Greetings, and thank you Matthias. Thank you to everyone here tonight for joining us a little early to celebrate our Independence Day. I want to particularly acknowledge President Barzani: Mr. President, we are honored by your presence here as well as so many other representatives of the Kurdistan Regional Government. And we are honored to be joined by so many members of the business community, civil society representatives, educators and fellow diplomats.
Ladies and gentlemen, honored guests:
Two hundred and forty years ago America’s founders launched what we still call our “great experiment in democracy.” Since that fateful day in 1776 – through times of peace, war, economic hardship and prosperity – America’s journey has been guided by our dedication to more fully realizing those founding ideals. The journey has not always been an easy one. The truths our founders called “self-evident” were not “self-executing.”
We define ourselves by our ongoing efforts to implement those lofty goals. Our commitment to those political ideals has not stopped at our borders. Here in Iraq, our diplomats, armed forces, aid workers and technical experts continue to address problems as existential as the threat of Da’esh, and as personal as the struggle of a mother trying to feed her children. Our commitment to Iraq runs deep. Since we last gathered to celebrate our Independence Day, Master Sergeant Josh Wheeler, Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Charles Keating IV, and Staff Sergeant Louis Cardin gave their lives for that commitment. Their bravery is honored by those who right now are bravely holding the front lines against Da’esh, so that we can gather here today. And the United States will continue to do everything we can to help the Iraqi people defeat Da’esh.This includes our recent announcement of an additional $415 million in military assistance to the Peshmerga.
My own time in Iraq is coming to an end soon. I see here the faces of so many friends who have made my experience in Iraq a remarkable one. Together we have made real progress, and that is largely due to your efforts. We still have a lot of work to do. But if you show my replacement the same courage and cooperation you have shown me, I am confident we will continue on the right track and into a bright, prosperous future.
God bless Iraq, and God bless the United States of America. Thank you all. And now, I’m proud to introduce my good friend Falah Mustafa, the head of the Department of Foreign Relations for the Kurdistan Regional Government.