SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you. Thank you for these really generous words. But the only part of that that’s true is that we had a relationship that goes back many, many years (inaudible). It’s something I’ve had the opportunity to participate in for many years now. And I have to tell you that I think the mission you’re leading is probably more important (inaudible). It’s something that we’ve known (inaudible) for a very, very long time, but the fact is that if we’re not engaged, if the United States isn’t there, then generally there’s a vacuum that will end up being filled with bad things before being filled with good things. And you promoted, pushed forward the proposition that American leadership, American engagement, matters. It makes a difference.
And I think we saw it in the case of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. I am proud that we have stood up in terms of support for Ukraine itself – security, economic and humanitarian. I am proud of the fact that we have led dozens of countries to exert the necessary pressure on Russia to end the aggression. And I am proud of the fact that we have also been able to strengthen our own alliance, our defensive alliance, NATO.
But having said all that, I’m equally proud of the extraordinary response we’re seeing from the private sector, a response that I’ve witnessed in part, including in Poland – our (inaudible) friend, not to mention to cite just one example out of many – but to really step up for the people of Ukraine, to address the extraordinary humanitarian needs that are out there, but also to start this conversation about the long term and how we think about rebuilding, because the devastation that has been Ukraine and large parts of its economy are quite staggering and are going to ask a lot.
So I was really looking forward to being with this group. I appreciate your taking the time to do so today, as it is an opportunity for us to learn a bit more about the experience to date in finding different ways to support Ukrainians in Ukraine, but also what you think about moving forward and how that has shaped your own thinking about engagement on these issues, because something as important and as dramatic and as deeply rooted as it also gets us thinking about how we do things (inaudible) to get things done.
So I’m really grateful for this conversation and looking forward to tuning in to hear from all of you, so thank you.