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U.S.-Guatemala High Level Economic Dialogue

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On March 18, the Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Jose W. Fernandez led the U.S. delegation to the first High Level Economic Dialogue with Guatemala to advance the Biden-Harris Administration's Root Causes Strategy and Vice President Harris' Central America Forward initiative.  President Arvalo led the Guatemalan government delegation along with Vice President Herrera. Guatemalan representatives from the following ministries were also in attendance: Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Ministry of Finance; Ministry of Economy; Ministry of Public Health and Social Assistance; Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Food; Ministry of Communications, Infrastructure, and Housing; Ministry of Labor; Ministry of Energy and Mines; Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources; and the National Commission against Corruption. 
The U.S. delegation also noted the Vice President would further discuss our bilateral cooperation with President Arvaloat the White House on March 25.
Across various thematic discussions, the United States and Guatemalan counterparts underscored their shared interest in deepening the bilateral partnership in order to stimulate sustainable, inclusive, and equitable economic development and accelerate the creation of good jobs that would benefit Guatemala and the region.  The United States affirmed its collaboration with the Arvalo administration and the Guatemalan people in expanding inclusive, equitable economic prosperity through good governance; increased investment, competition, and infrastructure; supply chain resiliency; greater food security; and a more resilient energy sector.     
These efforts support the prosperity of all Guatemalans and contribute to a more stable and prosperous region.  What is good for Guatemala is good for the United States.  Advancing the White House's Root Causes Strategy and its Central America Forward initiative emphasizes inclusive equitable growth in marginalized populations to help those who have been left behind fully benefit from Guatemala's growth and development.     
Good Governance
Integrity/Probity Units.  In line with President Arvalo's commitment to eliminate corruption, USAID intends to provide technical assistance to establish, expand, and/or strengthen targeted ministries and executive branch entities’ Integrity Units.  These units will address corruption internally, while also improving efficiency and effectiveness, which will improve their ability to fulfill their obligations to the people.  This assistance includes organizational and operational assessments to determine how corruption occurs, identify perpetrators, and issue recommendations to improve existing units, enhance staff capacity, and strengthen the institutions.   
Open Government Partnership.  In line with President Arvalo's efforts to enhance transparency, the Department of State and USAID intend to expand the Open Government Partnership.  This includes capacity building for government and civil society groups, assistance for procurement transparency to improve legal and operational processes, and support for digitization efforts across the executive branch and transparency initiatives that make data publicly accessible.  
Building Capacity for Equitable Growth.  The Inter-American Foundation (IAF), which currently supports 34 Guatemalan organizations, is announcing new funding of $1.1 millionmatched by grantee co-investment for a total value of $2.2 millionto develop the capacity of four Guatemalan organizations to bolster local economic growth. The organizations are led by and serving marginalized populations disproportionately impacted by economic inequality:  women, youth, and Indigenous people.  The organizations will advance Indigenous youth leadership, constructive engagement with local officials on community development priorities for durable economic solutions, as well as community-based responses to promote economic inclusion key to growth. 
Investment Promotion: Competition, Infrastructure, and Supply Chains
Metro System.  In line with President Arvalo's vision to establish a metro system in Guatemala City to reduce congestion, improve mobility, and control emissions, the State Department's Transaction Advisory Fund (TAF) intends to provide $650,000 to advance a Guatemalan metro system.  TAF support is intended to provide international expertise to conduct engineering and design services for the construction of bridges and underpasses needed for the new metro line in Guatemala City 
Climate Resilient Infrastructure.  With $5 million, USAID will work to catalyze investments in climate resilient infrastructure projects across the country.  This initiative will enhance the regulatory environment, boost investment, promote climate-adaptive practices, and foster a model for sustainable infrastructure growth and economic development in the country.  The initiative will provide technical assistance and capacity-building efforts to boost climate resilience and stimulate economic progress.  This initiative connects government agencies with private sector stakeholders, to improve infrastructure quality, foster economic growth, and ensure climate resilience to secure Guatemala's future prosperity. The private sector has already committed to match the U.S. investment, by supporting a revolving fund to finance feasibility studies. 
Competition Law Technical Assistance.  Guatemala is one of the only countries in Latin America without a competition law.  This stifles the growth of domestic companies as well as foreign direct investment.  In response to a request from the Ministry of Economy, and to advance President Arvalo's vision of establishing Guatemala as a regional economic powerhouse, USAID anticipates providing technical assistance as Guatemala drafts a new competition law, including hiring a local consultant and providing expert analysis from the Federal Trade Commission.  The United States stands ready to assist with other legislative priorities where we can provide technical assistance.      
Investment Promotion Technical Assistance.  In support of President Arvalo's vision to improve infrastructure and investment in Guatemala, the Department of Commerce's Commercial Law Development Program is finalizing an agreement with the State Department to help improve the transparency, effectiveness, competition, and sustainability of Guatemala's public procurement regimes for the development, acquisition, and management of goods, services, and infrastructure. 
Additionally, USAID anticipates providing technical assistance to the Ministry of Economy on restructuring the investment promotion authority to increase the Guatemalan government's capacity to design and drive competition and investment initiatives and bring Guatemala in alignment with the region. 
Agriculture and Food Security
Deepening Food Security.  In line with President Arvalo's vision for ensuring sustainable, inclusive development for the communities most in need, the United States announced an expansion of the Vision for Adapted Crops and Soils (VACS) to the Western Hemisphere, starting with Guatemala, through a new partnership with the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) that builds on the U.S. government's existing efforts in the region through the Feed the Future initiative. 
The United States and IICA anticipate collaborating with Guatemalan stakeholders to develop a VACS strategy that builds more resilient agricultural systems through a focus on diverse, climate-adapted crops and healthy, fertile soils.  The resulting VACS strategy will propose areas to mobilize resources from across the public and private sectors to make future investments that advance VACS goals in Guatemala.    
Energy Security
Sustainable Electricity Access.  In alignment with President Arvalo’s commitment to connect all Guatemalan households to energy services, with $3.8 million, USAID seeks to increase electricity access, promote productive uses of electricity, and improve local and national capacity for the energy transition.  The activity will target priority rural areas including the Western Highlands, Alta Verapaz, and others as selected. 
Coalition for Climate Entrepreneurship Hub in Guatemala City.  Over the next two years, the Department of State intends to work with the PVBLIC Foundation, Colombian startup accelerator Cleantech Hub, and Rafael Landivar University in Guatemala City to collectively generate more than 100 climate and sustainability-focused business plans, select at least 30 high-potential startups from the hubs to participate in a regional Climate Acceleration Program, and work with additional partners to raise at least four times the total value of the program through public grants.   
The hubs aim to have 90 percent of participating startups launch products or secure funding within one year and abate at least 50,000 tons of CO2 per year across the program, driving sustainable economic growth in Central and South America.  The hubs also anticipate engaging at least 450 students to drive academic commitment toa cleaner future and emphasize representation of previously underserved climate entrepreneurship communities, including women and Indigenous peoples.  


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posted at: 12:00am on 19-Mar-2024
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Joint Statement on the 11th United States-European Union Energy Council

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The text of the following statement was released by the Government of the United States and the European Union.
Begin text:
1. The eleventh United States-European Union (EU) Energy Council (Council) met today in Washington, chaired by U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Kurt Campbell, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy David M. Turk, European Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson, and EEAS Acting Deputy Secretary General Blen Martinez Carbonell. The Deputy Head of Mission of the Kingdom of Belgium to the United States of America, Sophie Karlshausen, represented the Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
2. The U.S.-EU Energy Council serves as the lead transatlantic forum for coordinating strategic energy issues at political and technical levels. Transatlantic energy cooperation is vital to advancing diverse and resilient energy systems, bolstering energy security, promoting stability and transparency in global energy markets, and accelerating just energy transitions consistent with our mutual commitment to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions at home and globally by 2050.
3. On this occasion, the Council also recognized the important work of the U.S.-EU Task Force on Energy Security, which helped ensure the EU's energy security, achieve a 99% EU natural gas storage filling level ahead of the winter 2023-24, and phase out reliance on Russian fossil fuels. Moving forward, the EU and the US will continue working closely together and build on these efforts to ensure energy security in Europe and beyond and contribute to decarbonization globally.
4. The Council welcomed the outcome of the first global stocktake under the Paris Agreement, including the call on all Paris Agreement Parties to come forward in their next nationally determined contributions with ambitious, economy-wide emission reduction targets, covering all greenhouse gases, sectors and categories and aligned with limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The Council also emphasized the need for the world to transition away from fossil fuels in energy systems in a just, orderly, and equitable manner, accelerating action in this critical decade, so as to achieve net zero by 2050 in keeping with the science.
5. In this context, the Council reiterated the urgency of phasing out unabated coal in the energy sector globally, in particular ending the continued investment in new coal-fired power plants. The Council underlined its commitment to advance on the COP28 goals of tripling renewable energy capacity and doubling the global average annual rate of energy efficiency improvements by 2030, including through action at national, regional, and local levels. Energy systems with diverse and resilient supply chains that do not overly rely on a single supplier for fuels, critical raw materials and minerals, or other inputs are key to reducing dependencies and countering attempts to weaponize energy.

Reinforcing Support for Ukraine and Eliminating the Threat of Russia Weaponizing Energy

6. The Council reaffirmed its enduring commitment to Ukraine and its people. We strongly condemn Russia's illegal and unprovoked war of aggression against Ukraine, including attacks on the nation's energy and civil infrastructure. We stress the need to continue military support, notably air defense, to protect such infrastructure, and are increasing our efforts to provide humanitarian aid and critical energy sector assistance. We reiterate our demand for Russia to immediately and unconditionally withdraw all its military forces and equipment from the entire territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders. The Council stresses the importance of security and stability in the Black Sea.
7. The Council acknowledged the important contributions of the United States, the EU, and its Member States, including through the G7+ coordination group, to provide Ukraine with essential material, technical, and financial assistance to rapidly repair, restore, and defend its energy systems and to support Ukraine's efforts to build a more resilient, sustainable, and decentralized energy system that is more integrated with Europe. The Council highlighted the will of the G7+ group to work with Ukraine on its Integrated National Energy and Climate Plan and to implement the Clean Energy Partnership including further necessary reforms, which are essential to attracting private sector investment for Ukraine's green recovery and reconstruction.
8. The Council welcomed Ukraine's formal membership in the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E) and commended the completion of required actions to enable its permanent synchronization with the power systems of continental Europe. This milestone enhances regional energy security and helps enable Ukraine and Europe to accelerate the broader energy transition. The United States and the EU also recalled the growing number of cyber and physical threats to energy infrastructure and plan to continue related cooperation to bolster resilient energy systems, including in the context of the ongoing synchronization of the Baltic States' electricity networks with the Continental European Network.
9. The Council reiterated its strong condemnation of Russia's continued control as well as irresponsible and dangerous actions at and around Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (ZNPP) that puts countless people at risk. The Council reaffirmed its support for the five concrete principles presented by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General to the UN Security Council and for the Agency's work to apply safeguards and assist Ukraine in managing the safety and security of its nuclear facilities. The Council welcomed Ukraine joining the IAEA Board of Governors. The United States and the EU strongly call on Russia to heed the resolutions of the IAEA Board of Governors and General Conference, to unconditionally withdraw its personnel and military equipment from the ZNPP, to give full and unhindered access to IAEA experts to all areas of the ZNPP, and to return its full control to its rightful owner, Ukraine.
10. The Council reiterated its strongest commitment to confront, with adequate measures, Russia's efforts to destabilize the global energy markets and to circumvent sanctions. In this context, the Council intends to continue intensifying cooperation on the enforcement of the oil price cap, coordinating bilateral and multilateral responses to mitigate excessive market volatility, supporting the energy transition required to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement, and continue cooperative measures on energy efficiency, electrification, and other initiatives to reduce reliance on fossil fuels in general, and Russian fossil fuels in particular in order to limit Russia's ability to finance its war of aggression against Ukraine. We reaffirmed our resolve to continue taking steps to limit Russia's future energy revenue, which directly supports the brutal war against Ukraine.
11. To promote energy diversification, security, resilience and sustainability, the Council recalled the strategic importance of energy relations with partner countries in regions such as the Caspian Sea, Black Sea, Eastern Mediterranean, and North Africa. The pivotal role of reliable energy partners in these regions calls for mutually beneficial cooperation on security of energy supplies as well as enhanced cooperation on critical infrastructure.

Energy Security, Transition, and Reforms in Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, and the Western Balkans

12. The Council reaffirmed that the future of Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, the Western Balkans, as well as Georgia, and their citizens, lies with the EU and would continue supporting their integration with the EU, including through the enlargement process as a matter of priority for the years to come.
13. The Council welcomed the European Council's 14 December 2023 decision to also open EU accession negotiations with Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova and reaffirmed continued support for their citizens. The Council intends to continue assisting the countries' long-term economic and energy transition towards climate neutrality and integration with the EU's energy system, including by accelerating the development of energy infrastructure and interconnections. The Council welcomed Ukraine's and the Republic of Moldova's reform efforts towards meeting the objectives underpinning their candidacy for EU membership and encouraged the countries to continue to make progress on these reforms.
14. The Council reaffirmed that both sides intend to deepen cooperation to support regional integration and energy sector investments to achieve climate neutrality in the Western Balkans, including by supporting decarbonization efforts and phasing out their dependency on coal and Russian natural gas and oil imports as soon as possible. The United States and the EU continue to promote transparent, integrated, and competitive energy markets in the Western Balkans, in line with EU enlargement policy, as well as with the climate and energy objectives and obligations under the Energy Community Treaty.

Energy Policy, Technology, and Innovation

15. The United States and the EU pledged to continue to cooperate closely, at multilateral and bilateral levels, to encourage investments and complementary policies, standards, and regulations in the transition towards climate neutrality. Including through our Clean Energy Incentives Dialogue, we intend to work in a transparent and mutually reinforcing manner, to avoid zero-sum competition and distortions in transatlantic trade and investment flows that could arise from our respective policies and incentives.
16. The Council welcomed the 2023 announcement of an international working group to establish an internationally aligned approach, which builds on existing frameworks on greenhouse gas supply chain emissions measurement, monitoring, reporting and verification (MMRV) framework for providing transparent, comparable, and reliable information to natural gas market participants.
17. The Council intends to continue advancing the implementation of the Global Methane Pledge, including through promoting effective global schemes to limit leakage, venting, and flaring in the natural gas, oil, and coal sector, with particular attention to reducing methane emissions from internationally-traded fossil fuels. The Council recognized the UNEP's International Methane Emissions Observatory as a key independent methane emissions data collector and verifier, and intends to continue to support its initiatives, including the Oil and Gas Methane Partnership 2.0 and the Methane Alert and Response System with strong industry engagement.
18. Further, the Council noted the role that nuclear power can play in decarbonizing energy systems in countries that have decided or will decide to rely on nuclear energy. The United States and the EU intend to intensify cooperation to reduce dependency on Russia for nuclear materials and fuel cycle services, and support ongoing efforts by affected EU Member States to diversify nuclear supplies, as appropriate. The Council expressed support for multilateral efforts to identify alternative nuclear energy-related suppliers across the global nuclear supply chain for relevant countries.
19. The Council noted interest in enhancing cooperation to promote the development of rules-based and transparent global hydrogen markets based on reliable international standards and certification schemes primarily through mutually agreed-upon international platforms.
20. The Council noted the vital importance of diversifying and securing supply chains for critical minerals and raw materials as well as voluntary stockpiling necessary for the energy transition to climate-neutrality and reinforced the value of U.S.-EU collaboration in fora such as the Minerals Security Partnership (MSP) and its newly established MSP Forum, the Conference on Critical Materials and Minerals, and the International Energy Agency Critical Minerals Working Party, as well as the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment. The Council welcomed a jointly drafted discussion paper on lithium supply for the energy transition and signaled support for a set of U.S.-EU focused stakeholder roundtables over the coming year and an accompanying recommendations document to map pathways to foster supply chain linkages between the United States and the EU.
21. Furthering last year's Council endorsement to build on existing dialogues and frameworks, the Council noted research and innovation cooperation advancements in the fields of i) fusion research, development, and commercialization, in particular based on the new Model Project Agreement, and through the ITER Project, and ii) mutual modelling capabilities for transition pathways to climate-neutrality. In particular, the Council welcomed joint work on scenario development of transition pathways with applications of machine learning.
22. As the United States and the EU scale up policies and technologies that intend to drive decarbonization particularly in hard to abate sectors, carbon capture and storage has emerged as an area for joint cooperation. Following a series of policy exchanges, the Council identified two technology and innovation collaboration areas: CO2 transport and carbon capture demonstrations for emerging applications.
23. The Council noted the U.S.-EU co-convened workshop in 2023 on just transition, energy poverty, and economic and workforce development assistance for communities in transition, disadvantaged communities, and communities experiencing environmental hazard exposure. Further, the Council supported the intent to hold a second workshop, focused on multi-level governance in energy poverty policies, to take place in 2024, followed by the publication of a joint summary document.

Strengthen Cooperation to Advance the Global Energy Transition

24. Looking ahead and building on the aforementioned joint activities, the United States and the EU intend to continue to ambitiously and resolutely strengthen their strategic relationship to ensure energy security, align policies, and deepen cooperation on technologies and innovation, all with the aim of accelerating the global transition to climate neutrality. The United States and the EU intend to also continue working closely together to this end in international fora.
End text.


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posted at: 12:00am on 16-Mar-2024
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Deputy Secretary Kurt M. Campbell at the 11th U.S.-EU Energy Council Meeting

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DEPUTY SECRETARY CAMPBELL:  So good afternoon, everyone.  I want to open by recognizing and thanking everyone who has worked over the preceding weeks and months to organize the council ministerial.  I especially want to acknowledge Energy Commissioner Simson as the senior participant in the session of this energy council.  Commissioner Simson has led the charge in deepening the transatlantic energy alliance and helping us in particular to mobilize our countries and our companies in response to Russia's brutal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and in response to Putin's weaponization of Kremlin's energy resources.  It's appropriate to just say thank you just quickly.  (Applause.)  We really would not be where we are today, celebrating our successful defeat of Russia's energy weapon and looking ahead confidently to an energy transition future, without her leadership, her determination, and her courage over the past several years. 
I know Secretary Blinken would have very much wished to be with here - with us here today, but I will tell you it's a good excuse.  He is in Europe, reaffirming our alliance with the continent, working on other issues.
I also want to thank my friend and my partner, Deputy Secretary Turk, sitting to my left; acting Deputy Secretary General Martinez Carbonell; and the Deputy Chief of Mission Karlshausen, and I've had a chance to work with her on many issues in the Indo-Pacific.  So your leadership, your partnership, are crucial to our success in strengthening transatlantic energy cooperation and working on other issues as well.
Now, to start off this discussion, it's worth taking a step back and place our meeting in the proper context.  We gather in the face of continued war on the continent as Russia continues to launch targeted attacks on Ukraine's critical energy infrastructure and exploit energy supply as a tool of coercion.  We confront the existential threat of climate change, presenting an urgent need to decarbonize to avoid the worst outcomes.  At the same time, our ability to deliver energy through critical transport routes is under increased threat and vulnerability.
The United States in particular is committed to partnering with the EU to meet each of these challenges, both collectively and individually, and to strengthen energy security in Europe and around the globe.  We must continue to provide steadfast support to Ukraine, and I know you are all here at a delicate moment.  I want to assure you of our strongest possible commitment to continuing to support Ukraine even as we face challenges to get the supplemental through.  We are determined to keep the lights on in - on its fight for survival, recognizing the central role energy plays in the war and Ukraine's economic recovery.
Europe's remarkable strides redrawing its energy map have helped you diverse away - diversify from Russian energy.  The U.S. will remain your partner, from our work together in the Western Balkans to accelerate the energy transition, to support new energy corridors, to the role U.S. producers have played and will continue to play, including the doubling of U.S. LNG exports to Europe last year.  We must continue to tighten the screws on Russia's ability to resupply its war chest and destabilize the energy markets, by strengthening enforcement of the oil price gap, stopping price cap violators, and coordinating where we can on energy sanctions.
As we respond to Russia's threats to global energy security, we must avoid trading dependence on Russian energy for PRC-dominated clean energy supply chains.  And, as importantly, we'll continue our close collaboration with the EU to create energy investments that support the transition to net-zero emissions on both sides of the Atlantic as we work towards achieving our shared energy and climate objectives.
Our discussions today, our close bilateral coordination every day, are key to making progress on some of the most pressing geopolitical issues around the globe, and I will just say a moment that everything the United States has ever done of consequence on the global stage we have done with Europe.  Through this dialogue, as partners, we can align our policies, avoid zero-sum competition, and marshal our shared resources.  Thank you, and welcome again to European friends for visiting.  I look forward to discussing these challenges and opportunities in our time today.  And again, welcome to the State Department.
Dave.
DEPUTY SECRETARY TURK:  Thanks very much, Kurt, and it's just great to be here with you and Jeff and all of our State Department colleagues, just to work hand in hand.  That's our goal, and it's just phenomenal to have Kurt in this new position, helping to lead our incredible talent over here at the State Department.  I've had a chance to work a couple times over here, and it's just a terrific group of folks, group of colleagues, group of partners.
Let me also rightfully so, Commissioner Simson, if I could, try to embarrass you a little bit for all the phenomenal partnership we had with you and (inaudible) and the full team.  The thing I've always appreciated about your leadership is it's steadfast, it's always consistent, and I think we need that in this particularly challenging time as we're trying to navigate.  What I also admire about you personally - and (inaudible) I think really symbolizes this as well, exemplifies this - is we're after using energy, clean energy, for the betterment of people, people in our country, people in the European Union, and people around the world.  And that humanity really comes through in everything you do, so thank you for being such a terrific partner.
And certainly, want to also welcome, as Kurt did, the acting Deputy Secretary General Martinez Carbonell.  Thank you for your team, and our colleague, our DCM from Belgium.  It's been terrific to work bilaterally with Belgium, but multilaterally as well.
We feel incredibly proud of this partnership that's been built up literally for decades and generations and only strengthened over the last few years.  We are all promoting stability and transparency in global energy markets; advancing diverse and resilient energy systems - and I really want to underline diverse, diversity of supplies, especially as we think about critical minerals going forward - and demonstrating to the world that clean energy is not only the most abundant and the most affordable, but also the most secure form of energy that we have; and ensuring our energy transitions are just so that no community, no people in our countries, in our societies, but around the world are left behind. 
And this bond, as Kurt said - and I think we all not only have spoken about it, but I think we all feel it - has only strengthened since President Putin's invasion of Ukraine - brutal invasion of Ukraine - and everything that we've worked hand in hand going forward.  And I personally feel incredibly proud - I know our Secretary does and I know our full team does - to work hand in hand going forward.  And I think what this conflict has shown is it's not only brought us together on energy security, but it's accelerated our clean energy transition and accelerated our commitment to really accelerating this collaboration even more so between our two countries. 
I'm going to digress a little bit from my prepared remarks just to share some analysis that came out quite recently about the progress that Europe has made on your own emissions reductions from energy, and we in the U.S. have made.  Our own emissions last year from energy decreased 4.1 percent just in one year.  That's a pretty good number.  I'm proud to say I'm a little bit jealous that European emissions actually went down 9 percent just in a single year.
DEPUTY SECRETARY CAMPBELL:  Wow, that's incredible. 
DEPUTY SECRETARY TURK:  From energy - that is incredible.  That doesn't happen without an awful lot of leadership in Brussels, but throughout the continent, really stepping up. 
The most impressive number of all I found in this most recent analysis was if you look at advanced economies - and obviously there's a lot in Europe, in the U.S., but some of our other partners around the world - our emissions are at the same level that they were 50 years ago.  So just think about that, right?  Fifty years ago, economy and GDP increased significantly, our emissions went up, but we've been able to decrease them to the point we're at the same level as we were 50 years ago. 
If you look at advanced economies, coal use is down to the same level in advanced economies as it was in 1905.  So again, when sometimes those of us who focus on climate change and clean energy, you get daunted by what's ahead of us, it's good to reflect that we can make progress when we step up, when we walk the talk, and when we partner in the way that we're partnering here going forward. 
Also is a real priority, I know, for President Biden, all of us in this administration, and certainly in Europe as well, as I said, from praising Commissioner Simson - it's not good enough to save the planet.  We have to do right by our own populations, especially those who have been left behind in previous transitions and other times of challenge.  So, we're doubling down, tripling down on that, and very proud that we have a workshop this year on energy poverty policies, where we'll hear from a group of diverse stakeholders - incredibly important for us to keep focused on that. 
Also, incredibly proud that when, as Kurt was saying, there's nothing that we do that we don't do hand in hand with our European partners that's meaningful on the world scene.  That's certainly the case when it comes to energy and clean energy in particular.  When our two governments, our two sets of governments can work hand in hand, we can lead the rest of the world, and case and example after example of that in the multilateral setting.  We've got our work to do, whether it's clean hydrogen, whether it's offshore wind, whether it's energy efficiency in buildings. 
One issue in particular I'd like to point out here is our collaboration and my hope, our hope, enhancing that collaboration on fusion energy, which is a really interesting technology.  The perception is it's always been 30 years off.  We're actually making real progress in our laboratories, in your laboratories - $6.2 billion of private investment in fusion.  I've had a chance to visit some of these facilities.  It's not going to happen tomorrow, but if we do the bilateral and multilateral collaboration, we can make that - we can make that happen. 
So, I'd say our partnership is not just vital, it's indispensable.  Certainly, that's the way we look at it from the United States side of things, and very eager to continue the discussion here today, and more importantly to go follow through with the actions. 
DEPUTY SECRETARY CAMPBELL:  Thank you, Dave. 
Commissioner Simson.
COMMISSIONER SIMSON:  Thank you and good afternoon, colleagues.  And I want to start by thanking all our colleagues for hosting this year's energy dialogue here in Washington, D.C.  So, this council and - and its regular meetings are the best platform to ensure a shared vision and continued cooperation in energy.  And once again, throughout the last year, our cooperation has delivered in many ways: sharing expertise on market dynamics, intensifying technological collaboration, facilitating energy trade. 
Now, U.S. LNG has been helping us to diversify EU gas supplies away from Russia.  And last year, the United States was the largest LNG supplier to the EU, and at the same time, European Union became the biggest market for U.S. LNG.  And we have delivered on and even exceeded what was agreed just two years ago in the President Biden and President von der Leyen statement.  And thanks to this diversification stratagem, along energy efficiency measures and deployment of renewables, today EU energy markets are stable and returning to the pre-crisis gas price levels. 
And beyond energy security, we have worked well on our shared climate change agenda.  Thanks to a close alignment on climate goals and priorities, this cooperation is really making the difference.  And our close cooperation on the first global stocktake adopted at COP28 last year, and within the COP process is a very clear example for that success.
And in this spirit, I am convinced that today we can advance our joint cooperation on several topics, from methane emission reduction to hydrogen and critical raw materials.  And going forward, I see our interests also converging in a set of technologies relevant for our path to 2040 and beyond, such as SMRs, CCUS, also fusion energy.  And there is a large space to deepen our cooperation.
But staying on today's challenges, let me stress how important it is that we jointly continue to support Ukraine in standing up to the Russian invasion.  We have both been supplying to Ukraine material and equipment to repair and rebuild critical energy infrastructure, and to rebuild this damaged civilian infrastructure caused by Russian targeted attacks.  And the situation on the ground remains critical.  And I'm very concerned over the safety of the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant, which is occupied by Russian military, and our joint pressure and work also through International Energy - Atomic Energy Agency is critical.  And Ukraine needs also hope, and it is very important that we jointly include in our cooperation programs to support Ukraine in designing a cleaner and competitive energy system after the war.
We also need to maintain focus on Western Balkans, Moldova, and Georgia, intensifying our joint efforts for energy transition in the region.  And we have come a long way, but there is much more we can do together.  And I am looking forward to our discussions today.  Thank you.
DEPUTY SECRETARY CAMPBELL:  Wonderful.  Please, DSG.  DSG Carbonell, please.  Thank you.
DEPUTY SECRETARY GENERAL CARBONELL:  Thank you, Mr. Campbell.  Thank you, Mr. Turk.  And I join myself to those who are very happy that you're hosting us here today, and I want to thank all of those who have worked really hard on preparations on this statement.  I know they spent many hours on every comma, and I'm very happy to see that they brought it to a fruitful end.
We are facing a lot of challenges today, and I'm here to represent the High Representative Borrell, who met with Secretary of State Blinken earlier this week and where some of the issues that we'll be discussing this afternoon were also discussed among them in full synergy of thought and in the same cooperative spirit as the one we are witnessing this afternoon.
The crisis that we are all facing has also - has confirmed that the only way to strengthen Europe's energy security is to accelerate our energy transition on the way to climate neutrality by 2050.  And in these difficult and sometimes gloomy moments of history that we're living, I'm very happy to hear that at least Mr. Turk has brought us some optimistic figures of what the world could look like and how we can still make it a better place.
But now the time has come to implement our ambitious commitments, and we'll only be successful if we ensure that the global energy transition is also just, orderly, and equitable for all.  The green transition is urgently needed - some of you said not just for us but also for the rest of the world - and we must continue to work together to bring the rest of our global partners on board.
Turning to those most affected by Russia's war, last December the European Union leaders, as you know, decided to open accession negotiations with Ukraine and with the Republic of Moldova, as well as to grant a status of candidate country to Georgia and renew the momentum in the Western Balkans in the path to enlargement as well.  Also in this domain, implementation will be key, and we see eye to eye with our U.S. partners on this. 
Our partners in the east need to advance their reform programs to strengthen the integration of the European continent, also in the energy sector, and build better and greener energy systems. 
In this context, and as some of you have mentioned the importance of U.S. support to Ukraine, I would like to mention that the EU has recently agreed for a 50 billion Ukraine facility package that will provide stable and sustainable financing to support Ukraine's recovery, reconstruction, and modernization, including key reforms necessary on its EU accession track. 
We're determined to continue to bolster Europeans' energy security and that of our direct neighbors, as the commissioner has said - Ukraine, Moldova, and the Western Balkans.  Our European home will be more stable and more resilient once we have weaned off the European continent of excessive dependence on Russian fossil fuels, as we're doing, implemented a successful green transition, and strengthened the integration of our energy market and interconnection of our infrastructures. 
On Monday, European foreign ministers are gathering together.  Secretary of State Blinken will be addressing them.  And part of the documents that the EU foreign ministers will agree on Monday will be council conclusions, which is how we make policy in Europe, on climate diplomacy.  And you will see that some of the elements that are in our joint statement this afternoon we'll be reflecting in these council conclusions, EU policy outlook for our climate diplomacy in the coming months.
Thank you very much.
DEPUTY SECRETARY CAMPBELL:  Thank you.  DCM Karlshausen.
MS. KARLSHAUSEN: Thank you very much. Dear Deputy Secretary of State, dear Deputy Secretary of Energy, dear Commissioner, and dear Deputy Secretary General, thank you for inviting the Belgian presidency of the council to this 11th edition of the EU-U.S. Energy Council.  The urgency and importance of the items which will be discussed today cannot be understated. 
A few weeks ago, we commemorated the dramatic two-year anniversary of the war of aggression against Ukraine.  It is no secret that Russia's aggression sent shockwaves through the global energy markets, laid bare the risk of dependencies, stressed the importance of energy diversification away from Russia and the phasing out of fossil fuel imports well before 2030. 
Yet these past two years have also demonstrated our resilience, resourcefulness, and the importance of our transatlantic partnership - not only to bolster energy security, but also to promote stability and transparency in global energy markets, as well as to accelerate a sustainable energy transition - a just energy transition, which should deliver a level playing field for affordable energy to citizens and companies, ensure strong and reliable security of supply, and contribute to the objectives of climate neutrality by 2050. 
Indeed, let us not shirk our responsibility concerning the climate crisis.  As Winston Churchill put it, never waste a good crisis.  Not addressing climate change now will only increase the risk of other crises, whether energy crisis or violent conflicts. 
Let us therefore work together in a spirit of openness and solidarity to accelerate the deployment of renewable, including offshore, energy solutions to ensure the resilient, secure, sustainable, and affordable energy grids worldwide that such a surge of renewable require, and to create a rule-based global market for hydrogen.
We're very much looking forward to the discussions, and we thank you again for inviting us.


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Department Press Briefing - March 14, 2024

Furnished content.


1:35 p.m. EDT
MR MILLER: Good afternoon, everyone. Sorry to be late. I have a few things to start with, so I hope you'll bear with me for a moment.
Starting with —
QUESTION: (Off-mike.)
MR MILLER: Hi. Starting with - quite all right. Please continue. Starting with travel, Secretary Blinken will depart tonight for Vienna, Austria, where he will serve as head of delegation for the United States during the high-level segment of the 67th session of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs. The Secretary will be working to build on the momentum of the Global Coalition to Address Synthetic Drug Threats that he launched last summer, and which now has 149 countries and 14 international organizations participating.
This administration has made it a top priority to address the fentanyl and synthetic drug crisis, and this will be the first time a U.S. secretary of state has attended a meeting of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs. While there, the Secretary will emphasize that illicitly manufactured synthetic drugs and their precursors pose a threat not just to the United States but to all nations. He will look to secure concrete commitments from countries to take domestic, regional, and international action to address synthetic drugs and their precursors, which are fueling the public health crisis both in communities across the United States and around the globe.
Secretary Blinken will also meet with Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer and Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg during his time in Austria to reinforce our strong bilateral relationship. We are working together with the Government of Austria to meet humanitarian needs in Ukraine and ensure the integrity of EU Russia sanctions.
The Secretary will then travel to Seoul to participate in the third Summit for Democracy, led by the Republic of Korea. The summit will demonstrate how democracies continue to deliver for their citizens and organize to address the world's most pressing challenges. The Secretary will also meet with Foreign Minister Cho Tae-yul and other Korean officials to discuss a broad range of regional and global issues during his time in Seoul, underscoring the unwavering strength of the more than 70-year U.S.-Republic of Korea alliance.
From there, Secretary Blinken will travel to Manila to reaffirm our unwavering commitment to our Philippine allies. He will meet with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Secretary of Foreign Affairs Enrique Manalo to discuss ways to advance economic prosperity, support clean and renewable energy development, and promote peace and stability in the South China Sea. The Secretary's visit will also underscore the importance of our strong bilateral ties, which for 75 years have been critical to advancing our shared vision for a free and open, connected, prosperous, secure, and resilient Indo-Pacific region.
Now, turning to Israel and the West Bank, extremist settler violence carried out with impunity in the West Bank has killed, injured, and threatened the livelihoods of countless Palestinian civilians. This violence risks destabilizing the West Bank and obstructs efforts to advance a pathway to peace and security for Israelis and Palestinians through a two-state solution. There is no justification for violence against civilians, no justification for forcing families from their homes.
In February, President Biden issued an executive order giving the State Department new authorities to impose sanctions on those responsible for undermining peace, security, and stability in the West Bank, and the department imposed sanctions on four individuals. Today, we are imposing further targeted sanctions on three Israeli individuals involved in undermining stability in the West Bank. We have also designated two associated entities referred to as farms. These West Bank outposts are owned or controlled by designated individuals, have acted as a base from which to launch violent acts, and are illegal even under Israeli law.
It is critical that Israel take additional action to stop settler violence and hold accountable those responsible for it, not just the sake - not just for the sake of the victims of this violence, but for Israel's own security and standing in the world. But as we have made clear, the United States will continue to take its own actions to hold accountable those engaging in extremist violence and threatening the peace, security, and stability of the West Bank. This includes through actions like those taken today through the visa restriction policy announced by Secretary Blinken in December, under which the department has taken steps to impose visa restrictions on dozens of individuals.
Finally, the United States condemns Russia's continuing efforts to undermine Ukraine's sovereignty, territorial integrity, and political independence through sham elections held in occupied Ukrainian territories. The United States does not and will never recognize the legitimacy or outcome of these sham elections held in sovereign Ukraine as part of Russia's presidential elections. To be clear, Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhya, Kherson, and Crimea are Ukraine. The results of these Potemkin-style exercises will be dictated by Moscow and cannot reflect the free will of the citizens of Ukraine who are being compelled to vote in them.
This spectacle only further demonstrates Russia's blatant disregard for its obligations under international law. The United States will continue to use all available tools to hold accountable those individuals responsible for actions that undermine the sovereignty, territorial integrity, or political independence of free countries, including those who serve as election observers for the Kremlin's sham elections in occupied parts of Ukraine. And with that, Matt.
QUESTION: Right. Thanks. So —
MR MILLER: But sorry, that was so long I only have time for two questions.
QUESTION: Okay. Well, I'll —
MR MILLER: I was just kidding. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: I'll put it all into one question then (inaudible) decide. I'll start with the 75-year relationship with the Philippines. Are you including the period when the U.S. actually occupied and controlled the Philippines in that?
MR MILLER: I would have to go back and look at the exact history of that to give you a more precise answer.
QUESTION: Yeah, yeah, I'm sure you would.
Okay, on Gaza, you have seen, I'm sure, Senator Schumer's comments. I know that you can't speak for the senator or any member of Congress, but is there a concern in the administration at all that these remarks are going to make it more difficult to deal with Prime Minister Netanyahu and his government?
MR MILLER: No. Obviously Congress is an independent branch of government. I think the Government of Israel understands quite well how the U.S. Government works. They interact frequently not just with members of the Executive Branch but with members of Congress, including Senator Schumer, who has traveled to Israel a number of times over the years. And I'm sure they fully understand that he speaks for himself. He's obviously someone we're in close contact with, but it's not a statement from the Executive Branch.
QUESTION: Well, fair enough, except that there are members of the Executive Branch who have said roughly similar if not exactly the same thing over the course of the last several months. And so I think there is a suspicion out there that Senator Schumer was putting out publicly what had been being said privately.
MR MILLER: No, that is not the case.
QUESTION: No? Absolutely not?
MR MILLER: Those are - these are statements made by Senator Schumer, not by the Biden administration.
QUESTION: Okay, so there's no frustration in the administration with Prime Minister Netanyahu and his government?
MR MILLER: Look, there are - there are a number of things that we want to see Israel do differently; we've made that quite clear. I've said it from this podium, as you know, a number of times, and we have that quite clear in direct conversations with the prime minister. But I don't have anything beyond that.
QUESTION: Okay, thanks.
MR MILLER: Gillian.
QUESTION: Haiti is okay?
MR MILLER: Yeah, sure.
QUESTION: You told us Tuesday, Matt, that you did not have an estimate on Americans trapped on the ground inside the country. Wondering if you have any information now on Americans there, also if there's any plans to evacuate or otherwise help those who are.
MR MILLER: So I don't have an estimate of how many Americans are on the ground in Haiti. That's always a difficult information - always difficult information for the State Department to have a precise number on because most Americans when they travel to a country - and certainly one like Haiti where we have close ties and there are people that go back and forth - they don't register with the United States, they don't register with our embassy to tell us that they are there. So it's impossible for us to know for sure. There are several hundred Americans who have registered to receive more information when we can provide it to them, and we of course do provide that information to them. But that's different than an overall number, which is - as is the case in most parts of the world, we just aren't able to offer an estimate.
With respect to your second question, we always plan for all sorts of contingencies. But no, we are not planning for any - we are not actively planning for any evacuation. And I would remind you and others that Haiti has been a Level 4 country with respect to our Travel Advisory since 2020. So what that means is for four years we have been telling Americans do not go to Haiti; do not travel there, it's not safe to do so; and for those who are there, leave as soon as you can feasibly do so without putting yourself at risk.
QUESTION: So you don't anticipate - or put it this way, so no plans to evacuate as of now? Do you anticipate there may be some support for evacuation for those few hundred or however many there are who want to get out?
MR MILLER: We will always provide information to American citizens that reach out to us when we can do so. For example, if there's information about the operations of the airport that becomes available, we'll make that known to Americans who reach out to us. But we are not actively planning for any evacuation, no.
QUESTION: One last question, if I may. With the few hundred million dollars of new aid money that's going to make its way to Haiti, does State have I guess guardrails in place to prevent any of that funding falling into the hands of these gangs that are now controlling the government building?
MR MILLER: So let me - just to be clear - and I'm going to make sure I answer your question correctly - let me talk about the different types of aid and assistance that we are providing. So first of all, there is $33 million that the Secretary announced on Monday in humanitarian assistance that we are providing to help alleviate the humanitarian situation on the ground. And we always have guardrails in place, we always have monitoring programs in place to ensure that that money is used effectively.
There is an additional $300 million that the United States is providing to support the Multinational Security Support Mission that Kenya will be launching in the coming days and weeks, which is a separate - a separate question from humanitarian assistance. And that is money that will be provided in some cases in kind through transfers of equipment, in some cases through provision of logistics, in some cases through direct financial support. But that is to the Government of Kenya to support the Multinational Support Mission, not to the Government of Haiti or entities on the ground in Haiti.
QUESTION: Can you do the top-line numbers? What, so total 330 direct from the U.S. and then 300 —
MR MILLER: Different - there's 300 - it is two different things: $300 million in support for the Multinational Security Support Mission; $200 million of that is from the Pentagon; $100 million is from here. Separate and apart from that, not supporting the MSS Mission but supporting humanitarian assistance efforts, is the $33 million that the Secretary announced on Monday.
Yeah.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) back to Israel for a second.
MR MILLER: Yeah.
QUESTION: Gaza's health ministry said today that six Palestinians were killed and dozens wounded in Israeli fire on crowds of residents waiting for aid trucks in Gaza City. Have you raised this with the Israelis? And do you have any information on this?
MR MILLER: So I don’t have any information on this specific report. I just saw it today. I can tell you that this is the type of thing that we often raise with the Israelis, both to seek out more information and to make clear that we want to see effective deconfliction measures taken. We want to see them take steps to minimize civilian causalities; we want them to take steps to see that aid is effectively distributed to Palestinian civilians who need it and in no way jeopardized.
QUESTION: And then just further on aid, the Secretary said yesterday when talking about the maritime corridor that it demands tremendous coordinating among donor countries. Is this for the U.S. military effort or the commercial maritime option?
MR MILLER: This is with respect to the effort the President announced in the State of the Union, the effort that we are launching with - through the United States military and with which we are coordinating with other countries. And as you've heard us say, we are working through what that will look like right now, and part of the purpose of the Secretary's ministerial meeting yesterday was to talk through exactly how we get that mission off the ground.
QUESTION: And sorry, just quickly on the settler sanctions, what effects do these sanctions have on the farms? I realize it cuts them off from like the U.S. financial system. But like how will this impact their operations?
MR MILLER: So I won't speak to how - what the exact impact will be on their direct operations, but I can tell you what the - how the sanctions will be imposed and how they will be enforced. So for both the individuals we sanctioned today and the two entities, any property that they have in the United States or in United States financial accounts is blocked. They no longer will have access to it, and they no longer have the ability to transact with the U.S. financial system. And then on top of that, any entities that transact with the United States financial transaction system - which, of course, is most entities in the world, banks and other entities - put themselves at risk of further sanctions and further enforcement activities from the United States if they transact with these farms and with these entities.
So what we've seen when we announced our first round of sanctions under this new executive order last month is in Israel, Israeli banks freezing the accounts of the four previously designated individuals. And I won't make any predications what will happen going forward, but I know that every entity around the world takes these sanctions very seriously.
QUESTION: And why go ahead with them now? Is it because there's not been progress in talks for a temporary ceasefire?
MR MILLER: This is completely independent of the ongoing effort to achieve a temporary ceasefire and release of the hostages. We continue to pursue that. There continues to be ongoing work inside the United States Government and with our partners in the region to try to achieve an agreement. But this work is independent of that.
We have made clear for some time that we wanted to see Israel take additional action to, number one, stop extremist settler violence and, number two, hold those responsible for it accountable. And we made clear that if we didn't see sufficient steps, we were ready to take action. And that's why you saw us first impose visa bans in December. Next, the President issued this executive order in February, and now us continuing to add designated entities to the list of those that we have sanctioned. And I will just say this is an area where we are going to continue to remain vigilant. And if additional actions are appropriate, we will not hesitate to take them.
QUESTION: On Israel. Thank you, Matt. I just wanted to follow up on something that Matt raised. Separately from Senator Schumer's remarks, there was this week released an unclassified American Intelligence Community assessment that indicated that Israel was likely to face lingering armed resistance from Hamas for years to come, that its military would struggle to secure the tunnel systems in Gaza. And it also said that the viability of Prime Minister Netanyahu's leadership and coalition may be in jeopardy. Do those assessments comport with this department's view of the situation? And if so, is the department going to reach for partners other than Netanyahu in its diplomatic efforts?
MR MILLER: So a few things about that. Number one, with respect to any assessment offered by the Intelligence Community, I'm going to defer to the Intelligence Community to speak to those. That's true here; it's true with respect to any other intelligence assessment that they offer publicly.
I will say that we have always made clear to Israel that it is important that they have not just a short-term tactical plan or a short-term plan to win the initial conflict, but that they have a long-term plan for dealing with the issues raised in this war, that they have a plan for governance in Gaza after the initial fighting stops, that they have a plan for security in Gaza after the fighting stops. Now, we have been working with Arab partners in the region to develop such a plan that would deal with security, that would deal with reconstruction, that would deal with a political path forward for the Palestinian people. And we have made it clear to Israel that these are incredibly important issues that they need to take seriously.
QUESTION: And on the question of - first, let me ask - let me just push you on the intelligence front, because the State Department has its own intelligence arm in INR. So did the assessment draw an objection from within this building? Was there a differing view from within this building?
MR MILLER: I am not going to speak to internal intelligence matters. I never would do. And you shouldn't - yeah, you should —
QUESTION: It's an unclassified assessment.
MR MILLER: I know, but you shouldn't read that any - anything into it, other than it's just a blanket rule that I'm going to talk to that. Obviously, we coordinate with others in the Intelligence Community, but this is an assessment offered initially by the DNI. And I'm not going to speak to the internal deliberations that went into it.
QUESTION: So you want to address the Netanyahu's coalition being potentially in jeopardy assessment view?
MR MILLER: I just don't have any comment on it from here.
QUESTION: Just as an additional - I mean, unnamed officials as a result of these assessments within Israel have accused the U.S. Government of trying to oust the prime minister. Do you care to respond to those —
MR MILLER: So with respect to that, I would say that this is an Intelligence Community assessment, similar to assessments that the Intelligence Community offers from time to time not about Israel but about countries all around the world. It has nothing to do with trying to take a position in internal Israeli matters or take a position in internal Israeli politics. We do not have a position on that. Who leads the Government of Israel is a matter for the Israeli public to decide, just as it is a matter for the residents of any country to decide with respect to the leadership of their country. We deal with the elected prime minister. We will always deal with the elected leadership of Israel. That will always be our policy.
QUESTION: Okay. One last one on hostage talks, because you mentioned there was ongoing work. Is it the case that the stakeholders surrounding the talks are just waiting for a response from Hamas, or is there a revised offer being put on the table?
MR MILLER: I'm not going to get into any level of detail, other than to say that there continues to be an offer on the table to Hamas - as you heard the Secretary say when he was at this podium yesterday - that we think they should accept.
Kylie.
QUESTION: Just —
MR MILLER: And welcome back. I know the Secretary said it yesterday, but from me welcome back.
QUESTION: Thank you. Appreciate it. It's good to be here. Sorry to beat a dead horse, but I do have one more question on —
MR MILLER: No, you're not.
QUESTION: — the Netanyahu remarks, specifically, what Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said. I understand that you're not going to talk about if you guys coordinated or anything like that. The White House did say that they were given a heads-up ahead of those remarks, but —
MR MILLER: No, I said we did not coordinate. We were given a heads-up, but we did not coordinate.
QUESTION: Okay. But he did - he called for a new election in Israel. Can you just clearly say if the administration agrees that this is time for a new election or not in Israel?
MR MILLER: That is just not a position that we have taken.
QUESTION: So you won't take a position either way as to —
MR MILLER: There's —
QUESTION: — if you agree with those remarks or not.
MR MILLER: No, they are remarks that he made, and he - as I said, Congress is an independent branch of government.
QUESTION: But do you think that Prime Minister Netanyahu is in strong standing right now as the leader of Israel?
MR MILLER: I'm not going to - I am not going to offer any type of assessment of that. He is the elected prime minister of Israel.
QUESTION: Okay.
QUESTION: Can I follow up?
MR MILLER: Yeah. Said, go ahead.
QUESTION: Thank you, Matt. Very quickly on the Netanyahu-Chuck Schumer thing. I know Congress is a separate entity and so on, but do you agree that Mr. Netanyahu is an obstacle to peace when it comes to the two-state solution, considering that he said that time and again?
MR MILLER: I, once again, am just not going to offer any independent assessments about the Government of Israel. I think I've made that fairly clear. I will make clear what our positions are with respect to a two-state solution. We have made that very clear for some time. But with respect to assessments about the Government of Israel, that's not something I'm going to do from this podium.
QUESTION: All right. And now Israel says it plans - it's been reported that Israel - in fact, it was reported by AP that Israel plans to direct Palestinians out of Rafah ahead of anticipated offensive. Is that really acceptable? I mean, every - are they a herd of cattle? You keep moving them north, south, and so on? You keep moving them from place to place? You're going to put them in - like they call them human islands and so on?
MR MILLER: So —
QUESTION: Is that really acceptable to the Government of the United States?
MR MILLER: So I saw the comments. What I have yet to see and what our government has yet to see is a plan from the Government of Israel. So before I pass any sort of judgement, we are going to continue to do what we have said we would do, which is look for the Government of Israel to provide a plan about how they would address the humanitarian situation in Rafah. Absent having seen such a plan and seeing that such a plan is credible and can be executed and implemented, that type of operation is not one that we could support. But while we saw the comments at a press conference, that's a different from a plan, and we've yet to see a plan.
QUESTION: Yeah. But in principle, I mean, the notion of moving people like this - keep moving them endlessly. I don't know for how long. Maybe this war will take another six months and so on. Is that something that you - that's fine with you?
MR MILLER: So - with respect, I will wait to see a plan.
QUESTION: Let me ask you on UNRWA, if I may. Can I ask you one more?
MR MILLER: Yeah, of course.
QUESTION: Okay. Yesterday, it was struck, and the Secretary mentioned that an UNRWA warehouse or whatever was struck and one person was killed. Now, it has also been reported that Israel is planning or has begun, in fact, to dismantle - I asked you about this a couple days ago - to dismantle UNRWA not only in Gaza, but also in the West Bank.
Now, would the United States come out and say, look, we will have whatever punishment fit the crime; if there are - if it's proven that members, staff members of UNRWA had participated in the October 7 attack then we will hold them accountable on that level, but you will continue - you make a commitment to continue to keep aiding UNRWA?
MR MILLER: So, Said, I do appreciate your continued insistence that I put the cart before the horse and pass judgment on matters that remain open and on which we have not yet been provided the information we said we would have to have before we could pass judgment. But I - just as I would not pass judgment with respect to a Rafah plan that we have not seen, I'm not going to pass judgment on the outcome of an investigation that is still ongoing.
What I will do is make clear what our principles are, which is that we think the allegations against UNRWA need to be investigated thoroughly. They are being investigated. We are waiting for the outcome of that investigation, but none of that changes the fact that right now UNRWA plays a critical role on the ground in distributing humanitarian assistance to Palestinian civilians. And we will await, with respect to our funding decisions, the outcome of that investigation before we make further ones.
QUESTION: But you have been, all along, since its creation, you have been the major supporter of UNRWA. UNRWA would probably be - find it difficult to continue without U.S. support. Why can't the U.S. say, we will continue to support? You keep saying —
MR MILLER: Because we - because there is an investigation that is ongoing into very serious allegations, and we want to see what that investigation finds.
QUESTION: Can I ask on that.
QUESTION: Could I just follow up?
MR MILLER: Yeah, go ahead.
QUESTION: Thank you. Two questions: a follow-up on Said's and a second question. But the UN said - and I'm just going to quote just to be accurate. So the UN said that the number of children reported killed in just over four months in Gaza is higher than the number of children killed in four years of wars around the world combined. That is a quote from the UN. So what will the U.S. do to make sure that this statistic is not going to get worse in the next few months?
MR MILLER: So first of all, it is an almost unspeakable tragedy, the number of children that have died. It is an unacceptable outcome of the fighting of the past five months. And you heard the President speak to this over the weekend. We don't want to see another child die. We didn't want to see any children die, obviously, and that's why we have been engaged with the Government of Israel to make clear that they need to do everything possible to minimize civilian casualties and why it's - we have made clear that with respect to any operation in Rafah, we need to see a credible and executable humanitarian assistance plan before we can support one going forward.
QUESTION: Okay. On UNRWA. Correct me if I'm wrong, but basically the U.S. is holding any funds or resuming the funds until the results of the investigation is concluded. Is that correct?
MR MILLER: That's correct.
QUESTION: Okay. According to my information of talking to UN officials, they are saying basically that Israel never provided an evidence to show these 12 members are involved. And therefore, as long as Israel does not provide this evidence, the investigation is still open and can be open for years to come. So in a way, they are indicating it could be a political, actually, accusation more than an actual one, and even if it's an actual one, it can be political. So where do we go from there, because following up with everything else that was said, UNRWA was created to cater for Palestinian refugees only, and the Israelis has always showed their contempt to UNRWA. And now, they're saying that 12 members were involved without giving any evidence. My understanding is they gave only oral —
MR MILLER: All right, so let me —
QUESTION: — oral - orally they conveyed the message, but no evidence.
MR MILLER: So a few things about that. So number one, I can't speak for the United Nations with respect to its investigation. Only they can do so, obviously. But they have communicated directly to us that they have the ability to conduct a thorough investigation into this, and we have confidence in their ability to do that, especially with respect to former French - the former French foreign minister with whom the Secretary has a longstanding working relationship. And we have confidence in their ability to investigate these allegations.
But second of all - and maybe even more importantly - I think you have to remember why we made our decision to pause funding in the first place. It was not because of allegations that the Government of Israel brought to us. We hadn't heard from the Government of Israel about these allegations. It was about allegations that UNRWA brought to us. And when they brought us these allegations, they told us that they had investigated them and found them to be credible, and that's why they had taken action to fire the employees in question.
So I don't know what your sources refer to with respect to the inability to get further information, but when we made our initial decision to pause funding - not a final decision, but initial - it was because UNRWA had come to us and told us they found these allegations to be credible, they had conducted an initial investigation, and they had taken action.
So that seemed to us to be a pretty credible source. Not allegations from Israel, but UNRWA itself saying these allegations were serious enough to take action. But with respect to the ongoing investigation, we do have faith in their ability to get to the bottom of what happened.
QUESTION: Sure, I really appreciate it. Just, like, finally, I really want to get to the bottom of this because, again, my understanding that UNRWA reported as a credible information just because a member-state of the UN, which is Israel, reported it, not because they found a credible evidence.
MR MILLER: That - that is not - that is not —
QUESTION: Because a member-state, and they have to investigate.
MR MILLER: That is not what was communicated to the United States when they first brought it to us. But let me just come back to a broader question, which is something Said said, which is the United States has been the largest funder of UNRWA since - I don't know if it's since the beginning, but certainly going back for decades we have been the largest funder of UNRWA. We are the largest funder of humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people. That commitment on behalf of the United States to continue funding humanitarian assistance remains, and you can count on it from this administration.
And you don't just have to look at my words standing here at the podium, you don't just have to look at what Secretary Blinken said when he was here yesterday, but look at the budgets that President Biden has submitted to Congress. In the supplemental budget that is pending right now in Congress, we have requested billions of dollars in humanitarian assistance that would be used to deliver food and water and medicine to the Palestinian people, and that's because we believe it's important. In the budget that was - request that was just submitted to Congress on Monday by this administration, we requested billions of dollars in humanitarian assistance to deliver items to the Palestinian people that they desperately need.
So yes, there is a question with respect to UNRWA because of these allegations that UNRWA deemed credible and took action on, and because of the ongoing investigation. But when it comes to our commitment to providing humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people, there should be no question, because we have put our money where our mouth is.
Alex, go ahead.
QUESTION: Thank you, Matt. A couple of questions. I want to go back to your opening statement on Russian sham elections. You said —
QUESTION: Can we stay in —
MR MILLER: Yeah, let's stay in the - let's stay in the region.
QUESTION: Okay.
MR MILLER: Go ahead.
QUESTION: Sorry (inaudible) Alex.
MR MILLER: We'll come back to you.
QUESTION: Yeah. On the maritime corridor, Matthew, for how long will it be set in Gaza? And then, will it help in evacuating Palestinians from Gaza or its main goal is only to bring in aid to Gaza?
MR MILLER: So the primary purpose of this maritime mechanism is to deliver humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people in Gaza. With respect to specific questions about how it will operate, what it will do, I would refer to the Department of Defense, which is the lead agency. It is a military - it is intended as a military mechanism at this time, being operated by the military to deliver humanitarian assistance. We are playing a diplomatic role in helping get it off the ground and secure support from allies and partners. But with respect to its specific operations, I would defer to the Pentagon.
QUESTION: And secondly, on reports that the Palestinian president intends to appoint his economic advisor, Mohammad Mustafa, to the post of prime minister. Do you support such an appointment?
MR MILLER: I don't have any comment on those reports. We have not seen them take an official action, so I wouldn't comment on speculative reports.
QUESTION: And I have one more question on Iran, but maybe after.
MR MILLER: We'll go - let's - we'll finish up Israel and then we can do the broader region.
Go ahead, if this is Israel-related. Yeah, you.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR MILLER: Sorry, I know - yeah.
QUESTION: Yeah. Well, happy Pi Day to all who celebrate. Question one is about the children in Gaza. Thousands of kids have been killed in Gaza. There's reports of crippling mental health conditions among all Palestinians, kids no less - kids as young as five saying that they want to take their own lives. If a child in Gaza is still alive at this point, their development and education has been interrupted, their homes destroyed, their families and friends killed. So I'm wondering how the U.S. is thinking about supporting these kids who are still alive? And then secondly, I'm wondering if there's any concern that this war may actually foment an entire generation to see Israel - and by virtue of its aid, the U.S. - as more negatively and as entities to resist? As in, is there a fear that this war and this suffering might make harmony more - harder to achieve?
MR MILLER: So let me speak first to the impact on children, which obviously is a tragedy for those who have lost their lives and their family members. And I'm sure it will have dramatic impacts to those who do survive this war. And it's one of the reasons we are trying to achieve a humanitarian ceasefire that would alleviate the suffering of the Palestinian people, including children. I know that it's important to everyone here, especially to the - especially to all of us who have our own kids and think about them when we see what happens in Gaza. And so we are going to continue to try to pursue it and achieve that kind of ceasefire, because it would be important to alleviate that suffering. In the long term - longer term, we will continue to try to get humanitarian assistance in to help the Palestinian people rebuild their lives.
And then with respect to the broader question, so I would say if you look at the testimony that the Director of National Intelligence gave the other day to Congress, she spoke quite directly on this issue, and I would refer you to her comments with which - and would on behalf of the State Department wholeheartedly endorse them.
QUESTION: And then on the investigations - we've talked about before - it's the allegations of Israel killing journalists, of people like Hind Rajab, her family, the medics sent to save her; allegations now of torture and sexual abuse. On these and more, the U.S. often defers to Israel to investigate and checks in periodically. But for how much longer will the U.S. continue to defer to Israel given that they kind of continue to reportedly commit the same violations? To put a finer point on it, our colleague in the front row's question on attacks on food lines. After the attack two weeks ago where at least a hundred people were killed and nearly 800 were injured waiting for food. Since then, Israeli forces have reportedly killed more than 400 Palestinians in food lines since that attack. So I know that that attack is being investigated, but how much longer can we keep sort of deferring as these violations continue to keep happening?
MR MILLER: So I will say with respect to any matter, we want to see it investigated, we want to see it investigated promptly, and, if appropriate, see accountability. And that's what we will continue to press the Government of Israel to do, but that's not the only thing we do when it comes to these questions. We also press them to take measures to keep it from happening again. And in some areas, we have seen improvements; in other areas, there is clearly more work to be done. But it does come back to this - this thing we have talked about before, which is the difficulty of operating in this environment where Hamas continues to use Palestinians as human shields.
So I will just say with respect to the strike that Israel took yesterday that has reportedly killed an UNRWA worker, so the IDF put out a statement on that today and said that they were targeting a Hamas terrorist. And they've released video that they claim shows the death of a Hamas terrorist that they were specifically targeting who has been stealing humanitarian assistance intended for innocent civilians and diverting it to Hamas and diverting it to the terrorists who not only killed more than 1,200 Israelis on October 7th and killed American citizens on October 7th and not only continue to hold hostages, including American citizens, but continue to put Palestinian civilians in harm's way, and who could at least for six weeks end this conflict today by accepting the ceasefire proposal that's on the table.
So it is a very difficult environment in which Israel operates. That no way alleviates their need to minimize civilian casualties. And what I can tell you is that we will continue to press them to do everything they can to minimize civilian harm.
Go ahead.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR MILLER: Go ahead, and then we'll come to you, Alex.
QUESTION: On Palestinian children. So on Tuesday a 12-year-old Palestinian child, Rami, was killed by an Israeli officer, police officer in East Jerusalem. He was lighting fireworks in front of his family home, playing with his brother and his friends. And Israeli National Security Minister Ben-Gvir praised the police officer who shot Rami as a hero and called the 12-year Palestinian boy a terrorist. What is your reaction to this?
MR MILLER: It's hard to - hard to know how to react to that specific comment. I will say that no child just out doing what a child does should be put in harm's way and should see their life put at risk. No child out playing should be harmed in any way. And I can tell you this is a matter that we will seek information about the Government of Israel —
QUESTION: You haven't yet - raised this with the Israeli Government yet?
MR MILLER: We may have. I wasn't aware of this report until you raised it to me right before the briefing. I haven't had a chance to talk to our embassy. But I can tell you if we have not, we will.
QUESTION: And I mean, we know that Israel is - heard from the news that Israel is investigating this, but how can we believe that Israel will investigate itself impartially when its national security minister calling a child (inaudible)?
MR MILLER: So it is important that we watch these investigations and hold them accountable, that the Israeli press watch them and ask questions, and that the rest of the world's press watch them and have questions. And this goes back to something you have heard me say before, that Israel is a democracy where the free press can ask questions, where citizens can demand that their government do better and perform better, and where the rest of the world can interact with them and ask those very same questions. And that's what we will do on behalf of the United States and would encourage others to do it as well.
All right, Alex, we'll finally come to you.
QUESTION: Thanks so much. It's been an eventful week, so I understand. Back to your opening statement on Ukraine-Russia, you said the United States does not and will never recognize the outcome of sham elections. Context matters - of course you're talking about Ukrainian sovereignty here - but how much of this questions Putin's legitimacy in your opinion?
MR MILLER: So I think it very clearly shows that he disrespects international law. And as I said, there is no legitimacy with respect to his claims for Ukraine, either the territory where they are holding these sham elections right now or the rest of Ukraine where he continues to have designs.
QUESTION: But in terms of the election that Putin is running this time, United States will not recognize Putin as an elected president next week? Is that (inaudible)?
MR MILLER: Look, I think when it comes to the elections in - the elections in Russia, first of all, the Russian people deserve free and fair elections and the ability to choose among candidates representing diverse views. They deserve access to impartial information. If you just look back at what we've seen over the past few weeks, we saw the Kremlin's leading critic, Aleksey Navalny, die in custody following years of harassment and abuse. We've seen the Russian Government attack one of his longtime aides, and we've seen them continue to deny anti-war candidates' registration on spurious grounds and deprive - to deprive Russian voters of genuine choices. So we have seen the Russian Government, not just over the past months in the lead-up to this election but of course for years, crack down on the ability of Russian civil society to operate, the ability of independent journalists to exercise their legitimate rights, and, of course, the ability of the Russian citizens to speak clearly. And we will watch the election, and I'm sure we'll have plenty to say when it concludes.
QUESTION: Yeah. As for attack that you're referring to, Lithuania's counterintelligence said that they assess that the Kremlin was behind it, Russian intelligence service carried out this attack. Is that your understanding?
MR MILLER: I don't have any comment on here - from here. I'm happy to take it back and see if we have anything further.
QUESTION: Sure. I also was hoping —
QUESTION: Switch topic.
MR MILLER: I'll come to you next.
QUESTION: I also was hoping you could help us understand the state's —
MR MILLER: One more, then I'll go —
QUESTION: Yeah, thanks so much - the State's role in the latest aid package for Ukraine. The President signed a memorandum the very same day that you guys put out 300 million for Ukraine, and he directed the Secretary to furnish up to 126 million from the FAA for Ukraine. Is it a separate package? Are you guys working on it or is it going (inaudible)?
MR MILLER: Let me take that back and get you an answer on it.
Go ahead.
QUESTION: Okay. So on Monday, CARICOM meets, comes up with this plan for a presidential council in Haiti. It's now Thursday. Is the council being stood up?
MR MILLER: My understanding is that just in the last few hours a number of the entities that will - that - that will comprise the transitional council have submitted their names, and so we will continue to work with CARICOM and work with our international partners and work first and foremost with Haitians themselves on trying to pursue a path to a return of democracy and free and fair elections in Haiti.
QUESTION: Not surprisingly, there is some objection from some parties, particularly in Port-au-Prince, setting aside the armed groups that have essentially taken control of the city. What efforts is the United States taking on to try to get people to buy into this transitional process?
MR MILLER: So a few things about that. First of all, I - what we saw Monday was dozens of Haitian individuals, representatives of political organizations in Haiti, civil society groups, being willing to make concessions and being willing to make compromises to try to restore stability and set the path to free and fair elections. And we think that's appropriate and think that it's something that all political figures in Haiti should do to try to move past the current crisis.
But with respect to your question about what the United States is trying to do, I think it is a mistake - I'm not - I don't - not trying to quibble with you - it's a mistake to look at this as what the United States will do, because ultimately this is a matter for the Haitian people to decide, and the Haitian people and Haitian leaders need to be front and center in making decisions about their country. What we will do is work with Haitian leaders and work with CARICOM leaders and work with our other international partners to do everything we can to offer support for Haitians in making those concessions and trying to get on the path to democracy.
And separately but equal - but important to this political pathway, we will support the multilateral - Multinational Security Support Mission because it is critical to restoring security on the ground, and without security it's going to be very hard, if not impossible, to hold free and fair elections.
QUESTION: Is there a concern in this building that momentum might be ebbing because we're now 72 hours past this situation?
MR MILLER: No —
QUESTION: And what happens if, for whatever reason, the names that have been put forward are rejected? What is the plan B?
MR MILLER: So first of all, I'm not going to discuss hypotheticals and what might happen. I would never do that with respect to anything, as we've - as others in this room have heard me say for the last few days when I've gotten other hypothetical questions. But no, not a concern about momentum ebbing. There were always going to be - this was always going to be a political process that required people to make compromises and people to make concessions. As you just heard me say, just in the past few hours we've seen a number of names submitted for this presidential transitional council. We want to see it get off the ground as soon as possible. We want to see an interim prime minister appointed as soon as possible.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR MILLER: Yeah, go ahead.
QUESTION: Thank you. Couple questions on Iraq. The U.S. sanctions waiver to Iraq expires in the coming weeks. I've learned that this administration renewed that waiver to the - Iraq that could pay to Iran. In the past few waivers, Iran get monies from Iraq in euros, not in Iraqi dinars. Have you renewed that waiver to Iraq? And why are you allowing Iraq to pay Iran in euros?
MR MILLER: So first of all, with respect to which currency it's paid in, I don't know or have any understanding of which currency. With respect to the waiver itself, yes, we did issue this waiver, and I would emphasize, as you've heard me before, that these are waivers that have been regularly issued to Iraq going back to 2018 under a previous administration. This is now the 21st time that this particular waiver has been issued. And it's important to realize how this money has been used.
Number one, that no money is permitted to enter Iran under the terms of this waiver. All of these funds are held in restricted accounts and they can only be used for transactions for the purchase of food, medicine, medical devices, agricultural products, and other non-sanctionable transactions. And that it is part of our broader goal to wean Iraq off of dependence on Iran for the provision of electricity, because that's what these waivers - as I know you know - what these waivers relate to, which is that Iraq continues to have to get its electricity from Iran.
Iraq has been making real progress on its path towards energy sufficiency since 2020. It has cut its imports of Iranian energy by more than half. Over the last decade, it has doubled its own electricity generation. And we will continue to work with them and support them as they try to become energy independent.
QUESTION: And this week - and this week, four members of Congress sent a letter to Secretary Yellen and Secretary Blinken on that issue, and they speak of the nature of that transactions. They mentioned that these transactions are fungible, that these transactions are fungible. So don't you think that you are - keep maintaining the financial lifeline for Iran and that Iran just continues to keep supporting those groups that you listed in FTO?
MR MILLER: Not at all, and we've addressed this in the past. Not only is it not our assessment that that's not what - how this money is used, but it's not what we have seen during the provision of this waiver in the past. And again, this is not just a decision that has made - been made by this Secretary. It is a decision that was made by a previous secretary appointed by a previous president in the administration immediately preceding ours.
What we have seen - and this is borne out time and time again - is that Iran is always going to fund terrorism. It's always going to fund destabilizing activities - that is the first item it commits to when Iran is going through whatever budget process it is that Iran goes through - and that this money helps the Iranian people, because it can only be used for humanitarian purposes and other non-sanctionable goods. In other words, it is additive money that would otherwise not be spent to address the Iranian people's legitimate needs as opposed to the Iranian Government's illegitimate purposes.
And with respect to those illegitimate activities by the Iranian Government, you have seen this administration respond to those. We have imposed sanctions on more than 500 Iranian entities since the outset of this administration. We have held Iran accountable for its support of terrorism and its funding of dangerous proxy groups around the region, and we'll continue to do so.
Guita, go ahead.
QUESTION: Thanks, Matt. Talking about the Iranian people, you may recall the results of the UN factfinding mission on the suppression - the government suppression of the protests which basically said, in most cases, crimes against humanity had been committed. Now the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, based on that report, is urging the Biden administration to support a UN Security Council referral to the International Criminal Court.
Given what you just said about support for the Iranian people and holding the government accountable, would the Biden administration consider this proposition seriously as a means to that end of holding the regime accountable?
MR MILLER: So the UN factfinding mission did document extremely concerning human rights abuses, which it concluded may amount to crimes against humanity. We strongly support the resolution under consideration at the UN Human Rights Council that renews mandate - renews mandates for the factfinding mission and the special rapporteur on human rights in Iran for another year.
And with respect to the other question, I don't have anything to announce today.
QUESTION: Okay. Another - somewhat in the same light, the Iranian Government has also been persecuting athletes. Now with the upcoming Olympics in Paris, Senator Marsha Blackburn has written to the International Olympic Committee and asked them to - not to allow the Iranian team in. Any comments on that? Would - do you think that's another way of possibly holding the Iranian regime accountable?
MR MILLER: So we certainly agree that Iran's ongoing human rights abuses are horrific. As I just said, we saw the UN factfinding mission's conclusions with respect to possible crimes against humanity. I don't have anything to announce with respect to the Paris Olympics today, but we continue to look at and pursue numerous ways to respond to the Iranian regime's abuse of its citizens.
QUESTION: (Off-mike.)
MR MILLER: Go ahead, and then —
QUESTION: Sir, U.S. congressional committee holding its hearing next week on the fairness of Pakistan's elections. Assistant Secretary Donald Lu has been asked to testify before the committee. What was your reaction on the announcement of this hearing, and will it - will its findings have any impact on U.S.-Pakistan relations?
MR MILLER: So with respect to the hearing, any number of State Department officials testify all the time before Congress. We see it as an important part of our jobs to help Congress do its job, both from a policymaking perspective and from an oversight perspective. So we always look forward both to the informal conversations we have with Congress, the formal conversations, and of course the actual testimony that our officials provide.
QUESTION: Sir, as you know the former Prime Minister Imran Khan and his supporters allege that Assistant Secretary Donald Lu tried then to destabilize his government during the March 2022 meeting with the Pakistani ambassador. And according to media reports after his allegations, Imran's allegations, a few members of his party sent some threatening messages to Mr. Donald Lu. So I'm - those members might be - may be - because it's an open hearing, they might be there. So do you have any concerns on security of Mr. Donald Lu in that hearing?
MR MILLER: So first of all, with respect to the underlying allegations against Assistant Secretary Lu, they're false. They've always been false. You've heard me say that more than once, more than twice, more than ten times probably. Of course, we take any threats towards U.S. officials seriously and condemn any effort to threaten the safety and security of our diplomats. Do —
QUESTION: One last question.
MR MILLER: Yeah, go ahead. One more.
QUESTION: Sir - thank you, sir. Sir, India has implemented a controversial citizenship law that has been widely criticized for excluding Muslims, established - establishes a religious test for migrants from every major South Asian faith other than Islam. Sir, do you have any comments on this in relation to discussion about religious freedom?
MR MILLER: So we are concerned about the notification of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act on March 11. We are closely monitoring this act - how this act will be implemented. Respect for religious freedom and equal treatment under the law for all communities are fundamental democratic principles.
Daphne, and then we'll stop for the day, wrap for the day.
QUESTION: Can I just go back to the waiver quickly? It's the waiver allowing Iraq to pay Iran for electricity, right —
MR MILLER: It is - it —
QUESTION: — that was issued?
MR MILLER: It's a simplification of it, but it is - the way it works: Iraq has been importing electricity from Iran. It doesn't pay it - Iran - directly for that electricity. It deposits money into these restricted accounts, and then we issue these waivers. It allows the money in that - those accounts to be used for humanitarian and other non-sanctionable purposes, but the money itself doesn't actually move from Iraq to Iran.
QUESTION: Right. And then was it issued for another 120 days?
MR MILLER: Yes.
QUESTION: Okay.
MR MILLER: It's the standard period.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR MILLER: All right. Thanks, everyone.
(The briefing was concluded at 2:27 p.m.)
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