SECRETARY BLINKEN: Well, good morning, everyone. Mr. Minister, my friend, welcome back to Washington. It is always a pleasure to meet Minister Jaishankar, whether it’s here, in New York, in Delhi, Melbourne, Bali, or anywhere else.
And I think our own conversations – deep, extended conversations that have taken place in fact over many years, because we were counterparts when I was last at the State Department as deputy secretary – I think it reflects the fact that the partnership between our countries, between India and the United States, is simply one of the most consequential in the world. It’s vital to addressing virtually every global challenge that our people face, whether it’s health security, climate change, food security, upholding the free and open international order, to name just a few.
Over the past years, we have made real progress in elevating that partnership – bilaterally, that is directly between us, through institutions like the Quad and the G20, and in international organizations, including at the United Nations. Today, we talked about how we can further advance our shared security, economic, and geopolitical goals.
Last week in New York, we were both witness to genuine unity among the vast majority of UN member-states – developing and developed, big and small, north and south – on the need to work together to address the shared challenges that all of our people face, as well as to uphold the United Nations Charter and its core principles, including sovereignty, territorial integrity, and human rights.
We’re grateful for the minister’s partnership and leadership on these fronts. That includes in the Security Council, where, as we were together, he underscored the message that Prime Minister Modi delivered recently in Uzbekistan that, and I quote, “today’s era is not of war.” And then in the General Assembly, where the prime minister said of India, and I quote, “We are on the side that respects the UN Charter and its founding principles,” end quote. So is the United States.
We recognize that to meet the challenges we face, members of the UN must not only uphold the charter, but also modernize the institution, including by making the Security Council more inclusive.
That’s why, in his address to the General Assembly, President Biden expressed his support for increasing the number of both permanent and non-permanent representatives of the Security Council, a long-standing goal of India. This includes permanent seats for those nations we’ve long supported, and permanent seats for countries in Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean.
In his own General Assembly address, the minister also highlighted the food, fuel, and fertilizer crises that have hit countries as they struggle to rebuild from the COVID pandemic. And indeed, if you look at how we spent most of our week last week at the United Nations, it was focusing on these very challenges.
We’ve been working to rally allies and partners not only to help people around the world most affected by these crises, but also to make sure that we are part of the solution to creating durable ways of dealing with these challenges. For example, on food security, not only responding to the emergency need but also helping countries develop durable agricultural productive capacity.
We know as well that each of these crises has been exacerbated by Russia’s war on Ukraine. And it’s why we continue to marshal international pressure on President Putin to end his war of choice.
We also held a Quad ministerial on the margins of the UN, with the minister and I continuing to work with our Australian and Japanese counterparts to realize what is a shared vision of a free, open Indo-Pacific that’s connected, that’s prosperous, that’s secure, and that is resilient.
And here it’s worth emphasizing that we’re bringing complementary strengths to bear on problems none of us can address effectively alone. A few examples – cyber crime. You saw in the joint commitment that we issued in New York last week our agreement to deny safe haven to ransomware operations emanating from within our respective countries – because a foothold anywhere can be used to stage attacks everywhere – and to assist one another in the face of cyber attacks against critical infrastructure.
One of the clearest ways that Quad partners can continue to deliver for people across the region is by being there in their times of their greatest need. In New York, we also took a step that will increase our capacity to do that. We signed a set of guidelines to deepen our coordination among the four countries on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
In today’s meeting, and as well at dinner last night, we also talked about ways to further strengthen our strategic partnership and advance shared objectives.
This includes helping one another prevent a climate catastrophe and adapt to the changes to come, because the future of our people, and people everywhere, depends in no small part on hitting the ambitious targets that we’ve both set. That includes India’s goal of installing 500 gigawatts of non-fossil fuel capacity by 2030, which would mean more than 60 percent of India’s electricity comes from non-polluting energy sources.
We’re helping do that through the U.S.-India Climate and Clean Energy Agenda 2030 Partnership, which is helping to foster joint research and development, mobilizing finance from the private sector and multilateral institutions, and finding ways to scale up innovative clean energy technologies.
As the world’s two biggest democracies, we’re also committed to an enduring project – as our founders put it – of striving to form a more perfect union. This is a project for both of us. We have to work together to show that our democracies can meet our people’s needs, and we must continue to hold ourselves – both of us, as well as our fellow democracies – to our core values, including respect for universal human rights like freedom of religion and belief and freedom of expression, which makes our democracies stronger.
We explored ways to keep building our dynamic economic partnership. The Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, which we launched in May, is one way we’ll do this. Just a few weeks ago, India affirmed its intention to participate in three of the framework’s pillars – on supply chains, clean economy, and fair economy.
The U.S. is India’s largest trading partner, with $157 billion last year in bilateral trade. We’re India’s largest source of foreign direct investment, with a diverse range of U.S. companies investing $45 billion in India – Google, Microsoft, Whirlpool, Boeing, GE, and I could go on.
But we see more room to grow, and to do it in a way that creates jobs for workers in both of our countries. The U.S.-India Commercial Dialogue, the U.S.-India CEO Forum will give us more opportunities to do that in the months ahead.
So these are just some of the ways – multilaterally, regionally, bilaterally – that we’re bringing this close relationship between India and the United States even closer together. And with India holding the presidency of the Security Council in December, and taking over the presidency of the G20 next year, we’ll be able to drive more concerted global cooperation and action together.
At an event this weekend, you called, Mr. Minister, the shift in U.S.-India relations the single biggest change that you’ve observed in decades of service as a diplomat. The minister said, and I quote, “It did not change only because of government policies; the relationship changed because of Indian Americans.” And I could not agree more. We’re grateful to have an Indian American community that does so much to deepen ties between our countries, as well as to shape the fabric of this country. And I’d add that we’re also grateful to communities in India, including of American origin, that are doing their part to strengthen the relationship for the good of both of our countries and both of our peoples.
With that, Jai, over to you.
EXTERNAL AFFAIRS MINISTER JAISHANKAR: Thank you. It is really a great pleasure to join Secretary Blinken at this media event at the conclusion of what I can honestly say is a very productive morning of discussions.
I was last here in April, and obviously a lot of things in the world have changed since then. While we have spent quite some time this morning, I thank the Secretary and his wife for hosting us yesterday at the working dinner. This was really a very gracious gesture, and I think an occasion that both of us put to good use.
Obviously, a large part of our deliberations today were devoted to the strengthening of our bilateral relationship. Most of you would readily understand that it has grown very significantly in scope and depth over the last few years. We engage each other across pretty much every domain, and the quality of our cooperation – as indeed of our conversations – have steadily improved.
In today’s meeting, we discussed our political coordination, working together in plurilateral and multilateral formats, and exchanging assessments and – on collaborating on important regional issues and global challenges. I would specifically mention the Ukraine conflict and the Indo-Pacific situation in that regard.
I share with – I shared with Secretary Blinken my experience of interactions during the UN General Assembly about the deep anxieties in the Global South on fuel, on food, on fertilizers. The increasing salience of green growth, digital development, and affordable health is today very, very evident. We must not let current developments jeopardize Agenda 2030 on SDGs or to deflect us from climate action and climate justice commitments.
Our cooperation in different bilateral domains is progressing vigorously. Naturally, Secretary Blinken and I did a comprehensive stock taking. But separately, I met Defense Secretary Austin and Commerce Secretary Raimondo to review their particular areas. I participated in a particularly interesting roundtable organized by the National Science Foundation.
I will be meeting business leaders over the next two days. And given the bipartisan support that we have long enjoyed in the U.S. Congress, I look forward to interacting with some of its prominent members. There will also be an occasion for me engage think tanks and policy analysts so that there is a better understanding of India’s concerns and interests.
Having said that, there are particular issues in the current global context that shape the evolution of our cooperation, and therefore merit your attention as well. Prominent among them is a commitment to address the global volatility which has arisen from the COVID, from conflicts, and from climate events. India and the U.S. have a strong interest in encouraging more resilient and reliable supply chains. This requires policy decisions as well as practical measures involving the business community. We are focused on those goals.
Furthermore, the digital world mandates a greater emphasis on trust and transparency. This too has been the subject of detailed conversations and follow-up action. When it comes to critical and emerging technologies, we both see the value of expanding trusted research. Our national security, our economic security, our technology security, are all enhanced by closer collaboration. It is also in our mutual interest to facilitate the development and mobility of talent. We agreed that impediments in this regard should be addressed.
There is a keen interest in India’s national education policy, and we will explore how that can best serve to expand our partnership.
On mobility, specifically visas, this is particularly crucial given its centrality to education, business, technology, and family reunions. There have been some challenges of late, and I flagged it to Secretary Blinken and his team and I have every confidence that they will look at some of these problems seriously and positively.
All these issues and more were evaluated not just in our bilateral context but also from the perspective of the Quad and the I2U2. We are keen to move forward on the Indo‑Pacific Economic Framework. I saw some creative thinking on how to repurpose established mechanisms for more contemporary collaboration.
Our two countries have contributed – are committed to contributing to the betterment of the global commons. True to our traditions, we rise above narrow national interest to serve the needs of the larger international community. We do so on the basis of our belief in a rules-based order, in our respect for international law, and in our adherence to the UN Charter.
India‑U.S. cooperation is today visible across the length and breadth of the Indo‑Pacific and perhaps even beyond. It has many facets and expresses itself in different ways. We particularly value closer coordination in the Indian subcontinent, where we perceive that our convergences are very strong. It is essential that democracy, pluralism, progress, development, and prosperity are nurtured. Conversely, we must counter radicalization, extremism, and fundamentalism. India is widening its international footprint, and there are many more regions where we will be intersecting with American interests. It is to our mutual benefit that this be a complementary process.
Coming out of the UNGA, or UNGA, the reform of the UN is a particularly topical subject. We appreciate the positive approach of the U.S. to this issue reflected in the position articulated by President Biden himself. We look forward to working with the U.S. to take this further. I also expressed appreciation at the strong cooperation that we have got from the U.S. on the question of tackling international terrorism. In particular, I refer to the listing of well-known and wanted terrorists by the UN sanction process. In many other formats too, our two countries collaborate to keep the world safer and more secure.
We spoke over the last two days of our commitment to practicing and furthering democracy, human rights, and good governance. Each country approaches the set of issues from their history, tradition, and societal context. Our yardstick for judgement are the integrity of the democratic processes, the respect and credibility that they command with the people, and the nondiscriminatory delivery of public goods and services. India does not believe that the efficacy or indeed the quality of democracy should be decided by word banks. This is an area where we look forward to a healthy exchange of views. There will be convergences and best practices that we can both profit by and perhaps even share with third countries.
India will be taking over the presidency of the G20 at the end of this year. I appreciate the expression of support by Secretary Blinken towards making our chairship successful.
Once again, I thank the Secretary for his warm welcome, for the open and comfortable conversations we have had, and for his commitment to further what we both believe is the critical relationship of (inaudible). Thank you.
MR PRICE: We’ll now turn to questions. We’ll start with Iain Marlow of Bloomberg.
QUESTION: Thank you. Thanks. Secretary Blinken, we’ve seen several reported leaks in the Nord Stream pipeline system that Germany has said could be an act of sabotage. What’s the U.S. assessment of what we’re seeing there, particularly given Russian – previous Russian moves to curtail gas supplies? And can you speak a little bit more broadly to the pressure that Europe is coming on – coming under as winter and a potential energy crisis looms?
And External Affairs Minister Jaishankar, thanks for taking our questions. First, I’m wondering if you could offer India’s perspective on U.S. efforts to implement a global price cap on Russian energy. Would India consider joining that kind of price cap mechanism, and do you see it as potentially a way for India as well as other countries in the Global South to get more leverage and negotiate even cheaper prices for fuel?
And just a second question, if I may. Can you talk a little bit about India’s plans going forward for military hardware and equipment given the sanctions that the U.S. and others are putting on Russian industry and given India’s historic reliance on Russian technology? How is India trying to head off challenges related to Russia being potentially unable to service that equipment going forward as a result of sanctions? Can Russia still fulfill all of India’s requirements? And will India look at perhaps more purchases of, say, American or Israeli military equipment? Thank you.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Iain, thanks very much. On the question on energy security and Nord Stream in particular, a few things. The leaks are under investigation. There are initial reports indicating that this may be the result of an attack or some kind of sabotage, but these are initial reports and we haven’t confirmed that yet. But if it is confirmed, that’s clearly in no one’s interest. Now, my understanding is the leaks will not have a significant impact on Europe’s energy resilience, and what’s critical is that we are working day in, day out both on a short-term basis and a long-term basis to address energy security for Europe and, for that matter, around the world.
Short term – just to cite a few examples – we are working on implementing the oil price cap to keep Russian oil flowing, but at a steep discount. That of course will deny Russia excess revenues that it would use to prosecute its aggression against Ukraine and, at the same time, as I said, keep oil flowing on world markets. We’re working to continue to surge LNG supplies to Europe in cooperation with global partners, including in the Indo-Pacific.
It’s worth noting that our own oil production is up by more than 500,000 barrels per day this year. Our LNG exports are up more than 20 percent since last year. In fact, we became the largest LNG supplier to the European Union and the UK this year, and we’ve become the largest overall LNG exporter this year. And of course, as you know, we’ve been tapping into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve at unprecedented levels. Others are doing the same. This is having an impact both on supply and on price.
Long term, we’re supporting efforts to reduce reliance on fossil fuels, including LNG, over the long term, including through a task force that we established with the European Union some months ago on energy security that’s working very actively, looking at ways both to reduce demand, to pursue renewables, to make the transition. And then we’re working with global partners to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and accelerate the transition to renewables beyond Europe.
It’s a long way of saying that there are clear challenges in the months ahead that we’re addressing, but there is also a very significant opportunity to do two things. One, to finally end the dependence of Europe on Russian energy and thus the position that Europe is in of being on the receiving end of the weaponization of energy by Russia, and also to accelerate the transition to renewables and to make sure that we’re addressing the climate challenge that we face.
So we can and we are working to do all of this in a way that provides energy security for Europeans and not only gets us through the next months, but leaves us in a better, stronger position for the years ahead.
EXTERNAL AFFAIRS MINISTER JAISHANKAR: On the price cap, we had a brief discussion on it this morning. More technical people are engaged between the two systems on this particular subject. It is of course a G7 initiative. Now, you have to understand that in the last few months, the energy markets are already under very great stress. Countries in the Global South have found it difficult to compete for limited energy, not just in terms of pricing, escalating pricing, but often in terms of availability. There are tenders – countries have had tenders for which they don’t even get a reply from suppliers.
So our concern right now is that energy markets already under stress must soften up. We would judge any situation, frankly, by how it affects us and other countries of the Global South because, as I communicated to the Secretary, there is a very, very deep concern in – among developing countries about how their energy security needs are addressed or not.
On the military equipment, to the best of my knowledge, I don’t think in recent months we have faced any particular problems in terms of servicing and spare parts supply of equipment that we have got in the past from Russia. Whether we – where we get our military equipment and platforms from, that’s not an issue, honestly, which is a new issue or an issue which has particularly changed because of geopolitical tensions. I think we look at possibilities across the world. We look at the quality of technology, the quality of capability, the terms on which that particular equipment is offered, and we exercise a choice which we believe is in our national interest.
Now, in – if you were to look at the last 15 years, for example, you can see that we have actually procured a lot from the United States. If you maybe consider, for example, aircraft – the C-17, the C-130, the P-8, or the Apache helicopter or the Chinooks or the Howitzers, the M777 Howitzers – we have done so from France when we bought recently their Rafale aircraft. We have done so from Israel.
So, we have a tradition of multi-sourcing and for us, how to get the optimal deal from a competitive situation is really what this is all about.
MR PRICE: We’ll next turn to Lalit Jha, Trust of India.
QUESTION: Thanks, Ned. Thanks, Mr. Minister. You have been associated with this India (inaudible) for decades and dealt with – for you, yeah. You have been dealing with this issue since – for decades and dealt multiple leadership, multiple administrations. What is your overall sense of the trajectory of the relationship?
And Mr. Secretary, I would like to pick a few points from your opening remarks. First, you said there are weekly – you discussed – to strengthen the strategic partnership, and this includes helping each other. The recent decision of the U.S. to provide 450 million FMF sales on F-16 maintenance package certainly is not – it doesn’t help India’s strategic national interest. Everyone knows where F-16 has been used in the past and where it’ll be used. Certainly it’s not being used for counterterrorism operation. If you can help us understand that.
On India’s role in Ukraine, can you give us a sense what India role – India’s can play role in Ukraine peace process given that prime minister’s – Modi’s recent remarks to President Putin and Mexico’s proposal of a three-member committee including Prime Minister Modi, His Holiness Pope, and the UN secretary-general to help resolve peace – real peace in Ukraine?
And finally, on your comments on Indian Americans, you know Indian Americans have played a big role in this relationship and they are big supporters of Democratic Party, but there’s frustration brewing up among this community as well because of the 700 days of visa waiting period. Among Indian Americans, when they ask their friends and families and pals to come from India, all the embassies and consulates are giving them next – first appointment they’re getting of 2024. Thank you, sir.
EXTERNAL AFFAIRS MINISTER JAISHANKAR: Those were six questions bundled in one.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: It was very impressive, very impressive. I think you topped our colleague Ian, so —
EXTERNAL AFFAIRS MINISTER JAISHANKAR: Thank you. Well, look, I think the Secretary was good enough to refer to something I said on the weekend to a group of Indian Americans and Indians who live here, which is that the big change that I have seen in my four decades as a diplomat was actually in the transformation of India-U.S. relations. And your question – how do I see the trajectory – quite honestly, I see today a United States very international, very much more to engaging – very much more open to engaging a country like India, which is actually thinking beyond traditional alliances, which has been very effective at finding common ground with potential or actual partners.
And a very good example of all this is actually in the Quad. I mean, the fact was a Quad was something we tried about two decades – 15 years – ago. It didn’t work, and it is working very well today and is doing – it’s grown remarkably in the course of the last two years. So I think for us today the relationship with the U.S. opens up a whole range of possibilities, possibilities not just with the United States, though those are important in themselves because I think at this point of time, there’s so much that India – and I assume the U.S. too – stands to benefit from working with the United States for – whether it’s economy, whether it’s technology, whether security.
The – but the other part is also – I would say it’s been for us a very positive experience, a very encouraging one with a lot of promise, of working with the U.S. to shape the direction of the world. I mean, to me that’s really the big jump which we have made, and I think the more we work together, the more we engage each other, I think many more possibilities will come. So, very frankly, that’s a long way of saying that I’m very bullish about that relationship.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: I can only echo, first of all, what Minister Jaishankar said. I think no two countries have a greater ability and, I think, opportunity and responsibility to try to shape the future of this century than the United States and India as the world’s two largest democracies. And what is very gratifying to me is the fact that in all of these meetings, in all of these conversations in this ongoing dialogue we have, we are thinking together and working together in ways that we haven’t before.
That doesn’t mean that we don’t have differences. We do, and we will. But it also means that because of the depth and quality of the dialogue we have, we talk about everything and work closely together on how we can advance the agenda that we have in common, which – as you’ve heard, I think, from both of us – extends to virtually every issue that is confronting our own citizens and people around the world.
On the specific questions you raised, on the F-16s, to be very clear – and it’s important – this is a sustainment program for F-16s that Pakistan has long had. These are not new planes, new systems, new weapons. It’s sustaining what they have. We have a responsibility and an obligation to whomever we provide military equipment to make sure that it’s maintained and sustained. That’s our obligation. Pakistan’s program bolsters its capability to deal with terrorist threats emanating from Pakistan or from the region. It’s in no one’s interest that those threats be able to go forward with impunity, and so this capability that Pakistan has had can benefit all of us in dealing with terrorism.
On the question of visas, I’m extremely sensitive to this. If it’s any consolation, I can tell you that this is a challenge that we’re facing around the world, and it’s a product, largely, of the COVID pandemic. Our ability to issue visas dropped dramatically during COVID, and without boring you with all of the details, this is the one self-financing (inaudible) part of the of the State Department. That is, around the world, the fees that we get for issuing visas are – go to our budget and they go to our capacity to put in place the people needed to process the visas. When COVID hit, the demand for visas fell through the floor, visa fees went away, the system as a whole suffered. And then of course, in actually issuing visas, even with much more limited resources, we had constraints from COVID about the number of people we could have in our embassies at any one time, et cetera.
We are now building back very determinedly from that, surging resources. We have a plan when it comes to India to address the backlog of visas that’s built up. I think you’ll see that play out in the coming months, but it’s something that we’re very focused on. These connections, these people-to-people ties – whether it’s students, whether it’s business people, whether it’s tourists, whether it’s family – this is what really links us together. And the last thing we want to do is make that any more difficult. On the contrary, we want to facilitate it. So bear with us. This will play out over the next few months, but we’re very focused on it.
Finally, India’s role when it comes to Ukraine, a potential peace process. I really want to emphasize what Prime Minister Modi said, because I think he captured, as well as anyone I’ve heard, fundamentally what this moment is about. As he said, this is not an era, this is not a time for war. We could not agree more. We saw the aggression, the threat of the aggression mounting from Russia against Ukraine last year. We warned the world about it, and we tried everything possible to avert it through diplomacy. Unfortunately, tragically, President Putin pursued his aggression nonetheless, and now the Ukrainian people but also the world are reaping the consequences.
We see this not only in the suffering of the Ukrainian people, the decimation of their country by Russian forces, but we see it also in the profound threat to the United Nations Charter that binds us together, the basic principles that are so necessary to keep peace and security around the world that came into being after two world wars. Sovereignty, territorial integrity, independence – they are being challenged. And we’re seeing the consequences in everything from rising food insecurity to the energy prices that we’ve talked about.
So it’s profoundly in everyone’s interest for Russia to stop its aggression, but it really is incumbent upon Russia and President Putin to decide that this is what it’s going to do. One person has the ability to stop this aggression tomorrow, and that’s Vladimir Putin. And as I said last week, if Russia stops fighting, the war ends. If Ukraine stops fighting, Ukraine ends, because Russia has seized territory through this aggression that makes it challenging for Ukraine to sustain its viability.
So this is incumbent upon President Putin. We are very determined that if there is any opportunity for meaningful diplomacy to try to end the war, we will be part of it. But as of this date, speaking to you today, we continue to see no signs from Russia and President Putin that they’re prepared to engage in meaningful diplomacy, in a negotiation that would lead to a just resolution of the aggression. It is on Russia, it is on President Putin, and we will see if they finally respond.
I think it’s very important, though, that voices as consequential as India’s make themselves heard. And that’s why I thought that the prime minister’s comments were so significant, including as well his strong, clear support for the United Nations charter (inaudible).
MR PRICE: Go to Kylie Atwood, CNN.
QUESTION: Hi, thank you. I’ll start with Minister Jaishankar. Two questions for you. As the Secretary was saying, Prime Minister Modi said earlier this month now is not the time for war. Last week when you were at the United Nations, you said India is on the side of peace. Generally speaking, is there anything that India is actively working on, perhaps with the U.S., to push for the war in Ukraine to end? And then to follow up on your response to my colleague on conversations about price cap oil, you said that was briefly discussed during your meeting with the Secretary today. But it seems that you still have concerns and right now, India is not in favor of a cap on Russian oil. So is that accurate, and what would change that position?
And Secretary Blinken, one question on Iran and one question on Ukraine. With the new Treasury general licenses last week, there are still technical hurdles when it comes to getting internet to Iranians. So I’m wondering what more the United States could do and if the United States would work with private companies, if they were to try and physically get hardware into Iran, to make sure that they could facilitate the distribution of internet to the country.
And then the second question on Russia: What cost will the United States impose on Russia if it annexes these Ukrainian territories that are holding these so-called referendums? And will the U.S. still allow Ukrainian troops to use U.S. weaponry to defend against Russians in those territories, no matter what the outcome of these referendums and this – these possible annexations? Thank you.
EXTERNAL AFFAIRS MINISTER JAISHANKAR: May I?
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Please.
EXTERNAL AFFAIRS MINISTER JAISHANKAR: Sure. Well, we have taken the position privately, publicly, confidentially, consistently from February 24th that this conflict is not in anybody’s interest. And we’ve always advocated that the best way forward is to return to dialogue and diplomacy. Your question, are we actively working on something? In the past, whenever we have been able to contribute something, we have been open to it, and I remain in very active talks with a lot of my colleagues, colleagues in the G20, colleagues in the UN Security Council, some beyond. So just as an example, during the grain shipment discussions in the Black Sea, at that time we had been approached to also weigh in with Russia at a particularly delicate moment of those discussions, which we did.
Right now, there are some issues. I had a meeting with the prime minister of Ukraine. He did mention some very specific concerns which he thought merited our attention, where he thought we could be of some use. The – I had, on a different set of issues, a discussion with the UN secretary general. He’s been very active, as you know, on a whole lot of specific concerns pertaining to the conflict, so it’s not necessarily the overarching peace prospect, but even in the current scenario, other issues which we can solve or in some way mitigate or ameliorate. So there was some discussion with the UN secretary general as well. I don’t think it would be right for me to kind of go into specifics at this time.
On do we have concerns – this is in respect to your oil question – look, we have concerns about the price of oil. But we are $2,000 per capita economy. I mean, the price of oil is breaking our back. I mean, that is our big concern.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Kylie, first on Iran – first things first: Mahsa should be alive today. The only reason she’s not is because a brutal regime took her life and took her life because of decisions she should be making about what she would wear or not wear. Women in Iran have the right to wear what they want; they have the right to be free from violence; they have the right to be free from harassment. That’s true in Iran. It’s true – should be true everywhere. So for starters, Iran needs to end its use of violence against women for exercising what should be a fundamental freedom. And as a general proposition and in this specific instance, we stand with all of those who are exercising the universal right to peaceful protest.
As you noted, we’ve also taken action. And two things I would point to: We designated the so-called morality police and specific individuals for human rights abuses, and that imposes sanctions on them and it would impose, as well, sanctions on anyone who seeks to in any way do business with them. And then more specifically to the point you raised, we announced a general license to facilitate the free flow of information inside Iran. So for example, what this does is it authorities companies to provide things like cloud services, privacy technology, security technology, hardware and software to enable the Iranians to better communicate among themselves and also with the rest of the world. Individual companies can come to us, to OFAC in this case, to determine whether their technology fits under the license, and we will certainly look for ways to facilitate technology services being made accessible to people in Iran.
On the question of Russia and the sham referenda and annexations that does seem to be proceeding in Ukraine – one, we’ve been very clear that we are prepared and we will impose additional severe and swift costs on Russia for proceeding with the annexations. And again, it’s important to remember what’s going on here. Russia invaded Ukraine, seized territory, and is engaged in a diabolical scheme on some of the territory seized, where it has moved the local populous out, often through these filtration centers – where people may be deported to Russia, elsewhere in Ukraine, or they simply disappear – then they bus Russians in, they install puppet governments, and then they engage in the referendum and manipulate, in any event, the outcome to then claim that the territory belongs to Russia through annexation.
We and many other countries have already been crystal-clear: We will not – indeed, we will never – recognize the annexation of Ukrainian territory by Russia. And I’ve also been equally clear that Ukraine has the absolute right to defend itself throughout its territory, including to take back the territory that has been illegally seized one way or another by Russia. And the equipment, the weapons that we and many other countries are providing them have been used very effectively to do just that, as we’ve seen in northeast Ukraine and as we see as well in the south.
And again, because there is no change at all in the territory that is being annexed by the Russians as a matter for us or for the Ukrainians, the Ukrainians will continue to do what they need to do to get back the land that has been taken from them. We will continue to support them in that effort.
MR PRICE: We’ll take a final question from Reena – from Reena Bhardwaj —
MR PRICE: I’m sorry, Nazira, we don’t have time – from Reena Bhardwaj, Asian News International.
QUESTION: Minister Jaishankar and Secretary Blinken, thank you for doing this. Minister Jaishankar, you’ve had a very busy week at UNGA, meeting all your counterparts. Now, did they express their worries about Ukraine which you mentioned in your remarks, of course, but also Taiwan? And did you discuss the impact of these developments on the global economy with Secretary Blinken? How are the two countries going to work together to address these concerns?
And my second question to Secretary Blinken is: You talked about F-16 and the obligation that the U.S. has. But can you further clarify what counterterror threats does Pakistan face, and why is there a need for these fighter jets?
Also there’s a discussion with your Pakistani counterpart to improve ties with India and to make the region more stable. What was their response? You did give them an advice to maintain peace. What was the advice that you gave them?
EXTERNAL AFFAIRS MINISTER JAISHANKAR: I had, of course, a lot of meetings in the UN that week. I met I guess roughly about half the delegations who were there. And a common concern among them was the anxiety about global economic volatility, an anxiety about sharply increased energy prices, of food inflation and food availability, of fertilizers which will impact food next year, of disrupted trade, of shipping, of insurance, of air-land movements, of travel. So this was, honestly, not an optimistic global mood which you got from your colleagues. And I think in particular the – what impact the consequences of the Ukraine conflict has been on many of these issues we – I spoke about, and also I think the prospect of instability on – in the Indo-Pacific, because today Asia and the Indo-Pacific is so central to global trade and in – particularly in some very critical areas.
So these were very widely prevalent concerns. We had a good discussion about it yesterday evening, and we do think today – I mean, I speak for India, but I also speak to some degree for the relationship having an impact on the world – we think the right thing today is to find ways of stabilizing the global economy, of softening prices, of making sure that global trade and – is more predictable, that the sources of anxieties and tensions are less. Because at the end of the day, that’s really – Prime Minister Modi of course said this is not an era of war. But this is an era of – where we seek development, where we seek prosperity, where we seek progress, and I think India nationally and India through its key partners would like to do more to strengthen those trends.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: On the question of the F-16s, again – and it’s important to be very clear – this is, as I said, about sustaining an existing program, not adding a new one, and we have a responsibility to do that wherever we’re engaged in the provision of defense equipment like F‑16s. And second, as to what these are for, there are clear terrorism threats that continue to emanate from Pakistan itself as well as from neighboring countries. And whether it is TTP that may be targeting Pakistan, whether it’s ISIS-Khorasan, whether it’s al-Qaida, I think the threats are clear, well-known, and we all have an interest in making sure that we have the means to deal with them. And that’s what this is about.
More broadly, we always encourage our friends to resolve their differences through diplomacy, through dialogue. That hasn’t changed. It won’t change. It would not be appropriate for me to characterize Pakistan’s response, just as I wouldn’t characterize our friend’s response in a similar conversation.
MR PRICE: Thank you, everyone. Thank you, Your Excellencies.