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MS COLLINS:  Secretary, so just this morning, Putin is overseeing some annual nuclear drills with Russian forces.  How concerned are you that Russia could use a dirty bomb and blame it on Ukraine – blame it on Ukraine?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  We’re concerned about two things.  We’re of course concerned about the rhetoric we’ve heard from Putin and from other Russian officials going back some weeks now over the possible use of a nuclear weapon.  We’re watching that very carefully.  We haven’t seen reason to change our own nuclear posture, but it’s something that we’re tracking very carefully, and we’ve also communicated directly and very clearly to the Russians, to President Putin, about the consequences that would flow from any use of a nuclear device.

Separate and apart from that, we’ve seen these allegations coming from the Russians that somehow the Ukrainians are looking or contemplating using a so-called dirty bomb, which is an utter fabrication and something that is also the height of irresponsibility coming from a nuclear power.  In fact, the IAEA is now, at Ukraine’s invitation, in Ukraine visiting – as they’ve done in the past – the nuclear facilities that Ukraine has.

The reason this particular allegation gives us some concern is because Russia has a track record of projecting, which is to say accusing others of doing something that they themselves have done or are thinking about doing.  But there, again, we’ve communicated very clearly and very directly to the Russians about trying to use this false allegation as a pretext for any kind of escalation on Russia’s behalf.

MS COLLINS:  And just to hold on that for a second, what would be our response if Russia does do something like that in terms of a mirroring event?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, I’m not going to get into speaking publicly to what we and others will do, other than to say that we’ve communicated that clearly and very directly to the Russians, including President Putin.

MS COLLINS:  So staying on Ukraine for a minute, a little longer, on terms of more broadly, we’re heading into the midterm elections.  We are hearing some concerns grow louder about support for Ukraine, the cost of it.  What assurances are you giving to Ukraine and our allies that we are going to stay supportive for the months ahead?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  What we’ve seen to date is a remarkable bipartisan consensus and bipartisan support for Ukraine, for putting pressure on Russia to cease its aggression, for taking the steps necessary at NATO to shore up our own defensive alliance.  I visited Ukraine, I visited neighboring countries with bipartisan delegations from Congress from both the House and the Senate, and that consensus – that strong core – I think remains strong and will remain so going forward.

It’s vitally important because it’s in the national interest.  Yes, of course, there’s deep concern about the horrific destruction that’s been done to Ukraine, the brutalization of the Ukrainian people, and that, I think, touches Americans across the board, irrespective of whether they’re Republicans or Democrats, members of Congress or citizens.  But we also know that this is an aggression against the very principles that are at the heart of the international system necessary for keeping peace and security, principles that grew out of the experience of two world wars and a conviction that we have to find ways to make sure that those couldn’t be repeated.  And so there was an agreement that you can’t simply go in and seize territory from another country, that you can’t change the borders of another country by force, that you can’t try to erase its independence and sovereignty from the map.  And if we allow that to go unchecked, if we allow that to proceed with impunity, it opens a Pandora’s box around the world for would-be aggressors.  That’s going to create conflict, and we know from history that draws us in.

I think in my conversations with members of Congress – Republicans, Democrats, House, Senate – there’s a shared conviction that this is important, it’s necessary, and we’re sticking with Ukraine.

MS COLLINS:  So you were just referencing history a couple times there, and I know you have written about, studied, worked on foreign policy related to that intersection of the U.S., Europe, Russia, particularly around energy, for a long time, even writing a book, “Ally Versus Ally,” on it in the 1980s.  So if you fast-forward to today, what is your view on whether Europe has finally learned its lesson on energy dependence with its neighbor?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  What we’ve seen over the last nine or so months since the Russian aggression began is remarkable in terms of actually moving Europe away from this dependence on Russian energy that’s built up over decades.  Europe in general, leading countries in particular, have done more over the space of nine months to break that dependence than anything we’ve seen in years.  And we see that in the already dramatically reduced dependence on Russian gas in particular, on Russian oil, and that’s vitally important and it’s going to have a profound strategic impact going forward over the coming years and decades.

But like any transition, especially a transition from something that’s built up over so many years, it’s challenging, it’s not without difficulty, it’s not without pain, and the Europeans are facing that square on.  We’re working to do everything we possibly can to help, especially to get through this coming winter and the winter beyond.  As you know, ever since the Russian aggression and even going back before that, we’ve been working, first of all, to make sure that there’s enough energy on world markets to meet demand.  We’ve worked very closely with Europe in particular in the short term to make sure that it could get a surge of LNG supplies – liquefied natural gas – to them to make up for what they were losing from Russia.  We’ve worked with partners and allies in Asia to divert supplies of LNG that were going to them to Europe.  We’ve increased our own production of oil and gas to actually – to record levels.  And, of course, the President has drawn down from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, in part to keep prices in check.

One of the things that’s happening in Europe now is because of the very important moves that they made, including to try to decrease demand during this critical period, to pursue the transition away from Russian energy, and to take other steps, the supply that they have on hand going into the winter will probably be what’s necessary to keep things going and to keep people warm and comfortable.  However, the impact on price is what’s the immediate concern, because that has the potential to make it harder for industry to get the energy it needs to keep producing things.  That has economic impacts, et cetera.

So one of the things that we’re working on – and it’s something, of course, that affects our own citizens – is not only making sure that the supply is there but making sure to the best of our ability that prices are kept in check.  And this is in a moment, of course, of global inflation.  So all of that are things we’re working on.  We’re also working on the longer term with the Europeans.  We established a task force with the European Union to work on this longer-term transition.

Last thing I’ll say is it only accentuates the need as Europe is moving away from dependence on Russian energy to also pursue this energy transition to renewables.  That too takes time, but it only, I think, emphasizes the imperative of doing that not only in terms of dealing with climate but also in terms of dealing with dependency on fossil fuels particularly coming from specific countries like Russia.

MS COLLINS:  So you just hit on a number of things there that we cover so closely here at Bloomberg: energy markets, inflation, both in the global economy and certainly in the U.S. right now.  And it’s also making me think of Saudi Arabia in terms of the relations there – they seem to be at the lowest that they’ve been in a really long time.  What can you possibly do to potentially recalibrate that relationship?  Are you preparing to try and do something like that and re-engage the crown prince at the G20 coming up, for example?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  The first thing to note is this:  This is a relationship that has been built over many decades, over many administrations, different leaderships in Saudi Arabia.  It’s been built up on a bipartisan basis, taking into account a multiplicity of interests that the United States has in that relationship and in dealing in that partnership.  And as we’re looking at where we’re going, we’re going to do it in a very deliberative fashion in consultation with members of Congress, as the President has said, to make sure of this: that the relationship better reflects our own interests.  So we’re looking at how to most effectively do that.

Since the decision by OPEC+, which we have not been – not been shy about making it very clear how – the extent to which we view that as a wrong decision and one that does nothing actually to advance our interests, on the contrary, the potential of oil prices to go up to further line Putin’s pockets at a time when he’s doing this aggression, to have the prices rise, if they were to rise, at a time when the world economy is trying to recover from COVID as well as dealing with global inflation.  So we’ve been very clear that this was the wrong decision, and also the wrong decision in terms of OPEC+ itself and Saudi Arabia because there is nothing to suggest in the analysis that we have and that we share with the Saudis that we’re looking at prices plummeting in ways that would be problematic for them.

But having said that, since the decision we’ve seen a few interesting things.  The Saudis supported the important resolutions at the United Nations condemning Russia’s aggression, particularly the resolution that went forward at the General Assembly condemning the purported annexations of Ukrainian territory.  We’ve also seen the Saudis come forward with about $400 million in humanitarian assistance for Ukraine.  So these are positive developments.  They don’t compensate the decision made by OPEC+ on production, but we take note of that.

The other thing I’d say is this:  Right now we have actually not seen prices go up because we’ve taken steps, the President’s taken steps, including further release from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, additional steps on our own production that are keeping prices in check.  In fact they’ve actually gone down a little.  And of course the actual production cut has not gone into effect.  It was just an announcement of the decision.  We haven’t yet seen the productions cuts go into effect itself.

MS COLLINS:  How much of a risk, though, do you see if energy markets in Europe really do tighten out – tighten up – we see some blackouts, or even we see in places like the Northeast in the U.S. start to struggle in terms of access to energy this winter?  How destabilizing could that be in terms of our support for the war in Ukraine or just the global economy?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Look, my own assessment is this, and I’m not – I’m not the leading expert on this, so maybe Secretary Granholm can come by, and others.  But based on the steps that the Europeans have taken over the last six or seven months, and particularly over the last few months, including this summer, they’ve done a number of things that are very significant that I think will help keep things in the right place through the course of this winter.

One is to make sure that their own reserves were as full as they possibly could be, so they’ve done a very good job of doing that.  But two is to take very significant steps to decrease demand, and that’s making a difference.  And three, of course, is the work, as I – that I alluded to, that we’ve done to make sure that we could help surge to them supplies of energy that would compensate for many losses that they’re getting as a result of moving away from Russian oil and gas.  And so again on the LNG, we’ve surged that.  We’ve diverted supplies that were going to Asia, we’ve increased our own production.  All of this together, I think, is having a very – is having a positive impact and look, we’ll see how things go in the coming months.  There are things we can’t control, like the weather.  So we’ll see what the winter is like.

But my own assessment is that the Europeans have taken very important steps to make sure that they can get through winter in good shape.

MS COLLINS:  So let’s turn to U.S.-China relations.  Last week you made some comments related to thinking that China wants to seize Taiwan on a, as you said, much faster timeline.  What are you seeing that made you think that this is speeding up?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  What we see is this, and it goes back a few years, not a few months.  And actually let me go back – take a step back even further.  One of the hallmarks in the relationship going back some 50 years was the way that we handled the issues surrounding Taiwan, and in particular there was a fundamental understanding in the relationship between Beijing and Washington that differences over Taiwan – between Beijing and Taiwan were to be managed peacefully, that there would be no unilateral changes to the status quo, and that fundamentally our interest was in peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.  That was the basic understanding, and that understanding held for decades and I think it was very successful in doing a few things.  It allowed Taiwan itself to flourish and its people to flourish.  It also made sure or helped to make sure that there wouldn’t be conflict between the United States and China over Taiwan.

What’s changed is this: the decision by the government in Beijing that that status quo is no longer acceptable, that they wanted to speed up the process by which they would pursue reunification.  And they also, I think, have made decisions about how they would do that, including exerting more pressure on Taiwan, coercion, making life difficult in a variety of ways on Taiwan in the hopes that that would speed reunification, but also holding out the possibility if that didn’t work of using force to achieve their goals.  That is what has fundamentally changed, and we’ve seen that manifested in actions that China has taken, including with various military maneuvers in the Taiwan Strait, the deployment of forces, et cetera.

Now, as we see it, this is first and foremost an effort, as I said, to turn up pressure on Taiwan.  And as to what Beijing might do and when it might do it, I can’t be any more precise than that.  But the fundamental change has been this change in China’s view that the status quo is unacceptable.  This should be a concern for not just the United States but for countries not only in the region but around the world.  Why?  Because if there’s any crisis regarding Taiwan, we’ve got 50 percent of container ships on a daily basis traveling through the Taiwan Straits.  The implications of a crisis if that were disrupted for the world economy, supply chains are significant – more than significant.  Semiconductors, chips – as everyone knows by now, the – 90 percent of the sophisticated chips are produced in Taiwan.  If that were for any reason disrupted, it would have deeply significant consequences for the global economy.  The chips that are in our cell phones, our dishwashers, our automobiles, if that’s disrupted – if that’s taken out of the supply chain, everyone has a big problem.

So everyone has a very big interest, I think, in making very clear to all involved, starting with Beijing, that the world does not want to see any kind of crisis regarding Taiwan, any kind of disruption, and the world believes that these differences need to be resolved peacefully and with peace and stability certainly in the Taiwan Strait.

MS COLLINS:  So you were just explaining that change that you’re seeing in China’s approach and the status quo.  From our point of view, did that then mean that the era from the U.S.’s approach of strategic ambiguity – is that era over?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  I think what’s very important to recognize from the get-go is the relationship as a whole with China first of all is among the most, if not the most, consequential that we have.  It’s among the most complicated – about the most complicated that we have.  And it also can’t be reduced to a bumper sticker.  We clearly have a competition.  And in part it’s a competition to shape what the world looks like going forward.  We’re – we’ve really reached an inflection point – an inflection point because the post-Cold War era is over; there is a competition on to shape what comes next.  China and the United States are two of the biggest players in that.  And we just have different visions of what the world should look like going forward.  I think China wants a world order, but theirs would be an illiberal one.  We want a world order, but ours would be inspired by liberal values.

So there’s a fundamental difference, and we’re in a competition about that.  We’re not shy about it; neither is Beijing.  But we also continue to have – and I think the world expects us to have cooperation on big issues that are affecting the lives of not just Chinese and not just Americans but people around the world on things like climate and global health.  And so where our interests continue to align, we’ll continue to look for ways to cooperate.  And then to the extent that the aspects of the relationship are adversarial, we’ll firmly stand up and stand up strongly for our interests.

We don’t look for conflicts.  We don’t want a Cold War.  We’re not trying to contain or restrain China.  But equally, we’re resolute in standing up for our interests, standing up for our values, and again when it comes to Taiwan, standing up for the proposition that’s held for decades that these differences need to be managed and resolved peacefully.  There cannot and should not be unilateral changes to the status quo, particularly by force, and that we have an abiding interest in peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.  That’s it.  That is a strong, basic interest of the United States, and one that we’re determined to uphold.

MS COLLINS:  So you were just talking about that competition between us but also that the relationship is complicated.  So when you saw this weekend Xi Jinping win another term as leader of China and also surrounding himself by even more loyalists, concentrating power even more, does that make your foreign policy approach with China more complicated or in some ways easier because you know exactly who you’re dealing with?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  First, you have to start with, I think, a basic proposition that what we can do with our foreign policy – and by the way, with our domestic policy, which I’ll come to in a second – is to help shape the environment outside of China in which China makes decisions.  We’re not going to be doing anything to shape the internal.  These are decisions that China will make and that we can’t make, but we can shape the external environment in which China is acting and making decisions about its policies in the world.  That’s one thing.

One of the most effective ways that we can do that is exactly what we’ve been doing over the last couple of years.  First, making the necessary investments in ourselves so that as we’re competing with China, as we’re looking to shape the international environment for what comes next, that we do it with the strongest possible hand.  We just had an almost historic, I would say historic success with the CHIPS and Science Act, making massive investments in our own ability to retain the technological edge when it comes to chips and semiconductors, and not just in their production and making sure that we’re producing more here but also investments in the basic science and research and development that’ll preserve that technological edge.  Similarly, the Inflation Reduction Act has historic investments in our ability to deal with climate change, in particular by making sure that we’re developing the technologies here in the United States to do that.  So these investments make a huge difference, and the investments that we’re making across the board in infrastructure, in education, as well as in research and development, that goes to our fundamental strength in technology, which in turn goes to our standing and strength around the world.

But the second piece is this, and this is so vital.  One of the first instructions that I got from President Biden in taking this job was to invest, unfortunately, every single minute of the day in revitalizing, rejuvenating, re-energizing our alliances and our partnerships, and, as necessary, creating new alliances with countries that were fit for purpose on any given big issue.  And that’s exactly what we’ve done.  But a big part of that goes to the competition with China.  When we have greater alignment with our countries – whether it’s in Europe, whether it’s in Asia, whether it’s in every other part of the world – then our ability to deal with competition effectively is enhanced, is strengthened.

For example, when we see practices that China is engaged in economically that are fundamentally unfair to our workers and to our businesses and we want to see changes, we’re dealing with those issues on our own – we’re 20, 25 percent of world GDP; significant to say the least – but when we’re dealing together with Europe, with the European Union, with partners in Asia, we might be 50 or 60 percent of world GDP.  That’s a lot harder for China to ignore.  So this alignment with others – with Europe, with Asia, with other countries around the world – on issues where we have a difference in interests with China, that’s a powerful part of what we’re able to do to shape the choices that China makes.

MS COLLINS:  Great.  I want to turn to Q&A in just one minute, but when you look ahead to the next year, Secretary, what are you most focused on in terms of at the department and moving forward?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, a few things.  As I said, the – what’s fundamentally motivating us is this strongly held view that we really are at an inflection point, that this is a moment when the post-Cold War era is clearly over, and there is this competition to shape what comes next that’s on.  And so making sure that we have the tools that we need to be doing as much of that shaping as possible is front and center to what I’m thinking about.  And as I said, that goes to many things we’re doing at home, in terms of the investments we’re making in ourselves.  For my partnerships, what I’m responsible for, it’s in building the strongest possible partnerships, creating the greatest possible alignment with other countries, likeminded countries of one kind or another, democracies, but also countries that may not fit neatly into the democratic camp but have a strong interest in having a world order that’s actually shaped by rules that everyone plays by.  We’re working together with many countries to achieve that.

And then within that, as we’re thinking about that and working on that, we also want to make sure that Putin’s aggression in Ukraine remains a strategic defeat for Russia, that we continue to pursue alignment with other countries in dealing with competition with China, and that we’re finding new and ever more effective ways to deal with a multiplicity of interconnected global challenges that are the things that are really affecting the lives of people in the United States, but also people around the world.  And that’s global health; that’s climate; that’s food insecurity; that is inclusive economic growth.  All of these things, which in the years past were not necessarily front and center of what the State Department focused on, they now are.  They have to be because more than anything else, they’re affecting the lives of citizens in all of our countries.

And so the more that we’re actually working together with others to address those issues, which is exactly what we’ve been doing, where the United States has regained and reasserted its leadership in helping to try to move the world forward in addressing, that’s where we want to make a big difference, and that’s what I’m focused on.  We still have a greater ability, in my judgment, than any country on earth to mobilize others in positive collective action.  And that action is more necessary than it’s ever been, collective action, because not a single one of these problems is any one country able to solve effectively on its own.  We have to find new ways to collaborate, to cooperate, new partnerships.  The United States has been leading in the effort to do just that on all of these issues.

And the last thing is this: one of the things I think we know from history is that the world doesn’t organize itself.  So if the United States is not engaged in working to do a lot of that organizing, one of two things: either someone else is going to do it, and probably not in a way that reflects our interests or values, or no one does it, and then you have a vacuum, and vacuums tend to be filled by bad things before they’re filled by good things.

MS COLLINS:  Or chaos – yeah.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Or chaos.  Exactly.

MS COLLINS:  Well, let me turn to the Q&A.  I’m sorry, would you mind stating your name and affiliation as you ask the question?

QUESTION:  Sure.  Hi, Secretary.  I’m Brian Katulis.  I’m at the Middle East Institute.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Hi, good to see you.

QUESTION:  Yeah, thanks for your service.  And I commend your team for trying to put diplomacy first on a number of issues, including Iran.  A year and a half now into it, what’s your assessment of the prospects of what you outlined as your goal on that?  And then how do things like the protests and other things move you and your team to maybe start thinking about what a Plan B looks like if the nuclear negotiations don’t succeed as you’ve hoped?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thanks for the question.  Well, first, the – I think the eyes of the world are focused on Iran, and particularly on the protests.  Today marks the 40th day since the killing of Mahsa Amini, which was a day of significance in terms of commemorating her life and her loss.  And I think what we’re seeing across Iran is a quite remarkable expression of frustration, anger, at various policies pursued by the regime.  And we’re seeing this spontaneously, we’re seeing it in different parts of the country, and it appears to be really from the grassroots up.  And I think the world is rightly focused on that.

We’ve been, in terms of both the solidarity we’ve expressed for the people being able to express themselves freely – and we’ve done that not only rhetorically, we’ve also – in terms of the actions we’ve taken, both in terms of sanctioning those responsible for the repression of the Iranian people’s efforts to speak freely, including the so-called morality police, as well as those who are responsible for supporting the repressive actions of the regime right now with sanctions, but also in trying to help ensure that technology necessary for Iranians to communicate with each other and with the rest of the world, that there are no obstacles to getting that technology to the Iranian people.

With regard to the JCPOA, the fact of the matter is this: right now I don’t see a near-term prospect for that moving forward.  Why?  Because the Iranians have continued to try to inject extraneous issues into discussions over the JCPOA that are a dead end.  And unless and until they decide to drop those, it’s hard to see the JCPOA moving forward.  We remain determined one way or another to make sure that Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon.  We continue to believe that diplomacy is actually the best and most effective way to do that, and when it was enforced, the JCPOA actually put Iran’s nuclear program in a box.

Unfortunately, since the United States pulled out of the agreement, it gave the Iranians an excuse to break out of the box that the agreement had put them in, and we’ve now seen them take steps that have made their nuclear program increasingly dangerous.  And one way or another, we and many countries around the world need to deal with that, and we will.  As I say, we continue to believe diplomacy is the best way, but the President’s been very clear from day one.  Even as we sought to get a return to mutual compliance with the JCPOA, we’re not going to enter into a bad agreement, and we’re certainly not going to allow Iran to do things that are unacceptable in other areas for the sake of getting back into the agreement.

MS COLLINS:  Courtney from Bloomberg.

QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, thanks for joining us.  On to another nuclear aspirant.  North Korea continues to advance its own capabilities and to resist calls for diplomatic engagement.  At what point does the administration have to alter its own approach, given that it is not bearing fruit?

And just in our hemisphere, on Haiti.  How do you attempt or how does the administration hope to help stabilize the situation in Haiti, given the reluctance to send U.S. personnel, and obviously also the resistance in Haiti to doing so?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thanks.  On North Korea, this has been a story that’s been playing out over years, decades, in fact, ever since I’ve been involved in these issues since first joining the State Department in 1993.  And successive administrations have worked to grapple with this.  And I think it’s also fair to say that obviously no one has succeeded in resolving the problem posed by North Korea’s nuclear program and the danger that that poses, both in the region, including to our close partners and allies in Japan and Korea, but also well beyond the region.

What we’ve seen North Korea do in recent months is a very large number of missile tests of one kind or another, including – specifically recall one that flew right over northern Japan.  This is in violation of a series of UN Security Council resolutions.  We’ve gone to the United Nations, pursued additional sanctions against North Korea.  We’ve also done two things that I think are vitally important, which is to continue to shore up the defense and deterrent capacities of our partners and allies and ourselves in the region, working closely with Japan and with South Korea so we’re not standing still in the face of provocations from North Korea.  We’re making sure that we’re strengthening our own defense and capacity.

We’ve made it clear to the North Koreans going back to last year that we were prepared to engage with them without any preconditions to move toward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.  The North Koreans have not responded to any of those overtures.  In fact the response has been exactly what you’ve cited, which is the increased number of missile tests, the prospect potentially of another nuclear test, which would be the seventh that they’ve undertaken.

So our determination is to work even more closely with our allies and partners to strengthen defense, strengthen deterrence; to work ever more closely with other countries in the international system, including the United Nations, to exert appropriate pressure on North Korea for the actions it’s taken; and of course to work with other concerned countries to see what influence they can bring to bear on North Korea to stop the dangerous, destabilizing actions that it’s taken.

With regard to Haiti, there are a multiplicity of challenges that the Haitian people are facing, some of them nature-made, some of them human-made, all of them exerting a terrible toll on the Haitian people.  So first and foremost, we want to do everything we possibly can to help people who are in need.  And we continue to do that, including with significant humanitarian assistance.  But the fundamental problem right now is one of security, because in the absence of security, virtually everything that we need to do and others need to do to help Haiti – to help Haiti move forward politically, to help Haiti move forward economically, to help Haiti more in dealing with now the cholera outbreak that we see there – all of those are made much more difficult, if not impossible.

And so you have gangs that dominate a lot of space in Haiti, not the state.  If the gangs are preventing things moving freely from ports and airports to places where they’re needed – whether it’s fuel, whether it’s water, whether it’s medical supplies – then dealing with everything else becomes that much more difficult.  So dealing with the security problem is, I think, job number one.  We’ve been working to do that in a few ways.  One is to shore up the capacity of the Haitian National Police to actually assert security on behalf of the state and not have the gangs do it.  Just a few days ago, along with Canada, we played a lead role, we got additional resources to the Haitian National Police, including armored vehicles that we think could help them in reasserting control.

Second, we need to (inaudible) a nexus — a very noxious nexus, between the gangs and certain elites, political elites who are funding them, directing them, and using them to advance their own interests instead of the interests of the country.  We just had, at the United Nations, sanctions passed unanimously at the Security Council, including with the support of China, Russia, and the other members of the Security Council, to go at that nexus and to go at the very elites who are in many cases behind the gangs, supporting them, directing them, financing them.  And if we are able to help break that up as well as reinforce the Haitian National Police, then I think the government can get a grip on security.

As they’re doing that, we’re also working to support the dialogue that exists between the government, the Montana Group, and others to find a path forward for Haiti on the political track and on getting to elections.  And then, of course, if we free up the space because of the – dealing with the insecurity problem, that’s going to allow the assistance that Haiti desperately needs, including to help deal with cholera, to get into the country more freely.  And of course there’s a migration aspect to this too, because one of the things we’re seeing, of course, is Haitians, understandably in many cases, trying to go somewhere else given the horrific challenges they face in Haiti.  The more we’re able to effectively deal with those challenges, the more we’re able to help Haitians have a more positive life, the less pressure there’ll be on migration as well.

So we’re working on all of those fronts together.

MS COLLINS:  Well, Secretary, we appreciate your time so much.  I think you have a hard stop out at 12:15, so we will say thank you so much.  We’re grateful for your insights and for the generosity of your time today.  I did just want to ask everyone in the audience if you could remain seated while the Secretary exits, and then we’ll have lunch provided for any of you who’d like to stay.  Thank you again.

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