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2:15 p.m. EDT

MS PORTER: Good afternoon, everyone, and welcome to today’s State Department press briefing. Two updates at the top and then I will start with taking your questions. Today we can confirm that another Qatar Airways charter flight has departed Kabul with 19 U.S. citizens aboard. The department also assisted an additional two U.S. citizens and 11 lawful permanent residents to depart Afghanistan via an online – overland route – excuse me. We have provided guidance to them, worked to facilitate their safe passage, and embassy officials greeted them once they had crossed the border.

While through the course of our regular outreach to Americans in Afghanistan, we offered seats of 44 U.S. citizens which not all of them chose to travel. We are deeply grateful for their continued efforts of Qatar in facilitating limited operations at Kabul International Airport and helping to ensure the safety of these flights. We’re also grateful for the efforts of others who helped facilitate these departures. We continue to work across the U.S. Government to uphold our commitment to assist those to whom we have a special responsibility.

I also have the pleasure today of introducing our new special envoy for Holocaust issues, Ellen Germain. Ellen, who is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to this role. Most recently she served as deputy chief of mission at the U.S. embassy in Sarajevo, Bosnia, and Herzegovina. Established in 1999, the special envoy for Holocaust issues, part of the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, works to provide a measure for justice for Holocaust victims and their families by developing and implementing U.S. policy to return Holocaust-era assets to their rightful owners, ensure that the Holocaust is remembered and commemorated in a historical – a historically accurate manner, and promote Holocaust education and research.

As special envoy, Ellen will contribute to the department’s mission of promoting the rule of law and combating anti-Semitism, working closely with the special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism. Ellen’s assignment underscores the Secretary’s commitment to the importance of resolving historical injustices and remembering the lessons learned from the Holocaust.

With that I’ll give it a few minutes for everyone to join in the call.

OPERATOR: If you wish to ask a question, please press 1 then 0 to go into queue – 1, 0.

MS PORTER: Let’s start with Shaun Tandon.

OPERATOR: One moment while I locate him. Your line is open.

QUESTION: Hi, thanks, Jalina. I am sure there are follow-up questions on Afghanistan, but I wanted to ask you two things about Russia. The Russian Foreign Ministry is saying that Ambassador Sullivan was summoned regarding what they term to be election interference regarding U.S. tech companies. Do you have any response to that? Do you have any response to the allegations of tech companies in the Russian view doing wrong there?

And related to that or related to Russia, Russia has announced the completion of Nord Stream 2. Does the United States still think there’s a possibility of stopping this from operating? What’s the game plan now? Could there be additional measures in that respect? Thank you.

MS PORTER: I’ll take your first question first, Shaun. So on Friday, September 10th, Ambassador Sullivan did meet with Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov to discuss a range of bilateral manners – matters – excuse me – in support of President Biden’s desire for a stable and predictable relationship with Russia. On your specific question on tech companies, I’m not able to comment any further from here.

Of course, to your second question on Nord Stream 2, we’ve said it before and we’ll continue to say it again: We believe that this is a bad deal, and we continue to oppose this pipeline as a Russian geopolitical project that’s a bad deal for Europe and, of course, that undercuts the energy security for a major part of the Euro-Atlantic community.

QUESTION: Do you mind if I just follow up on the first part if I’m still on the line, whether the – are you saying that the ambassador was not summoned?

MS PORTER: Hey, Shaun, we still have you. So again, I’ll just reiterate what we said before. Ambassador Sullivan had a meeting. He met with Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov today, Friday, on the 10th.

OPERATOR: If you wish to ask a question, please press 1, 0.

MS PORTER: Let’s go to Said Arikat.

OPERATOR: One moment while I locate him. Your line is open. Your line is open.

QUESTION: Yes. Can you hear me?

MS PORTER: Yes, we can hear you.

QUESTION: Okay, great. Thank you, Jalina. Really two quick questions; they are both – they’re related. It’s about the Palestinian-Israeli issue. The Times of Israel saying that their administration is pressing the PA to withdraw its efforts at the ICC. I wonder if you could confirm or deny that.

And second – the Israeli prime minister, Mr. Naftali Bennett, met with settlers yesterday, and he basically told them that he will not stop, not freeze West Bank settlement construction. I wonder what is your comment on that. Thank you.

MS PORTER: Said, I’ll start with your second question first. On settlements, we’ve said it before and we’ll – it’s worth repeating that we believe it’s critical for Israel and the Palestinian Authority to refrain from any unilateral steps that would exacerbate tensions and also undercut efforts to advance a negotiated two-state solution. Of course, that includes settlement activity.

To your first question, I’ll say that the United States firmly opposes the ICC investigation into the Palestinian situation. We’ll continue to uphold our strong commitment to Israel and its security, and that includes by opposing actions that seek to target Israel unfairly. The ICC has no jurisdiction over this matter, and Israel is not a party to the ICC and has not consented to the court’s jurisdiction. And we have serious concerns about the ICC’s attempt to exercise its jurisdiction over Israeli personnel.

OPERATOR: To ask a question, please press 1, 0.

MS PORTER: Let’s go to Simon Lewis.

OPERATOR: One moment while I locate him. Your line is open.

QUESTION: Hi, thank you. There is a report out that some flights bringing people who were evacuated from Afghanistan have been delayed from coming to the U.S. for unspecified health reasons. I wonder if you could clarify what’s happened there, what flights are affected, and what would the health reasons involve. Thank you.

MS PORTER: Thanks for your question, Simon. I’m going to have to refer you to the CDC for that response.

OPERATOR: To ask a question, please press 1, 0.

MS PORTER: Let’s go with Laura Kelly.

OPERATOR: Thank you, one moment while I locate her. Your line is open.

QUESTION: Jalina, my question is: Are you hearing about or are you concerned of reports that the Taliban is carrying out ethnic cleansing, where ethnic minorities are being targeted and disappeared in Kabul and ethnic communities are being targeted in the Panjshir Valley? Thank you.

MS PORTER: Thanks for your question, Laura. So we certainly take any allegations of targeting, especially of ethnic and religious minorities, very seriously, and we’ll certainly work together in concert with our international partners to make sure that any perpetrators are being held accountable.

Let’s go with Conor Finnegan.

OPERATOR: One moment while I locate him. Your line is open.

QUESTION: Hey, thank you for doing this. Two quick questions. First, to follow up on Simon’s question, there’s a clock ticking on how long you can hold Afghan refugees in Germany and Qatar. So without addressing the specific report, do you have concerns about your ability to get people to the U.S. before that time runs out? And then to follow up on the flight today, how many Americans do you now estimate are left in Afghanistan? And were any Afghan partners offered a seat on this flight? Have you been able to evacuate any since the end of the evacuation operation?

MS PORTER: Thanks, Conor. So I’ll take your second question first. So we estimate that there are about 100 Americans that are still in Afghanistan. And as you know, the situation remains very fluid. If we still have you on the line, if you can repeat your first question. I believe it was, like, length of time in Germany and Qatar?

QUESTION: (No response.)

MS PORTER: Let’s go with Cindy Saine.

OPERATOR: Your line is open.

QUESTION: Yes, thank you. Forgive me if I missed this at the beginning, but those who left over land, which country did they go to? And I believe you said they were welcomed by embassy staff members. Could you give any more details on that, please? Thank you.

MS PORTER: Thank you, Cindy. So for security reasons we are not able to disclose which country that the overland flight[1] went to, and if we still have you here, we’re going to have to take back your second question.

Let’s go to Janne Pak.

OPERATOR: One moment while I locate them. Your line is open.

QUESTION: Hi, Jalina. Thank you for this and Happy Friday. I have a question about Special Representative for South Korea Sung Kim will visit to Japan next week. What purpose of his visit to Japan? Because he was to visit last month. Why he so – again visit for trilateral talks?

Second – second question: Recently the IAEA has reported on restart of North Korean nuclear reactors. Have you talked with the South Korean Government regarding on this? What is the South Koreans’ reaction on this? Thank you very much.

MS PORTER: Thank you, Janne. So to your first question, I’d have to refer you to our travel announcement for details of the trip. To your second question, I can say that we’re aware of the reports that the DPRK staged a military parade on September 9th and, of course, our goal remains clear, that the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is what we’re striving for, and the United States is prepared to engage in diplomacy towards that objective.

Let’s go to Austin Landis.

OPERATOR: One moment while I locate them. Your line is open.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) on the question asked earlier about Afghan partners, have any of them gotten out on any of these flights? And then what is the outlook for them now that flights are picking up? Are you all reaching out to them, like people in the SIV pipeline, things like that? Or if not yet, then what is the plan to kind of get them on these lists or on these flights?

MS PORTER: So what I can say from here is that the United States will work vigorously with the international community to explore all options to support vulnerable populations in Afghanistan. And, of course, that would include women, children, journalists, persons with disabilities, as well as members of any ethnic and religious minority group, as well as other extremely at-risk populations in additional movements of persons who wish to leave Afghanistan in the coming weeks and months ahead.

Let’s go to Jenny Hansler.

OPERATOR: Your line is open.

QUESTION: Hi. Thanks for doing this, Jalina. I wanted to ask: Does the U.S. have an estimate of how many American citizens and legal permanent residents remain in Afghanistan at this point? What are your communications like with the LPRs? We’ve heard reports that some may not be hearing very frequently from the State Department. What is the plan for them moving forward? Thank you.

MS PORTER: Thanks, Jenny. So we estimate that there are about a hundred American citizens in Afghanistan. Because, again, the situation is very fluid and ongoing, we do have less clarity when it comes to LPRs, but what we can say is that we have assisted LPRs who are wishing to depart Afghanistan throughout this entire effort consistent with all the resources and spaces available.

Let’s go with Ellen Knickmeyer.

OPERATOR: Your line is open.

QUESTION: Hi there. This was kind of asked a little bit earlier, but did – I don’t know if I heard an answer. How are the evacuations going at the staging sites overseas? They’ve – they’re running into deadlines or passed deadlines, I believe, from Germany for moving on the Afghan refugees. And is that contributing at all to any hesitation to bring in more evacuees, including Afghan evacuees, from Afghanistan?

MS PORTER: Thanks for your question. So what I’ll say broadly speaking is that we are working with our allies and partners to facilitate safe travel out of Afghanistan, and we continue to identify ways to support U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, as well as Afghans who have worked with us and who may choose to depart. Of course, this is not an easy or fluid or rapid situation, but we do also recognize that there are many Afghan citizens at risk who don’t qualify for SIVs. But we continue to assist Afghanistans[2] who are eligible for referral for our U.S. Refugee Admissions Program and at-risk Afghans.

Let’s go to Rosiland Jordan.

OPERATOR: One moment. Your line is open.

QUESTION: Hi, Jalina. Thanks for doing this. I have a non-Afghanistan. The Financial Times is reporting that the administration is considering allowing Taipei to change the name of its office here in D.C. to the Taiwan Representative Office, and that is something that already is angering Beijing. Is such a renaming request on the table? Is the administration seriously considering changing the name? And is this, as one analyst suggested in the FT article, a fight worth picking with Beijing when there are more serious concerns about Beijing’s efforts to extend its hegemony and its treatment of ethnic minorities when those issues are much more important? Thanks.

MS PORTER: Thanks, Rosiland. I don’t have anything to preview or announce from here when it comes to the name change at all. But what I can say – excuse me – broadly speaking is that our support for Taiwan is rock solid and we remain committed to keeping our ties with Taiwan, which is a leading democracy and a critical economic and security partner.

Let’s go to Gabriela Perozo.

OPERATOR: Your line is open.

QUESTION: Hi, thanks for doing this. I have two questions related to Venezuela. Yesterday we learned about the former spy chief Hugo Carvajal’s detention in Spain. The U.S. was offering a reward of up to $10 million. Has anyone claimed any of the reward? Did DEA participate in the operation? And when will he be able to come to the U.S.?

And another question: Yesterday Jorge Rodriguez sent a message to the U.S. Ambassador Jim Story, saying that it is stupid to think that at this point they will assent to the U.S. pressure. What’s your opinion about that? Thank you.

MS PORTER: Thank you, Gabriela. Well, I can say something here. I’m actually not aware of the correspondence that you just mentioned in your second question. But to address your first question, I’ll start off by saying that we certainly value our law enforcement cooperation with the Spanish authorities, and further – for further questions about Hugo Carvajal’s arrest we would have to refer you to the Department of Justice.

Let’s go to John Hudson.

OPERATOR: Your line is open.

QUESTION: Hey, thanks, Jalina. In the remarks at the top you mentioned 44 Americans were offered to facilitate their exit. I didn’t quite catch that. Is that they were offered flights or ground transport? And how many said no, if there were any?

MS PORTER: Thanks for your question. So just to clarify, there were 44 U.S. citizens who were offered seats, and not all of them chose to travel. I can’t preview that number from here.

Let’s go to Kylie Atwood.

OPERATOR: One moment, please. Your line is open.

QUESTION: Hi, Jalina. Thank you. Quick question on the approximate number of a hundred Americans still in Afghanistan. How is that still the number if it seems that over 30 Americans have gotten out this week? Was there a new group of Americans that you guys are in touch with? Can you just help us square that?

And then I just want to follow up on my colleague Conor’s question. It seems that the U.S. has offered more seats on the Qatari Airways plane that took off today than were actually used by the United States. So did you guys try and get Afghans to take those seats if American citizens and LPRs declined to use them?

MS PORTER: Thanks, Kylie. So again, the situation on the ground is really fluid, and 100 is the number that we have for U.S. citizens. As you know, some people decide to change their minds at the last minute, but a hundred is just the latest that we have from here. And I’ll have to take the second question back for you.

Let’s close this out with Oskar Gorzynski, please.

OPERATOR: Your line is open.

QUESTION: Hi, Jalina. Thank you for doing this. So I wanted to ask about travel because as more and more U.S. – EU countries restrict travel for unvaccinated Americans, is there any progress on the process of allowing vaccinated Europeans to come here? And what’s the issue that’s been holding all this up?

MS PORTER: Thank you. So we’re obviously tracking the situation closely, but what I can say is that we certainly look forward to the resumption of transatlantic travel as soon as it’s safe and scientifically advisable, and we certainly appreciate the transparency and concerted efforts of our European partners and allies to combat this pandemic.

That concludes today’s press briefing. Thank you all so much for joining. I hope you have a safe and wonderful weekend ahead.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:47 p.m.)

U.S. Department of State

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