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Before yesterdayPress Releases – United States Department of State

Secretary Blinken’s Meeting with Egyptian Foreign Minister Shoukry

Office of the Spokesperson

The below is attributable to Spokesperson Matthew Miller:
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken met today with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry in Cairo. Secretary Blinken and Foreign Minister Shoukry discussed ongoing efforts to protect Palestinian civilians, increase humanitarian assistance to Gaza, and secure an immediate ceasefire that includes the release of hostages. The Secretary and the Foreign Minister consulted on how to advance a path to a Palestinian state with security guarantees for Israel. Secretary Blinken reaffirmed the United States’ rejection of any forced displacement of Palestinians from Gaza.

Secretary Blinken and Foreign Minister Shoukry also discussed shared objectives for regional stability, including responding to Houthi attacks in the Red Sea, addressing instability in Libya, and ending the war in Sudan.

Secretary Blinken’s Meeting with Egyptian President El-Sisi

Office of the Spokesperson

The below is attributable to Spokesperson Matthew Miller:

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken met with President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi today in Cairo. Secretary Blinken and President El-Sisi discussed negotiations to secure an immediate ceasefire for at least six weeks and the release of all hostages. They also discussed ongoing efforts to protect Palestinian civilians and humanitarian workers in Gaza and Egypt’s essential leadership role in facilitating increased humanitarian assistance. The Secretary reiterated the United States’ rejection of any forced displacement of Palestinians from Gaza and reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to work with Egypt to advance peace and regional stability, including through the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with security guarantees for Israel. The Secretary condemned the Houthi attacks on commercial ships in the Red Sea and noted they do nothing to advance the cause of the Palestinian people.

Secretary Blinken also conveyed to President El-Sisi the United States’ strong support for the Egyptian government’s recent economic measures aimed at strengthening Egypt’s economy.

Secretary Blinken’s Meeting with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud

Office of the Spokesperson

The below is attributable to Spokesperson Matthew Miller:

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken met yesterday with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud in Jeddah. The Secretary underscored the importance of urgently addressing humanitarian needs in Gaza. Secretary Blinken reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to achieve an enduring end to the crisis in Gaza and to the establishment of a future Palestinian state with security guarantees for Israel. The Secretary and the Crown Prince continued discussions on achieving lasting regional peace and security, including through greater integration among countries in the region and enhanced bilateral cooperation between the United States and Saudi Arabia. The Secretary and Crown Prince also discussed the need for an end to Houthi attacks that are undermining both freedom of navigation in the Red Sea and progress on the Yemen peace process.

Namibian Independence Day

Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

On behalf of the Government and the people of the United States of America, I offer my sincere congratulations to the Namibian people as you celebrate 34 years of independence on March 21.

The United States values the enduring partnership and friendship between our people, rooted in our mutual commitment to democratic principles, human rights, and good governance. Together, we are working to build a stronger, healthier, and more prosperous future for the Nambian people.

On your 34th Independence Day, we reaffirm our commitment to partner with Namibia, honoring President Geingob’s legacy and vision for Namibia and Namibians.

Secretary Antony J. Blinken With Christiane Baissary of Al Hadath

Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Ritz-Carlton Hotel

QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, thank you for joining us.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you for having me.

QUESTION:  This is your sixth tour in the region since the war started in October.  Are you carrying any more initiatives to end the bloodshed in Gaza?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  We are.  We’re pressing for an immediate ceasefire tied to the release of hostages.  That would bring immediate relief to so many people who are suffering in Gaza – the children, the women, the men.  It would allow a much greater expansion of humanitarian assistance getting to them, and it could create the conditions to have a lasting, enduring ceasefire, which is also what we want to see.  So that’s the urgency in this moment.  That’s what we’re pressing, with Qatar and Egypt working closely with us to try to get an agreement.

QUESTION:  Some may wonder how are you pressuring Israel to do so while you are still continuing supporting them financially and militarily, and even in the United Nations by vetoing any resolution that commits for an immediate ceasefire.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, in fact, we actually have a resolution that we put forward right now that’s before the United Nations Security Council that does call for an immediate ceasefire tied to the release of hostages, and we hope very much that countries will support that.  I think that would send a strong message, a strong signal.  But, of course, we stand with Israel and its right to defend itself, to make sure that October 7th never happens again, but at the same time, it’s imperative that the civilians who are in harm’s way and who are suffering so terribly – that we focus on them, that we make them a priority, protecting the civilians, getting them humanitarian assistance.  And we’ve been leading the effort to do that, to get more in, to get more to the people who need it.  We are pressing on that as hard as we can.

QUESTION:  Talking about the humanitarian aid, as we know, the Biden administration is working on a maritime corridor or pier.  Can you tell us more about it – when it will operate, how it will operate, who will distribute the aid?  How about the security that must be there?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  What’s so important is to get as much assistance into Gaza by as many means as possible.  So yes, the maritime corridor, and actually, we’ve already seen ships start to bring assistance to Gaza on the sea.  But we want to make sure that there’s a pier, a port that can accommodate as much assistance as possible, and we’re in the process of building that.  And I think in a matter of weeks, hopefully, that will be done.

But that’s not a substitute for what’s even more important, which is getting assistance through over land, and that means that Israel needs to open up more access points to Gaza.  We’ve seen some progress there, including a new access point that was opened just about a week ago.  The ones that are already – that already exist, we have to get more assistance through on a regular basis, and all of this is necessary to do it, to make sure that as much assistance as possible is coming in through as many points as possible, reaching as many people as possible.

Another part of the challenge is it’s not enough to simply get trucks, ships, air drops into Gaza.  Once the assistance is there, it has to get to the people who need it, and this is something that we’re focusing on very much as well with the United Nations, with other providers.

QUESTION:  A UN expert said that you’re not doing enough, and even this new maritime corridor is – it will alleviate the hunger of like a small number of people in a very short period of time, and the Biden administration is doing it out of performance for political purposes related to the elections to meet a domestic audience.  How do you respond to that?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, I – simply by saying that, as I mentioned a minute ago, we’re pressing very hard on maximizing assistance coming in by every possible means.  And while the maritime corridor would be a very important addition, it’s not a substitute for making sure that we’re getting as much assistance through over land as possible.  That’s the best way to get aid into Gaza and to make sure that it gets to the people who need it.  That’s why we pressed initially to have Rafah open many months ago, then we pressed to get Kerem Shalom operating and open, then we pressed for a route from Jordan directly to Kerem Shalom and now we’re expanding that route.  We pressed for another opening that was opened just a week ago.  And we’re continuing – and we also pressed to get flour from Ashdod.

QUESTION:  But the Israelis are not letting the aid in.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  More aid is getting in, but it’s not enough.  And it’s imperative that Israel make this a priority.  It has to be the main focus, making sure that more aid gets in and gets to more people.  That’s what we’re – that’s what we’re telling Israel.  That’s a big part of our focus, and it’s a focus of my trip as well.

QUESTION:  Let’s go back to the negotiations.  As we know, several rounds of negotiations were held in Cairo, in Paris, and in Doha.  And till now, both parties didn’t reach an agreement – not a ceasefire, not even a truce.  What’s hindering the talks?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  It’s getting closer.  I think the gaps are narrowing, and I think an agreement is very much possible.  We worked very hard with Qatar, with Egypt, and with Israel to put a strong proposal on the table.  We did that; Hamas wouldn’t accept it.  They came back with other requests, other demands.  The negotiators are working on that right now.  But I believe it’s very much doable, and it’s very much necessary.  And of course, if Hamas cares at all about the people it purports to represent, then it would reach an agreement, because that would have the immediate effect of a ceasefire, alleviating the tremendous suffering of people, bringing more humanitarian assistance in, and then giving us the possibility of having something more lasting.

QUESTION:  But Hamas – lately, they are being more pragmatic, because they wanted initially a ceasefire, and now they are accepting a truce of six weeks, whereas Israel is not accepting any of this, because they want to launch an incursion into Rafah.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, first, of course, if Hamas was genuinely being pragmatic, then months ago – well, they never would have done what they did on October 7th.  And then having done that, this could have ended immediately if they had stopped hiding behind civilians, put down their weapons, released the hostages.  Then we wouldn’t have seen this – this terrible suffering.  But even with that, it’s been incumbent upon Israel to put the protection of civilians and getting assistance to them as a top priority.

So I’m still hopeful that – more than hopeful that an agreement is possible, and that we can reach it.  But it’s urgent, because of course with every day that goes by, more people are suffering.  The quickest path – the quickest path to ending that is getting this immediate ceasefire with the release of hostages.  Then a lot more becomes possible.

QUESTION:  How do you think an agreement is possible?  And negotiators and mediators in Qatar were saying that Netanyahu didn’t give any mandate to his negotiation team in Doha to make really a deal.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, I can’t get into – you’ll understand I can’t get into the details of the negotiation, but I can tell you that no, absolutely, the Israeli team is present, has authority to reach an agreement.  A very strong proposal was put on the table, and we have to see if Hamas can say yes to the proposal.  If it does – if it does – that’s the most immediate way to alleviate the misery of people in Gaza, which is very much what we want.

QUESTION:  But don’t you think that Netanyahu doesn’t want this to happen, because he wants to continue his operation in Rafah?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, we’ve been very clear – President Biden has been very clear – that we cannot support a major ground operation, military operation in Rafah.  There are, as you know, 1.4 million or so civilians in Rafah, many of them displaced from other parts in Gaza.  There’s no effective way of getting them out of the way and to safety, and even the people that would remain in Rafah would be in terrible jeopardy.

So this is one of the things that President Biden talked to Prime Minister Netanyahu about.  We have a team from Israel coming to the United States to look at a different way of dealing with the remaining problem of Hamas in Rafah.  So that’ll happen next week.  And —

QUESTION:  Indeed, Axios reported that Biden administration is weighing different alternatives to the invasion in Rafah.  Can you tell us more about these alternatives?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Look, I can’t speak to the details.  We have to have a chance to talk to the Israelis about this, but as I said, what we don’t want to see is a major ground operation because we don’t see how that can be done without doing terrible harm to civilians.  But at the same time, it is imperative to do something about Hamas, because Hamas has brought nothing but death and destruction to Palestinians.  And if you go back, Israel withdrew from Gaza unilaterally in 2006; Hamas engaged in major attacks on Israel in 2008, 2009, 2011, 2014, 2021, and of course October of 2023.  That’s not a sustainable situation.  And it’s also the greatest impediment to trying to find a lasting peace, lasting security, including a Palestinian state, which is the only way in our judgment to have something that’s genuinely enduring and that can bring lasting security for Palestinians, for Israelis, and for the region.

QUESTION:  We talk about this need (inaudible), to get back to the alternatives.  So if Netanyahu didn’t accept or approve any of these alternatives, what will your position will be?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, the President’s been clear that – as I said – we don’t and will not support a major ground operation in Rafah.  And right now our focus is on showing that there’re alternatives to that that can deal with the ongoing challenge of Hamas but in a way that doesn’t further jeopardize the safety, the security of the lives of innocent people who are caught in this crossfire of Hamas’s making.

QUESTION:  How does – you’ve always alerted Netanyahu and warned him, and he continue his operations without taking into consideration any of the United States warning.  So why now you think that the situation will be different and he will take this into consideration?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  We’ve had many, many clear, direct conversations over these months with Israel.  We have a long relationship and friendship with Israel, just as we do with many partners in the Arab world.  One of the hallmarks of friendship is the ability – indeed the necessity – to speak directly, to speak clearly, just as we did on Rafah but also as we’ve done on humanitarian assistance, and as we’ve continued to do on the need to have an enduring solution, including a resolution with the Palestinians.

QUESTION:  You said you will discuss – and now you’re saying get the right architecture for a lasting regional peace.  What’s your vision on this architecture?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  I think as dark as this moment is, there’s also a tremendous opportunity – maybe even a unique opportunity.  Because while there have been many efforts to make peace in the past – I was involved in some of them – what’s different now is that virtually every country in the region would like to actually integrate Israel, normalize relations for those that haven’t, and in effect help Israel provide for its own security.  But that requires a resolution to the Palestinian question and particularly a Palestinian state, and, of course, it requires an end to the military operations in Gaza.  If that happens, I think there is actually an opening to have something that’s enduring, something that’s lasting.  And it’s very hard in the moment for people to focus on that.

QUESTION:  Yeah, exactly.  Do you think it’s possible with the actual government in Israel, the extremist one?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  We have an Israeli society that is totally traumatized by what happened on October 7th, just as we have a Palestinian population that’s traumatized by the suffering in Gaza.  So it is hard because there’s very little trust on either side.  It’s something that we’ll have to rebuild.  But I think as people have a chance to focus on the alternatives – one alternative is this path to finally resolve the Palestinian question, to integrating Israel into the region, to giving it genuine security – that’s one path.  The other path is an endless cycle of violence, of death, destruction for everyone.  And I think as people concentrate on what the choice is, what the alternatives are, then there is an opportunity to move people down that first path.

QUESTION:  Tomorrow in Cairo is where you will discuss the governance, security, and the aid in post-war Gaza.  What’s your vision of this?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  So this is an – this is a very important question to resolve, because we want to see the conflict come to an end as soon as possible, consistent with Israel’s ability to defend itself.  When it does, we have to be ready – all of us have to be ready – for what happens with the governance of Gaza, and we would like to see, ultimately, unified governance between Gaza and the West Bank with a revitalized Palestinian Authority in the lead.

We have to look at security.  You don’t want to have a vacuum.  We don’t want – we’ve been very clear there can’t be an Israeli reoccupation.  We can’t have Hamas in charge of Gaza.  So we have to make sure that there’s a plan for security.  And there has to be a massive further infusion of humanitarian assistance and development for Gaza so that people can begin to rebuild their lives and rebuild their communities.

This is what we’ve been talking about with our Arab partners starting, really, in January.  And one of the focuses of this trip is to look at the work that we’ve been doing together and to try to carry it forward.

QUESTION:  How do you see President Abbas, Mahmoud Abbas’s decision to appoint a new prime minister?  Is it enough for the reforms the U.S. is pressuring the Palestinian Authority to perform?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  These are – these decisions on individuals, on people, these are decisions for the Palestinians to make, not for us or for anyone else to make.  I think it’s very important that the cabinet of the new government that emerges have new faces, younger people – people who are genuinely representative of Gazans, the West Bank, and who are prepared to do the necessary things to really revitalize the Palestinian Authority so that it’s better able to deliver for the Palestinian people – more transparency in government, combatting corruption, and then winning the confidence of people.

Now, it’s also going to be imperative that Israel work with, cooperate with, a new Palestinian Authority because it’s going to be very difficult for it to actually deliver results without that.  But it does start with, I think, a new – seeing what this new government looks like, the cabinet looks like.  That’s what we’re focused on.

QUESTION:  On the other hand, there is also calls for Netanyahu to step down for early elections in Israel – this is what Chuck Schumer said, and what President Biden endorsed.  Netanyahu, before we entered this room, in an interview said that he’s ready and open to do early elections.  Do you think he’s serious, or he just maneuvering?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, just as it is for the Palestinians to choose their own leadership, it’s for Israelis to do the same thing.  It’s not our position to do that.  And Israelis will have to decide when to have elections.  That’s up to them.  Meanwhile, we’re working, as we always have, with the government in Israel right now, and from administration to administration in our country, Democrat or Republican, that’s exactly what we’ve done and what we’ll continue to do.

QUESTION:  The Biden administration was pressuring Israel as well to not to launch its spring offensive against Hizballah and Lebanon.  And yesterday a source told Al Arabiya that the administration is not doing this role anymore.  What does this mean?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  In fact, we’re very much engaged in a diplomatic effort to ensure that there is no conflict, there is no deepening of the conflict, spreading of the conflict, including to Lebanon and with Hizballah.  And at least it’s my judgment that no one involved actually wants that.  I don’t believe the Israelis actually want that.  I don’t believe Hizballah wants that.  I don’t believe – Lebanon certainly doesn’t want that.  And even Iran, Hizballah’s patron, I don’t believe wants that.  But it’s also unfortunately easy sometimes to fall into an unintentional conflict when there’s back and forth.

But this has to be resolved because in Israel, there are well over 100,000 people who have been displaced from their homes in northern Israel, and they should be able to go back.  There are Lebanese in southern Lebanon who’ve also been displaced from their homes.  They should be able to go back.  So we need to have a resolution where people can feel confident, feel safe, feel secure, and we have a sustained effort underway to try to reach a diplomatic solution.

QUESTION:  From Palestine, Israel, to the Red Sea, the United States and the UK were striking the Houthis in Yemen and were having talks in Amman in order to pressure Iran to use its influence over the Houthis to stop attacks in the Red Sea, and this wasn’t working.  Is the United States also doing any other editorial methods to deter the Houthi?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, I think you have countries around the world – much of the international community – that condemns what the Houthis are doing: attacking international shipping, jeopardizing commerce that’s so vital to people around the world.  Thousands of ships have had to reroute.  Prices have gone up for everything they’re carrying because they have to take longer voyages to get where they’re going.  Insurance has gone up.  And just recently, what did we see?  We saw the Houthis actually kill three sailors from – who were on a boat, Filipinos.  We saw them sink a ship that created an environmental disaster because oil was spilled, fertilizer was spilled into the sea.  We saw them attack ships that were carrying food to Yemen, to the very people that the Houthis purport to represent.

So no matter what your views are on Gaza, there’s no justification for this ongoing attack on international shipping that’s having terrible consequences for people in Yemen and for people around the world.  And dozens of countries, including at the United Nations, have spoken up and spoken out about this.  So we would like to see Iran exert the influence that it has, because it’s the primary supplier to the Houthis of weapons, of information, of technology.  We would like to see them tell the Houthis to stop.  Meanwhile, we and other countries have no choice but to try to defend the shipping and, as necessary, degrade the assets – the military assets – that the Houthis are using to continue to attack shipping.

QUESTION:  How are you pressuring Iran to do so?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, we, as you know, have many differences with Iran in many different areas, and we have a lot of pressure that’s imposed on them by us and by many other countries, including through sanctions.  But I also don’t think it’s in Iran’s interest to continue to support these Houthi attacks, attacks that, again, are being condemned by countries around the world.  The extent to which Iran is seen as being responsible for that – I don’t think that’s good for Iran, so we hope that it will use the influence it has to put an end to this.

QUESTION:  Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary, for your time.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you.  Thank you so much.

Imposing Sanctions on Networks Supporting Iran’s Ballistic Missile, Defense, and Nuclear Programs

Matthew Miller, Department Spokesperson

The United States is today imposing sanctions on procurement networks based in Iran, Türkiye, Oman, and Germany that have acquired goods for Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Aerospace Force Self Sufficiency Jihad Organization, Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL), the Iran Centrifuge Technology Company, and other U.S.-sanctioned entities that are part of Iran’s military-industrial base.  Today’s designations follow previous U.S. designations of individuals and entities linked to the IRGC, MODAFL, and their subsidiaries’ ballistic missile production and other activities on behalf of Iran’s defense industrial base.

The United States is committed to using all available tools to expose and disrupt the networks supporting Iran’s reckless proliferation of weapons that destabilizes the Middle East and enables Russia’s continued aggression against Ukraine.

The Department of the Treasury’s actions were taken pursuant to Executive Order 13382, which targets proliferators of weapons of mass destruction, and their means of delivery, and their supporters. For more information on today’s action, please see the Department of the Treasury’s press release

Secretary Blinken’s Meeting with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud

HomeOffice of the SpokespersonPress ReleasesSecretary Blinken’s Meeting with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud

Secretary Blinken’s Meeting with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud


March 20, 2024

The following is attributable to Spokesperson Matthew Miller:  

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken met today with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud.  The Secretary and the Foreign Minister discussed the urgent need to protect all civilians in Gaza and immediately increase humanitarian assistance to those in need.  Secretary Blinken stressed the importance of continued close coordination with regional and international partners on resolving the conflict in Gaza and preparing for the post-conflict phase.  The Secretary emphasized the United States’ commitment to achieving sustained peace through the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with security guarantees for Israel.  The Secretary and Foreign Minister also discussed the importance of ending the conflicts in Sudan and Yemen.   

United States to Provide Additional Humanitarian Assistance to Sudanese People and Host Communities

Matthew Miller, Department Spokesperson

Today, the United States, represented by Assistant Secretary for Population, Refugees, and Migration Julieta Valls Noyes, met with Chadian Prime Minister Succès Masra and announced more than $47 million in humanitarian assistance for the emergency response in Sudan and neighboring countries, including Chad and South Sudan.

Sudan is the largest humanitarian crisis in the world, with more than eight million people newly displaced since the conflict began last April, and nearly 25 million people – half of Sudan’s population – needing aid, according to the United Nations. This includes more than one million Sudanese refugees who have fled to neighboring countries, including Chad, Egypt, Ethiopia, South Sudan, and the Central African Republic.

Through the generosity of the American people, this U.S. humanitarian assistance provides critical life-saving assistance including food, water and sanitation facilities, shelter, medical services including mental health support, and protection to Sudanese fleeing the conflict.  This announcement brings total U.S. humanitarian assistance for people in Sudan and neighboring countries to more than $968 million since FY 2023.  The United States will continue to work with international and local partners to provide life-saving support to the millions of people affected by the devastating conflict in Sudan.

The United States is the leading humanitarian donor to the Sudan emergency response and calls on the international community to help alleviate the suffering of over one million refugees forced to flee their homes due to violence.  The United States urges the parties to the Sudan conflict to allow unhindered humanitarian access including both cross-line and cross-border, engage in direct talks, agree to a ceasefire, and end hostilities immediately.  Preventing a famine and long-term catastrophe will require both a ceasefire and unhindered humanitarian access.

Congratulations to Indonesian President-Elect Subianto

Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

We extend our sincere congratulations to Indonesian President-elect Prabowo Subianto on his victory and once again applaud the Indonesian people for their robust turnout and commitment to democracy and the rule of law.

The United States and Indonesia are celebrating 75 years of our diplomatic relationship grounded in democracy and pluralism.  As close partners and friends under our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, we are working hand-in-hand to deliver a better future for our citizens.  We look forward to partnering closely with President-elect Subianto and his Administration when they take office in October.

Imposing Sanctions on Actors Supporting Kremlin-Directed Disinformation Efforts

Matthew Miller, Department Spokesperson

The United States is today designating two individuals and two entities for providing services to the government of Russia in connection with a foreign malign influence campaign.

The Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control is designating Russia-based Social Design Agency (SDA) and Company Group Structura LLC (Structura) as well as their founder and CEO, respectively.  Structura and SDA have implemented, on behalf of the Government of the Russian Federation, a network of over 60 websites that impersonated genuine news organizations in Europe, then used bogus social media accounts to amplify the misleading content of the spoofed websites.

Today’s action reflects our continued efforts to counter the Kremlin’s malign influence operations.  We will continue to expose Russia’s ongoing efforts to mislead audiences through state-directed deception campaigns.  The United States remains committed to deterring and disrupting the Kremlin’s repeated attempts to undermine democracy.

These designations follow prior U.S. Department of the Treasury actions that have highlighted and disrupted Russia’s global malign influence campaigns, which have included U.S. election interferenceefforts to subvert democracy in Moldovadestabilization activities in Ukraine, and the operation of outlets controlled by Russian intelligence servicesamong others.  Today’s Treasury action was taken pursuant to Executive Order 14024, as amended.  For more information on today’s action, see Treasury’s press release.

Tunisia National Day

Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

On behalf of the United States, I would like to extend my congratulations as Tunisia marks its National Day on March 20.

Building on over 200 years of friendship, the United States deeply values its strategic partnership with Tunisia. Our cooperation is critical to promoting economic opportunity and advancing regional stability. We will continue to firmly stand by the Tunisian people as they strive for inclusive economic development. The United States remains committed to working with the Tunisian people to achieve these shared goals of prosperity, security, and respect for fundamental freedoms.

Nowruz Message

Nowruz Message

Press Statement

March 19, 2024

On behalf of the State Department, I wish a Happy Nowruz to everyone celebrating this ancient tradition and the arrival of Spring. 

For centuries, communities around the world, including in Iran and the Middle East, Central and South Asia, Europe and beyond have gathered to celebrate the renewal of nature and the promise of a new year.  Nowruz provides an opportunity to renew meaningful relationships, appreciate blessings, and look forward to opportunities the future brings. 

As we reflect on this past year, we hope that this new year brings greater peace in the world, along with health, prosperity, and joy.

Under Secretary Jenkins Travels to Brussels

HomeOffice of the SpokespersonPress ReleasesUnder Secretary Jenkins Travels to Brussels

Under Secretary Jenkins Travels to Brussels

Media Note

March 19, 2024

Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Ambassador Bonnie D. Jenkins will travel to Brussels, Belgium, March 20-22, to continue to advance the United States’ efforts on civil nuclear energy cooperation, as well as broader arms control and nonproliferation priorities.

Along with other U.S. senior government officials, the Under Secretary will attend the Nuclear Energy Summit co-chaired by the Government of Belgium and the International Atomic Energy Agency to promote the United States’ role in highlighting nuclear energy to address global challenges.  While in Brussels, the Under Secretary will also meet with her counterparts and lead the United States’ participation in NATO’s Arms Control, Disarmament and Nonproliferation Committee and the EU’s Political and Security Committee.

Launch of Foreign Ministry Channel for Global Health Security

Office of the Spokesperson

The launch of the Foreign Ministry Channel for Health Security on March 14 comes in the wake of the devastating COVID-19 pandemic – the most disruptive pandemic in the last century.  Globally, more than seven million people lost their lives, with some estimates as high as 30 million.

The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted health systems worldwide, contributing to the largest sustained backslide in routine childhood immunization coverage in nearly 30 years. The pandemic impacted all essential health services, from prenatal care visits to cancer screenings.  A recent study in the Lancet found a 1.3-year decline in life expectancy worldwide between 2019 and 2021 – the first the world has experienced since tracking of this measure began in the 1990s.

This disruption reached far beyond health:  the U.S. and global economy lost trillions of dollars in GDP, and many countries faced rampant inflation, ballooning debt levels, or both.  All of our nations will be feeling the aftershocks of COVID-19 for years to come.

The COVID-19 pandemic underscored three lessons:

  • A disease threat anywhere is a threat everywhere.
  • Pandemics threaten not only health, but our national and economic security.
  • We must do far more to prepare for the next pandemic, and we can and must improve preparedness and response through the four Cs: collaboration, coordination, cooperation, and communication.

Health issues transcend the health sector, and foreign ministries have an important role in preparing for and responding to health security threats.  The Foreign Ministry Channel (FMC) for Global Health Security will serve as a platform for foreign ministries to focus diplomatic attention and action on critical global health security.

The establishment of the FMC comes with recognition that the risk of a future global pandemic is high.  A changing climate, growing regional instability resulting in mass movements of people, and the rise of misinformation and disinformation – which can be exacerbated by emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) – further increase the complexity of preventing and responding to the next pandemic.  Addressing these threats requires broad international cooperation, which foreign ministries can uniquely advance to strengthen our collective health security.

Global health institutions like the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria (the Global Fund), the Pandemic Fund, World Health Organization (WHO), and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, are also critical to advance global health security outcomes at scale.  Coordinated action from foreign ministries has been central to their establishment and continuous funding over the years.  The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), working closely with the Global Fund, has engaged in transformative work to help end HIV/AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.

Collective engagement in multilateral dialogues also helps advance global health security.  We see this in the negotiations regarding a WHO convention, agreement or other international instrument on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response, as well as amendments to the International Health Regulations (IHRs).  The complex, multisectoral nature of those negotiations requires diplomacy across sectors, including foreign ministries, health ministries, finance ministries, and with other stakeholders – including civil society and the private sector – to reach impactful agreements.

The establishment of the FMC builds upon the success of the 2022-2023 COVID-19 Pandemic Prioritized Global Action Plan for Enhanced Engagement (GAP).  The objective of the GAP was   to focus political will and enhance coordination across 35 countries and organizations to end the acute phase of the COVID-19 pandemic and strengthen readiness for future pandemic threats.  The GAP focused on concrete goals, such as increasing COVID-19 vaccinations – including for vulnerable and hardest-to-reach communities in almost 80 countries; supporting regional diversification of COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing, including mRNA vaccines; sharing information and best practices on harmful misinformation and disinformation; and ensuring acute non-vaccine interventions, including GAP partner support of implementing test-to-treat strategies.

While the GAP was established to address the COVID-19 pandemic, the FMC is intended to be an enduring structure to elevate global health security as a national security and foreign policy priority before a crisis occurs.  Working together through this forum will help us collectively prevent the cycle of panic and neglect related to health threats.  The FMC will support and enhance, rather than duplicate, existing response structures.

Recognizing that no nation can act alone to protect its people from the impacts of health security threats, the FMC structure will be practical, inclusive, and flexible to address current and future health threats.  Participants will build the communication channels to mobilize rapidly when health threats emerge.

Health Security is a Foreign Policy Priority

FMC partners affirmed the importance of elevating health security as a foreign policy priority requiring coordinated action among foreign ministries.  Recognizing interconnected and exacerbating drivers of health security like climate change, regional instability, and mass migration, partners also expressed that an integrated, multisectoral approach is needed to address core gaps and priorities in global health security.

Strengthening Early Warning Capacities

FMC partners reiterated the importance of enabling and improving capacity building and early warning capabilities across sectors, as well as between countries, to prevent, rapidly detect, and effectively respond to health threats.  Partners underscored that foreign ministries have a critical role to play in supporting public health interventions to combat infectious disease threats and addressing the economic, social, political, environmental, and security factors that intersect with global health security — including in the context of humanitarian responses or large-scale population displacements.  Foreign ministries noted their ability to promote transparency concerning infectious disease threats, international data sharing, and progress toward implementation of the International Health Regulations (IHRs).

FMC partners highlighted the need for timely communication, coordination, collaboration, and cooperation to address new and emerging health security threats.  Partners proposed processes for enhanced foreign affairs ministry collaboration to detect health threats early, particularly in the context of areas experiencing governance challenges or mass population movements.

Partners also shared best practices in foreign ministry efforts to improve transparency to detect health security threats, in line with IHR obligations, including to promote biosafety and biosecurity and timely international data sharing.  Partners provided feedback to better identify specific high-risk locations for future health emergencies and considered health-related aspects of fragile states, crisis regions, and mass movements of people for future FMC meetings.

Addressing Misinformation and Disinformation

Partners affirmed the importance of combatting misinformation and disinformation and the critical role that foreign ministries can play in this space, including to address the impact of technological advances and artificial intelligence (AI).  Country delegations shared existing and planned efforts to combat misinformation and disinformation related to health and highlighted efforts to increase evidence-based messaging, including:  promoting accurate risk communication and sharing of outbreak and public health information, improving transparency around health security capacities (such as creating National Action Plans for Health Security), and integrating communication and information resilience strategies into global health security activities.

Partners shared lessons learned, especially regarding the recent experience of combatting mis- and disinformation around COVID-19.  Partners also discussed the global impacts and trends around AI and how it relates to mis- and disinformation, highlighting both where AI can be beneficial and detrimental in promoting public health best practices.  Lastly, participants discussed coordinating public outreach when cases of global health mis- and disinformation arise.

Continued Engagement

FMC participants identified specific topics of interest by country and potential deliverables of future FMC meetings.  Participants agreed to remain engaged on the critical and timely work ahead and reconvene as needed to enhance action and coordination.  FMC partners will reconvene in future sessions in the coming months to advance and outline the FMC program of work.

The United States welcomes FMC partners’ commitment to collaborate to strengthen global health security as a priority.  The United States, as Chair of the meeting, offers its appreciation to launch event participants, including: Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Morocco, Norway, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, the United Kingdom, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and the European Union.

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Joint Statement on South Sudan

Office of the Spokesperson

The text of the following statement was released by the Governments of the United States, Norway, and the United Kingdom on South Sudan.

Begin Text:

Following recent senior-level visits from our capitals to Juba, the Governments of Norway, the United Kingdom, and the United States reaffirm our call for South Sudan’s leaders urgently to take steps necessary to ensure genuine and peaceful elections in December. This process should address the ten questions posed by the trilateral mechanism (UN, AU and IGAD). Not taking these critical steps and so not allowing elections would be a collective failure on the part of South Sudan’s leaders.

We further urge the transitional government to use public revenue in a transparent manner to address public needs, including funding and operationalization of electoral institutions.

Our relationship with South Sudan remains based on our conviction that the South Sudanese people deserve peace, human rights, democracy, and a government that is responsive to the needs of its citizens. We look to South Sudan’s leaders to demonstrate that they share these values by honoring their own commitments to their people.

End Text.

Vision for Adapted Crops and Soils Expansion in Guatemala during High-Level Economic Dialogue

Office of the Spokesperson

At the American Chamber of Commerce on the margins of the High-Level Economic Dialogue held in Guatemala, the United States announced a new collaboration that will expand the Vision for Adapted Crops and Soils (VACS) to the Western Hemisphere, first in Guatemala.

In remarks that highlighted governments, private sector, civil society, and communities working together to address food insecurity in Central America, Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Jose Fernandez welcomed a new VACS partnership with the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA).

The United States and IICA will collaborate with Guatemalan stakeholders to develop a VACS strategy that builds a more resilient food system through a focus on diverse, climate-adapted crops and healthy, fertile soils. The VACS partnership will identify areas for future investment and mobilize resources from across the public and private sectors to advance VACS goals in Guatemala.

IICA and the United States have over 80-years of strengthening national agrifood systems, preventing and eradicating diseases, and addressing climate affects across the Western Hemisphere.

Launched in February 2023 to address food insecurity initially in Africa, VACS has grown into a global movement. VACS has generated global interest and public commitment from donor countries and private sector contributors and within the G7 through Italy’s leadership. VACS has been embraced by the private sector and NGOs – recognized through the VACS Champions program. VACS is part of the U.S. government’s signature global hunger initiative Feed the Future.

In separate comments, Under Secretary Fernandez also lauded a new partnership in support of VACS between Cargill, a U.S.-based global food corporation, and CGIAR, a global consortium of international agricultural research centers working across 80 countries.  This new VACS partnership will integrate nutrient-dense, biofortified and indigenous crops into home-grown school feeding programs, leading to more than 200,000 sustainable, nutritious school meals for Guatemalan children.

Deputy Secretary Campbell’s Meeting with Danish Permanent Secretary Tranholm-Mikkelsen

Office of the Spokesperson

The below is attributable to Spokesperson Matthew Miller:

Deputy Secretary of State Kurt Campbell met with Danish Permanent Secretary Jeppe Tranholm-Mikkelsen yesterday in Washington.  Deputy Secretary Campbell and Permanent Secretary Tranholm-Mikkelsen underscored the importance of the U.S.-Denmark relationship to security and prosperity in the Euro-Atlantic region and the Red Sea.  They also discussed peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific, support for Ukraine, and the upcoming NATO Summit in Washington.

Secretary Blinken’s Meeting with Philippine President Marcos, Jr.

Office of the Spokesperson

The below is attributable to Spokesperson Matthew Miller:

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken met with Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., today in Manila, the Philippines.  Secretary Blinken and President Marcos emphasized the importance of the U.S.-Philippine Alliance to security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region and underscored their shared commitment to upholding international law in the South China Sea.

Secretary Blinken and President Marcos noted the recent successful Presidential Trade and Investment Mission to Manila, the signing of a civil nuclear cooperation “123” agreement during APEC Economic Leaders’ Week in San Francisco, and additional initiatives underway to foster cooperation in support of our shared economic priorities, including on semiconductors, clean energy, digital economy, and infrastructure.

The Secretary and President Marcos looked forward to upcoming high-level events to strengthen our bilateral ties, including the meeting between Presidents Marcos and Biden in April in Washington, DC. They welcomed the first trilateral leaders’ summit between the United States, the Philippines, and Japan, also to be held in Washington in April. The Secretary and President Marcos also discussed efforts to promote respect for human rights and strengthen democratic institutions.

On Russia’s Presidential Elections

Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

Russia’s recent presidential election occurred in an environment of intense repression of independent voices and the imprisonment, death, or exile of virtually all genuine political opposition.  The Kremlin has systematically marginalized groups advocating for democratic processes and rule of law, including election monitors.  Russian authorities also denied anti-war candidates’ registration for the presidential election on spurious technical pretenses and did not invite the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, or any credible international organizations, to observe polling.  These steps illustrate the extent to which the Kremlin has denied its citizens a transparent, meaningful democratic process.  Against this backdrop, this election can only be described as undemocratic.

Since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the Kremlin has attempted to project the illusion that the Russian public is unequivocally behind its brutal war by eliminating space for civic discourse and deepening its campaign of intimidation, violence, and censorship against independent media and civil society.  The Kremlin conducted sham presidential elections in temporarily occupied parts of Ukraine as a blatant propaganda exercise, in the hopes it would strengthen Russia’s illegitimate claim to the parts of Ukraine it illegally invaded and now occupies.  Weeks before the election, Aleksey Navalny died in prison after years of harassment and cruel treatment at the hands of Russian authorities for his continued efforts to foster genuine democracy in Russia.

Vladimir Putin is depriving Russian citizens of access to information, including to inform political participation.  Regardless of the pre-determined outcome of this election, the United States will continue to stand with those who are pursuing a brighter future for Russia.