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  • The United States will co-host the second Summit for Democracy on March 29-30 with leaders from Costa Rica, the Netherlands, the Republic of Korea, and the Republic of Zambia. 

    In this on-the-record briefing, Senior Director Berschinski discusses the Year of Action following the first Summit for Democracy in December 2021 and preview the upcoming Summit which aims to strengthen democratic institutions, tackle corruption, and defend human rights.


MODERATOR:  Welcome to the Washington Foreign Press Center’s briefing on the 2023 Summit for Democracy: Progress in the Year of Action.  My name is Doris Robinson, and I am the briefing moderator.  As a reminder, this briefing is on the record.  We will post the transcript later today on the FPC website at   

Our distinguished briefer today is NSC Senior Director for Democracy Rob Berschinski.  Director Berschinski will start with some opening remarks, and then we will open for questions.  And with that, I will turn over to Mr. Berschinski.  

MR BERSCHINSKI:  Thanks, Doris.  Thanks everybody for joining today – really appreciate you taking the time.  As Doris mentioned, I’m the senior director and special assistant to the President at the National Security Council responsible for democracy and human rights.  That’s a portfolio that is inclusive of our anti-corruption work, foreign malign influence, information integrity and resilience, technology and democracy issues, transnational repression, and the topic du jour, which is the Summit for Democracy process.  I hope everybody saw our announcement on the second Summit in March, but the purpose of this briefing is just to provide a little bit more background on what that announcement was as we really ramp up on our way to March.  

So like the first summit back around a year ago – actually almost exactly a year this week in 2021 – our intention with the second summit and all of the actions that have come inbetween is to use the platform as a catalyst for change concerning strengthening democracy, standing up for human rights, and fighting corruption.   

Our intention with the second meeting is to once again bring together a broad swath of pro-democracy allies and partners from around the world, and that’ll include national-level and subnational leaders from government, leaders from civil society, philanthropic organizations, and the private sector to highlight how all of them are following through on the commitments that we collectively made back in December to strengthen and stand up for democracy both within our own borders, including here within the United States, and in the foreign policy of our government participants.  Our intention is to show the many ways that democracies around the world are delivering and developing solutions to all of the world’s most pressing challenges: whether countering aggression, addressing the climate crisis, global health security, or feeding the world.   

So as we announced last week, President Biden will be co-hosting the second Summit for Democracy on March 29th and 30th of next year with the leaders of Costa Rica, the Netherlands, the Republic of Korea, and the Republic of Zambia.  And our deliberate intention with this approach of bringing together a regionally diverse group of co-hosts is that it will reinforce with populations around the world the truth that a safer and freer world grounded in democratic values is both a shared aspiration and a shared responsibility globally.  

Just by way of format, what we’re planning for the second summit is to assemble world leaders in a virtual plenary format on the 29th, followed by in-person gatherings in each co-host country – so the United States and the four countries I mentioned previously – again, with representatives of governments and civil society and the private sector.  And we’re also planning a number of meetings that will precede the 29th with additional programming and urging all of our government and non-governmental partners to host events as well.  So I think you’re going to see quite a bit of action in the leadup to the formal dates on the 29th and 30th of March.   

Our intention is to have summit sessions that focus on many of the key themes that we highlighted last year, but I’ll name just a few – excuse me – supporting free and independent media, fighting corruption, bolstering democratic reformers, advancing technology for democracy, and defending free and fair elections and political processes, among others.   

We also want to highlight the work of what we’ve been calling Democracy Cohorts.  These are multistakeholder thematic groups – and by multistakeholder, I mean they include both governments and NGOs and, in some cases, corporations that have launched around the world on issues like financial transparency, supporting human rights defenders, countering internet shutdowns, supporting the rights of women and girls.  Each of these groups has brought together subsets of our invitees to the Summit for Democracy.  They’re doing great work, and we really look forward to using the platform that the summit provides to detail their work and put a positive spotlight on their work.   

And of course, we’re going to highlight what the BidenHarris administration has done domestically to deliver for the American people in partnership with the Congress on issues like infrastructure and healthcare and climate and manufacturing and so on.  So we at the National Security Council are working very closely with our domestic colleagues in the Domestic Policy Council and the National Economic Council and all of the departments and agencies on the domestic front.  

I’ll close by saying that for those who are able to read the National Security Strategy that we released back in October, you saw the administration describe the world as at an inflection point in history with a need for the United States to engage in strategic competition with those who seek to alter the rules-based international order, and at the same time to engage cooperatively with as many nations as possible in tackling pressing and common global challenges – as with on climate and global health.  The Summit for Democracy and the administration’s broader democracy and human rights agenda stands at the center of all of that work, as portrayed in the National Security Strategy.  And so we’re really excited for the second gathering.   

So with that, Doris, over to you.  Thank you.   

MODERATOR:  Thank you so much.  Thank you for those remarks.  We will now start the question-and-answer session.  For those in the room, if you have a question, please raise your hand and wait for the microphone.  For those on Zoom, you can hit the raise hand icon to ask your question.  I will call on you.  So let’s start in the room.  We’ll start here with Pearl Matibe.   

QUESTION:  I’m Pearl Matibe with Defense Web South Africa.  I’m really pleased that you have made yourself available to actually come over here to meet and talk with us.  This is a particularly important time one week ahead of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, and the topic of democracy a key tenant of the strategy documents that you just mentioned.  So I appreciate that.  I just hope and ask you directly right now that I hope you do more of this, because without this engagement, all the things you’re talking about are – won’t be sustained long term because journalists are actually the fourth arm of government.  So I hope you agree with that.   

My question – I’m glad you mentioned the issue of elections.  So may I ask you to help me and my audiences, who are continent-wide across the continent of Africa, thread this needle for me for a minute?   How do you conceptualize, innovate, and be inclusive of the press beyond just coming to us for reporting purposes?  Because you might agree that as you’re trying to strengthen democracy, which is specifically mentioned in the Sub-Saharan Africa Strategy document, and – for your National Security Strategy, is a core and very basic tenant of democracy.   

But we see the corruption is widespread across the continent.  We’ve got a Phala Phala corruption case right now going on with President Cyril Ramaphosa in South Africa, the – many of these leaders, some of them despotic leaders, will be at the table this December.  A few months later, you will sit with them, again, you said virtually at the Democracy Summit.  So thread this needle for us for the pro-democracy voices on the continent who may not understand how you’re conceptualizing your approach.  And these multiple summits – on a more sort of international relations theoretical aspect – is this more now your new form of statecraft?  Could you speak specifically to statecraft?  I’d appreciate that.  Thanks.   

MR BERSCHINSKI:  Sure.  I’ll do my best to address various aspects of that.  First off, let me associate myself and the U.S. Government with your point on the importance of free and independent media.  In addition to all of the diplomatic and programmatic support that the U.S. Government has provided and will continue to provide to media around the world as part of the Summit for Democracy process, we issued a half-billion-dollar – just shy of half-billion-dollar basket of deliverables.  We call it the Presidential Initiative for Democratic Renewal – and it breaks into five pieces, one of which is fighting corruption, another one of which is supporting free and independent media – and as part of that have rolled out a number of new programs globally that take on different facets of supporting free and independent media.  So this is very much at the heart of everything we’re trying to do because we know how important free media is to democratic societies and, frankly, just to educated societies.   

In terms of kind of the through-line between the summits and as they reflect the National Security Strategy and U.S. foreign policy, President – from President Biden on down, one of the hallmarks of this administration has been re-engaging with the world.  Now, we do that in any number of ways; certainly, we do it through these big set-piece, multilateral summits.  We’re also doing a tremendous amount of bilateral diplomacy at all times, and we’re engaging through various multilateral organizations like the UN and really have made a concerted effort.  And it takes all of that to realize this vision.  So there’s a lot of summitry going on, certainly, but I wouldn’t want to portray that our diplomatic activity is limited to that.   

Now, there are different memberships, invite lists, between the Summit for Democracy and the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, absolutely.  And again, that reflects our overarching foreign policy goals, which are: we are going to build coalitions of partnership with governments around the world to address the world’s most pressing challenges, as I mentioned in my remarks, and that’s what the President hopes to achieve in bringing the leaders of Africa together.   

With the Summit for Democracy, our overarching goal is to strengthen democratic processes within our own borders and as part of our foreign policy with like-minded democratic governments, because we realize that democracy is under threat in many different ways – certainly on the African continent but not only on the African continent, including in the United States and in many countries around the world.  There are many reasons and authors for that stress, some of them internal, some of them external.  But President Biden puts a premium on having those conversations, and that’s really what’s motivating the Summit for Democracy. 

MODERATOR:  Thank you.  


MODERATOR:  We’ll go here and then to Alex.  

QUESTION:  All right, thank you.  Michaela Kuefner from Deutsche Welle.  I have a follow-up question, really, because what will be your message to African leaders gathered around the table in Washington on what preconditions for also taking a seat at the table of your democracy summit will be?  

MR BERSCHINSKI:  We have purposefully avoided preconditions.  I don’t think it’s the role of the U.S. Government to say to a foreign government, you must do X thing.  And we’re not going to be the judge of another country – the strength of another country’s democracy.  And I say that with all due acknowledgment and humility in terms of the stresses that U.S. democracy has been under in recent years and continues to be under.  So this isn’t about demands.  We purposefully cast a very wide net with the first Summit for Democracy; we invited over 100 world leaders at many different stages in terms of their history of democratic governance and the strength of their democratic governance.  That was very purposeful.  

We want to work with anybody who exhibits political will to make progress on any of the key pillars under the summit’s umbrella, and that’s going to take many forms.  So that’s really how we’re coming at this with our partners. 

MODERATOR:  Thank you.  Let’s go to Alex.  

QUESTION:  Thank you so much.  Alex Raufoglu from Turan News Agency.  Great to see you.  

MR BERSCHINSKI:  Hi, Alex.  Good to see you.  

QUESTION:  A couple of questions.  But you started with the format.  I came a little bit late.  And my question is: why?  Any particular reason why you guys moved it back to next year instead of this December? 

MR BERSCHINSKI:  The timing?  

QUESTION:  Timing.  Secondly, the format, why you got to diversify, why you are co-hosting instead of hosting it.  And certainly, why is it virtual and hybrid vis-a-vis in person?  That’s what we were expecting for the summit. 


QUESTION:  Second question:  Any – we all have seen, following the first summit, all the countries, participating countries, were providing ways, let’s say a year of action goals.  What is your assessment on the objectives of the first summit, how much you have been able to achieve them?  And particularly when you look at my part of the world, South Caucasus and Eastern Europe, did Putin just manage to jeopardize your first year of action?   

And lastly, if I may, when we talk about participating countries, we usually talk about two categories, those who were invited, those who were not.  I’ll argue there’s another category, those – among those who were not invited, you manage to engage with opposition groups, particularly when it comes to Russia, Belarus.  Azerbaijan was not part of any of it.  So are you planning to diversify this time as well, or what is – what is the plan for this year?  Thanks so much.  

MR BERSCHINSKI:  Okay, that was a comprehensive question.  I would – I’ll follow up on each part but I would point you to my opening remarks, which covered a little bit, at least, of the answer to the first series of questions.  

On timing, I don’t think of us as being late.  Yes, last year was in December.  This one will be roughly 15 months instead of 12 months.  There is no particular rhyme or reason to why that is.  As was just mentioned, we are hosting 50-some-odd governments right now.  It’s a busy time, and sometimes scheduling is what it is.  

In terms of format, I also mentioned in my prepared remarks, we’re really excited with this new co-host model.  And the reception that the Summit for Democracy has received – that we’ve received about it – from our partner governments has been overwhelmingly positive.  Every time I travel and in my engagement with the diplomatic corps here, governments are really excited about what they’re doing in terms of follow-up to the work.  And that’s reflective of the fact that in countries all over the world, citizens have certain aspirations for how they want to live their lives, and so we felt like a model that incorporated co-host governments would really demonstrate that for audiences around the world.   

So we purposefully chose a partner from most regions.  It was a difficult choice; there are plenty of great partners to choose from around the world.  But we’re really excited with what they’re going to do.  And they’re each going to host – this is a segue to the last part of your – the first part of your question – they’re each going to host in-person events.  So the second summit, unlike the first, is not going to be fully virtual.  The leaders’ plenary will be.  Again, dealing with a number of scheduling and logistical considerations, that was the decision that was made.  But we don’t underestimate the value of bringing people together in person.  And so both in events prior to the 29th and on the 30th, during these co-host events, we’re looking forward to bringing people together.  

On achievements from the first summit, I think there are quite a few.  I will say at the top that meaningful change in democratic societies takes time.  It takes time to pass legislation.  It takes time to put in place important regulations, and so on and so forth.  So the artificial calendar imposed by a summit needn’t necessarily drive real world change.  That said, our partners at the first summit made, by our count, over 700 different commitments, and many of them are following through in multiple ways.  And I bring commitments up in my bilateral engagements, the President brings them up in his, the Secretary of State, the National Security Advisor.  So we’re having a dialogue and, yes, I think we’re seeing significant process – progress, much of which we’ll highlight in March.  

On the Russian invasion of Ukraine, obviously the context in which the second summit occurs – vastly different than a summit that took place in December of 2021, given that everything is going on.  Of course the aggression against Ukraine is going to be a focus of the second summit – not the only focus, as I mentioned at the top; stresses on democracies is a global problem and we intend to continue to address it at such – as such through this process.  But no, to answer your question directly, Putin did not jeopardize progress that’s being made, and moreover, through this devastating and unnecessary war, the Ukrainian people are really showing that courage to defend the front lines of freedom lives on.  And that’s why we in the U.S. Government and so many around the world are doing so much to support them.   

Then lastly, in terms of opposition members, dissidents, activists, yes.  Just like in December, we fully intend to incorporate voices from repressive countries, including those whose governments are not invited, and are looking to cast as wide a net as possible and, as I said, have as many events as possible.  And so we don’t want to – we don’t want to preclude anyone’s participation, with the understanding that in this formal summit there are only so many hours in the day; there are so many topics to be covered and so many countries that we need to consider.  So we’re looking to have a broad and diverse group.   

All right.  

MODERATOR:  Thank you, sir.   


MODERATOR:  I think we will go online now.  We have hands raised there.  Let’s go with Jose Diaz from Reforma.  Jose, go ahead and unmute yourself.   

QUESTION:  Thank you so much.  I really appreciate it for doing this.  The question I have specifically is whether Mexico will be invited to the summit.  And given that Mexico is living a crisis of democracy with militarization, the killing of journalists, and the rolling back of the autonomy of the national elections institute, do you think democracy is in peril in Mexico?  

MR BERSCHINSKI:  What I can say is that Mexico is a strong and close democratic partner to the United States.  And in terms of invites – and this goes for invitations to any country – we haven’t made final decisions on invites at this point.  That decision will come and formal invitations will go out to capitals.  But I think the expectation is that the invite list to the second summit will look very similar to the ultimate participation list from the first summit.  

QUESTION:  Thank you.  

MODERATOR:  Thank you.  We’ll take our next question from Kemi Osukoya from Africa Bazaar.   

QUESTION:  Hello.  Hi.  Thank you for taking my question.  Can you hear me?   

MR BERSCHINSKI:  Yes, Kemi.  Thank you.    

QUESTION:  Okay, thank you very much.  I wanted to ask you – I know with the U.S.-African summit that is coming up next week there’s a session to engage YALI fellows, the young African fellows.  And given that the next generation in regards to democracy on the African continent, and also around the world, depend on the next generation, my question is:  How do you plan to engage between now and during that summit next year?  Do you plan to bringing the youth to prepare them for leadership, democracy, moving forward?   

MR BERSCHINSKI:  Yes, absolutely.  We completely agree that engaging young people around the world is really the future to democracy for all the obvious reasons, and are looking forward to having the youth event, the YALI event, at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit.  I was part of the Obama administration at the point at which YALI and some parallel programs were set up, and we see clearly what dividends they pay.  So we’re really looking forward to that aspect of the summit.   

I’ll say with regard to the Summit for Democracy, we haven’t made final decisions around the agenda.  I think it’s safe to say that there will be multiple components that in different ways engage youth, and over the course of what we’ve been calling the year of action, the interval between the first summit and the second summit, we’ve gone out of our way to engage civil society broadly, but that includes engaging young people around the world.  Our embassies in countries across the globe have done various events under the umbrella of the Summit for Democracy.  They’ve looked a little different in different places, but our guidance here from Washington is, of course, to engage young people as a matter of course and also in direct correspondence with the summit process.  So absolutely.    

MODERATOR:  Thank you.  

QUESTION:  Thank you.   

MODERATOR:  We’ll go back to the room.  We’ll go to the gentleman in the — 

QUESTION:  Thank you.  I’m Ryohei Takagi from Kyodo News, Japan’s news agency.  Thanks for the briefing.  My question is:  There – there is a criticism that the Summit for Democracy might divide nations into the two categories, right – democratic state, and authoritarian states.  And I guess there are a bunch of countries in between, so – we understand, though, the United States is not asking the nations to choose between China or – and the United States.  But how is your react to that criticism?  Thank you. 

MR BERSCHINSKI:  Right.  As you said, we are not asking anyone to choose sides.  That’s not our intention.  That said, as I mentioned, the data is pretty overwhelming that over the course of the last 15 years, give or take, the quality of democratic governance around the world has declined.  That is true, as I’ve mentioned, in the United States, among many countries around the world.  And again, there are many factors – the rise of certain populist and illiberal leaders within democracies, the influence of authoritarian states on democracies, the impact of technology and frankly threats to journalists.  All of this has had this detrimental effect on democracies. 

President Biden feels very strongly that that is a threat to global peace and security, and the livelihoods of the American people and people around the world.  And that’s really what the Summit for Democracy is all about.  It’s not about dividing the world into camps.  This gets back to the question around: “Are we demanding something of our participants?”  We absolutely are not.  We are engaging them in a dialogue about how we all live up to the aspirations that we hold dear.  That’s really at the core of our message. 

MODERATOR:  Thank you.  Let’s go here, and then we’ll go to Pearl. 

QUESTION:  My name is Miya Tanaka, also from Japan’s Kyodo News.  I would also – I would like to follow up on the invite list.  You said it will be very similar to the participation list of the first one, but do you expect Taiwan to join?  And are there any concerns that Taiwan’s participation will become a source of tension between U.S. and China at a time when the two countries are trying to manage their competition?   

And if I may, I have another question.  What happens after the second summit?  Are there any plans to hold another one?  And how do you ensure that the commitments made at the second summit will be properly followed through after the second summit?  Thank you. 

MR BERSCHINSKI:  So on Taiwan, we were proud to have their involvement in the first summit, which is reflective of the democratic resilience of the Taiwanese people.  And I would just refer you back to my earlier comments in terms of no final decisions being made on invites, but also in all likelihood no major changes either.  And more broadly, Taiwan’s participation in the summit process is completely in keeping with existing U.S. policy with respect to the “one China” policy, and there have been no changes in that regard. 

On this – the third summit, or the potential for a third summit, we also haven’t made a decision yet.  We are starting to field questions along these lines from many of our partners.  It’s a good question to be asking, and one that we’ll look forward to answering soon.  But of course we recognize that the work, as I mentioned earlier, to meaningfully improve our democratic governance structures takes time.  It takes lifetimes.  So we very much hope that aspects of the summit process will continue beyond March. 

MODERATOR:  Thank you.  We’ll go back to Pearl. 

QUESTION:  I appreciate you taking a follow-up question, because I’m listening to everything that you’re saying and thankful for this interchange.  So this is one question, but it’s a three-part question. 


QUESTION:  And the top part of that question begins on the issue of defense, national security issues.  So for governments to thrive and for democracy to be sustained long-term, with the instability which is proliferating particularly on the African continent, how do you link democracy to stability and instability?  What are those things that you think might need to be worked on, and are you constructing your agenda with that in mind? 

On elections.  Certainly on the African continent we’ve got a number of elections after March – actually in Nigeria, before March.  But after March you’ve got Sierra Leone, for example; Benin, for example; Zimbabwe, for example, will be having its elections.  And there’s always been this talk of how Western countries, including the United States, has come to observe elections to find out whether they are free, fair, and credible.  The United States did invite an organization to be an observer in your midterms.  To what extent might you include, for example, members of the press to be part of an observation mission to observe your own elections?  So I’d like you to talk about elections specifically – 

MR BERSCHINSKI:  Can I just pause you there, make sure I understand?  The question is inviting members of the press into an observation mission? 

QUESTION:  Yeah, if other countries are inviting the United States to observe their elections, can you be more expansive in who you include in your invitations to observe your own elections?  You’ve got an election yourself coming up in 2024, right.  And to what extent might you include people who do hold America to account, like us journalists? 

And then part C to my question is I do want to press you on the issue of media.  This is an – a particularly important issue, and I hear you saying that you have not completed constructing or building your agenda.  Could you take a message back to President Biden and ask him: why can you not commit to having an actual media forum?  You’ve been having civil society forums, you’ve been having diaspora forums, youth forums, but the fourth estate, I do not see that in any of your forums where you have us at the table other than saying we’re coming to briefings and reporting.  That’s neither here nor there, but if we in our work are trying to articulate to our audiences to help them understand America, I think mass communication and a public diplomacy element, you should – I wonder if you would agree with me there that plays a really critical role in explaining to the world exactly your motivations and your foreign policy conduct.  But can you take this message back, please, to President Biden?  Could you commit to that? 

MR BERSCHINSKI:  Great.  Great.  So taking those in turn, on the links between democratic governance and stability, I mean, look, I work at the National Security Council, not the national human rights council.  We think of democracy and human rights as integral to long-term stability and prosperity.  I would again refer you to how we describe it in the recent National Security Strategy, but it’s at the very heart of how we think about these issues.  The world is a complex place.  We have to take each issue uniquely in turn.  It’s going to look different in different environments, but at the end of the day we are striving to incorporate the work that I coordinate on a day-to-day basis, but in partnership with all of my colleagues across the National Security Council, as we work on peace and security issues. 

On elections, we’re very, very focused on the issue in terms of elections globally, but also on the African continent.  It’s going to feature pretty prominently in the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, as you probably know.   

On the question of observers, that’s an interesting one.  I’m glad you highlighted that the U.S. Government wants to be seen as not asking of anyone else what we ourselves will not sign up to, and so we think that electoral observation in our domestic elections is important, though on the – I can’t answer the precise question you posed on inclusion of members of the press simply because I don’t work on domestic policy issues.  But I’m happy to take that back to my colleagues who do.  I think it’s a worthwhile idea to bounce around. 

And then on media inclusion in the second summit, first off, absolutely, as you referenced, we are thinking about what the agenda will look like.  There is no doubt that media freedom issues are and will be prominent on the agenda, and as should be always the case, we are not going to talk about the issue without including in that conversation the people that are actually engaged in this work on a day-to-day basis.  So whether it takes the form of a dedicated media forum, which is a good idea, I think, or some other form or forms still remains to be seen, but the answer in general is yes. 

And I’ll just mention that, as I think about the various pieces of the first Summit for Democracy, as I recall we engaged a number of members of the journalistic community in different ways – not just those reporting on the summit itself but actually as participants.  And we look to double down on that work for the second summit. 

MODERATOR:  Thank you.  We have time for one final question, and we’ll go to Alex. 

MR BERSCHINSKI:  All right.  Is it another four-parter? 

QUESTION:  Just one quick – not that I compete with Pearl; I can’t.  (Laughter.)  It is democracy here.  (Laughter.)  Just to make sure we’re on the same page, when you said no final decision was made, also you said but at least won’t be different than the first summit. 

MR BERSCHINSKI:  Can I just pause you there and clarify? 

QUESTION:  Yeah.  Yeah, sure. 

MR BERSCHINSKI:  So no final decision has been made.  That should mean exactly what it says.  Changes very well could be made.  The second part is, in broad strokes, as I said before, we cast a very wide net.  We invited over 100 government leaders.  There should be no expectation that that magnitude is different.  You’re not going to see a second summit that is 25 world leaders or all 192 or whatever the number is.  So it’s going to be essentially the same size.  Some changes may be made, but that decision hasn’t been made. 

QUESTION:  Makes perfect sense, but just to be precise, is there still a room for countries such as Central Asian countries – Turkey, Azerbaijan – still to join the math?  And if so, what factors you could number that will play into your decision-making process between now and the summit?  Thanks so much. 

MR BERSCHINSKI:  Yeah, that’s a very good question.  The message we gave all of our partners, including those who were invited to the first summit, after it occurred, was what we want to see is active participation under the themes that the summit covers: strengthening democracy wherever you are on the spectrum of lived reality in terms of your governing structure, protecting human rights, doing more to fight corruption.  That’s true of those we invited; it’s true of those we didn’t.  And we have cast a very wide net and we sent the message to those that weren’t invited that we have an open-door policy.  If you can demonstrate progress, at the end of the day, President Biden wants everyone in the room. 

That’s not the same thing as making specific demands, and we did not make them.  There wasn’t a checklist.  But we did make clear that we want to enter into a dialogue and that, at the end of the day, our goal is to have everyone there if there’s demonstrated political will. 

MODERATOR:  And I will throw it back to Rob for any closing remarks. 

MR BERSCHINSKI:  No, I don’t have anything in closing.  Just want to say thank you again for taking the time.  I’m looking forward to engaging more often in the run-up to March, and hope you all will be covering the event, and really appreciate the questions and the suggestions.  So thank you. 

MODERATOR:  Thank you so much for taking the time to brief with us today.  Thank you to the journalists for participating.  This concludes today’s briefing.  

U.S. Department of State

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