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PRESIDENT VON DER LEYEN:  Good afternoon.  I am delighted to welcome the U.S. Secretary of State Tony Blinken to the European Commission.  The United States is an important and valued partner for the European Union, and we want to forge a new EU-U.S. global agenda to meet the challenges, but also to seize the opportunities of our time.  And Tony, your presence here today is a very clear sign that we share the same ambition.  Our meeting today will also be an opportunity to follow up on my recent phone call with President Biden.  Our most and immediate – our most immediate priority is to tackle the coronavirus pandemic and to deal with its consequences on the economy, on people. We know that no region in the world will be safe unless all are safe.  And I, therefore, look forward to engaging with you, Tony, on strengthening the global supply chains for vaccines.  And we all have to prepare for potential escape mutants.  So from sequencing to invest money into research to make sure that, if necessary, we immediately have an adapted vaccine and that we invest in capacities of pharmaceutical companies for mass production – for all that, we need to join forces against the virus.

On another topic, earlier this month, President Biden and I agreed to suspend all tariffs imposed in the context of Airbus-Boeing disputes for four months.  This is a positive and important step, but there are other tariffs still in place and wider issues to address, such as the reform, for example, of the multilateral trading system.  So I’m looking forward to discussing how to shape our trade and technology agenda and how to harness the joint potential.

Another important topic will be climate change.  Climate change remains the defining challenge of our time.  We wholeheartedly commend President Biden for rejoining the Paris Agreement, and we are very much looking forward to preparing the key milestones of this year.  This begins with Earth Day on – at the end of April, COP15 in Kunming in October and COP26 in Glasgow in November.  The European Union and the United States must develop true solutions, enhance innovations, set ambitious objectives, and work together to achieve those.

Last but not least, I am looking forward to discussing key foreign policy and security issues with you, Tony, of course topics concerning NATO – the EU and NATO have an excellent relationship – but also topics ranging from China to Russia, our relation to Turkey, but also our relation to the Western Balkan, our friends in the eastern and southern partnership – many topics to tackle.  We share common concerns, and we should seek opportunities to work together beyond our respective borders.  Strong, joined efforts between us are essential to tackle these challenges effectively.

Let me thank you once again for your presence here today.  And I’m very much looking forward to productive work between the European Union and the United States of America in the coming years.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, thank you so much, and good afternoon to everyone.  It is great to be back at the European Commission, and, President von der Leyen, thank you so much for your warm welcome, for hosting me, and especially for your leadership.

Just a short while ago, I spoke at NATO about how the United States is recommitting to our alliances and to our partnerships and revitalizing them to meet the challenges of our time.  And that’s why I’ve come to Brussels this week.  As President Biden has said, the United States will work closely with our allies and our European Union partners across the continent to address our shared challenges and to meet our shared goal of a Europe whole, free, and in peace.  And I have to say, Madam President, as we consider our partnership with the European Union, we see the European Union as a partner of first resort on virtually everything you’ve already put on the agenda, and a number of other things that we’ll discuss.

Today, we will consult on a number of urgent issues affecting the European Union and the United States, including COVID-19, climate change, challenges from Russia and China, and guiding a strong and equitable economic recovery.

At a moment when democracies around the world are facing challenges, we stand together in support of our shared values.  There is a fundamental debate underway about the future and whether democracy or autocracy offers the best path forward.  I think it’s up to us to come together and show the world that democracy can deliver for our people and also for each other.

So thank you again for welcoming us here today.  It’s really a pleasure to be back.  And like you, I’m looking forward to our conversation.  Thank you.

U.S. Department of State

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