SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Good afternoon, everyone.  Let me – let me start with the situation in Sudan.  For the past 36 hours, we and our partners have been focused on how to stop the widespread fighting in Sudan between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces.  Indiscriminate military operations have resulted in significant civilian deaths and injuries, and are recklessly endangering the Sudanese people, diplomats including U.S. personnel, and humanitarian aid workers.

This morning, I made calls to Generals Burhan and Hemedti, urging them to agree to a 24-hour ceasefire to allow Sudanese to safely reunite with their families and to obtain desperately needed relief supplies.

I also underscored in both calls the responsibilities that Sudanese fighting forces bear for ensuring the safety and security of U.S. and other diplomats who are resident in Sudan, as well as for UN staff and other humanitarian partners.  If implemented successfully, a ceasefire for 24 hours can create a foundation to build upon for a more sustained halt to the fighting and a return to negotiations on a durable end to the hostilities.

The people of Sudan have made clear their democratic aspirations.  After months of talks, they were close to restoring a civilian-led government.  We remain committed to helping them achieve that goal.  At the same time, we will take all appropriate measures to ensure the safety of our people.

Now, we just finished up a marathon couple of days, during which the G7 foreign ministers came together to address some of the most consequential issues confronting our countries and people all over the world.

I want to thank our Japanese hosts and especially my friend Foreign Minister Hayashi for the warm hospitality and for his leadership.

Together, we have strengthened the centrality of the G7 as the steering committee of the world’s advanced industrial democracies, and deepened ties with other countries around the world.  And together, we emerge from this ministerial more globally engaged than ever.

A major theme of this G7 was how our nations can leverage our strengths to work with our partners to deliver better futures for people around the world, to focus on the issues of most concern to them in their daily lives.  And this means combining our political and economic muscle and our development dollars, yen, euros, and pounds to support countries on every continent in meeting their food, energy, climate, infrastructure, and technology challenges.

It means shaping a more inclusive international system – including with UN reform, making the international financial system more responsive to the actual needs of countries, and finding new formats for consultation that welcome more voices.  It means offering more countries better, more sustainable, and more equitable ways to prosper, while respecting their sovereignty.  From Central Asia to the Pacific Islands to Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East, our goal is to offer leaders and citizens better choices – free from coercion, unsustainable debt, and malign influence.

We also discussed a range of challenges to our shared vision for a free, open, secure, and prosperous international system.  The most immediate challenge, of course, is Russia’s ongoing war of aggression against Ukraine.

Yesterday, we recommitted to Ukraine: with the security and economic support that it needs today to defend its sovereignty and people, and for the long term to ensure that Ukraine doesn’t just survive, that it thrives – and that Russia is deterred from further aggression.

This includes continuing to tighten sanctions and export controls, putting that pressure on Russia to limit its ability to wage its war, cracking down on sanctions evaders wherever they hide, rejecting Moscow’s nuclear blackmail, and ensuring accountability for war crimes.

The G7 from the get-go has led the world in galvanizing and sustaining support for Ukraine.  Now, as Ukraine prepares to launch a counteroffensive to take back its land, to liberate its people in occupied territories, to stop the missiles, bombs, and drones which continue to rain down daily on its civilians, we stand with Ukraine.

And when the inevitable voices, led by a Russia that is losing its war of conquest, talk about avoiding escalation or call for Ukraine to stop reclaiming its own territory, we will remind the world who is the aggressor and who is the victim – who has 20 percent of its land occupied by enemy forces; whose children are being disappeared, and whose civilians are being killed and left in mass graves.

At the same time, Russia is again blocking Ukraine’s grain from reaching the world, spiking food prices for people everywhere.  For the last few days, no ships have gotten out of Ukraine, and more than 50 have been blocked from going in to load up.  Countries around the world depend on this life-saving grain.  Russia is breaking its promises to them.

We also discussed China.  All of our nations have consequential relationships with Beijing, and a number of G7 colleagues have recently visited.  What struck me in hearing the readouts of those conversations is that we are resolved and united in the need for candid discussions with Beijing about its unfair trade practices, its actions that undermine the international rules that all nations benefit from, and the risks if it breaks its word and starts arming Russia.  And of course we’re united in making clear to Beijing our opposition to unilateral changes to the status quo with Taiwan.

We’re also equally committed, individually and collectively, to constructively engaging with Beijing if it chooses to contribute its efforts – to efforts to address shared global challenges.  That is what the world expects of responsible powers.

At this ministerial, we also focused on nuclear proliferation.  I’m grateful to Japan for the high priority that it has placed on countering nuclear threats – including from the DPRK’s dangerous ballistic missile launches; Iran’s expansion of its nuclear activities, including the operation of advanced centrifuges and the accumulation of highly enriched uranium, for which it has no credible civilian explanation or purpose; Russia’s New START suspension and irresponsible nuclear rhetoric; and the PRC’s opaque and rapid build-up of its own nuclear arsenal.  These actions only strengthen our determination to address nuclear dangers.

We’re also focused on the threat posed by synthetic opioids.  Our communique speaks to our collective commitment to developing and implementing solutions to this crisis, and we will continue to cooperate closely – indeed, we will strengthen that cooperation – addressing illicit financing, disrupting trafficking networks, supporting public health responses, and more.

So it’s been a very productive and important few days which lay the groundwork for the Leaders Summit in Hiroshima in a month’s time.  And I commend to you the joint statement that we issued, or will soon issue, reflecting the work that we’ve done.

With that, happy to take some questions.

MR PATEL:  All right, we’ll take four questions.  First, Nike Ching from Voice of America.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Nike, how are you?

QUESTION:  (Inaudible.)  Thanks for the press conference.  On Sudan, can you provide more details on reports that a U.S. embassy vehicle was targeted in Khartoum, which means (inaudible) divided?  And what’s your plan to ensure the safety and security of U.S. citizens and diplomats?  Is there a plan to evacuate the embassy there given the newest developments?  And if I may, do you support the calls from some senators to sanction generals of the two fighting military factions?

And finally, if I may, on Wall Street Journal reporter.  Do you have more details on Ambassador Lynne Tracy’s access to Evan Gershkovich given reports that a Moscow court is scheduled on Tuesday to hear an appeal on his case?

Thank you.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Good.  Thank you very much.  With regard to Sudan, look, I’m limited in terms of the details and what I can get into from here, but I can confirm that yesterday we had an American diplomatic convoy that was fired on.  All of our people are safe and unharmed.  But this action was reckless, it was irresponsible, and of course unsafe – a diplomatic convoy with diplomatic plates, a U.S. flag, being fired upon.

In the calls that I had this morning with Generals Hemedti and Burhan, I made very clear that any attacks, threats, dangers posed to our diplomats were totally unacceptable.  This particular incident is still being investigated in terms of understanding exactly what happened.  The initial reports that we have is that it was undertaken by forces associated with the RSF, and again, I made very clear in my conversation with General Hemedti that any attacks that endanger our diplomats are totally unacceptable, and I shared the same with General Burhan.

We have deep concerns, of course, about the overall security environment as it affects civilians, as it affects diplomats, as it affects aid workers.  World Food Program had to suspend its operations; three of its people were killed.  That potentially has terrible consequences for the Sudanese people, who are in desperate need of the assistance provided by the World Food Program.  That only underscores the imperative of getting a ceasefire and putting Sudan back on the track that it was on, which was talks and negotiations toward the restoration of a civilian-led government.

We will continue to track this very closely and very carefully.  My number one priority, of course, is the safety and security of our personnel.  I’m in very close contact with – as is my entire team – with Ambassador John Godfrey and our entire team in Khartoum.  Again, I won’t go into any details except to say that we are and will continue to take every responsible measure to make sure that our people are safe and secure.

We’re also in very close coordination with other countries that have influence in Sudan.  I’ve been on the phone with counterparts from the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, to make sure that we’re coordinating carefully.  Our team as well has been in very close contact with the African Union, with other international organizations – again, to make sure that everyone is coordinated and that we are channeling the shared determination among the international community to get to a ceasefire as quickly as possible and to put Sudan back on the track of talks, negotiations, again, to restore civilian-led government in Sudan.

But first things first, the imperative is getting quickly to a ceasefire so that the guns stop firing, people can move about safely, reunite with their families, get the assistance they need, and all of us can continue to engage in supporting Sudan as it makes its transition.

With regard to Evan Gershkovich, yes, Ambassador Tracy and our chief consular officer were able to see Evan in prison in Moscow.  I can report, based on what Ambassador Tracy has said, that he is in good health and good spirits considering the – considering the circumstances.  We continue to call for his immediate release from this unjust detention.

MR PATEL:  We’ll next go to Tetsuo Shintomi with Kyodo News.

QUESTION:  Thank you, Secretary Blinken.  I would like to ask on the nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation, which is of big interest among Japanese people.  As you know, Japanese Prime Minister Kishida has expressed his hope to discuss on a world without nuclear weapons at coming G7 Leaders Summit.  As you are wrapping up foreign ministers meeting here in Karuizawa, do you feel any tangible progress toward that end?  And how do you think about the possibility of a world without – achieving a world without nuclear weapons despite all these challenges?

And in addition, if I may, many local people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, including a Hibakusha, which is an atomic bomb survivor, are looking forward to a U.S. leader’s visit to Hiroshima in May.  So I’m wondering if you had any message to them.

Thank you very much.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you very much.  First, I should tell you that we had – during this G7 meeting we had dedicated sessions on specific issues, the most important issues on our agenda.  And the final session that we had, dedicated session, was on arms control and nonproliferation, which in and of itself underscores the importance that the G7 attaches to it.  And I have to praise Japan’s leadership, as always, on this issue.

We, as G7 countries, are committed to maintaining and strengthening disarmament and nonproliferation efforts toward a more secure, stable, and safer world.  We’ll be convening, as you noted, at a leaders level in Hiroshima, which together with Nagasaki offers the most powerful reminder of the unprecedented devastation and immense human suffering that the people of Japan experienced as a result of the atomic bombings in 1945.

The overall decline in global nuclear arsenals has to continue and must not be reversed.  If you look at the trajectory from the onset of the Cold War through to today, we’ve seen that overall decline.  And that can and should be achieved through a realistic, pragmatic, and responsible approach to arms control and nonproliferation.

Having said that, we also see some very significant challenges not just on the horizon but fully present, and we have to continue to work collectively to counter these challenges: Russia’s suspension of the New START agreement, irresponsible nuclear rhetoric; the DPRK’s dangerous ballistic missile launches and further development of its own nuclear program; Iran’s expansion of its nuclear activities; and China’s pursuit in a very opaque way of a rapid nuclear arsenal buildup.

So based on our conversations today, I can tell you that these actions only strengthen our determination to address nuclear dangers, and it’s particularly why I’m grateful to Japan for the high priority it’s placed on this topic under its G7 presidency.

I can also tell you that the President very much looks forward to being in Japan for the G7 leaders and in Hiroshima specifically, and I know he’ll have much more to say when he’s here, but it’s something that he’s very focused on and looks very much forward to.

MR PATEL:  We’ll next go to Iain Marlow with Bloomberg news.

QUESTION:  Thank you, Mr. Secretary.  Chinse leader Xi Jinping has recently, obviously, made diplomatic waves both with the Saudi Arabia-Iran deal and its own proposal for peace in Ukraine.  Just the other day, Brazil’s president said the U.S. should stop encouraging war and start talking peace, and Brazil’s foreign minister also criticized Western sanctions for taking an unnecessary toll on nations involved in the conflict.  Do you think the Brazilian comments suggest that the U.S. is potentially losing the battle for public opinion on Ukraine in the Global South?  And do you think it’s time that Washington should meaningfully engage with China’s peace proposal, even despite the reservations about it freezing Russia’s territorial gains?

And secondly, just on China.  It’s been weeks since Biden said he would try and speak with Xi, and there’s still no clear plan for your own previously postponed trip to Beijing.  Given your own G7 counterparts are visiting China and urging engagement, do you think it’s time the U.S. started more substantive, meaningful engagement with senior Chinese officials or do you think Beijing’s unwillingness to engage is holding that back?


SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you.  A few things.  First, just speaking to the G7 itself and what I heard here and what we’ve been discussing over the last few days, what I – what I heard, again, is remarkable convergence on concerns related to the PRC and on what we’re doing to address those concerns.  And I think some of you heard my counterparts speaking to that directly, and I’d also invite you to read the joint statement that we put out that reflects very well the shared approach that we have to China – both the challenges it poses as well as the need for engagement that we all see and share.

But in general, over the past two years what I’ve seen not just in Europe but also in Asia is much greater convergence on the approach to take to China, which for all of our countries is among the most consequential as well as complicated relationships that we have.  We believe – the United States – that having lines of communication, being able to engage across the broad range of issues that animate the relationship, is important.  And we also believe that countries around the world expect us to manage the relationship with China responsibly, and that starts with engagement, with having lines of communication.  That’s exactly what President Biden sought to reinforce in Bali when he met with President Xi, and my expectation would be that we will be able to move forward on that.  But it does require China to make clear its own intentions in doing that.  We’ll look to see if they do so, but if they do so my expectation would be that we will find ways to engage as the presidents agreed during their Bali meeting.

Beyond that, I’m not going to speak to any individual countries.  I can just say more generally with regard to Brazil that President Biden, President Lula had a very good meeting when President Lula visited the White House – I think his first or certainly among his very first visits to any country.

MR PATEL:  The final question, Ryo Kiyomiya from Asahi Shimbun.

QUESTION:  Thank you, Secretary Blinken.  Welcome to Japan.  I have several questions on Taiwan and engagement with the Global South.

First, on Taiwan, French President Macron said in his interview that Europe must not be a follower of either the U.S. or China on Taiwan, and we heard that there was some discussions on this comment during the ministerial meeting.  How much are you worried his comment may undermine global support for Taiwan?  And do you think they represent perhaps a small victory for Xi Jinping in China’s effort to divide Europe and the U.S. on foreign policy issues?

And secondly, on the Global South, to address the challenges of Russia and China’s influence in the developing world, how do you mean to offer an alternative to China by engaging more with the Global South?  And also, what kind of role do you expect Japan to play in increasing engagement with the Global South?

Thank you.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you very much.  With regard to Taiwan, there is clear unanimity in the approach that we’re taking with all of our G7 partners and many other countries around the world, and that is an expectation that any differences be dealt with peacefully and that neither side take any unilateral actions that would disrupt the status quo that preserves peace and stability.  That is clearly what every single one of our G7 partners believes.  I think it’s reflected well in the G7 statement that we’re putting out today.  And again, a number of partners spoke directly to their views, to their countries’ views, on the broader relationship with China and the more specific question of Taiwan.  And as I said a moment ago, in my experience we actually have not seen greater convergence at any other time in the approach than we see now, both with Europe as well as with key countries in Asia.

With regard to what’s called the Global South, I think if you look at the discussions that we had just over the last two and a half or three days, the vast majority of the time was spent on looking at the issues that are actually affecting people’s lives around the world and focusing, as I said, on how we can leverage our strengths to deliver actual solutions on the issues that, as I said, are having an impact on the lives of people around the world as well as in our own countries.

So look at what we spent our time focused on and developing concrete action plans on: food security; energy and climate change; health security; building infrastructure that addresses the needs of countries around the world; catalyzing more investment from the private sector; broader and more inclusive economic growth; international financial institutions that actually respond to the needs of countries around the world.  That was probably two-thirds of the discussion that we had over the last two and a half days, and I suspect that you’ll see the leaders do the same when they meet in a month’s time.

And what this comes down to is that we as a G7, as individual countries, along with many other countries that are not part of the G7, want to spend our time, our focus, our resources on addressing these challenges and making it clear to countries around the world that this is not about asking or making them choose; it’s about offering a good, indeed a better – a better choice.  And that’s exactly what we’ve focused our attention on.  Again, I invite you to take a look at the statement that we put out.  I think it reflects it very well, and it’s a very good prelude to the meeting that the leaders will have in a month’s time.

MR PATEL:  Thank you, everybody.  Thank you.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thanks, everyone.

U.S. Department of State

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