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Remarks with Hungarian Foreign Minister Kinga Goncz Before Their Meeting

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Washington, DC
September 30, 2008

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FOREIGN MINISTER GONCZ: If I may start with something, it is a great honor for me and a real pleasure, also a personal pleasure, that I can present you this commander’s cross. It’s the – star, I say. It is the order of merit that I could bring with me from Hungary. And I would like to present it in the name of the Hungarian President, Solyom Laszlo, but it was an honor for me that I could do this. And I would like to thank you very much for you attention to central Europe, particularly for Hungary in the last some years. And I really feel that it was an excellent working relation and we would be glad to keep this relation up for the future. I have some ideas of how to keep this --

SECRETARY RICE: Excellent.

FOREIGN MINISTER GONCZ: -- also -- but first, if I just may present you this award I would be very (inaudible).

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you. I’m honored. Really, it’s – oh, my goodness.

FOREIGN MINISTER GONCZ: Yes. 

SECRETARY RICE: It is beautiful. It’s absolutely beautiful.

FOREIGN MINISTER GONCZ: As far as I know, I should have to put it on.

SECRETARY RICE: Yes, yes, you -- I – yes. 

FOREIGN MINISTER GONCZ: I am not sure that I am very good.

SECRETARY RICE: Here we go. That’s all right. We’ll – I’ll turn around.

FOREIGN MINISTER GONCZ: Thank you. I’ll do my best. Okay. Excellent. 

SECRETARY RICE: Beautiful. Thank you.

FOREIGN MINISTER GONCZ: Thank you very much.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you so much. 

FOREIGN MINISTER GONCZ: And congratulations. We are really (inaudible).

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much. (Applause.)

Well, first of all, Kinga, I cannot think of an award that I am prouder to receive. I think you know of my long history with Hungary, my long love for Hungary and inspiration by the Hungarian people, who went through so much and really remained absolutely dedicated to recovering their freedom, and did so. 

I think you know also that I am especially proud to receive it from you as a good friend, but also as a daughter of Hungarian freedom. And your parents were also a great inspiration. Your father has been one of the great figures in Hungarian history. And I wrote one of my first academic papers on Hungary, and so in that way it’s also very, very special. And you can be sure that I’ve been very honored and delighted to have the chance to build the U.S.-Hungarian relationship over this period of time, but that I’m going to remain a friend of Hungary for life. And I look forward to returning again and again to your country.

FOREIGN MINISTER GONCZ: Thank you very much.

SECRETARY RICE: So thank you very much. Thank you.

Oh, there’s the Ambassador over there.

FOREIGN MINISTER GONCZ: Yes. (Laughter.)

SECRETARY RICE: You know, he was a great friend of the United States, this ambassador. And he is a great musician, as well. Yes. Great to see you. Thank you. Thank you very much. 

FOREIGN MINISTER GONCZ: We are very proud to be here in Washington D.C. and --

SECRETARY RICE: Yes. Yes, absolutely. Thank you. 

QUESTION: Secretary Rice, Senator Reid says (inaudible). Do you think they’ve worked out all the difficulties –

STAFF: Thank you.

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I very much appreciated the efforts of Senator Reid and, indeed, before him, Speaker Pelosi and Chairman Berman and the Foreign Relations Committee, Senators Luger and Biden. And I certainly hope that it can get done, because it would be a landmark agreement for India and the United States and it would be a way to solidify what has been an extraordinary period in which U.S.-Indian relations have reached the kind of deepening that is really appropriate for two of the world’s largest and great democracies. Thank you.

2008/819


Released on September 30, 2008

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