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MODERATOR:  So the Foreign Secretary is going to make some remarks, followed by Secretary Blinken.  And then we will have time for a couple of questions.

FOREIGN SECRETARY CLEVERLY:  If you’re ready.  Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for joining us here at 1 Carlton Gardens.  It is a pleasure to formally welcome U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to London this week to join us, as we cohost the Ukraine Recovery Conference.  It is a great opportunity to catch up and to compare notes, as we do regularly when we meet at various places around the world.

My current counterpart has hosted me on a number of occasions.  I felt it was about time I returned the favor.  But it did give us an opportunity to speak about the situation in Ukraine, the nature of our mutual support to Ukraine’s self-defense efforts against the Russian Federation’s brutal and unprovoked full-scale invasion on February of last year.

We also talked about the recent visit that my prime minister made to Washington, and his meeting with our American friends, including, of course, President Biden himself, and the close coordination and cooperation which we enjoy across a range of areas, including the signing of the Atlantic Declaration.

I also had the opportunity to get an update from Secretary’s Blinken’s recent trip to Beijing.  And of course, the ongoing work that we do to try and encourage peace and stability around the world is a regular feature of our bilateral discussions, including, of course, our ongoing work to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

But this week is very much about encouraging the private sector to invest in Ukraine’s rebuilding and recovery.  We recognize that that means that we need to demonstrate that those investments will be effective and that they will be safe.  And that, of course, means the ongoing assurance that the Ukrainians seek that they will not be reinvaded once they have successfully regained their territory, their further integration into institutions – Euro-Atlantic institutions and European institutions – that they understandably aspire to.  But of course, it also means supporting them as they perform the reform of their institutions that will facilitate the investments in their country.

One of the things that we have seen – one of the things that we have witnessed, with our support and with our encouragement, the very swift transformation of their armed forces to a very effective set of institutions, military institutions.  And we want to see that same alacrity and pace with the reform of their governmental institutions.  So with our help, with our support, with our encouragement, I have no doubt that they will replicate the speed of that transformation.

And finally, whilst it was not an area of conversation with Secretary Blinken this afternoon, I would put on record the UK’s Government’s thoughts to those individuals who are currently in the submersible in the north Atlantic.  We wish them all the luck.  And of course, we hope that they will be swiftly found and returned to their loved ones.

Thank you.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  And I can only echo that, James.  Thank you.

It’s always wonderful to be in London, but it’s particularly wonderful this time to be hosted by my friend the foreign secretary.  Greatly appreciate that and especially appreciate your leadership – the UK’s leadership – on this reconstruction conference for Ukraine, which brings us together this week.

We have more than 50 countries represented in London for the conference, not just to talk about the importance of Ukraine recovering from this war, but to make sure that it is thriving as a prosperous democracy and to take concrete steps in that direction.  That’s what these couple of days are all about.

President Biden said from the outset of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine that we would stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes.  And both of our countries are deeply committed to that.  We will continue to deliver on that commitment, including through a new, robust U.S. assistance package that I’ll be able to announce tomorrow.

But as we discussed – and as on virtually everything – we are in full alignment.  Ensuring Ukraine’s future as a secure, sovereign, independent nation demands not only providing for its security but also for its economy, its democracy, and its full integration into Europe.  These are really flip sides of the Ukrainian success point that we are helping to deliver on.  And that’s exactly what’s happening here this week.  Even as we’re meeting Ukraine’s needs on the battlefield as it continues to defend and take back territory seized from it by Russia, we are building the military for the long term so that it has in place the ability to deter and, if necessary, defend against future aggression.

And here I just want to, again, thank both the foreign secretary and all of the UK for the extraordinary support that it continues to provide, including announcing just last week, another 250 million pounds in additional security assistance, alongside almost 100 million pounds worth of air-defense capabilities.  And of course, thousands of Ukrainian soldiers trained in the UK are making a big difference on the battlefield.

But as I said, the flip side of this is all the work that we are doing here to help Ukraine prepare for having the strongest possible economy, the strongest possible democracy, which is actually necessary to achieve a thriving economy and for reconstruction.  If Ukraine is going to attract the investment it’s going to need – not just from governments, not just from international financial institutions, but from the private sector – it has to build the best possible environment to attract that investment.  So we’ll be talking about all of that over the next the next few days.

We also had an opportunity to talk about preparations for the NATO Summit that’s upcoming in Vilnius and the practical steps that we will continue to take to shore up our own security and revitalize the Alliance to make sure it’s prepared to meet all of the challenges of this century.

As James mentioned, as all of you know, I came to London from Beijing, and so we had an opportunity to discuss the trip that I just took.  President Biden sent me to Beijing because he believes strongly that both the United States and China have an obligation to manage our relationship responsibly.  And that starts with strengthening lines of communication across our governments, exploring and making clear our positions and intentions in the places where we have very significant differences, and also looking at where we might cooperate together when it’s in our mutual interest, and often as well, in the interest of many other countries around the world.

We had very candid, substantive, and constructive conversations on each of these fronts, and I think it’s clear that both sides agreed on the need to try to stabilize the relationship.  And we identified specific areas where dialogue and cooperation might benefit both of us and also other countries around the world.

Having said that, the hard work now, our diplomatic work is going to be entrained to actually carry this forward.  None of these – none of the work we’re doing is done in a day or even in two days, even with as much time as we spend together.  It’s a process, and we’ll be engaged in that going forward.

But here again, we are in full alignment with our friends and partners.  If you look at what Prime Minister Sunak spoke about in Hiroshima, when all of the leaders were together at the G7, and particularly when you look at what James spoke about at Mansion House, you can see that there is very clear alignment, and not just between us – between virtually all of Europe and many countries in Asia as well and beyond.  And I think that alignment in the approach that we’re taking to the challenges posed by China is one of the most important assets that we have going forward.

Let me just finally say that, as James mentioned, this visit also comes on the heels of Prime Minister Sunak’s visit to Washington, where he and President Biden announced a new plan for adapting and reimagining our economies and our economic partnership for the 21st century. The Atlantic Declaration is broad and it’s deep, as is our partnership.

And among other efforts, it will expand our work together on artificial intelligence, something we talked about over lunch, both at the prime minister’s first global summit on AI safety and elsewhere.  We’re focused together on establishing guardrails that maximize innovation to use AI for good, while minimizing the risks that it represents.  And we’ll work not just with each other, but other governments, with the private sector, with civil society to ensure that AI capabilities are used safely, that they strengthen human rights and democratic values rather than repress them, and that they advance equity, not bias.

We’re also, of course, launching negotiations on a critical minerals agreement, and that will count five critical minerals extracted or processed in the UK toward the tax credits that exist now under the landmark Inflation Reduction Act.  That, in turn, is going to create good paying jobs on both sides of the Atlantic, in both of our countries, while also meeting the high labor and environmental standards that we share.  And it will help us meet the targets that we’ve set to prevent catastrophic warming of our planet.  The agreement will make our critical supply chains more resilient, less dependent on unreliable governments.

So across all of these efforts, including the one that brought me here today – ensuring a secure, independent, democratic, and prosperous Ukraine – as always, we simply could not ask for a better partner than the United Kingdom.  We’re grateful for that. and James, thank you for lunch.

FOREIGN SECRETARY CLEVERLY:  Tony, thank you very much.  Sam, are you going to be the ringmaster for a couple questions?

MODERATOR:  Yes.  Thank you both for that.  We’ve got time for a few questions, and we will start with James Landale from the BBC, please.

QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, Foreign Secretary, good afternoon.  James Landale, BBC.  Mr. Secretary, first of all, can you explain to us why the United States is currently unwilling to give Ukraine ATACMS long-range missiles?  And why is the United States pushing for Jens Stoltenberg to say on as NATO secretary general?

And Foreign Secretary, is the UK willing to give state-backed insurance coverage to British firms so that they can help rebuild Ukraine while the fighting carries on?  And can you explain why you’re blocking the release of funds from the sale of Chelsea Football Club – more than $2 billion pounds – that are designed to go to help those victims of the war in Ukraine?  Thank you.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Happy to start.  On weapons for Ukraine, at every step along the way of this aggression by Russia against Ukraine, we’ve worked to get the Ukrainians what they need to defend themselves and, now as well, to take back the territory that’s been seized from them.  And in fact, that started even before the aggression.  As we saw the storm clouds mounting the previous year, we did drawdowns for the kind of equipment that they needed – Stingers, Javelins – and that they had in-hand when the Russians did attack.  And that enabled them – of course, starting with their own courage and resilience – to keep the Russians out of Kyiv, to hold on to their country, to push them to the east and push them to the south.

But ever since then, as the battlefield has changed, we’ve adapted to that.  And we are in constant communication, constant dialogue, along with about 50 other countries who’ve been brought together in the Ramstein process, with the Ukrainians to make sure that they have what they need.  And different countries are doing different things to address those needs, and all of that is coordinated.

At the same time, I think it’s very important that, as always, that we not get focused on any particular weapons systems, because it’s not just the weapons system.  It’s the training, it’s the ability to sustain the systems that we provide them, and then it’s the ability to use them in a coherent way across all of the different lines of effort that they’re making, something that the foreign secretary knows a lot about given his own background.

And so we will be in constant dialogue with them going forward to make sure that they are getting what they need.  And again, I think focusing on any one weapons system at any one time, I think, oversimplifies the question.  And to date, I think we’ve been very successful collectively in making sure that Ukraine has what it needs to maximize its chances.

When it comes to the secretary general of NATO, no, we have not – we’re not pushing, promoting any particular candidate.  We’re in very close consultation with our allies and partners to determine where we want to go with NATO and its leadership.  The current Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has been, in President Biden’s eyes, a remarkable leader of NATO.  There are also some rather extraordinary people now who people are talking about as the next secretary general, and that’s a decision we will all make collectively as an Alliance.

FOREIGN SECRETARY CLEVERLY:  James, thank you.  I’m going to mash your two questions to me together, because ultimately this is about making sure that Ukraine has what it needs, not just to win this war of survival, this conflict about their self-defense against Russian aggression, but as Tony said and as we discussed earlier, this week is very much about creating the conditions necessary for public sector money, of course, but predominately private sector money to fund their reconstruction.

Now, the precise details of how we do that, I don’t want to prejudge.  The whole point of the next couple of days is that the UK uses its expertise as a global financial services center – including as a global insurance center – but also our convening power.  The fact that the U.S. Secretary of State is here and he found the time in his unbelievably busy schedule I think reflects the fact that the world views the UK as a good place to come together to discuss these complicated issues.

So I’m not going to prejudge exactly what vehicles will be used to unlock both the public and the private money that Ukraine will need.  But as Tony has said, ultimately, we want to ensure that the investment that goes into Ukraine is safe – safe from further conflict – and deployed as effectively as possible through robust and reformed Ukrainian institutions.

And with regard to the recent funds from Chelsea, a foundation has been created that will ultimately be responsible for the distribution of all those funds, but we are talking about very, very large sums, and I made it very, very clear that I want to make sure that those funds are distributed effectively and to support the Ukrainian victims of this conflict.  And it is better, when such significant funds are at stake, that we do it right rather than trying to do it quick.

MODERATOR:  Thank you very much.  We will now move on to John Hudson from The Washington Post, please.

QUESTION:  Thank you.  Mr. Secretary, in Bali you had the advantage to watch President Biden and President Xi wrestle with some of the biggest issues of differences between the United States and China.  Yesterday you got to meet again with President Xi, listen to his concerns about U.S. policy, and then yourself expressed concerns about China’s policies.  Do you believe that President Biden views President Xi as an equal?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  I’m not quite sure how to take that question, John.  President Xi is the leader of China, and in and of itself that makes him someone of tremendous significance on the world stage.  The President and President Xi have known each other for quite some time, as you know.  When they were both vice presidents, they spent time together both in China and the United States.  So there’s a long relationship there, good knowledge of each other.

And as I mentioned earlier, I think it’s very important that we have these communications, these lines of communication that are regular, that are sustained, that are high level across our government.  And the trip this weekend I think is a demonstration of that, and I suspect that as we have more members of our own government going to China, Chinese officials coming to the United States, we’ll see the benefits of that, at least in stabilizing the relationship, making sure that we’re managing it responsibly, making sure that the competition doesn’t veer into conflict, exploring areas of cooperation.

But at the end of the day, I think that the relationship and the communications between the two leaders, between President Biden and President Xi, is most important of all.  That’s why they’ve had a number of communications and meetings to date, and that’s why I expect you’ll see more of that in the time ahead.

QUESTION:  And Secretary Cleverly, when President Putin watches senior U.S. officials and senior Chinese officials talk for more than 10 hours, as they did in the last couple days, and have substantial conversations about the war in Ukraine, do you think that makes him nervous?

FOREIGN SECRETARY CLEVERLY:  Well, I can’t make a – I can’t make a credible explanation of anyone else’s frame of mind, but I think the broad point about the importance of engagement, particularly in turbulent times, is absolutely key.  In my Mansion House speech I made the point that international engagement matters.  Secretary Blinken is doing his job as the representative of the United States of America on the world stage, engaging with world leaders and his counterparts around the world, to make sure that we continue to make the world a more safe, more prosperous, less conflicted place.  And that is what – that’s what foreign ministers – that’s what foreign ministers do.

But you’re right that at the moment we are very much focusing on the war in Ukraine, on Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine and what we do to bring that to a swift end, and on the – what we need to do to rebuild that.

MODERATOR:  Thank you very much.  And Don McGrath, PA, Press Association.

QUESTION:  Secretary Blinken, following your meeting with President Xi, do you think that he believes that conflict with the West, with the U.S., is now less likely than it was before?

And to the foreign secretary, will you be planning to visit China yourself in the coming months?

And just one other small follow-up.  Do you think China should be invited to the artificial intelligence summit and the prime minister summit in the coming months as well?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, just as the foreign secretary said, I can’t put thoughts into President Xi’s mind or anyone else’s mind.  So I’m certainly not speaking for him, so you’d have to ask him that question.

What I can say is this.  I think both countries see the importance of trying to bring more stability to the relationship, and certainly the United States is committed to responsibly managing the relationship, because failure to do that risks misunderstanding, miscalculation, and as I said, risks the competition entering into conflict, which is in no one’s interest.

My sense from the long meetings that we had in China over this weekend, including the meeting with President Xi again, is that China also sees the utility and importance of having greater stability.  But a lot of work remains to be done, and of course there are very profound, very significant differences that we have to continue to manage through.

We were very clear that we will stand up resolutely for our interests and our values, and we had many very, very candid exchanges about places where we have real differences when it comes to our own interests, our own values, which happen to be the same ones that our friends have here but also many other countries around the world.

But it’s also incumbent upon us to communicate clearly.  I could not agree more with what the foreign secretary just said about the imperative of engagement.  In fact, it would be irresponsible not to engage: irresponsible because it makes more likely the possibility of misunderstandings, miscalculations and thus conflict.  It makes it virtually impossible for us to work to advance many of the interests that we have.

We had important conversations, for example, in our case not only about some detained Americans in China but also about the scourge of fentanyl, which is killing more Americans between 18 to 49 than anything else, where we hope that China can play a positive, cooperative role with us and other countries in getting a better handle on that.  So those are just a couple of examples – never mind standing up for human rights – where engagement is absolutely vital.

FOREIGN SECRETARY CLEVERLY:  Well, briefly just to add to the broader points that Secretary Blinken has made about the importance of engagement, in my Mansion House speech I highlighted that engagement was one of the three pillars of UK’s foreign policy towards China, including domestic protections, including building strong friendships and alliances in the region and beyond.  A big part of the engagement is, of course, face-to-face.  I’ve had face-to-face meetings with Chinese officials, and of course I’m looking at the options of a potential visit, but there are no details at this stage.

MODERATOR:  Thank you very much.  And time for one more question from Will Mauldin, Wall Street Journal.

QUESTION:  Thank you so much for having this, Mr. Foreign Secretary.  First, for Secretary Blinken, we reported that China is preparing a military training facility in Cuba, and was just wondering that – the readout of the meetings that we’re – you just attended when were in Beijing said that you discussed – the two sides discussed China’s intelligence activities in Cuba.  But I’m wondering:  Did you discuss with Xi Jinping their military activities in Cuba and whether that would – that kind of action, either in the North America, waters around North America or the waters around China, would – could affect the détente that has emerged recently between the U.S. and China?

And then for Mr. Foreign Secretary, I just want to expand on the BBC’s question.  Beyond the Chelsea funds, and does the UK Government – regardless of whatever consensus is reached in coming days, does the UK Government favor using the funds of sanctioned oligarchs to help rebuild Ukraine?

And then also just curious whether in your conversations my colleague, Evan Gershkovich, came up, whom I got to know, my friend and colleague, as – when he was a resident of London before he was detained in Russia.  Has that come up between you, and do you have any thoughts about how to get Evan back or how to deal with people whose – whose careers or lives are in danger in Russia?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thanks, Will.  Yes, I made very clear that we would have deep concerns about PRC intelligence or military activities in Cuba.  Since the start of this administration, we have engaged a number of countries where we’ve seen consideration of having some kind of presence by China – intelligence, military – and we’ve engaged in a number of diplomatic efforts in that regard.  And I think they’ve had some success in slowing down these efforts.  This is something we’re going to be monitoring very, very closely, and we’ve been very clear about that.  And we will protect our homeland; we will protect our interests.

FOREIGN SECRETARY CLEVERLY:  Thank you.  On the situation with regards to the rebuilding of Ukraine, as I have said, we recognize that governments have a role to play, we feel the private sector has a role to play.  But I think there is a very strong principle of natural justice whereby a significant – perhaps even the majority – burden for the rebuilding should sit on the shoulders of those who have either been responsible for funding or facilitated this brutal, full‑scale invasion of Ukraine.

Earlier on this week – yesterday in fact – the UK passed secondary legislation which meant that we can continue to freeze sanctioned assets until reparations are made by those individuals whose assets have been sanctioned.  It follows that simple premise that you break it, you bought it.  And I think it’s absolutely appropriate that those who have in whatever way facilitated this invasion bear the responsibility for making good on the reconstruction effort.

With regard to Evan, actually this was an issue that came up on my most recent visit to Washington.  I spoke extensively at the UK’s embassy in Washington in front of an assembled reception of journalists.  The UK’s position on press freedom and the protection of journalists is longstanding, and I very much reflect that today.  The way nations treat journalists is the canary in the mine to the way they treat citizens more broadly.  Where journalists are free to scrutinize, criticize, publicize, that shows a healthy society.  Where journalists are murdered, abducted, or indefinitely imprisoned, it is a very, very concerning marker.  Sadly, the situation in Russia, we know is not a benign environment for journalists and truthtellers, and the UK’s position on the protection of journalists remains absolutely unwavering.

MODERATOR:  Thank you, gentleman.  Thank you very much for your time.

U.S. Department of State

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