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MS PORTER: Hello. Good afternoon. Thank you all for joining today’s State Department press briefing. I don’t have any announcements to make at the top, but I’ll give it a few minutes before I start taking your questions.

Let’s go to the line of Francesco Fontemaggi, please.

OPERATOR: Thank you. That line is open.

QUESTION: Hi, Jalina. Happy – what is this – Wednesday. I wanted to know – I know yesterday you guys were saying that you hadn’t had a full readout from France about President Macron visit to Moscow. So do you have now, and do you have something to say about the (inaudible) comments that the President Macron made after his talks with Putin?

And on another side, I just wonder if you have anything new on the Vienna talks to share with us. Thank you.

MS PORTER: Thanks, Francesco. I’ll start with your second one. Outside of what I shared yesterday, actually, we don’t have anything to read out or update on the Vienna talks. Special Envoy Malley continues to work with partners in the sidelines, and he also continues to brief Congress remotely. But nothing major to read out or share today.

To your first question, we of course typically wouldn’t read out another country’s meeting. But again, we continue to coordinate closely with our allies and partners.

Let’s go to Matt Lee, please.

OPERATOR: Thank you. Just as a reminder, everyone, you may press 1 then zero to join the question queue. Matt Lee, your line is open.

QUESTION: Yeah. Hey, there. I hope you can hear me.

MS PORTER: Yeah, I can hear – it’s a little faint, but I can hear you.

QUESTION: Okay. Hold on. Let me hold the phone up a little closer. Sorry. I just wanted to follow up on the answer that you gave me yesterday on INARA and the Iran talks and any potential new agreement. You said yesterday, “The administration will carefully consider the facts as well as the circumstances of any U.S. return to the JCPOA to determine what the legal implications, which would include under INARA.” And then you said, “We’re committed to ensuring the requirements of INARA are satisfied.”

I don’t know if you’re going to be able to answer my question in the level of specificity that I think it requires. So if you need to take it, that’s fine. But I would appreciate an answer if you can get one from the lawyers. And my question is this: Does being “committed to ensuring the requirements of INARA are satisfied” – that was your quote – does that mean that you will submit any agreement that is reached in Vienna to Congress for approval? Not just to send them a notification of “Hi there, this is what we just did,” but to fulfill the spirit – the letter and the spirit of the law, which requires a congressional review and a vote?

MS PORTER: Thanks, Matt. I’m not able to make any determinations today on whether we will submit the report to Congress. As I’ve said before and as you know well, that Special Envoy Malley and those of us here continue to coordinate closely with various partners in Congress. And of course we remain committed to those engagements, of course in a bipartisan manner as it relates to – as Iran policy continues to develop. But anything beyond that we’d be happy to get you more details at a later time.

Let’s go to Tony Lewis, please.

OPERATOR: Thank you. That line is open.

MS PORTER: Do we have Tony on the line?

QUESTION: Do you mean me, Jalina? Simon.

MS PORTER: Hi. I can hear you now. Thank you.

Tony, do we have you? Mr. Operator, if we can come back to Tony and for now move on to Christina Ruffini, please.

OPERATOR: I believe the person on Tony’s line is Simon.

MS PORTER: Oh, Simon Lewis. Okay. Well, let’s —

QUESTION: Yeah. It’s Simon Lewis, not Tony. I don’t know who Tony Lewis is.

MS PORTER: I don’t, either.

QUESTION: Okay. Thanks, Jalina.

MS PORTER: (Inaudible) Simon.

QUESTION: Yeah. I just wanted to follow up on Francesco’s question on some of President Macron’s comments since his meetings in Moscow and Kyiv. There’s a discussion about whether a solution to the current tensions would be a Finlandization of Ukraine, and Macron sort of admitted that that could be – or considered that could be one of the models on the table for defusing the tension. So does the U.S. have a position on whether that’s – whether that is a possibility?

And secondly, there’s been talk of the solution to this could be through the Minsk protocols. I wonder if you could sort of – if you have any kind of new position on that, given these talks that have gone on with the Europeans, the Ukrainians, and the Russians, and whether you could say specifically what is it that both Ukraine – you would expect both Ukraine and Russia to do to kind of get back into line with what they’ve agreed under those protocols. Thanks.

MS PORTER: Thank you, Simon, to correct for the record – excuse me about that. I will start with your second question. I can’t really speak to any specific expectations of Ukraine and Russia, but what I can say is that the U.S. welcomes calls for diplomatic resolution to the conflict in eastern Ukraine, and measures Ukraine has proposed to lower tensions in and around Donbas to improve prospects or subsequent progress on the implementation of Minsk agreements. Of course, we stand ready to support sincere efforts and progress from all sides, including Ukraine, France, Germany, and Russia to implement Minsk agreements through the work in the Normandy Format.

To your first question on the Finlandization, I would say that President Macron has said that that was not the formulation that he used, and that ending NATO’s “Open Door” policy would actually be a problem, and we agree with that. And as we’ve said previously, we’re committed to the right of sovereign nations to make their own decisions about their security.

Okay, we can continue on to Christina, please.

OPERATOR: Thank you, CBS News.


OPERATOR: Yes, your line is open.

QUESTION: Okay, great. Good afternoon. I’m wondering – and I’m not saying or trying to imply that the security situation is at this level, but should Kyiv become unsafe, is there a plan to relocate the U.S. embassy somewhere else within the country or is the plan to simply close and evacuate the personnel? And could you facilitate that kind of operation with the security and staff you already have in the country? Thank you.

MS PORTER: Thanks, Christina. We are preparing for a range of contingency plans, but for operational security reason I can’t get into those specific details from here today.

Let’s go to Michel Ghandour, please.

OPERATOR: Thank you. That line is open.

QUESTION: Thank you, Jalina. I have two questions. The Foreign Policy has reported that the United States has quietly cut a deal with Russia that eases the political pressure on Syria at the United Nations, and the report said that if the 15-nation Security Council endorses the deal, the UN security body would hold fewer meetings on Syria’s chemical weapons and consolidate separate sessions on humanitarian relief and the political transition. Is this accurate? And if you have any comment on it.

And my second question is on Senior Advisor Hochstein’s visit to Beirut. Do you have any update? And news reports said that he offered or represented several ideas to the Lebanese officials to bridge the gap between Lebanon and Israel.

MS PORTER: Thanks, Michel. To your first question, I’d say that we continue to be highly engaged in pushing the Security Council to address the crisis in Syria across as many dimensions as possible. The Council’s program of work is a negotiation among all members of the Security Council. We’ve also been engaged in an effort to keep Syria on the agenda in the face of oppression from Russia and others on the Council. We’re fighting to maintain the international community’s focus on the conflict, and will continue to do so.

On your second question, we don’t have many updates from here, but I would just reiterate what we said in the past, in that the Senior Advisor for Global Energy Security continues to work diligently with the two governments, and of course that includes visits to the region. And any other updates we have, we’ll be sure to let you know at the appropriate time.

Let’s go to Liz Kim, please.

OPERATOR: Thank you. That line is open.

QUESTION: Hi. Thank you, can you hear me?

MS PORTER: Yes, I can hear you.

QUESTION: Okay. Two questions for you. Coming Saturday, Secretary Blinken’s meeting with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts in Hawaii to discuss North Korea’s recent missile test. And last December, South Korean Secretary Chung Eui-yong told reporters that South Korea and the United States have agreed in principle on a draft to formally end the Korean War. And I was wondering if this is still the case even after a series of missile tests this year, and will the end of war declaration on the agenda for this Saturday meeting?

And my second question is North Korea’s foreign ministry just released a statement boasting that North Korea is the only country on the planet that can shake the world by firing a missile with the U.S. mainland in its range. Could you comment on that?

MS PORTER: Thanks, Liz. To your first question, I certainly won’t get ahead of the Secretary and his meetings. But what I can say from here is that we are committed to security in the Indo-Pacific.

And to your second question, I don’t have anything to offer for you today.

Let’s go to Conor Finnegan.

OPERATOR: Thank you. That line is open.

QUESTION: Hey, sorry, I had myself on mute. Iran today unveiled or displayed a new long-range ballistic missile. I’m wondering if you have any response to that, and in particular given the administration’s stated position of trying to address Iran’s ballistic missile program down the line at some point with further talks, whether you take this as sort of a signal that they’re not willing to engage in those kinds of talks. Thanks.

MS PORTER: Thanks, Conor. Well, I wouldn’t want to comment on their stature or any hypotheticals on if they are willing to talk or not. But what I can say is that Iran’s development and proliferation of ballistic missiles poses a threat to the international security and remains a significant nonproliferation challenge.

We continue to use a variety of nonproliferation tools to prevent and – further advancement of Iran’s missile program and its ability to proliferate technology to others. So an Iran with a nuclear weapon would likely act even more provocatively, and we’re committed to preventing this from happening.

Let’s go to the line of Dukin Han from Radio Free Asia.

QUESTION: Thank you, hello. Yes, thank you, Ms. Porter, and good afternoon.

With regard to North Korea, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said during the regular press conference today – to quote him, he said: “The DPRK has long faced external threats to security, which is the crux of the Korean Peninsula issue,” and when saying that, “If the U.S. truly cares about the well-being of the North Korean people, it should not keep pressuring the DPRK with sanctions. Instead it should face up to the denuclearization measures already taken by the DPRK, respond to its legitimate and reasonable concerns, and take measures to ease sanctions on the DPRK.”

My question is: What is your response to the Chinese foreign ministry spokesman’s remark, and what is the United States view on the denuclearization measures already taken by the DPRK so far? Is there anything worth mentioning at this point?

MS PORTER: Thanks, Dukin. Well, I would say to you what we said time and again before, which is our goal remains the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and we remain prepared to engage in serious and sustained diplomacy without preconditions to achieve that end and to make tangible progress.

Let’s take a final question from Poonam Sharma.

OPERATOR: Thank you, and that line is open.

QUESTION: Hi, thank you for taking my question. I wanted to ask you about the U.S. group Sikhs for Justice, which calls itself an American human rights advocacy group. They announced a $250,000 bounty for information on the movements of an Indian general, Kuldeep Brar, who survived multiple assassination attempts and still receives death threats. I just wanted to get your comments on that. Thank you.

MS PORTER: Thanks, Poonam. So we are not aware of these reports, but this is something I’m happy to take back to the team and get you a thorough response on.

Thank you all for joining today’s press briefing. I hope you have a wonderful week ahead.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:22 p.m.)

U.S. Department of State

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