Exchange between Sen. Bernie Sanders and Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz
Bernie Sanders (00:00):
Mr. Schultz, thank you very much. My time is limited, as is the time of all of our members here, so I’m going to be asking you to respond to each question as briefly as you can, hopefully with a yes or a no. Do you understand that in America workers have a fundamental right to join a union and collectively bargain to improve wages, benefits, and working conditions? Do you understand that?
Mr. Schultz (00:34):
I understand. And we respect the right of every partner who wears a Green Apron, whether they choose to join a union or not.
Bernie Sanders (00:41):
Are you aware that NLRB judges have ruled that Starbucks violated federal label law over 100 times during the past 18 months? Far more than any other corporation in America?
Mr. Schultz (00:54):
Sir, Starbucks Coffee Company, unequivocally, and let me set the tone for this very early on, has not broken the law.
Bernie Sanders (01:02):
Okay. Are you aware that on March 1st, 2023, an administrative law judge found Starbucks guilty of quote, “Egregious and widespread misconduct,” unquote, widespread coercive behavior, and showed quote, “A general disregard for the employee’s fundamental rights,” end quote, in a union organizing campaign that started in Buffalo, New York in 2021. Are you aware of that?
Mr. Schultz (01:33):
I’m aware that those are allegations, and Congress has created a process that we are following and we’re confident that those allegations will be proven false.
Bernie Sanders (01:42):
All right. Mr. Schultz, before answering the following questions, let me remind you that federal law at 18 US Code Section 1001 prohibits knowingly and willfully making any fraudulent statement.
Mr. Schultz (01:58):
I understand that.
Bernie Sanders (01:59):
Were you ever informed of or involved in a decision to fire a worker who was part of a union organizing drive?
Mr. Schultz (02:08):
I was not.
Bernie Sanders (02:11):
Were you ever informed of or involved in a decision to discipline a worker in any way who was part of a union organizing drive?
Mr. Schultz (02:21):
I was not.
Bernie Sanders (02:22):
Have you ever threatened, coerced, or intimidated a worker for supporting a union?
Mr. Schultz (02:29):
I’ve had conversations that could have been interpreted in a different way than I intended. That’s up to the person who received the information that I spoke to them about.
Bernie Sanders (02:40):
Were you informed of or involved in the decision to withhold benefits from Starbucks workers in unionized stores, including higher pay and faster sick time accrual?
Mr. Schultz (02:54):
My understanding, when we created the benefits in May, one month after I returned as CEO, my understanding was under the law, we did not have the unilateral right to provide those benefits to employees who were interested in joining a union.
Bernie Sanders (03:12):
Am I hearing you say that you were involved in the decision to hold benefits from Starbucks’s workers in unionized stores? Is that what I’m hearing?
Mr. Schultz (03:20):
It was my understanding that we could not provide those benefits under the law.
Bernie Sanders (03:26):
Mr. Schultz, have you ever asked a Starbucks worker, quote, “If you hate Starbucks so much, why don’t you go work somewhere else?”
Mr. Schultz (03:33):
I’m glad you asked that question because I’ve read in the press that quote, and that’s not exactly what I said. Can I tell the story? Do you mind?
Bernie Sanders (03:44):
I have some other questions. I’m sorry. There are a lot of people-
Mr. Schultz (03:46):
I think it’s important to hear the facts.
Bernie Sanders (03:48):
All right. You’ll have your chance. Will you commit to testifying in any trial where you personally are accused of breaking federal labor law, something that you have been accused of doing nearly 100 times since 2021?
Mr. Schultz (04:04):
Mr. Chairman, let me say under oath, these are allegations and Starbucks has not broken the law.
Bernie Sanders (04:14):
Mr. Schultz, were you informed of or involved in the decision to close all Buffalo Area stores in November, 2021, just days before Area Union elections, in order for Starbucks employees to listen to you give a speech on why they should vote against former union, a meeting the NLRB has determined was a violation of the law?
Mr. Schultz (04:38):
I think this is another area that I hope I get a chance to speak about. For the last 12 months, my involvement, my engagement, and my return to Starbucks has been primarily, I would say 95% focused on the operations of our business, the customer, domestically and around the world. My involvement and engagement in union activities, despite this event today has been minimus. I was not involved in any issue of closing stores.
Bernie Sanders (05:09):
Are you aware, Mr. Schultz, that an administrative law judge ordered you to record and distribute a video of yourself reading a notice to Starbucks employees about their rights under the National Labor Relations Act, how Starbucks violated those rights, and to assure that Starbucks will not infringe upon those rights in the future, and that this notice must be posted in all Starbucks stores and shared digitally to all of Starbucks employees? Are you prepared to read that notice?
Mr. Schultz (05:44):
No, I am not. Because Starbucks Coffee Company did not break the law.
Bernie Sanders (05:51):
Under your leadership, Starbucks has repeatedly refused to bargain with any of the 7,000 workers in nearly 300 stores where workers have voted to represent themselves through union. The first group of workers to win their election have been waiting more than 460 days to reach a first contract. Mr. Schultz, will you commit right now that within 14 days of this hearing, Starbucks will exchange proposals with the union, something it has refused to do for more than 450 days, so that meaningful progress can be made to bargain a first contract in good faith? Will you make that commitment?
Mr. Schultz (06:36):
Because the arrangement that was made by the union and the NLRB in Buffalo to negotiate one single store at a time, we have met over 85 times for a single store. We’ve tried to arrange over 350 separate meetings. We’ve said publicly, and I say it here again, that we believe that face-to-face negotiations is the way to proceed. And the reason I want to make that point is that there have been safety issues in which Starbucks managers have been outed on social media. There are privacy issues. We don’t want to do it on Zoom. We are prepared to meet face-to-face on a single store issue.
Bernie Sanders (07:15):
Will you make a promise to this committee that you will exchange proposals with the union so that we can begin to make meaningful progress?
Mr. Schultz (07:27):
On a single store basis, we will continue to negotiate in good faith. That’s what we’ll do.
Secretary Blinken's remarks at “The Status of Women is the Status of Democracy” event
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Well, good afternoon, everyone, and welcome to the State Department and welcome to the second Summit for Democracy.
Jen, to you for your remarkable leadership at the White House Gender Policy Council; to Kat, for yours here at the State Department on Global Women’s Issues: We could not have a better team, a more dynamic duo, leading our efforts. And I’m grateful to each of you every day. Thank you. (Applause.)
So we’re joined in-person and virtually by government leaders from around the world, as well as partners from across the United States Government, multilateral organizations, civil society. Thank you. Thank you for all the work that you’ve doing every single day to advance women’s equality and thereby advance democracy. These two things are inexorably linked, as you’ve already heard.
The President has long believed that democracies are strengthened by the active participation of all citizens, particularly women and girls. And since day one, he’s made advancing women’s and girls’ civic and political engagement a top priority of this administration. And that’s why we’re kicking off this session as one of the summit’s first events – because the status of women is indeed the status of democracy.
We all know in this room and everyone who’s listening in the rights of women in many parts of the world are under threat and under attack. Repressive governments are passing targeted laws to restrict women’s fundamental freedoms, including the right to free speech and assembly. Extremist actors are disproportionately targeting women and girls, especially those from historically marginalized identities like LGBTQI+ people, women from racial, ethnic, and religious communities.
But it’s not just in autocracies that women are being denied their full and equal rights. In far too many parts of the world, women and girls still do not have equal opportunities to study and work. Women journalists, advocates, politicians, and others are subject to persistent online harassment and abuse. Women who are victims of violence often do not have equal access to justice. Women are subject to discrimination that often puts them at a disadvantage – whether through double standards they face in the workplace, in access to reproductive rights, or in nationality laws, which can result in barriers to accessing education, health care, and property for themselves and for their families.
But, in the face of these forces, women and girls are leading the charge for their rights and for human rights and democracy around the world. And they’re demonstrating the importance of having women at the decision-making table.
In Afghanistan – in the face of the Taliban’s daily efforts to erase them from daily life – women are still protesting. They’re still finding ways to document human rights abuses. They are still fighting for a brighter future for their country.
In Iran, courageous women are marching in the streets, under great threat to themselves, to call for “woman, life, and freedom.”
The United States stands in solidarity with these women and all who are working for women’s full, free, and equal participation around the world. Through our diplomacy, we’re committed to supporting them and advancing gender equality worldwide.
At the last Summit for Democracy, the United States launched our “Support Her Empowerment – Women’s Inclusion in New Security,” or “SHE WINS,” as the acronym appropriately has it. This initiative, which supports local women and women-led civil society organizations – we’re working to increase women’s political and civic participation in Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Papua New Guinea, Uzbekistan, and Yemen.
In partnership with Denmark, we’ve also been leading the Global Partnership for Action on Gender-Based Online Harassment and Abuse, a coalition of 12 countries focused on countering technology-facilitated gender-based violence.
Soon, you’ll be hearing from leaders like Poomzeelay Van Damme, a former parliamentarian in South Africa who shared her experiences as a target of online harassment – and who now works to combat this scourge, including as part of the Advisory Group to the Global Partnership.
We’re heartened by the Global Partnership’s initial progress over the past year. We’ve seen some member countries increase resources to combatting this issue at home, including by providing more trainings for those in the legal and justice systems, as well as for advocates working with survivors of online harassment. And it is so vitally important that their voices be heard and fully inform our efforts. Others are beginning to collect data to better measure online abuse and its effects. And as a whole, the Global Partnership has worked to build consensus on shared principles to better identify, prevent, and combat this urgent issue at venues from the G7 to the United Nations.
So today we have an opportunity to recognize some of these successes, but also – also – to recommit to the work that lies ahead in advancing gender equality.
When we succeed, we not only do the right thing, but we also do the smart and necessary thing to make our countries more prosperous, to make them more secure, to make them a little bit more full of opportunity for all of our people. With the group that’s assembled here, we’ve got everything we need to continue making progress toward what is for us an absolutely essential goal.
So to each of you who is here today, to each of you who is listening in, thank you again for what you’re doing every single day to advance this agenda. And thank you for helping us kick off the Summit for Democracy. Again, what we’re doing here today, what we’ll be doing for the next few days, these are fully joined. And I can think of no more appropriate, no more important way, to kick off the summit than with all of you here today.
So welcome to the State Department. I’m looking forward to some great discussions. Thank you, everyone. Thank you. (Applause.)
Secretary Blinken chairs a virtual panel session on “A Just and Lasting Peace in Ukraine”
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Good morning, good afternoon, good evening, everyone. Thank you all so much for joining. It’s very good to be with friends and partners from around the world as we prepare to open the second Summit for Democracy.
In his first year in office, President Biden launched the summit to look at the future of democracy, which we see is at an inflection point. Worldwide, we see autocrats violating human rights and suppressing fundamental freedoms; corrupting – and with corruption eating away at young people’s faith in their future; citizens questioning whether democracy can still deliver on the issues that matter most to their lives and to their livelihoods.
And we see authoritarian regimes reaching beyond their borders to coerce free and open societies through increasingly aggressive, revisionist foreign policies. Nothing illustrates the gravity of that threat more than Russia’s brutal and unjustified war against Ukraine.
In February 2022, President Putin launched a full-scale war against the people of Ukraine: attempting to conquer their country, topple their democratically elected government, redraw their borders. Indeed, President Putin’s overall objective was to erase Ukraine’s identity as an independent, sovereign nation and absorb it into Russia.
This war is an attack not only on Ukraine, but on the international rules-based order that seeks to defend international peace and stability, and uphold, in the words of the United Nations Charter, “the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small.”
And as this group very well knows, the victims of Russia’s aggression are not only Ukrainians but people all around the world. The Kremlin’s war has exacerbated acute food insecurity, already at crisis levels due to COVID-19, climate change, and other conflicts, putting millions at risk. It pushed up the price of fertilizer, fuel, and food, making it harder for families in every part of the world to make ends meet.
The world has come together on multiple occasions at the United Nations General Assembly to condemn Russia’s aggression and the atrocities that have come with it. Countries from the North and South, developed and developing, established and emerging democracies, have all called on Russia to end this war and pursue a just and durable peace in Ukraine.
The United States is committed to supporting meaningful diplomatic efforts that can achieve this.
We all know that for peace to be just, it must uphold the principles at the heart of the UN Charter: sovereignty, territorial integrity, independence. And for peace to be durable, it must ensure that Russia can’t simply rest and refit its troops, and then relaunch the war at a time more advantageous to it.
Ukraine, under President Zelenskyy, has put forward a proposal that would forge such a peace. It would end the war and save countless lives. It would restore Ukraine’s territory and respect its democracy. It would reconstruct the country and the economy. It would ensure that – radiation and nuclear safety. It would uphold the UN Charter and the will of the international community. And it would come to the aid of the millions around the world that have been affected by Russia’s aggression.
Last December, President Biden hosted President Zelenskyy at the White House, where they discussed Ukraine’s peace formula. And today, we welcome fellow democracies who are standing with Ukraine on the path to a just and durable peace, because Ukraine’s future and the future of the international order on which peace and security depend, that is what is at stake.
So that’s why we’ve come together today, and I really appreciate everyone joining. And I’m very honored to have my friend, our colleague Foreign Minister Kuleba here to discuss Ukraine’s peace plan. Dmytro, the floor is yours.
FOREIGN MINISTER KULEBA: Thank you. Dear Secretary, dear colleagues, dear friends, excellencies, President Zelenskyy has asked me to convey his apologies for not being able to join you today. As you may have seen on the news, he is visiting regions of Ukraine bordering the front line and the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine. So I am grateful to you, Tony, for convening this important meeting that allows me to present President Zelenskyy’s and Ukraine’s vision for a just and lasting peace in Ukraine.
First of all, I applaud the United States for taking the lead around the world in defending democracy. This year’s summit is vital, for democracy faces existential threats. Nowhere is this more acutely felt than in Ukraine. Although Russia seeks to destroy Ukraine, its aggression is not only about Ukraine. Russia also aims to destroy the world order based on international law and the UN Charter.
For more than nine years, our best sons and daughters have not only been fighting for their future, but also defending our common democratic values at the cost of their lives. In this fight, we are defending the entire democratic world. No other nation wants peace more than Ukraine, but peace at any cost is an illusion. For peace to be a lasting one, it needs to be just.
The cessation of Russia’s aggression and the restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity are essential conditions for peace. Ill-advised concessions to the aggressor would only encourage Russia to intensify its attacks on democracy, giving it times to rebuild its military capabilities and resume the armed offensive against Ukraine. We need a comprehensive, just, and lasting peace, and we know how to get that.
To that end, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, as you are all well aware, presented our peace formula. This initiative is a clear plan of action that should not only bring peace to Ukraine but also restore the world order based on the norms and principles of international law. We notice that other nations are also putting forth their own initiatives. We appreciate their focus on a problem that jeopardizes global security. However, I would like to emphasize that the Ukrainian people will accept peace only if it guarantees the cessation of Russian aggression in full, the complete withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukrainian territory, and the restoration of our state’s territorial integrity within internationally recognized borders.
Ukraine’s peace formula contains all of these just conditions for ending the war. Our peace plan has already been recognized and approved, including during the vote on the UNGA resolution, “Principle of the United Nations Charter Underlying a Comprehensive, Just, and Lasting Peace in Ukraine” end of quote. The resolution, which reflects many key points of the peace formula, was approved by 141 countries. The Group of 7 welcomed and supported Ukraine’s efforts to advance the peace formula’s vision of a comprehensive, just, and enduring peace. The European Union has endorsed the Ukrainian initiative. The same stance is taken in bilateral agreements with our partners.
I am deeply grateful to the countries that have already stated their willingness to participate in the implementation of the peace formula. We are confident that by working together we will restore justice, protect democratic values, and restore respect for the UN Charter’s principle. We want to involve as many countries as possible; we count on your help in this. And I believe that every democracy has to contribute to this cause.
Today I will briefly reflect on some of the formula’s details. The peace formula consists of 10 points that can be implemented one at a time or simultaneously. Their implementation should bring long-awaited peace to Ukraine and guarantee security to the whole world.
The formula’s first point is about radiation and nuclear safety. Russia has resorted to nuclear blackmail and nuclear threats, which is completely unacceptable. Russia’s military forces continue to occupy Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, preventing its employees from performing their duties effectively. Only by returning full control of the facility to Ukraine can this be stopped. Russia must withdraw its troops from the territory of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant and cease its reckless and dangerous threats. The aggressor must follow the terms of the Budapest Memorandum, which guaranteed Russia’s non-use of force, including nuclear weapons, in exchange for Ukraine’s voluntary nuclear disarmament.
The formula’s second component is food security. Russia’s aggressive war is destroying global food supply chains. We are grateful to Türkiye, the UN, and other partners for their assistance in implementing the Black Sea Grain Initiative. It enables the distribution of grain to those in greatest needs. However, the problem is not completely resolved, and will not be resolved until Russia ends its naval blockade of Ukrainian ports and attacks on critical infrastructure. The Black Sea Grain Initiative should be expanded and continued to reduce the threat, and freedom of navigation in the Black Sea should eliminate it.
Energy Security is the formula’s third element. And I would like to take this opportunity, Secretary, to thank you particularly, and also our French colleague, Catherine, and (inaudible), for organizing important meetings which boosted support for Ukraine’s energy sector during the darkest months of winter. And I also take this opportunity to thank everyone who contributed to these efforts to help Ukraine with transformers, generators, and other equipment to survive winter.
The release of prisoners and deportees is the fourth component of the formula. Modern Russia is characterized by inhuman prison conditions, the unlawful deprivation of civil liberties, kidnapping, and forced deportation of children. We demand the immediate release of all Ukrainian political prisoners, war prisoners, and people who have been wrongfully detained, as well as the repatriation of those who have been deported both from Russian territory and from the temporarily occupied Ukrainian territories.
The fifth point of the formula is the implementation of the UN Charter and the restoration of Ukraine’s sovereignty. I don’t have to dwell too much on that; we all understand what this point is about.
The formula’s sixth point is the withdrawal of Russian troops and the cessation of hostilities. I want to be clear: Russia has to withdraw from every square meter of Ukrainian territory. There should be no misinterpretation of what the word “withdrawal” implies.
The formula’s seventh point is the restoration of justice. Let me stop here and give you a couple of details. The aggressor must pay for all damages caused to Ukraine. It is critical to establish an international compensation mechanism for Russia’s payment of reparations. However, not all losses are recoverable. Nobody will be able to bring the victims of Russia’s barbaric invasion back to life. Aggression is accompanied by heinous crimes, as evidenced by the murders in Bucha and Irpin, as well as the Russian torture chambers in Kherson and Izium. The exact number of civilian Ukrainians killed in Mariupol is unknown, but it is believed to be in the tens of thousands.
The responsibility for this lies not only with the Russian Federation’s political and military leadership, but also with the ordinary executors. The memory of the innocent victims demands that all those responsible for these atrocities face just punishment. By issuing an arrest warrant for Putin, international justice has already given a proper assessment of his crimes. A special tribunal for the crime of aggression against Ukraine’s effective work should further restore faith in justice.
The formulas eighth point is ecological security. And again, I think the damage – the damage inflicted on Ukraine’s environment is uncomprehensible, and we have to focus our efforts on bringing responsible to account.
The ninth point of the formula is the prevention of war escalation and the repetition of aggression.
And finally, the tenth point, the formula’s tenth point, is confirmation of the end of the war.
These are very simple 10 points; they all make sense. And they have to be implemented, and we have to be united in ensuring that this formula is taken as the basis for the settlement. But the international community has always shown that it will not tolerate an insult to the principle – an insult to the principles of the UN Charter. And I therefore urge all countries to reaffirm their resolve and join efforts to put Ukraine’s peace formula into action. Each country – I emphasize each country – can contribute to the cause of peace by participating in the implementation of specific points on – of this peace formula.
Thank you very much for your attention. And thank you for giving us this opportunity to highlight the peace formula by Ukraine.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Dmytro, thank you very, very much. Thank you for walking us through it. I think it’s very important, and it also underscores a couple of things.
One, I think we all have to be very much aware and beware of what may seem to be well-intentioned efforts, for example, to call for cease fires, which would potentially have the effect of freezing in place the conflict, allowing Russia to consolidate the gains that it’s made, and simply use the time to rest and refit and then re-attack. And so what seems to be appealing on the surface – who wouldn’t want the guns to be silent – can also be a very cynical trap that we have to be very, very careful of.
And of course, I think it’s safe to say, Dmytro, that no one wants peace more than the Ukrainian people because they’re the ones who are suffering directly from its absence and from this aggression. But it has to be just and it has to be durable; otherwise, it’s ultimately for naught.
I’d like to take the opportunity to just go around and hear from colleagues. Catherine, I know you have – you have another obligation. So I want to turn to you first and just get any reflections that you may have.
FOREIGN MINISTER COLONNA: Good afternoon, colleagues, excellencies. Let me switch to French, if I may.
(Via interpreter) First of all, I would like to thank the Secretary of State of organizing this meeting on the margins of the Summit for Democracy. Thank you, Antony, and also applaud Dmytro’s participation. And I would like to reiterate our full support to Ukraine for its freedom, its sovereignty, for its territorial integrity, for its security. Ukraine is also fighting for us and for our own security. Your resistance, your courage make us proud. To our Ukrainian friends, you know that you can count on France’s support and that of the European Union.
For more than one year, Russian is waging a war of aggression, an illegal war, non-provoked, unjustified, unjustifiable. It is also conducting a war against the principle and values that we all share, against the rules to which we are all attached, first among which the Charter of the United Nations, international human rights and laws, and international law in general. We are not talking about Western values; we are talking about the common rules around the world. And it’s also about respect for human dignity, everything that underscores the universal human rights.
Dmytro mentioned the meeting that we organized in Paris on December 13th. I would like to make reference to what we’re able to do together, Dmytro, during the meeting of the Human Rights Council, which was organized in Geneva on February 27th. And there, we were able to organize an event that brought together more than 50 countries to condemn the Russian crimes, which are representative of war crimes and clearly war crimes against mankind. We all saw these images, these horrible images of civilians executed, massacred, violated, children deported. So at the Security Council in September, we were all together – I said it again at the Human Rights Council, I said it again at the G20 and at other opportunities; I’m saying it again, once again: There will no – be no durable peace without justice. Justice must prevail. This is why the issuance by the International Criminal Court of two arrest warrants against Mr. Putin and Mr. Belova represents a major step in the collective fight that we’re conducting against impunity. And I would like to call the party states to the Statutes of Rome to respect their international obligations in this respect.
I also call upon the European Council to work now to strengthen the protection of children in Ukraine. We must do everything we can, starting by documenting human rights violations committed by the Russian troops against these children, including forced transfers and deportations. So to refuse Russia’s victory, that does not mean that we want the victory of the West against the East or the North against the South. It is important to break these misrepresentations. These are lies. It is simply refusing that force should prevail over law. It’s refusing the denial of the most fundamental laws and rules of international law, those which allow us to live in peace and stability. So we will not allow Russia to win; the stakes are much too high. Let’s be united and let’s move again together.
(Inaudible) in France, as you know, so thank you for giving me the floor early. Thank you. Merci beaucoup.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Merci beaucoup – merci, Catherine. Thank you, Catherine, very much. I’d like to turn now to Jan, Jan Lipavsky for – from the Czech Republic. Jan, over to you.
FOREIGN MINISTER LIPAVSKY: Thank you, Tony. Dear Dmytro, dear colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, I’m pleased that we have a chance to discuss this key issue right at the beginning of the summit. The Russian war against Ukraine has already taken too many lives and destroyed too many homes of innocent people. We all are desperately looking for peace. We all but one man wish to see the end of this war. The man is Vladimir Putin, and the International Criminal Court has finally charged him with war crimes and issued an arrest warrant against him.
I’ve heard a lot of comments suggesting that he will never appear before the ICC or special tribunal for prosecution of crimes of aggression, the establishment of which Czechia strongly advocates. I have also heard many voices suggesting that Ukraine will not have enough strength and capabilities to fully restore its territorial integrity; that it’s not possible or that it’s too risky and too dangerous to try to liberate Crimea; that Vladimir Putin will not give up the peninsula, that he will not give up Ukraine, which he so arrogantly claims he’s entitled to; that the U.S., the European Union, and the West cannot sustain the long-term military and financial support of Ukraine because of our economic burdens. Many say that Ukraine is too weak and Russia too strong, that Ukrainians must negotiate and must compromise and give up some – some of its territory.
That is exactly what happened to Czechoslovakia prior to the Second World War. Many European leaders believed at that time that ceding of significant parts of my country in the autumn of 1938 to Hitler would bring peace. It was peace for our time, some of them said. And that is exactly what Vladimir Putin wants, force us and Ukraine to give in and accept his so-called peace proposals in order to prepare Russia for even bigger war. It is vital to achieve a just and lasting peace in Ukraine. It is not an option; it is a necessity.
Ukraine is by no means weak, because of Ukraine’s citizens are strong. We saw this in the very first days of the Russian aggression, and we have been witnessing it every single day since. They are fighting not just for their territory and their homes, but for values we all share. Ukrainians are dying for freedom of speech, for democracy, for the simple principle that borders shall not be changed by force. We need to support the brave Ukrainians and make sure that they will have all the means to restore the territorial integrity of their country, including Crimea. We need to make sure that war crimes committed by Russian troops under the order of Putin do not go unpunished. Only then can peace be fair and lasting. Thank you.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Jan, thank you very, very much. Can we go now to Eli Cohen from Israel? Eli, over to you.
FOREIGN MINISTER COHEN: Hi, Tony, how are you?
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Good to see you.
FOREIGN MINISTER COHEN: Israel is a democratic country facing security challenges. We feel affinity with Ukraine and the Ukrainian people as they fight for their independence and sovereignty. We know how it feels to fight for our homeland and identity. Israel – and actually, the lessons of the 20th century are clear. The international community should raise a voice loud, clear, and (inaudible). Early on, Israel has made a firm commitment to supporting Ukraine and upholding its territorial integrity. Despite the Russian annexation of Ukrainian territories, Israel has taken a (inaudible) by refusing to recognize this action. In addition, Israel (inaudible) action to promoting peace in Ukraine by supporting the United Nations General Assembly resolution calling for comprehensive and lasting resolution to the conflict.
Through these actions, Israel has shown solidarity with Ukraine and made a commitment to promoting international peace and security. If we can be of any help in facilitating a peaceful resolution to the conflict, ending the tragedy and human suffering, Israel will be at the forefront of such (inaudible). The war within Ukraine is a clear challenge to the world’s stability and order as we know it. We will not ignore the dangers. Iran’s (inaudible) involvement in the war within Ukraine must be a wake-up call to all. Iran’s IRGC is responsible for the use of advanced UAVs against civilian targets in Ukraine. Such transfers are a violation of Iran’s obligations and go against the values and spirit of democracies around the world.
In this aspect, the international community must implement coordinated pressure to stop the Iranian activity. On my recent visit to Kyiv, I have personally witnessed the vast devastation the war brought upon Ukraine and the suffering of the people. In my meeting with President Zelenskyy and my friend Foreign Minister Kuleba, I emphasized that Israel strongly supports the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of Ukraine. On my visit, we have officially resumed the permanent presence of the Israeli embassy in Kyiv. This is a clear message of solidarity.
I was actually honored to be a first, the first foreign minister from our region to visit Ukraine and to show Israel’s support. Israel will continue to offer its assistance to Ukraine. We will continue our vast program of capacity building, focused on area of expertise in rebuilding resilience, and post-trauma and medical and para-medical assistance in the area of rehabilitation. The challenges of Ukraine, its people and leadership today are (inaudible). The challenges for the day after will depend on our concerted efforts.
We have (inaudible) for humanitarian and other aid. We are (inaudible) working closely with our friends in Ukraine. Israel (inaudible) experience will not (inaudible) taking into consideration other results. We will extend – and this is our government and its decision – extend our support hand to Ukraine. Thank you.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Eli, thank you very much. Let’s go now to the foreign minister of Italy, Antonio.
FOREIGN MINISTER TAJANI: Hi, my friend. Thank you for organizing this debate on democracy. Dmytro, hi.
I think it’s very important to be very clear on this. Now the competition is between democracy and the technocrats. For this, it’s important to work all together in defense of our values – democracy, human rights – but also we need to have a strategy not only in Ukraine, but also for stopping Russia. We need to work hard also in the Western Balkans. Italy is strongly engaged, of course, for supporting Ukraine at military level and for – in support to the population, but we are working hard in the Western Balkans for stopping Russia.
We need more Europe. We need more Italy in this region because the danger is to leave the Western Balkans in Russian hands. It’s very, very important.
We need to do the same also in Africa. We need to be more present as democratic countries. We need to work hard for supporting growth, organize joint adventures for working together in favor of peace and democracy, because the competition is at the global level. The Russian are working everywhere. Wagner is present not only in Ukraine; it’s present everywhere.
For supporting Ukraine, we need to be present also everywhere, because the competition is global. On Ukraine, of course, Italy is strongly engaged. The Prime Minister Meloni has been in Kyiv talking with President Zelenskyy. I want to thank also for the kind words of the Ukrainian Government with the Italians.
Also, three days ago, from Italy started the big mission for supporting civilian population, also with a football Italian organization. They are working hard also in favor of the young children without family in many Ukrainian region. For this, we are working not only in military sector, also in civil sector, because I think we need to help Ukraine – the Ukrainians, also, living a difficult moment this – during this season.
We need to help the Ukrainian soldiers – they are in Italy – but we need also to help all the Ukrainians in this difficult moment for achieving victory. I am optimistic on this, but in the same time we need to work for the peace. Peace is not the defeat of Ukraine; it’s the victory of Ukraine. Peace is the respect of the international groups, and we are working on this because working in defense of Ukraine, we are working in defense of our values, in defense of democracy, in defense of human rights against the technocrats.
This is very important. Italy is strongly engaged. The Italian Government is strongly engaged on this in Ukraine, in the Western Balkans, in Africa, in South America. So thank you very much.
SECRETARY BLINKEN:Grazie, Tonio. Good to be with you. Thank you so much.
Can we go now to our colleague from Liberia, Dee-Maxwell Saah Kemayah?
I think the picture may be frozen. Let’s see if we can get our colleague. I tell you what – why don’t we come back and let’s come back to him, and maybe we can go to our colleague from Malawi, Nancy Tembo, if you’re there.
FOREIGN MINISTER TEMBO: Can you hear me?
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Yes. Thank you, Nancy.
FOREIGN MINISTER TEMBO: Thank you. Thank you, Secretary Blinken, for convening this timely meeting. The meeting is indeed important since lasting peace is what the people of Ukraine would like to have in their land.
The Ukrainian people have, for over a year, experienced untold suffering, including death of loved ones, loss of livelihoods, displacement, and destruction of vital infrastructure. The war has also generated ripple negative effects on the global economy, more especially on developing economies such as ours.
In addition, the conflict has exposed the failure of the United Nations Security Council in safeguarding principles of the UN Charter when it’s being violated by one of its own permanent members. On its flipside, the war has displayed the bravery and resilience of the Ukrainian people, who have put up with strong resistance against a superpower. They have shown us that everything is possible if there is a strong will and unity of purpose.
Since the conflict began, the UN General Assembly in New York as well as the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva has passed several resolutions calling for an immediate withdrawal of Russia from Ukraine. Malawi has supported each and every resolution because it believes and respects the UN Charter, which promotes the sovereignty and equality of all states. These resolutions, while exerting political and diplomatic pressure on Russia to withdraw, have not really resulted in true cessation of hostilities on the ground. The atrocities and the negative impact of the war on Ukraine and the world economy continue.
Now is indeed the time to move a step further by coming up with more concrete actions that would assure comprehensive, just, and lasting peace for the people of Ukraine. We believe that the two warring parties should be brought to a negotiating table for genuine dialogue aimed at ceasefire, and we mean “genuine” – not just a break from the war but genuine dialogue. In addition, the United Nations Security Council should also live up to its expectations and mandate of safeguarding the principles of the UN Charter.
As a country, Malawi will continue to stand with the people of Ukraine in multilateral fora until there is positive change in Ukraine. I am confident that with such collaborative efforts by the international community, a comprehensive, just, and lasting peace in Ukraine is possible. Thank you, Secretary Blinken.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Nancy, thank you very much for joining us today. I appreciate it very much. And it looks like we have our friend from Liberia back online. Dee-Maxwell, back over to you.
FOREIGN MINISTER KEMAYAH: Thank you. Sorry, I’m in Lusaka, Zambia for the Democracy Summit. Our profoundest gratitude to the honorable President Biden and his cohost for organizing this Democratic Summit.
Having said that, I have the pleasure and duty to convey special greetings and warm felicitations from His Excellency Dr. George Manneh Weah, president of the Republic of Liberia, and in my own name, and congratulate His Excellency Mr. Volodymyr Zelenskyy, president of Ukraine, and the government and people and the gallant men and women of Ukraine in arms for successfully holding out, protecting, and defending the sovereignty and territorial integrity of their great country in the wake of Russia’s condemnable, unprovoked, and unjustified brutal invasion of Ukraine, as well as the illegal annexation of the parts of Ukraine since February 24, 2022.
Let me extend my profound thanks and appreciation to the Honorable Antony J. Blinken, United States Secretary of State, for inviting (inaudible) participate in this important virtual discussion with the theme a just and lasting peace in Ukraine with His Excellency President Zelenskyy of Ukraine. We heartily commend President Zelenskyy, represented by the foreign minister of Ukraine, for the excellent presentation of Ukraine’s 10-point peace plan.
Permit me to reaffirm that Liberia strongly detests and condemns the Russian Federation in the strongest terms for its unprovoked attack on the peace-loving people of Ukraine and the illegal annexation of some regions of Ukraine, as well as Russia’s repeated rhetoric and threat regarding its placement of nuclear weapons in Belarus and its potential use of said nuclear weapons in its unprovoked aggression in Ukraine.
The Republic of Liberia was founded by brave women and women of courage in pursuit of liberty, justice, and freedom for all. As a reasonable – as a responsible member of the community of nations, Liberia remains unwavering and strongly committed to the promotion and sustenance of the core values and principles of liberty, justice, human rights, freedom, respect for independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, democracy, and humanity in general.
Anywhere they are threatened around the world, Liberia has and continues to firmly cooperate with other nations in support of global peace, security, and international rule-based order. Respect for, supporting, and defending the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Liberia and any other nation, including Ukraine, is pursuant to one of the cardinal pillars of Liberia’s foreign policy objectives and in line with the charter and principles of the United Nations and other relevant international treaties and protocols aimed at ensuring global peace and security and promoting the rights of all nations to self-determination.
In that premise, Liberia reaffirms its unreserved commitment, support, and calls for the urgent restoration of just, lasting, and comprehensive peace to Ukraine, and hereby endorses to the fullest the 10-point peace plan in its entirety as excellently presented by His Excellency President Zelenskyy of Ukraine through the foreign minister of Ukraine.
In conclusion, I wish to again thank His Excellency President Zelenskyy for the exemplary leadership and bravery he continues to demonstrate in leading his great country and the resilient people of Ukraine in the path of defending their independence, sovereignty, their integrity, and fundamental rights to liberty, freedom, justice, self-determination, democracy, and humanity in general. I wish us a fruitful deliberation as we continue to build strong global collaborative partnerships and step up the necessary imperative momentum in providing Ukraine with the most needed security, economic, logistical, and humanitarian assistance while strengthening and deepening the compelling endeavors of the international coalition and the defenders of the core values and fundamental principles of independence, human rights, defenders of democracy, sovereignty, and territorial integrity, and humanity to continue to hold the Russian Federation fully accountable for the gross violation and flagrant disregard for the charter and principles of the United Nations Charter and humanity in general.
Liberia has co-sponsored, supported, and voted for every resolution related to this unprovoked aggression by Russia in Ukraine. And Liberia, under the astute leadership of His Excellency President Weah, and under my watch as minister of foreign affairs of the Republic of Liberia, we will continue to provide unconditional support for the people of Ukraine.
I thank you.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Mr. Minister, thank you very, very much. I greatly appreciate your intervention. Thank you.
Santiago, I see you there. Any reflections?
FOREIGN MINISTER CAFIERO: Yes, hello, Tony. Hello, Dmytro. Well, hello, everyone. I switch to Spanish.
(Via interpreter) Once again, we are meeting here to deal with the serious situation in Ukraine to reach a peace and to get peace in Ukraine and the region, because this is imperative, and we have to mobilize all of us. And this is why I want to thank this meeting and the opportunity for me to take the floor, because Latin America, from Argentina, we express our firm position.
To start, we have to highlight that peaceful will not be possible if the cease – if the – if we don’t get a ceasefire. Argentina condemns and we always condemned the invasion of Russia into Ukraine, and we reaffirm our commitment with the independence, unity of Ukraine.
We want peace in Ukraine that is a peace that can – that is – that can last, and in respect of the international law. We will reach this if we really respect the principles of United Nations, because we have to have a peaceful world, and we signed this in 1945; and respect of international law and the sovereignty of the states, and territorial integrity, and the solution in a peaceful manner; and respect of human rights.
Argentina, during 2022 and the first time in the – in our history, we were the chair of the Human Rights Commission, and we were able to achieve during this time a task that was really highlighted by all the members of that commission. During this time, we expressed our concern about the attacks of – to human rights. This war started one year ago, and we have to insist that the human rights have to be respected, but we see the attacks on human rights and the infrastructure. We are concerned about violation of human rights, of international law, examples that were submitted into the 52nd meeting of the United Nations. These have to be classified as crimes of war, and we have to underline that we respect human rights and international law, and this is not optional. All these crimes have to be investigated, and responsible have to pay a price.
We need this to include the criminal sanctions and the non-repetition of this crime. Therefore, the humanitarian aid is fundamental for the survival of those that are most vulnerable. We really want to – free access to these areas that are so vulnerable. We will continue to lessen the suffering of the Ukrainian people.
We in Argentina and our White Helmets have really participated in these activities with the Ukrainian community. We also had two missions in the evacuation of Argentine and Latin American people that were in Poland and Ukraine. We know that dialogue and diplomacy is the only way out to avoid any suffering.
This war is a catastrophe for Ukraine, for its people, for Europe in general – not only for them, but the consequences will be dire for the whole world, and even if we are far away, but they are really suffering the energy cuts.
And I want to remember what Pope Francis said: Please do not forget the Ukrainian people, because they suffer the crimes of the war. And we have to participate. Please, a ceasefire, an end to the conflict and to really reach a lasting peace and just peace, not only for Ukraine but for the world as a whole. Thank you.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you very much, Santiago. And we now have a video from our friend from Japan, Foreign Minister Hayashi, who couldn’t be with us live today but asked to be recorded so he could participate. So let’s go to Foreign Minister Hayashi.
FOREIGN MINISTER HAYASHI: Distinguished participants, first, I would like to express my appreciation to Secretary of State Blinken for his initiative in organizing today’s discussion. Russia’s aggression against Ukraine is an outrageous act that shakes the very foundation of the international order, which the international community has built up over a long period of dedicated efforts and sacrifices. This aggression is a serious violation of sovereignty, territorial integrity, and other principles of international law, including the UN Charter, and poses a clear challenge to the international order based on the rule of law.
Unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force, such as Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, can never be tolerated anywhere in the world. From this point of view, Japan has consistently and strongly condemned Russia, imposed strict sanctions against the country, and provided global support for Ukraine. In order to bring Russia’s aggression to an end as soon as possible, the international community should enhance its coordination more than ever and lay the united voice that unilateral change of the status quo by force is unacceptable.
At the emergency special session of the UN General Assembly in February, which I attended, a resolution calling for a comprehensive, just, and lasting peace in Ukraine was adopted with the support of the overwhelming majority of all member-states. The international community hopes that peace will come to Ukraine as soon as possible. But it must be not a mere ceasefire, but a just peace based on the principles of the UN Charter.
We should not allow the world to revert to the jungle, where brute force and coercion would prevail. We should protect the free and open international order based on the rule of law in which all nations, large or small, can make decisions freely under international law. From this perspective, during Prime Minister Kishida’s recent visit to Ukraine, he conveyed to President Zelenskyy Japan’s high regard for the peace formula that President Zelenskyy has been advocating as a path to a just peace.
In the G7 Pluses, where Japan hosts the presidency this year, I chaired a G7 foreign ministers meeting in February, and G7 foreign ministers underlined their commitment to upholding the international order based on the rule of law, and committed to actively working with Ukraine for a just and lasting peace in Ukraine.
In order to stop Russia’s aggression as soon as possible, Japan, as the G7 presidency, we maintain the unity of the G7 and other likeminded countries, and promote strict sanctions against Russia and robust support for Ukraine. At the upcoming G7 foreign ministers meeting in Karuizawa, Nagano, and G7 Hiroshima Summit, we would like to send a strong message to the world that G7 will never tolerate unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force anywhere in the world, or accept Russia’s nuclear threats, let alone its use of nuclear weapons. The G7 is determined to uphold the international order based on the rule of law.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Well, thanks very much to our friend Foreign Minister Hayashi for joining us with these pre-recorded remarks. And thanks to everyone for joining us today. And Dmytro, thank you very, very much for being here, for sharing and going through the peace plan that President Zelenskyy has put forward.
All of us are committed to peace, but I believe also all of us are committed to making sure that that peace is a just and lasting one that respects Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. And as you heard today, Ukraine is proposing 10 common-sense principles that could serve as a roadmap to peace. This war could, of course, end tomorrow if President Putin so chose, by withdrawing Russia’s forces from Ukraine. But meanwhile, we have a plan put forward many weeks ago now by Ukraine. I really commend the plan to each and every one of you and would ask you to consider the 10 principles and, of course, to stand with Ukraine on the path to a just and durable peace.
With that, we’re adjourned for today with my thanks, and we’ll be looking forward to seeing many of you in the days and weeks ahead. Thanks, everyone, for joining toda
MR PATEL: Good afternoon. I have two very brief things off the top and then I’m happy to dive into your questions.
So first, today the United States took action in coordination with the United Kingdom to designate key individuals supporting the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the production or export in Syria and Lebanon of a dangerous amphetamine-type stimulant known as Captagon.
The trade in Captagon is estimated to have become a billion-dollar illicit enterprise.
The U.S. designated six key individuals facilitating the production and export of illicit drugs in Syria and Lebanon, and two entities owned by one of those individuals.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s family members and associates rely on the illicit drug trade to fund his regime’s violent oppression and commission of abuses against the Syrian people. The individuals and entities being designated today have enabled the Syrian regime to continue carrying out abuses against the Syrian people by providing funds to the regime derived from trade in illicit drugs.
Captagon trafficking by the Assad regime, Hizballah, and their affiliate poses a significant threat to stability, public health, and rule of law in the region.
These designations, some of which are being implemented pursuant to the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act of 2019, also highlight the important role of Lebanese drug traffickers – some of whom maintain ties to Hizballah – in facilitating the export of Captagon.
The United States will continue to coordinate with our allies and partners to target traffickers of illicit drugs and those who provide support to the Syrian regime’s vicious war.
Additionally, I want to also express my deepest condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in the tragic detention center fire in Ciudad Juárez last night. Our hearts go out to their loved ones, and our prayers are with those still fighting for their lives. This tragedy is a heartbreaking reminder of the risks migrants and refugees around the world face. Mexican authorities are investigating the cause of this tragedy, and we stand ready to provide any assistance they may request.
Matt, if you want to take us away?
QUESTION: Thanks, Vedant. Happy Tuesday, I guess. Let me just start – and really briefly, if you could give – explain this in a nutshell. What exactly did you guys inform the Russians about information sharing under New START the other day?
MR PATEL: So Matt, under the New START Treaty, the U.S. and Russia, as you know, are obligated to exchange comprehensive databases twice a year. We offered to continue reciprocal implementation of this obligation. Unfortunately, Russia informed the U.S. that it will not engage in this data exchange due to its purported suspension of this treaty.
As we’ve said before, the suspension was legally invalid. Russia’s failure to exchange this data will therefore be a violation of the treaty, adding on to its existing violations of the New START Treaty and, as a result, lawful countermeasures intended to encourage Russia to return to compliance with the treaty. And the U.S. will likewise not provide its biannual data update to Russia.
QUESTION: Okay, and what’s the practical impact of this?
MR PATEL: Well, Matt, as you know, New START is an important treaty as it relates to arm control and maintaining strategic stability. This is something that the Secretary, the President, others have spoken to about the importance of this treaty. And Russia’s decision to not exchange in this – take part in this data exchange is another example of the dangerous and reckless actions it’s taking as it relates to its responsibilities to New START.
QUESTION: That’s fine, but what’s the practical impact?
MR PATEL: What do you mean, Matt?
QUESTION: What does it mean?
MR PATEL: The important piece, as you know, about New START, is the —
QUESTION: If you’re not – all right, let me make it maybe a little bit easier. What does it mean that neither side is going to exchange this data that they used to exchange on a twice-a-year basis?
MR PATEL: Matt, the important piece about New START is there is a verifiable aspect to this, which we have continued to offer reciprocal implementation of, of this obligation.
QUESTION: Okay, but what is the practical impact of it?
MR PATEL: I’m happy to —
QUESTION: Do it make you – does it make you less aware or them less aware of what’s going on? Because as I understand it, this is only the twice-a-year, the biannual compilation of data, and not like other stuff.
MR PATEL: Well, that is true. But broadly, it is a lack of an exchange of information that otherwise would have normally take place that allows a verifiable exchange of data and information that I think is at the key of the New START Treaty.
QUESTION: Well okay, but how is it verifiable?
MR PATEL: Because of the exchange of data, Matt. That’s – the exchange of data as well as —
QUESTION: Well, an exchange of data that does not mean verifiable. How —
MR PATEL: As well as the —
QUESTION: How is it verified?
MR PATEL: As well as the other piece of this, which is the in-person component, is another verifiable piece of New START. I’m happy to circle back with you if there’s —
QUESTION: Okay. And when did you guys tell the Russians this?
MR PATEL: I’m not aware of any – I don’t have specific diplomatic engagements to offer, Matt, but it is something that we were made aware of recently. But I’m happy to check if we’ve got a more specific time.
QUESTION: Well, can you be a little bit more specific as to when?
MR PATEL: I don’t have a more specific time to offer, Matt. But —
QUESTION: So there wasn’t a specific meeting at which you told them this? Because —
MR PATEL: Again, I’m happy to see if we have additional information. But the bigger takeaway here is that we have offered continued reciprocal implementation of this obligation —
QUESTION: Okay. Well, I just wanted – the reason that I keep pressing this is that I’d like to know if this is something that is a new development, as has been reported, but – or if it’s something that you guys decided on almost a month ago when the Russians pulled, said they were suspending, and then Putin signed the law to —
MR PATEL: That was my – my understanding is that’s a – was a separate piece of this, that this, as it relates to this data exchange and Russia’s decision to not engage in this data exchange, that that is a new piece of this. But I’m happy to double-check.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: A follow-up on that?
MR PATEL: Go ahead, Alex.
QUESTION: Thank you, Vedant. Congressional leaders told the Congress – military leaders – my apologies – told the Congress that they had further interactions with Russia on this very topic yesterday. Are you aware of any meeting (inaudible) of the U.S.?
MR PATEL: I’m not aware of any such meeting, Alex.
QUESTION: Is this the end of New START?
MR PATEL: Alex, I would reject the premise of your question because, as it relates to New START, we have been pretty clear from the get-go that we believe this treaty is an important, it’s a responsible one, and under international law the U.S. has a right to respond to breaches of the New START Treaty. And if you recall, the Secretary spoke quite clearly about how irresponsible Russia’s decision to withdraw from the treaty was when the Russian Federation announced that news, I believe a number of weeks ago, when we were on travel in Europe.
QUESTION: And what’s the next step from here? If you don’t share anything and if they don’t share anything with you, what’s the next step?
MR PATEL: Look, aside from the biannual data exchange, the U.S. continues to provide all required notifications under the New START Treaty, and we’re carefully assessing the national security impact of Russia’s failure to comply with its notifications and other treaty obligations.
Janne, go ahead.
QUESTION: Thank you. I have two questions for South Korea.
MR PATEL: Sure.
QUESTION: On anti-corruption, South Korea’s opposition leader is being investigated by prosecutor for extorting huge sums of money. What is the – your action given the State Department fight corruption worldwide?
MR PATEL: I’m not aware of those reports, Janne. I’d refer you to the Government of South Korea. This is an internal matter for them to speak to.
QUESTION: Because you – you never watched the news? Because he’s trying to go to prosecutor’s (inaudible) all the time?
MR PATEL: Again, I’d just refer you to the Government of South Korea to speak to this.
QUESTION: Okay, and one more on human rights issues. In the 2022 Human Rights Report, freedom of press in South Korea was mentioned. Is this something that happened under a certain president, or is it generally so?
MR PATEL: I will have to check on the specific language that was used in the Human Rights Reports, Janne. But obviously, what I would say is South Korea is an important partner in the region. They’re important to our vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific. And as it relates to press freedom, this is an issue we raise directly with countries around the world in our engagements with them.
Shaun, you had your hand up.
QUESTION: Sure. Could I go back to Russia-Ukraine a bit?
MR PATEL: Sure.
QUESTION: I wonder if you had any reaction to the International Olympic Committee’s – I guess it’s a lack of a decision, but their stance today saying that they’ll consider it later (inaudible) be conditions on Russian and Belarusian athletes going to the Olympics in 2024.
MR PATEL: So, Shaun, we are continuing to consult with the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee and other likeminded nations as we review the IOC’s recommendations to international federations on the potential participation of Russian or Belarusian athletes. We continue to have serious concerns around the direct links between the Olympic and Paralympic athletes and the Russian and Belarusian militaries and national security agencies, as well as the IOC’s enforcement mechanisms, which were not outlined in the news that was shared today.
The Biden administration is also proud to – proud of its close partnership with Team USA, and we look forward to our collective work to use support for good in the United States and for – around the world. But I’d refer you to the USOPC for anything further on this.
QUESTION: Okay, so you won’t see it as a step forward or back in terms of your —
MR PATEL: Yeah, I don’t have any other – any other assessment to provide.
Said, go ahead.
QUESTION: Thank you. Can I move to the Israeli-Palestinian issue?
MR PATEL: Anything else?
QUESTION: (Inaudible) if you don’t mind.
QUESTION: No, please, go ahead.
MR PATEL: We’ll do one more and then we’ll go to Said. Go ahead, Alex.
QUESTION: Media reports citing the State Department officials suggesting that the U.S. supports the creation of a special tribunal to prosecute the crime of aggression against Ukraine. Could you please expand on that concept?
MR PATEL: Sure, Alex. The U.S. supports the development of a special tribunal on the crime of aggression against Ukraine in the form of an internationalized court that is rooted in Ukraine’s judicial system with international elements. We envision such a court having significant international support, particularly from our European partners, and ideally located in another country in Europe.
We believe that the special tribunal should be rooted in Ukraine’s domestic judicial system as this will provide the clearest path to establishing a new tribunal and maximize our chances of achieving meaningful accountability.
QUESTION: Just one thing on that announcement.
MR PATEL: Sure, yeah.
QUESTION: So what’s the next step for you guys, like after this? How is this going to run in parallel with the ICC? Can you talk a little bit about, like, how will you contribute to this? And have you also conveyed this to the Ukrainian officials, and what have they said?
MR PATEL: We of course engage with our Ukrainian partners on a number of issues and have had conversations about this as well. To take a step back, Humeyra, a tribunal of this type would enable the prosecution of crimes of aggression, and it would complement the work that will be undertaken by the International Center for the Prosecution of Crimes of Aggression by ensuring that the information and evidence collected by the center can be effectively put towards accountability purposes.
I would also say broadly that the U.S. supports all international efforts to examine atrocities in Ukraine, including the investigation by the ICC and the reporting by the UN Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine. Obviously, the key aspect here is the piece about aggression, which is what would set this special tribunal apart.
QUESTION: Just a follow-up on this, if you don’t mind.
MR PATEL: Alex, you’ve had a bunch of questions already.
Said, go ahead.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR PATEL: You’ve patiently had your hand up.
QUESTION: According to Haaretz, that Ben-Gvir, Itamar Ben-Gvir, the minister of national security in Israel, only agreed to Netanyahu’s judicial overhaul delay in exchange for an Israeli national guard, in essence having his own militia. Do you have any assessment of that? I mean, how would you look at something like this?
MR PATEL: Said, I’ve seen those reports, and I would refer you to the Government of Israel to speak specifically about any next steps or engagements that are happening. What I would say broadly about the news yesterday about the – this issue having reached an agreement for – just to have further conversations about it is that we have long said that compromise is precisely what we have been calling for. And we continue to strongly urge Israeli leaders and Israeli citizens to find a compromise. But I don’t have any assessment to offer on that specific report, Said.
QUESTION: But if this turns out to be true, it would be alarming, I mean, for someone to have, like, his own army, his own militia, probably largely composed of settlers. Right?
MR PATEL: Said, I’m just not going to categorize a hypothetical.
QUESTION: All right. Let me ask you about Hawara. The Israeli army continues to impose closures around Hawara in the northern occupied West Bank, and especially in the month of Ramadan. Do you have any comment on this?
MR PATEL: We have said a number of times we believe Palestinians and Israelis alike deserve equal measures of prosperity, freedom, and security. And we remain deeply concerned by the sharp rise in violence in the West Bank and continue to urge parties to take immediate steps to prevent further loss of life.
QUESTION: And lastly, very quickly, last week Senator Chris Van Hollen from Maryland asked the Secretary of State during the hearing whether the United States would look weak for not acting on its own – on your statement, actually; he mentioned your statement – if they don’t really carry on or do something or leverage what you said that day, on last Tuesday.
MR PATEL: Was there a question at the end of that?
QUESTION: Yes, there is. I mean, do you think the United States looks weak by not doing anything to back up its statement that – that statement that you did?
QUESTION: And remember, Vedant, that your – and your job depends on the answer.
QUESTION: Exactly. (Laughter.) No.
QUESTION: And so when you say yes, yes, the Americans – the United States looks weak – (laughter) – you should say that.
QUESTION: No. That’s not – (laughter) – that’s not what I’m saying. I am repeating what the senator said.
MR PATEL: Said, what I am —
QUESTION: Do you think – okay, let me rephrase this.
MR PATEL: Yeah.
QUESTION: I think the senator’s probably thrust behind what he asked: Does the United States look weak by not acting on its outrage or the statement or connections about —
MR PATEL: No, Said. I do not think – no, Said. The United States does not look weak. On this issue, which, as you know, is a very challenging and complicated issue, this administration, this President and this Secretary, have shown leadership. They have shown leadership in their engagement with our Israeli partners. They have shown leadership in their engagement with the Palestinian Authority. They have shown leadership in how we have constantly urged both sides to avoid steps that further incite tensions and take us further away from a two-state solution. And we have directly and candidly raised these issues in private, in public, through diplomatic channels, when we feel that steps are being taken by either side to take us away from what we view as our ultimate goal here.
QUESTION: Yes. On the Ciudad Juárez tragedy, does the U.S. Government trust the safety of Mexican facilities to hold U.S.-bound migrants?
MR PATEL: I’m not going to offer an assessment of another government’s facility from here. As you so note, this was a facility that was within Mexico’s immigration system, so that is a question for the Mexican Government.
QUESTION: Well, a second question, a clarification – a request for clarification. I don’t know if I heard you correctly, but did you say that the tragedy in Ciudad Juárez last night shows the risks of irregular migration? But weren’t precisely the migrants already under Mexican Government custody?
MR PATEL: What I said was that the risks – it shows the risks that migrants and refugees face broadly around the world. I’m not here to offer an assessment on where these migrants originated from or where they were going or what their status was or anything like that. What I would just say is that this is something that the Mexican Government is investigating. We are ready to support that effort should we be asked, and we are – stand ready to provide assistance.
QUESTION: But isn’t precisely your statement linking this to irregular migration instead, for example, to the safety and secureness of the facilities themselves?
MR PATEL: I am not – I’m not here to offer an assessment on the facilities of another government.
MR PATEL: But broadly speaking, across this administration we have long talked about the risks that irregular migration poses. I am not speaking about this incident specifically, but broadly, those who chose to transit anywhere irregularly put themselves at risk.
MR PATEL: Go ahead.
QUESTION: Thanks, Vedant. Couple questions. Does the administration have any reaction to the riots in France?
MR PATEL: Can you elaborate a little bit on that?
QUESTION: In France, over the past several weeks, even today, escalating, there have been riots nationwide, including in Paris, of President Macron’s effort to increase – correct me if I’m wrong – the retirement age from 62 to 64. And there have just been – there have been fires in the streets. Does the U.S. have any response to all of that?
MR PATEL: Well, first what I would say broadly is that we, of course, respect the right for anybody to peacefully protest and peacefully express themselves, but it’s never appropriate to take violent actions. What I would say broadly, though, that this is a domestic French issue and I’m not going to weigh into that. But what I will say is that France is a vital partner and one of our oldest allies, and we place the highest value on our alliance with them. And we have a long, shared history of shared democratic values.
QUESTION: And a new report showed dozens of countries that are part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative are battling to pay their debts and are relying on Beijing for additional emergency funds. Are you worried about Beijing’s growing influence and predatory lending practices in these countries?
0MR PATEL: What I would say broadly, and I spoke a little bit about this yesterday, is that our efforts in any part of the world are not about any one particular country. It is about what a partnership with the United States can look like and what a deepening partnership with the United States can benefit, not just the people of the United States but the people of that specific country as well.
As it relates to the Belt and Road Initiative, we have not parsed words that often these infrastructure projects saddle countries with bad debt; that the local workforce end up – do not end up reaping the economic benefits of the Belt and Road Initiative; that often these projects are undertaken without consideration of the environment or human rights. And as you so noted, that, again, sometimes these countries are saddled with debt that is difficult for them to pay off. So this is something we’ve spoken to before.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR PATEL: Go ahead, Goyal, in the back.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR PATEL: I – let – I’m – I’ll work my way front. Let me go to Goyal and then I will come – I will come forward. Go ahead.
QUESTION: Thank you, sir. Vedant, sir, two questions on U.S.-India relations.
MR PATEL: Sure.
QUESTION: A few weeks ago I brought to this department’s attention that Indian American community in the U.S. are under fear from the few elements, or Khalistani elements, and especially in San Francisco. And after that, what happened two weeks ago? The Indian consulate in San Francisco was vandalized, and also one of the diplomats was beaten up. And now those elements are still sitting in front of the consulate and people cannot go and come out and go in for services like passport and visa and all those services, and they are under fear. And police have not done anything, and still no one was arrested, and still same people are sitting there who vandalized and all the – but also —
MR PATEL: I’m going to – I’m going to jump in, Goyal —
QUESTION: And one —
MR PATEL: — that the U.S. Government, we condemn the recent violent incidents that have taken place during protests at Indian diplomatic facilities in the United States. Look, we support the First Amendment rights of protesters, and we support engagement of free speech activities. However, violence or the threat of violence is never an acceptable form of protest.
Consistent with our Vienna Convention obligations, the department is committed to taking all appropriate steps, including coordination with federal, state, and local law enforcement authorities, to protect the safety and security of these facilities and the diplomatic individuals who work within them as well.
QUESTION: And second, sir, in Washington, D.C., one of our reporters – Mr. Lalit Jha – among others, was attacked by these elements or this movement of people in Washington just over the weekend. And thanks to the Secret Service, he – his life was saved. And they were abusing the Indian ambassador and the Indian community, and he was – he had bruises and all that. So what I’m asking you now – this is ongoing on even here in Washington, D.C., at the Indian embassy, and Indian embassy issued a assault report and statement. I think you may have seen it. And I was also there among – abused and all that.
MR PATEL: So, look, attacks against journalists are never acceptable, and we condemn any incidents of violence against a member of the media just doing their job, and any act of violence or vandalism against a diplomatic facility as well.
QUESTION: And finally, sir, just quickly —
MR PATEL: I’m going to work the room, Goyal.
QUESTION: Sorry. Thank you.
MR PATEL: Go ahead.
QUESTION: I just wonder if you have update on Secretary Rick Waters’ trip to China last week.
MR PATEL: Yeah, thank you so much for your question. DAS Waters met with working-level counterparts and U.S. Government colleagues in an official capacity. He visited Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Beijing as part of his trip, and I don’t have really anything additional to offer at the moment.
QUESTION: Just specifically, what is the purpose of this trip given he was the highest-level official from this building visiting China after December? Is it – is there anything related to prepare for Secretary Blinken’s trip to China or the two presidents’ call, potential phone call?
MR PATEL: I don’t have any call to preview or anything like that. As it relates to the Secretary’s trip, we have long said that the trip is postponed and will be rescheduled at a date when conditions allow.
The important thing to remember here – and I think this is a key piece of DAS Waters’ trip – is we have long said that we believe it is important to maintain lines of communication with the PRC. The Secretary has reiterated that in his engagements with his counterparts as well, and so we’ll continue to do that through appropriate levels also.
QUESTION: Yeah, I want to —
QUESTION: But wait, you can’t offer a single topic that they mentioned? What did they talk about, the weather?
QUESTION: Or balloons?
QUESTION: No, forget about balloons. What did they – I mean, he didn’t go there just to say hey, great to see you. He obviously had some kind of message that he was carrying. Can you give us an idea of any topic, not specifics?
MR PATEL: He also partake – partook in some think tank activities as well. However, beyond any engagements that he had with the PRC counterparts, I’m just not going to get into the specifics of those engagements.
QUESTION: So the trip was basically meaningless, then?
MR PATEL: That is not what I said, Matt. I said it was a working-level discussion with his counterparts and U.S. Government colleagues.
QUESTION: Well, it is what you’re saying, because – what – about what? Did they talk about Ukraine? Did they talk about Russia?
MR PATEL: About a wide range of issues that we have as it relates to our bilateral relationship.
QUESTION: Did they talk about the South China Sea? Did they talk about —
MR PATEL: Again, I’m not going to get into specifics of diplomatic engagements, Matt.
QUESTION: So they basically talked about the weather, right?
MR PATEL: I’m not going to get into the specifics of diplomatic engagements, Matt. I appreciate you asking.
QUESTION: I’m not even asking for the specifics. I just – I mean, he didn’t go there just to, like, shoot the whatever you want to —
MR PATEL: Shoot the what?
QUESTION: Yeah, you know what I’m saying. He didn’t go there just to do that. He obviously had – there was something that he went there to talk about and something that the Chinese had to say to him.
MR PATEL: Matt, we – as it relates – as it relates to the PRC, we have long said that we believe it is important to maintain open lines of communication. We also have a number of issues to – that we have with them as it relates to our bilateral relationship. A number of those issues you have seen myself, the Secretary, others talk about.
QUESTION: Okay, so did he raise any of those?
MR PATEL: I’m not going to get into specifics about his diplomatic engagements. This is all heard – stuff that you’ve heard me say before, but broadly, I will reiterate that this is – this was a working-level visit with his counterparts as well as USG officials also.
QUESTION: If you can’t get into the topics, are you able to characterize how it went? Was it fruitful, constructive, not good?
MR PATEL: It was a working-level meeting, Humeyra, in which they talked about a number of issues and he had the opportunity to meet with his counterparts as well as U.S. Government officials.
QUESTION: The Summit for Democracy that you’re hosting – there’s a big challenge of disinformation that’s impacting democracies. What is the strategy of the U.S. Government? Are you going to do anything specific in collaboration with your other democratic partners to combat disinformation which is specifically emanating from China, Russia, and it impacts democracies across the globe?
MR PATEL: Of course. Combating disinformation is, of course, something that the bureau that we all live under within Global Public Affairs as well as the GEC – it’s something that they are quite focused on, and we have a number of lines of effort to ensure that we have pieces in places to push back on disinformation regardless of where it might be originating from.
QUESTION: Vedant, one more?
MR PATEL: I’ve called on you, Janne. Go ahead, Elizabeth. You had your hand open. No, no, no, I’m going – okay, go ahead. I’ll come to you, Elizabeth, after. Go ahead.
QUESTION: Thank you, thank you.
MR PATEL: Yeah.
QUESTION: North Korea fired an SRBM, short-range ballistic missile – nuclear aerial explosion test yesterday. What is the State Department position on this?
MR PATEL: So you have seen us speak about this quite regularly in that we continue to feel that these actions, these provocative actions being taken by the DPRK, are destabilizing, they are unsafe, and they put the broader region at risk. And as it relates to the DPRK, our goal continues to be the same, which is the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. We have also made clear that we are open to meeting with the DPRK without preconditions, but of course, the DPRK has yet to reciprocate.
Elizabeth, go ahead.
QUESTION: How do the Captagon sanctions today fit into the administration’s wider strategy in Syria and preventing the normalization of Assad?
MR PATEL: Sure. So broadly, on normalization, our stance against normalization remains unchanged. We will not normalize with the Assad regime, nor would we encourage others, absent an authentic and enduring progress towards a political solution, to do so.
What I will say broadly is that today’s actions are a reflection of a deep interagency approach across multiple fronts to address the Captagon trade, and specifically the Caesar Act is a valuable tool. It’s a tool that we have at our disposal to hold the Assad regime accountable. But of course, it’s not the only tool that we have, and you’ve seen us take additional actions over the course of this administration as well.
QUESTION: Two quick follow-ups, if I may. Because you mentioned the interagency approach, do you have an update on the status of the interagency strategy on Captagon that was required by the NDAA?
MR PATEL: I don’t, but I’m happy to check and see if we’ve got an update for you.
QUESTION: Okay, and then just one more.
MR PATEL: Yeah.
QUESTION: I think today – well, today’s designations mark the first use of the Caesar Act by this administration. Is there a reason why the administration waited two years to use this sanctions rule?
MR PATEL: This is of course a process that is intensive and that we want to make sure that we get right. The administration has worked actively to identify persons who are subject to designation under the Caesar Act. And as you just heard me say, it is a valuable tool, it’s an important tool, but it’s not the only tool that we have available to hold the Assad regime accountable. There are several executive orders that give Treasury and State sanction authorities to target those who are complicit in corruption, complicit in human rights abuses, those who are complicit in support for terrorism and other malign actions in Syria as well.
QUESTION: Vedant, excuse me, a quick follow-up.
MR PATEL: Go ahead.
QUESTION: At the top, were you accusing Bashar al-Assad himself of being responsible for the manufacture and trafficking of Captagon? Is that what —
MR PATEL: What I will —
QUESTION: Is that what this is all about?
MR PATEL: What I will say, Said, is that we know that the Assad regime has its hands in a number of malign destabilizing activities, and this is just yet another example of that.
Go ahead, Shaun.
QUESTION: Can we go to Africa?
MR PATEL: Sure.
QUESTION: Kenya. I wanted to ask about the – there’s been some political protests there – opposition protests (inaudible).
MR PATEL: Yeah. Yeah, you asked about this yesterday. Broadly, Shaun, the U.S. regrets the loss of life and damage to property in recent protests in Kenya. And we encourage political leaders, protesters, and all parties to refrain from violence and rhetoric that could incite violence. And we call on government security forces to act with restraint while protecting public safety and property. The rights to freedoms of expression and association and the right to peaceful assembly are core tenets to democracy, as we’ve said previously.
QUESTION: Could I just pursue that last part, peaceful assembly?
MR PATEL: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Is that criticism of the ban on opposition protests?
MR PATEL: Look, Shaun, we encourage political leaders, protesters, and all parties to refrain from violence and rhetoric that could incite violence. And we call on government security forces to act with restraint while protecting public safety and property.
QUESTION: Sure. Could I just do one more on Africa?
MR PATEL: Yes, please.
QUESTION: I know the Secretary issued a statement on Friday, but I guess we didn’t talk about yesterday – Rwanda, Paul Rusesabagina.
MR PATEL: Yeah.
QUESTION: First of all, can you confirm – I guess, maybe you can’t – but that he’s in Qatar now? And could you say a little bit broadly what it means for the relationship with Rwanda? Do you see it as the Rwandans say that this is a reset in the sense of having better relations with them?
MR PATEL: I will say a couple of things about that, Shaun. I will – obviously there’s a limit to what I’m going to get into out of respect to Mr. Rusesabagina’s privacy, but I can confirm that he did touch down in in Doha yesterday and of course will continue on to the United States. But again, I’m going to, out of respect for his privacy, not offer anything further.
Broadly, this process largely began with – well, I won’t say began, but Secretary Blinken’s trip in August, which many of you were on, played a key role in eventually resolving this case. And it was an example of cooperation between partners to resolve an issue that both governments had prioritized.
Okay. Mikhail, go ahead.
QUESTION: Yes. Do you have any comment on the new approach – of course, a positive approach – between Türkiye and Greece? And as I understand, it started after the visit of the secretary of state, who played, of course, a role on this.
MR PATEL: Well, Mikhail, this is something that, of course, you saw the Secretary speak to when he had the opportunity to be both in Ankara and Athens as well. And we have long said that as it relates to disputes between our NATO Allies, Türkiye and Greece, that these issues be resolved peacefully, that these issues be resolved through diplomatic dialogue and in line, of course, with the UN Charter. So that continues to be the case.
QUESTION: Can I ask – I asked you yesterday about this new position of Türkiye on Sweden and NATO, and you gave me the general answer, but I wanted to ask you the question again if –hoping for to have a specific answer. Mr. Kalin, who is also the spokesman for Mr. Erdogan, is saying that Türkiye is not going to approve Sweden membership if they don’t get the F-16. And are you going to accept this new position by Türkiye?
MR PATEL: So again, you saw me speak to this yesterday. We believe that both Sweden and Finland should be in NATO, and they should be in NATO as soon as possible. Both are strong, capable partners, and they share NATO’s values, and them joining the Alliance will not only strengthen the Alliance itself but also contribute to European security. We support and welcome President Erdogan’s announcement that he will send the protocols for Finland to Turkish parliament soon, and we look forward to that process concluding. And we also encourage our Turkish allies to quickly ratify Sweden’s accession protocols as well. Again, Sweden and Finland joining NATO will not only strengthen the Alliance, but it will also contribute to European security as well.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR PATEL: Go ahead, Alex.
QUESTION: Thank you, Vedant. I have two questions. On human rights, in light of Democracy Summit, I want to draw your attention to the initiative you guys announced in January, Without Just Cause Campaign. First and last time I heard about that publicly was in this room when it was announced. Can you fill us in where exactly that mission has been done – has done to get those individuals, 60 individuals featuring Kara-Murza from Russia, Elchin Mammad from Azerbaijan, and others out of jail?
MR PATEL: Alex, I will have to check in on the specifics of that announcement. But I will say broadly, though, human rights is an issue that this department and this Secretary raises regularly with our allies and partners, as well as with countries where we perhaps might have differing views on some of these issues. And that’s why you saw the Secretary come here to this podium to release the Human Rights Report. It’s why you see him taking such an active role in the Summit for Democracy because, again, we believe that democracies and the strength of democracies are a key tenet of human rights as well.
QUESTION: Excellent. And back to special tribunal question, just to clarify, based on your response to Humeyra, as I understand it correctly, this is going to – this initiative will walk shoulder to shoulder to another initiative that ICC has put together, it’s not necessarily going to be part the ICC initiative.
MR PATEL: I would not – I would not view it as an alternative or a replacement. What this is is another mechanism in which we support all international efforts to examine atrocities.
QUESTION: Will the administration support the idea of trying Putin in part of special tribunal you guys are —
MR PATEL: The important thing to remember here, Alex, is that it is clear that what Ukraine and other champions of accountability want is a – fair and effective prosecutions. And we believe that an internationalized court with broad internationalized support is the most likely and most effective pathway to achieving that shared goal. But I’m not going to speculate or get into hypotheticals about potential actions that it might take.
QUESTION: Assistant Secretary Robinson from INL is traveling to Mexico to talk about fentanyl. Are there specific asks for the Mexican Government by Secretary Robinson that he’s going to present?
MR PATEL: I don’t have any specific asks. Obviously, one, as it relates to countering fentanyl and countering fentanyl precursors, Mexico and the Government of Mexico is a key and important partner. This is something that is a priority for the Secretary as well. And so I know the assistant secretary looks forward to robust discussions on that.
QUESTION: How does it affect that the President of Mexico doesn’t recognize that fentanyl is produced in Mexico?
MR PATEL: Again, that’s a question for the Government of Mexico. I’m – what I would say is that this is an important priority for the Secretary. You’ve heard him talk about it. And I know that Assistant Secretary Robinson looks forward to continuing to have these engagements as well.
Goyal, last question.
QUESTION: Okay. Thank you, sir.
MR PATEL: Yeah.
QUESTION: I just wanted to say that Mr. Lalit Jha, who is your senior correspondent for Press Trust of India, he’s just shaken up, really. Any message for him from the Secretary, and also for the Indian or other press who are covering and doing their jobs?
MR PATEL: What I would say, Lalit, is – or, sorry, what I would say, Goyal, is what I just said a few moments ago, is that of course any violence against members of the media or journalists who are simply doing their job is unacceptable. I’ve had the opportunity to know Lalit for a number of years now, and I’m glad that he is doing well and largely doing a lot better. So –
Remarks by PresidentBiden at the SBA Women’s BusinessSummit
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. My name is Joe Biden. (Laughter.) I’m Dr. Jill Biden’s husband. (Laughter.) And I eat Jeni’s Ice Cream, chocolate chip. (Laughter.) I came down because I heard there was chocolate chip ice cream. (Laughter.)
By the way, I have a whole refrigerator full upstairs. (Laughter.) You think I’m kidding, I’m not.
Ben, how are you, pal?
SENATOR CARDIN: Well.
THE PRESIDENT: One of the best guys in the United States Congress, Ben Cardin. (Applause.)
Folks, welcome to the White House.
AUDIENCE: Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: And it’s a delight to have you all here. And who are those good-looking kids back here? (Laughter.)
MS. BLAKELY: Those are my kids.
THE PRESIDENT: They’re your kids? All four of them?
MS. BLAKELY: Yes.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, stand up, guys. (Laughter and applause.)
Well, I want you to know, like you, I had two brothers — there were three in our family, three brothers, and one sister. And my sister is smarter than all of us. (Laughter.) Not a joke.
She used to be three years younger than me; now she’s 23 years younger than me. (Laughter.) You know, she managed every one of my campaigns for office, even back when I was in high school. We went to the same university two years apart. She graduated with honors; I graduated. (Laughter.) And we had a simple rule in the family: Listen to Val. (Laughter.) My sister, Valerie, is incredible.
So, guys, be nice to your sister. You’re going to need her. (Laughter.) You’re going to need her. I promise.
It’s the same lineup. You’re the oldest? Who’s number two? Number two? Who’s number three?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: It’s both.
THE PRESIDENT: You’re twins? Are you guys twins?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: No, we’re not twins. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: Okay. All right. Just how — just how it was in our outfit. Well, I’m so glad to see you all, and thanks for coming with mom. Okay?
You got to take care of your mom. Dads are much harder to raise. But, you know, we’re — (laughter) —
Before I begin to speak, and the reason I spent a little time on the kids, I — I just want to speak very briefly about the school shooting in Nashville, Tennessee.
You know, Ben and I have been doing this our whole careers, it seems. And it’s just — it’s sick. You know, we’re still gathering the facts of what happened and why. And we do know that, as of now, there are a number of people who are not going to — did not make it, including children.
And it’s heartbreaking. A family’s worst nightmare.
And I want to commend the police who repo- — responded incredibly swiftly — within minutes — to end the danger.
We’re monitoring the situation really closely — Ben, as you know — and we have to do more to stop gun violence. It’s ripping our communities apart, ripping the soul of this nation — ripping at the very soul of the nation. And we — we have to do more to protect our schools so they aren’t turned into prisons.
You know, the shooter in this situation reportedly had two assault weapons and a pistol — two AK-47. So I call on Congress, again, to pass my assault weapons ban. It’s about time that we begin to make some more progress.
But there’s more to learn. But I just wanted to send my concern and hearts out to so many parents out there. I’ve been to so many of these sites, as Ben knows, by — virtually every one.
And one of the things you folks should — I know you do know, but you should focus on — you know, just like when — in the military — when my son was in Iraq for a year, other places, you — there’s so many members of the military coming back with post-traumatic stress after witnessing the violence and participating in it.
Well, these children, these teachers, they should be — should be focusing on their mental health, as well.
And so I’m grateful — anyway, sorry to start off that way, but I couldn’t begin without acknowledging what happened. And now I’m grateful that all of you are joining us here today.
Natalie, thank you for that introduction and for doing such an amazing thing in Detroit — Detroit — making chan- — chargers for electric vehicles in the Motor City — (laughs) — keeping going during the pandemic. And I want to welcome your son, Diop. Where’s Diop?
Oh, there you are, pal. (Laughter.) How are you? (Applause.) You got to be proud of your mom. You got to be proud of your mom.
And thanks to folks like Natalie, in cities and towns all across America, we’re seeing pride coming back. You know, there’s nothing that just sort of saps the pride of a city or a town when they lose a business, lose a significant employer. It just feels like you got your soul ripped out.
But for so many pe- — you’re bringing so many people back. You’re bringing back businesses all across America, not just in the East and the West Coast.
So, look, SBA Administrator Guzman is — I want to thank you for everything you’ve done, and for your team too, supporting small businesses across America.
We’re also joined, as I said, by Senator Cardin, a chair of the powerful Small Business Committee and literally, not figuratively, a true champion of businesses everywhere.
And, by the way, he’s got more integrity in his little finger than most people have in their whole body. I mean it. (Laughter and applause.)
And most of all, thank all of you, the small business owners and entrepreneurs who have joined us today. That includes three incredible panelists.
Sara started her business in — out of her apartment with $5,000 in a startup capital, and now she built just a little ole billion-dollar company. (Laughter and applause.) Whoa.
As my mother would say, “God love you, dear.” (Laughter.) Whoa.
Guys, you’re going to be okay. (Laughter.)
Melissa began her business in a kitchen while working on Wall Street. Now it’s the largest Black-owned makeup company sold in Target stores all across America. (Applause.)
And Payal combined her business training with her lifelong passion for dance, and created an exercise platform that has been used in 2,500 cities around the world.
And, by the way, you were here a couple of months ago performing with the dance company for Diwali celebration. You got it all, kid. You got it all. (Applause.)
I’m not sure — I’m not sure what’s in the cards today about dance, and I’m not making any promises. But just — just know she can.
And women — these women know what it takes to start a company out of nothing and build it into something that’s consequential.
You know — and they know how many women out there have the talent, the skills, and the commitment to start successful businesses if they only had the opportunity.
I used to have a friend who was a great basketball player, and his name is Pete McLaughlin. He used to say, “You got to know how to know.” You’ve got to know how to know. And that’s part of what the SBA is all about, when people know how to know.
Today it’s all about lifting up women entrepreneurs and making sure they have the support they need to succeed.
The businesses represented in this room stretch across industries, from restaurants to architectural firms to hardware stores, plus Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams. (Applause.) And by the way — by the way, it is splendid. (Laughter.) You think I’m joking. If I were allowed to take you upstairs, we got a whole freezer full of Jeni’s chocolate chip ice cream. (Laughter.)
You know, it’s pretty dull when you’ve been in public life as long as I have and you’re known for two things: chocolate chip ice cream and Ray-Ban sunglasses. (Laughter.) But what the hell, you know?
Look, you’re en- — entrepreneurs. You’re innovators. You’re job creators. And small businesses are the engine of our economy — the absolute engine. They’re the glue and the heart and the soul of our communities.
Twelve million businesses across America are owned by women. Twelve million. Small businesses like yours account for 40 percent — (applause) — you account for 40 percent of the nation’s GDP. You create two thirds of all the new jobs. And you employ nearly half of all private-sector workers.
For an American economy is — to be strong, it’s going to have to have a strong sal- — small-business base. It has to be strong.
We learned that again during the pandemic. When I came into office, the — this economy was reeling. Small businesses were hurting. Literally hundreds of thousands of small businesses had closed across the country. Millions of Americans, many of whom worked in small businesses, lost their jobs through no fault of their own.
To jumpstart American economic recovery, we needed to help the small businesses and we needed to help them fast. So we got to work. I signed the American Rescue Plan. Since I took office, we’ve delivered more than $450 billion in emergency relief to 6 million small businesses to help you pay your bills, to pay your workers, to keep your doors open.
We gave additional support to more than 100,000 restaurants; more than 13,000 live entertainment venues, which are — were especially hard hit; and we powered historic assistance to 220,000 child centers — childcare centers, 90 percent of which are owned and staffed by women.
By keeping those centers open, millions of women keep their job. Working parents could go to work again knowing their children were being cared for. It’s constant. They’re all connected. All this is closely connected.
Today, thanks to actions like these, we’ve achieved the fastest, strongest, most equitable recovery in American history. We’ve created 12.4 million new jobs. That’s more jobs — (applause) — that’s more jobs in two years than any president has created in a four-year term. And a m- — (applause) — and a majority — a majority of those jobs are held by women.
Unemployment is near a 50-year low. And record number of people have applied to start new businesses — nearly 10,500,000 applications in the past two years.
You know, as all of you know, every time someone moves to start a new business, it’s an act of hope. It’s an act of hope. We’re seeing a lot of these across the country. A lot of hope. And once again, it’s women leading the way.
In 2021, women started and owned half of all the new businesses in the United States, up from less than a third had women started by them in 19- — in 2019. Women-owned businesses like yours add $1.8 trillion — $1.8 trillion to America’s GDP every year, and that number grows.
And now — now we’ll keep that progress going.
And you know that the Small Business Administration runs a network of Women’s Business Centers across — (applause) — you got to know how to know. You got to know how to know. (Laughter.) Across all — all 50 States; Washington, D.C.; and Puerto Rico, as well.
These are places where women who want to start or grow a small business can get free business counseling; apply for an F- — SBA loan; and compete for federal contracts.
Today, I’m announcing that we’re expanding the network of W- — Women’s Business Centers to 160 centers nationwide, the largest number of all American history. (Applause.)
Plus, through the American Rescue Plan, we are investing $10 billion to make capital available to small businesses. Ten billion dollars is going to programs run by states and U.S. territories and Tribal governments, which then match — are matched with public and private dollars, leveraging tens of billions more and — for small businesses.
It’s about leverage. This is vital. Because we kn- — we know — we know that plenty of companies with potential don’t get off the ground, or can’t grow because they can’t get the startup funds or venture capital. This can be a major barrier for women entrepreneurs.
Last year, startups with all-women teams received less than 2 percent — less than 2 percent of all the venture capital dollars.
My administration — and in particular Vice President Harris — are working hard to change those numbers so more Americans with great ideas and strong plans can get the boost they need to launch successful businesses.
Because, by the way, it helps everybody. It helps everybody. And then, as we implement major pieces of legislation that I signed into law during the past two years, we’re ensuring that women are fully at the table. And I mean that sincerely.
From the historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law rebuilding roads, bridges, water systems, high-speed Internet across America, we’re investing a — over 1 trillion 200 billion dollars.
If we’re going to be the leading country in the world economically, we have to have the leading infrastructure in the world. And we rank at the — near the bottom of major — major companies now — countries, I should say.
And the CHIPS and Science Act — I had trouble convincing people of this — but investing hundreds of billions of dollars — $300 billion — to restore America’s technological edge by — including by manufacturing semiconductor chips.
By the way, we invented those chips. (Laughter.) No, we did. We, the United States of America. And then we got fat and happy. (Laughter.) And it seemed like major corporations thought it was better to export jobs to get cheaper jobs and import product. Not anymore. (Applause.)
And, by the way, for the first time, firms receiving significant federal dollars will have to make sure that high-quality childcare is available to their workers — (applause) — so parents can keep their jobs and keep good jobs.
You know, by the way, those so-called “fabs” that they — where they build these computer chips — you know what the average salary is going to be in the fab? $130,000. (Applause.) And you don’t need a — you don’t need a college education.
Across all these laws, we’re making the — sure that women have access to new jobs, new contracting opportunities in sectors where they’ve been historically underrepresented — from manufacturing, to construction, to clean energy.
And, by the way, I’m now supposed to — I’m — I’m known as America’s most pro-labor senator. Well, guess what? And then as — now, as President. Well, guess what? They’re, in fact, increasing the number of women who are in labor unions. It’s got to be — oh, no, you think I’m kidding? I’m not kidding.
Women are more than 50 percent of the population, to state the obvious. We want to have the strongest economy in the world. We can’t leave half the workforce behind. It’s that simple.
And when we make major investments like these, small businesses are going to benefit as well.
Last year, I went up to Syracuse, New York, where I went to school. Micron Technology, a big semiconductor chip manufacturing, is investing $100 billion to build a huge manufacturing facility — a so-called “mega fab.” Well, guess what? It’s going to create 9,000 good-paying jobs.
I met a woman named Shawni Davis. She studied at Syracuse University. Her dad introduced her to electrical work. He was an electrician. She joined the IBEW — the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, completed her apprenticeship, was the first Black woman in the city to become a master electrician. Now she owns her own electrical business. (Applause.)
And with Micron — with Micron making this huge investment in Central New York thanks to the law we passed and pushed, that means more opportunity for her company and her workers.
And here’s what she said. She said, “I’m a small business now, but I’m not planning to stay a small business.” (Laughter.)
Well, all of you in this room know that kind of determination. That entrepreneurial drive is the heart of America’s spirit. And we have to be unleashing it by helping more women entrepreneurs launch their businesses and achieve their dreams.
Let me close with this. During Women’s History Month, we recognize the history of women entrepreneurs in America, and it stretches back centuries. But it was only 35 years ago, in 1988, that the Women’s — that the Women’s Business Ownership Act was signed into law. Before then, in many states, if a woman applied for a business loan, she needed her husband, her father, or her brother to cosign for her. I’m not joking.
When I passed the Violence Against Women Act [Equal Credit Opportunity Act], I eliminated that because you used to have to — to get to — to get a bank account too. Can you imagine?
Well, thanks to all of you, we’re making up for lost time. (Applause.)
And for the women — for all the women who, through decades, have dreamed of having their own bus- — business, making their own money, carving out the slice of independence but couldn’t because the laws wouldn’t let them or they didn’t have the money or family support, that’s why what you’re doing today, along with women across the country, is so important.
You’re helping America be a company [country] where everyone — everyone can participate, where everyone’s contribution is valued, and where everyone has the freedom to pursue the dreams and build the future that they dream of.
That’s been the promise of our nation from the start. And you’re making it real for this generation and future generations. And because of you, we’re going to continue our progress in the years ahead.
You may have heard me say it before, but I can honestly say it without fear of contradiction: I’ve never been more optimistic — I mean this from the bottom — and I’ve been doing this — I know I don’t look it, but I’ve been doing this a long time. (Laughter.) I need one of you to help me out here. But at any rate — (laughter) —
But I’ve been doing this a long time, but I’ve never been more optimistic about America’s future than I am today. I mean it sincerely.
We just have to remember who in the hell we are. We’re the United States of America. There’s nothing, nothing, nothing beyond our capacity when we set our mind to it. Nothing. So — (applause) — I mean it. I mean it.
(Inaudible) asked me if I could only do one thing, what would I do. I said, “I’d cure cancer.” And they said, “Why is that?” It’s not just because cancer affects so many people. It’s a big thing. And Americans are beginning to wonder whether they can do big things anymore.
Well, guess what? We’re going to cure cancer. We’re going to cure cancer in about 25 years. (Applause.) We’ve just invested $5 billion more than I used to do it.
So, look, on behalf of a grateful nation, I want to thank you all because you’re such an inspiration to so many men and women around the country. You really are. You truly are.
And God bless you all. And may God protect our troops. (Applause.) Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Folks, I can’t stay. I’ve got to go, but I hope you have a good conference here, and I hope you have a good roundtable. And there’s a little thing going on in — around the world.
But anyway, I better — thank you so very, very much for everything.
Remarks by PresidentBiden in Address to the CanadianParliament
PRESIDENT BIDEN: Good afternoon. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you.
Good afternoon. Bonjour, Canada. (Applause.)
I must tell you, I took four years of French in school. (Laughter.) First time I attempted to make a speech in French, I was laughed at. (Laughs.) So, that’s as good as I can get right now.
But, seriously, thank you very, very much.
Speaker of the House of Commons, Speaker of the Senate, members of the Parliament, thank you for the very kind welcome to my wife and I.
Prime Minister Trudeau, you were my first meeting with a foreign leader, just one month after my presidency during the hardest days of COVID-19.
We had to make a visit virtual, but since then, we’ve been all over the world, talking to some — taking on some of the toughest issues our nations have faced in a very long time.
I want to thank you for your partnership and for your personal friendship. I thank you very much. (Applause.)
Jill and I are grateful for the hospitality that you and Sophie have shown us.
And, ladies and gentlemen, I’m honored to have the opportunity to uphold a tradition carried out by so many of my predecessors in addressing the hallowed halls of the Canadian democracy. Although this is a different hall. (Laughter.)
You’ve done a hell of a job here. (Laughter.) This is really beautiful. It’s really very beautiful.
This is a custom that speaks to the closeness of our relationship. Americans and Canadians are two people, two countries, in my view, sharing one heart. It’s a personal connection.
No two nations on Earth are bound by such close ties — friendship, family, commerce, and culture.
Our labor unions cross borders. So do our sports leagues: baseball, basketball, hockey. Listen to this: hockey. (Laughter and applause.)
I have to say, I like your teams except the Leafs. (Laughter and applause.) I’ll tell you why. I’ll tell you why. I’ll tell you why.
AUDIENCE MEMBERS: Booo —
PRESIDENT BIDEN: They beat the Flyers back in January. That’s why. (Laughter.) And if I didn’t see that — I married a Philly girl — if I didn’t say that, I’d be sleeping alone, fellas. I like you but not that much. (Laughter.)
It can be easy to take a partnership between Canada and the United States as a given.
And — but when you stop and think about it, it’s really a wonder. 5,525-mile-long border — more than 8,800 kilometers — defined by peaceful commerce. Trading relationships that measure more than $2.5 billion a day.
Every day, hundreds of thousands of people cross the borders, going north and south, to work or just to visit, knowing they’ll find a warm welcome on the other side of the border.
Americans love Canadians, and that’s not hyperbole. It’s a data-driven fact.
Earlier this week, the Gallup poll did a new poll showing American opinions on different countries in the world. This is a fact. Canada ranked at the very top. Eighty-eight percent favorability rating among Americans — (applause) — up from eighty-seven the year before. I take credit for that one point. (Laughter.)
I suspect every politician in this — in this room would — would do a hell of a lot to get those kind of numbers. (Laughter.)
But there’s a reason for it. The same fundamental aspirations reverberated across both our nations, from the Atlantic to the Pacific. To live in freedom, not just freedom but live in freedom with dignity — with dignity. To relentlessly pursue the possibilities of tomorrow. To leave — leave our children and our grandchildren a future that’s better because of our efforts — the people in this room and a similar room in the United States.
President Kennedy said and — when he spoke here in 1961 — and I quote — he said, “Ours is the unity of equal and independent nations, co-tenants of the same continent, heirs of the same legacy, and fully sovereign associates in the same historic endeavor: to preserve freedom for ourselves and [for] all who wish it.” For all who wish it.
Through more than a century of that historic endeavor, Canada and the United States have had each other’s backs. In war and in peace, we have been the stronghold of liberty. A safeguard for the fundamental freedoms that give us our — our lives — literally give our lives meaning.
We have gladly stepped into the responsibilities of global leadership because we understand all that is at risk for Canadians and Americans alike when freedom is under attack anywhere in the world.
Today, our destinies are intertwined and they’re inseparable, not because of the inevitability of geography, but because it’s a choice — a choice we’ve made again and again.
The United States chooses to link our future with Canada because we know that we’ll find no better partner — and I mean this from the bottom of my heart — no more reliable ally, no more steady friend.
And today I say to you, and to all the people of Canada, that you will always, always be able to count on the United States of America. (Applause.) I guarantee it.
Together — together, we have built a partnership that is an incredible advantage to both our nations.
That doesn’t mean we never disagree, as any two countries will do from time to time. But when we disagree, we solve our differences in friendship and in good will, because we both understand our interests are fundamentally aligned.
And as we stand at this inflection point in history — I had a professor who once explained an inflection point as: You’re going down the highway at 60 miles an hour, and you rapidly turn in one direction five degrees; you never get back on the same path again, but — but you’re on a different course — where the decisions we make in the coming years will determine the course of our world for decades to come. It happens every five or six generations, but we’re at that point.
Nothing gives me greater confidence in the future than knowing Cana- — Canada and the United States stand together still.
Today, I’d like to speak to a little bit about the future, if I may — a future that’s ours to seize.
You know, I get criticized at home sometimes for saying that — I used to always — Barack — President Obama used to always kid me because I’d always say to him in our private meetings, “A country is never more optimistic than its President or its leaders.” Well, I’ve never been more optimistic in my life about the prospects — I really mean this, from the bottom of my heart. We’re so well posi- —
A future built around our shared responsibilities, prosperity, security, shared values.
First, it’s a future built on shared prosperity, where Canada and the United States continue to anchor the most competitive, prosperous, and resilient economic region in the world. That’s a fact. That’s just a fact. (Applause.) Where our supply chains are secure and reliable from end to end because we’re creating the value at every step right here in North America.
We’re mining we’re — critical minerals to manufacturing and packaging of the most advanced semiconductors in the world, to producing electric vehicles and clean energy technologies together.
A future where we understand that economic success is not in conflict with the rights and dignity of workers or meeting our responsibilities addressing the climate crisis, but rather those things depend on us doing that. (Applause.) Depend on us doing that. Factually.
Since becoming President, I’ve been laser-focused on rebuilding the U.S. economy from the bottom up and the middle out. Not a whole lot trickled down from the top down to my dad’s kitchen table.
And, by the way, when the bot- — when the middle class does well, the wealthy do very well. No one gets hurt. (Applause.)
And the United States made historic — and to the chagrin of some of our critics in the press — bipartisan investments in infrastructure — in infrastructure, innovation that are already bringing together and delivering concrete benefits to the American people.
And we — you know, as we implement these legislative achievements, there are enormous opportunities for Canada and the United States to work even closer together to create good-paying jobs in both our countries.
The Inflation Reduction Act — which I admit wasn’t bipartisan, but nonetheless, all of the sudden I’m finding we have more adherence — represents the single largest commitment in tackling climate in our history. As a matter of fact, the single-largest investment in all of human history.
And it’s going to spur clean energy investments all over the world.
And explicitly — explicitly it includes tax credits for electric vehicles assembled in Canada, recognizing — (applause) — there’s a simple reason — recognizing — recognizing how interconnected our auto industries are and our workers are.
I am the most pro-union President ever — America has ever had. (Applause.) No, no. And I speak to a hell of a lot of Canadian union members.
Look, this is the middle — this is a model for future cooperation, with both our nations investing at home to increase the strength of our industrial bases, making sure that products manufactured in North America are not only manufactured, but they’re the best in the world.
You know, we’re going to amplify our shared commitment to climate action while growing our economies.
If I could just stop for just a second and say: You know, when I announced for President, I was always known as one of those kind of green Repu- — Democrats, and Republicans used to be the same, in my place. Well, guess what? I didn’t announce my ec- — my — my — my environmental plan, and I was getting beat up. “Why is Biden all of a sudden changing?”
Well, the reason is I brought all the unions together. I brought them into the White House. Not a joke. Because they all said, “We’re going to lose our jobs.” And I pointed out: Guess what? Every single solitary initiative required to deal with the environment creates union jobs. (Applause.) Creates thousands of jobs. Thousands of jobs.
For example, I met with the IBEW and pointed out we’re going to build 5,500 [500,000] electric charging stations. Guess who builds them? Union workers. (Applause.)
So, look, we’re coordinating the standard for new electric vehicles and charging stations so that Americans and Canadians can continue to easily cross the border without ever hitting a snag in their American- or Canadian-built automo- — zero-emission vehicles.
Moreover, we’re going to build batteries and technologies that go into those vehicles together.
We’ve learned the hard way during the pandemic that when we rely on just-in-time supply chains the circle — that circle the globe, there are significantly — significant vulnerabilities to disruptions and delays. And it drives up costs here at home, to both Canada and the United States.
But there’s a better way. Our nations are blessed with incredible natural resources. Canada in particular has large quantities of critical minerals that are essential for our clean energy future — for the world’s clean energy future.
And I believe we have an incredible opportunity to work together so Canada and the United States can source and supply here in North America everything we need for reliable and resilient supply chains. (Applause.)
Folks — and, folks, to help make our critical mineral supply chains the envy of the world, the United States is making funding available under the Defense Production Act to incentivize American and Canadian companies to responsibly mine and process critical minerals needed for electric vehicles and stationary storage batteries.
We’re also building integrated supply chains for our semiconductors — the critical computer chip that I might note was invented in America and then we lost control of it. We not only controlled them, but we lost producing them. And that power so much of our daily lives.
The IB pla- — the IBM plant in Bromont, Quebec, is the largest semiconductor packa- — packaging and testing facility in North America. (Applause.)
Chips made in Vermont — chips made in Vermont and Upstate New York are shipped to Bromont to be packaged into electronic components. But now Bromont is expanding with the support of the Canadian government, and there’s going to be a lot more work to do.
Thanks to the bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act I signed into law last year, companies are breaking ground for new semiconductor plants across the United States, representing billions of dollars of new investments in American high-tech manufacturing.
Twelve billion dollars from Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company in Arizona. Twenty billion dollars and counting from Intel in Ohio. One hundred billion dollars in New York, the single-largest investment of its kind ever in the world.
When chips begin to roll off these new production lines in America, a lot of them are going to be coming to Canada to be packaged. And that’s a lot of jobs — good-paying jobs. (Applause.)
And today — and today, I’m also making available, through the Defense Production Act, $50 million to incentivize more U.S. and Canadian companies to invest in packaging semiconductors and printed circuit boards.
Look, that brings me to a second pillar of our future, because of — our shared prosperity is deeply connected to our shared security.
In the past — and the past years have proven that Ca- — Canada and the United States are not insulated from the challenges that impact the rest of the world.
The world needs Canada and the United States working together with our partners around the world to rally strong and effective global action.
Nowhere is that more obvious than our united response to Russia’s brutal aggression against Ukraine. (Applause.)
We’ve stood together — we have stood together to defend sovereignty, to defend democracy, to defend freedom for ourselves and all who wish it.
As I told President Zelenskyy when I visited with him in Kyiv last month, people all over the world are with the brave people of Ukraine. And you have to ask yourself: Aren’t you amazed of the personal bravery they’re showing? It’s incredible. (Applause.) It’s incredible.
And, folks, I know there’s a large Ukrainian diaspora here in Canada — not just the lovely lady we were all introduced to a moment ago — who feel the same way.
Canada and the United States, together with a coalition of 50 nations we jointly worked to put together, are making sure that Ukraine can defend itself.
We’re supplying air defense systems, artillery systems, ammunition, armored vehicles, tanks, and so much more. Tens of billions of dollars so far.
Together with our G7 partners, we’re imposing significant costs on Russia as well, denying Russia critical inputs for its war machine.
We’re independently holding Russia accountable for the war crimes and crimes against humanity that Russia is committing and continues to commit as I speak today.
And Canada and America alike have opened their arms to Ukrainian refugees.
Our people know well the high price of freedom. Our Peace Tower — your Peace Tower stands testament to the sacrifices of more than 60,000 brave Canadians who perished in World War One, forever making this nation a champion of liberty.
And the words of a Canadian poet, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, still call to us from Flanders Field, echoing their charge through the ages. And I s- — quote it: To you from falling — from failing — excuse me — “To you from failing hands we throw the torch [to you] to hold it high.”
So, today, let’s once more affirm that we’re going to keep that torch of liberty burning brightly. (Applause.) And support the Ukrainian people will not waver. (Applause.)
Putin was certain he would have been able to break NATO by now. He was certain of that. But guess what? His lust for land and power has failed thus far.
The Ukrainian people love of their country is going to prevail.
In the face of President Putin’s aggression against Ukraine, Canada and the United States are also making clear our commitment to our NATO Allies. We’ll keep our Alliance strong and united. We’ll defend every inch of NATO territory.
An attack against one is an attack against all. (Applause.)
And as we look forward to the 75th anniversary of NATO next year, Canada and the United States share a responsibility and a commitment to make sure NATO can deter any threat, defend against any aggression from anyone. That’s the bedrock of the security of both our nations.
Canada and the United States are not only partners in the transatlantic security, we are Pacific nations as well.
Earlier this month, we held our first U.S.-Canadian Indo-Pacific Dialogue to deepen our cooperation in the vital region to promote an Indo-Pacific is — that’s free and open and prosperous and secure.
We’re also an Arctic nation. We both recognize the critical importance of this region to our collective security and the interest of other nations, all of the sudden, in the Artic. We’re working in close coordination to the — to steward and protect the north- — the northernmost reaches of our world.
And we’re — we are American nations, deeply invested in ensuring that the Western Hemisphere is peaceful, prosperous, democratic, and secure. And that starts with our commitment to defending our people and our own sovereign territory.
NORAD is the only binational military command in the world. NORAD is the only binational military command in the world. Yet another way in which our partnership is exceptional.
It is an incredible symbol of the faith we have in one another and the trust we place in each other’s capabilities.
Soon, NORAD will have a new next-generation over-the-horizon radars to enhance our early warning capacity, upgraded undersea surveillance systems, modernized infrastructure that is
necessary to host the most advanced aircraft.
And I’m looking forward to continuing to work in close partnership with Canada as we deliver on these needs so that our people can continue to rest soundly knowing NORAD is in the watch. Folks — (applause) — they are.
And we’re also coordinating closely to take on the human security challenges throughout the region.
We’re working in partnership with our pe- — the people of Haiti to try to find ways to provide security, humanitarian assistance, and to help strengthen Haiti’s stability.
We’re tackling the scourge of synthetic drugs that are devastating Canada and American communities, particularly our young people.
Fentanyl is a killer. The mo- — and almost everyone knows someone who has been affected by this — lost a child or lost a friend.
Canada and the United States are working closely with our partner, Mexico, to attack this problem at every stage, from the precursor chemicals shipped from overseas, to the powders, to the pills, to the traffickers moving into all of our countries.
And we all know synthetic opioid epi- — epidemic has its roots around the globe, not just here. So today we’re announcing a commitment to build a new global coalition of likeminded countries, led by Canada and the United States, to tackle this crisis. This is about public health. (Applause.) This is about public health.
It’s about public health, our economic futures, our national security.
We’re also working together to address the record levels of migration in the hemisphere. The Los Angeles Declaration on Migration and Protection, which the United States and Canada signed last June, along with 19 other nations, reps- — represents an integrated new approach to mi- — the migration challenge, which is real — one that unites humane policies that both secure borders and support people.
In the United States, we’re expanding legal pathways for migration to seek safety in humanitarian — on a humanitarian basis, while discouraging unlawful migration that feeds exploitation and human trafficking.
So, today I applaud China [sic] for stepping up — or, excuse me — I applaud Canada — (laughter) — I’m — you can tell what I’m thinking — (laughter) — about China. I won’t get into that yet.
I applaud Canada for stepping up with similar programs, opening new legal pathways for 1,500 [15,000] migrants to come to Canada from countries in the Western Hemisphere.
At the same time, the United States and Canada will work together to discourage unlawful border crossings and fully implement in the updated Safe Third Country Agreement. (Applause.)
Finally, as we advance our shared prosperity and security, we must never lose sight of our shared values, because our values are literally the lynchpin holding everything else together. Welcoming refugees and seeking — asylum seekers is a part of who Canadians and Americans are.
In fact, the United States recently launched a new private sponsorship program for refugees — we call it “Welcome Corps” — which draws Canadian — on Canadians’ decades of leadership in refugee resettlement.
We’re both countries built upon a nation-to-nation relationship with Native Americans and First Nations.
We’ve both been influenced and strengthened by the contributions of generation of immigrants.
We believe to our core that every single person deserves to live in dignity, safety, and rise as high as their dreams can carry them.
We strive to defend human rights, to advance equality and gender — gender equality, to pursue justice, and uphold the rule of law.
I want to note the outstanding work Canada has done to build a coalition of nearly 70 countries endorsing the Declaration Against Arbitrary Detention in State-to-State Relations. (Applause.)
It’s not only a statement of values. Our citizen- — our citizens are not bargaining chips. They’re not diplomatic leverage. They’re human beings with lives and families that must be respected.
And I’m very glad to see the two Michaels — (applause) — the two Michaels — Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig — are safely back with their families — (applause) — after more than 1,000 days — 1,000 days in detention.
If my mother were here, she’d say, “God bless you both.” Thank you for joining us today. And thank you for having an opportunity to meet you earlier.
You know, the incredible diversity that defines each of our nations is our strength.
And the Prime Minister Trudeau and I know this is a belief that you and I share.
We’ve both built administrations that look like America and look like Canada. I’m very proud — (applause) — I’m very proud that both of us have Cabinets that are 50 percent women — (applause) — for the first time in history.
Even if you don’t agree, guys, I’d stand up. (Laughs.)
We took the lesson from you.
Because the bottom line is this: When we make it easier for historically unrepresented and underserved communities to dream, to create, and to succeed, we build a better future for all our people.
So let’s continue the work.
Where there are no barriers, things look better. Where there are barriers to equal opportunity, we got to tear them down. Where inequity stifles potential, where we unleash the full power of our people. Where injustice holds sway, let’s insist on justice being done.
Those are the shared values that imbue all of our efforts, our very democracy, our vitality, and our vi- — our vibrancy.
You know, it’s what seems — it drives us all. Some places and some persons cam- — are kind of forgetting what the essence of democracy is. We have to reach — it’s what allows us to reach beyond the horizon.
Let me close with this. The year after President Kennedy spoke in Canada’s Parliament, he delivered a famous speech at Rice University, issuing a challenge for Americans to go to the Moon in a decade’s time.
And you remember what he said. You probably do, because we had to learn it when we were in school.
“We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do other things, not because [it’s] easy, but because they are hard, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one that we’re” willing — “unwilling to postpone, and one which…we [will] win.”
That speech tapped into something deep in America’s character, something powerful: a belief that we can do big things.
If you’ll hold a second, just think about it. Turn on the television the last two years, whether it’s in your country or mine — after two years of COVID, people are beginning to wonder, “Can we still do big things?” Big things. And we sure in hell can. (Laughter and applause.)
That confidence — I believe with every fiber of my being that confidence can make the most audacious dreams reality.
And less than seven years after Kennedy’s speech, the entire world watched humanity left its first footprints on those further shores.
It inspired a generation, and it spurred much of the technology advancement which now enriches our daily lives.
Today, our world once more stands at the cusp of breakthroughs and possibilities that have never before even been dreamt of. And Canada and the United States are leading and will continue to lead the way. (Applause.)
In just a few days — in just a few days, NASA is going to announce an international team of astronauts who will crew the Artemis II mission. The first human voyage to the Moon since the Apollo mission ended more than 50 years ago will consist of three Americans and one Canadian. (Applause.)
We choose to return to the Moon together! Together we’ll return to the Moon.
And from there, we look forward to Mars and to the limitless possibilities that lie beyond.
And here on Earth, our children who watch that flight are going to learn the names of those new pioneers. They’ll be the ones who carry us into the future we hope to build. The Artemis generation.
Ladies and gentlemen, we’re living in an age of possibilities. Xi Jinping asked me, in the Tibetan Plateau, could I define America. And I could’ve said the same thing if he asked about Canada. I said, “Yes. One word — and I mean it. One word: possibilities.” (Applause.) Nothing is beyond our capacity. We can do anything. We have to never forget. We must never doubt our capacity.
Canada and the United States can do big things. We stand together, do them together, rise together.
We’re going to write the future together, I promise you.
God bless you all. And may God protect our troops. Thank you, thank you, thank you. (Applause.)
European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde gives a news conference
Good afternoon, the Vice-President and I welcome you to our press conference.
Inflation is projected to remain too high for too long. Therefore, the Governing Council today decided to increase the three key ECB interest rates by 50 basis points, in line with our determination to ensure the timely return of inflation to our two per cent medium-term target. The elevated level of uncertainty reinforces the importance of a data-dependent approach to our policy rate decisions, which will be determined by our assessment of the inflation outlook in light of the incoming economic and financial data, the dynamics of underlying inflation, and the strength of monetary policy transmission.
We are monitoring current market tensions closely and stand ready to respond as necessary to preserve price stability and financial stability in the euro area. The euro area banking sector is resilient, with strong capital and liquidity positions. In any case, our policy toolkit is fully equipped to provide liquidity support to the euro area financial system if needed and to preserve the smooth transmission of monetary policy.
The new ECB staff macroeconomic projections were finalised in early March before the recent emergence of financial market tensions. As such, these tensions imply additional uncertainty around the baseline assessments of inflation and growth. Prior to these latest developments, the baseline path for headline inflation had already been revised down, mainly owing to a smaller contribution from energy prices than previously expected. ECB staff now see inflation averaging 5.3 per cent in 2023, 2.9 per cent in 2024 and 2.1 per cent in 2025. At the same time, underlying price pressures remain strong. Inflation excluding energy and food continued to increase in February and ECB staff expect it to average 4.6 per cent in 2023, which is higher than foreseen in the December projections. Subsequently, it is projected to come down to 2.5 per cent in 2024 and 2.2 per cent in 2025, as the upward pressures from past supply shocks and the reopening of the economy fade out and as tighter monetary policy increasingly dampens demand.
The baseline projections for growth in 2023 have been revised up to an average of 1.0 per cent as a result of both the decline in energy prices and the economy’s greater resilience to the challenging international environment. ECB staff then expect growth to pick up further, to 1.6 per cent, in both 2024 and 2025, underpinned by a robust labour market, improving confidence and a recovery in real incomes. At the same time, the pick-up in growth in 2024 and 2025 is weaker than projected in December, owing to the tightening of monetary policy.
The decisions taken today are set out in a press release available on our website.
I will now outline in more detail how we see the economy and inflation developing and will then explain our assessment of financial and monetary conditions.
The euro area economy stagnated in the fourth quarter of 2022, thus avoiding the previously expected contraction. However, private domestic demand fell sharply. High inflation, prevailing uncertainties and tighter financing conditions dented private consumption and investment, which fell by 0.9 per cent and 3.6 per cent respectively.
Under the baseline, the economy looks set to recover over the coming quarters. Industrial production should pick up as supply conditions improve further, confidence continues to recover, and firms work off large order backlogs. Rising wages and falling energy prices will partly offset the loss of purchasing power that many households are experiencing as a result of high inflation. This, in turn, will support consumer spending.
Moreover, the labour market remains strong, despite the weakening of economic activity. Employment grew by 0.3 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2022 and the unemployment rate stayed at its historical low of 6.6 per cent in January 2023.
Government support measures to shield the economy from the impact of high energy prices should be temporary, targeted and tailored to preserving incentives to consume less energy. As energy prices fall and risks around the energy supply recede, it is important to start rolling back these measures promptly and in a concerted manner. Measures falling short of these principles are likely to drive up medium-term inflationary pressures, which would call for a stronger monetary policy response. Moreover, in line with the EU’s economic governance framework and as stated in the European Commission’s guidance of 8 March 2023, fiscal policies should be oriented towards making our economy more productive and gradually bringing down high public debt. Policies to enhance the euro area’s supply capacity, especially in the energy sector, can help reduce price pressures in the medium term. To that end, governments should swiftly implement their investment and structural reform plans under the Next Generation EU programme. The reform of the EU’s economic governance framework should be concluded rapidly.
Inflation edged down to 8.5 per cent in February. The decline resulted from a renewed sharp drop in energy prices. By contrast, food price inflation increased further, to 15.0 per cent, with the past surge in the cost of energy and of other inputs for food production still feeding through to consumer prices.
Moreover, underlying price pressures remain strong. Inflation excluding energy and food increased to 5.6 per cent in February and other indicators of underlying inflation have also stayed high. Non-energy industrial goods inflation rose to 6.8 per cent in February, mainly reflecting the delayed effects of past supply bottlenecks and high energy prices. Services inflation, which rose to 4.8 per cent in February, is also still being driven by the gradual pass-through of past energy cost increases, pent-up demand from the reopening of the economy and rising wages.
Wage pressures have strengthened on the back of robust labour markets and employees aiming to recoup some of the purchasing power lost owing to high inflation. Moreover, many firms were able to raise their profit margins in sectors faced with constrained supply and resurgent demand. At the same time, most measures of longer-term inflation expectations currently stand at around two per cent, although they warrant continued monitoring, especially in light of recent volatility in market-based inflation expectations.
Risks to the outlook for economic growth are tilted to the downside. Persistently elevated financial market tensions could tighten broader credit conditions more strongly than expected and dampen confidence. Russia’s unjustified war against Ukraine and its people continues to be a significant downside risk to the economy and could again push up the costs of energy and food. There could also be an additional drag on euro area growth if the world economy weakened more sharply than expected. However, companies could adapt more quickly to the challenging international environment and, together with the fading-out of the energy shock, this could support higher growth than currently expected.
The upside risks to inflation include existing pipeline pressures that could still send retail prices even higher than expected in the near term. Domestic factors, such as a persistent rise in inflation expectations above our target or higher than anticipated increases in wages and profit margins, could drive inflation higher, including over the medium term. Moreover, a stronger than expected economic rebound in China could give a fresh boost to commodity prices and foreign demand. The downside risks to inflation include persistently elevated financial market tensions that could accelerate disinflation. In addition, falling energy prices could translate into reduced pressure from underlying inflation and wages. A weakening of demand, including owing to a stronger deceleration of bank credit or a stronger than projected transmission of monetary policy, would also contribute to lower price pressures than currently anticipated, especially over the medium term.
Financial and monetary conditions
Market interest rates rose considerably in the weeks following our last meeting. But the increase has strongly reversed over recent days in a context of severe financial market tensions. Bank credit to euro area firms has become more expensive. Credit to firms has weakened further, owing to lower demand and tighter credit supply conditions. Household borrowing has become more expensive as well, especially owing to higher mortgage rates. This rise in borrowing costs and the resultant decline in demand, along with tighter credit standards, have led to a further slowdown in the growth of loans to households. Amid these weaker loan dynamics, money growth has slowed sharply, driven by its most liquid components.
Summing up, inflation is projected to remain too high for too long. Therefore, the Governing Council today decided to increase the three key ECB interest rates by 50 basis points, in line with our determination to ensure the timely return of inflation to our two per cent medium-term target. The elevated level of uncertainty reinforces the importance of a data-dependent approach to our policy rate decisions, which will be determined by our assessment of the inflation outlook in light of the incoming economic and financial data, the dynamics of underlying inflation, and the strength of monetary policy transmission. We are monitoring current market tensions closely and stand ready to respond as necessary to preserve price stability and financial stability in the euro area.
In any case, we stand ready to adjust all of our instruments within our mandate to ensure that inflation returns to our medium-term target and to preserve the smooth functioning of monetary policy transmission.
We are now ready to take your questions.
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I was wondering, could you explain a little bit how you see the path of interest rates ahead? Until a few days ago, it seemed pretty clear that interest rates would have to rise further after this meeting, but you didn't give any guidance in the statement. Does this mean it could be that we've already reached the peak in interest rates?
Then secondly, regarding the banking sector more broadly: a lot of people have drawn parallels between what happened at Credit Suisse and Silicon Valley Bank between, and failures we've seen in the last financial crisis like Bear Stearns. Did you see any risks that we are on the verge of a systemic crisis like in 2008?
On your first question: I would call your attention to one particular paragraph, which is the first one in our monetary policy statement in which we are really trying to dissect for you the mechanism of our reaction function. This is really the best guidance that we can provide and it is 1) the assessment of the inflation outlook in light of the incoming economic and financial data, 2) the dynamics of underlying inflation, and 3) the strength of our monetary policy transmission. So, that's brand new. These three components, we never discussed them, we never let them out and they are clearly identified as the three elements that will be taken into account to determine our reaction function going forward.
Second point: if our baseline was to persist when the uncertainty reduces, we know that we have a lot more ground to cover. But it's a big caveat. If our baseline was to persist. As you know, the projections that were determined by staff – are based on data and assessment of the situation with a cut-off date. That cut-off date was 15 February for the international outlook and technical assumptions and 1 March for the euro area macroeconomic projections. Now, since 1 March a lot obviously has developed and the projections that we have do not incorporate any of the most recent developments and certainly not the impact of the most recent financial tensions that we have observed on the markets.
So, there is a level of uncertainty that has been completely elevated as a result of that, and that is the reason why we reinforced the principle of data dependency that we have indicated in the past with a clear map of the reaction function that we will have in the future. So, it is not possible at this point in time and on the basis of the first component that I have mentioned, which is assessment of the inflation outlook in light of the incoming economic and financial data, it is not possible to determine at this point in time what the path will be going forward. But we know that it will be data dependent and we know that if the baseline as we have it was confirmed and was to persist, we would have more ground to cover.
On your second point, I will again read for you one more time what is in the second paragraph this time of our monetary policy statement, which is that we are monitoring current market tensions closely. We stand ready to respond as necessary to preserve price stability and financial stability in the euro area. Given the reforms that have taken place – and I was around in 2008 so I have clear recollection of what happened and what we had to do – we did reform the framework. We did agree on Basel III, we did increase the capital ratio, we did increase the financial coverage ratios as well and I think that the banking sector is currently in a much, much stronger position than where it was back in 2008.
Added to which: if it was needed, we do have the tools, we do have the facilities that are available and we also have a toolbox that has other instruments that we always stand ready to activate if and when needed. Finally, and that is a tribute to our staff because as you can imagine, we all have worked quite hard in the last few days and particularly the last few hours. They have demonstrated in the past that they can also exercise creativity in very short order in case it is needed to respond to what would be a liquidity crisis if there was such a thing. But this is not what we are seeing.
Could you please unpack for me your statement that there might be a lot more ground to cover, should the baseline prevail? What does that mean? Especially given that prior to this meeting, almost all Governing Council members, including Philip Lane, has said that more rate hikes will likely be needed beyond March. So, are you walking back on that commitment, or is the ECB's inflation fighting stamina waning? Are you giving up on inflation?
The second question I have is the usual one, I'm sorry: what other options were being discussed in the meeting today? What were the alternatives that policymakers were supporting?
We are not waning on our commitment to fight inflation and we are determined to return inflation back to the 2% target in the medium term. That should not be doubted. The determination is intact and the path at which we will cover the ground, the pace that we will take will be entirely data dependent. That's what we have always said, and we are saying on this specific occasion that given the level of uncertainty that has been significantly increased as a result of the most recent financial tensions and developments, given that level of uncertainty it is better to make the decision that we believe is a robust decision with our 50 basis points increase, and then see what the data tell us, and what next assessment we make on the basis of that data. Let me reassure you: we are determined to fight inflation and return it to 2%. We will take the measures that are necessary. They will be data dependent and they will function on the basis of these three parameters that I have just mentioned to illustrate what our reaction function is.
You had a second question, which you said was a repeat of previous questions, which I think had to do with any other options? What has happened behind those closed doors? I fully appreciate the question. I have to tell you that the Executive Board proposed that option which is described in the monetary policy statement and that no other option was proposed. I can also tell you that the decision was adopted by a very large majority with three or four that did not support the decision, not in its principle because they were ready to go for that decision, but they were keen to probably give a bit more time to see how the situation unfolds and what additional data we can collect. But otherwise it was a very large majority decision and, I would say, taken in rather record time.
I would like to ask a question concerning the data-driven decisions: isn't there a conflict of goals between price stability and financial stability? To what extent do you consider slowing down the pace of rate hikes because of financial stability? Do you have to slow it down perhaps because of financial stability? That is my first question.
The second: were you surprised by the financial problems we see now in the US, and we saw last year in the pension funds in the UK? Was this a surprise or is this something which was expected perhaps by monetary policy experts?
Well, let me be pretty clear on that point as well: I believe that there is no trade-off between price stability and financial stability. I think that if anything, with this decision we are demonstrating this. We are addressing the price stability issue by raising interest rates by 50 basis points, which is what we had intended, and because inflation is projected to remain way above our target and for too long. Separate from that, we also are monitoring market tensions. We stand ready to provide any kind of additional facilities if needed. We do have extensive facilities, more so by the way than the Fed in terms of size of the collateral pools and facilities, and we can do more if necessary. We have demonstrated that in times of crisis all the instruments that we decided in the PEPP times, whether it is on the pool of collaterals, whether it's on the haircuts, whether it's on all issues, that can be reactivated like that.
We always stand ready to use them again. So euro liquidity is perfectly addressed. No issue on that front. There is no trade-off. We have to do our job. This is our primary objective; price stability and as I said in the identification of the three components that will inform our decision, that will determine our reaction function, you find the word “financial” if you look carefully. You have assessment of the inflation outlook in light of the incoming economic and financial data. So, the financial issues are captured in order to assess inflation. So, there is no trade-off. We have financial stability very much as part of our radar screen and the tools that we can deploy, but there is no trade-off between the two. Did you want to add to that, Vice President?
De Guindos: Well, first of all, from a financial stability standpoint the perspective is quite clear: if you look at the industry as a whole, as the President has indicated before, the situation of the European banks, they are resilient. Capital is much higher than it was ten, fifteen years ago before the global financial crisis. The liquidity position of the European banks is robust. If you look at the liquidity ratios on average, they are clearly above the minimum requirements and even the pre-pandemic levels. Even if you look at the composition of these liquidity buffers, they are high quality, very high liquidity assets so in that respect the composition is quite positive. Finally, there is something that I think that is relevant, that is: the increase in interest rates, well, it's positive in terms of the margins of the European banks. This improvement in terms of profitability more than offsets the potential losses in fixed income portfolios.
Looking at the exposure for instance to Credit Suisse, they are quite limited and there is no concentration. There is no single counterparty that concentrates a large part of that exposure. Finally as the President has indicated, well, we have a toolkit of instruments just in case that are needed in order to deliver liquidity.
Could you just explore a bit more this potential for a trade-off between financial stability and price stability? Could you foresee a situation where given the outlook for inflation you need to raise rates further but there's a risk that that could trigger a financial crisis or make a financial stress worse?
Second question is that given that you've said the underlying inflation is going to be one of the key factors you look at when deciding, one of the three key factors, does that mean that until you see an easing of most of the indicators of underlying inflation – which we're not seeing at the moment – you won't be able to stop raising rates?
On the first one: as I said earlier, we don't see any trade-off between price stability and financial stability and we will address each of these two with their respective instrument. For the moment, interest rates for price stability and the set of facilities that we have available, additional lines if necessary, including in other currencies if that is needed, in order to address financial stability issues. So, they inform each other – and I'll come to that in a second – but we handle them separately and there is no trade-off between the two. It is pretty obvious when I say that the inflation outlook will be assessed in light of the incoming economic and financial data, that the financial data, whatever they are, will inform our assessment of inflation. So, through that assessment – sorry, through those financial data – we actually take into account development in the financial markets, financing, financial cost, terms and conditions and the financing of the economy at large.
As to your second question about the assessment of the inflation outlook in light of economic and financial data I would say that it needs to be confirmed by the underlying components of inflation. On that front, we are again going to be data dependent and it is obvious that as long as we see underlying components of inflation going up, this is not going to stop our fight against inflation. So, we will need to receive confirmation on the underlying component of inflation. We will need to receive confirmation that we are heading in the direction of our target of 2%. We are seeing some slight improvement in certain areas but frankly, not a lot.
We know that whether you look at core – which is one of the components of the underlying inflation – or whether we look at other dissections of inflation, and in particular when we look at services, it's not yet heading in the direction that would confirm the inflation outlook that we have.
My question is on the mentioning of monetary policy transmission, which comes in your decisions in the three points that you said about explaining your reaction function. So, one of them is the monetary policy transmission and also at the end of your decisions, you mentioned that the Governing Council is ready to adapt and adjust your instruments to preserve also the monetary policy transmission. So, we think about TPI when we hear about this. I'd like to know whether you think that TPI can be used when banking tensions start to jeopardise the transmission of monetary policy, and whether in your fully-equipped toolkit you could also consider to adjust the pace of the reduction of the holdings of securities under the asset purchase programme, so the QT?
First of all, on monetary policy transmission, I will be giving a speech soon about monetary policy transmission, and about the first leg of monetary policy transmission, and the second leg of monetary policy transmission. All I can say at this point in time is that we are beginning to see transmission of our monetary policy through the credit channel, and if you look at rates, if you look at terms and conditions, if you look at the impact that it has on the demand of financing, on the part of both corporates and households, we are beginning to see transmission of our monetary policy, which is what we expected. TPI, the transmission protection instrument, was precisely designed to make sure that monetary policy would travel and move all the way to all 20 members of the euro area. That would be caused by factors that had nothing to do with the fundamentals of an economy, or its general macroeconomic policies. We have not yet had to decide whether financial tensions would qualify in that respect, but it could well be the case. I'm advancing a little bit, because we did not discuss that at all, and it's something that would need to be debated with the Governing Council. Nor did we decide anything on the partial reinvestment under the APP. That's a principle that we decided back at our February meeting, which has been in place now as of 1 March, and that will continue to unfold in a regular and unimpeded fashion.
One question on these underlying components of inflation you mentioned, do you put the significant contribution of profit margins into these components, because the profit margins seem to develop well? That could maybe put some questions on the narrative of the ECB very focused on the risk, either on the wage price loop. I would like to hear what you think about this contribution of corporate profits to inflation.
A second question, if I may, Mr de Guindos, you are quoted that some banks may be vulnerable. You have told this to ministers briefed earlier this week. I don't hear this today in your statement. Maybe you can specify, or confirm, or not, what has been reported.
I just want to go back to the statement. I just want to find the right sentence where, for the first time we talk about margins: So, ‘Moreover, many firms were able to raise their profit margins in sectors faced with constrained supply and resurgent demand.' So we mention it very specifically. It is part of the analysis that we conduct. It has been mentioned by some of you who are following us very carefully. We had a retreat of all the governors of the Governing Council to discuss in-depth various matters, one of which was actually the various components that fuel underlying inflation, and we did have some assessment of the increase in margins by the corporates, which played a role. I'd like to say one thing, because there has also been reference to the fact that I would have mentioned the word wages X times during my last press conference. I think what we hope for is a proper burden-sharing of what really is a quasi-tax – this cost-push shock has been operating a bit like a tax, at least in a portion of its form – and that this tax should be shared, because there has to be some burden-sharing. What we are concerned about is, whatever the burden-sharing, if that was to spiral into the second-round effect that we don't want to see, frankly. But this burden-sharing aspect is something that needs to be debated at society level, at corporate level, and it's certainly something that we would welcome, to the extent that it reduces the risk of second-round effects in particular.
On the other question that you asked, I also want to point to you the sentence which is in the second paragraph of the monetary policy statement, and as you know, the first paragraphs matter. In there, we say, ‘The euro area banking sector is resilient, with strong capital and liquidity positions', and we stand by that statement strongly, but I will let you, Vice President, comment on this wonderful leak.
de Guindos: As you can imagine, I remember what I told the ministers, and it's almost identical to what I have just told you. So that the banks are resilient, high capital ratios, robust liquidity buffers, high quality of the main components of the liquidity buffer, limited exposure to the institutions of the US, and simultaneously that the overall assessment was quite clear. So, the banking industry in Europe is resilient.
When you talk about the creativity of the staff, do you think that, if needed, the ECB could come up with a tool like the one presented by the Federal Reserve, accepting bonds at par instead of market value, or would it face legal constraints?
I have a second question, if I may? You have visited Spain recently, and I'm sure you are aware that there's a concern about the low remunerations on deposits there. Banks say that this is because they have plenty of liquidity from the ECB, so I was wondering if you think that the low deposits are going to continue until TLTROs mature, or it is something different and you are not in the same point as the banks?
When I say that I have full confidence in staff’s creativity, what I mean is that I have seen them in action. They've been there, they've done it. And on the occasion of COVID, for instance, they were able in very short order to put together programmes that proved extremely efficient in order to resist the downside effect of the crisis. So those tools exist. They are strong, they are powerful, and they can be reactivated any time. We always stand ready to do that. Added to which, the facilities that we have currently, are probably broader and more accessible than the ones that pre-existed at the Fed. So I don't see the need at this point in time to explore any alternatives to the tools that we have, because I think that they function. If it was needed at some point in time, of course, I know staff will stand up to the occasion and will also look at what can be done within our mandate and in accordance with the rules of the Treaty under which we are governed.
On the issue of remuneration of deposits, I have spoken my mind on Spanish television, and I have observed that in quite a few countries now, the DFR is taken into account in order to determine the rate at which deposits are remunerated, either deposits at sight or term deposits, and, obviously, this is something that needs to be debated between the clients and their banks, but I observe that there are quite a few countries where banks actually do that, and competition between them is facilitating that process.
I would like to go back to this point about the incoming economic and financial data. In the past meetings we've heard a lot about what the economic data is, the underlying inflation data. Could you detail a little more what the financial data is that you will be watching, and is there a new emphasis on this data, or has it always been there?
Then my second question is, how much has the volatility we've seen in banks' stocks recently as the meeting was happening, affected today's decision, not necessarily the interest rate decision, but the choice to not lay the path ahead more clearly?
I like your last word: clearly. This is something that we are longing for, clarity, because, obviously, we work on the basis of data, of observations, of facts, and there is currently, for the reasons that I have mentioned in my monetary policy statement, a degree of uncertainty that pre-existed, but that has certainly been amplified by the most recent financial tensions that we have observed in the last few days. So it's obviously, difficult for a group of 26 members of the Governing Council to come to a decision in the face of projections and the first of the three elements that I have mentioned to determine our reaction function, to come up to a decision, but we were certainly confident that this 50 basis points rate increase was a robust decision, considering the ground that needs to be covered.
What financial data do we look at? We are particularly concerned, obviously, about our monetary policy transmission, so we look very carefully using various analytical tools. We look at credit, credit to corporates, credit to households, terms and conditions, restrictions eventually, if they were to be observed, to assess whether the financial conditions are tightening, and what impact this tightening of financial conditions will then have on the economy. Those are the key components that we assess to determine our monetary policy transmission.
There's been a lot of parallels done with 2008. Obviously, the banks are in different circumstances, but in July 2008 the ECB increased the interest rate, did an interest rate hike, just two months before the biggest financial crash in recent history. Is the ECB at risk of doing the same mistake?
The second question is about the transmission of monetary policy. It takes a long time for interest rate hikes to go through the economy. Given the uncertainty, isn't there a case for at least slowing down? You said you were data-dependent, but isn't there a case now to slow down in the next few meetings?
As you said yourself, the banks are in a completely different position from 2008, and crises are never exactly the same anyway, but the architecture of our banking system, the framework within which they operate, the supervision that is applied to the banking system have been all considerably improved. So, obviously, we are mindful of our history and what has been done in the past, but we are all confident that the decision that we made today is a robust decision, was called for, was needed, and we have, as you have noticed I'm sure, indicated very precisely that, as to the future, we would be data-dependent. That I think is predicated on the fact that we need to have a better assessment once the financial tensions on the market abate in the future.
On your second question, we are beginning to see a good transmission of our monetary policy in the credit sector, as I have mentioned earlier on. I think we have seen an increase of several basis points, 22 to 16 basis points, depending on whether you look at corporates or households, increases in the credit rates that are offered, and a significant tightening on the part of the banks that are probably assessing and reassessing the risks that they are taking. So this is, in our view, the beginning of an indication of good transmission of monetary policy. This is not the end of it. As you've said, it takes a longer time. It seems to have transmitted rather rapidly, if you consider that we decided to normalise our monetary policy back in December a year ago, so it's a little over a year ago, and we are certainly beginning to see in the credit segment the impact of our decisions. Are we seeing dampening demand? That remains to be seen. How much more does it need to be dampened in order to meet the objectives that we have, which is 2% medium-term target? To be seen. We are data-dependent. We are going to really look at the uncertainty fading out, hopefully, and what projections we will be able to operate upon, as well as what assessment we can make at our next policy meetings in May, June and subsequently.
I suppose the first question is, we've started to see these signs of weakness in financial markets, and you haven't taken that as a reason to pause, but is there, do you think, a message in what's happening? It's something that we haven't seen for a while, and it brings back memories of the financial crisis, as other people have said. Is just the unusualness of this a reason to think twice about future rate increases, do you think, with this phrase that we hear, ‘Raise rates until something breaks'?
My second question was related. At the moment the bank failures were in the US. Do you think this is more of a US-specific issue? Do you think there's something fundamentally different about Europe that means European banks are less vulnerable, or maybe the level of your policy rate means they're less vulnerable?
On the first question, I would like to just reiterate our confidence in our banking sector. As I said earlier on, it's a banking sector that is resilient, that has strong capital and liquidity positions, and we are monitoring the particular situation, and we are monitoring the market tensions, and we stand ready to respond with all the tools that we have that can be switched on, that would need to be applied to the situation, depending on the circumstances. So it's not business as usual, but we believe that the decision that we have taken is robust, is completely justified by the circumstances, and informed by our current analysis.
Is it a US-specific problem? We are all governed by – well, “we” are – the banking sector is governed by Basel III, and banks operate within the framework of Basel III. As you know, there have been multiple discussions and disagreement as to who applies Basel III better than the other, but I would simply observe, because comparisons are pretty odious, that in Europe we have strong supervision, we have strong capital, and we have solid liquidity positions, and as the Vice President said, exposures are not concentrated. And based on the work that has been conducted by the SSM, we don't have similar occurrences as the one that occurred in California, for instance, but maybe, Vice President, you want to add to that?
de Guindos: Well, perhaps the only thing to add is that the business model of the Silicon Valley Bank was quite unique, and there was a mismatch between the assets and the liabilities, and it made this bank vulnerable - and this has been indicated by the American authorities - to any important change in interest rates.
I have a question concerning the excess of liquidity and the ECB balance sheet. Did you discuss about an increase in the level of reduction, and if yes, when could this increase start?
You give me a chance to be very brief in my response. No, we did not discuss. We had plenty to discuss today, and we did not discuss that particular one.
Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder Holds an On-Camera Press Briefing
BRIGADIER GENERAL PAT RYDER: Hey, good afternoon, everybody. Just a couple things at the top, and we'll get right to your questions.
So as you are aware, DOD announced in January that the United States would be providing 31 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative with the intent of providing the M1A2 variant. However, ever since we made this announcement we've been committed to exploring options to deliver the armored capability as quickly as possible, and after further study and analysis on how best to do this, DOD, in close coordination with Ukraine, has made the decision to provide the M1A1 variant of the Abrams tank, which will enable us to significantly expedite delivery timelines and deliver this important capability to Ukraine by the fall of this year. It will also give Ukraine a very similar capability to the M1A2, which includes advanced armor and weapons systems, to include a 120 millimeter cannon and 50 caliber heavy machine gun. Again, this is about getting this important combat capability into the hands of the Ukrainians sooner rather than later, and we'll be sure to keep you updated as additional information becomes available.
On a separate, but related note, DOD announced yesterday the authorization of another presidential drawdown of security assistance to meet Ukraine's critical security and defense needs. The authorization was the 34th drawdown of equipment from DOD inventories for Ukraine since August, 2021, and is valued at up to $350 million. This security package included ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, additional 155 millimeter artillery rounds, 25 millimeter ammunition mortar rounds, small arms and various additional capabilities. The full details of this security package and the current fact sheet can be found on defense.gov.
And finally, Secretary Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Milley will testify Thursday before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense in support of the president's budget request for fiscal year 2024. The secretary and chairman look forward to speaking to members of Congress on the department's efforts to build a budget aimed at keeping America secure in the 21st century. As Secretary Austin will highlight, this is a strategy-driven budget that will help the department continue to implement our 2022 National Defense Strategy and the president's National Security Strategy.
And with that, I am happy to take your questions. We'll go to Reuters first today. Idrees?
Q: You said the -- the change in tanks would significantly expedite the timeline. What was the original timeline? And how much faster is -- are they going to move? And then I have a separate question.
GEN. RYDER: Yeah, great, great, Idrees. So we never got into the specifics other than to say we were projecting it would be probably over a year or so before we'd have been able to deliver that A2 variant. And so again, this approach will allow us to get that combat capability to them quicker.
Q: Yeah. And then separately, have you seen the Russians pick up any pieces of the downed drone in the Black Sea? And secondly, Britain today said that they were going to send munitions with depleted uranium. Is the U.S. sending any munitions with depleted uranium to Ukraine?
GEN. RYDER: Yeah, so on your latter question, not to my knowledge. We are not. As far as the Russians go and the MQ-9, again, we'd seen press reports that they may have picked up some surface debris. We can't corroborate those reports. To the best of our knowledge, as I've mentioned previously, it's our estimation that the MQ-9, when it crashed, went very deep and has not been recovered. OK?
Let me go ahead and go over here to Tony.
Q: Can you say a little bit more -- can we walk through the details of the tank a little bit more? These are not M1A1s from U.S. stocks. My understanding is these are refurbished hulls that will become M1A1 SA models. Is that accurate?
GEN. RYDER: So my understanding, Tony, is that these will be excess hulls in our inventory that we will refurbish, refit through a combination of USAI and security assistance packages in order to make them combat-ready.
Q: OK. These will be retrofitted -- refurbished in Lima, Ohio at the Army's tank plant, as far as you know?
GEN. RYDER: Yeah, I'm not going to get into the specifics of where they will be refurbished, but yeah, I'll just leave it at that.
Q: One more: How much money, roughly, will General Dynamics get from USIA funds to refurbish the hulls?
GEN. RYDER: Yeah, so the initial announcement in January was $400 million for the USAI. We'll come back to you with any updates on the overall total cost, but at this time, I don't anticipate it would be very much beyond that.
Q: Thank you.
GEN. RYDER: Thanks.
Q: Two questions. Back when the tanks announcement was made in January, your colleague, Sabrina Singh, had said the U.S. doesn't have these tanks available in U.S. stocks. What changed? Did the U.S. find more in stocks that you have these in excess? And the second question relates to the MQ-9 encounter with the Russians last week. The U.S. has resumed drone operations over the Black Sea since then, but has there been any change or adjustment to those operations that you can speak to?
GEN. RYDER: Yeah, thanks, Oren. So really, what -- you know, to put that in a context, what we were talking about at the time was whether or not we had M1A1s that were going to roll off the, you know, M1s in general were going to roll off the line ready to go forward. So we're talking about a different thing here, right? We're talking about refitting, refurbishing these hulls to make them ready on a quicker timeline for Ukraine.
As far as Black Sea operations go, you are correct. We are continuing to conduct operations over the Black Sea, flying in international airspace in accordance with international law wherever it will allow us to do so. I'm not going to, for operation security reasons, not going to get into the specifics of routes, missions, you know, timelines and things like that. But we are continuing to conduct those operations.
Q: General, thank you. I have a few questions from last week. Your partner, SDF, made a statement that two of their helicopters carrying their members to northern Iraq crashed in northern Iraq, and the statement say they were on a training exchange mission. What role do U.S. military play -- did U.S. military play in this so-called exercise -- exchange of training in northern Iraq? And also, was -- were any of the funds provided by the United States used in that mission?
GEN. RYDER: Yeah, thanks. I know we talked about this earlier, but I'm happy to answer it again here in front of your colleagues. So again, the United States had nothing, no participation whatsoever in the SDF helicopter flights. As you know, the SDF is its own force. They conduct their own operations. We do partner with the SDF on Defeat ISIS operations regularly, but again, there was no U.S. or coalition involvement in the helicopter incident, nor do we have any knowledge either before that mission took place.
Q: And then just to follow up on that, so you say you don't have any knowledge and you were not involved. But you know, United States is training this force. United States is equipping this force. How confident are you that this capability is provided by the United States; the funds provided by United States are not going to be used by this group against your NATO ally, Turkey, in the future?
GEN. RYDER: Again, the SDF has been a very valuable partner in confronting ISIS, and we'll continue to partner with SDF to confront and defeat ISIS in an enduring way. We train a lot of forces around the world, many of which conduct their own operations, but again, in this case, we will -- you know, again, we had no involvement, no participation -- I'm not sure how else you'd like me to say that, other than just to keep repeating ...
Q: ... I'm just wondering if -- you have any concerns or -- how are -- confident are you that this group getting into Iraq, coming back into Syria, and is being trained ...
GEN. RYDER: ... I'll allow the SDF to speak for themselves but thanks, Kasim.
Q: Thank you. Thanks. So on Russia's claim that it intercepted two B-52 bombers in the Baltic Sea today, the U.S. has pushed back against that language. How would you define what did happen in the Baltic Sea? And is -- do you consider this Russian propaganda?
GEN. RYDER: I don't know that I would necessarily call it propaganda. Perhaps bad information, inaccurate information, and I'll leave you to characterize it. The U.S. Air Forces in Europe did post a statement to their website and I'm happy to provide the details here.
We had -- yesterday, two B-52s were conducting a long range bomber task force mission with NATO allies and partners in Estonian airspace. The mission was part of normally scheduled training operations coordinated months prior to execution, in accordance with the flight standards specified within International Civil Aviation Organization guidelines, to include filing international flight plans and operating with due regard for safety of all aircraft.
The important thing here is that the flights remained within Estonian airspace the entire flight, with an approximate distance of 50 nautical miles from Russian airspace, and at no point did the B-52s make contact with Russian aircraft. So those are the facts.
Q: North Korea launched ballistic missile from underground silo. How do you assess the -- this North Korean capability? Do you think that this make the United States more difficult to deal with North Korean missile threat?
GEN. RYDER: Well, I think we've been aware for a very long time the challenges associated with North Korea's missile program. It's something that we continue to watch, monitor very closely, something we continue to consult about with our allies and our partners in the region to address. So we'll continue to do that. Thank you.
Let me go back over here. Ryo? And then we'll come over here.
Q: Thank you. Thank you very much. I have two questions. First, the Secretary had a phone call with his Philippine counterpart yesterday. Then -- this is the second phone call between them over the last one month. Does the Secretary have any particular concerns about what's going on around the Philippines today, particularly the Chinese behavior in the South China Sea?
GEN. RYDER: Yeah, thanks, Ryo. So first of all, the most important thing is, as emphasized in the readout, the Secretary, as does the Department of Defense, very much appreciates the relationship that we have with our Philippine allies. And so use this as an opportunity to again reaffirm our unwavering alliance commitment to the Philippines.
As the readout highlighted, he did express concerns about recent China -- Chinese activity, in particular the lazing incident which was highlighted in the readout. And so again, our focus is on continuing to work with the Philippines and other allies and partners in the region to ensure that the Indo-Pacific stays free, open, secure and stable. Thank you.
Q: Thank you. Separately, the Japanese Prime Minister Kishida made a surprise visit to Ukraine today. How much do you think that support from ASEAN countries, like Japan, could matter to stop Russian invasion, and more broadly, to maintain the rules-based international order?
GEN. RYDER: Yeah, so I obviously won't speak for Japan but I do think, broadly speaking, this is again demonstrative of the international community's support for Ukraine and demonstrating that the kinds of activities Russia has taken in terms of invading its peaceful, sovereign neighbor is unacceptable.
And so you've heard other leaders, to include Secretary Austin, talk about the impact of the international rules-based order on keeping the peace, most notably to include in the Indo-Pacific region. So I do think it is significant and we do continue to appreciate Japan and other countries' support for Ukraine, when it comes to securing an international rules-based order. Thank you.
We'll go back here and then up here.
Q: Thank you. (Inaudible) Times. So China and Russia have recently pledged strategic support and are trying to kind of establish a new multi-polar world order. Is the military doing anything to prevent further aggression from other democratic nations?
GEN. RYDER: Absolutely. If you look at our National Defense Strategy, I mean, that's squarely what it's focused on, highlighting that we consider China to be the pacing challenge and that Russia is an acute threat, and that strategy does address the relationship between China and Russia.
And what we're going to do to protect the American people, to protect our national security interests, deter aggression, and ideally, work with our international partners and allies to ensure that the world does remain stable under an international rules-based order.
Q: And if I could do one quick follow-up, the jets have recently been promised by Poland and Slovakia. What factors are going into your guys' consideration as to whether the U.S. would provide them?
GEN. RYDER: Yeah, so as you have heard us say, we don't have anything to announce at this point in terms of fighter jets. We certainly welcome countries providing security assistance to Ukraine in their fight. And so I'll just leave it at that. Thank you.
Q: Thank you, General. It's a follow-up on one of the subjects that you've just spoken to, it's the helicopter incident in northeast Syria and northern Iraq. It's just -- just trying to understand, cause I'm really struggling to understand the fact that the United States didn't have any information at all about these helicopter flights that are taking off from northeast Syria, where there's a U.S. base with about 1,000 troops, that we just heard last week from the -- from Mr. Milley as well.
Is it really the case that the United States didn't know these helicopter flights that were, you know, in the vicinity of a massive U.S. base in the region? Is that the case, sir?
GEN. RYDER: So first of all, again, just to put things into perspective -- on any given day, we're monitoring a lot of different activities around the world. And I'm not going to get into what specific operations outside of U.S. coalition operations that we may or may not be monitoring.
The -- my response to Kasim's question was that the United States was not involved in any helicopter operations or SD operations, cross-border operations, and my understanding is it was a training mission, but again, I'd have to refer you to the SDF to talk about their operations.
Q: Because we also heard last week, for example, the Russian unsafe and irresponsible flights also over the U.S. base in northeast Syria. So the United States is very well aware of all of the activities in the vicinity. So I understand that the U.S. may or may not be involved and -- but (inaudible), you know, the optics of it, you didn't have any idea? I'm just trying to verify ...
GEN. RYDER: ... I said that the U.S. did not have any involvement with the operation.
Q: Thank you, General.
GEN. RYDER: I'm choosing my words very specifically there.
Let me go to Tom and then Joe.
Q: Thanks, sir. On that phrase, choosing your words very specifically, it's perfect. When you responded to Ryo about his question about the Philippines, you described the U.S. support for the Philippines as "unwavering alliance commitment." That's not a phrase we often hear. Usually, it's "rock solid" or "ironclad." Is there a difference in nuance in that because it's a newer relationship with the Philippines?
GEN. RYDER: Well, on, you know, we have had a very longstanding relationship with the Philippines, and it is rock-solid and ironclad. Thank you.
Let me go to, Joe.
GEN. RYDER: And unwavering.
Q: Unwavering (inaudible). Thanks, Pat. We've been hearing in recent weeks that Army officials say that they are working on a way to speed up Abrams deliveries. But some of the considerations were impacting Army readiness, and also deliveries to allies. Can you tell us how those concerns were mitigated in this plan?
GEN. RYDER: Yes, thanks, Joe. So, I don't want to speak for the Army. I'd refer you to them to talk through their specific, you know, their specific aspects in terms of readiness considerations.
As I mentioned at the top, from the very beginning, when we made this announcement, our team here in DOD, working with the Army, working with the Ukrainians, we're looking at ways that we could expedite this process to get them that capability. And so, this, again, based on that further study and analysis, this was the approach that we landed on that we feel confident we'll be able to get those tanks to them by the fall timeframe.
Q: And Poland has been in line for M1A1s, maybe other countries. Are any of those deliveries going to shift at all or, you know, where -- what's going to take precedence here?
GEN. RYDER: Yes. So, to my knowledge, this will not affect any foreign military sales. But let me take that question, specifically as it relates to Poland and we'll come to back to you.
Thank you. Let me go to Mosh.
Q: Thanks. One quick question on Fort -- out of Fort Sill. There's been reporting that U.S. Patriot systems are going to be deployed to Ukraine faster than originally planned. I was wondering, could you confirm that or provide any more details.
GEN. RYDER: Yes, thanks Mosh. So, for operation security reasons I'm not going to get into delivery timelines other than to say we're confident that we'll be able to get the Patriots there on an expedited timeline. I'll just leave it at that.
Q: And would that be ahead of the spring offensive?
GEN. RYDER: Again, I'm not going to get into Ukrainian operations, timing of offensives, timing of operations. Again, we made the commitment to provide them with this Patriot capability as quickly as we could. And so, that's what we're endeavoring to do. But again, I'm not going to get into delivery timelines for all the obvious reasons. Thank you.
Yes, ma'am. Then I'll come back to you, Fadi.
Q: Thank you. Thank you for taking my question. I would like to just follow up on Ryo’s question about Prime Minister Kishida's visit to Ukraine. So, did the DOD provide any security assistance or give any help in relation to the Kishida's visit to Ukraine? And going forward, what kind of support does DOD expect Japan to provide to Ukraine?
GEN. RYDER: So, not to my knowledge. I'd refer you to the Japanese government to talk about the visit. You know, so again, no participation to my knowledge. And then, I'm sorry, your last question?
Q: So, going forward, what kind of support does DOD expect Japan to provide to Ukraine?
GEN. RYDER: So really, that's a decision for Japan to make. And we'll continue to work very closely with Japan and other nations to look at what Ukraine's most urgent security assistance needs are and then provide what we can to ensure that they're successful on the battlefield, not only in defending the territory that they have but on enabling then to retake sovereign territory and sustain those gains into the future. Thank you.
Let me come back to Fadi and then Gordon and then I'll come back to you.
Q: So, two questions on the -- on the Abrams. First, the assay variant, if you can talk a little bit about the capabilities versus the initial announcement, what was going to be given to the Ukrainians?
And second, on the -- this expedited timeframe, we're hearing about the offensive or the so-called counter-offensive in Ukraine. So, this new timeline, the delivery in the fall, does it have any significance? And how would it help the Ukrainians in what everybody is anticipating going to happen in the spring?
GEN. RYDER: Yes, thanks, Fadi. So, I'm not going to get into more specifics in terms of the specific capabilities other than to say, again as I highlighted earlier, that it's a very similar capability to the A2, and we'll definitely give the Ukrainians a significant main battle tank capability on the battlefield.
In terms of the significance of the timeline, you've heard us talk in the past about trying to work with Ukraine to meet not only their near-term needs but their medium-term needs. And so, taking territory, retaking territory, you know, as part of any offensive will be important. But, as well sustaining those gains at some point in the future, as well as being able to deter future Russian aggression.
So, this is all part of our broader near-term and longer-term support to Ukraine and their defense requirements. Thank you.
Q: Yes, Pat, just to go back on Patriots for a second. I know you won't get into timelines but you are confirming that there has been some acceleration of the -- or there will be some acceleration in delivery of the Patriots. And can you characterize by how much faster potentially they could arrive?
GEN. RYDER: Yes, I really can't, Gordon, other than to say, you know, you're seeing -- and this is an open press, so I'll go ahead and confirm it. But you're seeing that the Ukrainians that were undergoing Patriot training went faster than expected, just given their propensity and their eagerness to do the training.
And so, of course, that figures into this. And I really, again, don't want to get into when you're going to see the Patriot arrive in Ukraine, other than one day it will be there and we'll highlight that once the Ukrainians have done that. Thanks.
Yes, ma'am. We'll get a couple more. Back here.
Q: Thank you, General. So just to follow up on the question about Prime Minister Kishida's visit to Ukraine. Can you speak at all about whether the U.S. is planning to coordinate through NATO with Japan for any exercises or additional actions to assist Ukraine?
GEN. RYDER: Well again, so let me just kind of break that apart. So first of all, I'm not going to speak for NATO in terms of what, you know, the NATO Alliance may do as it relates to Japan.
From a U.S.-Japan standpoint, clearly, we do conduct exercises with Japan in the Indo-Pacific region. As it pertains to Ukraine, Japan, of course, participates in the Ukraine Defense Contact Group and we continue to look -- we look forward to continuing to work with Japan and other nations in that form. So, thank you.
Go here and then over here.
Q: Thank you, General. General, regarding to tanks, one, are you are on -- so do the Ukrainian soldiers or forces have been training about these tanks or they will need to do that maybe in the near future? Thank you.
GEN. RYDER: Yes, so that's a great point. So our intent is to ensure -- we will ensure that the Ukrainians receive the necessary training on these tanks in time for them to be delivered. So we'll have more details to provide on that training in the future, but again, that would be our intent and I'm confident that we will accomplish that. Thank you.
Q: It's a tank sort of three-parter. The Secretary, can you confirm that he signed off on the COAs? Can you talk about the other COAs that were looked at? And as a part of the contract authorization actions, have you worked it all the way out through the supply chain of what's needed for these M1A1s or is the fall timeframe sort of hand-waving language?
GEN. RYDER: Yeah, so I'm not going to get into staff work here from the podium. Clearly, as I mentioned, looking at a variety of options on how best to deliver this capability as quickly as possible. And so the Secretary fully -- you know, approved, fully concurs with the approach that we're taking. And in terms -- and that was one of the factors, in terms of, can we get these tanks to the Ukrainians quicker? And based on the timelines that we're working, we're confident that we'll be able to get them there by the fall -- in other words, before the end of the year. So thank you. All right, thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. Appreciate your time today.
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