QUESTION: Well, yeah, but —
And we’re starting to do that. We are starting to raise the costs on those countries who engage in this. We have worked very closely with our Canadian allies. They have demonstrated leadership in the fight against this practice. The Declaration Against Arbitrary Detention in State-to-State Relations, as it’s called, now has nearly 70 endorsements – 68 endorsements – from countries around the world. We’ve called on others to support this as well. As you know, earlier this year President Biden signed a new executive order directing this department and the interagency to recommend options to the White House to counter and to deter hostage-taking and wrongful detentions. And we’re working on ways to do that – again, to make clear to countries around the world that engage in this that there will – there would be and will be costs for their actions.
MR PRICE: Sure.
QUESTION: I want to go to where you began or the second item about the possible violence erupting in the West Bank, and in fact there was an interview with Ambassador Nides where he actually warns against such a thing. But I tell you, I mean, the Palestinians don’t have much hope other than perhaps resort to violence. They keep hitting a brick wall. I mean, you talk about both sides. Now, only one side occupies the other, torments the other, and so on. Even the most modest of actions – well, to sort of follow through on your commitment to the two-state solution, which is the reopening of the consulate that was open and so on – it’s not open. So what do you say to the Palestinians that are almost hopeless?
QUESTION: If it did turn out to be sabotage by a nation state, do you think that could rise to the level of NATO Article 5 infringement?
QUESTION: Great. Thanks, Ned. On your first – two things on your – your very first opening remarks. The – I presume from what you said that should Russia go ahead and – after the referendum and annex these parts – these four parts of Ukraine, that the U.S. guidance or perhaps prohibition on Ukraine using U.S.-supplied weaponry to launch attacks into those areas will not – it won’t apply. Is that correct?
MR PRICE: Let me move around, so yes.
MR PRICE: As they process asylum applications.
What is perhaps more meaningful when it comes to that hope and that opportunity is what we have provided, what we have been in a sense – in a sense able to deliver to and for the Palestinian people. And in addition to the more than half-billion dollars the United States has provided to the Palestinian people since January of 2021, when this administration came into office, President Biden when he was in the region in May announced an additional 6 million to support the Palestinian people when he was in the West Bank. And last week, this department, we were in a position to announce nearly million, additional funding for UNRWA providing health care, providing emergency relief to hundreds of thousands of potentially vulnerable Palestinian children and families.
This has been a priority of ours since the earliest days of this administration. We are working with experts inside of government, outside of government, including of course with the Foley Foundation and other institutions, to defy – devise ways to not only bring Americans home who are subject to being held hostage or being held or being wrongfully detained, but also to deter countries from this abhorrent practice going forward. We have really two imperatives. Number one is to see to it that the Americans who are – have been kept from their families for far too long, in some cases years, are returned to their families and loved ones as soon and as quickly as we can possibly manage; but number two, to create and ultimately to reinforce a norm against this type of despicable behavior on the part of certain states. We want to make sure that every government who would engage in this practice understand that there are economic, there are financial, there are diplomatic consequences for their actions.
Because we’ve seen this movie before, we know what will come next. We expect Russia to use these sham referenda as a false pretext to attempt to annex Ukraine’s territory.
QUESTION: So, Ned, Belarussian President Lukashenka arrived today in occupied Abkhazia and met local leader. As Lukashenka mentioned, he wants, and I quote, to build not only a “bridge of friendship… very serious relations” as well. I wonder if you could give me your reaction on that, please.
MR PRICE: Matt, that’s a —
Secondly, there are reports that the U.S. actually did see this coming. There were some intelligence reports and the U.S. did inform Germans and others. Are you in a position to confirm or deny those reports?
QUESTION: But you didn’t mention that.
QUESTION: And how would you characterize Solomon Islands’ concerns?
Yes, in the back.
QUESTION: Can I follow up on that? So a duel citizen or an American citizen was actually confirmed to be among the killed. We just confirmed that. But also the CENTCOM put out a statement saying that they shot down a drone that they believe was going towards American forces. So is there any safety concerns for Americans in Kurdistan region?
MR PRICE: In the short term.
QUESTION: That doesn’t mean that all the countries have agreed to sign on to it.
QUESTION: You put out a statement condemning the missile and drone attack by the Islamic Republic of Iran against the Iraqi Kurdistan. What is the U.S. Government doing to protect – to help protect the region, especially given that there are U.S. forces stationed there as well?
QUESTION: Same topic.
QUESTION: So I know that you guys have two statements out, but I am just curious what’s the understanding here. Why is Kurdistan region a target of Iranian attack?
QUESTION: All right. And then lastly, and your colleague at the White House just went – spoke about this in depth, so I just want to ask you about it – the Nord Stream explosion/leaks. We saw last night that the Secretary had a conversation with the Danish foreign minister about this. Has he had any additional conversations specifically related to these incidents? And if he has or even if he hasn’t, has there been any change in your assessment of what happened?
MR PRICE: Simon.
MR PRICE: So a couple points. Number one, we are and we have consistently partnered with Haitian authorities to try to address the underlying security challenges that are at the root of what you point to, the violence, the kidnappings, the transnational crime that has plagued Haiti for far too long. We are in frequent touch with the leadership of the Government of Haiti, with the Haitian National Police as well, including through embedded police advisors to evaluate and to address many of these most urgent security needs.
MR PRICE: I would need to refer you to our Mexican partners to speak to their ability to have used the vaccines that we’ve made available to them. What I can say is that we’ve recognized in the broader context – something we’ve really focused on over the course of the past year or so – is not only the challenge associated with vaccine donations but also vaccine distribution and also something we call the last mile challenge. It is one thing to provide large-scale shipments of vaccines, either bilaterally or through COVAX as we have to so many countries around the world, to hundreds of millions of doses around the world. In some cases the challenge, in some cases the biggest challenge, is the challenge associated with actually putting those shots in arms. And so not only have we been in a position to provide support in the term – in terms of vaccine dosage, but we have worked with countries around the world, including last Friday in New York City, where countries came together to discuss what we call our GAP plan, our Global Action Plan on COVID. And one key element of that is this so-called last mile challenge, the distribution challenge that comes with that. We’re very focused on it, focused on it not in the context of any – not only in the context of particular countries, but also working together with countries around the world to address how we might overcome these challenges.
QUESTION: (Inaudible), Australian Broadcasting Corporation. At the Pacific Islands Summit today, Secretary Blinken said that a declaration of partnership had been agreed upon. Can I just confirm: Have all of the Pacific Island leaders here today agreed to that declaration? Specifically, has Solomon Islands agreed to that declaration?
MR PRICE: — not going to go into specifics for reasons I think you could understand.
MR PRICE: Again, that’s a question for DHS because they adjudicate asylum claims.
Our hope is that over time, with careful planning and an eye towards developing a common approach with partners and allies around the world, the cost-benefit analysis of countries that have engaged in this will change and that over time this will be a practice that is ultimately relegated to the dustbin of history.
QUESTION: He wasn’t a Russian citizen until just the other day. He wasn’t a dual citizen until just the other day.
QUESTION: But returning 25,000 – more than 25,000 Haitians when you actually know the situation is dangerous – the State Department is comfortable with that?
QUESTION: Just so – clarify, yesterday’s meeting was part of the sustainable process that you guys kicked in New York, or is it —
QUESTION: I wanted to ask about a report out today from the Foley Foundation on U.S. hostages and Americans being wrongfully detained abroad. The report shows a dramatic increase in the number of incidents of U.S. nationals being wrongfully detained overseas. It’s up almost 200 percent this decade compared to last decade, and there’s been a 60 percent increase in the average length of time that these hostages are being held, with over half being held for a decade or longer. Does the State Department agree that over the past decade some of the – that the cases of U.S. hostages being held have become more difficult to resolve? And what do you attribute that to? And what is the Biden administration doing to ensure that countries are not taking Americans to be used as political leverage?
QUESTION: So, wait, I just want to – it’s up to DHS to decide whether fleeing conscription is a legitimate ground for an asylum claim, but you’ll welcome them here, but it’s up to DHS?
QUESTION: Turkey uses its drone technology to spy illegally on the Greek islands, and also, as a matter of fact, they don’t even try to hide it; they release themselves the picture. So my question is: What is your reactions to this incident? And second, is it unacceptable for a NATO Ally to spy on another NATO Ally?
MR PRICE: Said, I will start where you started, because that has been a core premise of our policy: to afford a greater degree of hope, a greater degree of opportunity to the Palestinian people. Now, the first element of that was re-engaging with the Palestinian Authority, re‑engaging with the Palestinian people, something we did nearly as soon as we came into offer – into office. Re-engagement, of course, is only one part of that.
QUESTION: — because that’s what —
QUESTION: — because that’s what —
MR PRICE: I was suggesting that you will hear more on this tomorrow. I think what the Secretary said is that we’ve come to agreement on the vision we share for the region, a vision that will be reflected in everything that emanates from this summit, including any documents you may see tomorrow.
QUESTION: Okay, so you —
MR PRICE: We’re basing it primarily on the conversations that we’ve had with our European partners. They, of course, are much closer to the site of this apparent sabotage. We are, as part of our assistance to the investigation, sharing information we may have on these acts, on these apparent acts of sabotage. But this moniker, “apparent sabotage,” is based on what we know but primarily what we’re hearing from our European counterparts.
QUESTION: You said there were no U.S. officials among the victims. There was one U.S. citizen. His name is Omar (inaudible), known as Chichu. So do you have any response other than the statement you put out?
MR PRICE: The standard we use is what is in America’s national interests, and it just so happens that when it comes to our allies and partners, what tends to be in our national interest is in the collective interest as well.
And finally, I am pleased to announce that Secretary Blinken has designated Assistant Secretary for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs Monica Medina as special envoy for biodiversity and water resources. She will take on the special envoy designation in addition to her current responsibilities.
MR PRICE: It is —
MR PRICE: — of congressionally mandated sanctions. So these are different cases. Of course, countries around the world are open to make their own choices. There will be cases – extreme cases – where certain choices will have implications on the part of the United States and our bilateral relationship.
In response to the actions of the Russian Government, we have seen an equal and opposite reaction on the part of the Russian people, and we have seen thousands of Russians take to the streets once again, just as they did in the earliest hours of President Putin’s war against Ukraine, to make clear that they are not supportive of this war effort, they are not endorsing the decision on the part of their leadership to potentially – to potentially send hundreds of thousands of additional Russians to face injury or potentially death inside of Ukraine.
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