster a peaceful, prosperous, open, and cooperative Atlantic and protect its richness for future generations.  We’re also committing to build shared capacity to achieve these goals, drawing on the innovative technologies and best practices developed by Atlantic nations, for the benefit of all Atlantic nations.

Following the ministerial today, we plan to launch a consultative process to develop together a framework for regular cooperation among Atlantic countries through which our countries can carry out a shared approach to advancing our joint development, economic, environmental, scientific, and maritime governance goals.

We’re not pre-judging the results of these consultations.  We want to hear from everyone about your priorities, about your vision for enhancing cooperation, and not only from big countries but also small island nations whose voices need to be heard.  And we hope you’ll join us in encouraging more Atlantic nations to take part.

The United States currently spends over $400 million each year on maritime initiatives in the Atlantic.  Working with the United States Congress, we hope to invest an additional $100 million in the next year in support of shared priorities that we’re discussing today: Atlantic maritime governance, inclusive economic growth, innovative adaptations to the growing impact of climate change.

Last year, we joined the High-Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy.  This July, we joined the European Union and six nations from the Western Hemisphere and Africa in the All-Atlantic Ocean Research and Innovation Alliance Declaration to promote scientific cooperation for the health and sustainable development of the Atlantic.  And in the coming months, we hope to come together with many of you to conclude years of negotiations on protections of the high sea areas and sharing of the benefits of maritime genetic resources that are collected there.

We recognize the importance of expanding support for, and working with, existing Atlantic initiatives – Portugal’s leadership in creating the Atlantic Center in the Azores, Brazil’s vision of a zone of peace and cooperation in the South Atlantic, the Friends of the Gulf of Guinea – efforts that continue to make significant – to have a significant impact.  Still, as challenges mount and our innovations and opportunities expand, we believe our partnerships need to grow to meet those challenges.

So I’m really grateful to everyone around this table for being here today and for the work that we’re doing together.  And I look forward to all that we can actually accomplish together in the months and years to come.

Thanks to everyone for being here.