MR PATEL: Hey, everyone. Good afternoon and thank you very much for joining this press conference, previewing Secretary Blinken’s travels to Munster, Germany, for the G7 Foreign Ministers’ meeting. This call consists of; and today we are joined by Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Nerissa Cook of the Office of International Organization Affairs, as well as Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary Howard Solomon for our Office of Eurasian Affairs. We’ll have some time for questions and answers at the end, but with that, I’ll first turn it over to Deputy Principal Assistant Secretary Nerissa Cook.
MS COCIÑEIRO: Thank you very much, Vedant. I am very pleased to be with all of you today and with my colleague, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary Howard Solomon of the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs. As mentioned by Vedant, I am Nerissa Cook. I am the Acting Principal Deputy Under-Secretary of the Office of International Organization Affairs.
Tomorrow, Secretary Blinken travels to Munster, Germany, to participate in a meeting of G7 foreign ministers at the invitation of Germany, which holds the rotating presidency of the G7 this year. First, I want to express our gratitude to Germany for hosting the G7 and the first US-Germany Futures Forum. On this call, I’ll give a very brief preview of some of the things that will be discussed at the G7 and note some of the key items on the agenda.
G7 Foreign Ministers’ meetings are important opportunities to demonstrate leadership in shared goals and values and to address international security challenges. The Secretary is, once again, looking forward to the opportunity to engage with his counterparts on a number of important issues. The secretary will have meetings focused on Russia’s war against Ukraine, (inaudible) on the world, strategic challenges and engagements in Africa, partnerships in the Indo-Pacific region, Iran and Central Asia.
I will now turn to the secretary’s schedule, as it stands. He is scheduled to arrive in Munster on Wednesday, November 2. On Thursday, November 3, he will join German Foreign Minister Baerbock at the German-US Futures Forum in Munster for a moderated discussion entitled “The Future of Democracy in a Digital World.” The 2022 Future Forum will bring together US and German experts and next-generation leaders from civil society, academia, the private sector and government for two days to address the interaction between democracy and technology.
Then the secretary will participate (inaudible) foreign ministers, focusing on Russia’s war against Ukraine. The day will conclude with a reception for the G7 Foreign Ministers and a working dinner framed in a debate on the G7’s common interest in a free and open Indo-Pacific.
On Friday, November 4, the Secretary will attend morning briefings focused on the ongoing protests in Iran and the regime’s violent response. Other topics of discussion will include regional stability, infrastructure, energy and climate issues in Central Asia. A working lunch with senior African officials from Ghana, Kenya and the African Union will focus on regional issues, such as the Sahel, northern Ethiopia and the Great Lakes. It will be followed by a family photo.
The Secretary will then participate in an afternoon meeting on strategic challenges for the G7 and Africa. Attendees will discuss the global consequences of Russia’s war against Ukraine, particularly on food and energy security. Foreign ministers will conclude this G7 meeting with the public release of the presidency’s statement on the issues discussed in Munster, as well as a joint statement with African representatives on the challenges discussed.
And so concludes a brief summary of the calendar of events for the G7 meetings, and with that I leave you again, Vedant.
MR PATEL: Thank you very much. Now we will try to do some questions and answers. Our speakers have a difficult output so we will be keeping an eye on the weather. But, operator, please repeat the instructions to ask questions?
OPERATOR: Again, if you want to ask a question, press 1 and then 0 on the phone keypad.
MR PATEL: Why don’t we go to Ed Wong co line first New York Times.
QUESTION: Hi Vedant. And hello everyone. Thank you. My question is, can you give us a little insight into the energy-related discussions that will take place? I know that the G7 finance ministers have said that they plan to implement an oil price cap, at the same time as the embargo, the partial embargo, takes place at the beginning of December in Europe. Can you discuss where things are right now and whether that will be the topic of conversation at this meeting?
MR SOLOMON: Yes, it’s about Howard. So there has definitely been a lot of close coordination with the EU and with our bilateral European partners on the response to Russia’s re-invasion of Ukraine. As we have seen, there have been a series of sanctions launches by the US. There were eight packages that were introduced by the European Union. And among the different measures was, of course, the idea of a price cap. So I think this is something that was recently adopted at the recent European Council, in terms of the measures that the European Union is putting in place, so I’m sure that our other G7 partners, not just the Europeans, they will be eager to continue that discussion.
MR PATEL: Let’s go next to Michaela Kuefner’s line with DW News.
QUESTION: yes hi I have a question as German Chancellor Scholz will head to China, as State Secretary Blinken will hold talks with other G7 Foreign Ministers on strategic interests, also in the Asia Pacific region. What expectations will you convey from Germany, especially in the context of Germany now allowing China to have a stake in the Port of Hamburg? And are there also discussions about selling a chip factory to a Chinese-owned company? Does that match the expectations of a strategic partner? Will Secretary Blinken raise this and does it match the expectations the US has of Germany?
MR SOLOMON: Yeah, this… Howard walks back in. So we have a very robust discussion with our German counterparts. And the Secretary, I’m sure, will have an excellent discussion with Foreign Minister Baerbock on a variety of topics, including the challenges and opportunities presented by the PRC. We are well aware of the upcoming trip and of course the cases you presented. But overall, not only with Germany but with the other partners, there is a growing convergence of views on the PRC’s approaches, on the challenges that lie ahead and also on the potential opportunities.
I think we recognize that there is, of course, a need for coordination on issues ranging from ensuring that we have stability in terms of cross-strait tensions and looking at concerns about some of the statements that came out of the recent 20th Party Congress in Taiwan. So, I’m sure not to pre-empt discussions, but there will be debate about it. Of course, looking at the issue of fair trade practices, intellectual property protection, human rights concerns in Xinjiang, Tibet and other areas, and these are all areas where we work closely with Germany and other partners as well.
So I think in this case we are looking forward to a very good discussion in the framework of the G7. And as I said, there seems to be a growing unity in terms of positions and approaches. finished
MR PATEL: all good Those are all the questions we have for today. Thank you all so much for joining. Actually, wait, no, just watching another one come in. wait Why don’t you go to Reuters’ Humeyra Pamuk line?
QUESTION: hello Thank you for doing this. Certainly, we cannot end with two questions. I was just wondering, about Ukraine, what the overall message will be as we go into the winter months, and what is going to have an impact on the battlefield. We have also seen some protests across Europe over rising energy bills. It is a known fact that there are disagreements about certain aspects of the war between the US. and Europe. Are you sure you will be able to show transatlantic unity or in general just unity when it comes to Ukraine?
And secondly, I’m curious as to whether the U.S. USA they will ask Germany to do more in terms of security assistance to Ukraine. Thank you.
MR SOLOMON: Yeah, Howard’s back in. Thanks for that question. I think there has been really tremendous cooperation from our European partners in terms of responding to the current situation in Ukraine. There are a number of lines of effort, particularly as we enter winter. We continue to talk about ways in which we can support Ukraine, and I’m sure this conversation will be carried forward within the G7, looking at things from macroeconomic financial support, direct budgetary support, military assistance, humanitarian assistance, support. for refugees, and help Ukraine also in terms of reconstruction. And we recently had a summit or a meeting organized by Germany on October 25th about this.
So yes, of course there are challenges presented. And with recent events, whether with Russia’s unprecedented and heinous attacks on critical infrastructure in Ukraine and targeting civilian and civilian infrastructure, to addressing the issue of food security and, unfortunately, Russia’s withdrawal from the UN-negotiated agreement, I think there are many common points. positions and solidarity – I think that among the populations also within Europe, within the United States, in terms of the need to support the heroic efforts of Ukraine to deal with this invasion of Russia, or reinvasion. finished
MR PATEL: Thank you. Next we go to Warren Strobel’s line with The Wall Street Journal.
QUESTION: Yes, thanks for doing that. I was wondering if you can talk a little more about the discussions that will take place about Iran and its internal situation. Is it mainly aimed at showing support for the aims of the protesters, or do you think ministers will discuss specific next steps they can take to help, such as help with communications that have been cut, etc.
MS COCIÑEIRO: This is Nerissa and I will take over. I think one of the main focuses, as I said beforehand, will be on the ongoing protests in Iran and the regime’s response. But I wouldn’t be surprised if other elements of Iran were discussed, but we don’t want to prejudge how that discussion goes.
MR PATEL: Let’s join Laurie Mylroie with K24.
QUESTION: My question was only asked, but maybe I could press Nerissa a little more. The Iranians are selling vital weapons to Russia for their aggressive and unprovoked war in Ukraine. You don’t expect that to be a problem, especially since Europe is Ukraine’s neighbor; no entity is more threatened by that war than Europe. Do you not think that the sale of Iranian weapons to Ukraine, Russia will also be a problem?
MS COCIÑEIRO: I think that is likely to be the case, yes.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR PATEL: Laurie, I have no doubt that a wide range of Iran’s malign activities in the region will be discussed, particularly the proliferation of its UAV networks that we have seen used in Ukraine. But as Nerissa said, we just don’t want to rush the meeting or the process, and since some of these events will have more robust readings after they take place.
Thanks again everyone for joining. That’s all the time for questions we have, unfortunately, for today. As I said, this call is recorded, and we’ll get back to everyone very soon.