From: Harris, Gardiner
Sent: Thursday, April 28, 2016 19:41
To: Goodman, Meghan K. EOP/OVP
Subject: Biden addresses embassy personnel; pool 4
Mr. Biden addressed a crowd of some 200 embassy and military personnel gathered in a large atrium of the embassy's chancery building.
He stood on a photographer's small riser. "This is what we call a soap box," he said to laughter.
In extended remarks, Mr. Biden repeatedly thanked those present.
"Let me begin by saying, thank you, thank you, thank you."
Mr. Biden said that the risks faced by those in uniform, including Mr. Biden's own son, Beau Biden, are well known.
"But what people don't understand is all the rest of you are putting yourselves in harm's way. And you're doing it for your country. Sounds kind of corny, but it's a fact. It's a fact. The fact is the sacrifices you collectively make in and out of uniform are immense for your country," he said.
At one point he referred to an unnamed former Iraqi prime minister who was challenging him about the U.S. commitment to Iraq, to which he said he responded: "Would you send your son to my state to defend me?"
"And he shut up," VP added.
He cited the Irish poet James Joyce.
"He said history is a nightmare from which I'm constantly trying to awake.
If you think about it, the history of the region is a nightmare from which everyone is trying to awake," Mr. Biden said.
And in comments that harkened back to Mr. Biden's 2006 proposal to split Iraq into three autonomous regions, Mr. Biden said:
"Think of all the places we are today trying to keep the peace. All the places we've sent you guys and women. They're places where because of history, we've drawn artificial lines, creating artificial states, made up of totally distinct ethnic, religious cultural groups and said, 'Have at it. Live together.'"
Mr. Biden said he carries around a constantly updated count of deaths and injuries of service members in Iraq and Afghanistan. He also carries around counts of those serving in those countries.
He said the diversity of the U.S. forces here and elsewhere represents what is best about America.
"Look around: You look like America. You are America. I think it sends the most powerful signal that we can send. I really mean it. And so I just think you're mere presence has a profound impact. Your courage, and I mean your courage - not said lightly - your courage sends a message"
"And all the sacrifices those of you in the Foreign Service, A.I.D., and all the other agencies have made. Sacrifices your families have made. They're real," he said. "I just want you to know they're appreciated. By this one guy. By the President of the United States. By everyone who knows."
Thanks for contributions to this pool report by Michael A. Memoli of the Los Angeles Times.
White House Correspondent
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