Secretary Antony J. Blinken On CNN’s State of the Union with Dana Bash

Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

Brussels Media Hub

Brussels, Belgium

QUESTION:  Joining me now is the U.S. Secretary of State Tony Blinken.  Thank you so much for joining me.  Let me first ask about one of President Biden’s key goals in this summit – uniting the Western democracies around countering China’s influence, especially around the goal of building infrastructure around the world. 

So the White House has not said yet that the U.S. allies are onboard for financial support, so do you have a deal on that?  Is there money behind it?  And if so, how much?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, first, Dana, just to take a step back, the President came into this meeting of the G7 determined to show that democracies can deliver, deliver for their people, deliver for people around the world.  And that’s exactly what we’ve done over the last couple of days, and I’ll come to the specific point in a second. 

But a commitment to a billion vaccines to put shots in arms around the world, that’s a powerful demonstration of democracies delivering; a commitment to deal with and to stop financing coal-fired plants and projects around the world, the single largest contributor to emissions and to global warming; a 15 percent minimum global corporate tax, making sure that countries around the world have a strong tax base to provide for their citizens, provide better – new markets for us as well, and avoid a race to the bottom.  And yes, this project to pool our resources, our – to invest in low and middle-income countries, to get to the private sector to do the same so that we can help them build up their infrastructure, their health care systems, education, and do it in a more positive way than China is doing it with its Belt and Road Initiative. 

So they’ve launched this project.  Our experts are going to come together over the coming months and we’ll look at the resources necessary to do that.  But individually, our countries can only do so much.  When we put all of these resources together and when we leverage the private sector, it’s a very powerful force, and we’ve got an agreement to move forward on that.

QUESTION:  Let’s look ahead to President Biden’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin that’s going to be on Wednesday in Geneva.  I know the President plans to confront him on human rights, on Ukraine, on recent cyber attacks.  How do you define success out of this meeting?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Dana, this is not going to be a flip-the-light-switch moment.  What the President is going to make clear to President Putin is that we seek a more stable, predictable relationship with Russia, and if so, there are areas where our interests overlap, and we may be able to find ways to work together.  But if Russia chooses to continue reckless and aggressive actions, we will respond forcefully, as the President has already demonstrated that he would when it comes to election interference or the SolarWinds cyber attack or the attempt to murder Mr. Navalny with a chemical weapon. 

So this is a beginning of testing the proposition, the question of whether Russia is interested in a more stable and predictable relationship and finding areas to work together.  We’re not going to get the answer out of one meeting.  We’ll have to see what comes from that meeting. 

But let me say one other thing that I think is really important.  This meeting is not happening in a vacuum.  We’re coming off the G7.  We’re coming off a NATO summit.  We’ll be coming off of an EU summit as well.  And our leadership and our engagement is a very powerful force.  There was a major poll that was just done that found across these countries, across these democracies, 75 percent of the people on average have confidence in American leadership.  That’s up from 17 percent a year ago.  That means we’re in a much stronger position to work together with these countries militarily, diplomatically, politically, economically, including when it comes to dealing with challenges posed by Russia or China.

QUESTION:  So the White House says that President Biden is not going to have a joint press conference with Vladimir Putin after the summit.  Is that because President Biden and Vladimir Putin are – or at least President Biden is worried that there is concern that this meeting simply will not go well? 

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  No, I think, Dana, the – for the President, the most effective way to be able to share with the free press what he and President Putin talked about is to do it in this way.  It’s also an opportunity, by the way, to sum up the entire week, the entire trip, the G7, the NATO summit, the EU summit.  But this is the best opportunity I have to make sure that the free press of the world gets in their questions, and the President can share what was discussed.

QUESTION:  I’m sorry.  So are you saying that you’re not having a joint press conference because you’re worried about the Russian press being there?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  We’re – we think that having the press conference – by the way, the President, maybe even as we speak, is doing a solo press conference after the G7.  This is not exactly a rare occurrence.  But we think it’s the most effective way to be able to share with the free press what they talked about and what we’re focused on, and to make sure that you all get a chance to ask as many questions as possible.

QUESTION:  Before I let you go, the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan is proceeding rapidly.  There are growing calls from Congress and other forces to evacuate Afghans who helped the U.S. during this very long war.  So yes or no:  Is the administration planning an evacuation of those people?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Evacuation is the wrong word.  We’re determined to make good on our obligation to those who helped us, who put their lives on the line, put their families’ lives on the line working with our military, working with our diplomats.  And there’s a special program for so-called Special Immigrant Visas that give them a dedicated channel to apply to come to the United States. 

We have put in significant resources into making sure that that program can work fast and work effectively so that we can process any requests that we get for these so-called Special Immigrant Visas.  We’ve added about 50 people here in Washington in the State Department to help do that.  We want to make sure that anyone who has helped us we are making good on our obligation to help them.

QUESTION:  U.S. Secretary of State Tony Blinken, thank you so much for joining me.  Appreciate it.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thanks very much.  Good to be with you. 

###

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    The Justice Department today announced its participation in a multinational operation involving actions in the United States, Germany, the Netherlands, and Romania to disrupt and take down the infrastructure of the online marketplace known as Slilpp.
    [Read More…]
  • National Bio and Agro-defense Facility: DHS and USDA Are Working to Transfer Ownership and Prepare for Operations, but Critical Steps Remain
    In U.S GAO News
    The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have taken steps to plan for and implement the successful transfer of the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) from DHS to USDA for ownership and operation. (See figure.) The facility is to house state-of-the-art laboratories for research on foreign animal diseases—diseases not known to be present in the United States—that could infect U.S livestock and, in some cases, people. The departments' steps are consistent with selected key practices for implementation of government reforms. In addition, USDA has taken steps to prepare for NBAF's operation by identifying and addressing staffing needs; these steps are consistent with other selected key practices GAO examined for strategically managing the federal workforce during a government reorganization. However, critical steps remain to implement the transfer of ownershp of NBAF to USDA and prepare for the facility's operation, and some efforts have been delayed. Critical steps include obtaining approvals to work with high-consequence pathogens such as foot-and-mouth disease, and physically transferring pathogens to the facility. DHS estimates that construction of NBAF has been delayed by at least 2.5 months because of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. USDA officials stated that, until the full effects of delays to construction are known, USDA cannot fully assess the effects on its efforts to prepare for the facility's operation. In addition, USDA's planning efforts were delayed before the pandemic for the Biologics Development Module—a laboratory at NBAF intended to enhance and expedite the transition of vaccines and other countermeasures from research to commercial viability. A November 2018 schedule called for USDA to develop the business model and operating plan for the module in 2019. Officials stated in May 2020 that USDA intends to develop the business model and operating plan by fiscal year 2020's end. Construction Site of the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) as of November 2019 and an Artist's Rendering of NBAF When Complete USDA's efforts to date to collaborate with DHS and other key federal or industry stakeholders on NBAF have included meeting regularly with DHS officials to define mission and research priorities, developing written agreements with DHS about DHS's roles and responsibilities before and after the transfer, and collaborating with the intelligence community, as well as with relevant international research groups and global alliances, on an ongoing basis. These efforts are consistent with selected key practices for interagency collaboration, such as including relevant participants and clarifying roles. Foreign animal diseases—some of which infect people—can pose threats to the United States. USDA and DHS have been developing NBAF to conduct research on and develop countermeasures (e.g., vaccines) for such diseases, as part of a national policy to defend U.S. agriculture against terrorist attacks and other emergencies. DHS is constructing NBAF in Manhattan, Kansas. DHS originally assumed responsibility for owning and operating NBAF. However, USDA will carry out this responsibility instead, following an executive order from 2017 to improve efficiency of government programs. Construction is expected to cost about $1.25 billion. GAO was asked to review issues related to development of NBAF and USDA's plans for operating it. This report examines (1) efforts to transfer ownership of NBAF from DHS to USDA and to prepare for the facility's operation and (2) USDA's efforts to collaborate with stakeholders. GAO reviewed DHS and USDA documents and interviewed key department officials and various stakeholders. GAO also compared the departments' efforts on NBAF with selected key practices for government reforms and collaboration. For more information, contact Steve D. Morris at (202) 512-3841 or morriss@gao.gov.
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  • Secretary Antony J. Blinken Introductory Remarks for Youth Speaker Xiye Bastida
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • Department Press Briefing – March 4, 2021
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Ned Price, Department [Read More…]
  • Las Vegas Business Owner Pleads Guilty in Fraudulent Income Tax Return Scheme
    In Crime News
    A Las Vegas, Nevada, businesswoman pleaded guilty today to filing a false tax return.
    [Read More…]
  • Secretary Antony J. Blinken with Indian Minister of External Affairs Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar Before Their Meeting
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • Maine Man Sentenced for Federal Hate Crime Convictions
    In Crime News
    The Justice Department today announced the sentencing of Maurice Diggins, 36, of Biddeford, Maine, in federal court for his role in a series of racially motivated assaults against black men in Maine.
    [Read More…]
  • Curacao Travel Advisory
    In Travel
    Reconsider travel to [Read More…]
  • Secretary Pompeo’s Meeting with Qatari Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • California Man Charged with COVID-Relief Fraud Scheme
    In Crime News
    A federal grand jury in Los Angeles, California, returned an indictment on April 13, charging a California man with stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
    [Read More…]
  • Thailand Travel Advisory
    In Travel
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  • Secretary Antony J. Blinken at a Youth Moderated Discussion on Democracy and Human Rights
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • Justice Department Announces $5.3 Million in Awards to Support Operation Legend
    In Crime News
    At a roundtable with law [Read More…]
  • Man Arrested in Connection with Alleged Role in Twitter Hack
    In Crime News
    A citizen of the United Kingdom was arrested today in Estepona, Spain, by Spanish National Police pursuant to a U.S. request for his arrest on multiple charges in connection with the July 2020 hack of Twitter that resulted in the compromise of over 130 Twitter accounts, including those belonging to politicians, celebrities and companies.
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  • India Travel Advisory
    In Travel
    Do not travel to India [Read More…]
  • Fake Title – Maintenance (4/18)
    In U.S GAO News
    GAO Email Notification Test We are testing our notification distribution process for GAO reports. If you are able to read this information the link contained in the email notification link worked. Please confirm that you received the email notification from GAOReports@gao.gov and used the link to access the prepublication site by contacting Andrea Thomas at thomasa@gao.gov (202) 512-3147 John Miller at millerj@gao.gov (202) 512-3672 Thank you
    [Read More…]
  • The Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Former Resident of Stockton, California Sentenced to More Than 15 Years in Prison for Human Trafficking Convictions Related to Forced Labor of Foreign Nationals
    In Crime News
    Sharmistha Barai, 40, formerly of Stockton, California, was sentenced Friday, Oct. 2 to 15 years and eight months in prison for forced labor violations.
    [Read More…]
  • Former DoD Employee Sentenced for Violently Assaulting Two Neighbors While Living Overseas
    In Crime News
    An Oklahoma City, Oklahoma man was sentenced today to 60 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release in the Western District of Oklahoma for assaulting two neighbors inside their apartment in Okinawa, Japan, while working for the U.S. Armed Forces overseas as a civilian engineer.
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  • Fireside Chat at IHS CERAWeek
    In Climate - Environment - Conservation
    John Kerry, Special [Read More…]
  • Physician Pleads Guilty in Medicaid Fraud Conspiracy
    In Crime News
    A California man pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to commit health care fraud.
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  • Antitrust Division and Fellow Members of the Multilateral Pharmaceutical Merger Task Force Seek Public Input
    In Crime News
    The U.S. Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division is pleased to be a part of the Multilateral Pharmaceutical Merger Task Force (Task Force), along with its counterpart competition enforcement agencies — the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Canadian Competition Bureau, the European Commission Directorate General for Competition, the United Kingdom’s Competition and Markets Authority, and Offices of State Attorneys General.
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  • Department of Justice Fiscal Year 2022 Funding Request
    In Crime News
    The President today submitted his Budget for Fiscal Year 2022 to Congress, totaling $35.3 billion for the Department of Justice (DOJ).  
    [Read More…]