Assalamu aleikum, bienvenue, and welcome: Head of Government Abdelilah Benkirane; Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Salaheddine Mezouar; Mayor of Rabat Fathallah Oualalou; all the former Moroccan Ambassadors to the United States, and their American counterparts, in attendance today; my friends from the Diplomatic Corps; distinguished guests – you are among the first guests to visit the new home of the Embassy of the United States to the Kingdom of Morocco.
I am delighted to welcome you to this beautiful building, which will be an enduring symbol of the historic friendship between the United States and Morocco. As you all know, Morocco was the first country to recognize the independence of the United States in December of 1777. Morocco is the site of the United States’ first and oldest diplomatic property in the world, the American Legation in Tangier, granted to the United States by Sultan Suleiman in 1821. This means that today Morocco had the distinction of hosting both the oldest and the newest U.S. diplomatic missions in the world.
The United States and Morocco enjoy one of the oldest and strongest relationships in the region, and it is my charge as Ambassador to continue to strengthen and to expand that relationship. I am proud to say that our relationship with Morocco has never been stronger.
I recently attended the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Marrakesh, joining business leaders, bright young entrepreneurs, and senior government officials from all over the world. Vice President Joe Biden spoke at the opening of that event, noting the importance that the United States places on our historic partnership with Morocco. Morocco’s leadership in hosting the Summit was truly inspiring, and it helped to shine a light on all the good that can come from unleashing the creativity and dynamism of entrepreneurs.
The Global Entrepreneurship Summit celebrated people coming together to create the new and innovative. This building is a reflection of that spirit. Americans, Moroccans, and many other nationalities worked together on this project. In fact, over 2,000 Moroccans helped build this new Embassy. The spirit of Morocco is visible throughout the building – from the Moroccan marble flooring, to the zellige mosaic tilework throughout.
Last week, we celebrated the American holiday of Thanksgiving. As I look around at this gathering of friends and at this beautiful structure, I must express my thanks and gratitude for all of the efforts and support that went into making this a reality. I would like to thank all the men and women of the U.S. Mission in Morocco who work together every day to strengthen our strong relationship with Morocco every day.
I also want to thank the State Department’s Office of Overseas Building Operations, represented here today by Deputy Director Heather Townsend. I especially would like to recognize our colleague Aziz Younes and his team. Aziz shepherded this project from the groundbreaking in 2012 until today, and in many ways, this building is his baby. I would like to present Aziz this token of our appreciation – a U.S. flag flown over both the new and former U.S. Embassy in Rabat.
Last but not least, I want to thank the Government of Morocco and the Wilaya and City of Rabat for their support and cooperation. Without their counsel, assistance and collaboration over this entire process, we would not be celebrating here today. This was truly a group effort and I am very grateful to everyone who was involved.
The artist John Ruskin once said, “We require from buildings two kinds of goodness: first, doing their practical duty well: then that they be graceful and pleasing in doing it.” Thanks to the hard work and dedication of so many people, this building achieves both goals.
Welcome to the new Embassy.