William J. Burns
Remarks to the Council of the Americas’ 42nd Washington Conference on the Americas
Loy Henderson Auditorium, Washington, DC
May 8, 2012
Thank you, John. Welcome to the State Department. I can think of no greater honor in this building than to be introduced by John Negroponte, who for so long has set such a high standard of professional excellence for the rest of us. I am honored and humbled to follow in your footsteps as Deputy Secretary, and we are all deeply grateful for your continued efforts to advance peace and prosperity in our hemisphere.
I am delighted to address this 42nd Conference of the Council of the Americas, and on behalf of Secretary Clinton, to welcome all of you back to the State Department today. Let me emphasize at the outset what may seem like a blindingly obvious point to all of you: during this moment of tectonic political shifts elsewhere in the world, from a rising Asia-Pacific to a restive Middle East, one of the starting points for effective U.S. foreign policy in the 21st century is to focus on the enormous opportunity in our own neighborhood. Today, our engagement with Canada, Latin America, and the Caribbean requires an extra measure of strategic focus, precisely because this region is so important to our shared future. Our partnerships in the Western Hemisphere are vital to our economic recovery and competitiveness, and vital to our ability to solve the transnational challenges that no one country can solve on its own. MORE