2:16 p.m. EDT
MR PATEL: Good afternoon, everybody. Happy Tuesday. I don’t have anything off the top.
So Matt, please take us away.
QUESTION: I’m sorry. I don’t know why my wife is calling.
MR PATEL: Everything okay? You need to take it? (Laughter.)
QUESTION: I think so. I got – let me just get two things, and then I’ll call her right back. (Laughter.)
MR PATEL: There’s a transcript. Are you sure you want to? (Laughter.) Are you sure about this?
QUESTION: They’ll be —
MR PATEL: We can start with Simon. I don’t want you to get in trouble. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: They’ll be very brief. They’ll be very brief, and then I’ll leave. One, do you have anything to add to the statement that you guys put out earlier on the ex-consular employee in Vladivostok who was arrested?
MR PATEL: I don’t have anything additional. You saw the statement that we put out. We strongly condemn the reports of the arrest of Robert Shonov, a former employee of the U.S. mission in Russia. These allegations against Mr. Shonov are wholly without merit. As you saw in the statement we put out at the time of his arrest, his role was largely centered around supporting the press and public affairs operations.
So again, these allegations are just wholly without merit. Mr. Shonov is a Russian national who was employed by the consulate general for more than 25 years, and after Russia forced the termination of our locally employed staff, he was employed by a company that was contracted to provide services to the embassy in Moscow. That was done in strict compliance with Russian laws and regulations.
QUESTION: Okay. Well, did the Russians tell you that – about this? How do you know about this arrest? Other than public reporting.
MR PATEL: The thing, Matt, as you know, is that he is a Russian citizen, and so we were not notified of his arrest and do not have the ability to visit or communicate with him. I’m not going to get into specifics of how we stayed in touch, but we, of course, were not notified of this arrest.
QUESTION: Okay. And then the second one on – in terms of an actual American citizen, you’ve seen the comments from Prigozhin about an American dying in Bakhmut. Do you have anything to add to what has already been said?
MR PATEL: We are aware of those reports of the death of a U.S. citizen in Bakhmut, and we are continuing to seek additional confirmation. As you know, our ability to verify reports of deaths of U.S. citizens in Ukraine is incredibly limited, but would reiterate our message to U.S. citizens that they should not travel to Ukraine due to these armed conflicts.
Let me just note, Matt, though that, as part of the conflict in Ukraine, Russia – including its Wagner forces – have an obligation under the Geneva Convention to respect the dead, including from disrespectful and degrading acts. So I’ll just note that.
QUESTION: Okay. All right. Thank you.
QUESTION: Follow up on that?
QUESTION: Can you stay on —
MR PATEL: Sure. Go ahead.
QUESTION: So just to be clear, U.S. officials have not directly discussed the matter with Russian officials?
MR PATEL: Well, we’ve not been notified of it as this is not an American citizen or a U.S. national, and so we were not notified of his arrest, nor do we have any ability to visit or communicate with him.
QUESTION: Is there any action that the U.S. Government can take to compel his release? Obviously, other than this very clear condemnation, is there any action you guys can take here?
MR PATEL: Look, I’m not going to get into the specifics of what our engagements with the Russian Federation can look like, but his targeting under the confidential cooperation statute highlights that the Russian Federation’s blatant use of the increasingly repressive legislation against its own citizens. It’s quite stark and deeply concerning. But I’m just not going to get ahead of this beyond that, as this continues to be an evolving situation.
QUESTION: Just one last question. What’s your message to other Russians, who are now in a position similar to his – working for companies that have been contracted by the U.S. mission in Russia?
MR PATEL: Kylie, this is, of course – let me – to take a step back, our – it is our understanding that staff, including former staff, could be subjected to further scrutiny from the Russian Government. And so we continue to be very careful about our contact and engagement with them. As you know, the Russian staff, who were forced – we were forced to let go received a generous package that included several months of severance pay, allowances, extended medical insurance, and a prorated annual bonus. It, of course, just broadly is incredibly concerning these accusations that the Russian Federation is throwing against Mr. Shonov, as well as their use of the confidential cooperation statute, and so this is something we’re going to continue to be engaged on. I don’t have a specific message or announcement from here at this time.
QUESTION: Then should these Russian still work for these companies that are contracted by the U.S. mission if they could potentially be subject to arrest?
MR PATEL: These are decisions that individuals are going to need to undertake on their own. I don’t have guidance or advice to offer from here. Obviously, the reports of this are incredibly concerning, and we condemn them. I will note, again, that at the time of his arrest Mr. Shonov was simply assisting the public affairs and press division. And so, these allegations are just incredibly concerning. And we condemned this reported arrest.
Simon. Still on this topic, or —
QUESTION: Sorry. Yeah, yeah.
MR PATEL: Yeah, go ahead.
QUESTION: So it’s clear by your – you’re condemning this publicly. Are you – is there any specific channel that you’re making that – your views known to the Russians?
MR PATEL: I’m just not going to get into the specifics of our diplomatic engagements with the Russians. What I will note, though, is that Mr. Shonov is not a Russian citizen. We were not notified of his arrest, and we have no ability to visit or communicate with him. You’ve heard the Secretary say this before, but the other side has a vote here. This is – now, we – as much as we condemn this, the Russians are treating him as a Russian citizen because that is what he is. And so therefore our ability to communicate, visit, ask for information is incredibly impaired and limited.
QUESTION: Could you just – obviously not going into your diplomatic engagements on this particular issue, but you also have separately the cases of U.S. citizens Paul Whelan and Evan Gershkovich. What’s the current situation in terms of your ability to communicate with the Russians? What channels are you using to try and get them released? And can you give us an update on them?
MR PATEL: I, of course, am not going to get into the specifics of the channels that we are working to secure the release of wrongfully detained American citizens Evan Gershkovich and Paul Whelan. We have no higher priority than securing their release, and we continue to work this from all angles. It’s something that the President is engaged in, Secretary Blinken, Ambassador Carstens, and others. In both of those cases, we continue to push for consistent and regular consular access that is in line with Russia’s consular conventions. But I don’t have any specifics to get into on our efforts for their release.
QUESTION: More on this?
MR PATEL: Alex, go ahead.
QUESTION: Thank you. The fact that you’re condemning it, does that mean it is your understanding that he is being targeted because of his previous job?
MR PATEL: I’m not going to speculate or hypothesize on that from here, Alex. I will just reiterate that these accusations are wholly without merit, and we do condemn the reports of this arrest. And I will just note again Russia’s use of this confidential cooperation statute is incredibly concerning – and it highlights the Russian Federation’s blatant use of this repressive tactic.
QUESTION: I understand that your hands are short because he’s not a U.S. citizen, but the practice has been U.S. embassy did actually provide with legal support, whenever the local employees got arrested or were persecuted by local governments. Isn’t that the case here?
MR PATEL: I’m not sure of that – of that policy, Alex. I’d have to check on that.
QUESTION: And back to Bakhmut. When you said we are aware of the reports, are you talking about the reports that are citing to Prigozhin? You’re not going to trust anything coming out of Wagner, are we? Do you have any independent source related to —
MR PATEL: Alex, that is why you so clearly heard me say that we have not had the ability to verify these reports, only that we are aware of them. And as I said, our ability to verify reports of deaths of U.S. citizens in Ukraine is extremely limited. So, I don’t have any additional assessment to offer on that.
QUESTION: Are you aware of any other reports that we have seen publicly? That’s why I’m —
MR PATEL: Again, I don’t have anything additional to offer than what I said. Anything else on this topic before we move away?
All right, Michel, go ahead.
QUESTION: Yeah. First on Sudan. Any updates on the mechanism, international mechanism to observe the ceasefire and to move forward with the peace process or the civilian government?
MR PATEL: I don’t have any updates. Ambassador Godfrey and a U.S. delegation remain in Jeddah to support the ongoing talks between the SAF and RSF towards a short-term ceasefire and humanitarian arrangements. As you know, last week they signed a declaration of commitment to protect civilians, and this is something that the U.S. is going to continue to be deeply engaged on. And broadly, as you know, Michel, we are engaging Sudanese civilian leaders, resistance committees, and civil society as it relates to this as well.
QUESTION: On Libya.
MR PATEL: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Libya’s eastern-based parliament has voted to suspend its appointment or its appointed prime minister, Bashagha, and assign his finance minister to his duties. Do you have any comment on that?
MR PATEL: I’m not aware of those reports, Michel. But I will just note that Libya – our goal in Libya is a sovereign, stable, unified, and secure country – one that is in control of its own affairs. And we seek a democratically elected government that protects human rights, that is capable of combatting terrorism within its own borders, and a free and fair election we believe is core to that.
QUESTION: Another one on Libya. Weeks ago, Libya’s eastern authorities banned women under 60 from traveling abroad without a male guardian after alleged cases of women spying. Do you have anything on this?
MR PATEL: I – what I would say, Michel, is that that is clearly a repressive policy announcement, one that we certainly would take issue with. But I don’t have any new policy to share or anything like that from here.
QUESTION: And just final question on an Israeli official in D.C. this week to discuss expanding Abraham Accords. Do you have anything on this?
MR PATEL: I’m not aware of any – I don’t have any meetings to preview – let me rephrase it that way – from within the department. But I’m happy to check and see if there’s anything planned.
Said, go ahead.
QUESTION: Yes. One question on the Palestinian issue.
MR PATEL: Yeah.
QUESTION: On Thursday, thousands of young Israelis – mostly Religious Zionists and so on – are expected to flood the neighborhood, the Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. I mean, the last time this happened a war broke out. Do you have any position on the flag march, the supposed flag march?
MR PATEL: Said, we continue to urge the parties to refrain from actions and rhetoric and activities that would inflame tensions.
QUESTION: Yeah, but I mean, are you asking Israel to stop such a march? Is that what you’re doing? Are you urging the Israeli prime minister? Because he has the authority to stop it. Are you asking him to stop it?
MR PATEL: Said, of course we believe in the right of – for individuals to express themselves and to do so peacefully. And what I will reiterate is that we are urging all parties to maintain calm, to exercise restraint, and to refrain from actions and rhetoric and activities that would escalate tensions.
QUESTION: Yeah, and just to follow up on Michel’s question, there was a news story yesterday in Axios that Secretary Blinken is considering appointing an envoy to the Abraham Accord. I know I asked you about this yesterday. Is there – anything has panned out since then? I mean —
MR PATEL: I don’t have any personnel announcements to announce from here.
QUESTION: Is that likely to happen? Is that something that —
MR PATEL: I’m not going to speculate or hypothesize on any personnel announcements, we may or may not make. I just have none to offer today.
QUESTION: And last, is envoy – Hady Amr in town or is he in – where is he?
MR PATEL: I believe he is in D.C., but I will check if we have any —
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR PATEL: — specific update for him.
QUESTION: Follow-up on Palestine.
QUESTION: I have two questions on Ukraine. The first question is about Kyrylo Budanov’s comments today in an interview. He basically admitted that Kyiv was behind the terrorist attacks on high-profile Russian journalists over the past months. Does the U.S. plan to designate Kyiv as a state sponsor of terrorism for this?
MR PATEL: I have not seen those comments, but I will note that it is in fact the Russian Federation that has a track record of suppressing journalists, suppressing media freedom, arresting journalists for just doing their job, including in the case of Evan Gershkovich of the Wall Street Journal just about a month or two ago. So, let’s not lose sight of who has the true track record of suppressing journalistic voices.
QUESTION: Also on media freedom, Chilean – U.S.-Chilean journalist Gonzolo Lira was arrested by the Ukrainian security service in the beginning of May. To date, the United States has not provided any condemnation, any statement on his arrest. Do you have any comments here?
MR PATEL: I’m not aware of that case, but I’m happy to check on that.
Olivia, go ahead.
QUESTION: More broadly, could you explain a little bit how you determine when to issue a statement of condemnation as in Shonov’s case? For example, why was there less to say about the American passport holder sentenced to life in prison in China? Why wasn’t there something sort of equivalent or analogous issued in his case?
MR PATEL: Well, on the other case that you mentioned, there is of course a limit to what we can share given privacy considerations. That is, of course, a factor when it comes to any individual, whether they are an American citizen or not – whether they’re an American national or not. All of those factors play into our ability to speak or, in many cases, not speak about the circumstances surrounding their case.
QUESTION: Do you have an update on that case, as to whether you’ve been in contact with any representatives in question in that case?
MR PATEL: I don’t have any updates on that beyond what I shared. Again, there is a limit. We are aware of those reports, and we’re – there is a limit to what we can engage on from here given privacy considerations.
QUESTION: Has any process to determine him a wrongful detainee been started or considered?
MR PATEL: Again, I’m just not going to get into the specifics of a case given privacy considerations.
QUESTION: Thank you. One unrelated one —
MR PATEL: Yeah.
QUESTION: — on Iran. There was a Senate aide, unnamed in reports, suggesting that there may be progress in nuclear talks. This is of course related to a briefing that is supposed to be provided this afternoon. Is there an update on the status of nuclear talks with Iran?
MR PATEL: Let me say a couple of things. First, President Biden and Secretary Blinken are absolutely committed to never allowing Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon. We have always believed that diplomacy is the best path forward to put a way to verifiably and durably ensure Iran never acquires a nuclear weapon. I don’t have anything to announce this time, and nothing has been removed from the table.
But I think it’s important to take a bit of a step back and remember that a lot has happened since last September when Iran turned its back on the deal that was on the table. Mahsa Amini is dead, along with 500 other Iranians killed by the Iranian regime – killed by the authorities in the course of a violent crackdown against peaceful protesters outraged by Mahsa’s death and by the regime’s other human rights abusers. Iranian has also – and we spoke a little bit about this yesterday – been transferring UAVs and other weapons to Russia, helping Russia target civilian infrastructure in Ukraine and kill civilians, and they continue to do this. And Iran continues to rapidly advance its nuclear program in alarming ways.
Of course, these events are going to alter our approach. But as I have said repeatedly, we have always believed that diplomacy is the best way to achieve the goal of containing Iran’s nuclear program.
QUESTION: Yeah. (Inaudible.) So South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has said today that Russian President Vladimir Putin and Volodymyr Zelenskyy both agreed to receive a mission of leaders of African nations with a peace initiative for – on the Ukrainian conflict. Does the Department of State see any possibilities that the African leaders’ engagement could evolve into any meaningful break-throughs to obtain peace?
And as a follow-up, does the U.S. administration keep constant contacts with either Zambia, Senegal, Congo, Uganda, Egypt, or South Africa in this case regarding this particular initiative of African leaders? Thank you.
MR PATEL: Let me talk – take your second question first. Without getting into a specific list for you, we of course remain deeply engaged with our partners on the African continent on a variety of issues, including, of course, the very troublesome and brutal Russian invasion into Ukraine.
On the subject of peace, really this is a question for the Russian Federation, which has yet to demonstrate any meaningful interest in ending this war. Let’s not forget as we talk about peace plans coming from various corners of the world that President Zelenskyy has put forth a peace plan, and the Russians continue to not engage in good faith and instead send drones and missiles into Ukraine, hitting apartment buildings; hitting hospitals; targeting civilians; targeting civilian infrastructure. So, let’s not lose sight of that.
MR PATEL: Go ahead.
QUESTION: Jahanzaib Ali from ARY News – which is about the Annual Report on Religious Freedom released recently. As expected, India is out of CPC countries. I now understand that U.S. Government is not bound to implement the suggestions, recommendations of U.S. commission and other groups, but could you please give us any specific reason for keeping out the biggest violator of religious freedom from the CPC countries?
MR PATEL: Look, we carefully monitor religious – the religious freedom situation in every country and we encourage each government to uphold its commitments to protect religious freedom of all – for all and engage officials around the world to regularly take steps that advance this core issue of religious freedom.
QUESTION: Sir, you are the best person in this room, who understands and clearly knows the democratic values of this country. But don’t you think when you take these kind of decisions, keeping out the biggest violator of religious freedom from CPC countries – sending a wrong message? Because people all over the world, who are the victims of religious freedom, look towards United States because you have the power, you have the authority to make it right. It seems like – I’m sorry to say, it seems like might is right, don’t you think?
MR PATEL: I would – I would reject the premise of that question a little bit. First, let me say clearly that we strongly oppose laws or actions from any country around the world that impede the ability of any individual to choose faith, practice a faith – change their religion, participate in a religion, or tell others about their religious beliefs and practices. We think that countries have an obligation to protect that right of freedom of religion or belief. And again, we carefully monitor the religious freedom situation in every country. And we encourage each government to uphold its commitment to protect religious freedom for all.
QUESTION: Sir, one last question. Former Prime Minister Imran Khan is accusing Pakistani military and its chief of ordering his arrest and crackdown on his party workers, while other political parties are protesting against chief justice of Pakistan for giving alleged undue favors to Imran Khan. So, what is the position of U.S. of this political circus or blame game going on in Pakistan? Because U.S. is closely engaged with the Pakistani military, so any concerns or just like it doesn’t matter?
MR PATEL: You have heard me say this a number of times now, for the past few weeks, but I will use this opportunity to say again that we do not choose a political party or a particular candidate when it comes to Pakistan or really any country. As it relates to Pakistan, our view is that a strong, stable, prosperous Pakistan is key to a strong and stable U.S.-Pakistan relationship.
QUESTION: Hi there, thanks so much. Willy Lowry with The National. I know Secretary Blinken met with Hans Grundberg yesterday. Is there anything you can add, offer from that meeting? And what does the U.S. see its role in the conflict in Yemen, and are we closer than we’ve ever been to seeing a resolution to —
MR PATEL: I will – I will refer to the readout that we put out of that meeting. If it hasn’t gone out yet, it should be going shortly. But broadly, in the conflict in Yemen we of course remain committed to taking whatever steps possible to expand and extend the UN-mediated truce and take whatever steps possible to get us to a durable peace. And we will continue to work this effort with our partners in the region, with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and others.
But of course, Iran’s malign influence in the region, their backing of rebel forces continues to be of concern to us. But I don’t have any specific assessments to offer beyond that.
Go ahead, yeah.
QUESTION: Going back on the international religious freedom Iraq section, you mentioned that from Iraqi security, including the federal police and also PMF-sponsored Iraqi Government group, they are still using verbal harassment, and also physical abuse on the minority groups like Yezidis and Christians. Then the question is that – what tools do you have to use against these groups and also governments that are still violating the minority groups, like Yezidis and Christians, in some areas in Iraq like Nineveh Plain?
MR PATEL: You have seen us over the course of this entire administration – when abuses against human rights have taken place, whether they are related to religious freedoms or not, but when the – when human rights have been compromised, you have seen this administration take action. And I would not point you any further than the series of steps that this administration has taken in response to Iran’s crackdown on human rights that began in the fall of last year. We have not hesitated to take action. I’m certainly not going to preview them from here, but we have a number of our tools in our tool belt additionally to hold violators accountable.
QUESTION: Have you took any actions against the PMF and also the other groups that used this violation against Christians and Yezidis in Iraq?
MR PATEL: I would have to check if there is a specific action to share with you, but I – again, we have not hesitated to take actions.
QUESTION: And last question on the Sinjar Agreement.
MR PATEL: Sure.
QUESTION: We know that we have this agreement – at least that’s on paper, and then what engagements do you have to transfer this agreement from the paper to the – on the ground?
MR PATEL: On – sorry, on what agreement?
QUESTION: The Sinjar Agreement. There is an agreement just to – about Sinjar. It’s a city in Iraq and there’s different minority groups are living there, but there are PMF and also different groups, militant groups, are there and they are – put a huge barrier in front of the IDPs. They are not going back to their places, ancestral lands, and they are not letting these people to go back to their homes. What engagements you have with the Iraqi and also Kurdish government to implement this agreement?
MR PATEL: Again, I’m not going to get into the specifics of our diplomatic engagements, but as you know, we continue to remain deeply engaged with the Iraqi Government as well as Kurdish officials to find a durable solution. But I don’t have any other specifics.
Go ahead, Alex.
QUESTION: Thanks, Vedant. Georgia.
MR PATEL: Uh-huh.
QUESTION: Georgians are out on the street as we speak protesting restoration of flights with Russia despite U.S. warnings.
MR PATEL: Yeah.
QUESTION: I’m just wondering how do you see this process, the fact that Georgian Government – Georgian Dream Government, I should say – moved forward with this plan? Are they risking the U.S.-Georgia relationship?
MR PATEL: Alex, I think I spoke a little bit about this either last week or earlier this week. If direct flights take place between Russia and Georgia, that would be of increasing concern – not just to the United States and other Western countries but as well as companies that may be operating out of Georgian airports, if they service aircrafts that are subject to import and exports and other matters. The entire Western community has distanced itself from the Russian Federation, and we believe that now is not the time to increase engagement with Russia.
QUESTION: I’ve heard you said that before, but now they have moved forward. There are direct flights taking place – five times in a week as of next – as of day after tomorrow. Do you regret that they moved (inaudible) your warning? And when should we expect sanctions?
MR PATEL: This isn’t about regret or not, Alex. We have been very clear about our concerns about this, and we’ve been very clear about the fact that we also have taken steps to prohibit Russian aircraft from entering our airspace, as have many Western countries. So we will continue to monitor the situation closely and we’ll take additional steps, as needed. But I don’t have anything to preview from here.
QUESTION: And do you have any message to Georgian protesters? They’re out on the street right now trying to save their country.
MR PATEL: I don’t have anything additional to add beyond what I’ve said.
Michail, go ahead.
QUESTION: Yeah, thank you very much. Yesterday at the White House, Mr. Kirby said that there will be an announcement this week of further pressure on Iran over relations with Russia, and also I see a report in The Wall Street Journal saying how sanctioned Western goods are still flowing into Russia. My question is this: I wanted to ask if the United States is investigating a NATO Ally country which through Iran is helping Russia, is sending goods – even American technology – to Putin.
MR PATEL: Can you —
QUESTION: I’m asking you if – are you investigating a NATO Ally country that is helping Russia through Iran?
MR PATEL: I’m not aware of any —
QUESTION: If you don’t have an answer, can you take my question?
MR PATEL: I’m not aware of any such investigation. And on – as a follow-on to Mr. Kirby’s comments, we of course – I’m not going to get into a habit of previewing sanctions and designations from here. The news we shared yesterday about the increasingly concerning close defense partnership between Russia and Iran is incredibly concerning and worrisome, dangerous not just to the immediate region but dangerous for the international community. And we will, of course, take appropriate actions as needed.
QUESTION: On this, Vedant, on the —
MR PATEL: Let me go to him, then I’ll come to you. Go ahead.
QUESTION: On the next briefing at the Capitol, who will represent that?
MR PATEL: I believe Deputy Secretary Sherman is going to be attending and representatives from Rob Malley’s office.
QUESTION: Is it not part of Malley’s role?
MR PATEL: I believe he’s on personal leave, but he is still very much engaged on this issue.
QUESTION: What do you mean by personal leave?
MR PATEL: Like personal leave, like on vacation, taking a couple days off.
MR PATEL: Go ahead.
QUESTION: South African foreign minister – Minister of International Affairs Pandor has called for the International Criminal Court to issue arrest warrants against leaders of, quote, “apartheid Israel,” responsible for, quote, “the massacre of the Palestinian people.” Will the State Department finally support International Criminal Court mechanisms and international law regarding Israel? If not, why not?
MR PATEL: We, of course, remain engaged with the ICC, through a number of mechanisms. We believe that there are a number of avenues for holding those accountable for atrocities, especially in the context of Russia and Ukraine. But I don’t have – I’ve not seen these comments, so I don’t have anything additional to offer on that.
QUESTION: But the State Department continues to not want the ICC to be implemented regarding Israel?
MR PATEL: On the matter of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, you saw me speak quite clearly to Said’s question about our desire that both sides not take steps that are going to incite tensions and take us further away from a negotiated two-state solution. We’ve been quite clear about that consistently.
Go ahead. You had your —
QUESTION: I’m sorry, but you have refused to apply the ICC over the years to Israel. And I don’t know —
MR PATEL: I just don’t have anything additional to offer on this.
QUESTION: — what the reason for that is. You’ve stated reasons before but you’re unwilling to state them now.
MR PATEL: Your colleague has had her hand up.
QUESTION: I’ve had my hand up.
MR PATEL: I understand, and I called on you.
QUESTION: It’s quite clear. In the past, you have said that the reason that you have not wanted to implement the ICC is because Israel was not a signatory to the – is not subject to the Rome Statute. But that’s the case for Russia now as well, and you are pro applying the ICC to Russia, which is not – which has the same status fundamentally – not a member.
MR PATEL: We have never said that either. What I’ve simply said is that we have worked and worked with the ICC and other international entities as it relates to atrocities happening in Russia. I have not said that we are pro anything.
QUESTION: No, no, but you have said in the past that you will not apply the ICC —
MR PATEL: I’m going to move on now.
QUESTION: This is Leah Griffith with Asahi Shimbun, a Japanese newspaper. So on Taiwan, today the CCP’s defense ministry spokesperson was asked about President Biden’s plan to approve an arms sale of $500 million to Taiwan and sending 100 military personnel as well. And he said they will resolutely smash any form of Taiwanese independence succession along with attempts of outside interference. Do you have any comments on that?
MR PATEL: I don’t. I’ve not seen those comments. But what I will say broadly is that our approach to the PRC has not changed, and we seek competition, not conflict. In terms of any forthcoming announcements, I don’t have anything to preview. But we will always do what we think is in our interests, not just as it relates to the region but the international community broadly, and we’ll do so in close coordination with our allies and partners as well.
All right. Thanks, everyone.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: Thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:48 p.m.)
 Mr. Shonov is not a U.S. citizen. [back to 1]