SECRETARY BLINKEN: Well, good afternoon, everyone. It is a genuine pleasure to welcome my friend Foreign Secretary James Cleverly back to the State Department. As usual, we covered a lot of ground, but I began by asking the foreign secretary to extend my warm congratulations to their Majesties King Charles III and Queen Camilla on their coronation.
I was in Atlanta over most of the weekend. I can report that many members of our team got up pretty early on Saturday to watch the ceremony, including me. I think it’s something that captivated millions and millions of Americans, as it did people around the world.
Today, I also had the chance to thank James for the United Kingdom’s crucial cooperation in getting citizens of both of our countries out of Sudan. These joint efforts allowed UK aircraft to evacuate more than 2,000 people, including U.S. citizens, from dangerous and unpredictable conditions (inaudible) evacuation of hundreds of additional U.S. citizens through Port Sudan. All told, we supported the evacuation of more than 1,300 Americans from Sudan in collaboration with our partners.
Together now, we are pressing the warring parties in Sudan to put down their guns and allow lifesaving aid to reach the Sudanese people. Even as we meet here, we have diplomats from the United States and Saudi Arabia deeply engaged in talks in Jeddah, working in close consultation with counterparts from the UK, the United Arab Emirates, the African Union, and other multilateral partners. The collective aim that we have is to lay the foundation for further negotiations between the parties that we hope can lead to a permanent cessation of hostilities.
But in the first instance, we’re working in Jeddah to extend the ceasefire and get agreement on the provision of humanitarian assistance to the people of Sudan. We continue to engage directly with Sudanese civilian leaders, with Sudanese civilian society with the goal of putting their nation back on the track to civilian democratic governance. That’s the goal that we share and the goal that we will not give up on.
We’re also working hand in hand, as we have been for well more than a year now, to provide support for Ukraine as it defends its people and its territory against Russia’s war of aggression. We applaud the UK’s pledge to match in 2023 the $2.3 billion in military support that it provided to Ukraine during the first year of the war. In addition to training of tens of thousands of Ukrainian soldiers, the UK is providing MRS, Challenger 2 tanks, armored vehicles, anti‑air missiles, and other military aid that will help equip Ukraine’s defenders as they work to retake more of their nation’s territory in the weeks and months ahead.
We also talked about the urgent need to extend and expand the Black Sea Grain Initiative. In recent days, Russia has once again returned to blocking ships from sailing to Ukraine’s ports to pick up the grain: a cynical action that directly results in less food getting to global markets and to human beings in Africa, in the Middle East, and around the world who need that food. While we’re grateful for the tireless efforts of Secretary-General Guterres and our colleagues in Türkiye working to break this impasse, the world shouldn’t need to remind Moscow every few weeks to stop using people’s hunger as a weapon in their war against Ukraine.
We’re teaming up to help rebuild Ukraine from the colossal damage inflicted by Russia’s relentless attacks. Next month, we’ll build on these efforts at the UK-hosted Ukraine Recovery Conference, which will bring together governments like ours with the private sector, with international financial institutions, with multilateral organizations to invest in the future of Ukraine and its people.
We also discussed how to meet other challenges to our shared security. In March, the UK released its Integrated Review Refresh 2023 and its assessment of both the challenges that we face and how to effectively address them to work together in that area. I think we see very, very close strategic alignment. That includes when it comes to both our individual relationships and coordinated approach with China, which we discussed today.
The vision that James set out a few weeks ago in his speech at Mansion House underscores the shared approach when it comes to key issues like ensuring peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, as well as looking for ways to cooperate with China where we can work together to solve big challenges. That’s what people around the world expect from great powers, and it’s in our collective interest.
I think it’s also important to note that even as we focused today, as we do, on Ukraine, on some of the challenges represented by our respective relationships with China, we equally focused on a much broader agenda and that is the needs, the concerns, the imperatives for people around the world as they deal, and as we deal, with the impact of climate change, food insecurity – as I’ve already mentioned – energy insecurity, global health, trying to provide for more inclusive economic growth through work that we and partners in the G7, as we’re preparing for the leaders’ meeting of the G7, can help advance and support. That agenda is very much the focus of both the United Kingdom and the United States.
James said something when we were together recently in Japan that I’ll take the liberty of quoting here. He said, “The world is a healthier, happier, safer, more prosperous place when the United Kingdom and the United States work closely together, and it’s in our mutual interest to do so.” I couldn’t agree more.
And next month’s visit by Prime Minister Sunak to meet with President Biden will offer us a chance to do even more of that, and we’re very much looking forward to it.
With that, the floor is yours.
FOREIGN SECRETARY CLEVERLY: Secretary Blinken, Tony, thank you once again for hosting me here in Washington. It’s always a pleasure to speak with you, to discuss the areas of bilateral interest, as well as the issues which affect the whole world. We did so recently at the G7 with our – all our friends in the international community.
And thank you also for the kind words that you’ve said on behalf of your nation on the coronation of His Majesty King Charles III and Queen Camilla. Can I also thank the First Lady for joining us at this time of special celebration, a once in a lifetime event made more special because we were able to share it with friends from across the world.
Can I also put on record our thanks to the United States of America and, indeed, you personally for the huge amount of effort that you have invested in seeking peace in Sudan. It was a situation which unfolded whilst we were meeting at the G7 in Japan, and I commend the effort that you personally put in, engaging with the generals, with the leadership of the warring factions, to try and bring initially a ceasefire and then your ongoing work, the ongoing work of the United States of America, in trying to broker a sustainable peace.
It should remind everybody that whilst we are, of course, working on the support that we give to Ukraine and their self-defense – and I’ll touch upon that again in a moment – we are not distracted from the pressing issues of the day and we deal with them. We deal with them effectively; we deal with them collaboratively. And we’re able to do so because of the very strong bilateral relationship that our two countries enjoy, a relationship which is invested in regularly by the visits that we make over here. And as you say, I know the prime minister’s very much looking forward to meeting with President Biden when he comes across next month.
But also we are very grateful to the President for his recent visit to the United Kingdom to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, a topic which I know is of great interest and passion to him, and we value your country’s engagement on that issue.
We remain committed to building peace and prosperity around the world, just as we are attempting to do in Sudan, and we continue to work towards that goal in Ukraine. Every time I come to the United States I make a point of thanking your nation for the scale of support that you have given to Ukraine. You are the largest donor, both in military and economic terms, and I know that your support is incredibly important in their ability to defend themselves against this unprovoked attack from Russia.
We, of course, spoke at length about the nature of that support, about the next few months, and the importance to not only look at the context through the prism of the conflict but also to focus on the future rebuilding work that will inevitably be needed. We are very pleased – the UK is very pleased to host on behalf of Ukraine the Ukraine Recovery Conference, where we will seek to build a coalition that will enable Ukraine to rebuild its country after this conflict has been concluded, after they regain their country back. And we value the United States of America’s coordinating role in ensuring that the private sector as well as the public sector is heavily involved in that reconstruction. From the UK’s point of view, we’ll of course also continue to provide financial and military aid. We intend to give the Ukrainians the tools they need to successfully defend themselves against the invasion.
But just as we did with Sudan, we remain focused on the needs of some of the poorest people in the world, and I echo your comments on the Black Sea Grain Initiative. It is completely wrong that Russia uses the hunger of some of the poorest people in the world to pursue leverage during this conflict. They should re-sign the Black Sea Grain Initiative and do so immediately. They should unlock the supply of food to go to those people around the world who need it most. And it is perverse that they are using hunger in the developing world as leverage in their conflict in Ukraine.
We did, of course, also have the opportunity to speak about issues on a broader context. And, of course, how we recognize the role that China has in world affairs and how we respond to China’s action will, of course, be an ongoing part of our bilateral discussions.
I recently gave a major speech on the UK’s posture towards China, which was derived from our recent integrated review refresh. We made the point that we need to defend ourselves as nations – the UK is doing this, as indeed the United States of America is – against inappropriate activities by China. We also need to make sure that we build alliances and strengthen the pre-existing alliances that we have, as I’m doing today with the United States of America, but also with our friends in the Indo-Pacific region. And we have to engage with China directly, robustly, regularly, to seek to influence the decisions that are made in Beijing and do so in a way that benefits the whole world, whether that be on the maintenance of peace across the Taiwan Strait, which of course is something which affects all of us irrespective of where we are in the world, to issues such as climate change, pandemic prevention and response.
And that of course brings us full circle to our bilateral relations with the United States of America. We have been close defense partners. We are intelligence-sharing partners. And of course, we have strong economic ties. And we will seek to find opportunities where the UK can be a strong economic partner to the United States of America as well as being a strong defensive partner as well.
It is – and thank you for reminding me of that quote; I do happen to be rather proud of it – I think it is in our mutual interest and in the interests of everyone around the world that the UK and U.S. bilateral relationship continues to be one of the points of pride, and one which is strong, and one which I intend to make even stronger still in the future. Thank you.
MR PATEL: We’ll take four questions. First, Kylie Atwood from CNN.
QUESTION: Good morning. Thank you both for taking questions. Secretary Blinken, I want to just ask you a quick question on China and then pivot to Ukraine. This week, when Ambassador Burns met with the Chinese foreign minister, did they agree to begin planning on your rescheduled visit to Beijing? And then on Ukraine, does Ukraine have what it needs to be successful in winning back at least some of the territory that Russia is now occupying in the upcoming counteroffensive?
And Secretary Cleverly, the same question for you. Does Ukraine have everything it needs to be successful in winning back some of that territory? And then specifically related to international support for Ukraine headed into the coming months and year, there are reports that your country is preparing to send long-range missiles to Kyiv. When could those long-range missiles from the UK and potentially other European allies actually arrive in the country? And we have seen in the past that when the UK moves on an additional military capability for Ukraine, the U.S. has followed suit. In any of your conversations so far, have you gotten indications that that might be the case with long-range missile systems as well? Thank you.
FOREIGN SECRETARY CLEVERLY: Thank you.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Kylie, thanks very much. Happy to start. With regard to China, I’m obviously not going to go into any detail about the ambassador’s conversations with Chinese counterparts. What I can say is this. What we have communicated to our colleagues in the government in Beijing is the importance from our perspective in engagement, precisely because we have a deeply complicated and also consequential relationship that is important to people in the United States and China, but beyond that around the world; that our two presidents agreed when they met in Bali at the end of last year that it would be important to establish and strengthen our lines of communication; and that we believe that that’s in our interests and also something that the rest of the world expects us to do because there’s an expectation that we will responsibly manage the relationship. And precisely because we have profound differences as well as, I believe, some responsibility not only to manage those differences so that the competition that we have doesn’t veer into conflict, but also the potential where it’s in our mutual interest and where it answers needs that the world has as well to find areas of cooperation, that engagement’s the way that we try to pursue both of those responsibilities.
So that’s the nature of the conversation that we’re having with China in this moment, and we’ll see where that goes.
With regard to Ukraine, all along, from day one – in fact, before day one – it’s been our determination to make sure that Ukraine has what it needs to effectively defend itself against the Russian aggression. And throughout the more than one year of that aggression, we have worked very hard to adjust at every step of the way to what was needed at any given time; and right now, of course, the focus is on the Ukrainian efforts that we anticipate to try to retake more of the territory that’s been seized from Ukraine by Russia over the last 14-plus months.
I believe that the efforts that both of us have been deeply engaged in are very productive in terms of what more than I think 50 countries have been able to provide Ukraine. Secretary Austin has been leading a process, as you know, for many months where we have a coordinated process to do that. And as I’ve said repeatedly, it’s not only the weapons; it’s the training, and the UK has been engaged in significant training. It’s making sure that the Ukrainians can maintain the systems that we provide them. And it’s important, of course, that they have the right plans, again, to be successful.
My own estimation is that they have in place across all of those dimensions what they need to continue to be successful in regaining territory that was seized by force by Russia over the last 14 months.
FOREIGN SECRETARY CLEVERLY: Kylie, thank you. I’m going to take slight issue with one of the elements in your – in your question, but thank you for highlighting that the UK has been very proactive in our support for Ukraine. We are very proud of the fact that we provided the antitank – the handheld antitank missile systems ahead of the February of last year’s invasion by Russia, and those pieces of equipment proved very consequential in Ukraine’s defense of Kyiv.
But I also think it’s important that we put on record that the United States from the very start has been very active, very effective in its support, and as befits a country of the scale and power of the United States of America, it is the largest donor of the allies. So I wouldn’t want to imply that there’s either kind of competition between us or anything else. We have from the very start worked in close coordination.
The nature of our militaries is different. The natures of our political systems are different. There are some things that the UK is able to do more quickly because of the nature of our political system, and there are some things that the American system allows them to do different and better. It’s not about always trying to replicate what our allies do. That’s not the point of an alliance. The point of an alliance is that we support each other, that we reinforce each other in our work to help Ukraine defend itself. And as Secretary Blinken said, we constantly assess and coordinate with each other and with the Ukrainians to make sure that the support that we are giving them matches the needs at the time: those antitank missiles at the early stages, air-defense systems more recently, the training of their ground troops, the provision of armored vehicles and ammunition, and the ability for them to project effective force against Russian troops within Ukraine to push them out of their country. And we will continue to do so.
It is a collaborative effort. It has proven to be very, very effective. And what we’ve seen over and over again is that the Ukrainian, both politically – the Ukrainians, both politically and militarily, have learned quickly, have been relentlessly focused on using the support that we give them effectively, and have consistently outperformed expectations – certainly the expectations of Vladimir Putin.
QUESTION: Your assessment on the long-range missiles that potentially get to them?
FOREIGN SECRETARY CLEVERLY: Well, look, you would, I’m sure, understand that anything to do with operational details about the nature, the timing, the scale of our support would be counterproductive for us to discuss publicly.
MR PATEL: We’ll next go to Mark Stone with Sky News.
QUESTION: Thank you both very much. Secretary Blinken, a question for you in a moment, if I may. But first of all, for Foreign Secretary Cleverly: It feels as though support for Ukraine is waning a little bit. You may disagree with that, but you can feel it on Capitol Hill with influential sections of the Republican Party and their base across America skeptical now about the never-ending – seemingly never-ending support for Ukraine. If Ukrainians don’t deliver a decisive victory over the next few months, how do you – how does Britain persuade America that they must continue to lead support for a Ukrainian victory? And if you can’t, what then?
And a second question for you, if I can, just a little bit more on the long-range missiles. Can you give us any assessment of whether these long-range missiles will come and what effect that will have on the battlefield?
And then in a moment for you, sir.
FOREIGN SECRETARY CLEVERLY: Well, I – I’ve said this – why don’t you put your question on record, and then (inaudible) my frame of view —
QUESTION: Yeah, okay. Sorry, I will. Yeah, of course. Secretary Blinken, I want to focus with you on American priorities, if I may. Since Ukraine – since the war started, there have been nearly 9,000 civilian casualties in Ukraine, according to the UN. In America this year, in the past five months, 15,000 people have died from gun violence; 70,000 people died last year from opioid overdoses, many of those drugs coming from China. Your argument on defending Ukraine is clear, but with so many fundamental challenges here at home and politicians telling people that security begins at home, how do you maintain support for a battle far away? Thank you.
FOREIGN SECRETARY CLEVERLY: So firstly, on our support for Ukraine – and when I say “our,” I mean the wider alliance of friends who are supporting Ukraine. This means the UK and the United States of America and others. We need to recognize that the outcome of this conflict will have effect all over the world. I’ve said over and over again the eyes of the world are watching. They are watching how we respond to this challenge; they are watching to see our resolve. And whether it be in capital cities or non-state actors, the message that we send now is really important.
I think the message that we should send is that when we commit to something, we stick with it. We have the grit, we have the determination, we have the strategic endurance to see it through until its successful conclusion, and anyone watching should learn that lesson.
I would also make the point that, of course, there has been an economic impact on people in the United States of America and in the United Kingdom. This is not a byproduct of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This is part of the conflict. Economic coercion through their restrictions of hydrocarbons, pinching off the supply of grain to the developing world – this is part of the conflict; it’s not a byproduct of the conflict. And we should recognize that if we do not re-establish the principles of the UN Charter – the foundation stone of peace in the post-Second World War era, that powerful nations cannot invade their neighbors with impunity – the world will be more dangerous, more expensive, more difficult.
So this is not just about Ukraine, though, of course, the Ukrainians have been suffering enormously and it’s right that we defend them. It is about us, and it is in our interest, as well as the Ukrainians’ interest, that we stay resolute in our support, because it will become more painful and more expensive if we do not.
And when it comes to the Ukrainians’ forthcoming counteroffensive, I’ve made the point that this is not a film. There are no certainties when it comes to conflict. The Ukrainians have consistently outperformed expectations, but there can be no guarantees in war. So we have to recognize that we are giving the Ukrainians a huge amount of support – as I’ve said, they have learned quickly; they have adapted very, very successfully, and they have defended themselves incredibly effectively – and we need to continue to support them, irrespective of whether this forthcoming offensive generates huge gains on the battlefield, because until this conflict is resolved and resolved properly, it is not over. And that’s the message that I have spoken about back home in the UK and I will continue to say to those friends and colleagues here in the United States of America as well.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you. First, I can only violently agree with my friend and strongly endorse what he’s just said. We have exactly the same perspective.
Second, I would also dispute the notion of waning support. I would refer you, for example, just recently to the very strong statement made by the Speaker of the House McCarthy about support for Ukraine and the enduring support and determination to see this through.
But stepping back, there is not a zero-sum choice between some of the work that we’re doing around the world and the work that we’re doing at home. In fact, to the contrary, they’re directly linked and they’re mutually reinforcing. We’ve spent the last couple of years making historic investments in ourselves – infrastructure, our technological edge when it comes to semiconductors, making sure that the United States would continue to lead when it comes to dealing with climate change and producing the technology of the future, green technology for green economies.
At the same time, working closely with our partners, we’ve revitalized, re-engaged our alliances, our partnerships. We’ve built new ones. The net result is that we are stronger at home, and our standing around the world is at I think the highest level that I’ve seen in recent years.
And, of course, we are – I was going to say walking and chewing gum – running and chewing gum at the same time. Even as we are engaged in helping Ukraine defend itself against this Russian aggression, for all the reasons the Foreign Secretary laid out – and, as he said earlier, we are equally focused on a very broad global agenda that addresses the needs and concerns of people around the world as well as our own citizens, and, of course, we’re focused on challenges that we have at home.
You mentioned opioids, synthetic opioids like fentanyl. We’re relentlessly focused on that, and that is by definition a problem that is both local and global. We’re in the midst of building a much stronger global coalition to deal with the ravages that fentanyl is producing. In the United States, it’s the number one killer of Americans between the ages of 18 and 49. So this is right at the top of our agenda. And of course, we’re working very hard at home to deal with demand, to deal with treatment, to deal with recovery. At the same time, we’re working very closely, including with our neighbor Mexico, on the law enforcement piece to break up the cartels, to break up the financing, to interrupt the distribution. But more broadly, we’re also working to get at the global network that has the production of some of the chemicals that go into fentanyl being made halfway around the world, and then coming close to us, perhaps getting diverted into the illicit produciton of fentanyl, and then winding up in the United States. That’s exactly what the coalition that we’re building – and more on that in the coming weeks – will work to address.
We know that in the United States, when it comes to fentanyl and synthetic opioids, to some extent we’ve been the canary in the coal mine. It hit us first, and it’s hit us very hard. But as the markets become saturated in the United States, we see criminal enterprises trying to make markets elsewhere in the world, including in Europe, including in Asia. And there is a growing awareness and urgency on the part of other countries to making sure that we’re tackling this problem.
So that’s exactly what we’re doing, and we’re not only doing it at home – we’re doing it by building a very strong partnership with other countries, with the private sector, and other institutions to engage on it.
So the bottom line is these are not zero-sum choices. These are responsibilities we have: dealing with challenges we have at home, dealing with challenges we have around the world, and understanding the connections that exist between them.
MR PATEL: We’ll next go to Shaun Tandon with the AFP.
QUESTION: Hi there. Good afternoon. Another conflict that’s caused a lot of suffering: Syria. Just two days ago, the Arab League voted to readmit Syria. To both of you, do you see this at all as a failure of the efforts to isolate Assad that have been going on for many years? Specifically to Secretary Blinken, across partisan lines in Congress there are calls to continue using the Caesar Act and other authorities to prevent normalization with Assad. Is this still something that can be done, despite the reconciliation by the Arab League and by Türkiye, for that matter, with the Assad regime?
And to Foreign Secretary Cleverly, on that note as well, does the United Kingdom agree with the U.S. approach of no reconstruction aid at this point so long as Assad is there? Is that the approach that you think is beneficial?
And just briefly, if I could ask both of you if you had any – any thoughts on the events today in Pakistan. Former Prime Minister Khan was arrested; there was some violence. If you have any thoughts on that – thanks.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Shaun, thank you. Let me – let me address Syria first. A few things on that. We do not believe that Syria merits readmission to the Arab League. It’s a point we’ve made to all of our regional partners, but they have to make their own decisions. And our position is clear: We are not going to be in the business of normalizing relations with Assad and with that regime.
Having said that, we also clearly have shared goals when it comes to Syria with our partners. And I think that’s reflected in a number of the things that they’ve said. First, ultimately the only solution to the crisis inflicted on Syria by Assad has to be consistent with the UN Security Council Resolution 2254 that lays out expectations for a ceasefire, for humanitarian assistance, and for free and fair elections to ensure that Syrians have a government that actually reflects the will of the Syrian people. We agree on the importance – the imperative – of expanding humanitarian access to Syria. We agree on the importance of continuing the work to degrade ISIS or Daesh, to make sure that it can’t re-emerge. And we agree on the importance of reducing Iran’s malign influence and presence in Syria, as well as more broadly in the region.
So I think the Arab perspective, as articulated through the Arab League, is they believe that they can pursue these objectives through more direct engagement. But the – we may have a different perspective when it comes to that, but the objectives that we have I think are the same. So that’s where the focus is.
I think it’s also fair to say that in terms of what’s happened over the last few years, what we’ve set out to do is to work to try to stabilize as best we could from afar the situation; to ensure, as I said, that ISIS cannot re-emerge in Syria; to expand humanitarian access. And on those criteria I think we’ve actually made some progress. Fewer Syrians have lost their lives in the last few years. It’s unfortunately a low bar given the horrors of the last decade, but that is a fact. We’ve taken ISIS leaders off the battlefield to ensure that, again, that organization couldn’t re-emerge in the way that it at one point controlled a huge chunk of Syria and used it as a base for potential attacks around the world. And the humanitarian aid has continued to flow. In fact, we’ve managed to expand it, and we even managed to continue it despite the horrific earthquake in Syria.
So I think if you look at those various metrics, we have made some progress. And again, with our Arab partners, even if we disagree on the readmission to the Arab League, the objectives that we have remain the same.
And with regard to Pakistan, of course I’ve seen the reports that you’ve alluded to, and we just want to make sure that whatever happens in Pakistan is consistent with the rule of law, with the constitution.
FOREIGN SECRETARY CLEVERLY: Shaun, yes. Again, this is an occasion where the UK and the U.S. share very, very similar views. I had a number of conversations with our interlocutors in the region ahead of the formal announcement of Syria’s readmission. I say to you now what I said to our friends in the region, that the UK is very uncomfortable with Syria’s readmission to the Arab League. But as Secretary Blinken said, ultimately is a decision for the membership of the Arab League.
The point that I have made is that there needs to be conditionality if they choose to take this course of action, have they done – as they have done. It needs to be conditional on some fundamental changes of behavior from Damascus and from the Assad regime. The protection of Syrians, if they choose to go back to Syria from the refugee camps in the region, needs to be assured. The Security Council Resolution 2254 needs to be at the heart of any engagement with Syria. And we cannot just wish away the actions of the Assad regime over the last few years; the brutality against Syrian people cannot just be ignored. And the UK certainly won’t brush that under the carpet.
But we do recognize that there is a huge amount of pressure on countries in the region. They seek to alleviate that pressure through engagement with the Assad government in – or the Assad regime in Damascus. (Inaudible) if they are going to do that, then my strong view is that they should make sure that any steps that they take are more than matched by fundamental changes in behavior from the Assad regime and commitments that are then adhered to in line with 2254.
Again, with regard to Pakistan, I’ve seen the headlines. I have not yet had the opportunity to be briefed in detail. The UK has a longstanding and close relationship with Pakistan. We are Commonwealth partners. We want to see peaceful democracy in that country. We want to see the rule of law adhered to. I’m uncomfortable to speculate any further without having a detailed briefing on that.
MR PATEL: We’ll – final question – go to Nick Allen of The Telegraph.
QUESTION: Thank you. If I could turn to trade, please. Secretary Blinken, how do you address concerns on the other side of the Atlantic about the Inflation Reduction Act? What do you say to allies who might feel it’s protectionist at their expense?
And Foreign Secretary, in the absence of an FTA, and with the emergence of the Inflation Reduction Act, what specifically are you pushing for to boost joint economic security and the bilateral investment relationship between the two countries? For example, was there any discussion today about critical minerals and a deal similar to the one with Japan? Thank you.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you. I think as we’ve said over these last months, our primary focus with the Inflation Reduction Act was making sure that we’re making the appropriate investments in ourselves to make sure that we can deliver when it comes to continuing to produce the technologies that are necessary both for dealing with the climate crisis and that are going to be, I think, central to 21st century economies. And that’s what the act is all about. This is a historic commitment to dealing with climate and also a historic commitment to making sure that our economy is producing the very things that will be front and center for economies around the world over the next decades.
But as we’ve also said very clearly, the intent is broader than that in terms of making sure that, collectively, with countries around the world that have a similar approach and are of similar mind, that we’re working together to build the strongest possible collective infrastructure, supply chains, ecosystem to produce those technologies. And we’ve also worked to make sure that to the extent there were any unintended consequences coming from the act, that we’ve addressed those, and that’s what we’ve been working to do, I think successfully, over the recent months. This is not at all zero sum. On the contrary, I think it offers the prospects for a collective race to the top, not a race to the bottom when it comes to both addressing the climate crisis and making sure that our economies are producing the very technologies that are going to be front and center in the 21st century global economy and making sure that our countries collectively are doing that and that we are producing the strongest possible diversified and resilient supply chains.
All of these things are connected. I think there are profound benefits in the IRA for many of our partners around the world because, again, we will be increasingly joined in a supply chain that we’ve been working to build. So I suspect that when the prime minister is here, we’ll continue with that conversation. As the foreign secretary said, we continue to look at ways to strengthen and deepen what is already an extraordinarily strong economic partnership between our countries.
FOREIGN SECRETARY CLEVERLY: Nate, I know FTAs are often used as a shorthand for closer economic partnerships. We are not prioritizing an FTA with the United States of America because there are many areas where we can work more closely, more collaboratively, have real economic coordination that does not require the traditional kind of tariff-reducing elements of an FTA.
One of the advantages of being able to speak directly and regularly is the ability to coordinate and make sure that the completely understandable and correct desire of every government to make sure that it protects itself against future economic coercion – for example, that it protects itself against pinch points of critical elements of its supply chain, and that is right and proper that governments seek to do that.
But in doing so, it also seeks the opportunity to work closely with likeminded friends and economic allies in the same way that we are amongst the strongest defensive allies in the world as two member states of NATO. We are intelligence-sharing partners through the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing relationship. The UK is also seeking to build an economic alliance which protects the interests of the United States of America while simultaneously protecting the UK’s interests, protects standards, protects against the use of constrictions of key elements of global supply chains as a form of political or – as a form of coercion.
And all these things are best done in close coordination, which is why – whether it’s in Japan or in London or in Washington or anywhere else – we always take the opportunity to discuss, as we do the situation in Ukraine, those other immediate pressing issues, but also some of the long-term ways that we can work more collaboratively to protect those things that Tony quoted that I’ve said in the past: the things that make us healthier and wealthier and more prosperous and safer. And I have no doubt that when my prime minister comes to the United States next month that’ll be very much on the agenda that he discusses with President Biden.
MR PATEL: Thank you, Excellencies. Thank you.
FOREIGN SECRETARY CLEVERLY: Thank you.