The United States Condemns Reported Attacks in Chin State

31 Oct

Ned Price, Department Spokesperson

The United States is gravely concerned by reports of gross violations of human rights that Burmese security forces have perpetuated in Chin State, including reports that forces have set fire to and destroyed more than 100 residences as well as Christian churches.  We condemn such brutal actions by the Burmese regime against people, their homes, and places of worship, which lays bare the regime’s complete disregard for the lives and welfare of the people of Burma.  These abhorrent attacks underscore the urgent need for the international community to hold the Burmese military accountable and take action to prevent gross violations and abuses of human rights, including by preventing the transfer of arms to the military. 

We are also deeply concerned over the Burmese security forces’ intensification of military operations in various parts of the country, including in Chin State and the Sagaing Region.  We call on the regime to immediately cease the violence, release all those unjustly detained, and restore Burma’s path to inclusive democracy.   

We will continue to promote accountability for the horrific violence that has been and continues to be perpetrated by the regime against the people of Burma.  We will continue to support the people of Burma and all those working toward a restoration of Burma’s democratic path and a peaceful resolution to the crisis. 

Secretary Antony J. Blinken  With Margaret Brennan of CBS Face the Nation

31 Oct

Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

Via Teleconference

QUESTION:  We spoke with the Secretary earlier and began by asking him when the U.S. will resume negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, the Iranians have now said that they’re coming back to talks toward the end of November.  We’ll see if they actually do.  That’s going to be important. 

We still believe diplomacy is the best path forward for putting the nuclear program back in the box it had been in under the agreement, the so-called JCPOA.  But we were also looking at, as necessary, other options if Iran is not prepared to engage quickly in good faith to pick up where we left off in June when these talks were interrupted by the change in government in Iran.

QUESTION:  Other options – does that include military?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, as we always say, every option is on the table.  But here’s what’s important:  Iran, unfortunately, is moving forward aggressively with its program.  The time it would take for it to produce enough fissile material for one nuclear weapon is getting shorter and shorter. 

The other thing that’s getting shorter is the runway we have where, if we do get back into compliance with the agreement and Iran gets back into compliance, we actually recapture all of the benefits of the agreement.  Iran is learning enough, doing enough, so that that’s starting to be a problem. 

QUESTION:  Iran carried out a drone attack on U.S. forces in Syria just last week.  Friday, the U.S. announced sanctions related to this program.  Do you think sanctions are going to stop Iran from trying to kill Americans?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  The President is very much prepared to take whatever action is appropriate at a time and place of our choosing by whatever means are appropriate to prevent and stop Iran from engaging in these activities or its proxies engaging in these activities. 

QUESTION:  Let’s talk about climate and the international efforts underway.  The UN says that not a single major economy in the world, U.S. among them, is living up to the targets set back in 2015 in that Paris accord.  America is one of the biggest polluters.  The President’s own domestic agenda faces some uncertain prospects here.  How do you lead when America doesn’t have its own house in order?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, we are leading on this.  The President significantly increased our own ambitions and announced a new so-called nationally determined commitment in terms of what we will do to make sure that we get to net zero.  And John Kerry has been leading our efforts around the world to bring other countries along to raise their ambitions so when we get to Glasgow in just about a day’s time the world comes out together with much stronger commitments that actually get us on the path to keeping to warming that does not exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius.  We’re not there yet.  We have a lot of work to do.

QUESTION:  But these – right.  And these international commitments don’t have teeth. 

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, these are voluntary commitments, but there is increasingly, I think, an understanding that we’re seeing every single day – storms, droughts, all sorts of natural occurrences that have been exacerbated by climate change, conflict driven by climate change, refugees driven by climate change, fights over resources driven by climate change.  This is not tomorrow’s problem.  This is today’s problem, and I think there’s a much greater consciousness of that. 

QUESTION:  When you look around the world, the use of fossil fuels is only going up.  Europe is facing a potential winter fuel crisis.  China has an electricity shortage right now.  Here in the United States, the President has called for OPEC to produce more oil.  The projection is global energy consumption will jump 50 percent by 2050. 

These facts seem very much at odds with the things you’re describing as ambition.  The rhetoric sounds out of step. 

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  We’re pushing very importantly in the other direction.  For example, here at the G20 – again, with American leadership – we are pressing to get an agreement to make sure that countries don’t finance coal projects internationally.  This is one of the biggest drivers of emissions around the world. 

But you’re right; we have to actually do what we say and make sure that others that have not made the necessary commitments – including China, now the world’s largest emitter – actually step up and do the right thing. 

QUESTION:  What incentive does China have to act right now?  They seem to be increasingly an adversary of the United States.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, I think the number one interest is in not being a world outlier.  Their own people would benefit dramatically from China taking the necessary steps on climate change.  So would the international community, to the extent that China cares about its – how it’s seen in the world.  It also needs to think about stepping up.

QUESTION:  I want to ask you about Afghanistan.  Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, who resigned this month as your envoy, was on this program last Sunday and told us that more could have been done to prevent the collapse of the government in Kabul, including pressing President Ghani harder.  Should you personally have done that?  Should you have been tougher?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  I was on the phone with President Ghani on a Saturday night pressing him to make sure he was ready to agree with the plan we were trying to put into effect to do a transfer of power to a new government that would’ve been led by the Taliban but been inclusive and included all aspects of Afghan society.  And he told me on the phone he was prepared to do that, but if the Taliban wouldn’t go along, he was ready to fight to the death.  And the very next day, he fled Afghanistan.  So I was engaged with President Ghani over many weeks, many months. 

QUESTION:  Do you think you did everything you could?  Is that what I hear you saying?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Listen, one of the things we’re doing at the State Department is reviewing everything that we did, going back to 2020 when the agreement was initially reached with the Taliban under the previous administration, including the actions we took during our administration, because we have to learn every possible lesson from the last couple of years but also, by the way, from the last 20 years.  This was America’s longest war.  President Biden ended the longest war; he made sure that another generation of Americans would not have to go to fight and die in Afghanistan.  And I think when all of this settles, that’s profoundly what the American people want and is in our interest.

Meanwhile, we are doing everything we can to make good on our ongoing commitments, including to Afghans at risk that we want to help, and we’ll also learn every lesson we can from the decisions we made.

QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, thank you for your time today.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Great to be with you, Margaret.  Thank you.  

Secretary Blinken’s Meeting with South African Foreign Minister Pandor

31 Oct

Office of the Spokesperson

The following is attributable to Spokesperson Ned Price:

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken met today with South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Naledi Pandor in Rome.  Secretary Blinken and Minister Pandor emphasized the strong partnership and shared priorities of the United States and South Africa.  The Secretary and the Minister discussed ongoing cooperation on climate change, COVID-19, and developments in Ethiopia and Sudan.  The Secretary expressed appreciation for South African leadership on numerous common objectives, including building inclusive prosperity, strengthening health infrastructure, and promoting democratic values.

Expansion of Combat Operation in Northern Ethiopia

30 Oct

Ned Price, Department Spokesperson

The United States is gravely concerned by the expansion of combat in northern Ethiopia.  We reiterate our call for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) to withdraw from the Amhara and Afar regions, including halting its advances in and around the cities of Dessie and Kombolcha.  We urge the TPLF not to use artillery against cities and recall our strong objections to the ENDF airstrikes in Mekelle and other areas of Tigray which have cost countless lives.  There is no military solution to this conflict, and all parties must begin ceasefire negotiations without preconditions.

The United States remains committed to saving lives and alleviating suffering through the delivery of humanitarian assistance to all Ethiopians in need – whether in the Tigray, Amhara, or Afar region.  We continue to be alarmed by reports of the deliberate denial of humanitarian assistance in northern Ethiopia. Up to 900,000 people are living in famine-like conditions in Tigray while the government restricts urgently needed humanitarian supplies, including medicine, fuel, and cash for relief organizations.  We repeat our call on all parties to the conflict to allow and facilitate unhindered humanitarian access. 

We reiterate our call for all parties to protect civilians and end human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law.  Those responsible for such abuses and violations must be held accountable.

Secretary-General, in Video Message, Rallies Young People as ‘Moral Authority’ Behind Call for 45 Per Cent Emissions Cut, Leadership by 2030

30 Oct

Following is the text of UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ video message to the sixteenth Conference of Youth of the twenty-sixth Conference of the Parties (COP26) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), at the University of Strathclyde, United Kingdom, today:

Designation of Six Targets Involved in Iran’s Destabilizing Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Activities

30 Oct

Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

The United States will use every appropriate tool to counter Iran’s malign influence and activities, including its proliferation of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV). The United States has designated six Iranian targets – two entities and four individuals – using Executive Orders that address terrorism and WMD proliferation.  These targets are linked to Iran’s UAV activities, including activities that threaten U.S. interests.

Iran-based Kimia Part Sivan Company, Mohammad Ebrahim Zargar Tehrani, and Brigadier General Saeed Aghajani are all being designated under E.O. 13224 for their links to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) UAV activities.

Iran-based Mado Company, Yousef Aboutalebi, and Chief Brigadier Gen. 2 Abdollah Mehrabi are all being designated under E.O. 13382 for their links to the IRGC and its affiliate units.

The IRGC has used and proliferated lethal UAVs to Iranian-supported groups, including attacks on U.S forces and on international shipping.

The United States will use all available tools, including sanctions, to prevent, deter, and dismantle the procurement networks that supply UAV-related material and technology to Iran, as well as the Iranian entities that engage in such proliferation.

For more information about today’s designations, please see the Department of the Treasury’s press release.

 

On the Conviction of Journalists Affiliated with Vietnamese Bao Sach Group

29 Oct

Ned Price, Department Spokesperson

The United States is deeply troubled that a Vietnamese court has convicted journalists affiliated with the Bao Sach (Clean Journalism) group, Truong Chau Huu Danh, Nguyen Phuoc Trung Bao, Nguyen Thanh Nha, Doan Kien Giang, and Le The Thang, sentencing them to multi-year prison terms for “abusing democratic freedoms” under Article 331 of the Penal Code.

We understand this group of journalists focused on investigative reporting on corruption, which, of course, is not a crime.  The five convictions are the latest in a troubling trend of detentions and convictions of Vietnamese journalists and citizens exercising their rights to freedom of speech and of the press, as enshrined in Vietnam’s constitution.  The United States calls on the Vietnamese authorities to protect these freedoms, to release these five journalists and all those unjustly detained, and to allow all individuals in Vietnam to express their views freely and without fear of retaliation.  We urge the Vietnamese government to ensure its actions are consistent with the human rights provisions of Vietnam’s constitution and its international obligations and commitments.

Press freedom is fundamental to transparency and accountable governance.  Authors, bloggers, and journalists often do their work at great risk, and we urge the Vietnamese government and other governments and citizens worldwide to ensure their protection.

 

Passport Processing Status Update

29 Oct

Office of the Spokesperson

The Department of State is committed to processing passport applications as expeditiously as possible.  Reducing the volume of pending passport applications, shortening processing times, and increasing agency counter services remain top priorities.

Today, we are updating our public information to reflect that routine processing of a passport application now takes 8-11 weeks, and expedited processing (for an additional $60) takes 5-7 weeks.

These new processing times reflect a return to the way we defined our processing times before the pandemic.  Our processing times now begin the day we receive your application at a passport agency or center, not on the day you mail your application or apply for a passport at a local acceptance facility.  We are no longer using door-to-door timeframes to calculate our estimated routine and expedited service times.  Mail times vary across the country.  Please plan ahead and apply early.

We will continue to provide regular and transparent updates about passport processing times, knowing how critical this information is to our fellow Americans and their travel plans.

For more information and the latest processing times, visit U.S. Passports (state.gov).

For press inquiries, please contact CAPRESSREQUESTS@state.gov.

 

Joint Statement of the Ministerial Meeting in Bogotá on the Causes and Challenges of Migration

29 Oct

Office of the Spokesperson

The text of the following Joint Statement was released by the Governments of Belize, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Suriname, and the United States on the occasion of the regional Migration Ministerial co-hosted by the United States and Colombia in Bogotá, Colombia on October 20, 2021.

Begin Text:

The Ministries of Foreign Relations and high-ranking representatives of Belize, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Guyana, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Suriname, and the United States of America met on October 20, 2021, in Bogotá, Colombia for an urgent discussion about the causes and challenges of irregular migration, and how to respond to the attendant issues that currently affect various countries in the Americas. The participants analyzed the current patterns of irregular migration in the Americas, noting that this phenomenon had grown exponentially in recent years. They also discussed the factors causing this migration, its characteristics, and the social, health, human rights, and security challenges facing countries of transit, destination, and return.

They also focused on ways to strengthen regional cooperation to work on the causes of irregular migration, including the lack of employment opportunities that would promote economic development and weakened governance in certain countries. They likewise sought to better understand and address these migratory flows by, among other things, combating national and transnational crime that relies on trafficking in persons and migrant smuggling, while taking into account the respective capacities of each country.

The participants concurred that the irregular flow of migrants requires a regional response, as well as global resources, rooted in solidarity toward migrants and among States, and in the protection and promotion of the human rights of migrants. They therefore reached consensus on the need for measures with tangible results that will lead to human rights-based solutions, and that will benefit the countries involved and make it possible to resolve the issue of irregular migration in the Americas.

They prioritized respect for and the guarantee of the human rights of migrants, particularly women, children, and adolescents, especially unaccompanied minors, the majority of whom are physically, economically, and emotionally fragile, while also recognizing each country’s duty to manage, in accordance with its international commitments and domestic laws, the flow of migrants across international borders in a secure, humane, orderly, and regular fashion. They further committed to consider control, health, protection, and security measures in addition to actions to combat the crime of trafficking in persons and of migrant smuggling in particular. The foregoing includes their commitment to address these challenges through greater regional cooperation on migration, by promoting voluntary returns in accordance with applicable national and international laws, facilitating, within countries of origin, paths to legal migration for work, and expanding efforts to identify and investigate the trafficking-in-persons crimes committed against irregular migrants.

To combat trafficking in persons, the participants committed to coordinate existing mechanisms like the Quito Process, the South American Conference on Migration, and the Regional Conference on Migration, as well as others being developed, to strengthen regional cooperation on preventing, investigating, exchanging information about, and prosecuting crimes associated with migrant smuggling and trafficking in persons. This effort includes ongoing consideration of forming a Working Group on Migrant Smuggling and Trafficking in Persons.

The attendees concurred that a joint effort is required to resolve the structural causes that lead to migration and intra-regional displacement, through policies and programs, like the Inter-Agency Coordination Platform for Refugees and Migrants from Venezuela (R4V), the Comprehensive Development Plan promoted by El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and ECLAC, and the Build Back Better World initiative, among others, as a way to strengthen economic growth and spur development, infrastructure, production, and employment throughout the region. In turn, this effort will help strengthen and consolidate democracy, the rule of law, and human rights. In this vein, they intend to request that the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, CAF, and ECLAC submit a proposal on coordinating the development of production chains and physical infrastructure in the Americas and on investments and a strategy that will generate employment and income opportunities for citizens and receiving cities.

They shared the perspective that the opportunity exists to create a collective development strategy, taking into account successful models in the region, with a view to promoting conditions that favor investment and economic progress in the Americas. Accordingly, they committed to continue discussing this agenda, while encouraging more countries to participate and consolidating the details of the strategy through collaborative processes to address the challenges of irregular immigration. The emphasis was on immediate efforts that can be pursued with the certain hope of a better future for their citizens and of the consolidation of democracy in the Americas.

End Text.

EXTRA! EXTRA! READ ALL ABOUT IT: President Biden’s Historic Build Back Better Framework

29 Oct
President Biden’s Build Back Better Framework is historic and contains critical funding to combat climate change and strengthen our economy, while ensuring corporations and the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share. Since day one, President Biden has been focused on delivering for the middle class and that’s exactly what this framework does — taking critical steps to ensure everyone has a fair shot.

The Build Back Better Framework contains critical funding to combat climate change.

Washington Post: “New budget deal marks the biggest climate investment in U.S. history”

Bloomberg: “Biden’s Economic Plan Cuts U.S. Emissions By More Than a Gigaton”

Bloomberg: “Biden Sides With Detroit Automakers, Unions on EV Credits”

Wall Street Journal: “Biden’s Spending Bill Includes $555 Billion for Climate Measures”

It will invest in the American middle class, helping return Americans to the workforce while driving down inflation.

CBS News: “Yellen says ‘transformative’ $1.75 trillion framework will help return Americans to workforce and drive inflation down”

Letter From 61 Economists: “These once-in-a-generation investments will create millions of jobs, lower costs on essential expenses for American families and help position the United States to meet the enormous challenges of the 21st century.”

And it would be paid for by ensuring the wealthiest Americans and big corporations pay their fair share.

Wall Street Journal: “Biden Turns to Taxes on Corporations, Millionaires to Pay for Agenda”

It’s no wonder economists and lawmakers are praising President Biden’s framework and calling on Congress to pass it.

Business Insider: “61 economists including a Nobel winner call on Congress to pass Biden’s social spending framework”

Spectrum News: “’What it contains is transformative’: Lawmakers praise the rollout of the Build Back Better Framework”
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