LONDON: Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken has said that US are now the leading contributor in the world to COVAX, the facility that makes vaccines available, particularly to low and middle-income countries – $2 billion invested another 2 billion between now and the end of 2022 as other countries step up.
He added that in addition, besides that, we’ve worked closely with partners in the so-called Quad – with Australia, with Japan, and India – to find other ways to increase vaccine production and access over time.
Blinken said that India came to our assistance early on in our hour of need when we were having real struggles with COVID-19, providing millions and millions, for example, of protective masks. We remember that, and we’re determined to do everything we can to help now.
This he said during an interview with the Financial Times in London on Tuesday.
Regarding China, Secretary Blinken said that we are not about trying to contain China, or to hold China down. What we are about is upholding the international rules-based order that we’ve invested so much in over many decades, that has served us well, but not just us; we think, for all its imperfections, it’s served the world pretty well – including, by the way, China. .
He added that when China says to us things that we complain about, whether it’s Xinjiang and the egregious treatment of Uyghurs or whether it’s Taiwan or whether it’s Tibet or whether it’s Hong Kong, that these are internal matters, they don’t regard us, which are simply not true.
China in a whole variety of places on a variety of issues as is part of the normal course of doing business. We’re engaged with them right now on Iran and the effort to return to compliance with the JCPOA, he added
He said that we’ve had over many years consistent with the “one China” policy, consist with the Taiwan Relations Act, the six communiques – the Three Communiques, excuse me, the Six Assurances – all of this language that you hear. The bottom line is we have managed Taiwan, I think, quite well and quite effectively. What is very troubling and very concerning is that Beijing seems to be taking a different approach, acting aggressively. And I think that we are committed to making sure that Taiwan has the means to defend itself. That commitment is not going away. And at the same time, I think it would be a very serious mistake for anyone to try to disrupt by force the existing status quo.
While answering to a question regarding the Saudi Arabia, Secretary Blinken said that the crown prince has no plans anytime soon to come to the United States, but pause for one second on that question, and you mentioned it already. We put out a report with the imprimatur of the United States making clear responsibility for the heinous murder of Mr. Khashoggi. And of course, this had been reported in the news, in the FT, among other places. It’s not that there was necessarily anything new factually, but to have that with the imprimatur of the United States behind it, I think in and of itself was meaningful.
He added second, of course, we sanctioned a number of people and entities that were directly involved in Mr. Khashoggi’s murder. But beyond that, we put in place a new rule, a new system to make sure, to the best of our ability, that anyone who would seek to repress or threaten or do harm to people speaking out against their country from the United States – we’d make sure that they no longer had the benefit of being in the United States.
Regarding the Iran and its upcoming elections, he said that it’s very hard to predict, and certainly, I don’t want to get into hypotheticals about what one outcome or another in Iran’s elections – what impact that would or wouldn’t have on any nuclear negotiations. I think it’s clear who the decider is in the Iranian system, and that’s the supreme leader, and he’s the one who has to make the fundamental decisions about what Iran’s approach would be.
While talking about Russian President Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Secretary Blinken said that the President has spoken to Angela Merkel on several occasions, and of course, spoke to her along with President Obama regularly some years ago, including when Russia invaded Ukraine. And so we well know the challenges that are posed by engaging with President Putin.
He added that President Biden believes very strongly that it’s important to be clear and direct, and one of the best ways to do that is actually meeting face to face. He’s had a couple of conversations with President Putin on the phone now, and there’s no secret; he has said to him, including from before he was elected President, he’s been very clear that if Russia engages in reckless, aggressive actions, we will respond.