VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: Your Beatitude; Mr. President; distinguished leaders. Let me begin by saying a simple thank you. Thank you for the hospitality that's been extended to me and my wife, Jill. And it's been so warm a welcome to this beautiful island. I've been waiting over 40 years to come to Cyprus, and it has not disappointed -- the birthplace of Aphrodite, the Crossroads of Civilization, and I might add, a genuine strategic partner to the United States of America.
I am known in Washington as the White House optimist, as if I am the new guy on the block. The fact I've been there longer than all the rest does not dim my optimism. The fact of the matter is that it's a natural that my toast today will be about the future, and I believe that for both our countries, the best days are ahead for both of us.
In America, we are emerging from a recession and two wars. Our businesses have added 9.2 million jobs for 50 straight months. We have ended one war and are ending another. And we're moving forward on health care, education, energy exploration. And as I said when I was recently in China, it's never, ever, ever been a good bet to bet against America. We're back. And we're with you.
Cyprus, too, has weathered tough economic times, and you've made some very painful reforms. Your economy is now turning the corner. You are emerging as a leader in the region. And Cyprus is poised to become a key player in the Eastern Mediterranean into a new -- transforming the Eastern Mediterranean into a new global hub for natural gas and markets. You are uniquely situated at a critical time in modern history, so it should be no surprise that the best days are ahead for Cyprus as well.
We've been working together for a long time. We're working even more closely together now -- from more trade and investment to counterterrorism -- prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction, as the President pointed out. And we're partners in the biggest issues of the day: the removal of Syria's chemical weapons, the prevention of Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, and responding to Russian intervention in Ukraine. This is not just a strategic partnership; it's a growing partnership.
I believe -- as you do, Mr. President -- it is possible to reach a settlement that reunites Cyprus as a bizonal, bi-communal federation. And let me state again what I've said to you in private and your colleagues -- the United States stands prepared to provide any assistance that we can toward your accomplishing that end.
And think about it. Think about where we can go if we can free the next generation from the conflicts of the past. Once that is done, there is simply no limit to what Cyprus can achieve, and to what this partnership between Cyprus and the United States can achieve.
As you pointed out, I am the first Vice President since Lyndon Baines Johnson to visit Cyprus. And I'm honored. I've been honored to have a chance to play some small part in helping -- in helping move this relationship even a step further. So I'd like to raise my glass in a toast -- if I can find my glass -- in a toast: To your future; to America's future; to the future of our partnership; and, of course, to your health. May God bless you all. Thank you.
(A toast is offered.) (Applause.)