Secretary Blinken And Surinamese President Chandrikapersad Santokhi Before Their Meeting

SECRETARY BLINKEN: Well, good morning, everyone. It's a great pleasure to welcome President Santokhi from Suriname here to the State Department, to Washington. It's wonderful to be with you.

Suriname is a great partner for the United States in the region. We've done a lot of work together, especially in recent months, including at the Summit of the Americas, work that Vice President Harris is leading also with CARICOM that Suriname is presiding over. We've very eager to continue to move forward on PACC 2030, the partnership to deal with and advance work on the climate crisis. And of course, we are working together both on a bilateral basis and also with CARICOM on issues that are having a real impact on the lives of all our citizens, from energy and food security to climate change.

The relationship that we have with our Caribbean partners is absolutely vital to us. It's valuable. It's critical, and I think that was underscored at the Summit of the Americas with the I think historic meeting that we had with CARICOM, with President Biden and Vice President Harris. But not just the meeting, the work that is flowing out of that meeting to address the shared concerns of so many of our people.

And then let me just say on a bilateral note how much we appreciate President Santokhi's leadership - leadership on combatting corruption, on building transparency, on the very good security cooperation that our two countries have. So Mr. President, it's wonderful to have you here today, and I look forward to a good conversation.

PRESIDENT SANTOKHI: Thank you very much, Secretary Blinken, Ambassador, all the staff members. Let me express also my sincere gratitude for this meeting. And this meeting, Secretary, is important for our bilateral relation between our two countries but also between our two people. And I'm here today to express once again our commitment and also our underlining the importance of this relation.

For us, as Suriname and the region, but also in the bilateral relationship, we have a longstanding, historical cooperation in the area of government, in the area of security, but also in the area of the private sector. And I am here today with my team to discuss the further strengthening of the cooperation, the further deepening of our relationship, and also to expand our cooperation in all areas what will bring prosperity to our people. But also areas which will strengthen also the position of CARICOM, as Caribbean community, and doing business with the United States - business in the area of the private sector, but also business in the area of trade.

Once again, and I want to thank you very much for arranging this meeting. This meeting is on more the bilateral relation, and later this afternoon I have a meeting with the Vice President of United States, Mrs. Harris, to discuss also the cooperation between the CARICOM, more in the capacity of the chair of CARICOM, and also other Caribbean leaders in the area of food security, the energy security, and finance.

But here I'm representing my country, and I express once again the gratitude what I have to bring to your government for the support what we have received over the years, but recently in the area of getting the COVID situation under control. And I'm taking this opportunity also to express my sincere thank to your ambassador in Suriname, Madam Williams, for her tremendous and important role in strengthening the bilateral relation between Suriname and United States of America. Thank you very much.

SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you, Mr. President. Thanks, everyone.

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