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SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you.  I think I can officially say good afternoon, everyone.  Yes, 12:02, so good afternoon.  (Laughter.)

FOREIGN MINISTER BALAKRISHNAN:  I don’t have my watch.  (Laughter.)  Take it on faith.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, we’re on – as always, on the same time.

FOREIGN MINISTER BALAKRISHNAN:  On the same time, always.  (Laughter.)

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  So Vivian, Foreign Minister, it’s wonderful to have you here at the State Department.  We have actually worked closely together since the last time I was in government, and I value the conversations we’ve had over many years.  And one of the things that I can say very clearly is that every time I have an opportunity to spend time with the foreign minister I learn something, and I am grateful for that.

Singapore is for the United States a true partner.  And having the opportunity today to discuss so many issues that bring us together regionally – bilaterally in the first instance, regionally, but also globally was very, very beneficial.  But if I could, Vivian, let me just begin with a few words about my upcoming visit to the People’s Republic of China since we’re leaving tonight on that trip.

We look forward to having a series of meetings with senior officials in Beijing, building on the engagements that we’ve had with the PRC since President Biden and President Xi met in Bali late last year.  And to summarize it, the trip has three objectives.  First, to establish open and empowered communications so that our two countries responsibly manage our relationship, including by discussing challenges, by addressing misperceptions, and avoiding miscalculations.

Second, to advance U.S. interests and values and those we share with allies and partners around the world, including speaking directly and candidly about our very real concerns on a range of issues.  And third, to explore the potential for cooperation on transnational challenges – global economic stability, illicit synthetic drugs, climate, global health – where our countries’ interests intersect and the rest of the world expects us to cooperate.

Intense competition requires sustained diplomacy to ensure that competition does not veer into confrontation or conflict.  And again, that is what the world expects of both the United States and China.

Now, our friends in Singapore and Southeast Asia more broadly are essential to realizing what is a shared vision for a free and open, a prosperous, a secure, connected, a resilient Indo-Pacific, where people, where goods, where ideas can travel freely, where rules are applied fairly and transparently.  And indeed, for six decades now the Strategic Partnership between the United States and Singapore, rooted in respect for the rules-based international order, has helped strengthen peace and stability in the region and around the world.

I reaffirmed to the foreign minister that ASEAN is at the heart of our Indo-Pacific Strategy.  The United States supports ASEAN’s centrality, and we see a considerable convergence between our own Indo-Pacific Strategy and ASEAN’s Outlook on the Indo-Pacific, epitomized by a shared belief in inclusive economic growth, transparency, and the rule of law.  Vivian and I discussed Russian and the ongoing war of aggression against Ukraine.  Singapore has consistently stood up in enacting sanctions that are taking a toll on Russia’s war machine.  And we’ll continue to support Ukraine as we work toward a just and lasting peace, one based on the principles that I laid out recently in Helsinki.

Respect for human rights and self-determination are also being challenged in Burma, where the military’s coup and the brutal crackdown continues to harm civilians, to deprive them of their right to choose their own path, and threatens regional stability.  We appreciate Singapore and ASEAN’s critical role in seeking a peaceful solution.  The United States will continue to impose strong sanctions against those perpetrating atrocities.  We welcome Singapore’s partnership in maintaining the necessary economic pressure.

Our two countries are also seizing new opportunities to work together from space and cyber to supply chain resiliency to clean energy.  We spent some time talking about that.  As part of the Green Shipping Challenge launched at COP27 last year, Singapore recently announced an MOU with the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to upgrade digital infrastructure and to reduce emissions.  We’re partnering to advance our clean energy across ASEAN, including the ASEAN power grid, which will facilitate renewable energy development and deployment throughout the region and help Singapore transition to net-zero emissions by 2050.  And as part of our expanded U.S.-Singapore climate change partnership, we’re announcing today new and enhanced areas of cooperation from reducing deforestation to encouraging energy-efficient buildings.

All this collaboration is rooted in one of our strongest bilateral relationships in the Indo-Pacific.  American companies – we talked about this as well – are the largest source of foreign direct investment in Singapore.  We’re working to grow our economies even faster and even fairer through the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, of which Singapore was an early and enthusiastic supporter.  Singapore is also a critical security partner, hosting American ships and aircraft, sending pilots to train in the skies above Arizona and Idaho.

And for evidence of our robust people-to-people ties, one need look only for example at Singapore’s cabinet, where over half the ministers, including Prime Minister Lee, have studied in the United States.  President Yacob is also a distinguished alum of the State Department’s International Visitors Leadership Program, proving that we have a pretty good eye for talent. (Laughter.)  Recently, the Prime Minister urged the people of Singapore, and I quote, “To think boldly, to aim high, to seek far.”  Those are wise and powerful words, and I look forward to that spirit continuing to guide the close partnership between Singapore and the United States.

Vivian.

FOREIGN MINISTER BALAKRISHNAN:  Thank you, Tony.  It’s always special to meet you here.  I think we’ve been meeting regularly for about seven years, including in different incarnations.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  That’s right.

FOREIGN MINISTER BALAKRISHNAN:  But – and so I will confess to being biased, but I think the United States is very blessed to have the ultimate, consummate diplomat in you, and more so at these very testing, trying, and challenging times.  So it’s an honor to be here, and thank you for the opportunity to discuss a wide range of issues just now.

We first reaffirmed the excellent, longstanding, close, stable relationship between the United States and Singapore, and I should add our shared commitment to a rules-based international order, and the fact that it was the United States seven, eight decades ago which in fact envisioned, underwrote, and supported this rules-based international order.  And even now as we go through challenging times, I think we need to reaffirm the importance of such a system.

We also covered a range of bilateral, regional, and global issues.  I think on the bilateral front everyone knows that we’ve got a very robust, economic relationship.  And of course, we are in that special category which is defined as a major security cooperation partner of the United States.  But we haven’t stood still.  We’re also expanding into new frontiers.  You’ve just mentioned the updated United States-Singapore Climate Partnership, and this will focus on collaboration in five areas, including regional energy transition in Southeast Asia and also low and zero emission solutions.  So watch this space.  There’s a lot happening.

We are also working in other areas like cybersecurity, all the more pertinent now with the challenges that we are facing.  And also we – we also signed the Artemis Accords last year, so that’s another whole new frontier for collaboration.

I mentioned just now that in fact for 33 years we’ve had the Memorandum of Understanding regarding the United States use of our facilities, both naval and aviation.  Again, that has been a symbol of our belief that the United States strategic presence and contribution to our part of the world has provided stability, has provided opportunity, and helped to underwrite the peace which we should never take for granted.

Singapore is home today to over 5,700 United States companies, and I also made the point that the United States investments in Singapore exceed what the United States has invested in Japan, China, and ROK combined.  If you consider how small Singapore is, that statistic becomes all the more remarkable.

On the other side of that same equation, Singapore’s investments into the United States and U.S. exports to Singapore in fact support more than 2,000 – 250,000 jobs in America itself.  So I know it’s not just about trade for its own sake but also in terms of jobs and opportunities for people on both sides.

I also wanted to commend the very active regional engagement under President Biden’s administration and with your shepherding the efforts in our part of the world.  The fact that President Biden attended the ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh last year and the President also hosted the ASEAN-U.S. Special Summit in Washington in May last year, that sent a very strong signal of engagement.  And we also elevated the ASEAN-U.S. relations to a comprehensive Strategic Partnership last year; and it’s not just a formal words but the real substance, the real deal.

We also look forward to working with you – and you mentioned it just now – to align the U.S. Indo-Pacific Strategy with the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific.  And we hope that there will be further discussions, hopefully when the President and you can visit our part of the world for the ASEAN meetings, the EAS Summit, the ASEAN-U.S. Summit as well, either here or in our part of the world in the near future.

So I think the point is we do want to reaffirm the importance, the critical importance, of the U.S. anchoring your strategic engagement in our part of the world.  And I made the point that there is in fact a deep reservoir of goodwill and trust, and you have many partners in the Asia Pacific.  Maybe others may not be as explicit as we are in saying how welcome you are, but I give you the assurance that everyone wants to see you engaged in our part of the world.

The IPEF, which we also discussed, is another strong reaffirmation of the U.S. commitment to the economic agenda in Southeast Asia and – no, in fact the Asia Pacific.  We welcome the substantial conclusion of the negotiations on the second pillar of the IPEF, and this focuses on supply chains.  And we hope that the remaining pillars of the IPEF will include meaningful provisions that will lead to concrete benefits and even greater regional integration.

Finally, I know you’ve got a big visit coming up; I believe you’re leaving tonight.  And I wanted to say that we commend your efforts.  This is a very important and critical moment, not just for the United States and China but, indeed, the rest of the world will be watching.  So we hope and believe that you will be able to manage the differences, but more important, establish open channels of communication, build mutual trust and understanding, and I wish you smooth sailing and a successful visit ahead.

So thank you again for hosting me.  Thank you for this chance to, as always, have very open, candid, sincere discussions, and I wish you all the very best.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you.

FOREIGN MINISTER BALAKRISHNAN:  Thank you.

MR MILLER:  We’ll take four questions.  First one goes to Simon Lewis with Reuters.

QUESTION:  Thank you.  First, to the foreign minister, Dr. Balakrishnan, the Secretary mentioned that Myanmar came up in your discussions.  I wondered if I could ask you for Singapore’s position on an initiative by the caretaker government in Thailand to re-engage with Myanmar’s military junta and reportedly inviting the junta back into ASEAN meetings.  Is that something that Singapore would support?  And I’d also be interested in your response to the recent report by the UN special rapporteur on Myanmar, on human rights in Myanmar, who identified $254 million worth of goods that have come through Singaporean entities to the Myanmar military.  So interested in your response to that.

And for the Secretary, I would also be interested in your view on whether ASEAN nations, including Singapore – also Thailand – should be doing more to stop the violence in Myanmar.  And then specifically on Thailand, I wondered if we could get your view on efforts to form a new government there.  Are you concerned about the Thai military trying to cling onto power despite the clear – pretty clear results of the election?

And just an additional one because it’s breaking news.  President Putin has said that tactical nuclear weapons have been deployed to Belarus.  Secretary, what’s the U.S. response to that, and are there consequences for Russia and Belarus?  Thank you.

FOREIGN MINISTER BALAKRISHNAN:  Well, thank you.  I think I counted at least three questions.  (Laughter.)  Let me get back to first principles.  We condemn the coup in Myanmar and the ongoing violence against civilians, the instability in the country, the setback to national reconciliation, and the enormous impact on the economy.  Unfortunately, it’s now more than two years.  We haven’t seen any signs of improvement.  From an ASEAN perspective, we have the Five-Point Consensus, and we haven’t seen any significant progress in fulfilling the Five-Point Consensus.

So we believe it would be premature to re-engage with the junta at a summit level or even at a foreign minister level and, in fact, our leaders at the recent ASEAN summit reaffirmed this position.  Having said that, the ASEAN chair, Indonesia, is engaging across a wide spectrum of stakeholders, and the key point is this.  You do need everyone ultimately to sit down and negotiate.  I don’t know how long it will take.  The last time, it took 25 years for some form of democratic transition to occur in Myanmar; I hope it won’t take that long.

But it’s very important for the rest of us, whilst we are in favor of reconciliation, we’re in favor of more dialogue, we obviously want to make sure that the level of violence goes down.  And certainly from Singapore’s perspective, our policy is that we should all do our best to make sure arms, or even dual-use items which can be used to inflict harm and injury on civilians, should be proscribed.

I noted Tom Andrews’ report, and one line in it is worth quoting.  And he said that, “There are no indications that the Government of Singapore has approved, or is involved in, the shipment of arms and associated materials to the Myanmar military,” unquote.  But more important, we’re also engaging Tom Andrews, because any specific information which he has access to and which we can use for investigations or, if need be, to prosecute companies or entities which are breaching our laws and our policies and arms and dual use – rest assured, we will get to the bottom of it.

But the bigger question is when will peace come back – Tony, I’m afraid I remain pessimistic.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  You can sign my name onto every word of what the foreign minister just said, including, unfortunately, the pessimism that he expressed at the end, which we share.  But everything that the minister said I ascribe to as well.  We are very focused in supporting ASEAN efforts to move forward toward a resolution that ends the violence, that frees people in jail, that puts Burma back on a democratic path.  The Five-Point Consensus that the junta signed onto has not been, to say – to state the obvious, advanced, much less met.

And it’s very important that we continue, all of us, to sustain the appropriate pressure on the junta and look for ways, of course, to engage the opposition in Burma and find every possible avenue to advance Burma’s return to their democratic path, to an end to the violence, the freedom of people who’ve been unjustly imprisoned.  And in all of these efforts, we are working – the United States and Singapore – very closely together, both through ASEAN but also on a bilateral basis.

With regard to Thailand, I’d simply say that our full expectation is that the government will be formed pursuant to the laws of Thailand.  That is our expectation.  That’s the expectation of people in Thailand as well.

With regard to the reports about Belarus, we’ve seen comments that were made in the last few hours.  We’ll continue to monitor the situation very closely and very carefully.  We have no reason to adjust our own nuclear posture.  We don’t see any indications that Russia is preparing to use a nuclear weapon.  The President said again this week that we remain committed to the defense of NATO – every inch of its territory – so that is our north star and we’re very focused on that.

I would just note that one of President Putin’s claims for starting his brutal invasion of Ukraine – one of the many rationales he gave at various points – was, ostensibly, to prevent the threat of Ukraine reacquiring the nuclear weapons that it gave up when the Soviet Union dissolved and Ukraine voluntarily gave up the weapons it inherited, along with Belarus and Kazakhstan.  So it would be rather ironic, among many other things, for President Putin to now be talking about putting nuclear weapons on the territory of a neighboring state – again, including a state that gave up the nuclear weapons that it inherited when the Soviet Union dissolved.

And as for Belarus itself, this is just another example of Lukashenka making irresponsible, provocative choices to cede control of Belarus’s sovereignty against the will of the Belarusian people.

MR MILLER:  Next question goes to Nirmal Ghosh with The Straits Times.

QUESTION:  Thank you.  Thank you.  Minister, you have spoken about the new frontiers in the relationship with the United States.  Could you elaborate a bit on that?  You mentioned the climate partnership, cyber security, and so forth – a few more specifics, if you could share.

And secondly, as has been mentioned, a lot of the world is watching the Secretary’s forthcoming visit to China.  I wonder if you could give us a Singapore and/or Southeast Asian view of U.S.-China relations.  And Mr. Secretary, if you could also speak to that latter part about – again, about ASEAN centrality and how it all fits into the Indo-Pacific Strategy with China.

FOREIGN MINISTER BALAKRISHNAN:  Well, thank you, Nirmal.  I used to be the minister of environment before this incarnation, so I was heavily involved with the final negotiations for the Paris Agreement.  One observation which I will make is that we would not have arrived at the agreement in Paris if it hadn’t been for the confluence of strategic and environmental interests of the United States and China, and I can tell you that from direct experience.  And in a sense, that’s why tonight’s trip is so important, because there are many global, planetary issues – climate, pandemics, even cyber security – which require the United States and China to work off the same page and be key pillars for a global system which will help increase resilience to threats to welfare, health, and prosperity for people all over the world.

So you go with our full support.  But having said that, speaking now, as a diplomat, I want to make this plea:  Please don’t put too much weight on poor Tony’s shoulders.  (Laughter.)  The fact is diplomats need time and space and sometimes just some quiet time to engage in some honest-to-goodness conversations without having to put out a tweet every hour or two.  The trip is essential, but not sufficient.  There are fundamental differences in outlook, in values.  And it takes time for mutual respect and strategic trust to be built in.  So it’s important, but I’m also making clear I hope people don’t have excessive expectations on that front.

On your question about the new frontiers, I already mentioned the climate partnership.  And there are five focal areas under that partnership, which include the regional energy transition; second, low- and zero-emission technologies and solutions, the – nature-based solutions and carbon markets; and fifth, urban decarbonization, resilience, and capacity-building.  And even in all these areas, you can see that there’s obvious opportunities for synergy and cooperation between the United States and Singapore, not just for our own sake but in our region as well.  I mentioned the Artemis Accords, so outer space is certainly another frontier.  And of course we’ve been working very closely, especially in the last couple of years, on cyber security, because that is a clear and present frontier where there’s both risk and opportunity.  So watch this space.  Tony?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  I’m, as always, tempted to say, “What he said,” – (laughter) – because once again, I think the foreign minister has captured it very, very well on all fronts.  Look, with regard to ASEAN, I simply want to note and emphasize something I noted before.  If you look at our own Indo-Pacific Strategy, and you then look at the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific, the coincidence of these approaches, these strategies, these visions is very, very strong, very, very high.

And that speaks to why we do put a premium on ASEAN centrality and why, as Vivian pointed out, starting with President Biden, we have had significant engagement, re-engagement with ASEAN over the last two and a half years.  Economic growth – inclusive economic growth – transparency, the rule of law, but also work on discrete issues and areas that have a real impact on the lives of people in the region as well as in the United States, whether it’s climate, whether it’s energy, whether it’s global health.  All of these are front and center in what we’re doing.  And one of the things that we talked about today is – we just spent some time talking about Burma.  And of course that tends, in ASEAN meetings and U.S.-ASEAN engagement, maybe that tends to get the headlines, and it’s hugely important.

But if you look at the agenda that we’re actually pursuing, both at the meetings that we have and then day-in, day-out, it’s a very broad universe of issues, of subjects, all of which really go to the needs, the aspirations, the hopes of people in the ASEAN region and in the United States.

MR MILLER:  Next question —

FOREIGN MINISTER BALAKRISHNAN:  So watch what we do, not just what we say, and you’ll see that there’s a full range of activities for the United States and its engagement with ASEAN.

MR MILLER:  Next question goes to Jennifer Hansler with CNN.

QUESTION:  Thank you.  Mr. Secretary, on Iran, how would you characterize the ongoing indirect talks with Tehran?  Would you say that you’re optimistic that an understanding can be reached between the two sides on constraining Iran’s growing nuclear program?  And then the Omani foreign minister said earlier this week that he believes the two sides are close on a deal for the detainees.  Do you agree with that characterization?

And then moving on to the China detainee issue, are you committed to raising the case of Kai Li, Mark Swidan, and David Lin in your meetings in Beijing?  And more broadly, to both you, Mr. Secretary and Mr. Foreign Minister, are you optimistic – given what you said about this not being sufficient, are you optimistic that this will lead the way to continued meetings, continued dialogues between the U.S. and China, including on the military-to-military front?  Thank you.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Great.  Thanks, Jennifer.  With regard to Iran, some of the reports that we’ve seen about an agreement on nuclear matters or, for that matter, on detainees are simply not accurate and not true.

On the nuclear side of the equation, we are determined to ensure that Iran never acquires a nuclear weapon.  We remain convinced that the best way to do that is through diplomacy.  We haven’t taken any option off the table.  You’ve heard that clearly from the President.  But we continue to believe that diplomacy would be the most effective path forward, but there is no agreement, and reports to the contrary or simply inaccurate.

When it comes to our detained citizens in Iran, nothing would please me more than to be able to say that we have an agreement that secures their release.  But that, too, would not be accurate.  It’s something we continue to work on intensely on a regular basis, and that’s separate and apart from any conversations we have on nuclear matters.  But I’m not in a position to say that we have an agreement.

With regard to the visit, two things.  One, yes, I will be raising the detainees.  This has been an ongoing conversation with the PRC and something that, for me, is always at the top of my list – that is, looking out for the security and well-being of Americans around the world, including those who are being detained in one way or another, including arbitrarily.

More broadly, what we’re working to do on this trip is to really carry forward what President Biden and President Xi agreed to in Bali at the end of last year, which was to establish sustained, regular lines of communication at senior levels across our governments precisely so that we can make sure that we are communicating as clearly as possible to avoid, as best possible, misunderstandings and miscommunications.  Because if we want to make sure, as we do, that the competition that we have with China doesn’t veer into conflict, the place you start is with communicating.  And so we’ll see what comes from this visit, but this is directly in response to what the two presidents agreed in Bali last November.

And as to what comes next, let’s see how the visit goes.  I think Vivian said it very well.  This is an important but, in a sense, insufficient step because there’s a lot of work to be done.  I’d note as well that even as we’re trying to make sure, through better communications, that the competition doesn’t veer into conflict, we’re also looking at areas where we might cooperate in the interests of the American people, in the interests of China and its people, but also in the interests of people around the world.  One of the clear demand signals that that we get, including from our close friends and partners, is that both the United States and the PRC will responsibly manage this relationship and look for areas where our cooperation might produce results that benefit not only our own people but people around the world, including in the region.  So we’ll be looking at that as well.

FOREIGN MINISTER BALAKRISHNAN:  Well, the only thing I can add there is perhaps a perspective from Southeast Asia.  First, if you look 100 years down the road, we see both China and the United States being a clear presence for the century and beyond.  Second, we see the United States remaining a Pacific partner and power and stakeholder.  We don’t want you to go away.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  And we’re not.  (Laughter.)

FOREIGN MINISTER BALAKRISHNAN:  Good.  Third, if you look at the challenges confronting the world right now – and we’ve enumerated climate, pandemics, cyber, opportunities in outer space – now more than ever, we will need – even as the world transits into a multipolar world, now more than ever, we need a rules-based multilateral system with institutions and processes fit for purpose, updated where necessary.  And again, this requires the United States and China to achieve a modus vivendi.

So this trip is important, it’s essential, but it doesn’t stop there.  And I think Tony knows the views of all of us in Southeast Asia: the more you travel and engage, the better.  And as I said, I am biased because I – he’s a friend, and I can think of no better diplomat at this point in time, in his cool, rational, emollient way, to deal with some very fundamental differences.  Because the two societies – and here we speak from experience.  China and the U.S. are not going to converge and become one identical entity.  And the challenge for all of us, both mentally, emotionally, and diplomatically, is to hold sometimes contrarian thoughts in one mind.

And this is the challenge of the century.  Fifty years ago when Henry Kissinger went to Beijing, it completely reordered the strategic furniture in the globe.  We are coming close to a point when this will be necessary again.  So we all watch with interest and concern and some optimism – because as diplomats we all have to be optimistic, otherwise you will not keep trying.  So let’s support these efforts and let’s see where you – where you’ll take it.

MR MILLER:  For the final question, Benji Hyer with Feature Story News.

QUESTION:  Thank you both.  Here on behalf of Channel NewsAsia today, CNA.  We’ve heard Washington and Singapore’s position on U.S.-China relations.  I wanted to ask your perspective on ties between Russia and China.  How much is the – what they call the friendship with no limits between Moscow and Beijing a concern for the U.S. Secretary of State and foreign minister for the Indo-Pacific and ASEAN?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  You’ve heard us speak to this on a number of occasions in recent months, and it entirely depends on the practical manifestations of that partnership or that friendship.  I’ll let China and Russia address how they view their partnership, but we’ve been very clear, for example, about the importance of countries not providing Russia with the kind of assistance that it can use to advance its aggression in Ukraine.

Equally we’ve been open and welcoming of efforts, initiatives of countries – including, for example, China – to try to play a positive role in diplomacy that can advance a just and durable peace in Ukraine.  As it happens right now, there are, I think, representatives from six or seven African countries who are in Ukraine also trying to advance that proposition.  I would note the terrible irony of the fact that while they’re in Kyiv, more missiles from Russian rain down on the Ukrainian capital, but I’ll leave that to others to underscore that particular irony.

But as with – again, as with many countries, we want to ensure that no one is adding fuel to this fire Russia is making.  And if countries by the same token can play a positive, productive role, including China, in trying to find a path to a just and durable peace, that’s something we welcome as well.

FOREIGN MINISTER BALAKRISHNAN:  Well, Singapore is a tiny city-state.  We’ve only been independent for almost 58 years, so I hope you understand from our perspective the UN Charter, international law, and the precepts of sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity are sacrosanct for us.  We have no other alternative.  And therefore, for us this invasion is something which we had to take a stand on, and we have.  And we – that’s expressed in our votes in the General Assembly and also in some specific sanctions that we have taken against Russia.  And I – it’s something which we don’t do routinely or lightly, but it’s an expression of how strongly we feel on this matter.

I can’t speak for China, but I would say that at least in their interactions with us – and also in their public statements – China also has affirmed the importance of territorial integrity, independence, and sovereignty.  And like Tony, I also hope that their efforts will bear fruit.  And we really have to pray for peace because we know that at the end of the day you will end up at the negotiating table.  But right now, blood is being shed and lives are being lost for perhaps marginal leverage on the negotiating table.  And as humanitarians, all of us must feel the pain and the tragedy of this situation.  And I think we all want peace.  When it’ll be achieved, I don’t know.  But we all want peace.

MR MILLER:  Thank you.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you.

U.S. Department of State

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