Department Press Briefing – June 24, 2021
2:06 p.m. EDT
MS PORTER: Good afternoon, and thank you for joining today’s daily press briefing. I have three updates at the top before I start taking your questions.
As you know, the Secretary arrived in Berlin yesterday for a multi-leg European trip that would also take him to Paris, Rome, Bari and Matera. This trip gives the Secretary a chance to follow up on the President’s successful trip to the region last week and continued discussions with key partners to underscore the U.S. commitment to a strong transatlantic partnership.
Yesterday, the Secretary met with Chancellor Merkel and Foreign Minister Maas to discuss how we can further strengthen the U.S.-Germany relationship to address common challenges, including recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate crisis, as well as China and Russia. The Secretary also participated in the second Berlin conference on Libya which was an opportunity for the international community to support the progress made by the Libyan people and underscore our support for the full implementation of the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and the October 2020 nationwide ceasefire agreement.
Today, the Secretary and Foreign Minister Maas launched the initial meeting of the U.S.-Germany Dialogue on the Holocaust to highlight our shared commitment to combating anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial and distortion and to find innovative new ways to enhance Holocaust education. The leaders used this opportunity to emphasize how anti-Semitism is rising around the world and such hatred and prejudice are inimical to U.S. and transatlantic interests and values.
The Secretary departs this evening for Paris where he will continue his discussion with European leaders.
Next, I am pleased to announce that 3 million doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine will arrive in Campinas, Brazil tomorrow morning.
This donation is a part of 80 million doses that President Biden announced on May 17th and is the result of close collaboration between the governments of the United States and Brazil toward putting an end to this pandemic.
As President Biden has said, the United States is committed to bringing the same urgency to international vaccination efforts as we have demonstrated right here at home.
We are sharing these vaccines to save lives and to lead the world into bringing an end to this pandemic.
We’re working to get as many safe and effective vaccine doses to as many people around the world as quickly as possible.
Thanks to the innovation of U.S. companies and the resilience of and commitment of American people, we’re in a position to help others.
The United States congratulates law professor Gay McDougall on her election as an independent expert on the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination or CERD. Given her extensive legal and international human rights experience, including two previous terms on the Committee, the United States considers Professor McDougall a highly qualified expert who has made and who will continue to make valuable contributions to the Committee.
Racial justice is at the forefront of our international engagements, as demonstrated by our engagement at the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) 46th session where we led a statement addressing systemic racism signed by 158 nations, our nomination of Professor McDougall to the CERD, and submitting overdue report on the CERD on June 2nd.
The United States will continue to engage the international community to find effective means to address systemic racism both at home and around the world.
And finally, leaders from 16 Southern African Development Community nations held a summit in Mozambique Wednesday June 23rd, 2021. We applaud the Southern African Development Community’s focus on the threat of terrorism in Mozambique, as ISIS is not an isolated problem but rather a regional – a broader regional concern.
The United States is also committed to supporting the Government of Mozambique to counter terrorism and combat violent extremism with a holistic strategy that also includes socio-economic development, community resilience programs, and security assistance, as well as humanitarian aid. We look forward to learning more of the South African Development Communities – Development Community, excuse me, plan coming out of the summit, and we will underscore the importance of keeping civilian protection and respect for human rights at the forefront of all security assistance.
Let’s go to the line of Jiha Ham.
OPERATOR: Jiha, your line is now open.
QUESTION: Thank you. Hi, Jalina. I have a question related to Otto Warmbier, the University of Virginia student who was tortured by North Korea and later sent back home, but died in 2017. New York City mayor Bill de Blasio and the council members of the city have been endorsing a bill that can change the name of their – one of their streets to Otto Warmbier Way to commemorate Otto Warmbier. And the street that they want to rename is located right in front of the New York North Korean mission to the UN. So I’m wondering if you support this idea or whether you have any concerns as the host country of the foreign missions to the UN. Thank you.
MS PORTER: Well, I’ll start off by saying that we certainly will continue to express our deepest condolences to the Warmbier family. With respect to your question on the street naming and where specifically it is in New York City, I’d have to refer you back to the mayor of New York City and all the local officials in New York City for those specific decisions being made.
Let’s go to Said Arikat, please.
QUESTION: Hi, Jalina. Can you hear me?
MS PORTER: Yes, I can hear you.
QUESTION: Hello? Yeah. Thank you very kindly. Very quickly, today Palestinian Authority security forces arrested a Palestinian activist and he died in custody. I wonder if you have a position on this, because this really comes at the heels of many abuses by the Palestinian security forces against Palestinian activists.
And my second question is the fact that Senator Risch is holding $50 million in aid to the Palestinians that was approved by Congress. Do you have – also have a comment on that? Thank you, Jalina.
MS PORTER: Thank you for your question, Said. So I’m going to start with your second question first. For that, we simply won’t comment on the holds, and for that I’d have to send you back to Senator Risch’s office for any specific commentary.
To your first question, I’ll just say that we’re deeply disturbed by the death of Palestinian activist Nizar Banat and the information that has been reported regarding the circumstances surrounding his death. We certainly also offer our sincere condolences not only to his family but as well as the community who’s been impacted by his death. We urge the Palestinian Authority to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation and to also ensure full accountability in this case. And we also strongly encourage the Palestinian Authority to respect the rights to free expression as well as the work of civil society.
Let’s go to Jen Hansler.
QUESTION: Hi, Jalina. Thanks for doing this. Can you hear me?
MS PORTER: Yes, I can hear you.
QUESTION: Hi. Thank you. On the SIV issue, I was wondering whether you could tell us anything about the role the State Department is playing in the planning for a potential evacuation to a third country. Which countries are under consideration for relocating the SIV applicants? And then is anyone from the State Department meeting with anybody from the Afghan delegation that is in D.C. right now? Thank you.
MS PORTER: So to your second question, I don’t have anything to announce or report out. But to your first question, we are identifying SIV applicants who have served as interpreters as well as translators to be relocated outside of Afghanistan before we complete our military drawdown by September, in order to safely complete the remainder of the Special Immigrant Visa application process. These are individuals who are actually already in the SIV pipeline.
Let’s go to Abigail Williams.
QUESTION: Thanks so much, Jalina. Following up on Jenny’s question regarding SIVs, I wanted to ask if you have any updated numbers on where you are in the process at looking at the 18,000 applicants. I know that Secretary Blinken had spoken of 9,000 being towards the beginning process and another 9,000 waiting and face delays.
MS PORTER: No, I don’t have any specific updates in regards to numbers, but just will continue to underscore that we have said that we’re committed to supporting those who’ve helped the military as well as other government personnel with their duties, of course often at great personal risk, not only to themselves but to their family members. And we’re continuing to work on every way possible to make sure we can help those who have helped us.
Let’s go to Oskar Gorzynski.
QUESTION: Hi, Jalina. Can you hear me?
MS PORTER: Yes, I can hear you. Did I say your name correctly?
QUESTION: Yeah. Yeah, that’s pretty much right, as good as it gets. So I wanted to ask about today’s meeting between German Minister of Economy Peter Altmaier and Secretary Kerry. Do you have any information that – what are the topics? And there have – relatedly, this week German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that he expects a deal with the U.S. on Nord Stream 2 by August. Is that the State Department’s assessment as well, and what would such a deal include?
MS PORTER: I’ll take your second question first. We have nothing to announce when it comes to any specific deadlines, but we’ll continue to underscore that the President has made rebuilding our relationship with our allies – and of course that would include Germany administration priority – the strength of these relationships will lay the foundation for many of our foreign policy priorities, such as economic recovery, recovery in combating COVID-19, as well as pushing back on the PRC and authoritarianism around the world.
To your first question, we don’t have anything to announce. We’ll have to take that back and get back to you on the meeting you mentioned with Secretary Kerry.
Let’s go to Nick Wadhams.
QUESTION: Hi. Thanks very much, Jalina. Just to follow up on the Afghanistan question, do you have a sense for where you may send those folks who worked for the U.S. while they await processing their SIV visas? Thank you.
MS PORTER: So thank you for your question, Nick. I don’t have anything to share about specific locations at this time, but I will say that we would take under any relocation in full compliance with all the applicable laws as well as in full coordination with Congress.
Let’s go to Jose Luis Sanz.
QUESTION: Hi. So Jalina, can you hear me?
MS PORTER: Yes.
QUESTION: Yeah, well a couple of questions about Central America. First one is about Nicaragua. The fact that the repression and the detention of opposition leaders or journalists has continued means that the sanctions and the international community and the United States strategy is not working, and how do you expect to continue trying to help to (inaudible) on transpiring election in Nicaragua.
And the second one is about the request to El Salvador for the extradition of MS-13 members. Can you confirm how many of them has been – already been made by the United States? I’m talking about the case that is being seen in New York.
MS PORTER: So to your second question about MS-13 members and El Salvador, I’ll have to refer you to the Department of Justice. And to your first question about Nicaragua, what I’ll say largely speaking is that, of course, the courage of the Nicaraguan people is admirable. And we will continue to support them in the United States. We’ll also continue to use all of our diplomatic and economic tools at our disposal to support Nicaraguans’ call for greater freedoms as well as accountability. And of course, that would also include free and fair elections.
Thank you for your questions. That’s all we have time for today, and I hope you have a great week ahead.
(The briefing was concluded at 2:24 p.m.)