SECRETARY BLINKEN: Well, good afternoon, everyone. And friends, colleagues, welcome. It’s so good to see you all in New York. I want to start by congratulating the GCC secretary general, the member-states, the staff, and the secretariat on the occasion of the GCC Charter’s 40th anniversary. The United States has enjoyed an exceptionally close relationship with the GCC for decades now, and we look forward to continuing that tradition and building it in the months and years ahead.
We’re committed to the region because that’s in our national interest. (Inaudible) it’s as simple as that. And we’re committed to sustainable, long-term relationships with all of our GCC partners. Together we are focused on building shared prosperity and addressing some of the world’s most formidable challenges. We work together to provide energy to the world, to defeat terrorists, and to defend and deter against external aggression. Today, we also depend on each other to address our shared long-term challenges, such as pandemics, the climate crisis. They’re all (inaudible) of us together.
The recent airlift from Afghanistan was a vivid demonstration of how our Gulf partners provide critical support in times of need, and we greatly, greatly appreciate it. You stepped up. You made a difference to tens of thousands of people, helping Afghans and (inaudible). We’re grateful, again, for that support and very much look forward to what is a packed agenda for today. And I’m so glad that you all – we were determined to find the time to come together in New York with these (inaudible). I think it’s a reflection of the importance that we all attach to the work that we’re doing between the United States and the GCC.
So again, welcome. Thanks, everybody.