SECRETARY BLINKEN: Good morning, everyone. It’s a real pleasure to have Prime Minister Briceño here from Belize. We have a lot to cover, but I’m really gratified that you’ve taken the time to come to the State Department.
Belize is a strong partner for the United States on so many issues of mutual concern. We are following up together on the very important meeting that President Biden and Vice President Harris had with CARICOM and the leaders of CARICOM at the Summit of the Americas, working on a strong agenda together on climate, on energy, on food security, on finance. And I look forward to sharing some of the progress that we’ve made with the prime minister.
As well I should say congratulations on your recent independence day, September 21st. But also we appreciate so much Belize’s strong voice on global issues, including, for example, on the Russian aggression against Ukraine, as well as its strong ties to Taiwan.
So Prime Minister, welcome. Very good to have you here.
PRIME MINISTER BRICEÑO: Well, thank you very much, Secretary of State Blinken, and thank you very much for inviting us over here at your office. As we all know that the United States and Belize have had very close, strong, and warm relations over the past 41 years; we just celebrated our 41st anniversary, our independence, on last week, Wednesday.
And you are right that there are so many issues that both countries, we need to address. The issue of climate change was – it’s almost, like, an existential threat for small countries like Belize that have a low-lying coastline, but it’s also affecting big countries like yourself, developed countries where in areas you have droughts and other areas you have excessive rains. And it is something that has to be addressed by all of us, not by individuals. And Belize continues to have a stellar record when it comes to the protection of its environment. We have just signed an agreement with The Nature Conservancy, and we are going to protect 30 percent of our ocean space by 2026, four years ahead of schedule.
And certainly the other issues of migration, of the war in Ukraine – where we strongly condemn the actions of Russia – issues of migration, and also strengthening democracy in our region.
So thank you, Secretary, for inviting myself and my team to your office.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you. Thanks, everyone.
PRIME MINISTER BRICEÑO: Thanks.