Remarks by Ambassador Chris Stevens at the Reopening of the Consular Section
August 26, 2012
Good morning everybody. Sabaah al-kheir. Welcome to the Embassy. I know it's hot and you're in the sun, so I promise my remarks will be short and to the point.
Today is a great day for U.S.-Libyan relations. I'm so glad that you were all able to join us here to mark the reopening of our Consular section. Since returning to Libya as Ambassador in May, there's one question I've heard almost every day from Libyans: "When are you going to start issuing visas again?" Now, at last, you have your answer: Tomorrow.
I'm happy -- (applause) I'm happy to announce that starting on Monday, August 27, we are ready to offer a full range of consular services to Libyans. This means non-immigrant visas, as well as assistance to Americans residing in, or visiting, Libya.
I congratulate our new Consul, Jenny Cordell (applause), and her fine Libyan staff, for their hard work getting ready for this day, and for the even harder work they will be doing starting tomorrow.
The reopening of our consular section will cre - will create new opportunities for deepening ties between our two countries. For example, we are working with the Minister of High - Higher Education to expand English-language and university-level opportunities for Libyans, both here and in the United States. This year we are sending hundreds of Libyans to visit the U.S. on academic and professional exchange programs. In fact, last Thursday a group of exceptional teenagers left for a Youth Leadership Program in the United States. And on Friday, a group of Libyan journalists traveled to America for a program on Journalism in Transitional Countries.
We're also supporting travel and exchanges between Libyans and Americans in other areas, such as the development of civil society and the promotion of trade.
Relationships between governments are important, but relationships between people are the real foundation of mutual understanding. That's why the reopening of our Consular section is such an important milestone in relations between our two countries.
So, my message to Libyans today is ahlan wasahlan bikum. You are welcome to visit America, and there's the door! Thank you. (applause)