MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) (In progress) César Landa Arroyo, and Mr. Secretary of the United States Antony Blinken. Following, the words of the ministry of foreign affairs of Peru, Dr. César Landa Arroyo.
FOREIGN MINISTER LANDA: (Via interpreter) Good afternoon, journalists and Mr. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. It is a great honor for us to receive you here in this House of Government within the framework of the bilateral meeting we’ve had with the president of the republic to reaffirm the links which we have with the USA on which we strengthen our relationships from the foundation of our republics. In particular, your presence is very important for us and we want to thank you for the contribution we received from your country for our struggle against the pandemic, as well as in our challenge – our struggle against drug trafficking. We hope to strengthen the trade and investment links to have the necessary resources to fill the gaps we have within our society economy-wise.
In that sense, I would like also to say that the governability in democracy is a shared value, and the Peruvian people through elections and through the separation of powers, and in particular in the protection of human rights and the independence of the judiciary – this characterizes our democracy after we rebuilt it with the collaboration of the OAS and the Government of the United States, among others.
Finally, I would like to stress that the commitment of the government together with the cooperation of the USA allow us to face the crisis after the pandemic as well as that which is produced by the effects of the conflict between the USSR[i] and the Ukraine, but that we have to overcome this in coordination and with alliances, together with our vulnerable peoples in Peru, which are indigenous peoples, people with problems.
We have a commitment with values we share together in this bilateral meeting. We begin strengthening our political ties, our commercial and trade ties with the USA. In that sense, I really thank you for your participation within the assembly of the OAS, which has as a purpose the model Peru proposal: all together struggling against the inequality and discrimination. And thus we have proposals to celebrate the Lima Declaration, which reaffirms the struggle against inequality in any kind, as well as declaration to reaffirm the need to have a public health policy which warranties precisely health care for the most vulnerable people against future pandemics or natural resources; and also to reaffirm the right – the need for education, the right of people to education, which is the way in which people will acquire the basic conditions of technical and value formation to form citizens for the future. Thank you.
MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) Now we have the words of the Secretary of State of the USA Mr. Antony Blinken.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Muchas gracias. Thank you very much. Good evening, everyone. Mr. Foreign Minister, César, it’s wonderful to be with you and wonderful to get a lot of good work done today. I think that work reinforces the way that we can draw on the longstanding partnership between Peru and the United States bilaterally but also together with fellow democracies across our hemisphere to make tangible progress on the issues that actually have an impact on the lives of our citizens. And I think you can see that in all that we actually covered today and accomplished today.
The foreign minister and I convened fellow ministers for a meeting of the – it’s a long name – the Summit Implementation Review Group. What this is, is a group to follow up on the commitments that we made at the ninth Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles a few months ago. There, our leaders made commitments to strengthen public health systems, to advance a regionwide digital transformation, to accelerate the clean energy transition, to invest in climate resilience and adaptation, and to promote and protect democratic governance.
Today, we agreed to a work plan to start achieving those goals. In fact, we’ve already gotten to work on this since the Summit of the Americas, and we discussed some of the progress that we’ve made even over the last four months toward realizing our commitments, such as partnering with the Pan American Health Organization to train half a million health care workers for our hemisphere over the next five years; implementing our partnership with Caribbean nations to develop solutions on climate, on energy, on food security through PACC 2030; and investing in Latin American and Caribbean Network for Democracy to support deepened engagement with civil society.
César and I also convened another ministerial meeting of the 21 signatories of the Los Angeles Declaration on Migration and Protection. That affirms for the first time our shared responsibility in this hemisphere in working to create the conditions for safe, orderly, humane, and regular migration – an issue where Peru is leading by example. At the meeting, we launched a collective implementation process with countries stepping up to lead across important lines of effort, from finding ways to better integrate migrants and support their host communities to combating xenophobia. Today, I announced on the part of the United States that we’ll provide more than $240 million in new humanitarian assistance to meet the needs of refugees and migrants in our hemisphere as well as the host communities that welcome them. Just since last month, the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development announced nearly $817 million in new assistance supporting our efforts under the Los Angeles Declaration.
And of course, as César said, we took part in the first in-person General Assembly of the Organization of American States since 2019. We’re grateful for Peru’s leadership in hosting what was, I think, a constructive and consequential meeting of the OAS.
If you think about it, just in the time since the last OAS General Assembly in person, in 2019, we have faced as a region, as a hemisphere, no shortage of challenges, including COVID-19 and also its lasting human and economic consequences; and more recently rising food, fertilizer, and energy costs, all of which have been exacerbated by Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. The impact of – on food supplies and fertilizer in particular has been felt profoundly here in Peru. And President Castillo and I discussed steps that we can take to respond to that challenge, and we committed to working on this together in the months ahead.
As we’ve seen in Peru, in the United States, across our hemisphere, these headwinds are hitting underserved and marginalized communities the hardest – those who can least afford it. That’s why the Lima Declaration that we and the OAS member states will adopt tomorrow to work together to advance equity and inclusion across our hemisphere is so important. Being together again gave us the opportunity also to recommit to the region’s shared democratic values and to the proposition that we can deliver more for one another and for our people when we actually work together in common cause.
It’s especially meaningful to make that commitment here in Lima, where our nations came together to adopt the Inter-American Democratic Charter a little over two decades ago, a step that was inspired by the grassroots mobilization of citizens across Peru at the time to defend their democracy and their right to choose their own path.
Across all of the issues where we’re working regionally to deliver results for our people, Peru and the United States are also working together bilaterally, grounded in our shared interests and values, as we have across many administrations over many years.
That shared commitment was crystal-clear when the foreign minister and I met with President Castillo today. And we’re fortunate, I must say, to have in place a terrific ambassador, Ambassador Kenna, who has been a longtime friend of mine, who is driving our bilateral cooperation across the board.
We discussed our shared work on migration. I had the chance to commend the president and the foreign minister for hosting more than 1.3 million Venezuelan refugees and migrants, and offering them a pathway to secure a more regular status.
Nearly half a million Venezuelans have already gone through this process, allowing them to work, to go to school, to access health care, and many other public services that allow them to provide for their loved ones, to build better lives, to contribute to their host communities.
Our countries are close partners on environmental challenges as well. Earlier this year we came together to respond to the ecological devastation that was caused by the oil spill just north of here. Over the last three years, USAID has partnered with the Peruvian people and their governments and provided $60 million to improve mining practices, to fight deforestation, to promote sustainable economic development, including in indigenous communities.
We continue to work with Peru to address collective threats like transnational crime and drug trafficking, both of which are exacerbated by the scourge of corruption. Our funding, our training, our partnerships have helped Peru make important progress. We’ll continue to work together in the years ahead.
Tomorrow I’ll have a chance to visit the Chorrillos fish market to highlight our partnership to combat illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing, which is inflicting significant harm on Peru’s marine economy and environment. It’s going directly to the livelihoods of Peruvians who are in the fishing business.
We also committed to protecting Peru’s awe-inspiring culture and heritage. For the last 25 years, we’ve worked together to return more than seven – excuse me, 2,000 Peruvian cultural artifacts that were once illegally trafficked in the United States.
Finally, let me say this: For all the ties that bind our countries, none run as deep as the ties between our people. There are more than half a million Peruvian Americans living in the United States. For generations, they’ve enriched the fabric of our country and our communities, including individuals like the legendary Peruvian American singer Yma Sumac, who is the subject of a mural commissioned at the United States embassy here in Lima to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of her birth – a mural I’m very much looking forward to getting a chance to see tomorrow.
So I apologize for going on so long, but I think that’s just evidence that we’ve had a very productive day – both with our OAS colleagues, and bilaterally between the United States and Peru.
We and our partners continue to demonstrate real progress on the challenges that matter most in the lives of our people, and we’re going to build on that progress in the weeks and months ahead. Thank you very much.
MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) Following, we have a round of questions with the media. Mr. Juan Carlos Portilla from Latina.
QUESTION: (Via interpreter) Foreign Minister Landa, here from Latina – here to your right. Well, Minister, you already have mentioned some aspects of the conversation you’ve had with the Secretary of State. However, I would like to ask you if there are some specific aspects or if there will be a possibility of assigning some kind of agreement or trade agreement within the following months within the framework of these conversations.
And if you allow me to thank you in advance, the Peruvian congress has denied the permit – the permission to President Castillo to travel abroad. I understand that there was a very important agenda with several people from the European Union. How much impact has this – does this have on the Government of Peru? Thank you very much.
FOREIGN MINISTER LANDA: (Via interpreter) Well, Peru’s foreign policy is based on multilaterality on one hand, and on the other hand, in accordance with our constitution, the president is the director of international relationships. And thus, that is why we have a presidential diplomacy which has taken the president to the General Assembly of the OAS, to Los Angeles, among other trips he has been doing.
In that sense, the determination of congress today is a great surprise for our ministry, and also for our partners and friend countries. Because His Holiness Pope Francis expected the president the following Monday, 17th, in an audience, but also he was going to have a visit in this month of October because most of – October is a very important month for religious topics because for Peru it is a – there is a great devotion during this month to el Señor de Los Milagros, and apart from the agendas foreseen for our meeting with the world food fund, or the food program of the UN, to strengthen the struggle against food insecurity is frustrated, and also the meeting with the leaders of the European Union to strengthen those bonds for common cooperation. So I would ask the representatives of congress to review this decision, because it compromises not the president himself, but the external policy in particular, and humanitarian policy also.
And in particular with the United States, we have a treaty – free trade agreement which is an ongoing perfectioning, and we’ve increased exports mostly from the production of SMEs with an added value. And the investments that are being carried out and within the international scenario, which might be complicated because of the effects of the crisis, we maintain the trust as in the meeting in the – in New York City with the American news society, with 40 entrepreneurs, where we reaffirmed juridical stability, legal stability, the respect for the agreements. And this also has to do with our respect for labor laws and payment for taxes.
So we will continue strengthening our links not only commercially, but also the struggle against – in the struggle against drug trafficking and trying to close the gaps, social gaps of extreme poverty and protect the most vulnerable peoples of Peru.
MR PRICE: Humeyra Pamuk of Reuters.
QUESTION: Well, what are the – thank you. Mr. Secretary, Mr. Foreign Minister.
Mr. Secretary, following the OPEC+ decision to cut production targets, Democratic Senator Chris Murphy said it’s time for a wholesale re-evaluation of the relationship with Saudi Arabia. My questions are: Is there any thinking within the administration for such a re-evaluation? How worried are you that Gulf partners are inching towards Russia? And given that inching, should the United States continue to provide weapons to Saudi Arabia?
On Ukraine, very briefly, President Biden earlier today was asked if he will meet President Putin during G20, and he said it remains to be seen. He did not rule it out. You’ve said in the past that Russians aren’t prepared for meaningful diplomacy; that’s why you’re not engaging. But right now, there are increasing concerns over the possibility of a nuclear attack. Don’t you think it is the responsibility of the United States to initiate diplomacy with Russia at a time like this?
And Mr. Foreign Minister, since the start of President Castillo’s term, there has been intense turmoil surrounding his government. He had to reshuffle his cabinet several times and has been grappling with corruption charges. Doesn’t that endanger Peru’s democracy, economy, and the stability of its policies? Thank you.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you, Humeyra. First, on the OPEC decision, I think as you’ve heard clearly from my colleagues in the White House and the administration, we see the decision as both disappointing and short-sighted, especially as we have a global economy that is dealing with the implications of recovering from COVID, as well as the aggression from Russia in Ukraine, the consequences that’s having.
We’ve said all along that supply needs to meet demand, and we’ve been clear about that and we’ve been working on that. And as you know, we’ve taken a number of steps over the last months to try to ensure that that’s the case, including releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, increasing significantly our production – oil production is up in the United States by about 500,000 barrels a day – and looking at other steps that we can take to ensure that there is adequate supply to meet – to meet global demand.
The National Economic Council Advisor, our National Security Advisor yesterday laid out some of the additional steps, tools, authorities that we’re looking at, again, to make sure that we have adequate supply of energy on the market to meet demand.
As to the relationship going forward, we’re reviewing a number of response options. We’re consulting closely with Congress. We will not do anything that would infringe on our interests – that’s first and foremost what will guide us – and we will keep all of those interests in mind and consult closely with all of the relevant stakeholders as we decide on any steps going forward.
With regard to Ukraine, I think what you’ve seen in recent weeks is a doubling and tripling down by President Putin on Russia’s aggression against Ukraine – the mobilization of reserves, the purported annexation of Ukrainian territory, and of course some of the loose talk that we’ve heard about nuclear weapons. We’ve also seen of course the very significant gains by Ukrainians to regain the land that was seized from them by Russian forces, both in the northeast and in the south.
But the fact is that President Putin and Russia have shown absolutely no interest in any kind of meaningful diplomacy. And unless and until they do, it’s very hard to pursue it. We’ve said all along, President Zelenskyy has said all along that this will ultimately be resolved through diplomacy. And if and when Russia shows that it has any seriousness of purpose about engaging in such diplomacy, we’ll be ready, we’ll be there. But every sign in this moment unfortunately points in the opposite direction.
MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) Mr. Harold Chavez from Exitosa.
QUESTION: (Via interpreter) Good afternoon, Foreign Minister. Good afternoon, Secretary. Harold Chavez from Exitosa. Mr. Foreign Minister, we would like to know which agreements you wish to get to agree upon in the OAS assembly. And if you allow me to speak about the impeachment facing the speech of Pedro Castillo.
FOREIGN MINISTER LANDA: (Via interpreter) Yeah, thank you very much. The General Assembly of the OAS, which has as purpose the crisis which is produced in our national reality and globally to – which has generated perverse consequences towards the most vulnerable peoples – that is why the focus of struggle against inequality and discrimination is not finished in – with a food topic, which is necessary, of course, satisfaction of basic social needs, but also, as it is mentioned, of struggle against corruption because it is an evil which affects and impacts on the public budget, or bad management, and also on – impacts on the piece of services by which the most vulnerable people must receive. And there is an agreement of struggle against corruption, but also because of the Peruvian experience of the last decades where the clause of integrity is present in many agreements or treaties that Peru has been signing or renewing.
In that sense, it is part, of course, of the deliberations of the internal assembly of the OAS, and in particular in food security, which is a human right for the populations. The most affected or vulnerable must have the possibility of have a minimum of nutritional health – girls and boys and people from the fields, from the – inside the country who do not have their main needs, basic needs covered. That is why in the scope of international political arena or on the strengthening of the public system in terms of health and also nutrition and food, we need to increase the public budgets to strengthen and give resources and programs to those areas. And this should not be made only locally – locally but all together with other countries, learning from experiences from other countries in topics of health and nutrition, as Mr. Secretary has mentioned, of strengthening this – in these topics with international cooperation both bilaterally and multilaterally will allow us to have success in solving these problems.
The impeachment which has been formed facing the speech of the president of the republic facing the – in the assembly of the OAS, on one hand it’s the acknowledgment that the president is the director of the external policy with regard to our constitution, and of this presidential diplomacy he expresses in forums regionally or globally, as in the United Nations, the guidelines of the external policy, which is not from this government but from the state during the last years. And that is why we’ve signed the principles of the UN, which are peace and security and the acknowledgment of the struggle of peoples, which in decolonization progresses under the UN have been having progress.
And with this, the impeachment will have to be answered to with – in accordance to the summons of the – of parliament. In a more precise manner, when I went there to the audience two weeks ago in accordance to the new questions they asked, we will have to clarify. It is an external policy independent and within the framework of international values of respect to the state of democracy, not only in Peru but in the whole world. Thank you.
MR PRICE: Vivian Salama, Wall Street Journal.
QUESTION: Thank you very much. Minister Landa, gracias por alojarnos. Una pregunta en inglés, por favor. Gracias.
So are you – okay. I wanted to ask you about the impact of the Ukraine war on Peru and the region in the coming months, in particular Peru’s efforts to secure fertilizers. What measures is Peru and its allies in the region taking to try to ease prices from climbing even further? Thank you very much.
Mr. Secretary, thank you so much for having us along with you on this trip. First, my question on Venezuela. Some recent events, including last week’s successful prisoner swap by the administration, also today’s vote on whether Juan Guaidó should be allowed to be represented at OAS, are being viewed by the Venezuelan opposition as a blow, particularly one that buys Maduro some time. Is the U.S. ultimately losing faith in the prospect that Guaidó might be its primary partner in Venezuela? And when his term ends at the end of this year, is there a prospect that the U.S. deals with neither Guaidó or Maduro?
And secondly a quick question on the UK, the global economy. As the global economy faces a slowdown, Britain has some unique challenges. Liz Truss, your former counterpart, has struggled since becoming Britain’s new prime minister. Are you confident that the UK will be able to manage – maintain its focus on some of the mutual global priorities like the war in Ukraine and the global energy crisis given the ongoing political and economic turmoil?
FOREIGN MINISTER LANDA: (Via interpreter) The foreign policy of Peru (inaudible) in these principles of multilateralism has diplomatic relationships with hundreds of countries in the world. And due to Russia’s aggression on Ukraine, Peru made a declaration within the framework of the UN condemning Russia because they broke the basic principles of the UN constitution of solving problems with dialogue and negotiation, which is what Peru continues to defend with regard to this conflict, which of course has impacted on Peru and in the whole world because it has broken the supply chain of urea and grain. And Peru has had to find elsewhere, and we’ve been talking to Mr. Antony Blinken to strengthen the cooperation of supply of fertilizers and urea which are demanded by the great extensions in agriculture in Peru, mostly survival farming that we have here in Peru.
And in the assembly of the OAS, we – we have heard President Zelenskyy asking for support in his conflict, and within this framework of Peru’s external policy, we again give him his support and we wish to find a solution in – because the civil society is the most affected in every war.
And within this logic, Peru also has a commitment apart from the international circumstances to have an agricultural policy which protects the small farmers, mostly the rural families, so as to establish some kind of bonds – bonuses for the acquirement of urea, and establish bonds to have this supply. And it is very complex now because of the conflicts, but with the cooperation of the – our friend countries from the region and other latitudes too, we are seeking to satisfy this demand. And with – along this logic, the second agrarian reform as stated by the government wants – wishes to be translated with – by a better supply of these resources which the agrarian population needs.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Let me, if I can comment briefly on the question that you posed to the foreign minister before getting into the questions you directed at me. With the Russian aggression against Ukraine, we saw what was already a very difficult situation around the world when it came to food insecurity get even worse. Already with climate change, with COVID, we’d seen significant impacts on the supply of food, including grain, including fertilizer, as well as price. But the Russian aggression exacerbated that dramatically, and we’re now in a situation where we have more than 200 million people around the world who are severely food-insecure.
From day one, we have worked to counteract that crisis and that situation. Back in March, shortly after the Russian aggression, President Biden dedicated a half a billion dollars to food fertilizer production in the United States to try to get more fertilizer on the market and to try to keep prices in check. In addition, we’ve been leading the effort internationally to deal with the food insecurity prices more broadly. At the United Nations back in May, as you may remember, we brought dozens of countries together and we put forward a call to action, a roadmap for how to deal with food insecurity. More than a hundred countries now have signed onto that roadmap, and it includes specific steps that we’re taking together both to deal with the immediate emergency situation that countries find themselves in but also with the mid-term and the long-term to ensure that countries have and develop the durable productive capacity that they need to produce food for themselves for the long term.
We also have one of the most significant programs in our government called Feed the Future that will dedicate $11 billion over five years to helping build long-term food security in countries that need assistance.
Today we talked with President Castillo about work that our two countries can do together to address the fertilizer challenge here in Peru, and we’re committed to doing that in the weeks ahead.
On Venezuela, there is no change in our policy or on our approach. There’s no change to our sanctions policy. That can only follow constructive steps by the Maduro regime to move toward free and fair elections, to engage in negotiations with the Unitary Platform, and for there to be genuine progress in those negotiations.
We’ve also said very clearly that we’ll review our policies, including our sanctions policies, in response to constructive steps by the Maduro regime to restore democracy in Venezuela as well as to alleviate the suffering of the Venezuelan people, who are the number one victims of the policies of the regime. And at the same time, we will also review and, if necessary, recalibrate our approach if there’s even more repression by the regime. So that’s where we are. And as I said, there’s no change.
When it comes to Prime Minister Truss, I’m obviously not going to comment on internal politics in the United Kingdom. What I can comment on is the prime minister herself, her character. She’s someone that I had the fortune to get to know very well when she was foreign minister, and we worked very closely together over more than a year, particularly on the Russian aggression in Ukraine.
No one took a stronger, more principled stand against the Russian aggression; no one was more determined to make sure that we were doing everything possible to support Ukraine, to put pressure on Russia, as well as to strengthen our alliance, our defensive alliance, NATO, in case aggression extended beyond Ukraine, than then-foreign secretary and now Prime Minister Truss. And I have zero doubt that that will continue in the weeks and months ahead. Thank you.
MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) Ladies and gentlemen, the presentation before the press is (inaudible). Thank you to the media. Thank you very much.