Secretary Antony J. Blinken and the Foreign Ministers of the GCC Nations Before Their Meeting

23 Sep

Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

New York City, New York

Palace Hotel

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, good afternoon, everyone.  And friends, colleagues, welcome.  It’s so good to see you all in New York.  I want to start by congratulating the GCC secretary general, the member-states, the staff, and the secretariat on the occasion of the GCC Charter’s 40th anniversary.  The United States has enjoyed an exceptionally close relationship with the GCC for decades now, and we look forward to continuing that tradition and building it in the months and years ahead.

We’re committed to the region because that’s in our national interest.  (Inaudible) it’s as simple as that.  And we’re committed to sustainable, long-term relationships with all of our GCC partners.  Together we are focused on building shared prosperity and addressing some of the world’s most formidable challenges.  We work together to provide energy to the world, to defeat terrorists, and to defend and deter against external aggression.  Today, we also depend on each other to address our shared long-term challenges, such as pandemics, the climate crisis.  They’re all (inaudible) of us together.

The recent airlift from Afghanistan was a vivid demonstration of how our Gulf partners provide critical support in times of need, and we greatly, greatly appreciate it.  You stepped up.  You made a difference to tens of thousands of people, helping Afghans and (inaudible).  We’re grateful, again, for that support and very much look forward to what is a packed agenda for today.  And I’m so glad that you all – we were determined to find the time to come together in New York with these (inaudible).  I think it’s a reflection of the importance that we all attach to the work that we’re doing between the United States and the GCC.

So again, welcome.  Thanks, everybody.

Secretary Antony J. Blinken And Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi Before Their Meeting

23 Sep

Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

New York City, New York

Palace Hotel

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Good afternoon, everyone.  I’m very pleased to be meeting with my friend and counterpart from Pakistan, Foreign Minister Qureshi.  We’ve had many opportunities to speak on the phone these many months, but finally now an opportunity (inaudible) at the UN General Assembly to see each other in person.  A lot to focus on, starting with Afghanistan and the importance of our countries working together and going forward on Afghanistan.  (Inaudible) appreciate the work that Pakistan has done to facilitate the departure of American citizens who wish to leave as well as others, but a lot to talk about there as well as our own bilateral relationship, including the economic relationship between our countries and working in the region as a whole.

So it’s a pleasure to see you.  Look forward to a very good conversation.

FOREIGN MINISTER QURESHI:  Well, thank you, Secretary Blinken.  Thank you for your time today.  I’m glad to be meeting face-to-face with you.  As you said, we’ve had three telephone phone conversations discussing the regional situation, the Afghan situation.  I thought a time would come where we’d be talking beyond Afghanistan, but it seems Afghanistan is there, we can’t wish it away, and we have to find a way of collectively working to achieve our common objective, which is peace and stability.  So it gives me a good opportunity to discuss the evolving situation in Afghanistan, to discuss our bilateral relations, and the delicate situation in South Asia.  So I’m looking forward to my meeting with the Secretary.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you.  Thank you all.

Deputy Secretary Wendy Sherman With Michael Wilner of McClatchy Washington Bureau

23 Sep

Wendy R. Sherman, Deputy Secretary of State

Washington, D.C.

Harry S. Truman Building

QUESTION:  All right, so joining us is Ambassador Wendy Sherman, Deputy Secretary of State, to discuss the situation in Haiti and the surge in Haitian migrants at the U.S. southern border.  So, Ambassador, thank you for taking the time.  Good to see you again.

DEPUTY SECRETARY SHERMAN:  Good to see you, too.  And Michael, I think everybody listening to this shares all of our concern for the Haitian people and just the very difficult circumstances facing them and their country.

QUESTION:  The President’s special envoy to Haiti has resigned, right?  And I quote, “I will not be associated with the United States inhumane, counterproductive decision to deport thousands of Haitian refugees and illegal immigrants to Haiti.”  Do you agree or disagree with that?

DEPUTY SECRETARY SHERMAN:  Michael, there have been multiple senior-level policy conversations on Haiti where all proposals, including those led by former Special Envoy Foote, were fully considered in a rigorous and transparent policy process.  Quite frankly, some of those proposals were harmful to our commitment to the promotion of democracy in Haiti and to free and fair elections in Haiti so the Haitian people can choose their own future.  For him to say that the proposals were ignored is, I’m sad to say, simply false.

QUESTION:  He also wrote that the U.S. decision to support a political agreement with Ariel Henry continues, in his words, quote, “a cycle of international political interventions in Haiti that has consistently produced catastrophic results.”  What’s your response to that?

DEPUTY SECRETARY SHERMAN:  My response to that is how I began this, which is our interest is that the Haitian people can choose their own future in a free and fair election.  We don’t take sides with anyone in terms of that future.  That’s a decision for the Haitian people.  We, of course, are talking to those who are currently leading the government in Haiti because one needs to in these circumstances, but we are for democracy in Haiti.  And one of the ideas that Mr. Foote had was to send U.S. military back to Haiti.  I have followed Haiti since the Clinton administration, and I can tell you that sending U.S. military into Haiti is not the answer that will solve the terrible situation that the Haitian people are currently facing.  It just was a bad idea.

QUESTION:  And who will replace Daniel Foote?

DEPUTY SECRETARY SHERMAN:  I don’t know that we need a replacement.  In part we had named a special envoy after the assassination of the president of Haiti in the aftermath of the horrible storms and earthquakes and all of the other plights that the Haitian people have had to face – the ongoing confrontation of poverty.  But we have an excellent ambassador in Haiti, Michele Sison, who is a nominee for a future post here in the United States.  We have tremendous faith in her and in her leadership.

QUESTION:  Will the administration stand up a Haiti reconstruction commission, which we understand is under consideration, to aid in the rebuilding of the country after this series of recent crises?

DEPUTY SECRETARY SHERMAN:  I think we’re looking at whatever facility we need to help the Haitian people.  We are totally committed to that objective.  We have since 2010 – I’m just looking at my notes here – the United States has made multiyear investments of over $5.1 billion in lifesaving humanitarian assistance as well as longer-term recovery, reconstruction, and development programs.  Newly confirmed – and thank you United States Senate – Brian Nichols, our assistant secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs, will be going to Haiti next week with Juan Gonzalez, who is the senior director at the NSC, to see what is the best way forward here to make sure that we are talking to civil society so that we are hearing from the people of Haiti themselves to try to figure out what that path is.  There have been ongoing assistance ever since the earthquake, of course.

QUESTION:  Ambassador, a final question.  Will the – Special Envoy Foote says the conditions are not in place at the moment for full and fair elections in Haiti this year.  Do you agree with that?

DEPUTY SECRETARY SHERMAN:  I think that Assistant Secretary Nichols will work with Ambassador Sison and listening to civil society to see what we can do to help make the judgments to get to a free and fair election as soon as possible for the Haitian people.  Again, there’s nobody who doesn’t look at what is happening in Haiti – it is gut-wrenching.  And we want to do everything we can to help the Haitian people.  That’s always been the objective of U.S. foreign policy.

QUESTION:  Ambassador, thanks again for your time.  Good to see you.

DEPUTY SECRETARY SHERMAN:  Thank you.

Secretary Antony J. Blinken Remarks at Top of Meeting with the Foreign Ministers of the ASEAN Nations

23 Sep

Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

New York City, New York

Palace Hotel

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  (In progress.) – from Asia, good evening.  Thank you all for being willing to meet on short notice in this hybrid format.  It’s very good to see colleagues here in New York, but also to see all of you on the screen.  And thank you very much to Foreign Minister Erywan for Brunei’s chairmanship and to Foreign Minister Retno for co-chairing this session with us today.

Before turning to today’s conversation, I just want to thank many of the countries represented here for the help that you provided with the evacuation and relocation effort in Afghanistan.  We’re grateful for the partnership, especially to all those who have condemned violence, called for the safe passage of those seeking to depart.

Even as we face challenges in other parts of the world, the United States’ commitment to ASEAN remains strong.  ASEAN is central to the architecture of the Indo-Pacific region and it’s critical to our own stability, economic opportunity, and vision for a rules-based international order.  We continue to support the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific.  We believe our support for ASEAN is very much in line with the AOIP’s four priority areas of cooperation.

This fall, the United States will release our new, comprehensive Indo-Pacific Strategy.  It builds on our shared vision for a free, open, interconnected, resilient, and secure region.  Similar to ASEAN’s outlook, it will reflect Southeast Asia’s importance to the Indo-Pacific region, and the critical role that ASEAN plays in determining the region’s future.

So I was very much looking forward to today’s discussion, very good to see everyone here, and very happy to get started.

Zoohackathon 2021

23 Sep

Office of the Spokesperson

The U.S. Department of State is pleased to announce Zoohackathon 2021. Zoohackathon is a global competition that brings together university students and coders to develop innovative technology solutions to combat wildlife trafficking and associated challenges.

Wildlife trafficking is a global problem and one of the most lucrative forms of transnational organized crime. It threatens national security, economic prosperity, and the rule of law, pushes species to the brink of extinction, and spreads disease. The United States supports the use of technology in our collective efforts to stop these crimes.

This year, the Department of State is proud to co-host nine virtual and in-person Zoohackathon events across the world in October and November. Each event will take place over two-and-a-half days and feature discussions about local challenges, presentations from wildlife and technology experts, networking opportunities, and insights from partners and mentors. Participants will compete for a variety of local prizes, and a panel of expert judges will evaluate the winning solution from each event to choose the winner of the 2021 global prize.

Single Country Events:

• Bolivia
• The Democratic Republic of the Congo
• The Republic of the Congo
• Gabon
• Saudi Arabia
• Uganda
• Vietnam

Regional Events:

• Central Asia
• Central America and the Dominican Republic

For more information, please contact OES-PA-DG@state.gov and follow @SciDiplomacyUSA on Twitter.

Counselor Chollet’s Meeting with Burmese Representatives

23 Sep

Office of the Spokesperson

The following is attributable to Spokesperson Ned Price:

Counselor Derek Chollet met today in New York with Burmese UN Permanent Representative Kyaw Moe Tun. He also met with representatives of Burma’s NUG. They highlighted the importance of a swift return to democracy and rule of law in Burma, as well as respect for human rights and equality, including members of all ethnic and religious groups. They exchanged views on strengthening cooperation to assist the people of Burma to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Counselor also expressed appreciation for the NUG’s leadership and dedication to the people of Burma in the face of the horrific violence perpetrated by the Burmese military regime. Finally, he reaffirmed the United States’ unwavering support for all those working toward the peaceful restoration of Burma’s path to democracy.

Secretary Blinken’s Meeting with ASEAN Foreign Ministers

23 Sep

Office of the Spokesperson

The below is attributable to Spokesperson Ned Price:

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken met today with foreign ministers of ASEAN nations virtually and in-person in New York City on the margins of the UN General Assembly.  Secretary Blinken thanked ASEAN countries for their support of the unprecedented global effort to evacuate U.S. citizens and personnel of other nations from Afghanistan.  He also reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to ASEAN centrality and U.S. support for the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific. Secretary Blinken and ASEAN foreign ministers discussed pressing regional and international challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate crisis, the urgent need to press the military to end the violence in Burma and adhere to ASEAN’s five-point consensus, and the need to reinforce a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

Secretary Blinken highlighted U.S. efforts to lead the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic and build a sustainable recovery that supports both economic growth and climate goals.  As part of these efforts, he noted the United States has provided ASEAN members with more than $197 million in emergency COVID-19 assistance and shared more than 31 million vaccine doses, including as part of making 500 million Pfizer COVID-19 doses available to Gavi for distribution by COVAX.

The Secretary reaffirmed U.S. support for the Mekong-U.S. Partnership and congratulated ASEAN for its collaboration with the Mekong River Commission to host the first ASEAN-MRC Water Security Dialogue.

Secretary Blinken’s Meeting with French Foreign Minister Le Drian

23 Sep

Office of the Spokesperson

The below is attributable to Spokesperson Ned Price:

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken met with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian today in New York City on the margins of the UN General Assembly.  Following the discussion between President Biden and President Macron, Secretary Blinken and Foreign Minister Le Drian spoke about plans for in-depth bilateral consultations on issues of strategic importance.  They discussed the EU Strategy for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, which the United States welcomes, and the need for close cooperation with France and other European allies and partners active in the region.  The Secretary and the Foreign Minister also engaged on our shared objectives in the Sahel.

Secretary Antony J. Blinken at UN Security Council Meeting on Climate and Security

23 Sep

Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

New York City, New York

UN Headquarters

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you very much, Taoiseach.  Secretary-General Guterres, thank you for your presence, thank you for your leadership on climate.  And Taoiseach, thank you so much for convening today’s discussion, for putting the connection between climate and security on the Security Council’s agenda.  And thank you as well, together with our colleagues from Niger, for the important work that Ireland and Niger are doing with the Informal Expert Group on Climate and Security.  I also want to applaud Ms. Elman’s very powerful testimony.  We’re grateful to have it today.

From day one, President Biden has made addressing the climate crisis a top priority of our administration, including by directing me – and every one of our diplomats – to ensure it’s a core element of U.S. foreign policy.  We’re taking into account how every bilateral and multilateral engagement we have – every policy decision we make – will impact our goal of putting the world on a safer, more sustainable path.

That’s not only because of the devastating – and in some instances, irreversible – implications of climate change for our majestic planet.  It’s also because of the cascading effects on virtually every aspect of our lives, from agriculture to infrastructure, from public health to food security.  And we’ve heard some of those described already.

Right here in New York City where we’re gathered today, earlier this month, a punishing storm caused by the remnants of Hurricane Ida killed dozens of people, including a two-year-old boy, and inflicted tens of billions of dollars in damage.  More than three inches of rain fell in Central Park in a single hour, breaking a record set only a few weeks earlier.

Look at any one of our countries, you will see record-breaking extreme weather events like this.  The climate crisis isn’t coming.  It’s already here.

And clear patterns are emerging in its impact.  The consequences are falling disproportionately on vulnerable and low-income populations.  And they’re worsening conditions and human suffering in places already afflicted by conflict, high levels of violence, instability.

These mounting impacts – together with the synthesis report released last week and the comprehensive report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released last month – underscore the urgent need to dramatically cut our emissions and build our resilience for the inevitable changes to come.

One way to do that is by helping others to do their part.  Back in April, President Biden announced that the United States would double our public international financing for developing countries most impacted by the climate crisis.  Earlier this week, here at the United Nations, he announced that we will work with the U.S. Congress to double that number again.  We urge other governments to step up in making these investments – particularly those, like the United States, that are the biggest emitters.

The Security Council also has a vital role to play – in three ways that I’d like to briefly suggest.

First, we have to stop debating whether the climate crisis belongs in the Security Council and instead ask how the Council can leverage its unique powers to tackle the negative impacts of climate on peace and security.  That’s an argument that should have been settled a long time ago.

Look at almost every place where you see threats to international peace and security today – and you’ll find that climate change is making things less peaceful, less secure, and rendering our response even more challenging.  That’s the story of Syria, Mali, Yemen, South Sudan, Ethiopia, many other places beset by strife.  By agreeing that the issue belongs here in the Security Council, we’ll also send a clear message to the international community of the serious implications that climate change has for our collective security.

Second, UN field missions should consistently incorporate the effects of climate change into their planning and implementation, as was done in the mandates for the UN Assistance Missions for Iraq, the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali, and the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel, among others.  Doing that will advance mission activities; it will foster stability; it will build resilience.

Third, the UN system should further integrate climate-related analysis into its conflict mediation and conflict prevention efforts, particularly in fragile states and areas of active conflict.  The UN Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs decision to include climate security in its Strategic Plan for the first time in 2020 and the Climate Security Mechanism are very positive examples of just this.

To any who doubt the merits of these steps, I’d just encourage you to just ask some of the UN force commanders, the special envoys, the negotiators, the peacebuilders, others who are out there grappling with the impacts of climate in their everyday efforts.  They are hungry for more tools like these.

I’ve focused today on the threats posed by the climate crisis.  But let me just say in closing, it would be a mistake to view this only through that lens.

We agree that to prevent cataclysmic consequences, all our nations must take immediate, bold actions to build resilience, to adapt to the unavoidable impacts, and move swiftly to a net-zero world.  That is our shared charge for COP26, which is now only weeks away.  And if we’re to keep within reach the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, every nation will need to bring their highest possible ambitions to the table.

But these efforts – and the investments they will require from all of us – also present an unprecedented opportunity to expand access to affordable, clean energy; to build green infrastructure; to create good-paying jobs – all of which could be the spur to long-term economic growth, reverse growing inequities within and between our nations, improve the lives of people around the world.

So even as we are clear-eyed about the threat, let’s not lose sight of this once-in-a-generation global opportunity.  Let’s be driven not only by the fear of all the damage the climate crisis can inflict – and already has inflicted – but also by the imagination of all the ways our response can actually make people’s lives better, now and into the future.

Thank you very much.