2:05 p.m. EDT
MS PORTER: Good afternoon and thank you for joining today’s department press briefing. I have only one update to start you off at the top. You likely heard today that the UN Security Council unanimously voted to extend UN cross-border humanitarian access into Syria for 12 months. As Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield said, “The humanitarian agreement we’ve reached here will literally save lives.”
Today, the Security Council averted an even worse catastrophe for a population that has already suffered far too much. The UN and its NGO partners can now continue uninterrupted the important business of saving lives through the delivery of food, shelter, medicine, COVID-19 vaccines, and other humanitarian assistance to Syrians in need. Today’s resolution was an important moment for the UN and the Security Council, demonstrating that we can work together to find solutions and deliver action on the world’s most pressing challenges.
And with that, we’re going to give it a few minutes to filter everyone in the queue before we start taking your questions.
OPERATOR: And once again, to queue up for a question, press 1, 0. If you want to remove yourself from queue after you’ve done that, you can press 1, 0 a second time and that will remove you from the queue.
MS PORTER: Let’s go to the line of Shaun Tandon.
OPERATOR: Thank you. Shaun, your line is open. Please, go ahead.
QUESTION: Hi, Jalina, hope you’re well. I wanted to ask you about Haiti if you had any updates, particularly the Americans who have been identified there as assassins. Does the United States have any information on that? Has there been any consular access? Has there been any further assistance to Haiti, response to their request on the investigation? And related to that, has been there any communication with Colombia considering that Colombians have also been implicated in this? Thank you.
MS PORTER: Thank you for your questions. So we are certainly aware of the arrest of the two U.S. citizens who were in Haiti and continue to closely monitor the situation; however, due to the privacy considerations, we won’t comment any further and would have to refer you to Haitian authorities for any further information regarding their investigation. It boils down to us being committed to cooperating with Haitian authorities on the investigation. For your last question on Colombia, I would have to refer to Colombian authorities as well.
Let’s go to Said, please.
QUESTION: Jalina, I hope you are doing well. I wanted to follow up on the demolition of Montaser Shalabi’s home, who’s – he was estranged from his wife and his kids and so on. I know that you expressed concern, but since the deed has been done, I mean, why cannot you – why can’t you express condemnation? There was also a demolition of Humsa, a village, displacing 26 children, maybe 72 people and so on. And my question to you, will the United States take a stronger stance because obviously Israel is not heading your warning and your concern? Thank you, Jalina.
MS PORTER: Thank you, Said. So we are closely monitoring the reports that the home was demolished. And I’ll just continue to underscore what we have stated numerous times, that the home of an entire family shouldn’t be demolished for the actions of simply one individual. Of course, there’s a critical need to lower the temperature in the West Bank, and we shouldn’t exacerbate tensions at this time. The Secretary and other senior officials in recent days have raised these concerns directly with senior Israeli officials. However, due to privacy considerations, we are unable to comment any further about this matter.
Let’s go to Laura Kelly, please.
QUESTION: Hi, Jalina. Thank you so much for taking my question. Following up on Haiti, are you able to provide any specifics of the assistance that the U.S. is providing through FBI and DHS? And does the U.S. consider interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph as the legitimate leader of Haiti during this time?
MS PORTER: So I have nothing further to add on U.S. assistance at this time. But as you have probably seen, the Secretary has been engaged and has been in contact with Acting Foreign Minister Joseph. We have other officials who are also actively engaged with appropriate Haitian officials at this time, and we stand ready to support them however appropriately they need it.
QUESTION: Sorry, did you say Foreign Minister Joseph?
MS PORTER: I said Acting Foreign Minister Joseph, just to correct for the record. I’m sorry, Acting Prime Minister.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MS PORTER: Let’s go to Simon Lewis, please.
OPERATOR: Mr. Lewis, you’re open. Go ahead, please.
QUESTION: Hi, thank you. Thanks, Jalina, for doing this. Another question on Haiti. We’ve seen from – in Port-au-Prince at the moment there are some people trying to gather at the U.S. embassy, apparently seeking some kind of help to leave the country because of the security situation. Is the United States offering or providing any help to people to leave the country or has any program to – for people to get visas given the security – deteriorating security situation? And is there any security concern specific to the embassy because of that? Thanks.
MS PORTER: Well, I’ll just start off by saying of course the safety and security of State Department personnel in Haiti and, of course, other places abroad is among one of our top priorities. But with that said, for – we won’t comment from here on the operational security that’s currently going on. The situation on the ground, of course, is still imminent, so for that reason I can’t get into specifics from here.
Let’s go to Pearl Matibe.
OPERATOR: Apologies, Pearl. One moment, please.
QUESTION: Hi, can you hear me?
MS PORTER: Yes, I can hear you.
QUESTION: Okay, awesome. Thank you so much for taking my question. As always, really appreciate you guys.
My question is on Eswatini. So gunshots were fired at an embassy – U.S. embassy vehicle. I just wanted to find out, was any U.S. citizen injured or any local? Can you share anything more about you working this out through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or anything else that you might be able to share as well on your relationship with Eswatini in regards to them being allies and helping – recognizing Taiwan? Thank you so much.
MS PORTER: Thank you, Pearl. So I’ll just start off by answering your last question. We have a long and enduring relationship with the Kingdom of Eswatini, and, of course, in this moment of crisis we encourage all parties to resolve the situation peacefully and productively through inclusive dialogue.
Now, to your question about the shots fired, we’re certainly aware of the incident. The shots were fired at an embassy vehicle on July 1st, 2021. In Eswatini, however, there are – no embassy personnel were injured at the event, and the embassy – U.S. Embassy Eswatini is working with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Kingdom of Eswatini to address the incident. Of course, the safety and security of U.S. citizens and, of course, our employees is our highest priority. Thank you.
Let’s go to Matt Lee.
OPERATOR: Go ahead, Mr. Lee. You’re open.
MS PORTER: Hi, Matt.
QUESTION: Okay, thanks. Hey there. I just wanted to follow up on the Syria vote at the Security Council. You guys have been saying for weeks now that you wanted not just to extend the mandate for the corridor from Turkey but also to expand it. And then there had been this proposal that the ambassador to the UN presented that would also allow for or increase cross-line aid deliveries. And as far as I can tell – and maybe I’m missing it – this – what was voted on today, it extends the cross-border, but it doesn’t do the other stuff. So I’m just wondering if that’s still something that you guys are looking to do.
MS PORTER: So yes, I can confirm that the text of the resolution that was voted on today makes clear that the authorization will extend for an additional six months once the UN secretary-general issues the report. It, of course, is important because it addresses the humanitarian situation, which is what we did today. Protecting humanitarian organizations is a top priority for the United States. Anything further than that, I don’t have anything for you today but we’ll be certain to get back to you.
Let’s go to Hiva Nasr.
MS PORTER: Hi, Hiva. If I still have you, can you repeat your question, please?
QUESTION: Today President Erdogan said an agreement was reached with the U.S. regarding Kabul airport. Can you confirm that?
MS PORTER: Hiva, we’re going to have to take that question back for you today.
Let’s go to Janne Pak.
MS PORTER: Hi, Janne.
QUESTION: Yeah, hi, Jalina. Thank you. Thanks for doing this. I have a question about North Korea. It is reported that North Korea would accept U.S. vaccine support through COVAX, but the support team was denied entry into North Korea. Can you tell us what situation it is now?
MS PORTER: Hi, Janne. I don’t have any updates for you on that today, but when we do I’ll be sure to get back to you.
QUESTION: All right, thank you.
MS PORTER: Let’s go to Michael Crowley.
QUESTION: Hi, can you hear me?
MS PORTER: Yes, I can hear you.
QUESTION: Thanks for taking the question. Appreciate it. Can you say anything about whether the U.S. Government has received a request from the Haitian Government for U.S. troops to protect infrastructure sites like its ports and the airport?
MS PORTER: Hi, Mike. I can’t confirm that from here so we’re going to have to take that back from you.
MS PORTER: Let’s take our last question from Kristina Anderson.
QUESTION: Hi, thank you for taking my question. There have been reports of rising tensions, social tensions, and other unrest in Lebanon. I’m wondering if there’s an update and anything else that we’re considering. Thank you.
MS PORTER: So we don’t have any major updates to share other than our ambassador to Lebanon, Dorothy Shea, is conducting trilateral meetings with the French ambassador and counterparts in Saudi Arabia to discuss the situation in Lebanon.
That concludes today’s briefing, so —
MS PORTER: Excuse me, hello?
QUESTION: Oh, I just wanted to know if – as a follow-up if we could have a little bit more detail on the trilateral discussions at – whether there might be a readout at the end or something like that.
MS PORTER: Yeah, I don’t have a readout to preview from here. But of course, if we do, we’ll share that through our website.
Thank you all for joining today. That concludes today’s press briefing.
(The briefing was concluded at 2:24 p.m.)