PRESIDENT ALVARADO:  Thanks again, Mr. Secretary, for meeting in Costa Rica and thanks also to your team.  I’m really delighted in having you in our country.  I believe I won’t be introducing because you have been here for a while (inaudible) already had the introductions.  But just to say first that, as Costa Ricans, we are very happy to receive your visit to reinforce our partnership as democracies, as partners in values, and that we look forward not only to continue the good work that’s done the last decades since we have had a diplomatic relation but to take it to the next level, because there’s so much things we can do together – so much we can do for bilateral partnership for the region in which we want to be solutions-oriented and want to be part of the solution, and also in the multilateral forums, because we also believe that as a country with no army, we fully believe in diplomacy.  We believe – indeed, as you said earlier, Mr. Secretary – in a rules-based order.  We believe in that.

So before giving it to you, Secretary, I just want to remind my team that the agenda – my suggestion is to keep it the most concrete, pointing out the main accomplishments, but also pointing out what are the main challenges so we can be very concrete on what the task force of the future should address bilaterally.

So once again, Secretary, welcome.  Please.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Mr. President, it is a special pleasure to be here, and I have to tell you this is my – as you know, my first opportunity to travel to – in our own hemisphere, travel to Central America.  It’s no accident that we’re here, and we’re here first.  It’s, I think, evidence of what you’ve already talked about as well.  We have a remarkably strong partnership that is based on a foundation of shared values and shared perspective.  And as we were discussing – by the way, the president and I had a wonderful conversation in which I think we basically covered the entire agenda, so – (laughter) – (inaudible) go out and have some coffee or a drink maybe.

But in all seriousness, it is evidence of the fact that on so many different levels we’re working closely together, whether it’s on a bilateral basis, whether it’s multilateral, including the meeting that we’re hosting of the SICA countries in a couple of hours from now.  And I think if we’re looking at the – one of the great challenges of our time, whether it’s climate, whether it’s dealing with the challenges of migration, whether it’s building greater economic opportunities, whether it’s doing that on the basis of democratic principles and values, our countries are united.  And to your point, Mr. President, I think we have tremendous opportunities going forward to strengthen even more that partnership.  And we, the United States – President Biden places great value on this partnership.  As we were saying, especially in challenging, turbulent times, the most important thing is to have strong friendships, strong partnerships (inaudible).

We spent some time as well talking about COVID and the work that we’re going to do – and to, as we say, build back even better.  And I’m confident that especially in the case of Costa Rica with so – with maybe the most important resource of all, the human resources of this country, the future has tremendous possibility.  We want to be part of that, working closely with you.

So thank you so much for your hospitality and for receiving us.

PRESIDENT ALVARADO:  No, thank you.  Thank you very much.

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