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HomeUnited StatesDepartment Press Briefing – August 30, 2022

Department Press Briefing – August 30, 2022

QUESTION: Hi, can you hear me?
It’s disappointing that the Oliver Henry was not provided diplomatic clearance in support of its operation with the FFA. I will note that on August 29th, the U.S. received formal notification from the Government of the Solomon Islands regarding a moratorium on all naval visits pending updates in protocol procedures.
Next, let’s go to the line of Camilla Schick with CBS News.
The flooding has affected an estimated 33 million people and resulted in more than 1,100 deaths and more than 1,600 injuries. In addition, more than one million homes have been damaged or destroyed, and nearly 735,000 livestock – a major source of livelihood and food – have been lost, and the flooding has damaged roads and more than two million acres of agricultural land.
Next, let’s go to the line of Abigail Williams with NBC News.
Let’s go to the line of Shaun Tandon with AFP.
MR PATEL: Yes, sir. Go ahead.
QUESTION: Hi, Vedant. Can you hear me?
MR PATEL: Thanks, Said. On your second question, I don’t have anything for you on that at the moment. Happy to check if we have any updates and can circle back.
MR PATEL: Thanks, Daphne. So on your question about the Solomon Islands, U.S. Coast Guard cutter Oliver Henry diverted to Papua New Guinea after the Solomon Island Government didn’t provide diplomatic clearance for the vessel to refuel and provision in port. The U.S. Oliver – the Coast Guard cutter Oliver Henry is – was in the region as part of the Pacific Island Forum’s fishery agency’s Operation Island Chief. The operation aims to support regional partners effectively and efficiently; protect their national interests; combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing; and strengthen maritime government on the high seas and model professional maritime behavior to partners and competitors.
QUESTION: Hi, thanks for doing this. The Mexican president said that Secretary Blinken is traveling to Mexico this September. Can you confirm this? Thank you.
On your second question, there is a protocol and procedure in place for the assessment of wrongful detention. I don’t have anything to provide beyond that.
Next, let’s go to the line of Laurie Mylroie with Kurdistan 24.
QUESTION: Yeah, hey, listen just on your second topper there, you guys have been saying for months now that the Russians are going to do these sham referenda. Is there something new or particularly imminent about this? I’m just curious as to why today you’re raising this point again when it’s been raised multiple times in the past going back at least two or three months.
And on your final question about flooding, we’ve seen, I’m sure, a number of extreme weather events across the world over the past year or two. And so it’s for that reason that addressing climate both through the work of this department and the interagency continues to be one of the top priorities for this administration. It’s work that Secretary Blinken takes seriously. It’s a key goal of his, as well as the important work being led by Special Envoy Kerry as well.
MR PATEL: Thanks, Laurie. As we’ve said previously, now is the time for all parties to resolve the current impasse. Above all, we urge all those involved to remain calm, abstain from violence, and pursue peaceful avenues of redress. The right to peaceful public protest is a fundamental element of all democracies. The demonstrators need to respect the property and institutions of the Iraqi Government which belong to and serve the Iraqi people.
But on your first question, the U.S. has closely monitored this case, the one that you mention, and we have noted UN and NGO concerns about fair trial guarantees. We previously have been in touch with Mohammad al-Habib’s attorney to learn more about his detention and the court case, and we have expressed to Israel our deep concerns over the length of his trial.
A USAID disaster management specialist arrived in Islamabad on Monday to assess the impact of the floods and coordinate with partners on response efforts. USAID staff in Islamabad, Bangkok, Washington, D.C. continue to monitor the situation in close coordination with local partners, the Government of Pakistan, and U.S. Embassy Islamabad.
We’ve also made clear that we’re going to continue to operate in the region as consistence and in accordance with international law. That also means maintaining open lines of communication with the PRC but also supporting Taiwan.
MR PATEL: Thanks, Matt. You’re right. We’ve raised this before, but we just wanted to share some additional information that we had about this, as I detailed in my topper, and to reiterate some of those points again that previously hadn’t been public. Polling data shows that in a free referendum that Ukrainians in the occupied areas would not choose to join Russia. The NDI’s May 2022 poll found that only three percent of Ukrainians would like Ukraine to join the Russian-led Eurasian Customs Union.
Let’s next go to the line of Daphne Psaledakis with Reuters.
QUESTION: Hi, Vedant. You can hear me okay I hope?
On your question about the embassy, I don’t have any additional updates to provide at this time either, but we’re happy to take that back and see if we have anything for you.
MS PATEL: Thanks Camilla, and no, I hadn’t had a chance to address that yet. But as confirmed publicly by the IAEA, an expert team is currently in Kyiv and is expected to arrive at the ZNPP later this week. Russia has said that it will let the IAEA team inspect the power plant, and we hope Russia lives up to its word and allows a full inspection of the facilities and unhindered access to the operators. I don’t have anything further to preview on that, though, at this time.
QUESTION: Thank you for taking my question. My first question is on Taiwan. Can you please confirm that the State Department would ask the Congress for approval for a military sale worth billion?
And my second question on Iraq. President Biden said during his visit to the region that the United States is staying there, is not going anywhere. I mean, Iraq was about to collapse yesterday. Is there any kind of engagement from your side? You have 2,500 troops there. They are not in a combat mission, but what kind of engagements did you make these two days? Nothing? Thank you.
MR PATEL: Thanks, Hiba. So I will reiterate what I’ve said previously, is that we have a long-term commitment to this region. We reaffirmed this fact at the July Strategic Dialogue in Washington, where representatives of our countries met to discuss strengthening our long-term strategic relationship, not just in the security space but also when it comes to trade, culture, education, and the environment. And I will say again the U.S. wants to see a strong, united, resilient, and sovereign Iraqi state. We will stay with them and continue to support this process.
QUESTION: On Iraq, Muqtada al-Sadr has called on his supporters to end their protests. Do you have a response to that?
With these funds, USAID partners will prioritize urgently needed support for food, nutrition, multi-purpose cash, safe water, improved sanitation and hygiene, and shelter assistance.
MR PATEL: Thanks, Nike. So I will let the delegation speak to their own travel and any specifics around that. But what I will note and I have repeatedly noted is that members of Congress and elected officials from varying levels of government have gone to Taiwan for decades and will continue to do so. This is, of course, in line with our longstanding “one China” policy.
MR PATEL: Yes, sir. Go ahead.
And sorry, on your – on the second part of your question, I am certainly not going to speculate. But what I would reiterate is that over the past week, many weeks, China has overreacted and taken provocations, and the United States’ response has been measured and responsible. And we have made clear that we do not intend to escalate the situation or cause any crises, and we certainly do not intend to change our longstanding “one China” policy.
(The briefing was concluded at 2:40 p.m.)
The people of Ukraine and the world will not be fooled by this mockery of a process. We stand by the people of Ukraine and their democratically elected government.
QUESTION: Thanks. Going back to Iraq, are there any discussions about increasing security in or around the embassy compound in Baghdad in light of the protests in the international zone? And have there been any discussions between U.S. and Iraqi officials and does Secretary Blinken plan to call the prime minister? Thank you.
QUESTION: Thanks. Going back to Iraq, are there any discussions about increasing security in or around the embassy compound in Baghdad in light of the protests in the international zone? And have there been any discussions between U.S. and Iraqi officials and does Secretary Blinken plan to call the prime minister? Thank you.
All right, we have time for a couple more questions. And so next, let’s go to the line of Eduard Ribas with EFE.
MR PATEL: Thanks so much, Alex. Let me see if I can unpack that a little in three parts.
MR PATEL: Thanks, Victor. So we fully support the efforts of Director General Grossi and the IAEA Secretariat to engage Iran on the need to provide the necessary cooperation in order to clarify and resolve the open safeguards issues. Safeguards on nuclear materials relate to the very core of the IAEA’s mandate. And we have been crystal clear that we do not believe there should be any conditionality between reimplementation of the JCPOA and the investigations related to Iran’s legal obligations under the NPT and its Comprehensive Safeguard Agreement.
Two, moving to Iraq, Reuters had reported earlier today that a series of rocket attacks pushed U.S. contractors out of the country where they were working to expand one of the biggest gas fields there. Part of that expansion project was funded through an agreement with USAID – or U.S. International Development Finance. Can you confirm that?
And with that, I’m happy to take your questions. Operator, if you wouldn’t mind sharing question-answer instructions again.
MR PATEL: Hey there. Thanks so much. Good afternoon, everybody, and thank you for joining us today. I have two quick things for you at the top before we dive into your questions.
If you don’t mind, a somewhat general question on the aid in – on Pakistan – to Pakistan. To what extent is climate a factor that you think needs to be addressed in this? The UN secretary-general notably was quite forceful today speaking about how climate change – this shows how climate change needs to be addressed better. If you have any remarks on that, I’m wondering if you could. Thanks. Bye.
Next, let’s go to the line of Said Arikat.
So first, in terms of action, look, we have stood with Ukraine for 31 years and we will continue to firm – firmly stand with them as they defend their freedom and independence. Our support for Ukraine is unwavering, and we continue to take steps to ensure that Ukraine can defend itself, defend its territorial integrity, defend its sovereignty, as well as put it in the best position possible at a potential negotiating table.
QUESTION: Good afternoon. Two questions on unrelated topics. First, can you provide the latest on where negotiations stand on a return to the Iran nuclear deal? And more specifically, do you have any response to reports that the U.S. and Iran have reached an agreement to return to the deal which would be announced in the next two to three weeks?
And on your final question about Armenia and Azerbaijan, I don’t have any updates for you other than to reiterate what we’ve previously said, that the United States remains committed to promoting a secure, stable, democratic, prosperous, and peaceful future for the South Caucasus region, and we urge Armenia and Azerbaijan to intensify their diplomatic engagement and achieve a comprehensive peace agreement.
And I will mention again, as in response to some of your colleagues’ questions as well, we have consistently reaffirmed that – our government’s commitment to a strong, stable, and prosperous Iraq. A long-term, deep, and strategic partnership with Iraq serves the people of both of our countries.
MR PATEL: Thanks. So I have no calls or engagements to read out from the department. What I would reiterate is that we consistently reaffirm the United States commitment to a strong, stable, and prosperous Iraq, and we believe a deep, multifacted partnership with Iraq both – serves the people of both countries.
And on the topic of Iraq, I just don’t have any additional updates to provide for you on security or embassy personnel. As I said, there has been no change in our posture since yesterday.
QUESTION: Hi, thank you, Vedant. I’m sorry if I missed it at the very top; I missed the first couple of minutes. I just had a question about the IAEA team on the ground in Ukraine right now. Can you give any update of what is the understanding of when they are scheduled to go and visit Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, whether that’s something today or tomorrow, or whether that’s still up in the air? Thank you.
QUESTION: Hi, thank you for doing this. A quick question on Taiwan. Taiwan fired warning shots at a Chinese drone which buzzed an offshore islet on Tuesday. How concerned is Washington about escalating tensions?
MR PATEL: First, let’s go to the line of Matt Lee with the Associated Press.


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