The EU has coordinated the delivery of more than 60,000 tonnes of life-saving assistance

11 Aug
The EU has coordinated the delivery of 66,224 tonnes of in-kind assistance to Ukraine from 30 countries via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. The assistance delivered includes 180 ambulances, 125 fire-fighting vehicles, 300 power generators, 35 heavy machinery vehicles, and 4 pontoon bridges. This is by far the largest, longest lasting and most complex operation via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism since it was established in 2001, with an estimated value so far of over €425 million.

U.S. Department of State Debars Ten Persons for Violating or Conspiring to Violate the Arms Export Control Act

10 Aug

Office of the Spokesperson

On August 10, 2022, the U.S. Department of State published a Federal Register notice of ten persons statutorily debarred for having been convicted of violating, or conspiring to violate, the Arms Export Control Act (22 U.S.C. 2751, et seq.).  This action, pursuant to section 127.7(b) of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) (22 CFR parts 120-130), highlights the Department’s responsibility to protect the integrity of U.S. defense trade.

This notice is provided for purposes of making the public aware that these statutorily debarred persons are prohibited from participating directly or indirectly in activities regulated by the ITAR.  This includes any brokering activities and any export from or temporary import into the United States of defense articles, related technical data, or defense services in any situation covered by the ITAR.

The Department’s Office of Defense Trade Controls Compliance in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, working in collaboration with the Department of Justice, Homeland Security Investigations, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, identified the persons subject to statutory debarment based on their criminal conviction by a court of the United States.

Under the terms of the statutory debarment, these individuals and entities are prohibited from participating directly or indirectly in any activities that are subject to the ITAR.  Each individual and entity on this list will remain debarred until the Department approves an application request for reinstatement.  All persons engaged in activities subject to the ITAR should be vigilant in their compliance with all export control regulations and ensure that their activities do not involve debarred persons.

The notice of statutory debarment listing the names of the debarred individuals and entities was published in the Federal Register on August 10, 2022.  A full list of all persons subject to statutory debarment is available on the website of the PM Bureau’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) at: Statutory Debarment List.

For additional information, please contact the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs’ Office of Congressional and Public Affairs at PM-CPA@state.gov and follow us on Twitter @StateDeptPM.

Secretary Antony J. Blinken With Christian Lusakueno of Top Congo FM

10 Aug

Office of the Spokesperson

QUESTION:  (Via interpreter) Mr. Secretary of State, hello, welcome to the DRC.  Thank you for granting this exclusive interview, our first network in the country.  Many African countries abstained from condemning Russia.  You were co-author of the resolution condemning Russia, and you have credible information, and you are working Rwanda.  First question: do the United (inaudible) plan on working on this UN report?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  (Via interpreter) Two things – first of all, yes, indeed, we have awareness of the report, and I think estimates are (inaudible) with the report, and this is entirely credible indeed.  And overall there’s one thing that has to happen.  There has to be peace for the people in – live in eastern Congo.  That’s the first thing that is absolutely fundamental.

Number two, in order for there to be peace, of course, you need negotiations, diplomacy, and we need to stop arming those groups which are non-state armies.  And they are creating instability, violence, and insecurity which force the people who live in the eastern Congo to suffer for years.  So I’ll talk about this.  I’ve talked about it here and I’ll talk about it tomorrow in Rwanda.

QUESTION:  (Via interpreter) Congo is pretty much under an embargo; it has to declare everything.  But are you ready to submit this expert report to the UN Security Council so that we come up with clear decisions who – about those who are responsible?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  (Via interpreter) I’m focusing on diplomacy.  That means two things: first of all, support for the mediation efforts, which are conducted by Angola, by Kenya and soon-outgoing President Kenyatta, who is still in charge of this issue.  And we ourselves, directly with the Government here of the RDC and the Government of Rwanda, we are trying to help them come up with a diplomatic solution via negotiations.

QUESTION:  (Via interpreter) But this solution must include the idea that we have condemned these groups such as M23.  (Inaudible) changed on the ground, the east still occupied – there are many expectations of your visit.  But do you fear the worst?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  (Via interpreter) Well, one visit is not enough.  We need continuous follow-up, and that’s what we’re doing.  And prior to this visit, we engaged in support of the mediation of diplomatic efforts to put an end to impunity and violence in the east.  This will continue after the visit.  But for me, it’s important to speak directly to the heads of state and the people here, with President Tshisekedi, President Kagame in Rwanda, but also the neighbors.  We are in touch with Uganda, with Congo-Brazzaville, and the countries concerned because this is a problem not just with the people, but it’s also the east – but it’s also a regional problem.  And we are using – focusing our diplomacy,

QUESTION:  (Via interpreter) But the regional problem is the exploitation of the mines, the hegemony of two countries, Uganda and Rwanda.  Diplomacy for 25 years has shown its limits.  So are you ready to help armies to be more capable?  I do know that 10 years ago you were the number two person on the NSC.  In 2012, Barack Obama had called (inaudible) for him to stop.  And at the time, the fighting had stopped.  Can we expect the same contribution from President Biden, from the Secretary of State so that this will stop in 2022?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  (Via interpreter) I’m not going to put forward our own diplomacy, but I’ll tell you, number one, that with respect to the armed forces of the DRC, there’s a reform underway,  a major reform.  And I think this reform will open opportunities with respect to our support so that this defense support can take place.  And of course – and also some context of the armed forces (inaudible), and that’s also important.

Secondly, I will talk directly of the M23 problem in Rwanda with President Kagame, and we’ll see after that what happens.  But for the time being, I think there’s a momentum in this diplomacy.  We ourselves are trying to make progress for peace.

QUESTION:  (Via interpreter) (Inaudible) diplomacy has meant that the ADF was designated a terrorist group.  The RDC wants that will also be the case for the M23.  Will you do that, Mr. Secretary?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  (Via interpreter) Well, in the past, we’ve sanctioned leaders of the M23.  This is an issue that we’re following on a constant basis.  We don’t have a final conclusion.  We have already sanctioned in the past individuals and leaders of the M23, and we’ll continue to look at the issue.

QUESTION:  (Via interpreter) And the MONUSCO has been asked to leave by the population after 25 years – what results?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  (Via interpreter) MONUSCO – well, we are the first donor of MONUSCO, so it’s in our interest to allow MONUSCO to continue its mission and its mandate with the necessary resources and with the necessary authority to do so.  I do know that there’s major frustration in the east of the country about insecurity, about the problems on the ground that MONUSCO was not able to manage.  I think we need to ensure that there’s real coordination between the various elements.  You need to have the necessary resources and, of course, it is very hard to see lost lives because of the conflict between MONUSCO and the citizens.  On both sides, things have to stop.  But I think MONUSCO is very important, but it’s not enough, because without a diplomatic opening, without real negotiations to put an end to the situation and to restore security, MONUSCO alone cannot do it.  The whole things have to happen together.

QUESTION:  (Via interpreter)  General elections in the country will take place next year, 2023.  CENI may not be ready.  You met the leaders.  You met Mr. Kadima also.  If there’s no election, what will you do?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  (Via interpreter) I’m not going to be working on hypotheticals, but I mentioned that with the president.  I mentioned that with the president of the electoral commission as well.  Both of them confirmed to me that the elections will take place on deadline under open conditions, conditions of inclusiveness.  It’s very important, of course, for the DRC, but also it goes beyond the DRC.  We, in a period of democratic setbacks in many countries around the world, the example that the DRC will try to show with timely elections which will be truly inclusive, that may have an impact throughout the continent and throughout the world.  And that’s what we are hoping for, and thanks to the conversations that I had with the president and the president of the CENI, I’m leaving here with somewhat confidence that this will be the case.

QUESTION:  (Via interpreter) I have two questions.  I would like to talk about corruptions – solution – just very quickly, two questions.

The fight against corruption, no U.S. companies possible in the DRC as long as there is corruption.  That’s what the Ambassador Hammer told us a few months ago.  During your visit, you also talked about business in the DRC, American companies.  Can they come?  Are you satisfied with the work by the DRC?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  (Via interpreter) I think that there’s a greater awareness now that corruption is a cancer that attacks democracy, that attacks the Congolese people, and that also attacks the possibility of foreign investments.  We’ve seen positive approaches by the government.  I mentioned them with my – your colleagues.  But there’s still some work to be done, especially about transparency from the government, contracting, et cetera.

But I think that there’s an approach underway, there’s a direct connection between this approach and the possibility for investments.  For example, in the mineral sector, we have now established a partnership for mining for minerals, and we need to exploit minerals but not human beings.  And what’s important in this partnership is namely possibly to have investments.  What we are asking for is that this exploitation take place according to real values – namely, respect for the workers, respect for the environment, respect for transparency.

The DRC, I think, will take part in this partnership, and this is quite promising for the future.  So if there’s no corruption, U.S. companies will come, yes.

QUESTION:  (Via interpreter) A solution country, that’s what Congo says for its maintenance of its ecosystem and its forests.  But financially, we are not very much supported.  Just recently there was this call for tenders for oils that was much talked about.  Do you agree that we can exploit our oil just like Angola does, which has the same deposits of Angola?  And do you agree with this call for bids?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  (Via interpreter) We talked about it, and I will say several important things.  Number one, for the United States, we have a responsibility, a major responsibility, around this climate issue, for two reasons.  First of all, today we are unfortunately the number two emitter in the world after China with emissions.  We’re the number two polluter.  But historically also what we did for our own development, we did things that we are asking other countries not to do today.  So it’s normal that countries will tell us, well, you exploited your forests, you exploited your – and we’re continuing to do this, and we are asking you not to do this.  So it’s entirely normal and appropriate.  So what we are doing, in fact, is we are supporting adaptation, resiliency of these countries which need help, which need support.  And that’s what we are doing.

So with respect to the Congo Basin and this extraordinary rainforest, these forests, as you know, the captured emissions by these forests are greater than all of the emissions of the African continent, so to fight against climate change it’s fundamentally essential to preserve this forest.  But we do understand fully that you need to maintain the ecosystem, you need resources, technology.  So we agreed yesterday with the government to establish immediately a working group that can be – both ensure that we protect the forests, and at the same time provide assurances that the necessary resources for the DRC, not only to allow them to protect their ecosystem, the forests, but also give them the economic opportunities for the Congolese people.  There’s already a commitment by the international (inaudible) for the DRC, several billion dollars in this direction, and we’ll do – follow through immediately.

QUESTION:  (Via interpreter) Thank you once again for this interview, your only one day RDC.  Thirteen years to the day, in August 2009, with your predecessor, Hillary Clinton; I’ll ask you the same question that I asked her.  In 13 years, two secretaries of state in DRC.  Why so much time?  Is it possible for the DRC to hope one day the visit of a president of the United States?

SECRETARY BLINKEN: (Via interpreter) I will talk to you about the President, the future.  And I can tell you that for now and for the future, we have a partnership which is broadening and getting deeper.  We’ve talked about a dozen topics with our colleagues at the government and civil society, and your remarkable young people who are engaged in a competition for IT projects for the elections to inform the Congolese people about the upcoming elections next year.

So for me, in the present, this is an important partnership; it will become even more important in the coming years.

QUESTION:  (Via interpreter)  Mr. Secretary of State, thank you very much.

Local Editorial Pages: GOP Faces Backlash for Voting Against Affordable Insulin

10 Aug

Over the weekend, Senate Republicans voted against making prescription drugs like insulin more affordable. Now, the people and communities whose lives depend on this essential care are speaking out against the Republicans who voted against making the drug more affordable.

Here’s a look at what Americans are reading in their local editorial pages about ultra-MAGA Republicans siding with Big Pharma:

In Iowa: Iowa Capital Dispatch: Editorial: Senate GOP takes shameful vote to block cap on insulin costs

Key Point: “Out-of-pocket costs depend on health insurance plans. But some high-deductible plans require patients to shell out $7,000 to $8,000 out of pocket before insurance pays a dime toward insulin costs. People die because they can’t afford insulin and try to ration it. It’s unconscionable. That’s why it’s so disappointing that Republicans in the U.S. Senate — including Iowa Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst — succeeded in stripping a provision out of a larger bill on Sunday that would have capped insurance co-pays for insulin at $35 a month.”

In Missouri: St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Editorial: GOP opposition to climate-and-drug bill highlights party’s twisted priorities

Key Point: “But anyone who believes that returning Congress to Republican control in this year’s midterms would be good for anyone other than polluters, Big Pharma and corporate tax scofflaws should look hard at what the GOP stood for when it stood against this landmark legislation.”

In Ohio: Columbus Dispatch: Opinion: Portman broke promise to my kids, others fighting for health, dad says

Key Point: “There are very few opportunities in today’s politics for senators to cast a clear vote on a narrow and straightforward proposal. On Aug. 7, however, senators had exactly such an opportunity, when they voted on a Democratic plan to cap co-pays for insulin at $35 a month. Ohio Sen. Rob Portman voted against that proposal. In doing so, he abandoned more than 1 million Ohioans who have diabetes, including all three of my children. … Portman, however, chose the side of Big Pharma and political partisanship and joined other Republicans to defeat the measure by just three votes.” 

In West Virginia: The Register-Herald: Opinion: GOP shoots itself in foot on health care

Key Point: “Capito seems to be saying that she couldn’t care less that people, real people, our neighbors, fellow Mountaineers, through no fault of their own, have to ration their insulin because of its outrageous cost. Or maybe she just doesn’t have a clue as to what so many in this economically challenged state are going through. I mean, she knows, obviously, the needle and the damage done with opioid addiction, and yet now she casts a vote that plays on the side of Big Pharma? News flash: West Virginia can use all the help it can get in addressing access to quality health care.” 

In Wisconsin: The Cap Times: Opinion | Ron Johnson is so cruel that he won’t even help diabetics pay for insulin

Key Point: “But Johnson stood out as the cruelest member of that caucus when he broke with chamber’s Democrats and even a number of his fellow Republicans to bitterly attack an effort to ensure that people with diabetes could afford life-saving insulin. Displaying the venomous dishonesty for which he has become known, Johnson dismissed the concerns of millions of Americans who were pleading for federal intervention to prevent drug company price gouging.” 

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G7 Foreign Ministers’ Statement in Support of the IAEA’s Efforts to Promote Nuclear Safety and Security at the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine

10 Aug

Office of the Spokesperson

The text of the following statement was released by the G7 foreign ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America, and the High Representative of the European Union.

Begin Text:

We, the G7 Foreign Ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, and the High Representative of the European Union, reiterate our strongest condemnation of the ongoing unprovoked and unjustifiable war of aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine. The Russian Federation must immediately withdraw its troops from within Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders and respect Ukraine’s territory and sovereignty.

In that context, we demand that Russia immediately hand back full control to its rightful sovereign owner, Ukraine, of the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant as well as of all nuclear facilities within Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders to ensure their safe and secure operations. Ukrainian staff operating the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant must be able to carry out their duties without threats or pressure. It is Russia’s continued control of the plant that endangers the region.

We remain profoundly concerned by the serious threat that the seizure of Ukrainian nuclear facilities and other actions by Russian armed forces pose to the safety and security of these facilities, significantly raising the risk of a nuclear accident or incident and endangering the population of Ukraine, neighboring states, and the international community. It also undermines the IAEA’s ability to monitor Ukraine’s peaceful nuclear activities for safeguarding purposes.

We welcome and support IAEA Director General Grossi’s efforts to strengthen nuclear safety and security in Ukraine and we thank the Director General and the IAEA staff for their steadfast commitment in this regard. Against this background, we underline the importance of facilitating a mission of IAEA experts to the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant to address nuclear safety, security, and safeguard concerns, in a manner that respects full Ukrainian sovereignty over its territory and infrastructure. We strongly endorse the importance of the Seven Pillars of Nuclear Safety and Security as outlined by Director General Grossi.

We reiterate our full and continued support for the IAEA. IAEA staff must be able to access all nuclear facilities in Ukraine safely and without impediment, and engage directly, and without interference, with the Ukrainian personnel responsible for the operation of these facilities. The safety of all individuals implementing these efforts must be addressed to strengthen nuclear safety, security, and safeguards in Ukraine.

We encourage all countries to support the IAEA’s efforts.

End Text

Secretary Blinken’s Call with Republic of the Congo (ROC) President Denis Sassou N’Guesso

10 Aug

Office of the Spokesperson

The below is attributable to Spokesperson Ned Price:

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke today with Republic of the Congo President Denis Sassou N’Guesso. Secretary Blinken and President Sassou N’Guesso discussed shared interests in protecting the Congo Basin rainforest. The two leaders discussed African security, in particular the regional conflict in eastern DRC and President Sassou N’Guesso’s reconciliation efforts in Libya. Secretary Blinken praised President Sassou N’Guesso’s leadership in the African Union. They also discussed the importance of Russia honoring its commitment to facilitate the export of grain from Ukraine. The Secretary noted the United States’ steps to lessen the effects of Russia’s war against Ukraine on global food supplies.

FACT CHECK: Inflation Reduction Act Goes After Corporate and Ultra-Wealthy Tax Cheats

10 Aug

House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy is spreading lies in a desperate attempt to distract Americans from the fact that Republicans oppose lower costs for families and reducing the deficit.

FACT: The Inflation Reduction Act will ensure tax cheats who avoid hundreds of billions of dollars in taxes pay their fair share. Audit rates will not increase for middle-class families.

Associated Press: “The ‘Inflation Reduction Act’… would not create a mob of armed auditors looking to harass middle-class taxpayers, as some Republicans are claiming.”

TIME: “‘It is wholly inaccurate to describe any of these resources as being about increasing audit scrutiny of the middle class or small businesses,’ Natasha Sarin, a counselor for tax policy and implementation at the Treasury Department, [said].”

CNBC: “IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig said the $80 billion in funding would not increase audits of households making less than $400,000 per year.”

In case there was any confusion — GOP efforts to gut the IRS have benefitted tax cheats, corporations, and the ultra-rich at the expense of middle-class Americans. 

New York Magazine: “The GOP Gutted the IRS — and the Rich Made Out Like Bandits”

Los Angeles Times: “The IRS has been on a congressionally imposed starvation diet virtually since the 1970s, which has been a get-out-of-paying ticket for corporations and the wealthy for all that time.”

Washington Post: “But experts say that’s a condition brought about largely by GOP policies, which drove the IRS into more audits of poorer taxpayers by depriving the agency of the resources it would have taken to go after wealthier targets who shelter potentially much higher sums.”

This isn’t a partisan issue. 73 percent of Americans, including majorities across party lines, support tougher crackdowns on corporations and the ultra-wealthy who are avoiding paying the taxes they owe. 

Make no mistake: Republicans are choosing to side with tax cheats over hardworking Americans. While Democrats work to make sure corporations and the ultra-wealthy pay their fair share, Republicans are helping them continue to line their own pockets.

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REMINDER: A Majority of GOP Senators Tried to Block Health Care for Veterans

10 Aug

As President Joe Biden signs the historic PACT Act into law today, let’s not forget that the majority of GOP senators initially tried to kill this bill and voted to side with Big Pharma over our nation’s veterans.  

Last month, 41 Senate Republicans voted against advancing the PACT Act — a bill that would expand health care access for combat veterans suffering from toxic burn pit exposure. 

The Hill: “Republican lawmakers blocked passage of a bill in the U.S. Senate Wednesday that expands healthcare coverage for military veterans who were exposed to toxins and burn pits during their service.”

The majority of GOP lawmakers previously supported the legislation, only to pull their votes after Democrats struck a deal to bring down costs for American families. Republicans were willing to risk our veterans’ health for the sake of their own selfish political games. 

POLITICO: “Mere hours after Chuck Schumer and Joe Manchin announced a climate and tax deal, the Senate failed to advance burn pits legislation to help veterans.”

And if that weren’t enough, GOP lawmakers celebrated their decision to block health care from veterans.

Newsweek: “Video shows two Republican senators fist bump after they blocked a bill to support veterans after they are exposed to chemical weapons.”

Republicans have repeatedly made clear that choosing Big Pharma over Americans is the GOP party line. Senate Republicans owe our veterans — and the American people — some serious answers.

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