THE WASHINGTON FOREIGN PRESS CENTER, WASHINGTON, D.C.
MODERATOR: Welcome to the Washington Foreign Press Center. My name is Doris Robinson, and I am the moderator for today’s briefing. Excuse me. I’m pleased to welcome our distinguished briefer today, Richard Nephew, who was recently appointed the State Department’s Coordinator on Global Anti-Corruption by President Biden [Correction: Secretary of State Antony Blinken] in July 5th, 2022.
This briefing will provide an opportunity for Coordinator Nephew to introduce himself, share more about his mandate, and highlight the department’s actions to strengthen U.S. Government alignment on anti-corruption issues and work closely with international partners to advance U.S. anti-corruption policy.
After we hear from Coordinator Nephew, I will open the floor for questions, first here in the briefing room and then from those online. And now for the ground rules. This briefing is on the record. We will post a transcript of the video of this briefing later today on our website at fpc.state.gov. And for those online, please make sure that your Zoom profile has your full name and media outlet.
After we hear from Coordinator Nephew, I will open the floor for questions. And with that, I will turn it over to Coordinator Nephew.
MR NEPHEW: Great. Well, thank you very much for the introduction, Doris, and good morning, everyone. It’s great to meet all of you. And I first want to express my appreciation to the FPC for hosting this briefing. I’m very excited for the opportunity to share some opening comments and to answer some of your questions, and it’s my honor to serve as the State Department’s first coordinator on global anti-corruption.
This is a new position that Secretary Blinken created to elevate and integrate anti-corruption across U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance. Today, I want to give you a sense of how I’m approaching the role, highlight some early priorities, and discuss some key engagements in the coming months.
Now, I understand that some of you attended a virtual reporting tour in March that covered the Biden-Harris administration’s anti-corruption efforts. For those who missed it – and I’d suggest viewing the recordings – today I’ll offer, though, just a very quick summary.
In its first year, the administration made fighting corruption a core national security interest and foreign policy priority. In that vein, the White House released the first ever U.S. Strategy on Countering Corruption alongside the first Summit for Democracy last December. The strategy provides a blueprint for how the United States will work domestically and internationally with governmental and non-governmental partners to prevent, limit, and respond to corruption and related crimes.
And to guide implementation, the strategy is organized in five mutually reinforcing pillars. The first is modernizing, coordinating, and resourcing U.S. Government efforts to prevent corruption. Second is curbing illicit finance. The third, holding corrupt actors accountable. The fourth, preserving and strengthening the multilateral anti-corruption architecture. And fifth, improving diplomatic engagement and leveraging foreign assistance resources to achieve anti-corruption policy goals.
The creation of my position and my team reflects the administration’s prioritization of anti-corruption. And we are joining so many U.S. public servants and partners and the international anti-corruption community who have been taking up this fight. Since starting in July, it’s become very clear to me the tremendous resources that the State Department and the rest of the U.S. Government are throwing at the problem of corruption.
As anyone who tuned into the virtual reporting tour learned, the department, interagency are already working towards several goals of the strategy, with efforts such as bilateral and multilateral diplomacy; capacity-building; deployment of accountability tools, such as sanctions and visa restrictions; continued use of existing, robust asset recovery tools to prosecute corruption and recover criminal proceeds derived from corruption; and continued support for investigative journalists and civil society. Indeed, one example of the use of these tools can be seen in part of our response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
My team and I will support and catalyze U.S. and global efforts wherever we can. I will serve as a focal point and facilitator for the State Department’s anti-corruption efforts. So that begs the question: What exactly am I going to be doing? To help achieve our goals, I and my team will work directly with foreign governments to bolster progress towards meeting global anti-corruption commitments, including by delivering honest messages and providing assistance when appropriate to those that are failing to meet these international commitments; engaging with civil society and private sector counterparts to hear their perspectives, exchange practices, and explore ways to collaborate; and to look internally within the State Department to better integrate anti-corruption considerations into all aspects of U.S. foreign policy, and that’ll include amplifying what we’re doing right and looking very carefully at those things that we could be doing better.
As I continue to settle in, I thought I’d highlight a few priorities that cut across our implementation of U.S. anti-corruption strategy that I’m going to be working on personally. First, we’re working to develop more integrated approaches to our anti-corruption work. One thing that is clear from our own reflections, as well as the wealth of other analysis and experience, is that there’s no silver bullet to solve corruption. Real progress is going to require a bundle of reforms and persistent effort by all parties to achieve results, informed by an understanding of what works in particular contexts and in particular countries.
For our own efforts, it is essential that we carry out thoughtful, strategic planning to integrate all the anti-corruption tools across the U.S. Government and in meeting specific challenges abroad. We’re also going to take a closer look at how we can modernize our toolkit to fight corruption by thinking through more creative, evidence-based approaches to addressing these challenges and to utilize technology where possible to enhance our efforts.
Second, we’re working to galvanize action by the anti-corruption community and bolster implementation of anti-corruption commitments. Last December, President Biden hosted the Summit for Democracy to bring likeminded countries around the world together to reiterate their commitment to democracy and to democratic renewal. Fighting corruption is one of the summit’s key pillars, and of the over 750 commitments a plurality are actually focused on fighting corruption.
As an example of how we’re working with partners to turn the year of commitments into action in what we’re calling the Year of Action, the United States is co-leading with the Brookings Institution and Open Government Partnership a group of government and non-government partners to identify opportunities to enhance financial transparency and integrity.
We have also renewed our commitment and leadership across multilateral fora through engagement in the UN Convention Against Corruption, the G7 and G20, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and regional bodies such as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum, the Organization of American States, and the Council of Europe.
Third, the United States will continue to play a leadership role in the fight against corruption, and we will do so in partnership with many countries and organizations already dedicated to this cause. We have and will continue to lead in areas such as law enforcement, including forcing – enforcing the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in multilateral fora, where we will work to promote the robust anti-corruption architecture that has been developed over the years. And we will continue to call out and promote accountability for corrupt actors through our Global Magnitsky and other financial sanctions programs and the State Department visa restrictions.
We’ll also continue to lead in global asset recovery efforts through the Department of Justice’s kleptocracy assessment – Kleptocracy Asset Recovery initiative, which has been aggressively prosecuting money launderers and their facilitators and forfeiting, returning, or assisting the return of criminal proceeds for the benefit of the people harmed by corruption around the world. Since the initiative was announced in 2010, the Justice Department has filed cases in court to confiscate over 3.4 billion in corruption proceeds, successfully confiscate over 1.7 billion of these assets, and returning or assisted the return of over 1.6 billion to the economies from which the money was stolen.
And while we’re proud of our successes, though, we’re also aware that to be a global leader, we must humbly acknowledge and address our own shortcomings at home. Indeed, one of my central messages is going to be that this is a challenge that affects all countries and that we need to work through together to ensure we’re utilizing the experiences and capacities that we all bring to the table. For example, the United States’ deficiencies around beneficial ownership has long been highlighted in multilateral reviews, which is one of the reasons why Congress enacted the Corporate Transparency Act, or CTA, and why this administration is working hard to implement it. Implementation of the CTA is a key element of the Biden administration’s anti-corruption commitment, and under the CTA the U.S. Treasury will soon require certain U.S. and foreign companies to report their true beneficial owners and to update that information when those beneficial owners change – a vital part of the anti-corruption infrastructure that we’re bringing to the table.
With that background, I want to close by noting several key opportunities for engagement on the horizon. First, I expect to travel to several regions in the coming months, starting with two weeks of consultations and engagements with allies and partners in Europe. From December 6th through the 10th, the United States is co-hosting the biannual International Anti-Corruption Conference with Transparency International, which will bring together the global anti-corruption community around the theme of uprooting corruption, defending democratic values. This is the longstanding anti-corruption forum and one of the very largest.
The United States is also hosting the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit from December 10th through the 13th, where we’ll have an opportunity to speak with government leaders and civil society from across the continent about solutions to corruption.
And next year we will have a range of international and bilateral convenings. We’ll host the second Summit for Democracy in the first half of 2023. The United States will also host and assume the presidency of the UNCAC – the UN Convention Against Corruption – Conference of the States Parties in late 2023. This is the preeminent global forum on corruption and hosting this event will demonstrate U.S. leadership on efforts to counter corruption on the world stage.
Going forward, my team will also keep you posted on U.S. Government’s efforts to fight corruption around the world in a few ways, including direct conversations with journalists. First, we’ll start tweeting from a new Twitter account that we are creating. Right now, if you go to it, you’re not going to see much, but you will soon see information @StateCGAC. In early September we head to Europe for our first trip. Second, we hope to release more information on the department’s implementation of U.S. anti-corruption strategy in the coming weeks.
For now, I thank you very much for attending, and I look forward to your questions.
MODERATOR: Thank you, sir. Thank you for those remarks. We’ll now open for questions, and for those in the room, if you raise your hand, I will call on you, and please wait for the microphones. For those on Zoom, if you hit the raised hand icon, I will call on you in turn. So let’s start in the room and let’s start with Alex. Please state your name and your —
QUESTION: Yes. Well, thank you so very much, Ambassador, for being here today and for the appointment. Even got your handler – Twitter handle. Congratulations. For those of us who have been covering State Department for a long time, your name is not unfamiliar, but I have to explain to my Azeri audience that the top State Department official’s name is Rich Nephew. (Laughter.) Probably have heard that before, so I’m not breaking a news.
I have couple questions. You mentioned – you actually linked U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance. Does that mean that corrupt – the countries run by corrupt regimes might be deprived of U.S. assistance if you decide that they are eligible – not eligible for (inaudible) assistance?
Secondly, will your office be able to chase the bad guys, if you want, for their actions in their countries or also what they are managing to do here? Because one of the narratives that we are wrestling against in my part of the world is that corrupt regimes are saying, hey, yes, we are corrupt, but everyone is corrupt. Next day we think – we see them showing up in the U.S., raising – let’s say trying to buy influence in the U.S. Is that something that will fall into your radar moving forward?
And lastly, just had a quick question – you mentioned the anti-corruption conference, which will happen to be at the same time when the U.S. is trying to put together democracy summit. Will the conference be open to those who are invited to democracy summit or for wider audience? Thank you so much.
MR NEPHEW: Sure. So maybe I’ll approach those in reverse order. So on the first, if you’re referring to the conference that will be at the end of December – that’s the – December 2023, rather – that’s the UN Convention Against Corruption’s biannual event to review the convention. So all the participants of the convention are part of that particular event, so there’ll definitely be some overlap with countries that are also involved in the summit.
There is also, of course, the conference that’s going to be happening here in Washington this December. That’s, again, going to be cosponsored between the United States Government as well as Transparency International. That’s open to civil society and government partners around the world. Again, we actually are very much encouraging participation from everyone who is interested in joining with us and working against corruption. And there’ll be a number of workshops and events that will be alongside that conference that will explore the very specific issues that are in anti-corruption work, whether it’s beneficial ownership structures or similar.
On the second – so look, again, the portfolio that I’ve got is at the State Department, and the responsibility that I have is internationally facing. So a lot of the work that we’re going to be doing in my team is going to be working with partners to address corruption issues that are abroad. But we do this in recognition that, as I’ve said, we’re all in this together and we all have this challenge that we’re dealing with. And that’s part of the reason why we’re also part of the conversation about what we can do to strengthen our own internal regulations and legislation, what we can do to make sure our own best practices are fully up to snuff. Because we’re in a poor position to go and talk to governments around the world if we’ve got very obvious deficiencies here that need to be dealt with.
So while there are definitely other parts of the U.S. Government, including especially Department of Justice, FBI, and others that have responsibility for domestic enforcement of domestic-related issues of anti-corruption, the work that we’ll do will integrate with the rest of the U.S. Government to make sure we’re presenting both a domestically sensible but also internationally responsible picture.
On the first question you had about denial of assistance, I think the way I would structure it is a little bit different. When I say we’re combining diplomacy and foreign assistance, what I mean is we are going to be utilizing all the various different tools that we have as a government to address the anti-corruption challenge. So that means direct diplomacy with governments that are facing this problem – and again, all of us are to some extent or another – working in various different multilateral fora to address the problems, both in specific terms as well as in terms of a normative sense in creating international institutions that can manage the problem, but also, to see whether or not we can utilize more efficiently our foreign assistance and capacity-building programs, our sanctions tools, and so forth.
So the way I would look at it is less that we’re going to deny assistance to this or that place if we find corruption issues. It’s more of we’re going to take a holistic approach. We’re going to bring all the tools together to ensure that our foreign assistance and capacity-building activities are consistent with our anti-corruption mission and that they all work together in furtherance of that, alongside sanctions, diplomacy, and some of the other tools that I’ve talked about today.
I hope that makes sense.
MODERATOR: Thank you. Let’s go to Heba, and then we’ll go online. Heba, please state your name and your outlet.
QUESTION: Thank you. I’m Heba Koudsy, Washington Bureau Chief of Asharq Al Awsat Saudi newspaper. Nice to have you, Mr. Nephew.
First I would like to know: What’s the ranking of the region that you see that they are most corrupted? Is it the Arab world? Is it South Asia? Is it some countries in Europe? So what are you going to tackle first?
And based on your book, Art of Sanctions, which I really – I really like your book, what’s the best tools to fight corruption? Is it incentives? Is it sanctions? Because some of the – the U.S. experiencing posing sanctions didn’t succeed much, like Iran, like Afghanistan, like very – a lot of examples that sanctions didn’t work. So what other incentives can you give government to fight corruption?
And having you here, I cannot miss the opportunity to ask you about the current situation with Iran, the negotiation and the U.S. response, and how you see the U.S. response. And is there a chance that renewing the nuclear deal will be surviving, and will it be a good sign or a good deal, longer and stronger, as Secretary Blinken promised the Congress before? Thank you.
MR NEPHEW: Well, thank you very much. So yours, I think I’ll stick with the order.
So in terms of ranking of regions, again, my perspective on this is that every single region has got its own challenges with corruption, and some, depending on the country or the issue at hand, are greater or lesser. And so I don’t think that there is any one region that I would say is a greater corruption or a lesser corruption challenge. We have challenges here in the western hemisphere. We’ve got our own efforts that we have to do here to approve our own anti-corruption issues. We’ve got countries like Guatemala, where we’ve got significant anti-corruption concerns. But we’ve also got corruption challenges in Africa, in Southeast Asia, and around the world.
And I would just say that our perspective to this – and this feeds a little bit to the second question, is to tackle things less on a regional context – but tackle them more in a country-specific context. We’ve obviously got a number of regional programs and global programs that we’re utilizing, but one of the things that I think we’ve identified is that we need to do more to tailor our anti-corruption approaches to deal with particular countries’ own domestic challenges and their own international operating environment.
So when you ask what tools we are going to use, frankly, it’s going to depend on the country at hand and the problems and concerns that we and it has with its anti-corruption stance. There are going to be some circumstances in which sanctions are a absolutely essential tool and a critical element of the effort; there are going to be some places where capacity-building programs are going to play an important role.
And I think the considerations that’ll come – that actually come a little bit out of the book, which is evaluating the national perspectives and the national situations – the political will of the parties that are in charge of the government, what their capacities are, what their legislative infrastructure is – all of those things come together to point us to, is this a place where more incentives are more useful than more sanctions? Is this a place where more capacity-building is more useful than more incentives? What is the specific will be dependent, I think, in large part on the nature of the country itself, its political will, its political institutions, and the nature of our relationship, of course.
And while I certainly appreciate your desire to raise the issue of Iran, I don’t think you’ll be surprised if I decline to respond. There are lots of people who are working on Iran issues, and I’m sure they’d be happy to talk with you.
MODERATOR: Thank you, sir. We’ll take our next question online. Let’s go to Artan Haraqija from VOA. Please go ahead and pose your question.
QUESTION: Yep. Hello. Do I need to open my camera as well or it doesn’t matter?
MODERATOR: Yes, please.
QUESTION: Let me just get to that, then. Start video – there it is. Hi, thank you very much for the opportunity. I have two questions that are specific related to the area where we broadcast our program. First of all, it’s the more general question that – related to Western Balkans. How do the unresolved ethnic tensions impact the effectiveness of anti-corruption efforts in the Western Balkans? We had recent tensions between Kosovo and Serbia. Is that taking most of the attention from the world leaders from your State Department as well, and kind of forgetting about the fight against corruption, which is quite a big problem in the area?
And the second one is specific to Albania. How do you, Mr. Nephew, respond to concerns that U.S. actions related to corruption in Albania are focused more on people who are no longer in power, while the State Department own reports – yearly report, this year’s – the last one included – I quote, has consistently expressed concern about a, quote, “pervasive” corruption in all the branches of the government, and has serious issues with the independence of the judiciary? Thank you.
MR NEPHEW: Sure. Thanks very much for those questions. So on this one, let me take Albania first and then go to the broader one. One of the first meetings that I had upon taking this position was with the special prosecutor in Albania as well as with a number of his officials. And it was very clear to me in that discussion that Albania is an important partner and that we’ve gotten a number of different capacity building programs and activities that are ongoing with Albania.
I should say that our emphasis and focus is on the challenge of corruption, not who is the one doing the corruption. I think that that you’ll find that as we move forward, we will continue to address issues of corruption wherever we find them and to the extent that it’s necessary to address those root problems. So I don’t think that the criticism is reasonable in that respect, but again, I would just emphasize the extent to which our partnership is continuing and will continue to address all areas of concern there.
With regard to the issue of unresolved ethnic challenges and so forth, I would just emphasize another point from my opening remarks, which is the importance of mainstreaming anti-corruption work in our foreign policy. And that means that, notwithstanding the fact that there are other challenges, other issues, other problems, other questions, anti-corruption is going to remain at the center of what we are doing when we engage with foreign governments.
I have yet to meet a secretary of state who goes into a meeting with a foreign counterpart with only one issue on their agenda. Their briefing papers always have quite a few. And the important thing is that my office exists to ensure that the anti-corruption element of our foreign policy is represented in all those various different fora. So I don’t think that any one particular issue was taking up more attention than others. In fact, I would say that one of the things we found with the issue of corruption is it actually makes a lot of other problems much, much worse. And so that’s part of the reason why we’re emphasizing the fact that anti-corruption needs to be part of all of our international relationships and all of our important discussions with foreign leaders.
MODERATOR: Thank you. We’ll take our next question from Dmitry Anopchenko with Inter TV news, Ukraine.
QUESTION: Oh, hello, good morning. Doris, very nice to see you even virtually. Thank you, Foreign Press Center, for organizing this. And sir, I got two questions for you, if I may? Firstly, about Ukraine, no doubts during the war the main line of the support is financial support and military support, but at the same time, before the war, it was the very strong line of discussion between U.S. administration and Ukrainian Government about anti-corruption reforms, about creating the independent bodies, about appointing the independent prosecutors. So could you tell about your vision of the cooperation with Ukraine?
And secondly, I’d like to ask you about Russia. What I heard from an independent journalist, investigating journalist – they told me that some people, some Russian businessman who worked with Kremlin, but they’re not blacklisted yet, trying to hide their assets, putting them on offshores or putting them on the name of their lovers or assistants or even drivers. So how do you see these goal for you? Will you work chasing the assets, or is your job and your team’s job is more creating the principles, creating the law, and you will work separately from the team which is already created in the Department of Justice? Thank you.
MR NEPHEW: Yeah, I mean, so tackling that one first, I’ll just say, again, we’re not about trying to duplicate efforts, and to the extent that there are parts of the government that are already fully in place to chase assets and to try and address the attempts at sanctions evasion and so forth, our effort is likely to be much more supporting and engaging with countries and with financial institutions and others when those sorts of issues come up to help facilitate the work that they’re doing.
I’ll say that, though, having worked on sanctions and sanctions evasion issues for quite some time, the substantive point I would offer is: while there is always a first-mover advantage to those that are attempting to hide their assets to engage in illicit finance, we are very dogged in our implementation of our own authorities and in investigating those attempts. And so I would just note that it may take time and investigatory resources, but the degree to which we are serious about this mission, serious about enforcement, and serious about responding to sanctions evasion shouldn’t be underestimated. I think it’s going to be a continued point of emphasis. The fact of the matter is the President raised it during the State of the Union, so that that underscores the importance of this to the administration.
In terms of vision of cooperating with Ukraine, I’ll just say, again, we’ve been very clear that combating corruption is a central part of our relationship that we’re working with Ukraine, even as it defends itself against Russia’s war of aggression. And I would just emphasize that the Ukrainians themselves have demonstrated this by the appointment of the special prosecutor’s office and by the efforts that they have made to try and to maintain enforcement of anti-corruption legislation and authorities. We intend to continue working very closely with Ukraine in support of its anti-corruption activities.
There are parts of the State Department that have longstanding programs and activities with Ukraine which are going to continue. And I think the relationship, again, is multidimensional. It’s not just about helping Ukraine resist Russia’s aggressive actions, but it’s also about working with Ukraine to address this challenge and to maintain its own rule of law and its own ability to defend its internal integrity from the scourge of corruption and other financial crimes. So this kind of relationship is going to continue apace.
MODERATOR: Great. Do we have time for a couple more questions?
MR NEPHEW: Yeah, maybe one or two.
MODERATOR: Sure. So, let’s go to the Rusudan Shelia from TV Imedi in the back.
QUESTION: Thank you very much. Thanks for organizing this meeting. Thank you, Doris, for having me here. I want to ask about South Caucasus. How would you describe the situation in South Caucasus in terms of corrupt challenges? Specifically, I want to ask about Georgia. What challenges are we facing now? What is your opinion about this? Thank you very much. Thank you.
MR NEPHEW: Sure, happy to. So, again, I would just emphasize the degree to which all regions are dealing with this problem. Corruption is pervasive, frankly, because it is at least temporarily quite lucrative to the people who are engaged in it, right. And so the main challenge is to deal with corruption across the board because it’s something that is always going to be seen as attractive, and part of our objective is to make sure it’s not, right. And so the world – around the world we’re going to have these kinds of anti-corruption requirements, and we’re going to have a number of bilateral relationships to help deal with them.
In the case of Georgia in particular, I know that the United States has provided more than $6 billion in assistance since 1992, in part dealing with the issue of corruption. And as a strategic partner, we remain very committed to helping Georgia to achieve its Euro-Atlantic aspirations and to implementing the reforms that are required to help advance its candidate status application to the European Commission. So I think our relationship is quite strong and our intention to keep working with Georgia is quite strong as well.
MODERATOR: We’ll take our last question from Joyce Karam with the National.
QUESTION: Thank you. Thanks, Doris; good to see you. Joyce Karam with the National. I have two questions for you. I heard all what you’re saying about anti-corruption. And just for an outsider, one cannot help but notice that many of U.S. allies – close allies – are extremely corrupt. You even send aid to corrupt governments across the world – I mean, Middle East, Nigeria, Philippines. So how do you balance that? How high is your work on the priorities of the State Department?
And I know you can’t comment on the Iran negotiations, but if you can little bit talk about the maybe Iranian proxies in the region, the criminal enterprises we see flourishing across Lebanon, Syria that are linked to Iran. How problematic is that for the job that you do?
MR NEPHEW: Yeah, I mean, so on the first one, again, I think the demonstrated commitment to anti-corruption of this administration comes from the fact that the President has elevated this as a core national security interest, has issued a national strategy in response to it, has given instructions and guidance to the government to work on anti-corruption and to ensure that it’s a key element of our foreign policy. I would say that it’s part of the reason why I exist – at least in this capacity – is to ensure that we are bringing anti-corruption work into all of our foreign policy relationships and all of our foreign policy engagements.
Now, as we’ve seen, though, in other areas, there are ways in which different tools and different conversations and different engagements and different relationships can be leveraged depending on the nature of our bilateral relationship, right? There are places where we can have more direct conversations. There are places where we can have more foreign capacity building programs in place. There are places where we have longstanding alliance structures that allow us to deal with the specific challenges that we have in those various different countries.
So as I said earlier, we’re not taking a cookie-cutter approach to this. We’re not saying that we’re going to treat every country both the same way and use the same tools in every country. The core objective is going to be enhancing anti-corruption. And so how we do that is going to potentially be different depending on the nature of that relationship, the nature of its institutions, and so forth.
So the two main messages I hope you’ll take away from this are, one, one of my main jobs is ensuring that anti-corruption messages and activities are a central part of our relationships around the world with partners and with allies and even with adversaries, right, that it’s a key element of what we’re trying to do. And that second, we are going to approach those various different relationships and countries and issues on an individualized basis so that we’re making sure we’re as effective as we can be.
On the issues of Iranian proxies, I’ll just say the State Department and the Treasury Department, other parts of U.S. Government, have longstanding sanctions authorities that they had utilized in response to various different Iranian proxy activities. I’m not going to comment further on kind of current planning, current activity against all those things, but I’ll just say that they demonstrate that this administration intends to continue to utilize those authorities to deal with that particular challenge.
In terms of my role, the anti-corruption mission, again, is a little neutral on who is doing the corrupting, right. It’s intended to deal with the problem itself. And so that’s why whether or not we’re talking about places in the Middle East or we’re talking about places in Central America, we’re going to be taking on this challenge no matter who is engaged in doing it because we do see it as a core national security interest, we do see it as a core international security problem, and we are committed to making it a key part of our foreign policy.
MODERATOR: Thank you, sir. We do have to end here. I know we have more questions. If you all can send those to me, I’ll make sure that Coordinator Nephew answers those questions. And with that, I’d like to turn to you for any closing remarks.
MR NEPHEW: Just I’d say briefly thanks very much for attending, thanks very much for attending online. Appreciate the questions. This won’t be the last time that we have this opportunity to chat. Look forward to hearing more from you. And check us out on Twitter when we have something to say.
MODERATOR: Thank you, sir. I’d like to thank Coordinator Nephew for briefing with us today and all the journalists who participated, and this concludes today’s briefing.