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Sec. Rice At Overseas Security Advisory Council

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Washington, DC
November 14, 2007

Keynote Address at the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) 22nd Annual Briefing

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much and thank you, Pat, for that kind introduction. I'd also like to recognize the co-chairmen of OSAC, Mark Cheviron and Greg Starr, who I understand is out of the country, as well as the OSAC council and the executive working group. You all do so much to lead this great organization. Thank you very much.

Thank you for coming to the State Department. I'm delighted to have you here to discuss the security challenges that we face in this ever-changing world. This is really an extraordinary organization, an extraordinary example of public-private partnership. I want to thank you not just for your support, though, but for your ideas and your hard work. You're truly playing a major role in shaping America's world view and how we maintain our security and interact with our international neighbors.

In 1985, my good friend and my mentor, George Shultz, then Secretary of State, recognized the growing threat that international terrorism posed to our country, especially to Americans living and working abroad. George Shultz thought that our nation needed a dynamic forum for sharing ideas and information on security among our public and private sectors, so he created the Overseas Security Advisory Council, or as we all know it, OSAC, which was initially composed of, believe it or not, only 15 American companies and the Departments of State and Commerce.

Today, the OSAC partnership encompasses 12 federal agencies and nearly 4,800 private groups, from business and academic communities to nongovernmental and faith-based organizations. OSAC is the very ideal of a successful public-private partnership and it is helping to keep Americans safe across the globe, whether they are working or traveling with their families or, in some cases, studying abroad.

Now I come from an academic background and so I know the benefits, in particular, when American students study and share stories with their peers overseas. In many cases, they are among our best ambassadors. They tell the true American story of opportunity and freedom and justice. But while studying abroad has many benefits, we also remain aware of the security challenges that face American students. And so I'm very proud that OSAC is extending its partnership to our colleges and universities. Within two years, OSAC has doubled the size of its academic constituency and I'm pleased to hear today that nearly 350 educational institutions are OSAC constituents.

I'm also pleased to notice that Dr. DeGioia the president of Georgetown, spoke to you earlier this morning. Now I'm told that this is the first time in OSAC's 22-year history that a university president has been invited as a major speaker. Now as an academic, I have to ask what took you so long. (Laughter.) But you're really making great strides to work with academia and to keep American students safe abroad and I really want to commend your efforts and thank you for them.

I also appreciate the work you're doing to build bridges with businesses and organizations in the Middle East and in Poland through the Country Council Program. As many of you know, this program is designed to help American businesses and organizations deal with specific security issues in the particular countries where they live and work.

I'm told that one of the most extraordinary meetings of the Country Council Program occurred recently between the Jerusalem Council, consisting primarily of Palestinian organizations in the West Bank, and the Tel Aviv Council, which includes many organizations based in Israel. For the first time, leadership from the Jerusalem Council was invited to speak at the upcoming Tel Aviv Council meeting to explain the difficulties of conducting businesses in the region. The coordination and cooperation and communication that now exists between these two councils is groundbreaking, and OSAC has therefore played a central role in facilitating information exchange -- and I might add, breaking down some political barriers as well.

Ladies and gentlemen, we live in a quite dangerous world. Our government is now wrestling with many unprecedented new security threats and we cannot meet this challenge alone. Thankfully, seeing all of you here, I know that we don't have to meet the challenges alone. We have dedicated partners that bridge the public-private divide. We have partners like all of you in OSAC.

Today, the importance of OSAC is great and growing. Your mission is more critical and more central than ever before in our nation's history. So, on behalf of all the men and women of the State Department, on behalf of all Americans everywhere throughout the world, who you are helping to keep safe, I want to thank you for your commitment to our security. I want to thank you for your commitment to our diplomatic mission. And I want to thank you for your help to our essential work abroad.

I hope that you enjoy the rest of your sessions. It's nice to be among friends. It's nice to be among those who are helping us so much. Thanks again, and thanks for coming. (Applause.)

Released on November 14, 2007


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