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Meeting With Staff and Families of Embassy Stockholm

Location: Stockholm, Sweden

AMBASSADOR BRZEZINSKI: Mr. Secretary, we've had some formal meetings this morning. Now it's the family meeting. Welcome to the U.S. Embassy Stockholm family community, and I just want to say, Mr. Secretary, my colleagues at U.S. Embassy Stockholm, my wife Natalia and I welcome you to our home, which is also your home. Mr. Secretary, I am so honored to introduce you to the U.S. Embassy community.

Ladies and gentlemen, Secretary of State Kerry is a statesman in the full meaning of the word, and what I mean is this: As a young man, he fought for our country. He then went into public service. He was a prosecutor, he was a lieutenant governor, he became a U.S. senator. In 2004, he was the Democratic nominee for the presidency. He was Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and now he's Secretary of State. This is a dream profile for any Secretary of State. (Laughter). But I also want to say this -- that Secretary of State Kerry knows in the most personal way what war is really like. As I said, as a young man he fought for our country. And he knows that sometimes it is something that has to happen, but it's not something that you go into lightly. And so this combination of background -- his military service, his public service -- puts him in the unique position to take on the challenges of our time.

And Mr. Secretary, I'm so honored to introduce you to our community here in Sweden. In our embassy, we have Americans and locally employed staff who have served in Afghanistan, in Libya, in Yemen, and in Iraq, and thanks to this embassy team, today Sweden stands at the very forefront of taking on the challenges of our time. Our Swedish hosts are honored and proud that you are here. We are so pleased that you have taken this historic visit. This is the first visit by a U.S. Secretary of State that involves two cities, and we welcome you here with the same enthusiasm that our Swedish hosts do. Today America and Sweden stand together as never before. Thank you for coming, Mr. Secretary. We're honored that you're here, and welcome. Valkommen.

SECRETARY KERRY: Valkommen. Thank you. (Applause.) Hej. That's why we all say "hey" in America now. We're actually copying the Swedish. Thank you for a wonderful, generous welcome, Mark. I really appreciate it. And Natalia, thank you so much for opening your home to our crowd early today. And thank you all of you for crowding in here and coming over. We really appreciate it. I gather it's not that far. It's just around the corner, right? (Inaudible) building in -- (laughter) -- sorry about that. (Laughter.) Anyway, I was looking at this yellow line. This is a yellow brick road. You kind of follow this pot at the rainbow or something.

Hi, kids. How are you? Hi. How are you? You guys okay? Why are you hiding? Come on over here. Come up here with me. Come on. I want to get all the kids up here. Come on, guys. Don't be bashful. Everybody's being bashful? There we go. (Applause.) These are the guys. How are you doing, men? How are you? How old are you?


SECRETARY KERRY: All right. How are you? Nice to meet you. How are you doing? Hi, sweetie. Come on up here. What's your name?


SECRETARY KERRY: Mia. Is that right? Did I get that right? Okay. Come on over here, guys. Come on. Come on, guys. Have some fun while we're at it. You're looking pretty sharp. (Laughter.) Come on up here. That a boy. Wow. Does he look good today, huh? Anyway, look at these guys coming up here. Come on up here, everybody. Will you come up here, young lady? It doesn't matter, she's bashful. I don't know if I can handle him. (Laughter.) I'm an all-purpose Secretary of State, but that's really -- (inaudible.) Who's that?


SECRETARY KERRY: Julian. How old is Julian?

PARTICIPANT: He's four months old.

SECRETARY KERRY: Fantastic. That's a big four months. He's a big four months. Hi, how are you? Yeah. Anyway, well, thanks for coming up. These kids are what it's all about as everybody knows. And I was this guy. I was a year younger than this guy when I traveled abroad with my dad who was in the Foreign Service, and we went to Berlin, Germany not too long after World War II, which really makes me kind of old, doesn't it? And it was really fun. I learned so much I want you to know. You guys are going to -- I hope you learn language. I know that Aurora -- where's Aurora? There she is. Hi. (Laughter.) She's speaking fluent Swedish, better than English, right? Pretty good. Congratulations. And that stays with you for a lifetime, so it's a lot of fun. It really is. Hi there. You're lost. (Laughter.) He's sort of got the idea, but that -- he's totally (inaudible).

Anyway, I'm -- I really did learn a lot when I was a kid biking around Berlin and having fun. And then we went to Oslo. So I spent a couple years in Oslo. So I got a sense of what you love here and the passion of this place. I learned how to say (in Swedish). (Laughter.) And in the end I learned how to say (in Swedish). (Laughter). So -- but I didn't have anybody to say it to. So anyway -- (laughter) -- it was fun.

Thank you all for being here. Where is Bill Stewart? Is he here? Bill, where are you? What is it? Thirty years? How many years? (Applause.) Thank you

PARTICIPANT: Do you remember me? I took you everywhere.

SECRETARY KERRY: Yeah, I do remember you, yeah. How many years? Thirty?

PARTICIPANT: Twenty-nine.

SECRETARY KERRY: Twenty-nine years. Well, it's pretty amazing. Been a terrific leader and one of the people who help makes it go. And I want to thank -- don't run away. It's alright, stay up here. (Laughter.) Let the kids shine in front of you there. There you go. And I really wanted to thank Mark and Natalia. I am a huge Brzezinski fan. I wake up every morning to -- I have to be careful how I say this -- watch Mika -- (laughter) -- on television, and she's brilliant, as we all know. And his dad and his mom are just two of the brightest, most energetic exciting people I've ever met, and his father has been a great supporter and advisor and enormously helpful on any number of issues and one of the smartest people in foreign policy in our land. So you have a great, great genes that bring you here to this task, and we're delighted to have you here as enthusiastic and energized as you are. And also, we -- we're engaged, all of us, all of you, every one of us, in an extraordinary challenge, a great mission, and it is about these kids.

The world is full of turmoil right now. Failed states and failing states in some parts of the world are growing faster than democracy and some of the values that we call care about. And there's an extremism in the air. There are challenges throughout Europe. The economy of Europe, obviously, is facing big, tough choices, and when you have 56 percent unemployment among people -- young people, you've got a problem in your country, a social fabric, structural problem, and it's incumbent on all of us to find a way forward to hold this together.

One of the things that we think is most exciting in the possibilities to help do that is the TTIP, the trade partnership -- trade and investment partnership. So all of you who are working on that and all of you who are part of that, I mean we've got to get Europe to get a mandate through the EU and to begin these negotiations and make it happen, because it could mean millions of jobs.

We also face the challenge of Syria, Egypt, the Maghreb, Sahel, violence, obviously, breaking out in Syria -- it's very, very dangerous, could threaten the entire region -- Iran and its nuclear ambitions, Middle East peace process, which has dogged us for years and years and years, and of course, North Korea, where you have this totally untested young leader who is able to threaten nuclear devastation and a host of other global challenges with global climate change, environmental, oceans, I mean, you name it. Humankind on earth is yet to prove that we understand all of the implications of the choices that we make. I can't think of a partner, literally, any partner who has a better sense of that and is more committed to that that in our partner in Sweden. Sweden gets it. And that's why I'm proud to be here, to go up to Kiruna in a little while to talk about the Arctic and how we're going to manage the Arctic, but also about climate change and our challenges. It's important leadership, and we're appreciative of Sweden for all that it does.

I want to thank every single one of you, Foreign Service, civil service, political appointees, and particularly locally hired folks. A lot of us come and go, the ambassador, myself, we're here for four-year terms and so forth. But many of you have been here for a long, long time. Is Katarina Grundstrom here somewhere hiding? No? Not here? Well, I've heard about Katarina, something like 37 years? Thirty-seven years of devoted work helping us to speak to the community, to understand the community and work for it. So all of the folks who are locally hired are critical to our ability to be able to form our mission.

Sweden is helping us in Afghanistan, helping us in Syria, helped in Libya, helps us on climate, helps us on a host of other human rights and other kinds of challenges, Kosovo, Bosnia. You name it, Sweden steps up and Sweden gives significant amounts of money. In Afghanistan, they're committing troops beyond 2014, and they're doing an extraordinary amount of positive things. So I just say thank you to all of you. He's okay. He's good. (Laughter.) He's got -- he wants to give a speech when I finish. (Laughter.) But he doesn't know I'm a former senator. So I may not finish. (Laughter.) Joking. I'm winding up right now. I want to have a chance to shake hands and say hello to everybody and maybe take some pictures and have a chance to just chat for a minute.

But let me just thank all of you. I do remember what it's like to be uprooted from school, to leave your friends, to go to a new place, learn a new culture, new language, pack. Packing is awful. But we do it because we're engaged in one of the great enterprises in life. It is not often you can get up every single day and go out and know that you're doing something that helps make the world better in tangible ways. And every one of you is an ambassador. You may not get all the privileges and the pay level, but I've got news for you. Every day whether it's a visa, a meeting, an inquiry, answering the telephone, returning a call, you're the face and voice of America, and people will take an impression away by how you deal with them and what you accomplish for them.

So a profound thank you for being part of the State Department family. We've been through some tough days in the past year or so. Don't let it get to you. We are going to keep on moving on our agenda, and we're not going to let the politics of Washington get in the way of the high standards that we've set and what we do. I will have your back. I'm counting on you to have mine. All right? Thank you all. God bless. (Applause.)

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