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Marking Haiti's Independence

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January 1, 2010 marks the national independence of a long-time and close friend of the United States – the Republic of Haiti. "On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of the Republic of Haiti as they celebrate their 206th anniversary of independence," said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Secretary Clinton said, "This is an occasion to honor the history and heritage of Haiti and to remember the heroes who founded the first independent black republic, not just the icons such as Toussaint Louverture, Jean-Jacques Dessalines and Alexandre Petion, but also the countless men and women who stood up for their right to live as free people and gave a legacy of freedom for future generations. Their accomplishment changed the face of our world, and their story continues to be an inspiration today."

Secretary Clinton also saluted the many contributions that Haitian-Americans have made to the culture and prosperity of the United States. "Our two nations are bound by strong bonds of friendship and family," she said, "united both by our shared history and our common hopes for the future."

United States policy toward Haiti is designed to foster and strengthen democracy and assist Haiti's development. The U.S. supports and facilitates bilateral trade and investment along with legal migration and travel. The U.S. has taken a leading role in organizing international involvement with Haiti. This includes working closely with the Organization of American States, particularly through the Secretary General's "Friends of Haiti" group, the Caribbean Community, and individual countries to achieve policy goals.

"The United States stood with Haiti after the tragic hurricanes of 2008, and we remain committed to being a partner and a friend," said Secretary Clinton. She said 2009 had been "a year for rebuilding and renewal, and Haitians can be proud of their accomplishments."

Offering her warmest wishes to the people of Haiti for a peaceful and prosperous year, Secretary Clinton said, "As 2010 begins, Haiti is poised for a strong future, ready to provide leadership towards its own economic growth, health, and security."