HomeUnited StatesDepartment Press Briefing – September 6, 2022

Department Press Briefing – September 6, 2022

MR PATEL: Our thoughts remain with the Abu Akleh family as they grieve this tremendous loss. Not only, as you all know, Shireen was a U.S. citizen, and she was a fearless reporter. And part of our vision of accountability is ensuring that activities like this – that something like this does not happen again. And that’s something —
MR PATEL: Yes, go ahead.
QUESTION: (Off-mike.)
QUESTION: On China and Taiwan, after the State Department announced it has approved new packages of arms sales to Taiwan, China has rejected and threatened to take actions. What is the U.S. response to China and its objection of U.S. arms sale to Taiwan?
MR PATEL: Well, my understanding is that they are – they have reduced flow due to claims of maintenance and a supposed oil leak, but we have not found those claims to be credible, and other experts in the private sector and otherwise have also found that to be not credible as well.
QUESTION: No problem, Vedant. Congrats.
QUESTION: One more —
MR PATEL: So again, I’m just not going to get into specifics of negotiations or engagements from here, but what I will reiterate is that the U.S. will always stand up for our citizens who are wrongfully detained overseas. We’re continuing to approach negotiations to secure the release of our four wrongfully detained U.S. citizens with the utmost urgency, and we’re urging Iran to do the same and release them. And we believe that these individuals should be returned home to their loved ones.
QUESTION: So they never brought the information that they said that they were going to?
MR PATEL: All right, Michel.
MR PATEL: Thank you.
QUESTION: Any comment on the Russia plan to buy military equipment from North Korea and Iran?
QUESTION: Okay. But that’s not what accountability is, unless you guys have a different definition of it than the dictionary does. So what does accountability mean for this administration? An apology? We’re sorry. It happened maybe – it looks like it happened by accident.
MR PATEL: So I don’t have any updates to offer on his medical condition. But – give me one second – apologies. Again, so I don’t have anything to offer on his medical condition. Due to privacy concerns, I’m just not going to get into that. But as it relates to Iran, we are continuing to approach negotiations to secure the release of four wrongfully detained U.S. citizens with the utmost urgency, and we continue to urge Iran to do the same. Iran must allow Baquer and Siamak Namazi, Emad Shargi, and Morad Tahbaz to return home to their loved ones.
QUESTION: On Syria, Nick Granger’s visit to northeast Syria – what can you tell me about that? And does it – having a U.S. diplomatic mission there, does it indicate any seriousness in U.S.’s stance on the situation there or trying to deescalate the Turkish attacks on northeast Syria?
MR PATEL: Well, there are a number of lines of effort that we have at our disposal to continue to hold Russia accountable, our sanctions being one of them. And I think just last week we briefed out some metrics on the economic consequences that are directly being put upon Russia’s economy because of their barbaric and unjust actions in Ukraine.
QUESTION: And do you have any ideas on who would —
MR PATEL: Again, Said, we continue to press Israel directly and closely at the senior-most levels to review its policies and practices on this to ensure that something like this doesn’t happen again in the future. That’s something we’re continuing to be really engaged on.
QUESTION: But it won’t happen again. That’s the – that’s what accountability is, or is it something more?
MR PATEL: — and that’s something that we continue to raise directly with Israel, that it closely review its policies and practices on the rules of engagement, to take additional steps to mitigate risk, to protect journalists, to protect civilian harm, and to ensure that similar tragedies don’t happen in the future.
MR PATEL: So I have no travel to preview for Special Coordinator Hochstein, but we remain in close touch with both governments. Special Presidential Coordinator Hochstein continues his robust engagement to bring the maritime boundary discussions to a close. We continue to narrow the gaps between the parties and we believe a lasting compromise is possible, and we welcome the consultative spirit of both parties to reach a resolution.
MR PATEL: I don’t have any calls to —
QUESTION: But – okay. When you were referring back to what Ned said a couple weeks ago, that was before the Israelis had brought this – what they said was going to be this – they promised that they were going to bring you – they haven’t done that as far as you know?
QUESTION: If calling Russia – if, let’s say, given the fact that Russia has been cooperating with North Korea and Iran purchasing weapons against Ukraine, if calling Russia what it is, which is a state sponsor of terrorism, then what other means do you have in mind to call for accountability?
QUESTION: Maybe it does in your view. I don’t know. You tell me.
MR PATEL: Sure.
MR PATEL: Sure.
MR PATEL: Again, I’m not going to get into hypotheticals from here. What I will reiterate again is that this is a designation authority that rests with the Secretary of State, but also, as the President said over the weekend, we do not think that this is the most effective or strongest path forward to hold Russia accountable. The designation could have unintended consequences for both Ukraine and the world broadly as well.
MR PATEL: Said, we are continuing to engage with Israel on these pilot procedures that were published this weekend that, as you said, impact the entry, study, and work or residence of potentially thousands of people in the West Bank. We understand that Israel plans for them to go into effect on October 20th. We note that there are some improvements in some of these regulations from the original draft in February, but we remain concerned about potential adverse impact for these procedures and how they could impact Palestinian civil society, how it could impact tourism, impact family unity, investment, and other health care and academic institutions.
MR PATEL: Well, there is no reason for China to react. These systems are for defensive purposes. And the United States has been providing defensive capabilities to Taiwan for decades, which is in line with our longstanding commitments under not just the Taiwan Relations Act, but it’s also consistent with our “one China” policy. In line with that policy, the U.S. will continue to meet Taiwan’s defense needs. This package was in the works for some time precisely because we expected it would be needed as China increased its pressure on Taiwan. We have and we will continue to be responsible, steady, and resolute and keep our lines of communication open with Beijing, but also continue to support Taiwan in consistent – in ways that are consistent with our policy.
QUESTION: Staying on that – on Russia?
MR PATEL: We continue to engage directly with our Israeli partners on that. We strongly believe that respect for human rights and the importance of a strong civil society are critically important. And we can make clear to the Israeli Government and the PA that independent civil society organizations in the West Bank must continue their important work. I don’t have any updates on this beyond what Ned briefed on this a couple weeks ago. We continue to seek additional information from our Israeli partners, but don’t have an update beyond that.
MR PATEL: Sure thing. So, as you saw, our colleagues at the White House announced the first U.S.-Pacific Island Country Summit. This will be the first ever U.S.-Pacific Island Country Summit, which will be held at the end of September. The summit will demonstrate a number of things, but first the U.S.’s deep commitment and its enduring partnership with Pacific Island countries and the Pacific region that is underpinned by shared history, values, and people-to-people ties. The summit will also reflect our broadening and deepening cooperation on a number of key issues, including maritime security, addressing climate change, pandemic and global health response, economic and trade recovery and ties, environmental protection, but also advancing a free and open Indo-Pacific.
QUESTION: On Iran’s wrongful detention, there – Iran sentenced two – what human rights organizations say – LGBTQ activists, Zahra Hamedani and Elham Choubdar. Do you have any comment on Iran’s sentencing people for defending human rights?
MR PATEL: Well, as you know, that’s a process that is determined by the Secretary of State, and I don’t have any updates to offer on that right now.
QUESTION: Does the departure of Ambassador Sullivan disrupt at all conversations that were occurring regarding Griner and Whelan’s release?
QUESTION: Thank you.
Our unparalleled defense and security alliance and Special Relationship, founded on shared values and common beliefs, promote security and prosperity for our two nations and for the world.
But to go back to the crux of your question, as you said, the Russian Ministry of Defense is in the process of purchasing millions of rockets and artillery shells from North Korea for use in Ukraine. This purchase indicates that the Russian military continues to suffer from severe supply shortages due in part because of export controls and sanctions – another example of the lines of efforts that we have to hold Russia accountable.
MR PATEL: Said, I’m not going to read out every diplomatic engagement that we have. But I will mention again that we continue to press Israel to closely review its policies and practices on the rules of engagement, to take steps to mitigate risks, to take steps to protect journalists, to take steps to protect civilians and prevent similar tragedies like this happening in the future. We, the United States, continue to support press freedoms and the protections of journalists in carrying out their work, and we call on democracies and all responsible actors to ensure that journalists can conduct the vital work that they do.
MR PATEL: Sure.
QUESTION: And then the Erbil part – is the U.S. oil companies, the pressure on U.S. oil companies, is that part of the discussions there?
QUESTION: Okay. I want to start in the Middle East. I want to start with Israel.
2:05 p.m. EDT
MR PATEL: — read out right now.
MR PATEL: Okay.
MR PATEL: — again reiterate that the Russian military defense is in the process of purchasing millions of rockets and artillery shells from North Korea for use on the battlefield in Ukraine. This purchase indicates that the Russian military continues to suffer from severe supply shortages in Ukraine due in part to export controls and sanctions, and we expect Russia to try to purchase additional North Korean military equipment going forward as well.
MR PATEL: Still Iran? What’s that?
QUESTION: Which countries have confirmed attendance?
MR PATEL: Sorry, can you repeat the first part of your question?
MR PATEL: So we’ve seen those reports, but what I would note is that these kinds of – this kind of rhetoric continues to demonstrate that Russia is not a reliable supplier of energy and that we remained with – in sync with our allies and partners and our commitment to promoting European energy security, reducing our collective dependence on Russian energy products, and continuing to place pressure on the Kremlin.
QUESTION: Does State have a legal analysis of whether Russia is a state sponsor of terrorism?
MR PATEL: No, those conversations and engagements continue to be ongoing.
MR PATEL: No, those conversations and engagements continue to be ongoing.
MR PATEL: No, those conversations and engagements continue to be ongoing.
MR PATEL: No, those conversations and engagements continue to be ongoing.
MR PATEL: No, those conversations and engagements continue to be ongoing.
MR PATEL: No, those conversations and engagements continue to be ongoing.
MR PATEL: No, those conversations and engagements continue to be ongoing.
MR PATEL: So —
QUESTION: One more on Iran?
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR PATEL: Yeah. I mean, to reiterate what the administration said at the tail-end of last week, Iran’s response did not put us in a position to close the deal. We’ve consistently said that gaps remain, and it’s clear from Iran’s response that these gaps still remain.
QUESTION: — while she was still foreign secretary. Do you happen to know?
QUESTION: Thank you so much. Yesterday marked 200 days since detention of Brittney Griner. Last time, the U.S. embassy reached out to Russian officials? Do you have any information about that?
QUESTION: And on OPEC+ decision to decrease its production in October by 100,000 barrel, how do you view this decision?
I will also just use this opportunity to reiterate what some from the administration said last week, that we are deeply concerned about renewed fighting in Ethiopia. The U.S. condemns the TPLF offensive outside of Tigray, we condemn the Ethiopian Government’s airstrikes and ground offensives, and we condemn Eritrea’s re-entry into the conflict as well. These actions are increasing tensions throughout the region and worsening the humanitarian situation. In our view, there is no military solution to this conflict.

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