Department of State Press Briefing with Spokesperson Ned Price, July 25, 2022.
Good afternoon. Welcome to Monday. You all heard this from the Secretary this morning, but I think it bears repeating. And that is we strongly condemn the Burmese military’s executions of pro-democracy activists and elected leaders. These heinous acts of violence demonstrate the regime’s brutality in a new and horrible light. And we remain concerned. It also reflects an ongoing disregard for the human rights and rule of law. As reports indicate, the activists were denied legal representation and the ability to appeal United States urges all partners and allies to join us in condemning the regime’s actions and stepping up pressure on the regime and its supporters. We call on the regime to cease executions, release all those unjustly detained and restore Burma’s path to democracy with that. But I will. So what you gonna do about it?
Well, um obviously this is um uh just transpired in in recent hours, we have been in touch with our partners around the world to include our partners in Aasen. We are urging, as I said just a moment ago, all countries, all partners, all allies to add their voices when it comes to the condemnation of this heinous affront to the rule of law. This heinous affront to human rights. This heinous affront to the Burmese, people who have since February of last year expressed an ardent and sincere desire to put their country on the path back to democracy at the same time, we are urging all of our partners to step up that economic pressure that political pressure on the regime in Burma. Not only is this an affront to the human rights of the Burmese people. Not only is it a slap in the face to the millions of Burmese who wish to see their country back on the path to democracy. It’s also director of Buche of the appeal that the junta heard and the world heard from the Aasen chair Cambodia in this case, and other Aasen leaders who warned the junta in no uncertain terms not to carry out these executions. We underscore that with the escalating violence with these horrific atrocities that the junta has carried out, there can be no business as usual with this regime, we urge all countries to ban the sale of military equipment to Burma to refrain from lending the regime any degree of international credibility. And we call on Aasen to maintain its important precedent only allowing Burmese nonpolitical representation at regional events so well. So we all we are already responding to this. I said we’ve been in close touch with our partners, including our Aasen partners. I think you will see more from us and from our partners in terms of condemnation. And we’ve made clear all along since February of last year that the costs on the Burmese regime that costs on the junta will continue to escalate. We will continue to escalate uh those costs with the economic pressure that we have imposed and that we’re prepared to impose, We of course, don’t review our own sanctions, but all options that serve to cut off the regime’s revenue, which it uses to perpetrate this violence?
It’s on the table. We when considering any such actions or of course, looking to any potential humanitarian implications for the people of Burma who have already suffered far too much for far too long since this junta came to power. But again, all options are on the table. We’re going to work with our partners to see to it that the steps we take going forward are coordinated so that they have maximum effect on the regime. What do you do you think that condemnation, which you’ve just told for again, and what you asked all your partners and allies to join in is is enough. It’s not enough. It is it is not enough. And it’s certainly not. The totality of our response. Our response included includes the statements that you’ve heard the statements that you will hear from the United States and our partners. But the economic measures, the political measures, the diplomatic measures and the very clear call that we have put out to partners around the world that it cannot be business as usual with the junta just to follow up on that, do you you actually step up?
I think, you know, a lot of actually, me and my people have been asking for you, the US Government to step up in terms of its response for a long time in that, you know, you’ve done a lot of sanctions, but you haven’t done any sanctions that target the gas exports that are the main source of foreign revenue for the Hunter?
So, you know, why why haven’t you taken any action on that?
Asking for not to be business as usual for for Hunter?
You know, why haven’t you taken any action on on these gas revenues?
And and will you do that now?
All means all. When I say that all options are on the table, I mean that all options are on the table. We are discussing additional response options that we could implement ourselves, that we could implement. Implementing coordination with our partners are partners in Aasen are other like-minded partners with whom we’ve worked since February of last year to seek to put Burma back on the path to uh democracy. Even as we consider all of those measures, we are also cognizant of what needs to be a central charge and that is to do no harm or to do no additional harm in this case. It’s clear that the coup has done tremendous harm to the people of Burma, hundreds of whom have been killed in this senseless violence, um too many of whom find themselves political prisoner of a regime that isn’t tolerating any form of dissent or opposition. So as we consider our next steps as we consider all potential options, we are also taking a very close look at any potential humanitarian implications of steps that we might take talking about enhancing support for these people. That was a lot of the Burmese people have taken up arms against that hamster, do you do you still draw the line on, on, you know, military support for the opposition to the intern?
Is that something you’re going to consider?
We’re seeking to put Burma on the path back to democracy?
Our goal in this is a political one. Our goal in this is to help advance the same objective and the same goal that we’ve heard the people of Burma, so many of whom have taken peacefully to the streets to demonstrate their support for a return to democracy. It’s our goal to support them and we will continue to support them with with appropriate means. What if other countries allies, partners were to offer support for military opponents?
Would you be against that?
Our goal is a return to democracy, a protracted conflict, a protracted civil war would not be in anyone’s interest, not the least the people of Burma in all measures around. Till we talk about economic diplomatic correct?
When uh you said that all countries need to condemn and take action. Can you talk to the role of some of the major players, including china in particular India?
To a certain extent, that haven’t haven’t completely just let themselves?
Well now is the time because you were right Sean in your question that there are countries around the world that haven’t done enough. Certainly when it comes to rhetorical condemnation, when it when it comes to imposing costs, when it comes to the court charge that it cannot be business as usual with the junta. We have discussed the goal of putting Burma back on the path to democracy with virtually all of our allies and partners in the region. There are some countries in the region. You named a couple of them where we have had in depth discussions when the secretary met with wang ye not all that long ago, Burma was a topic of discussion. We’ve discussed it with other senior PRC officials, arguably no country has the potential to influence the trajectory of Burma’s next steps more so than the PRC. And we’ve called on all countries to act responsibly to use their influence in a way that is constructive to use their influence in a way that works for the interests of the Burmese people and then ultimately puts Burma back on the path to democracy. The fact is that the regime has not based the level of economic and in some cases diplomatic pressure that we would like to see. We are calling on countries around the world to do more. We will be doing more as well. We got a different topic. There’s something else Russia v Ukraine. There was a statement that the secretary made on Saturday regarding the strike in Odessa. Just following up on that the United States believe this was a violation of the agreement reached in. So you saw the statement from the Secretary over the weekend, uh as is he alluded to at the time, Russia’s brazen attack against the port city of Odessa only 24 after 24 hours after this agreement was signed, it certainly undermines the credibility of Russia’s commitments to The other parties to this deal at the United Nations, Turkey and Ukraine, as well as its broader humanitarian commitment that it made in the July 21. It also highlights we believe that Moscow continues to behave in ways that intentionally prevent desperately needed food from reaching many of the world’s most poor. Those who are suffering the most acute effects of the food insecurity that Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine has exacerbated despite these attacks. We do understand that the parties are continuing preparations to open Ukraine’s Black Sea ports for food and fort fertilizer exports. We are clear eyed going forward, but we also continue to expect that the Black Sea agreement will be implemented, be implemented. We know that the world will be watching as you heard from the Secretary, we will be working with our partners around the world to see to it that Moscow is held accountable for the agreement it reached and that’s why we’ll continue to remain in close coordination with President Zelensky, the government of Ukraine, the Secretary General, our Turkish allies who were instrumental in bringing this agreement to conclusion. So, you think this agreement will endure despite this attack and possibly similar attacks the future, that’s how you see it during it, disagreement needs to endure the people throughout the world. Whether it’s in sub Saharan Africa, Latin America, parts of the indo pacific who have suffered the worst consequences of food insecurity that Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine has exacerbated. It needs to endure for their benefit. We have heard from the parties that they’re moving forward with preparations to see an initial tranche of food and fertilizer move out in the coming days. It is certainly our hope that that happens. But again, we’re also clear out, we acknowledge that Moscow’s track record when it comes to previous deals that it has struck is not exactly a cause for optimism, harkens back to what we heard and what we saw from Russia in the context of the humanitarian corridors that were to have been open for evacuations of civilians and others from besieged cities. In some cases, those humanitarian corridors were open for just a few days, or in some cases, just a few hours before Moscow appeared to renege on its agreement. In this case, it’s very clear that Moscow, as one of my colleagues put it last week, has felt the heat of global opprobrium, because the world’s now knows it is now clear that rising food prices, rising energy prices. Food insecurity more broadly has been exacerbated by in recent months, one cause more than any other, and that is Russia’s war against Ukraine, it’s very clear that Russia has felt the pressure. We for those of you who were with us in Bali Indonesia the other week for the G 20 foreign Ministers meeting. Uh any of you saw this up close. The only walk out from the G 20 was not by the United States, not by any one of our allies and partners, but by Foreign Minister Lavrov after sitting through a number of statements of strong condemnation, a number of statements of strong concern from countries around the world who have felt the acute pain of this growing food insecurity, determined that he had heard enough and he left the session before the session, in fact on global food and security. So it’s clear that the world has been able to speak with largely with one voice on this. We will continue to do what we can to support the U. N. To support our Turkish allies because we know the importance of this grain of this fertilizer reaching global markets. So, you said last week that Russian grain is not in any way sanctioned or there are no sanctions. The Russians claim that there are secondary sanctions that impact their ability. Right. And so on. The Russians have made a number of claims in recent days, but also over recent months in the context of Russia and Ukraine that amount to nothing more than misinformation or in some cases disinformation. The fact is that we have been very specific in designing this sanctions regime to see to it that food and fertilizer from Russia is entirely exempted to see to it that companies around the world have the assurances that they need to export these products, knowing the vital role that Ukraine’s grain, Ukraine’s fertilizer, fertilizer and food from the region place given that it is essentially a breadbasket for the world, you keep saying this, the Russians being isolated and Lavrov walking out of the G 20 oh, you know, the guy just got off has just finished up a 54 or five country tour of Africa starting in Egypt Ethiopia, Uganda and Congo. It’s not exactly the picture of isolation, is it?
At we um I think you were you were there um you you saw and you heard some of the messages that emanated from the G20 of the G20 being a fairly diverse cross section of countries with diverse interests and perspectives, but there was a broad consensus among this collection of countries, some of the world’s leading economies that Russia should be condemned for its actions, that its actions were exacerbating and perpetuating the global, the global food crisis. Um the it is becoming clear that Russia is recognizing that its own actions have caused it to become a pariah. I made an illusion to this a moment ago. But so you’re saying that these trips that I mean the Defense minister was just in Turkey, right signing this agreement. Now, what happened in Odessa happened in Odessa. But I mean he you went there, President Putin was just in Iran. Okay, fine. It’s Iran and you might say that that shows desperation. But you’re saying that all these foreign visits that they’re doing are signs of desperation of Russians. Russia’s increasing isolation because it doesn’t really compute that way. It’s very clear that Foreign Minister Lavrov is seeking to engage with countries to try to try to stem the onslaught of outrage against Russia. We’ve made this point before. We are much less concerned with whom Russia is speaking. And the message is that Russia is hearing from countries, the message that Foreign Minister Lavrov heard the message that Russia heard from the G 20. The message that Russia has heard from the U. N. The message that Russia has heard from other countries, other blocs of countries has been increasingly clear about the toll of Moscow’s invasion. The toll of Moscow’s brutal aggression against Ukraine short, please?
Ambassador power told CNN today that U. S. Administration is preparing so called Plan B means alternative plan to transport grain from Ukraine. Could you provide more details?
And does it mean that we need this plan in case if Istanbul agreement will not work or it will be realized at the same time. So we’re looking at all options when it comes to the disposition of Ukrainian grain and we’re working with our Ukrainian partners who are in the first instance uh responsible for seeing the export of their grain because it is again, their grain. Uh, the it is clear that opening Ukraine’s Black Sea ports would be the most effective means by which to increase exports of Ukrainian grain and other foodstuffs. We’ve made this point before, but there are some 20 tons of grain that are in Ukraine’s Black Sea ports ready to go have been ready to go for in some cases months and they have been stuck there owing principally to one element and one element alone that is Russia’s blockade of the Black Sea. But all along, we’ve made the point that we are looking at and helping our Ukrainian partners with every to increase Ukrainian grain exports. And in fact, prior to the signing of this deal, Ukraine’s grain exports have increased somewhat given the use of overland routes, Given other tactics that our Ukrainian partners have put into play before the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Ukraine was exporting some six tons of grain per month. Ukraine is nowhere near that at the presence at the present. Excuse me. But Ukraine’s exports have increased month over month from February to March to April to May and in subsequent months. So we have been able to work with them in um, to increase those exports in some ways. But we all know that the most effective means and the largest scale means by which to increase those exports will be through the blast. Chocolate could just this follows up on on stage question a bit. But specifically, Lavrov was in Cairo addressing the Arab League said, that comes into supply grain from Russia to to Egypt and to other countries, and also blame the United States for for the impediments that are disrupted supply chain. Do you have any either reaction to his remarks or the fact that he’s speaking there at the Let me just say broadly about his remarks, which I had a chance to see. It is a reflection of the fact that virtually every single day senior Russian officials are putting to the lot. Just about everything we heard from Moscow Before the start of the invasion on February 24. We consistently heard. And I’m sure many of you remember this emanate from the Kremlin, that what was then a military buildup and ultimately, the encouragement was as Moscow would, would would tell you the result of some perceived threat from some imagined enemy. We heard it was Ukraine, we heard it was NATO. We heard it was the United States. We heard it was the West, we have Kurt we of course called that a lie at the time because it was. But now, once into this brutal war of aggression, I think it’s fair to say that the Russians are doing as good a job of perhaps anyone in highlighting their own duplicity and put into the lie, as I said before, just about everything we heard prior to the invasion just yesterday and you referenced this Sean Foreign Minister Lavrov said, Moscow’s overarching goal in Ukraine was to free the Ukrainian people from its quote unquote, unacceptable regime, expressing as one news account put it, Russia’s war aims in some of the bluntest terms. Yes, he said that in front of the Arab league in a region where coincidentally Russia has at least previously tried to spew disinformation and propagated misinformation to the contrary. Last week, once again, Foreign Minister Lavrov, he did precisely the same thing he said publicly. What we have always known saying that Russia is quote unquote geo geographical goals in Ukraine go well beyond the Donbass. They include Carson they include separate CIA. They include include other sovereign regions of Ukraine. But it hasn’t only been Foreign Minister Lavrov earlier this year. You’ve heard Secretary Blinken allude to this previously. But President Putin himself compared himself to Peter the Great and said that as the Secretary reminded all of us when Peter waged war with Sweden, he was simply taking back what belonged to Russia. President Putin went on to say that now Russia is doing more than doing nothing more than to seek to take back what is purportedly theirs in a strange way. I think again, it’s fair to say that the Russians have become uh some of the best debunkers of their own lives of their own propaganda. They’re now telling the world what has been clear for some time that this is nothing more than a war of territorial conquest. So that’s why throughout this, we have sought to seek to we have sought to galvanize the international community to stand up knowing that any time the rules based international order is undermine anywhere, it’s eroded everywhere. And the Russians have been telling us in very clear terms. That’s precisely what they’re seeing in the international order. I’m sorry. But did you hear what said last week?
He was some sort of conference came to the husband institute and he said that basically the old brother owner has collapsed. There’s the world is ready. Yeah. I assume you’re referring to the one began under George Herbert Walker Bush in 19 the same rules based international order that has enabled countries like Russia, like some of its current partners to um Uh to experience growth, to come into the international system, to enjoy economic integration, to enjoy political integration all until President Putin decided to put it into that and to undo 30 years of economic integration to make Russia an outcast from the global community of countries. So yes, this has been a system that has fuels over the course of not only 30 years, but really going back to the end of the Second World War, some eight decades of unprecedented levels of stability of security, of prosperity, spread of democracy as well. The fact is that this is an international system that has benefited countries around the world, including the countries that are seeking to challenge it. And in many cases it’s not an exaggeration to say, the countries that are posing the most acute challenge to it. Thank you. Need I have occasion on Russia and North Korea. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei announced western countries were opposed peace talk. You’re playing is this true?
That is absolutely not true. Uh President Zelensky has said very clearly that this war will have to end diplomatically. We know this war will have to end through diplomacy through dialogue. What is also true is that the Russians have shown no indication whatsoever that they are prepared to engage in constructive dialogue and constructive diplomacy. You don’t have to take our word for it, just about every world leader uh that has spoken to President Putin has in some cases, said publicly, in some cases, conveyed to us privately that there seems to be no room on the part of the Russian federation for any sort of real negotiation. The kind of negotiation that the Ukrainians have been willing to take part in since the beginning of this Russian invasion of Ukraine. I’m reminded of another lie that we heard emanate from the Kremlin that peace talks were ongoing in March, only to have what the Russians claimed was a Ukrainian withdrawal from them. The great irony, of course, is that it is Russia, not Ukraine that is responsible for perpetrating this brutality against the Ukrainian people that is responsible for the continued bombardment, that continued military operations on sovereign Ukrainian soil. And it’s uh Ukraine’s leadership, including President Zelensky, that is consistently set. They are they recognize this will have to end diplomatically and they are prepared to engage diplomatically. Russia could not say the same. I’m not listening to the National Councilor. It’s fun through a blend somewhere. Thank you. How is being American states in responding, cyber hacking and cyber attacking?
We have spoken quite a bit in this briefing room and you’ve heard from other senior officials are profound concerns. The international community’s profound concerns with the Dprk s WMD programs. But that is not the extent of the challenge that the Dprk poses to the international community in its activities in cyberspace. Are another such challenge. We have released information indicating some of these nefarious and malign activities that the Dprk regime is undertaking online in some cases to raise funds that go towards its illicit WMD programs. We have used the suite of policy tools at our disposal, be it economic, political, being law enforcement tools as well to pursue those actors from the Dprk who are responsible for this. Just as we have used some of those same suite of tools to go after those responsible for the proliferation of Dprk is WMD programs?
Yes. Advocate questions. And the first of Tunisia. Do you have any comment reaction to the random execution?
Well, the voting is still ongoing as I understand it. So we are awaiting the official referendum outcome based on the independent high authority for elections in Tunisia, as we have always affirmed, is up to the Tunisian people to decide their political future and will continue to stand with them with the Tunisian people calling for a return to responsive, transparent and accountable democratic governance that respects human rights and prioritizes the country’s economic future. And the special envoy, Michael Hammer meetings. Well, he has just arrived in the region. I believe we put out a statement a short statement yesterday announcing that he would travel to Egypt the U. A. E. Into Ethiopia from July 24th yesterday through a week from today, august 1st hill during that trip provide continuing us support towards forging a diplomatic resolution to issues related to the grand Ethiopian resistance, renaissance, renaissance dam or guard that would achieve the interests of all the parties and contribute to a more peaceful and prosperous region in Ethiopia. He will also consult with the au under whose auspices Guard talks occur. He will also have an opportunity in Ethiopia to review the progress on delivery of humanitarian assistance, accountability for human rights violations and abuses as well as efforts to advance peace talks between the Ethiopian government and to grain authorities and as you know, he will affirm what we have consistently said and that’s what we remain committed to advancing diplomatic efforts in support of an inclusive political process towards lasting peace, security and prosperity for all the people of Ethiopia. And do you expect the special employee obscene to go back to the region?
As you know, the special the senior adviser in this capacity. Almost Hochstein was in the region just a few weeks ago. He was in both Lebanon and Israel to continue efforts to seek to narrow the gaps and to advance some of the progress we’ve seen on the maritime border issues means I just don’t have any travel to speak to at the moment. And my last question on Iran after the phone in the friendship President and the Iranian is that do expect steps regarding the talks between us. Well, it’s difficult for me to say because the fact is that it is the onus is on Iran to come forward to make clear that Tehran is ready to engage constructively to put aside extraneous issues into talk in good faith about the deal that has been on the table for some time. The L. S. A. Put out a statement made clear that President Macron of France uh conveyed precisely the same message we have conveyed indirectly to the Iranians. The same message we have issued publicly for some time we are prepared to reenter on a mutual basis. The J. C. P. O. A. But of course Mutual means it’s a two way street. The Iranians would need to do the same. We have not yet at least to date seen Iranians indicate that they’re ready to do that. Let me even take a follow up. Let me take a follow up and then we’ll come back. Um. The head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Agency today said that they’re not gonna allow the I. E. A. Cameras to operate until the deal is restored. Could that have any impact on the negotiations?
Well, we talked about this in recent weeks and we noted last month that Iran’s decision to turn off multiple J. C. P. O. A. Related I am cameras responding to the very clear call that Iran heard from the international community for more transparency by offering only less transparency was extremely regrettable. To put it mildly. It was the latest in a series of such steps, you know, and the fact is that maintaining reduced J. C. P. O. A related transparency with the I. A. Only complicates the challenges associated with the potential mutual return to compliance with the J. C. P. O. A. It only deepens the nuclear crisis that Iran itself has created when it comes to potential implications. Um as part of any negotiated mutual return to compliance with the J. C. P. O. A. Iran will have to provide whatever information and transparency the I. A deems necessary to allow it to verify Iran’s J. C. P. O. A. Declarations. Um as we’ve said, will continuously reassess the nonproliferation benefits of the J. C. P. O. A. As I mentioned just a moment ago, we will continue to pursue a mutual return to compliance with the J. C. P. O. A. For as long as that assessment uh is uh makes clear that a mutual return to compliance would be in our national security interest. That is to say that a mutual return to compliance would put us in a stronger position vis a vis Iran’s nuclear program than we’re in today. You say that you want them to drop their um non J. C. P. O. A. Demands Iran keep saying that it’s that the U. S. Administration has made a decision has to make a decision a political decision. What exactly is that decision that they’re expecting of you?
Because administration the negotiators should know whether Iran wants from them. They’re not saying exactly so I will let the Iranians air publicly what it is they are referring to with that. The fact is that we have made a political decision. We made a political decision early on in this administration. In fact it was a political decision that the then uh candidate Biden articulated on the campaign trail. That is to say that if Iran were to reenter the J. C. P. O. A. We would do the same after months of painstaking discussions. There is an agreement that has been on the table an agreement that essentially hammers out the logistics and the details of doing so. The fact is we made that decision a long time ago. Uh the Iranians if they are serious about a mutual return to compliance, which they may not be. It is the onus is now on them to take that deal. So what is your assist?
And he keeps saying they want to?
They want, I’m sure that you have an assessment whether Iran is pursuing this in good faith, they really want to or not otherwise keep beating the divorce. If you feel better, they’re not doing. The Iranians certainly certainly haven’t done anything in recent weeks to suggest that they are eager to reenter the deal. And in fact every day that they drag their feet or every day that is filled with nothing but silence on their end. It’s an indication to us that they are not serious, uh, and that they are not ready to reenter the J. C. P. O. A. On a mutual basis for our part. We’re not dragging our feet. We’re doing a couple things number one. We are working with our allies and partners in the context of the P. Five plus one but also more broadly to determine if there is an opportunity to return to mutual compliance with the J. C. P. O. A. And we’re pursuing that for a reason that is extraordinarily simple. And that is because it’s still in our interest to do so in the background. As I mentioned just a moment ago, we’re always conducting those technical assessments to determine when we might reach the point and we will reach the point when the deal is no longer in our interest. But we are clear eyed about the circumstances we are clear eyed about about our Iranian interlocutors and that’s why for some time we have been preparing equally for scenarios in which there is a mutual return to compliance with the J. C P O. A and a scenario in which there is not a mutual return to compliance with the J. C. P O. A. That was a focus of President Biden’s trip to Israel to Saudi Arabia, where he also had an opportunity to meet with leaders of the GCC plus three. But these are discussions that we’ve been having for some time and have a good question. And then times of visual reported that administration, the Biden administration is leaning on the p A. President Mahmoud Abbas to join Lord speak well of the Abraham. Could you clarify this point for us?
Well, what I can say and you heard this very clearly from Secretary Blinken and from his counterparts in the negative summit when we travel to the Negev desert uh in March. Uh and Secretary Blinken for his part um uh said that we have to be essentially clear that regional peace agreements and the construction of bridges between Israel and its Arab neighbors is not a substitute for progress between Palestinians and Israelis. That is a message that we heard in the negative, it is a message that we’ve heard sense from other signatories to the Abraham accords and to normalization agreements, acknowledging uh that uh the onus is on all of us to continue to strive for a world in which Israelis and Palestinians enjoy equal levels of security of prosperity, freedom of dignity. So we uh unequivocally support the Abraham accords, we unequivocally support normalization agreements, as you know, we’ve made no secret of the fact that we are looking to expand the circle of friendships and relationships between Israel and its neighbors, just as we continue to do everything we can in many cases with our partners in the region and beyond to support the aspirations and support the needs of the Palestinian people. You know, I remember when you guys were reluctant to even color the Abraham accords. Oh, except that, I mean there has been some sort of mutual recognition between the law and Israel going back almost 30 years, 29 years. So how, how do you expect me?
What metal is, let’s say the Palestinians joining the Abraham of cortex, How do you say it?
That is different than what they are?
I don’t know that anyone is calling for that at the moment side, what we are doing is just as we work to reinforce and to expand this set of normalization agreements broadly between Israel and uh and its neighbors. We are working towards those objectives that I outlined just a moment ago for the Palestinian people of Palestinian people that is enable is able to enjoy again equal levels of prosperity, security of dignity and freedom as their Israeli neighbors. Yes. Do you have anything that you can preview for the U. S. Economic two plus two later this week?
What will be the primary focus for the discussions?
There have been some reports that human rights safeguards and supply chains will be an issue. Um assume that refers to China’s role in supply chains in the pacific. Could you comment on that specifically as well?
Well, today’s Monday. This is now slated to take place at the end of the week so I don’t want to get ahead of where we are but we do look forward to welcoming our Japanese allies to the building later in the week will do so in tandem with our partners from the Department of Commerce to have a wide ranging discussion on our economic relationship and our economic priorities. I can assure you that supply chains, we’ll feature into that conversation but we’ll wait for later in the week to to go further into that Shannon Brittney Griner is back in court tomorrow. Can you give us the latest on the department’s involvement in her case and including any recent consular access?
So this is something that is, you’ve heard from us consistently is an absolute priority for Secretary Blinken. It is an absolute priority for Ambassador Carstens, our special presidential envoy for hostage affairs with whom Secretary Blinken meets regularly. We just as we do with Paul Whelan, we are working around the clock behind the scenes quietly to do everything we possibly can to see to it. That Brittney Griner is ordeal just as Paul Whelan’s ordeal is put to an end just as soon as can be possibly managed. It is not something that we talk about for obvious reasons. I may have made the point before that in the weeks preceding the release of Trevor read it is not something that we talked about in any detail but that did not diminish the activity that was ongoing behind the scenes to see to it, that Trevor Reed was brought home and we are working constantly behind the scenes to see to it. That Brittney Griner, Paul Whelan and Americans who are unjustly detained around the world can be brought home in terms of our embassies involvement. As you know, they have carefully monitored her trial. Our charge was present at her last hearing. I have every expectation that the charge will be there at the next hearing tomorrow as well are charged and senior embassy officials have been able to speak Brittney Griner in the context of those court appearances. In some cases, Brittney Griner has passed on specific messages in one case, um asking our charge to pass on her request that all of those here in this country who are whose attention is so trained on her case to keep the faith and that is a message that we did pass in fact pass on publicly. Yes. So on Rwanda. I know you don’t usually comment on congressional correspondence but I wonder if you can pick it up sort of broadly on the the US policy towards Rwanda in the light of the Senate foreign relations chair Menendez Letter which highlights concerns about human rights and political repression in Rwanda. So he basically says the U. S. Can no longer. Um look the other way as Rwanda ferments rebellion and violence and other parts of the continent. They are referring to the DRC and also highlights the case of Paul Rusesabagina who was at the U. S. Permanent resident who’s detained. That you know, what’s what’s your response to this kind of questioning of the U. S. Support for the random government?
You’re a major don’t you think the largest donor to that government do you?
Well, you’re right that we don’t comment publicly on congressional correspondence in this case. I have seen that the Senator’s office has spoken publicly to the letter with which I’m familiar. I have every expectation that Rwanda will be a topic of discussion between the United States between the Department of State and our congressional partners. It is absolutely the prerogative of Congress in pursuing and conducting its oversight role to ask questions of our of our policy, our policy that is always responsive to events on the ground. Uh and so of course we are taking a close eye to events on the ground, including tensions between the DRC and Rwanda. We’ve said before that we’re concerned about the rising tensions between the DRC and Rwanda. We’ve urged both sides to exercise restraint and to engage in the media dialogue to deescalate tensions and hostilities. We’ve made clear the fact that we continue to support the Nairobi process as an effort to deescalate these tensions when it comes to Paul Rusesabagina. This gets back to the last question, but we do have no higher priority to seeing the release of those Americans who were held unjustly anywhere around the world and that includes Paul binga in Rwanda. This is a case that Roger Carson’s ambassador Carson’s in his office are working on, we’ve renewed our call for the government for the Rwandan government to address procedural shortcomings in its judicial process. Were aware of the serious concerns about Paul’s health. We continue to urge the government of Rwanda to ensure he receives all necessary medal medical care. We have concluded for some time now there were violations of his fair trial guarantees as well. You don’t think that the level eight US guess to Rwanda is inappropriate. Well, this is something that we always take a look at something that we consult closely with our congressional partners with as well. Yes, I just want to ask on House Speaker Pelosi’s potential trip to Taiwan. I’m just wondering if there’s anything you could tell us about the State Department analysis around the timing of the trip, anything on the messaging or threats that we’ve heard from the Chinese Foreign Ministry about a potential response or the great might have on us china relations and anything else about the sort of diplomatic fallout we might see if such a trip was to to go forward. Well it’s impossible for me to to speak to some of those elements. For the very reason that the Speaker’s office has not confirmed any travel or potential travel will of course refer to the office of the Speaker for any travel she may undertake when it comes to what we’ve heard publicly from the P. R. C. From the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Uh in this case I’m not going to respond directly, but I will just restate our policy and that is that we remain committed to maintaining cross strait peace and stability and our one china policy which is guided as you know, by the Taiwan relations act, the three joint communiques And the six assurances. We of course don’t have diplomatic relations with Taiwan or support Taiwan independence. But we have a robust unofficial relationship as well as an abiding interest in maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan strait. Yes, just before we move on from that. So you’re saying that the State Department has no opinion visit. We don’t have an opinion about a visit that hasn’t been announced. It is not for us to weigh in on potential uh, potential travel or hypotheticals will defer to the speaker’s office to speak to any plans?
She may have spoken possibility. I believe her office has made very clear that they don’t confirm or deny any potential travel. Yes. Follow ups one on 1 bangs and B. Since when has it been under discussion?
When has any other?
Well, I wouldn’t call it a plan B again because we need to your put it put a finer point on it. The Ukrainians are seeking to utilize every viable route to export grain and other foodstuffs. So the fact is that we’ve always, since the start of Russia’s aggression been working with our Ukrainian partners recognizing that Russia’s brutality would exacerbate global food insecurity. So even if, and we hope this is the case if and when Russia’s, excuse me, Ukraine’s Black Sea ports are once again open and Ukrainian and other countries, ships are able to transit in and out. There will still be a need for other routes and past, including overland routes to maximize the level of exports. So this is not an either or this is uh, and uh, an and both situation. And you mentioned about the continuing export raised over the months, you know, tell us how much of it is from Odessa were from the south or from the east. Well, when it comes to maritime exports from, from Odessa. The fact is that Moscow has maintained an effective blockade of the black seaports. I couldn’t speak precisely what it would need to defer to our Ukrainian partners to speak to. You said the ball is now with Iran and also you added that it has been several weeks. We haven’t heard back from Iranian positive step toward that deal Until when are you going to wait for Iran to problem?
We will pursue a mutual a mutual return to compliance with the J. C. P. O. A. For as long as it’s in our national security interest. That is not something that we can attach a calendar date to precisely because we are always and when I say, we, I mean the collective we the United States government is always taking a close look at the underlying factors in this case. It’s primarily the advancements that Iran is making with its nuclear program. One thing is very certain we will reach a point where the deal that’s been on the tables for several months now will not be in our interest and will reach that point as soon as the advancements that Iran has made and is making overtake the nonproliferation benefits that the J. C. P. O. A would convey. Final question. Yes. Thank you. Have a question about radio confluence of NPP three T and number of creation the equipment. I want you to start next Monday first. Do you expect secretary breaking, will obtain the comments next week. And what do you think is the significance of review components this time?
Especially like your threat?
And what will the U. S. Call for to make international consensus during sure. So I’m not in a position to announce any travel at the moment. But let me just say broadly that the United States stands by the NPT the nonproliferation treaty. We think it is extraordinarily important to underline the obligations that the NPT puts forward for nuclear weapons states and for non-nuclear weapons states alike. In the face of challenges to the global nonproliferation regime, we think it’s important that the United States stands with the signatories of the NPT to make clear that even though it has been in effect for some time now, its relevance, its importance has not diminished a single iota over the years and over the decades. So without getting too far. I think you can expect Secretary Blinken to be personally involved in this effort, including uh in the coming days. Thank you all very much.