An official website of the United States Government Here's how you know

Official websites use .gov

A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS

A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.


  • NSC Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby briefs on the upcoming state visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi of the Republic of India, along with National Security news of the day. 



MODERATOR:  Good morning, everyone, and welcome to the Washington Foreign Press Center.  My name is Zina Wolfington and thank you all for coming today. 

Today’s briefing is a preview of the upcoming state visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi of the Republic of India and news of the day.  As a reminder, the briefing is on the record, and we will post a transcript later today at   

I’m pleased to introduce John Kirby, National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications.  He will start with opening remarks, and then open for questions.  

Over to you, John.  

MR KIRBY:  Thank you.  How are you doing today?  Everybody okay?   

QUESTION:  Great. 

MR KIRBY:  All right.  Okay.  So just give me a few minutes here at the top, if you will.   

As you all know, this is a big week here at the White House, as the President and First Lady welcome the prime minister of India for an official state visit and dinner.  It’s only the third such state dinner and visit of this administration. 

This visit will affirm the deep and close partnership between the United States and India and the warm bonds of family and friendship that link Americans and Indians together.  The visit will strengthen our two countries’ shared commitment to a free, open, prosperous, and secure Indo-Pacific and our shared resolve to elevate our strategic technology partnership, including in defense, clean energy, and space. 

The leaders will discuss ways to further expand our educational exchanges and people-to-people ties, as well as our work together to confront common challenges, from climate change to workforce development and health security.  As the world’s oldest and largest democracies and as key net security providers in the Indo-Pacific, the United States and India are increasingly partners of first resort as a combined force for global good. 

India will be a critical strategic partner for the United States in the coming decades.  India’s growing commitment to playing a more engaged international role, including in the Indo-Pacific Quad, demonstrates a new and growing willingness to join the United States to protect and advance a shared vision of a free, open, and rules-based global order. 

As we think about the future of artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and building resilient supply chains for clean energy technologies, semiconductors, and other critical and emerging technology, countering climate change, the future of our workforces, and global health, energy, food security, there is no partner more consequential than India.   

Now, we’re hosting India for an official state visit to put our cooperation on an inexorable trajectory, as we support India’s emergence as a great power that will be central to ensuring U.S. interest in the coming decades.  After years of strengthening our ties, the United States-India partnership is deeper and more expansive than it has ever been in the past.  We now look instinctively to each other and work cooperatively with each other to uphold a free and open Indo-Pacific, to drive innovation, jointly tackle global challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Together and working with other likeminded partners, our countries will shape the future, working towards a world that, again, is open and more prosperous, more stable, more secure, and, quite frankly, more resilient.  

Now I’ll take some questions.  Let’s see.  Who’s in the front here?  Go ahead. 

QUESTION:  Thank you, John.  I wanted to touch a little bit if you could in the – how much Ukraine is going to be — 

MODERATOR:  (Off-mike.)  

QUESTION:  Oh, of course.  Sorry.  I’m Beatriz.  I’m with EFE News Agency in Spanish.  I wanted to ask about Ukraine.  Ukraine has been proposing for months now the – they have been proposing a peace summit and they have expressed interest in having India as a participant in this global peace summit.  So I was wondering if this will be part of the conversation between the President and Prime Minister Modi.  And what is the stance of the United States regarding this summit, if this summit should take place, and if it should include Russia?  Thank you.  

MR KIRBY:  So just to lay flat where we are on a peace summit, look, we all want to see this war end.  We’d like to see it end today.  And as I’ve said many times, it could end today if Mr. Putin would do the right thing and pull his troops out.  Now, obviously, he’s not going to do that, and he’s doubling down, and there’s some pretty vicious fighting going on right now in the east and in the south of Ukraine.  

We have said many times that we support President Zelenskyy’s vision of a just peace, and we’ve said many times that any discussion – any credible discussion, whether it’s at a summit or somewhere else or in smaller settings, any discussion – would be welcome only if it’s going to be credible and sustainable, which means that it has to start with a foundation of a belief in Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity and start – at least start – with a discussion of the 10-point proposal that President Zelenskyy has put forward.  You’ve heard President Biden say a million times “nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine.”  That exists today.  

Now, as for the role of other nations, we have also long said we would welcome the role of a third-party country involved in a peace process, and we believe that there could be such a role for a third-party country in the peace process.  But again, in order for that role to be sustainable and to have any chance at success, it’s got to start with a complete understanding of the Ukrainian perspective here and a complete and commit – a complete and utter commitment to the UN Charter, to the idea of territorial integrity, to Ukraine’s sovereignty along its internationally recognized borders.   

And then whether it’ll be discussed:  There’s no doubt in my mind that the war in Ukraine will come up this week in the – during the state visit with Prime Minister Modi.  No question about it.  Now, to what degree specifically they’ll talk about a peace summit or a peace proposal, I can’t say right now.  We’ll have to wait to hear from the leaders after it.  But there’s no doubt in my mind that they will have a chance to talk about what’s going on in Ukraine.   

Yes, sir.   

QUESTION:  Thank you, John, for doing this.  This is a very significant visit and you – we all are waiting for this visit, obviously.  Do you think regional – oh, my name is Mushfiqul. I am representing Just News media and the South Asia perspectives.  Do you think regional democratic stability and human rights situation will be discussed during the upcoming visit of the Indian prime minister as democracy and human rights are the key elements of the Biden-Harris administration’s foreign policy? 

And quick on Bangladesh, United States already announced the visa policy to support free, fair, and inclusive election in Bangladesh.  Do you think, as the largest democracy in the world, India will be with the United States effort to ensuring voting rights and restoring democracy in Bangladesh, as Bangladesh experienced two farcical election in 2014 and 2018 and we observe the Indian influence to keep Sheikh Hasina in power?   

MR KIRBY:  So on your first question, it is commonplace and consistent for President Biden to raise concerns over human rights wherever he goes around the world and whatever leaders he’s speaking to.  Human rights are a foundational element of this administration’s foreign policy, and you can certainly expect that the President will – as he always does and as you can do with friends and partners like Prime Minister Modi in India – raise our concerns about that.  

On Bangladesh, again, I think we’d let the Indian Government speak for its bilateral relations with Bangladesh.  But you are correct:  We have already made clear our desire to free and fair elections in Bangladesh, and you’re right, we adapted our visa policy to restrict travel to individuals who undermine Bangladeshi elections.  So I can only speak for ourselves.  You know where we are.  We’ve been pretty public about that, but we would let the Indian Government talk about their bilateral relations. 

Yes, ma’am.   

QUESTION:  So this is Ayushi Agarwal from ANI, Asia News International, New Delhi, India.  I have two questions.  My first question is regarding China.  So China has blocked a proposal by India and U.S. at the United Nations to designate Lashkar-e Tayyiba terrorist Sajad Mir, wanted for his involvement in the 26/11 terrorist attacks as a global terrorist.  Your reaction on that, please, since we know that Beijing has earlier repeatedly put hold on such listings.   

My second question is since the prime minister is reaching Washington tomorrow, if you can elaborate more on the defense relationship between India and the U.S.  How robust is it?  And what areas of defense cooperation could we see some tangible outcomes during the prime minister’s visit?  Because we know there are some defense deals on the agenda.  

Thank you.  

MR KIRBY:  So on your first question, I think I’d just – our belief in that designation I think speaks for itself, and I’d leave it there.  

On your second question, you’re right, there is a very robust defense cooperation between the United States and India, and we are working and will continue to work to see if we can improve and deepen that defense cooperation.  You will see – again, I don’t want to get ahead of the two leaders – but the issue of defense cooperation and deepening that, bolstering it, strengthening it, expanding it into areas like cyber and space and emerging technologies, all of that will be on the agenda here with the state visit.  And again, I think you’ll hear more from the leaders afterward.  

India is a sovereign nation, of course, and they get to make their own decisions about the partnerships that they explore and the cooperation that they enjoy with other countries.  We’re very comfortable that under this administration and with President Biden’s leadership, we have really worked hard to advance the level of defense cooperation between our two countries.  Because, as I said – I don’t know, probably may have mentioned it seven times in my opening statement – because with the Indians we certainly jointly believe in a safe and secure, prosperous, and open Indo-Pacific region, and Prime Minister Modi and the – and India are key players in trying to achieve that vision.  So it only makes sense that we would look for ways to improve our defense cooperation.  And again, I think you’ll see more coming out of this week and as the leaders have a chance to summarize what they discussed.  

Yes, ma’am.  Yeah.   

QUESTION:  Thank you, Admiral Kirby.  Bingru Wang with Honk Kong Phoenix TV.  Is one of the main purpose to invite Prime Minister Modi to the United States is to counter China’s influence in Indo-Pacific? 


QUESTION:  And secondly, I would like to take this opportunity to ask you about the White House and President Biden’s assessment of Secretary Blinken’s trip to Beijing.  In China there are critics questioning the United States sincerity saying actions and words are inconsistent.  So how can you prevent – how can you actually keep the momentum Secretary Blinken built in Beijing to prevent it from derail? 

MR KIRBY:  Well, that’s the goal.  First of all, you heard the President talk about this himself over the weekend that he felt like Secretary Blinken did a terrific job on this trip to Beijing.  You have to remember the goal here was to get even more lines of communication open and to try to advance this competition that we’re in in a responsible way.  And Secretary Blinken has spoken to this himself as he left Beijing that he felt like his visit helped get that process back on track.  And that’s what we were focused on.   

And now it remains for both sides to do what we can to drive that – from the initial conversations we had, to drive them forward to meaningful results.  So the answer to your question is we’re going to see.  And I can assure you that the Biden administration will do everything that we can to achieve that goal and to work towards that end.  And you head Secretary Blinken say as well that now that he has visited it’s possible now – and we hope – that you’ll see other high-level officials heading off to Beijing. 

Now, we still have work to do, which is one of the takeaways from this was establishing a team approach at lower levels for both countries, lower-level diplomats to start working together to see if we can’t still stitch together and improve some of the lines of communication that are not and still have not been agreed to reopen.  And the one I’m speaking about chiefly is of course the military-to-military line, which the Chinese did not agree to.  It doesn’t mean it’s never going to happen.  That’s why it’s important for the two teams now to work together to see what we can do to get that moving forward.  At a time right now when tensions are high, particularly in the security realm, it is that much more important that the military channels find a way to get opened up here so that we can have more conversation, more dialogue, to reduce the risk of miscalculation. 

Yeah.  I promise, I’ll work around.  I promise.  I’ve got an hour.  I’m not going anywhere. 

QUESTION:  Thank you so much, Admiral.  Welcome back, as usual.  Alex Raufoglu from Turan News Agency.  I’m just wondering how much of the fact that India purchases Russian oil and gas, which allows Putin to fund his war in Ukraine, is problematic when it comes to Russia – U.S.-Ukraine – U.S.-Iran – Indian relationship.  And what is the strategy here in terms of, let’s say, touching upon these sort of topics when President meets (inaudible) with Prime Minister Modi?  Is the strategy we should stick with the friendly topics as long as we’re okay with our relationship, just avoid – as long as we don’t talk about issues such as purchasing Russian oil?  Or to raise this concern and get him and the same (inaudible) you mentioned that you are – you prefer to have rule-based order, and is that your expectation from Prime Minister Modi to highlight that? 

More broadly, a second question. 

MR KIRBY:  That was only one question?   

QUESTION:  Level of concern just (inaudible) —  

MR KIRBY:  You’ve got to be kidding me?   

QUESTION:  What’s your level of concern when it comes to Russia evading sanctions?  The administration recently named the names, five countries you guys highlighted from Kazakhstan to Armenia, to Georgia, to Türkiye.  Now, some of them are Russian partners.  I understand when it comes to countries such as Georgia, which in itself suffers from Russian invasion.  What can you do about it to prevent this from happening?   

MR KIRBY:  About sanctions evasion from whom? 

QUESTION:  From countries such as Georgia and other countries that are helping Russia to evade the sanctions when it comes to electronics and other. 

MR KIRBY:  Well look, on the sanctions evasions question, I mean, this is why we have constant dialogue with allies and partners and friends in the region and around the world.  We don’t want to see anybody try to skirt these sanctions.  We want to see Mr. Putin held to account and the Kremlin held to account. 

Now, obviously every nation has to make these decisions for themselves, but our view has been very clear.  We want to see all the international sanctions ascribed to and enforced appropriately so that Mr. Putin can’t benefit.  And we have no compunction about having conversations privately with allies, partners, and friends throughout the world, certainly on the European continent, about our concerns in that regard.  But obviously we wouldn’t get into detailing what the diplomatic conversations are. 

On your – on the first 17 questions that you asked, look, let me boil it down this way.  India is a key and important partner not just in the Indo-Pacific but globally for the United States.  In fact, it’s one of the most defining bilateral relationships in the world.  Now, and if you just look ahead, look at where things are going, not just – not just in that region but elsewhere, I think it’s safe to say that it’s going to be one of the most defining and important bilateral relationships well into the future. 

And so in the context of that, you can expect that over the next few days President Biden and Prime Minister Modi will have wide-ranging discussions about a lot of issues.  Some issues are always easier to talk about than others, but that’s what partners do.  You have those kinds of conversations.  I’m not going to get ahead of them, and I’m certainly not going to speak for either leader until they have a chance to speak for themselves at the end of their visits and meetings.  But I think you will see that the agenda that they end up discussing is very robust and covers a lot of issues.   

And as I’ve said earlier, President Biden never shies away, nor would you expect him to, from having conversations with foreign leaders about issues that – on which we don’t always see eye to eye.  That’s important.  That’s why you have visits.  That’s why you have meetings.  That’s why you have these discussions so that you can work through all of those things.   

But this is not only a very important visit for us, but this is a hugely important bilateral relationship that the President and his entire team – Secretary of State Blinken, Secretary of Defense Austin, the Secretary of Commerce – have all put a lot of energy into, including the Special Envoy for Climate John Kerry – all of whom have put a lot of effort into in seeing in ways we can deepen and improve our cooperation and our relationship with India.  And again, I think you’re going to see that on full display this week.   

Yeah, in the back there.  Go ahead.  The orange tie.   

QUESTION:  Admiral Kirby, good to see you.  I’m Saurabh Shula from NewsMobile in India.  You spoke about India as a defining – India’s partnership with the U.S. as a defining partnership for the next decade.  Can you spell out what are the three big outcomes that you are expecting from this state visit, because there’s a lot of expectation here in the U.S., in India, and rest of the world, and people are watching very closely this big state visit of Prime Minister Narendra —   

MR KIRBY:  Yeah.  I think, again, without getting ahead of the leaders, I think you’ll – you can expect to see meaningful, tangible, deliverables in several different categories.  One will be on health, global health.  And I talked about the pandemic a little bit earlier in my opening comments, but we cooperated very, very strongly with India to address COVID-19, and I think you’ll hear the leaders talk about global health cooperation going forward.   

I think you’ll hear, as I said earlier just in my previous answer, you’re going to see them talk about deliverables in the realm of the climate crisis and addressing climate change.  You’ll certainly hear them talk about defense cooperation.  I’ve already talked about that a lot.  I think you’ll hear some discussion and deliverables with respect to emerging technologies, and I’m going to lump space in there, although it’s probably not fair for me to do that.  But space and emergent technologies, cyberspace – I think you’ll see some deliverables in that regard.   

And then lastly – and by lastly, I don’t mean that it’s least important; in fact, in many ways, it’s the most important – but it’s the peopletopeople ties.  And you’re going to hear both of these leaders talk about ways in which we can make more enriching the people-to-people, cultural, educational exchanges that we already have, deepening them, making them more meaningful, because that really is the root of the strength of the bilateral relationship 10, 15 years out in the future.  It’s going to be the young people that are going to be the future leaders of both their countries, and so we want to make sure that we’re investing properly in their growth, in their development, in their mutual understanding, and in the relationships that they will take forward into the future.  So there’s going to be an awful lot on the agenda, but those are sort of the top five areas that I would cite.   

Let me come over here, ma’am.  Yeah.   

QUESTION:  Thank you very much.  Christiane Jacke from the German Press Agency DPA.  I have a quick follow-up on China on the Secretary Blinken’s visit.  Now that you are working on – actively working on opening up the lines of communication, how likely or unlikely is a bilateral, like face-to-face meeting between President Biden, President Xi in India at the G7 and G20 Summit and in San Francisco at the APEC Summit later this year?   

And if I might add a super-fast second question, is there any timeline for the President’s trip to Africa this year already?   

MR KIRBY:  So on both questions, I really don’t have anything on the schedule to speak to, either a trip to the continent or to a meeting with President Xi.  You heard the President over the weekend say that he does expect to be meeting and connecting with President Xi at the appropriate time, and he’ll do that.  Whether that occurs at the G20 or not, I just can’t say right now.   

It is important that Secretary Blinken was able to make this trip to Beijing.  It’s just as, if not more, important that our two teams now start to work on improving the lines of communication between our two countries, and hopefully that will involve follow-on visits by other cabinet officials.  We’ll see where that goes.   

And clearly, as the President has said many, many times, that President Xi is a leader who he has known for a very, very long time.  They have spoken many times.  They had a terrific three- hour meeting in Bali, and he looks forward to having follow-on conversations and discussions with President Xi in the future.  And that will happen.  And when it does, and we have something more to say about that, we certainly will.   

Yeah, in the blue.   

QUESTION:  Thank you so much, Mr. Kirby.  I appreciate it.  Igor Naymushin of RIA Novosti News Agency, Washington Bureau.  So two questions, first one about Russian oil revenues.  The U.S. administration has always been very clear that each country should make its own choice whether to buy Russian oil or not.  Whether – nevertheless, if we’re looking at such a dramatic growth of Indian imports of Russian oil, doesn’t it concern the White House that all efforts to decrease Russian oil revenues results only in shifting its supply chains? 

And the second question is about defense cooperation and arm trades.  Is the U.S. administration committed to displace Russia from the Indian arms market and decrease its share?  Thank you so much. 

MR KIRBY:  So on your first question, the price cap is working.  It has proven effective in limiting the amount of revenue that Mr. Putin can take from his oil exports and the market to then turn around and fund this war in Ukraine.  It’s working, and we’re gratified to see that, and we certainly hope that, in the case of India, that they will continue to purchase oil inside the cap.  Now, obviously, that’s for them to decide.  We don’t tell other nations how to handle their bilateral relations, so I won’t speak for the Modi government, but we hope that they will continue to buy in keeping with the cap, because it is working and it is having an effect on (A) keeping the supply in the market stable but (B) not allowing Mr. Putin to profiteer off of it. 

And then on the arms market question, again, India should and must speak for itself when it comes to the relationships that it has around the world, particularly in the realm of defense.  So I won’t speak for the – Prime Minister Modi or the Indian Government and where and how they see their defense cooperation going forward.  All I can tell you is what I said earlier, that we have seen in recent years, particularly since the beginning of the Biden administration, that defense cooperation between our two countries has improved, and we are looking – and you’ll see quite a focus on it this week in particular – we’re looking to deepen that, to broaden it, and to find opportunities to improve that defense cooperation between the – between India and the United States.  And again, I – without getting ahead of where things are, I think you’ll see that that will come to pass here before the end of the week.  And that’s all to the good because we have a shared interest and a shared common goal of a free, open, prosperous, and secure Indo-Pacific, and India is a major exporter of security in the Indo-Pacific region, and they certainly have equities of their own to speak to.   

So we’re looking forward to where this is going.  It’s not about – the question about whether this was about China.  This state visit is also not about Russia, and what we’re trying to do with our bilateral relationship with India is improve the bilateral relationship on its own – for its own sake and on its own foundation, because it’s that important to us.  It’s not about forcing or coercing or trying to convince Prime Minister Modi or the Indian Government to do something different.  It’s about focusing on where we are in this relationship and making it more important, more robust, more cooperative going forward.  That’s what our focus is. 


QUESTION:  Thank you.  Lalit Jha from PTI.  How would you describe the evolution of this relationship in the last nine years under the Modi government? 

And secondly, we are – in defense cooperation, we’re talking about co-production, co-development.  These are long-term things.  But in the short term, when India has more challenging needs from the neighbors north and west, in what way U.S. and India can cooperate, coordinate together in which India can successfully address those challenges coming from the neighborhoods, including its territorial integrity? 

MR KIRBY:  Well, I think you’re going to see that play out this week, Lalit.  I mean, you’re going to see some robust discussion here about improving our defense cooperation with a deep and solemn respect for Indian prerogatives and Indian choices, and certainly with a recognition that India’s a sovereign state and must choose for itself the direction it wants to take in terms of its own security and the regional security that it is increasingly providing – exporting security.   

We certainly want to be a part of that discussion with India.  We certainly want to be a part of that future with India.  But we certainly respect that these are decisions that India has to make, and as I said earlier, you’re going to see as – over the course of this week – and I won’t – the leaders will speak for themselves about some of the ways we’re going to specifically improve and deepen defense cooperation. 

Now, on your first question, look, I’m not qualified to speak about the last nine years of Prime Minister Modi’s leadership.  All I can tell you is in the last two and a half years under this administration, President Biden has really put a premium in general, broadly speaking, on revitalizing our vast network of alliances and partnerships, and India is one of those key strategic partners.  And they have been just a huge part of the Quad, the Pacific Quad.  I think, as you know, we also look for ways to work more cooperatively with India multilaterally through the I2U2 arrangement, largely focused on the Middle East.  So there’s an awful lot – not to mention just the bilateral opportunities between us in trade, in investments, and as I said earlier, in people-to-people ties.   

So we’re focused on the future.  And I really do believe – at the risk of sounding like I’m being corny here, I really do believe that at the end of the week when these two leaders have a chance to summarize their discussions, you’re going to see that the discussion this week was really focused on the future – the future of this bilateral relationship but also the future of the Indo-Pacific region writ large.   

Let me go back over here.  Yes, ma’am, in the front there.  I’ll come back to you.  

QUESTION:  Seema Sirohi  I’m a columnist for The Economic Times in India, an Indian newspaper.  U.S. officials have raised expectations high about this visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.  That is a kind of a sea change from just a few years ago, so when India was, let’s say, a second-tier interest – of interest.  India was a second-tier country in terms of U.S. interest.  It was all about Pakistan, China, and U.S. sort of focusing on that.  So what changed from your point of view, from the U.S. point of view, that now India is everything?  It’s the country of the future.   

MR KIRBY:  Well, all I can tell you is that in President Biden’s mind, India is not a second-tier anything.  India matters significantly to President Biden and to this administration, and not just in South Asia or the Indo-Pacific region but truly globally.  And again, I don’t – I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but I think when you see some of the deliverables coming out of this visit, you’ll see the true global impact of some of the ways in which our bilateral relationship is really acting not just for the betterment of our two peoples or any one region of the world but truly around the world.  So you’ll see that come out of this.   

All I – again, the only way I can answer your question is to sort of say what I’ve said before.  Coming into office, President Biden saw that our relationships around the world in many cases, many places, were eroding, tattering, and trust and confidence in the United States as a partner, a friend, in some cases an ally, was beginning to fade.  And he immediately set forth an assertive but cooperative foreign policy to revitalize those relationships, because President Biden knows that there’s very few problems around the world that any one nation can solve for itself.  We need each other.   

We absolutely – when you look at certainly the transnational problem, whether it’s terrorism, whether it’s the next pandemic, climate change, those – global health, food security, energy security – I could go on and on.  When you look at the problem set before leaders like Prime Minister Modi and President Biden, it’s pretty easy to see that you gotta to have teamwork here, and that some nations can bring to the problem solving set skills and experience, technologies, innovation, investments that another nation may not be able to put forward, and so together you can really have an outsized impact.   

And the President has long believed that.  And when he came into office, again, he set forward a foreign policy that was going to focus on that, on the benefit of multilateral cooperation and to restoring some of the trust and confidence that had been eroded in the United States ability to lead on the world stage.  And that’s what he’s doing.   

And I think – again, you don’t have to – look multilaterally.  Look at the – look at what President Biden’s leadership has done with respect to supporting Ukraine – not just bolstering and strengthening the NATO Alliance, which is now bigger than it was when President Biden came into office, but around the world.  More than 50 nations around the world are coming together on a routine basis about every six weeks to find ways to continue to support Ukraine.  And India has been a terrific contributor of humanitarian assistance to Ukraine but also bilaterally in working at the grassroots level in bilateral relationships to address common concerns and move towards the achievement of common goals with shared interests.  And that’s exactly what you’re going to see on display here this week.   

Yes, sir.  In the aisle there with the white shirt.   

QUESTION:  Thank you.  Diyar Kurda, Rudaw Media Network.  I will take this opportunity to ask a question about northeast Syria.  Türkiye hastened its fight – it is airstrikes and also drone strikes on northeast Syria.  Today they attacked – they targeted a car, and they killed the co-chair of the — 

MR KIRBY:  I’m sorry.  Who conducted this attack?  

QUESTION:  Türkiye.   

MR KIRBY:  Türkiye.  Okay. 

QUESTION:  Yeah.  Türkiye, the Kurds, the drone attack on a car which they killed Qamishli cochair municipality and also three other people, which they were civilians.  Do you have any engagement with Türkiye and also SDF to de-escalate the situation? 

MR KIRBY:  I have not seen those reports, sir, so I’m going to – I’m going to decline comment on that particular reporting because I’ve just not seen that. 

I would just reiterate our mission inside Syria is in part of the – as part of the Counter-ISIS coalition, we do work with the SDF to go after ISIS targets because ISIS is still, although much weaker, still a viable threat there in Syria and even in Iraq.  So we’re going to continue that work jointly in cooperation with our SDF partners.  

We have – again, without speaking to this particular reporting, we have certainly maintained lines of communication open with Türkiye.  Türkiye has legitimate security concerns on that border.  They have been victim of – they have fallen victim to terrorist attacks from across that border.  We understand that.  We also understand it’s important to make sure that Türkiye understands what we’re doing in Syria and why we’re doing it and who we’re working with and why we’re working with them.  But again, I can’t go into any more detail than that. 

Yes, ma’am.  Yeah.  No, right behind.  There.  Yeah.  She’s had her hand up all day.  Go ahead. 

QUESTION:  Thank you so much, Mr. Kirby.  Ines Pohl with Deutsche Welle.  This is Germany’s international broadcaster.  I have two questions.  Given Vice President Kamala Harris and family bonds with India, which role does she play during this state visit?  Is it different from other state visits?   

And my second question is how important is it in your opinion for the Americans with Indian roots that President Biden addresses human rights issues in India?  Thank you. 

MR KIRBY:  So the Vice President is going to be a full party to this state visit, as you might imagine, and I know she will be having opportunities, including a lunch that she’ll be hosting for the prime minister and his staff to engage specifically and directly with the prime minister.  And I’ll let her office speak to that with more detail, but she’s looking forward to that.  And you’re right; I mean, her family heritage is certainly noteworthy with respect to this visit. 

And then on the question of human rights, I know there are millions, several millions of Indian Americans here in this country, and we understand that they, as actually anybody, would have concerns over human and civil rights.  And as I said earlier, we don’t shy away from addressing those concerns privately.  We don’t shy away from addressing those concerns publicly.  And everywhere the President goes, where and when it’s appropriate and when it’s a significant issue, he raises those concerns.  And again, I don’t think that this week will be any exception to that. 

So we certainly understand where people are coming from on that, and I can assure them, Indian Americans but all Americans, that this is something the President takes seriously.  And certainly, we’ll address it. 


QUESTION:  Thank you.  My name is Pavel Zakovorotnyy.  I’m from Sputnik News, Russia.  Two quick questions.  First, do you believe Prime Minister Modi shares President Biden’s view of the conflict in Ukraine, including the massive sanctions against Russia, and does it pose any challenge for the bilateral relations if not? 

MR KIRBY:  Does it pose any challenge for the —  

QUESTION:  For the bilateral relations with India. 

And my second question is about the Black Sea Grain deal.  The Russian foreign ministry today said that the grain deal will likely end on July 18th without extension because neither of Russian conditions have been fulfilled by the Western countries.  Do you have any comments here and do you think that Russia has benefitted at all from the Black Sea Grain deal? 

MR KIRBY:  The whole world has benefitted from this Black Sea Grain Initiative, and we’re grateful to President Erdogan of Türkiye and his leadership in keeping that initiative going, and the UN of course keeping that initiative going and extending.  And we’ve seen the comments that are deeply unfortunate that Russia would signal that there may not be an extension.  This initiative has benefitted people around the world, particularly in the so-called Global South, who have suffered from food insecurity as a result of Russians’ – the Russian war in Ukraine. 

So we certainly hope that it will get extended.  We will continue to support, as needed, the UN and President Erdogan as appropriate in terms of seeing if we can’t get that extended, because it really – it does matter to people well outside the region. 

And as for your first question, I think that’s a question that I would refer to Prime Minister Modi.  I mean, he should speak to his government’s view of the war in Ukraine and the degree to which they believe Mr. Putin is being held accountable for the war there.  We know that they have contributed humanitarian assistance to Ukraine.  That’s welcome.  And through statements and through votes at the UN, India has made clear its deep concern about what Russia is doing inside Ukraine.   

We talked about oil.  Again, the Indians should speak for themselves when it comes to the oil they buy, but we certainly hope that they will continue to purchase it at or below the price cap levels, which they have.   

So again, I think the broader question that you’re asking, though, is really one that’s better put to them, not to us.   

Yeah, in the back there.  Go ahead.  Wait.  Wait for the microphone.  s 

QUESTION:  Thank you, Admiral.  Sriram Lakshman from The Hindu.  My question is:  What is the administration’s strategy to ensure that the long list of deliverables from this visit and going forward – deliverables which are derived from the iCET platform, for example – what’s the strategy to ensure that they don’t keep running up against ITAR and other legislation?  Because I understand that it may not be an issue for the jet engines, for example, but this is a medium- to long-term issue.  So are you thinking of a carveout, to push Congress on a carveout, reimagine ITAR?  What’s the strategy there?   

MR KIRBY:  Oh, you’re getting further ahead than where I’m prepared to go here today.  I would just tell you that you’re going to see a robust set of deliverables across all those five areas I talked about earlier: climate change, technology, space, cyber, people-to-people, and certainly defense cooperation.  And we will, as we have in this and any other bilateral relationship, work closely with Congress so that they’re fully informed and fully – and able to fully support the kinds of things that we want to continue to do bilaterally with India.  But I won’t go into more detail than that.   

Yes, ma’am.   

QUESTION:  Hi, yes, Yasmine El-Sabawi, TRT World.  I know you touched on the human rights issue more broadly, but if you could speak to this specifically, the Council on American-Islamic Relations are urging members of Congress not to attend Prime Minister Modi’s address.  We’ve seen from human rights organizations they’ve widely documented attempts by the Modi government, they say, of disenfranchising Muslims, turning a blind eye to widespread acts of violence.  We’ve seen this administration and Republicans be quite outspoken about China’s crackdown on its Muslim minority.  And so why in this case is a red carpet being rolled out for Prime Minister Modi?   

MR KIRBY:  So the question really gets to the importance of a state visit, and a state visit is not just about the red carpet and a terrific meal.  It is about anchoring the relationship through a wide-ranging and very robust agenda of significant policy issues, and you’re going to see that this week, as I said earlier.   

So why India?  Why now?  Take a look at the region.  Take a look at the way in which this bilateral relationship has improved in the last two and a half years.  And just as critically, take a look at where this relationship is going to be going in the next 10, 15 years and how vital this bilateral relationship will be not just to regional security but global security.  All of that is reason enough to have a set of robust discussions and meetings and conversations with India about the future.  And again, I don’t want to get ahead of the deliverables, but you’ll see, I think – well, I know what you’ll see – at the end of the week the full scope of the agenda and what we were able – what we hope to be able to get done sitting down with Mr. – Prime Minister Modi and his team.  

That doesn’t mean that – democracy is tough.  We know that.  We’ve seen it firsthand here in this country.  It’s tough; you’ve got to work at it.  And India has a vibrant democracy, and they, too, work at it.  No democracy at any given point in time reaches perfection.  The idea of democracy is that you try to become more perfect – language that was in our own Constitution.  And so we’re going to continue to work on this bilateral relationship between these two vibrant, relevant, strong, and influential democracies in the world to improve the relationship.  And that means that in so doing, we’re also going to have conversations – we can have and we need to have somewhat uncomfortable conversations with our partners and our friends and our allies.  That’s what you can do when you have – when you’re partners and friends and allies, is have conversations about uncomfortable issues.   

And as I said, President Biden has never shied away from raising concerns over human rights, and he’s not going to start shying away from it this week.  But that doesn’t mean that you also don’t discuss other areas where you are in full agreement about making the relationship stronger and more robust going forward, and we’ll do that.   

But I find it interesting that the – and I’m not saying you suggested this, but the supposition is that if you have concerns with another nation, you – that you – that the way to address it is to not talk about it, to not – to not address it, to ignore it.  And we obviously aren’t going to do that, nor are we – nor should we, and it would be irresponsible for us to ignore all the great opportunities and the promises that exist between these two countries going forward.  And again, you’re going to see – you’re going to see a set of discussions and conversations that are very much focused on the future, a future that this bilateral relationship will be critical to.  

I can take just a couple more.  Yeah. 

QUESTION:  Hi, this is Jihan Abdalla from The National.  I have actually two questions.  The first – the West Bank, in Jenin – we’ve seen an incursion yesterday.  Five were killed.  Seems like another escalation in a part of the West Bank that’s on and off.  What do you have to say about that?   

The second question, about Iran – again, Israel has had a lot to say about this alleged deal, mini-deal, whatever we’re going to call it, with Iran. 

MR KIRBY:  Well, we’re not calling it a mini-deal.   

QUESTION:  (Laughter.)  Agreement or whatever.  Yes, any comments on how to counter what seems to be a lot of criticism from also U.S. lawmakers themselves and Israel’s distaste for it? 

MR KIRBY:  So on your first question, I mean, I’m only vaguely familiar with some of these initial reports, so I don’t know that I can speak specifically to them.  But in general, we have said and we continue to say we don’t want to see any actions taken by either side to increase tensions.  And we certainly don’t want to see violence by either side here.  We want to see – what we want to see is a real commitment to de-escalating the tensions and stopping the violence.  So I’ll leave it at that. 

On your second question, there’s no deal to speak to.  We have and we will continue to talk to the Iranians about detained Americans in their country, and we’re doing that, and we’re going to continue to do that because the President has made it a commitment to get wrongfully detained Americans back home with their families where they belong.  And so that discussion’s ongoing.   

At the same time, we’re certainly dealing with the full spate of destabilizing behaviors that we see out of Tehran, whether it’s attacking maritime shipping, which again happened just the last couple of weeks; their continuing efforts to improve their ballistic missile program; their support to terrorist networks in the Levant and throughout the region; and as – just as critically, their continued and deepening defense relationship with Russia and the support that they’re helping provide Russia in order so Russia can kill more Ukrainians.  And I’m talking specifically about the provision of drones, and now indications that they’re going to help Moscow build a drone manufacturing facility on Russian soil.   

So we’re going to deal with all that destabilizing behavior.  And we’ve said, when it comes to their nuclear ambitions, I mean, clearly President Biden – well, I’ll start with this.  He has made it clear that we will not allow Iran to achieve a nuclear weapons capability.  He would prefer for us to be able to deal – to achieve that outcome through diplomacy.  Right now, diplomacy in that realm is not on the table.  It’s just – we’re not pursuing diplomacy towards their nuclear ambitions.  But that doesn’t mean that the President still hasn’t committed himself to trying to have that solved diplomatically, if possible.  Right now, that’s not the scope of the discussions that we’re having with Iran for a variety of reasons, some of which I just mentioned to you.  And that means that the President wants and has available to him other options to make sure that that the outcome of a nuclear-armed Iran doesn’t become – doesn’t become possible.   

I can take just one more.  Yeah, in the – go ahead.  No, wait for your microphone. 

QUESTION:  (Off-mike.) 

MR KIRBY:  Okay, one more after that.  You’re the last one.   

QUESTION:  Prashant Jha, Hindustan Times.  Is there anything India is doing at the moment that U.S. would like to see Delhi do differently? 

MR KIRBY:  (Laughter.)  We are very excited about this visit and about deepening and improving this bilateral relationship.  And we wouldn’t have – President Biden wouldn’t have invented – invented – (laughter) – wouldn’t have invited Prime Minister Modi if he wasn’t strong and confident in the manner in which this bilateral relationship truly has deepened in the last two and a half years.  And so we’re excited about that and we look forward to talking about it at the end of the week.   


QUESTION:  Thank you for taking my question.  My name Malvika Jain.  I’m from Times Now, a part of India’s largest news network.  I have two questions for you.  One is more specifically regarding Ukraine.  You mentioned that there is a possibility for a third country to act as a mediator if certain conditions are met.  Could that country be India?   

And my second question is that in response to a question regarding human rights violations, you mentioned that U.S. will not refrain and has never refrained from expressing concerns if they are legitimate.  Does U.S. believe that the prime minister was in violation of human rights issues?  Because the supreme court of India has found no evidence against the prime minister, specifically in the case of the state of Gujarat, where he was a chief minister.   

MR KIRBY:  On the second question, I’m just going to leave it where I left it before.  We routinely raise human rights concerns with our friends, our allies, our partners, even nations that we’re not so friendly with.  We’re not bashful about raising those concerns, and we’ll continue to do that.  And I think I’m just going to leave it there.  

On your first question, could India be – I mean, that would obviously be up to Prime Minister Modi to determine whether he wanted India to take an assertive role in helping bring about a peace deal between Russia in Ukraine.  I can just tell you what we’ve said before, which is we would welcome a constructive role played by a third-party country, whoever it is – we’ve said this about China as well – as long as it (A) included the perspectives of President Zelenskyy and factored in his own proposal for a just peace; (B) that it was work that was done in keeping with the principles of the UN Charter, to include sovereignty and territorial integrity being respected in Ukraine by internationally recognized borders; and (C) that it’s done in full transparency with President Zelenskyy.  As President Biden has said, nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine.  And so any peace proposal put forward by anybody that didn’t include Ukrainian perspectives is just a non-starter, not just for us, but for the Ukrainian people, and that’s to be well understood. 

So, again, that’s a question that only Prime Minister Modi can answer.  But certainly, we would welcome any credible, sustainable effort by a third-party country, again, as long as it met those guidelines and could be seen as credible and potentially sustainable by President Zelenskyy. 

Now, look, I want to go back to one last thing I said – one thing I said at the beginning.  We’d all like to see peace in Ukraine, and ideally that could happen today.  We know it’s not.  We know there’s a lot of vicious fighting going on.  We know that Mr. Putin has prepared himself and continues to throw military capabilities into Ukraine, continues to launch drone and missile strikes inside – sometimes deep inside – Ukraine, and has continued in every way possible to continue to propagate this war and to further victimize the Ukrainian people, which is why President Biden and the United States is going to continue to support them in the battlefield as much as we can, so that if and when this can get to negotiations, President Zelenskyy can go into those negotiations from a position of strength, with the wind at his back, knowing that they have succeeded on the battlefield.   

So that’s what we’re focused on, making sure that Ukraine can succeed on the battlefield, and other nations – some 50 other nations – are doing the same thing.  And some nations – every nation has to decide for itself.  Some are contributing other than security assistance, and that’s okay too.  All of this is about sovereignty.  I’ve said this the last time I was here, and so many of the questions I’ve gotten today really get at this idea of sovereignty.  Every nation has to decide for itself what other countries it’s going to relate to and what those relations are going to look like, where and how much oil it buys, whether it’s going to support Ukraine with weapons or humanitarian assistance or nothing.  Those are – the whole war in Ukraine is really about the idea of sovereignty and territorial integrity.  It’s really about that UN Charter.   

And so that’s what – when I – when we talk about a rules-based order – and that is something that Prime Minister Modi has been very clear about supporting, a rules-based order – that’s what we’re talking about.  That’s what this discussion will all get around.  And I think, again, as you look at the bilateral relationship between our two countries and the discussions that we’re going to have this week, you’ll see that it really does come down to respect for each other, respect for our democratic institutions, respect for the burgeoning and deepening defense cooperation that we’re enjoying now and we want to enjoy in the future, and – my last point – respect, again, for that future, for that future in the Indo-Pacific which has got to be secure, open, prosperous, and which we believe – President Biden believes – India is going to be a critical partner that. 

Okay.  Thanks, everybody.  Appreciate it. 

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future