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State Dept Presser on Sept 15, 2022

20 Min
State Dept Presser on Sept 15, 2022

The US State Department held a presser on Sept 15 with spokesman Ned Price fielding a wide range of questions.

2:12 p.m. EDT

QUESTION: Just to note that tomorrow marks the 40th anniversary of the Sabra and Shatila Massacre. That’s another anniversary that should be noted, for which no one was ever held responsible. In fact, the person who probably oversaw the whole thing went on to become Israel’s prime minister and so on. My question to you would be about the freedom and democracy, that from which you began. I mean, I saw the statement; very impressive. What you said is very impressive. Yet you guys can’t even determine whether human rights organizations, Palestinian human rights organizations, should be treated as such and should not be just closed by decision for political reasons.

MR PRICE: Said, whether the context is Israel, whether the context is Gaza, whether the context is the West Bank, whether the context is any other entity or country around the world, we have spoken of the indispensable role of civil society and human rights organizations. That is absolutely true.

Now, you are raising specific cases. When the Israeli Government designated these organizations and took action against them, we expressed our concern. And we noted, owing to the statement I just made about the indispensability and the value of these organizations, the high bar that must be met before any such action is undertaken. Our Israeli partners informed us that very day, as I recall – and I in turn told you – that they had pledged to provide additional information. In recent days – last week, in fact – they have provided us with additional information. We are evaluating that information. Not going to speak to that analytic process as it’s ongoing, but we are taking a close look at what they provided us.

QUESTION: Ned, can you give us an update on the state of negotiations with Russia to secure the release of Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan since now we know that the President is going to meet with their families at the White House tomorrow?

MR PRICE: Well, there’s not much I can tell you that I think most of you in this room already know. We have a couple of imperatives here. Number one is to do everything we can to see the release, as soon as we can, of Brittney Griner and of Paul Whelan. Consistent with that first imperative, we have a second imperative. That is to be judicious in the level and the number of details we share.

We took the extraordinary step – Secretary Blinken did, in fact, here in this room several weeks ago now, a couple months ago now I suppose it was – of sharing with you the fact that we had shared what we call a substantial proposal with the Russian Federation. We have since, both publicly but also privately, urged the Russian Federation to act on this substantial proposal. Without going into details, I can tell you there have been discussions with the Russian Government regarding this. Owing to that second imperative, not to say anything that could jeopardize our ability to secure the release of Paul Whelan and Brittney Griner as quickly as we can, I’m just not in a position to speak to it with any greater detail.

QUESTION: Are you able to talk at all what the main sticking point is? I understand that these are private discussions, but are you able to say anything about why they’re taking as long as they’re taking? And is it fair to characterize at this point that they’re stalled? You said two months ago you guys have put forward the proposal and, as I understand, to this date, to this moment, that you haven’t received a positive response from the Russians.

MR PRICE: Why this process is taking so long is a better question for Moscow than it is for us. It’s a better question for Moscow because, as I said, we took the initiative to put a substantial proposal on the table. We have taken the initiative at every step of the way, knowing that we want to do everything we can to accelerate this process. I wouldn’t characterize this process as stalled. It certainly hasn’t moved with the speed we would like. The fact that Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan still remain separated from their families in detention in Russia is a testament to that.

QUESTION: My final one on this. Given the state of these talks, which you guys have full visibility on, what is your expectation that President Biden could tell to these families? Is he in a position to make any assurances that they’re going to see their loved ones any time soon?

MR PRICE: He – and I will let the White House speak to this, but I have every reason to believe that President Biden will tell these families of the utmost priority we attach to doing absolutely everything we can to see the release of Paul Whelan and Brittney Griner as soon as we can. These are two individuals whom we determine to be wrongfully detained. They should not be behind bars; they should not be separated from their families. We are doing everything we can to correct that. That will be the message that’s shared.

QUESTION: The last time Secretary Blinken spoke with Foreign Minister Lavrov was on this topic about the detainee issue. Given that Lavrov will be in New York next week for UNGA, will Blinken meet with him there to discuss this matter, or any matters?

MR PRICE:  The Secretary has a busy schedule that’s shaping up for next week in New York City. We’ll in a position to detail a bit more of that tomorrow. I – what I can say is that we will take every step that we feel would be – would help move the process forward. If a senior-level intervention with a senior Russian official would help us take one step closer to seeing the release of Paul Whelan and Brittney Griner, we wouldn’t hesitate to do that. That’s precisely why Secretary Blinken picked up the phone just a couple months ago now to raise this specific issue, among two other concerns, with Foreign Minister Lavrov at the time.

Secretary Blinken has been acutely and intensely focused on these cases. He has spoken to Cherelle Griner repeatedly. He has spoken to Elizabeth Whelan repeatedly. He is regularly updated on the state of these efforts to release Paul Whelan and Brittney Griner, but also every other American who is held hostage or otherwise wrongfully detained overseas.

QUESTION:  Is the feeling, though, that a Blinken meeting with Lavrov next week would help move the ball forward?

MR PRICE:  I’m just not in a position to speak to that now. We are prepared to take any step that we think has the potential to move the ball forward.

QUESTION:  But do you have a new – anything new to say to the families of our hostages, as the “Bring our Families Home” campaign? Many of them have been vying to meet with the President as well. Is there anything new, other than what has been previously said that you – any message would you give them in light of the meeting tomorrow?

MR PRICE:  Every single one of these cases is unique. Every single one of these cases is different. I think you all recall – it was just a couple months ago now – the President signed a new executive order that provides us with additional tools, not only to hold accountable those countries who would engage in this heinous practice, but new tools that allow us in some ways to be more effective in communicating and maintaining the relationship with the families. It’s important for us because we know in all of these cases, no one knows the unique circumstances of each individual better than their families.

And so it’s important for us that we’re in a position to speak with them. It’s important for us that we’re in a position to meet with them. Secretary Blinken often is on the phone with families. He’s had an opportunity to speak on multiple occasions now to all of the families at once, but typically this is done on a family-by-family basis. The same is true of the National Security Advisor. The same is true of the President, who has spoken to a number of these families now and I know is closely, closely tracking the details of all of these cases.

QUESTION:  Yeah. Ned, what is the U.S. take on Chinese President Xi Jinping’s meeting with the Russian President Putin? Is there more reason to cause concern? And it still the U.S. assessment that China is not providing military and material assistance to Russia? Thank you.

MR PRICE:  Well, I’ll start with the second part first. That still is our assessment. We made clear months ago now of information that was available to us suggesting that the Russian Federation was seeking assistance, military assistance, from the PRC for its war against Ukraine. We made very clear to the PRC, both in public but also at the highest levels – the highest levels – that we would be watching very closely, and any PRC effort to provide military assistance to Russia or to help Russia, on a systemic basis, circumvent the sanctions that have been put in place would incur significant costs. And we have not seen any change on the part of the PRC.

Look, when it comes to President Xi’s engagement today with President Putin, I will ultimately let those two presidents and those two governments speak to what was discussed. I’ve seen some initial statements emanate from this meeting. I imagine we’ll see more in the coming hours. I suppose, at this early hour, what is striking is President Putin’s apparent admission, at least as stated in the media, that President Xi has concerns about Russia’s war against Ukraine. It’s not surprising that the PRC apparently has such concerns. It is somewhat curious that President Putin would be the one to admit it to admit it so openly.

I say it’s not surprising because what – we’ve seen the PRC resort to verbal and in many ways geopolitical gymnastics over recent months, trying to avoid criticizing Russia’s war against Ukraine, at least trying to avoid criticizing it openly. After all, it’s – this is a war that is not – is a blatant assault on Ukraine’s sovereignty, but it is also at odds with everything the PRC has purported to believe in over the course of decades now. It is a constant refrain that we’ve heard from the PRC bilaterally, that we’ve heard from the PRC in multilateral settings, that we’ve heard from the PRC in the UN system, this principle, this – what should be an inviolable principle of state sovereignty, has been under assault by Russia since February 24th, and in many ways for the eight years before that.

It’s also not surprising that these two countries are coming together. We’ve said that President Putin, it’s very clear, is looking for every conceivable lifeline he can find. He is turning to countries like the DPRK, he is turning to countries like Iran in the process. And when it comes to Russia and the PRC, it’s true that they share a vision for the world. They share a vision for the world that is starkly at odds with the vision that’s at the center of the international system, the vision that has been at the center of the international system for the past eight decades. It is the vision that is at the heart of the UN system and the UN Charter, for that matter.

So we’ve seen this relationship deepen not over the course of days, weeks, or months but over the course of years. Of course, we’ve seen this relationship move even more closely together. We have made very clear our concern about this deepening relationship and the concern that every country around the world should have about this relationship.

QUESTION: Can I follow up? You mentioned that Putin is turning to DPRK and Iran for help. Do you have any information to confirm the expectation that Putin is asking Xi Jinping for support in person given that Russia is facing all the —

MR PRICE: I couldn’t speak to what President Putin asked of President Xi today. That would be something to pose to President Putin.

QUESTION: Thank you. A follow-up on China issues. President Xi Jinping and President Putin met at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit yesterday. They created the (inaudible) for the (inaudible) trade and economic cooperation. And China is not cooperation in the Russia sanctions. How do you think this would affect Russia’s sanctions?

MR PRICE: Sorry, repeat the end of that? How does – I didn’t catch the end of the question.

QUESTION: How do you think this will affect Russia’s sanctions, because China not cooperating with Russia sanctions?

MR PRICE: Well, as I just said to your colleague, it’s very clear that Russia is looking for every conceivable lifeline. The fact that dozens of countries around the world have come together not only to impose sanctions and massive financial penalties, but also to mount export controls – export controls that have systematically starved Russia of the key inputs it needs for its industrial base, for its defense base, for its energy production, and for its technological base, and the fact that Russia is now turning to countries like Iran and the DPRK I think speaks to the difficulty Russia is finding in indigenously producing what it needs for – to prosecute its brutal war of aggression against Ukraine.

I would leave it to the PRC to speak to the approach that they are taking towards this conflict, towards this war. As I said just a moment ago, they have had to go to extraordinary lengths to even attempt to explain how this brutal war of territorial conquest and aggression would not be automatically at odds with the vision of the world that they have put forward over the course of decades and the emphasis that they have placed on the principle – the emphasis they have placed on the principle of sovereignty over the course of decades.

QUESTION: But China – look, China is ignoring Russia’s purchase of North Korea’s weapons. Do you think that China is responsible for this? Why they ignoring? I mean, Russia and North Korea weapons trading for China is ignoring about this.

MR PRICE: I couldn’t speak to what the PRC’s position is on Russia’s purchase of millions of rounds from the DPRK. I would leave that to the PRC to characterize their position.

QUESTION: Just follow-up. While you are expressing concerns over Russians seeking for help, do you actually have any sign that China is providing assistance to Russia?

MR PRICE: We have information, we had information that we made public a number of months ago now, that Russia was seeking security assistance from the PRC. As I said a moment ago to Nike, we made that public. We also made very public the fact that we would be watching very closely and that the PRC would incur significant costs if it provided military assistance to Russia in its war or if it aided Russia in a systematic way evade the sanctions that the international community had imposed on it. We have not seen the PRC do either of those things.

QUESTION: And what is your impression, your take on this Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit which Mr. President Putin attended?

MR PRICE: We are not a member of this organization. We’ll leave it to members and others to characterize it.

QUESTION: And I just have a quick one on Taiwan. Yesterday, the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee just passed the Taiwan Policy Act. What is your reaction to that? Are you concerned this would be – this would further damage the U.S.-China relation?

MR PRICE: Well, as we always or often do, our legislative teams here and members of the administration are in close touch with members of Congress. We’ll communicate to – we’ll continue to communicate directly and privately with members and their staffs about this legislation like we do with draft legislation really across the board. For our part, the Biden administration, we have deepened our partnership with Taiwan. We’ll continue to do so with effective diplomatic, economic, and military support. And we appreciate the strong bipartisan support for Taiwan that we’re seeing in Congress and that we’re seeing across the country.

QUESTION: I’d like to ask about Egypt’s FMF, and specifically the administration’s decision to certify that Egypt was making clear and consistent progress on the release of prisoners, and on due process. I know you’ll cite the 500 releases this year, but given that that’s out of 60,000 or so political prisoners, how is that the progress – the clear and consistent progress when during that same time period NGOs say more political prisoners were arrested than were released?

MR PRICE: So, this is a complicated issue, and so I want to make sure that we clearly state the background to this decision. First, it’s important to say that the Biden administration has taken an approach regarding Egypt that reflects the full range of our national interests, and of course that includes human rights. Egypt is a strategic partner of ours with whom we cooperate to promote a range of shared interests. In doing so, we also raise very serious concerns about human rights and fundamental freedoms in Egypt. Because our bilateral relationship with Egypt is an important one, we have made clear at every opportunity – and we have had a number – that our relationship is fundamentally strengthened when there is progress on human rights. In that context – and you alluded to this – the Secretary yesterday made several decisions related to Fiscal Year 2021 U.S. military assistance through what is called Foreign Military Financing, or FMF – these funds for Egypt.

And as background, when it comes to those funds, $300 million of the total $1.3 billion originally planned for Egypt in the FY21 FMF funds are subject, per Congress, to human rights related conditions. Within that $300 million, there are essentially two baskets of funds: there is $225 million that is subject to a broad range of human rights conditions, and the remaining 75 million is conditioned specifically on demonstrating clear and consistent progress on releasing political detainees and providing detainees with due process, as you referenced in your question.

To the Secretary’s decisions, the Secretary did not certify to Congress that Egypt met the human rights related conditions for that bigger pot of money, the 225 million portion of this $300 million total. The Secretary did not use his national interest waiver for these funds, and he directed the department to redirect $130 million from these FMF funds originally planned for Egypt – and that’s the maximum amount that could be reprogrammed – to other U.S. national security priorities and countries in consultation with Congress. We did have an opportunity to communicate this decision directly to Congress and to our Egyptian partners yesterday.

Now, the remaining $95 million will be provided to Egypt under a statutory exception for border security, non-proliferation, and counterterrorism programs. For the $75 million in FMF funding that is subject to conditions related to what you raised – political prisoners and due process – the Secretary did determine that Egypt is making clear and consistent progress on this issue, and that’s why he directed the department to notify Congress of our intent to provide these funds to Egypt.

We believe that this approach reflects our concerns about human rights and fundamental freedoms in Egypt, while at the same time also seeking to sustain and to advance engagement and dialogue in human rights – that same engagement and dialogue on human rights we have had with Egypt over the last 20 months.

When it comes to the issue of due process and political detention, there is no question that politically motivated arrests in Egypt are a major challenge, and that’s highlighted in our annual Human Rights Report, including our most recent Human Rights Report.

The Secretary did make the determination that Egypt has made clear and consistent progress both through what you referenced, unprecedented numbers of releases, hundreds of prisoners this year; the establishment of the presidential pardon committee; and the efforts to set up a national political dialogue that is expected to address some of these very issues. That includes pre-trial detention reform, among other social, political, and economic issues.

So, this is a conversation we will continue to have with our Egyptian partners. We will continue to take advantage of every opportunity from the senior-most levels to the working levels to underscore both the value we place on this relationship, and the notion that seeing continued improvement in the human rights situation will only strengthen the foundation of that bilateral relationship.

QUESTION: Can I just go back to the SCO summit with respect to Putin and Iran? President Putin met with the Iranian president and used the meeting to address the nuclear deal. He mocked the United States and told President Raisi that the U.S. “are masters of their own word. They do as they please: first they make promises, [and] then they break promises.” Do you have any response to those comments?

MR PRICE: I don’t have a response to those comments other than to say that a mutual return to compliance with the JCPOA would not only be in the interests of the United States and our European partners, the E3 in this context. Ensuring permanently and verifiably that Iran would not be in a position to obtain a nuclear weapon would also be in the interests of two of the participants in this meeting you referenced, Russia and China as well.

QUESTION: Thank you for taking my question. Last night Secretary Blinken called Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi just a couple of hours after the review on Russian funds. Can I ask you who reached out to whom? And also, is Italy in the – one of the country – in the list of the country who received funds from Russia? And also do the U.S. – I mean the administration – know that in a week, little more than a week in Italy there are some – the elections, so is a very delicate moment in the country, and maybe – I don’t know – Secretary Blinken talked about it with the prime minister. Thank you.

MR PRICE: Just as a matter of course we don’t speak, typically, to who reaches out to whom with these calls. We did, however, issue a readout, and that readout spoke to the issues that were discussed on that call, including the close partnership and alliance we have with Italy on a number of shared interests. That includes the costs that we are together mounting on Russia for its war of aggression against Ukraine. That includes the concerns, the shared concerns, we have about President Putin’s weaponization of energy and the efforts that we are undertaking together as allies and as partners to help our European allies with the energy supplies that they will need in the coming weeks and the coming months. They had a number of other issues that were discussed, and the Secretary made the point that the United States as an ally of Italy stands ready and eager to work with any government, any Italian government that emerges from the electoral process that will take place in the coming days.

When it comes to Russia’s interference in elections around the world, we didn’t release information this week in order to put a spotlight on any particular country. In fact, we have not spoken to Russia’s efforts in particular context. That was not the point of these efforts. The point was to put a spotlight on what is very much a global threat and a universal challenge that countries around the world – continents around the world – face from the threat of Russia’s meddling and interference in democratic exercises around the world.

QUESTION: Thank you. I have three questions at present. But one is Taliban sharing the video (inaudible) hostages being held in Panjshir and then shooting them, and they share on the social media, which is – reaction is so negative for the Afghan people. Any comment about that? What is the international law said about it?

And number two, I don’t know what is the relationship between U.S. and Pakistan, because Taliban claims that United State used a drone attack to Afghanistan with the cooperation with the Pakistan.

And the third question, there is two conference. One is in Bukhara, Samarkand, Shanghai conference about Afghanistan, and the next one is Vienna regarding Afghanistan. Does the State Department has any comment? It’s going to be useful for Afghanistan, especially for women situation?

MR PRICE: Thank you. When it comes to —

QUESTION: Panjshir first.

MR PRICE: When it comes to Panjshir, I’m not immediately familiar with the video that you’re referring to, but we have seen any number of atrocities committed in Afghanistan in recent months. And, of course, violence against civilians is an atrocity; in some cases it could constitute even worse. We are paying very close attention to the human rights situation in Afghanistan. We have made no secret about our concerns for the fact that the Taliban is not living up to the commitments they have made to the United States, to the international community, but most importantly, the commitments that they have made to the people of Afghanistan.

To address your third question on this, that is why in every forum, we and our partners around the world take advantage of opportunities to be very explicit and candid with the Taliban about those concerns, about the implications of the Taliban’s continued unwillingness or inability to live up to the commitments that it has made to the Afghan people. We’ve been very clear with the Taliban in every single engagement of ours, and I know and I’m confident that our partners around the world have been clear in every single engagement they have had of the costs for the Taliban’s continued intransigence when it comes to the human rights of the Afghan people. And that means all of the people of Afghanistan, including its women, of course; its girls, of course; its minorities – religious, ethnic, and otherwise.

When it comes to the commitment President Biden made to seeing to it that Afghanistan could never again become a launchpad for attacks targeting the United States or our partners, that is a commitment that we are positioned to carry out. We don’t speak to specific tactics, but I think our actions speak for themselves. And the fact that we were able to take a precise, targeted operation against Ayman al-Zawahiri, the now deceased leader of al-Qaida, speaks to the commitment we have using the tools that are at our disposal to follow through with that pledge.

QUESTION:  I want to ask something else. But is there a reason why Phil Reeker didn’t go to Armenia? He was in Azerbaijan, then he went to Vienna.

MR PRICE:  He’s been in contact with authorities from both countries. We are pleased to see that the cessation of hostilities has continued to stick, and he’ll continue to meet with the OSCE and our like-minded partners in Vienna to further this.

QUESTION:  Separately, Ethiopia. Could you say if Mike Hammer is still in the region, what he’s doing diplomatically, and how do you see things right now? The Ethiopian Government had a statement about the TPLF accepting African Union mediation. Do you think that’s a positive step? How do you see things on the ground right now?

MR PRICE:  Well, Special Envoy Hammer is still in the region. He’s wrapping up two weeks in the region. He’s remained actively engaged with the Government of Ethiopia, with the Tigray regional authorities, with the African Union, and with international partners to seek to advance an important effort to bring about peace. He met on September 12th with the AU’s high representative, Mr. Obasanjo. He met on the 13th with UN Special Representative to the Secretary-General Hanna Tetteh. And Assistant Secretary Phee, for her part, was this week attending the inauguration of President Ruto in Kenya, and she engaged in discussions regarding the ongoing violence in Ethiopia.

More broadly, we are increasingly concerned by the growing military activity in Northern Ethiopia. We strongly condemn the resumption of hostilities. There is no military solution to this conflict. These actions are inconsistent with the Government of Ethiopia and Tigrayan regional authorities’ stated willingness to go to talks. And we call on both the Government of Ethiopia and the Tigray regional authorities to halt immediately their military offensives and to pursue a negotiated settlement through peace talks under the auspices of the African Union.

We commend and support the AU’s diplomatic efforts to start talks as soon as possible. We welcome the ongoing commitment in AU-led peace talks by both parties, the Government of Ethiopia and the Tigray regional authorities. And in coordination with international partners, we have reiterated our readiness to actively support this AU-led peace process.

We also call on Eritrea to withdraw to its borders and for Eritrea and others to cease fueling this conflict. These actions are increasing tensions throughout the region. They are worsening the humanitarian situation at a time of pronounced drought and food insecurity. We continue to stand with the people of Ethiopia and will continue to be the largest donor of humanitarian aid and assistance to the Ethiopian people.

QUESTION:  Combining a few issues together here – number one, UN General Assembly next week. Is there any plans for any initiatives, any meetings on the sidelines, regarding the Abraham Accords countries? And secondly, based on the context of past statements from the State Department regarding the host agreement, it seems as if the Iranian president is going to be walking around fairly unencumbered at Turtle Bay next week. Is there any circumstance in which the State Department would deny a diplomatic visa, keeping in mind the home – or the host agreement?

MR PRICE:  So, on your second question, we do take seriously our obligation, and it is an obligation, as the host country of the UN under the UN Headquarters Agreement. As the host country, we have provided guidance to all member states when it comes to timelines for visa applications. We are generally obligated to grant visas to diplomats who are traveling to the United States for the UN. Visa records are confidential. We can’t comment on individual cases. But we are obligated to take the commitments we have as the UN host country extraordinarily seriously.

When it comes to the Abraham Accords, we have and will continue to take advantage of every opportunity to seek to advance the Abraham Accords and broader normalization agreements. There is a process that is ongoing that started with the Negev Summit in March. Senior officials have been involved in that with their respective counterparts. We’ll have more updates on that process. But I would expect that we’ll continue to have conversations in the coming days and weeks – not only with Israel and the current signatories to the Abraham Accords and other normalization agreements, but other countries who may be prepared in the coming period to see their relations normalized with Israel and to —

QUESTION:  At the UN General Assembly next week, do you think the North Korean foreign minister will be attending this meeting?

MR PRICE:  That’s a better question for the DPRK.

QUESTION: I have two questions, one on Sudan and other one on Qatar-Egypt. The U.S. embassy in Sudan welcomed the draft transitional constitution prepared by the Sudanese Bar Association. To what extent do you consider this draft as a base for a political solution in Sudan? And how will the U.S. support it?

And second, how do you view the visit that President Sisi made to Qatar?

MR PRICE: When it comes to the Sudanese Bar Association initiative, we do view this as a serious initiative. We commend the SBA’s initiative’s inclusion of a broad spectrum of Sudanese stakeholders and careful expert technical review, and we’re encouraged by the initial signs of support from diverse Sudanese actors since the release. We must – work must continue to ensure any agreement is acceptable to a clear majority of political and social forces, and no political agreement can be credible or sustainable if it’s not inclusive or does not enjoy a wide base of popular support. No single actor, no single group or coalition should have a monopoly on the political process, and to move forward, we believe that Sudan and the Sudanese people must be in a position to come together.

When it comes to the visit of President Sisi to Qatar, we welcome the visit and the recent meeting with the emir of Qatar. Both Egypt and Qatar are essential partners of the United States. Both have played an active role in facilitating peace in the region, and we support closer diplomatic, economic, and people-to-people ties between the two countries. Beyond that, I would need to refer you to those two countries.

Very final quick question, yes.

QUESTION: Final question on the U.S. and South Korea will hold the Extended Deterrence Strategy Consultation Group meeting tomorrow. What will be specifically discussed at the 2+2 meeting tomorrow?

MR PRICE: We will have more on this meeting to provide you tomorrow, but this is a meeting that will be led by our Under Secretary Bonnie Jenkins, our under secretary of our T family bureaus. They’ll be in a position to discuss our collective goal to ensure that the U.S.-ROK Extended Deterrence Strategy and Consultation Group is a substantive and sustainable forum where we can discuss all aspects of our cooperation and coordination. That includes diplomatic, economic, informational, and military, and how they contribute to deterring threats to the alliance. We’ll discuss threats from the DPRK and expanding cooperation against all avenues of potential aggression, and we’ll also discuss how the United States and our ROK allies can cooperate with regional partners to address our many shared security challenges.

We will hold this meeting tomorrow. As I said before, it will be led by Bonnie Jenkins. It will also include the Department of Defense, specifically Dr. Colin Kahl, who’s the under secretary of defense for policy. And it provides an opportunity for our government to discuss peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and in the Indo-Pacific more broadly.

Thank you all very much.

(The briefing was concluded at 3:16 p.m.)

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