Washington, DC…Good afternoon, everybody. Q Good afternoon. MS. JEAN-PIERRE: We are very thrilled to have our National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan, with us today, who is going to give a preview of the African Leaders Summit that is happening later this week. With that, Jake, this podium is yours.
MR. SULLIVAN: Thanks, Karine. And good afternoon, everybody. I’ll take a few minutes to discuss the summit, which will unfold over the course of the next three days. And then I’d be happy to take your questions.
Tomorrow marks the start of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, a three-day summit hosted by President Biden that will highlight how the United States and African nations are strengthening our partnerships to advance shared priorities.
Delegations from all 49 invited African countries and the African Union will attend, alongside members of civil society and the private sector. The President, the Vice President, and members of the Cabinet will have extensive engagement with leaders throughout the summit.
Tomorrow will kick off with a focus on the vital role of civil society and the strength of our African diaspora communities in the United States. It will feature of a range of sessions on topics from trade and investment, to health and climate, to peace, security, and governance, to space cooperation.
On Wednesday, the focus will be on increasing two-way trade and investment at the U.S.-Africa Business Forum. CEOs and private sector leadership from over 300 American and African companies will convene with the heads of delegation to catalyze investment in critical sectors, including health, infrastructure, energy, agribusiness, and digital.
The President will close the Business Forum on Wednesday with public remarks. Later in the day, he will host a small group of leaders at the White House for a discussion on upcoming presidential elections in 2023 in Africa and U.S. support for free, fair, and credible polls across the continent.
He will then host, Wednesday evening, all 50 heads of delegation and their spouses for a dinner here at the White House.
Thursday is dedicated to high-level discussions among leaders, with President Biden opening the day with a session on partnering on Agenda 2063, the African Union’s strategic vision for the continent.
A working lunch by Vice President Harris will follow that session. And then the President will close the day with a discussion on food security and food systems resilience, which, as you all know, is a critical issue for our African partners, who have been disproportionately impacted by the rise in food and fertilizer prices and disruptions to global supply chains as a result of Russia’s war against Ukraine.
Throughout the next three days and then beyond the next three days, we look forward to leveraging the best of America — a truly unrivaled set of tools across our government, our private sector, and civil society — to partner with and support African institutions, African citizens, and African nations to advance our shared goals.
The summit — just to take a step back — is rooted in the recognition that Africa is a key geopolitical player. The continent will shape the future not just of the African people but also the world. President Biden believes that U.S. collaboration with African leaders, as well as with civil society and business leaders and the diaspora, women, youth, is essential to unlocking the potential of this decisive decade.
As you know, the President intends to announce U.S. support for the African Union to join the G20 as a permanent member. It’s past time for Africa to have permanent seats at the table in international organizations and initiatives. And the President also plans to underscore his commitment to U.N. Security Council reform, including support for a permanent member from the African continent.
Working closely with Congress, the U.S. will commit $55 billion to Africa over the course of the next three years across a wide range of sectors to tackle the core challenges of our time. These commitments build on the United States’ longstanding leadership and partnership in develop- — development, economic growth, health, and security in Africa over the past three decades.
You’ll be hearing a number of announcements over the coming days — specific deliverables in a number of different areas, new projects and initiatives, new funding streams. But our commitment to Africa extends well beyond all of that too. It’s reflected in our decades of meaningful engagement, people-to-people ties, and high-quality investments in our shared future.
And, really, the spirit of this summit is not what we will do for African nations and peoples but what we will do with African nations and peoples.
And I will say one other thing. In the intensive consultations we’ve had with African leaders and African civil society and other voices in the run-up to this summit, the key question has been follow-through. “Okay, you’re going to have the summit. What’s going to happen once the summit concludes?” To that end, we will have a new Special Representative for U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit Implementation.
The State Department plans to appoint Ambassador Johnnie Carson for this role. Ambassador Carson is very well known to people across the continent of Africa. He brings a wealth of experience to the position, having dedicated his 37-year career to diplomacy in Africa, and we are looking forward to working with him to ensure that the announcements that get made over the next three days are translated into durable actions that last well beyond the summit.
A last point — and thank you for your patience. As we ta- — as we approach the new year, I just want to take a moment to reflect on the depth and breadth of President Biden’s foreign engagements over 2022.
From the Quad Summit in Tokyo to the historic NATO Summit in Madrid; to consequential G7 and G20 summits at critical geopolitical moments; to hosting, in separate summits, the leaders of the Americas, the Pacific Islands, ASEAN, and now, of course, the leaders of Africa, this year has marked one of the most high-paced, substantive periods of presidential engagement in foreign policy in recent history. And it’s a profound demonstration of the President’s approach to the world and a powerful expression of the ways in which a broad and diverse community of nations are working together to solve our shared challenges.
With that, I’d be happy to take your questions.
Q Jake, a couple of questions. The same topics — trade, health, food security, and national security — have been in the topics of presidents from Bill Clinton to George W. Bush to Barack Obama and now. Why are these same issues still on the table after all of these years? And what has been the arch of success — if you can measure it — from the Clinton years, when Africa was put on the table, and then George W. Bush being considered the President who did the most for Africa?
And then also, if you can talk about the lack that happened during the last four years, not focusing on Africa. Are you behind in some areas on Africa?
MR. SULLIVAN: Well, first, the topics you mentioned are the essential building bol- — blocks of healthy societies, healthy economies, healthy countries the world over — not just in Africa, but everywhere.
Health, economics, climate, peace, and security — these are not topics that get resolved in 4 years or 40 years. They are the topics upon which durable partnerships get built at a government-to-government level, business-to-business, and people-to-people.
So it should come as no surprise that the things that matter most to the people in communities across the continent — and, frankly, to people and communities across America — are going to be the top agenda items for the summit.
And in each of these areas, we feel that we do have a very strong record to stand on, as the United States dealing with Africa, whether it’s in health and the remarkable advances we’ve made against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria; or, as President Biden will talk about, the support that we flowed to Africa during the COVID-19 pandemic and the work we are now doing to help Africa stand up its own capacity to manu- — manufacture vaccines and therapeutics going forward.
I could walk through each of the other areas — economics and trade, investment, climate — take — tackling the climate crisis. The President was just at an African COP in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, where he laid out a series of initiatives relating to adaptation in Africa.
But I will just say that we didn’t set this agenda in a vacuum. We didn’t send it — set it for the topics that matter the most to us. We set it in consultation with our African partners on the issues that matter most to them and to our shared future.
And I would say that we’re never satisfied with the progress we’ve made, because there’s always more work to do, more security to help bring about more mitigation of — of climate — of carbon emissions, more adaptation to the ravages of climate change, more lives to be saved through health initiatives.
But we feel we do enter this summit with some significant momentum around major investments that we have already made and will continue to make and with this announcement that, over the next three years, we will be devoting $55 billion to help address these top priorities in very specific, tangible ways in partnership with African nations.
So I think, by the end of this, what you will see is a genuine energy and a spirit of cooperation that will reflect the fact that the United States has unique assets and capabilities to bring to bear, and we’re going to do everything to bring those to bear in this time period.
Q I want to follow up though on what I asked you. Did the United States lose ground with the continent, and particularly Sub-Saharan Africa, in the past four years when Africa was not a focus?
MR. SULLIVAN: Look, anytime an administration chooses not to put as much energy or emphasis into a place, it obviously has some ramifications. But I have to say that since the President — since President Biden has come into office, whether it’s through the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment, or it’s through the work we’ve done on COVID-19, or it’s through the significant announcements that we’ve made at both of the last two Conferences of Parties on Climate Change, we believe that we are not coming into this summit from a standing start, we’re coming into this summit with a head of steam around a set of issues that this summit, I think, is going to kick into a higher gear. And that is going to put us in a position not just for us to succeed over the course of next year or the following year, but really over the course of this decisive decade.
And I think you will see a certain buoyancy, a certain momentum, a certain enthusiasm emanating from the course of this summit, because this isn’t all just emerging out of thin air, it’s emerging out of a very hard — ver- — very much hard work over the course of the past two years.
Q Jake, a couple questions about your deputy’s engagements in Asia right now. First of all, just with the China meetings that are taking place with the vice foreign minister, was there — was there any discussion about any support that the U.S. can provide to China as they unravel the zero-COVID policy around vaccines, around support for their medical system generally?
MR. SULLIVAN: So the topic of COVID-19 and the ways in which all countries, including China, are dealing with this pandemic was on the agenda at these meetings, but I am going to refrain from getting into details of what those discussions entailed because I want to give an opportunity for us to be able to have those conversations in sensitive diplomatic channels. And we’ll see what, if anything, comes out of it.
Q Okay. And then one more on that trip. I understand that Laura Rosenberger is also meeting with the Japanese delegation. Was there any discussion about an agreement between the U.S., Japan, and the Netherlands about restricting this chipmaking equipment from going to China?
MR. SULLIVAN: I’m going to be your favorite person ever at the podium because I’m going to give a very similar answer, which is that, of course, we have consultations with all of our allies and partners, especially those with a deep interest in the issue of semiconductor technologies, about the logic behind our own tailored restrictions and about what the landscape looks like.
We’ve had those conversations with both Japan and the Netherlands and with other countries as well, and I’m not going to get ahead of any announcements. I will just say that we are very pleased with the candor, the substance, and the intensity of the discussions that are taking place across a broad range of countries who share our concerns, and would like to see broad alignment as we go forward.
Q And do you have an agreement in principle with those countries? Just quickly.
MR. SULLIVAN: Again, I’m not going to get ahead of anything. I’m just going to say that it is, of course, the case that a hallmark of the Biden administration has been alignment with allies and partners on every key foreign policy issue we confront. This is a priority for us. Alignment is a priority for us. We’re working towards that. And I’ll leave any announcements to when they’re ripe to be made publicly from this podium or elsewhere.
Q Thanks, Jake. There’s a meeting today about the next steps in trying to bring Paul Whelan home. Are you part of that meeting? What can you tell us about that meeting? And the State Department said today that the U.S. is going to be creative in finding ways to get Paul Whelan released. What does that mean?
MR. SULLIVAN: So, members of my team and the State Department met with Elizabeth Whelan this morning virtually, over Zoom. I wasn’t a part of it today, although I did participate in the conversation the President had with Elizabeth a few days ago, where they too were brainstorming and talking through ideas about how to go forward.
You’ll understand that I can’t get into the specifics of the kinds of things that we are contemplating to try to ensure that we get Paul home as soon as we can. I will just say that the conversations with Paul Whelan’s family have been substantive. They have had a number of very good questions and also a number of suggestions that they’ve put forward. And we have been working to figure out what it is going to take to ultimately secure his freedom and how we can go about getting that and being able to sit down with the Russians and work out a deal.
The specifics of that are something that really have to be kept in the sensitive channels — the sensitive conversations we have with the Whelan family and then the sensitive channels that we have with the Russian government.
But we are bound and determined to ensure that we work through a successful method of securing Paul Whelan’s release at the earliest possible opportunity.
Q But if the U.S. doesn’t have a prisoner in custody that Russia would be willing to make a trade for, what else could you do? Is there a policy that the U.S. would be willing to change in order to get Russia to accept some kind of a deal?
MR. SULLIVAN: I can’t really answer a question as general as that. I mean, if the implication is “Are we going to take a different approach to Ukraine” or something like that, the answer is, no, we’re not going to take a different approach to Ukraine.
We believe that there are plays that we can continue to try to run, things that we have had in motion that we are still working on that could potentially lead to a positive result here. Again, because of the sensitivity of these issues, I don’t want to go into detail on them, but we are going to keep working at this.
The big challenge we had over the course of the past several months is that what Russia was asking for to secure Paul Whelan’s release was not something that we had to be able to give. That is a problem we are trying to solve. We have various ways that we are working through solutions, and we will be endeavoring on a daily basis, from the President on down, to finally develop a formula that works.
And that’s as far as I can go today, but I will just reinforce that our commitment to this is absolutely rock solid, intense. And this is as high a priority as the President has.
Q To follow on that — because the administration has said that this deal to get Griner home was “one or none.” So if you’re saying that what the Russians were asking for, for Whelan to come home, that — was there ever a push by the United States for that “one” to be Whelan, not Griner, in exchange for Viktor Bout?
MR. SULLIVAN: As the President said when he announced Brittney Griner’s release: For totally illegitimate reasons, the Russians treat Paul Whelan’s case differently and so their demands related to Paul Whelan are different from their demands from other Americans, to include, for example, Trevor Reed, who we were able to secure his release earlier this year, even as Brittney Griner remained in custody in Russia. And similarly, they treat his case differently from Brittney Griner’s case.
That creates a different challenge for us in terms of what it will take to get Paul Whelan home. But it is a challenge that we believe we are up to. We are going to figure out a way to do it, and that is just going to require us to come up with the right formula, as I said before, to be able to present to the Russian Federation to secure his release. We’re determined to figure out how to do that. That is what we are working on. That was the subject and substance of the conversation with Paul Whelan’s family today, and that will be the work ahead.
Q And if I can do a follow-up on Griner. Can you give us an update on her condition? When do you expect that she might be departing Fort Sam Houston in Texas? And has the President spoken with her or her family since she’s gotten back?
MR. SULLIVAN: So I would defer to the State Department officials who are working closely with her at Fort Sam Houston for an update on her condition, or directly to her or her family. I don’t want to speak to that.
The reports we have indicate that she is in good spirits and that she is in good condition. But again, I cannot speak authoritatively to it, nor can I speak authoritatively to when she will depart because, ultimately, it’s up to her how she wants to go through this transition from having been in confinement and in a harrowing circumstance over the course of the past several months back into her life here in the United States. So, that would be up to her.
The President has not had a chance to speak with Brittney again since he spoke with her shortly after her release. But he’s, of course, following her case very closely and continuing to pray for her, for Cherelle, and for the entire Griner family, that she have this opportunity in this space to heal as she comes back from this awful situation that she found herself in in Russia.
Q Thanks, Jake. I’m wondering if you could talk a little bit more about the possible deliverables out of the summit. One thing that’s been floated is presidential travel to the continent and whether that’s a possibility. I know that you mentioned specifically food shortages and the problems that have sort of emanated out of the war in Ukraine. If there’s anything specific you can preview on that.
And then, if not — I know some of it is building up suspense for the actual announcement — but to kind of echo April’s question, I think that there is concern that’s been voiced by African delegates and leaders that the U.S. kind of swoops in once every four or eight years, does one of these summits, and then exits the stage.
And so, if you could talk a little bit about how you’re trying to reverse those perceptions and specifically the perception that there’s kind of a great power battle between us and China and one that we’re less committed to than maybe the Chinese.
MR. SULLIVAN: So I’ve given, kind of, the very headline number, which is $55 billion over the next three years. Over the course of the next three days, the President himself, the Vice President, and various Cabinet members will lay out deliverables. And we will shower you with details about those deliverables that involve, you know, real mobilization of resources towards concrete objectives. So I’m not going to get ahead of that today.
On — on travel to the continent, I will say the President and the Vice President, members of the Cabinet — there will be an announcement about a broad-based commitment to travel to the continent in 2023. But the precise specifics of that I will also leave.
And then we are very mindful of this argument that says, “Okay, you’ll hold this summit and then everybody goes home, and doesn’t it just go back to business as usual?” That’s why, in my opening remarks, I made a point of stressing that we are, in fact, going to appoint a Special Representative for Summit Implementation. And that will be his full-time responsibility just to implement what comes out of the summit. And this is not just somebody off the street. This is Johnnie Carson, who is an absolute legend of diplomacy — coming out of the United States — on Africa. And he brings, as I said before, nearly four decades of experience and relationships across the continent.
So we think there is not a better signal or a better person, in terms of the fact that we are going to have a real, genuine follow-up, than the fact that Johnnie Carson is going to be riding herd over that day in, day out. And if he puts his mind to something, he will get it done. And he will do so with the full authority of the President and the Secretary of State.
Q Can I ask a quick follow on Trevor’s questions? Has there been any progress on Secretary Blinken’s travel to Beijing? Any updates on the timing?
MR. SULLIVAN: Nothing to announce today. Although, as the two presidents indicated coming out of the summit in Bali, we have an expectation that that will be coming in the relatively near-term future.
Q Thanks, Jake. One question on the summit and one on another topic. On the summit, I wanted to ask about the invite list.
Earlier this year, for the Summit of the Americas, the administration did not invite countries such as Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua because of concerns about human rights and democracy. But on the invite list this year — or this week, for the Africa Summit, you have countries like Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, and Equatorial Guinea, where the administration has also expressed concerns about human rights or democracy issues in those countries. So can you walk us through, sort of, the discrepancies there? I mean, does it — does the administration have a lower bar for human rights in Africa than countries closer to here?
MR. SULLIVAN: Well, we have a common bar for human rights the world over. The way that we went through the invites for the African Leaders Summit was to do so in close consultation with the African Union. And there are four countries that are currently suspended for membership in the African Union. They were not invited. There is one country with whom we don’t have normal diplomatic relations — Eritrea. They were not invited, and everyone else was invited.
And we will, of course, speak to the universal values of human rights, democracy, good governance, anti-corruption over the course of this summit. But that’s how we ended up with the invite list for the African Leaders Summit.
It was because of the institutional engagement we had with the African Union in designing not just who would be invited to the summit, but what the substance and the agenda would be for the summit.
So, for example, the President’s first session on Thursday will be on Agenda 2063, the African Union’s vision for the continent, not on something the United States is putting forward as its — as its own vision.
But, nonetheless, you will see a commitment over the course of three days to civil soci- — to lifting up civil society, to lifting up the voices of those who are seeking human rights, good governance, democracy, and so forth.
And then, of course, he will have a session on elections in 2023 to speak to the importance of free and fair elections in Africa as part of this.
Q And can you also detail — give any details about the — about how the Lockerbie suspect was taken into U.S. custody?
MR. SULLIVAN: Well, first, I would just say it is — it is a very good thing. Today is a good day because Mas’ud will be facing — facing justice for his alleged role in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing.
I will say that this was done in a lawful manner, according to established procedures.
And for more specifics on how it happened, I would refer you to the Justice Department, because they’re best positioned to be able to speak to that.
Q Jake, near-term question and then a longer-term question related to the administration’s ability to secure
Brittney Griner’s return home.
Near term, have there been any discussions related to Paul Whelan with the Russians, through the channels you guys have been operating through, in the last five days? And if not, is there a timeline for that?
And then, more broadly, there was a very clear mismatch between what Brittney Griner was alleged to have done and what Viktor Bout did do — or was proven to do. Does the administration try and address that through other channels? Do you ramp up pressure to Russia — against Russia because of that mismatch? Or are these separate tracks entirely?
MR. SULLIVAN: Well, from our perspective, if you look at the full spectrum of pressure that we’ve imposed upon the Russian Federation over the course of the last year — from financial sanctions, to export controls, to our very strong and sustained support for the Ukrainians in defense of their own homeland — we think that our record on pushing back on the Kremlin in all respects, and particularly insofar as Russia represents a threat to Ukraine and to our allies and partners, is unmatched in recent memory. So we take a backseat to no one when it comes to standing up against and pushing back against Russian aggression.
We’ll continue to do so, but we’ll continue to do so with a single question: Is it going to make people in the United States safer, more secure? And is it going to advance our interests and values? And if there’s any move we can make that will do those things, we will do them. We have proven that over the course of 2022.
With respect to the question of whether we’ve had engagement with the Russian Federation on the Whelan case, we will have an engagement with them this week. I won’t say more about it because we are trying to keep that in sensitive channels.
But that’s the timetable. And we have had regular engagement, of course, along the way. And the next conversation at a high level will take place this week.
Q Thank you, Jake. Real quick. Viktor Bout has said that he wants to be involved with the Russian Federation’s efforts against Ukraine. Does the administration plan to respond should he do something like that — whether either tied to weapons or his political activities, anything like that?
MR. SULLIVAN: From our perspective, what we want to do is make sure that we are blunting any Russian effort to be able to gain advantage in Ukraine, whether its military advantage or advantage through brutalizing and destroying civilian infrastructure. So our focus is going to be upon those things that actually represent a genuine threat to Ukraine and the people of Ukraine, not to comments that are made on television shows. And we’ll continue to focus on that as we go forward.
And, for example, just last Friday, we announced another $275 million in military support to Ukraine. We will have further announcements in the coming days. So we’re going to look at what’s actually happening in the air and on the ground in Ukraine, not so much as what’s happening on the other air — on television stations in Russia.
Q Can I —
MR. SULLIVAN: Sorry, yeah. Go on.
Q Thank you, Jake. In Africa, we have the perception that the U.S. looks down on Africa. So with this summit, what make you feel so comfortable or confident that it will be different? So, comparing to the previous summit, which didn’t bring much results for African countries, what are you seeing in this year’s summit that you can transmit to the African people that are watching?
Every African now are looking on this summit and expecting that the U.S. really, at this time, look in Africa in a different way. What makes you confident that this time will be different?
MR. SULLIVAN: I would say three things make me confident that we will have a positive result from the summit. The first is: We are bringing the resources to the table in significant numbers. And if you compare what the United States is committing over the next three years to what any other country is committing, I think we stack up extremely favorably.
Second, how did we design the agenda for this summit? This is not a dictation from Washington. It’s not lecturing or preaching from Washington. We went to African nations themselves and the African Union and said, “What are your priorities? What is your vision?”
And, in fact, the — as I mentioned earlier, the entire first substantive session that the President will chair at the summit is on Agenda 2063. That is not an American document. It is not an American vision. It is the African Union’s document and the African Union’s vision.
So we are lifting up African voices and African priorities in what we are doing at this summit. And the entire summit is designed around that basic ethos.
And if you look at the dinner the President is going to host, it is going to be him with the leaders of Africa and their spouses — that small group in a room together for hours being able to engage on the issues of the day.
And then the third reason is what we talked about earlier here, which is that we have put an emphasis on implementation coming out of this summit like nobody has seen from previous summits, meaning we will actually put someone forward who is well-known to Africans, respected, somebody who has a history of delivering on the major issues that are of interest to African people everywhere. That’s Johnnie Carson.
And so we have not just a plan for the next three days but for the years that follow.
At the end of the day though, I agree with you: It’s not about what we say; it’s about what we do. And part of the reason that I have so much confidence about this summit and what will follow is because I do have confidence that this President and this Vice President, this Secretary of State — we are intending to follow through. We’re mobilizing the resources, the people, and the process to be able to make that happen.
And I think you will see, in the months that follow, that the results of all of this actually reflected in reality.
Q Thank you, Jake.
Q And on Angolan investment. Recently, President Biden announced $2 billion investment for Angola. Will there be — will there be any more investment coming from Angola? Or what the President really expects from this investment that he announced many times for Angola?
MR. SULLIVAN: So, I — he really expects that you will see a major deployment of solar power in Angola. That was a significant project that was facilitated by funding and mechanisms from the United States government, so he’s looking forward to seeing that actually come to fruition.
At the summit, he will have a series of other announcements that benefit a wide range of countries in Africa, some of which also will come to the benefit of Angola. I will leave those to the specific session in which each of these announcements will be laid out.
But you will see projects in health, in climate, in trade, in investment, in infrastructure, and in many other areas, including security cooperation, that range from, you know, every single significant region of Africa benefiting from different parts of what the President and his team will lay out over the next few days.
Q On Equatorial Guinea, Jake, will finally the U.S. say something about the more than $90 million that the Equatorial Guinea paid to the U.S. government for vaccines but those vaccines were never sent to Equatorial Guinea? Will, this time, the U.S. government say something about this money that is already in the U.S. government but they never sent the vaccines to Equatorial Guinea and the people still waiting for those vaccines?
MR. SULLIVAN: We will have the opportunity to speak with the delegation from Equatorial Guinea about any misunderstandings or misconceptions that may lie at the heart of your question.
Q Thank you so much, Jake. Thanks for talking about Africa with us. First of all, as you know, a lot of African countries have held the line against condemning Russia. Has the U.S. communicated any possible consequences of maintaining that stance? Does any of that $55 billion play into that? What are the consequences if they continue to not choose a side in this? And I have a follow-up.
MR. SULLIVAN: Look, we’re not — we’re not putting a gun to anyone’s head. We believe that the war in Ukraine is a matter of principle, and it’s not an American principle. It’s a principle we all signed up to in the United Nations Charter; it’s a principle of sovereignty and territorial integrity. So, we will make the case with passion and persistence to every country in the world that they should speak out against these flagrant violations of the U.N. Charter, but we’re not imposing conditionality, from the point of view of this summit, on decisions that sovereign countries make in this regard.
We believe that we have actually been successful in pressing this case. In fact, from the first significant General Assembly vote of 141 countries condemning the invasion, to the second significant General Assembly vote where you actually had an increase — 143 countries — even after several months in which people were describing, you know, flagging international support for Ukraine, the numbers went up. And we think that that is because countries recognize there are deeper principles at stake.
That’s how we’re approaching this. We’re not approaching this from the point of view of coercing other countries. That’s not how the United States is going to operate with respect to countries in Africa. It’s not how we have operated.
Q Thank you —
Q And then, just on elections, Jake. You mentioned the 2023 elections in Africa. Can you just highlight the ones that you’re concerned about and how the U.S. is going to work with these countries? I’m thinking of Congo, Sudan, and South Sudan that are having big ones next year.
MR. SULLIVAN: So —
Q What are you going to do to make space for them to have these elections?
MR. SULLIVAN: I want to be clear that having a meeting about elections in 2023 is not about us raising the alarm bell or claiming, you know, we’ve got concerns and then solutions. It’s rather to say there are important elections coming up. We would like to do everything we can to support those elections being free, fair, and credible. And that goes for every election taking place in 2023, not picking and choosing certain ones and setting other ones aside.
So the meeting is designed to indicate that the United States is focused on being supportive of free, fair, and credible elections everywhere they are taking place in Africa in 2023.
Q And, Jake, (inaudible) on India.
Q Thank you, Jake.
MR. SULLIVAN: Sorry, I’ve got — I’m sorry, I’ve got — a couple questions —
Q Thank you, Jake. Another protester was executed in Iran. This time, in a public square. He was hanged. And his trial was described as a “sham.” His accusation was he was “waging a war against God.”
What can the U.S. do to support these protesters who are bravely participating in these demonstrations but they’ve been killed or arrested?
And second, can you update us on any potential meeting between you or the President with the families of the American Iranian hostages who have been held in Tehran? And they’ve been asking for a meeting with you.
MR. SULLIVAN: So, I have had a chance to meet with the Namazi family. I have had a chance to meet with Morad Tahbaz’s family. And in just the next few days, I will also have a chance to meet with Emad Shargi’s family. So, I’ve already in the past — through Zoom, in person, on the phone — engaged deeply with many people who have been personally affected by their family members being detained unjustly, unlawfully detained in Iran.
And this is something that I personally, as National Security Advisor, am deeply committed to across the board. I’ve spent dozens, if not hundreds, of hours working on these cases, meeting with these families. And I will continue to do so as we go forward.
And I make it a policy that any family that seeks a meeting at the White House with me will get one. Sometimes there are scheduling issues. But over the course of the past year, I have had the opportunity to meet with so many families from hostages and detainees in Russia and Afghanistan, Venezuela, Iran, and China and other places as well, and I’ll continue to do that.
On the — on the question of what we are doing with respect to supporting the protesters in Iran, we have had a drumbeat of announcements relative to sanctions against those who are perpetrating these gross human rights abuses and this repression. We haven’t just done so ourselves, we have coordinated and aligned with other countries around the world, building an international chorus of condemnation against what is happening.
In addition, we have taken steps to try to facilitate the ability of Iranians to communicate both among themselves and then to communicate to the outside world what is happening in their country so that we can shine a bright light on and hold accountable those who are responsible. We will continue to do these things.
And right from the President — who has spoken very directly, clearly, and passionately on this subject — on down, this government has made clear where it stands: It stands on the side of the rights of peaceful protesters; the rights of women to seek, to vindicate their human dignity; and the rights of people everywhere to speak out on behalf of a better life. And we will continue to do that.
Q Thank you, Jake.
Q But you pull your punches on China, and you won’t say the same thing for the protests there, will you?
MR. SULLIVAN: Well, we have spoken about the protests in China and called for peaceful protests. We have spoken about Xinjiang. We’ve spoken about what’s happened in Hong Kong. And in fact, what’s just happened with respect to Jimmy Lai is a — in our view, a violation of the basic law and the commitments that China made with respect to autonomy for Hong Kong.
So, this administration does have a very strong set of principles and actions that we’ve taken over the course of the past two years with respect to the People’s Republic of China and the question of human rights.
Q Thank you, sir. I wanted to ask you about the African Leaders Summit, but, first, just a quick follow-up. I’m curious, does the administration consider Viktor Bout to be a terrorist?
MR. SULLIVAN: Well, he’s not listed as a “Specially Designated National.” What we consider him to have been was a convicted criminal, convicted of arms trafficking and other crimes, to serve a sentence. He’s served 12 years in detention; he was set to be released in 2029.
And, of course, before we make any determination about whether to send somebody back as part of a deal to get an American home, we make a determination about the national security implications of that. We did that assessment in this case. We believe we can manage those challenges, but we will remain constantly vigilant against any threat that Viktor Bout may pose to Americans, to the United States going forward.
We also — I would just point out that there is no shortage of arms traffickers and mercenaries in Russia who pose challenges and threats to the international order, to the United States and otherwise, and we are vigilant about that as well, which is why we have built — alongside our allies and partners — such a robust policy in dealing with the threats posed by Russia.
Q And then, my question about the African Leaders Summit: As China looks to increase its influence on that continent, I’m curious, will the President seek to deliver any kind of message or word of warning to these African leaders that Beijing, whether it’s through their financing or economic or military aid, is not in fact a faithful ally or a partner?
MR. SULLIVAN: This is going to be about what we can offer. It’s going to be a positive proposition about the United States’ partnership with Africa. It’s not going to be about other countries. It’s not going to be attempting to compare and contrast. It’s rather going to be about the affirmative agenda that the United States has to bring to bear with Africa.
Q So the comparison —
MR. SULLIVAN: Yeah.
Q Thank you. Thank you, Jake. I went around yesterday to see how much African leaders were paying for the hotel for this trip, and I realized that some of the hotels in D.C. were charging them up to $22,000 a night. So, it’s an expensive trip. Some of them, they spend $50 million — for countries where people live on less than a U.S. dollar a day. And so, my question is: If they have to spend all this money and travel thousands of miles, why wasn’t the White House — why didn’t the White House plan one-on-one meetings with those African leaders?
MR. SULLIVAN: Well, first, the President will have the chance to greet every single African leader and engage with them as they come for the dinner tomorrow night.
Second, if you look at the substance of this summit, the sessions that he is going to sit with those leaders around the table and deal with, it is the things that they have asked to talk about that he will be talking about with them. And those leaders will have the opportunity to speak in those sessions to President Biden and to one another so that we can collectively come up with a common strategy to deliver for the people of Africa.
And if you look at what substance this summit is going to deliver — from the business forum, all the way through to the leader sessions — I believe that it is going to be three days where you will see put on display real, tangible deliverables and results that are going to improve people’s lives.
And, ultimately, as I said before, I will ask you: Judge us on the record of how that ends up playing out. But I’m confident that it is going to play out well.
Q Jake, my final —
Q Jake, next week —
Q Jake, my final question, Jake — if I can ask —
Q Jake, next week, Title 42 is expiring. Do you see a national security — are there national security concerns over the Title 42 expiration?
MR. SULLIVAN: So, the team has been working very hard to ensure that we are taking steps to be able to manage the expiration of Title 42 and to put in place a process that will be orderly and humane. And we believe that in doing so we can protect our national security concerns. That is a process that others can speak to better than I can.
But from my perspective, the issues related to ensuring an orderly, humane migration process at the border are being persistently and constantly addressed through the interagency process. And we are working through what the procedures will be in place at the moment of expiration on the 21st.
Q Jake, does the U.S. government have any sense of how many people are coming across, if they have — that there is no visibility on how many people are crossing the — you have no idea who they are?
MR. SULLIVAN: I’m sorry. I’m not sure I understand the question.
Q Do you have a sense of how many people crossing the border that the U.S. government has no idea — like estimates of how many people crossing aren’t giving their name, aren’t giving IDs, aren’t able to verify who they are?
MR. SULLIVAN: So, we do have estimates of how many encounters there are at the border on a daily basis. We have processes and procedures in place to identify those individuals, to process them in an orderly fashion, and then to do what is appropriate based on that processing. And we have believed that that system is a system that does an effective job of being able to determine who is coming across the border and what the right way to deal with their case is.
Q Thank you. Thank you, Jake. Thank you. On the IRA issue, the last time at the CSIS conference, you mentioned that you will have some kind of a solution for the IRA, but you haven’t heard regarding the issue of a subsidy exclusion for the South Korean electric vehicles under the IRA.
What kind of talks are going on with South Korea now? And what solution does the United States have for mutual benefit as an economic alliance with South Korea?
MR. SULLIVAN: So we have had extensive consultations with the Republic of Korea on the Inflation Reduction Act and, in particular, the — the relevant provisions related to electric vehicles.
Those have been constructive conversations. They’ve happened at multiple levels, including a discussion between our two presidents. And we feel confident that we can get to a place of understanding and where both of our countries’ economic interests will be taken into account. And we will see that unfold in the — in the coming days and weeks.
This is a big, complex piece of legislation. Not everything gets resolved in a day, a week, or a month. But we believe that we will ultimately have a long-term approach that vindicates the economic interests and needs of American workers and businesses and of our ally in the Republic of Korea.
I’ll leave it at that. Thanks, guys.
Q Thanks, Jake.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Thank you, Jake.
All right. I know we’re kind of running out of time, so I’ll take a — I’ll do two things at the top and take a few more questions from folks.
Many of you have been asking about plans for tomorrow’s bill signing. Tomorrow, President Biden will sign the bipartisan Respect for Marriage Act into law at a celebration on the South Lawn with thousands in attendance.
In May 2012, then-Vice President Biden made history when he said, and I quote, “This is all about a simple proposition: Who do you love…” — who do you love and who you — who — who you’ll be loyal to in pers- — to the person you love? “…[W]ill you be loyal to the person you love?” End quote.
The Respect for Marriage Act helps ensure that proposition is fully realized in the United States. It will give peace of mind to millions of LGBTQI+ and interracial couples who will finally be guaranteed the rights and protections to which they and their children are entitled to.
The legislation also enjoys support from a majority of Americans across party lines and faiths.
Tomorrow, the President will be joined by a bipartisan group of lawmakers, as well as advocates and plaintiffs in marriage equality cases across the country, to sign this critical legislation into law.
There will be musical guests and performances to celebrate this historic bill. And the President will also note that there is much more work to be done to protect the LGBTQI+ individuals across the country, to prot- — and including passing the Equality Act as well.
And before we go into questions, I have one more thing that I — I want to address from here. Is — it’s about what the President — you’ve heard what the President has been focusing on, which is rallying the world diplomatically — you heard that from National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan — and continue to reestablish Americans’ leaders- — American leadership abroad, protecting people’s constitutional rights by codifying marriage equality, as I just discussed.
But what is in the incoming House Republican majority doing — one of their leaders, Majority [sic] Taylor Green — Marjorie Taylor Greene is saying, quote, “If Steve Bannon and I organized [January 6th], we would have won. Not to mention, it would have been armed.” This is what is coming from a member of Congress. And what’s more: She said to a group that lashed out against condemning Holocaust denial; they were giving her an award.
You have all heard the President warn about awful conspiracy theories and violent rhetoric that used to be undermined — which — which undermine the rule of law in our democracy. It is just antithetical to our values as a country for a member of Congress to wish that the carnage of January 6th had been even worse and to brag that they would have succeeded in an armed insurrection against the United States government.
Violent rhetoric like this is also a slap in the face of the Capitol Police, the D.C. Metropolitan Police, the National Guard, and the families who lost loved ones as a result of the attack on the Capitol.
And this is someone who is expected to have their committee positions restored. So we should let that sink in.
Again, this is coming from a member of Congress. All leaders have a responsibility to condemn these dangerous, vile remarks and stand for our Constitution and also for the rule of law.
With that, Seung Min.
Q Who are the musical guests tomorrow? (Laughter.) You’re not going to tell us?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I’m not going to — I’m not going to share. I don’t want to take away from the excitement. But it’s going to be a celebrated — a celebrated event as the President signs this historic piece of legislation into law.
And, as I stated, there’ll be thir- — thousands of people there. And, of course, we’ll have musical guests. And it’ll be a bipartisan — also a bipartisan event attended by lawmakers who helped to make this happen.
And this is a reminder, if I may add, how when — when we do reach across the aisle, there are things that we can get done — historic pieces of legislation that we can get done. And we have seen that under this President. So I think that’s important to note as well.
Q And my actual question —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, sure.
Q I just wanted to get the White House’s perspective on the current government funding talks. Schumer talked about doing a one-week CR. Democrats were going to release their own legislation but held off. Does the White House see these as encouraging signs for being able to get a broad omnibus by the end of the month?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, we continue to encourage Congress to get the — to get a bipartisan deal done. We believe — on the government funding, we believe there’s still enough time to get that done. This is something that, clearly, Congress was able to do this time last year in a bipartisan way. But if they need extra days to get there, so be it.
We got to remember this is not a partisan issue. The issues that we’re talking about — we talk about national security; we just had Jake Sullivan here, as I just noted a second ago. We talk about public education. We’re talking about healthcare. These are — and veteran — veterans — veteran health services, to be more — even more specific.
These are priorities for the American people. These are bipartisan issues that are critical — critical to American individuals just across the country.
So, again, we encourage Congress to reach a bipartisan deal.
Q I had another Africa Summit question. Reuters has reported, in recent days, that the Nigerian army has been running a secret, systematic, and illegal abortion program in the country since 2013. Do you expect that to be a topic of discussion with the Nigerian delegation at the summit?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Again, Jake had sa- — Jake laid out how each individual African leader will have an opportunity to talk and discuss and have conversations with the President, who — he very much looks forward to doing that.
I’m not going to get ahead on what may come up, what may not come up. We’ve laid out pretty extensively, at least the toplines, as you’ve just heard from Jake, what we believe our goals are.
We talked about the $55 billion that we — in new funding — that we will be providing to the continent in next three — three years, which we believe is incredibly important.
We talked about Johnnie Carson, who is going to be the — the leader in making sure that what comes out — the deliverables that come out of this summit is actually delivered, if you will.
And so, look, we are committed to this. I’m not going to get ahead of that particular conversation. But, certainly, that’s something that we’re monitoring.
Okay, go ahead.
Q Jake had mentioned a little bit about discussion on trying to free Paul Whelan. Is this administration drawing a line in trading any type of sanctions relief to secure Paul Whelan’s release when it comes to Ukraine?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, look, when it comes to Ukraine — and Jake said this — when it comes to Ukraine, we are pretty — we’ve been, you know, pretty emphatic about this, pretty steadfast that we are going to — as a matter of, you know, the right thing to do, as a matter of protecting a country’s democracy and lifting up and making sure that the people of Ukraine have what they need to fight for their freedom, fight for their sovereignty. This is something that we’ve been doing, clearly, with our allies and partners. That won’t change. And Jake kind of laid that out, I think, pretty clearly.
When it relate- — as it relates to what we’re discussing, what is being negotiated, when it — as — you know, as it relates to Whe- — Paul Whelan and getting him home, I’m not going to get into negotiations from here. I’m not going to get into specifics, as Ja- — as Jake laid out as well.
Look, we are committed to getting Americans who were being wrongfully detained and held hostage abroad home. That is a promise that this President has made. We have seen that across the almost two years of his presidency, with Brittney Griner, with Trevor — Trevor Reed just in April. And so we’re going to continue that and have those conversations
But in private, certainly not going to lay them out from here.
Q I wanted to ask about the attack of the substation in North Carolina and whether the White House believes that the federal government should regulate substa- — substation security.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I’m sorry, I’m having a hard time hearing you.
Q Sure. Let me take my mask off. I said I wanted to ask about the substation attack in North Carolina and whether the White House believes that the federal government should regulate security at substations instead of leaving it up to states and the individual utility companies.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, I’m not going to — I know the Department of Energy is looking into this, the Department of Justice is looking into this. There is a — they’re reviewing this process. I’m not going to get ahead of that. I would certainly refer you to those two agencies. But just not going to get ahead as they’re reviewing that process.
Q What’s the President’s thinking right now about the National Defense Authorization Act and the vaccine requirement? And, clearly, his position on vaccines is well known, and there’s a long history of signing and passing the NDAA. Where is he at with that?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, we’ve been very clear about what we saw happen with the vaccine mandate basically being removed or — from the NDAA. We thought it was a mistake. We think that Republicans in Congress have decided that they’d rather fight against the health and wellbeing of our troops than protecting them. And, again, it was a mistake.
As it relates to the NDAA, we’re not going to get ahead — the Senate is going to take this up, so we’re not going to get ahead of the Senate process.
But I’ve said this before: Look, when — in the past, every year when — when the NDAA comes up, there’s some provisions we support, some that we do not. The President will judge the bill in its entirety. So I’m not going to get ahead of what the President’s action is going to be. But we’ve been very clear about how we — how we see the vaccine mandate.
Q Can I ask you two things? And they’re kind of just check-ins on a couple of big policy issues. But one is: On Friday, the administration issued a fairly strong rebuke of a WTO decision that potentially said the steel and aluminum tariffs in place violated international rules. I just want to make sure I understand where the administration stands on steel and aluminum tariffs. And does it mean that, essentially, you all intend for those tariffs to remain in place indefinitely?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So I saw that reporting. And so what we — what we say from here — so we — we strongly reject the flawed interpretation and conclusions in the rep- — in the World Trade Organization panel reports that we saw, that you’re laying out there. The United States has held the clear and unequivocal position for over 70 years that issues of national security cannot be reviewed in WTO dispute settlement.
The Biden administration is committed to preserving U.S. national security by ensuring the long-term viability of our steel and aluminum industries. And we do not intend to remove the Section 23- — 232 duties as a result of these disputes. Again, we reject the fal- — the flawed interpretation that’s been laid out.
Q Relatedly, I know there was a lot of talk earlier this summer about the broad-sweeping scale of China tariffs, and there was some expectation that this might be revisited after the President’s visit. Do you have any update or timeline on what’s going on, I guess, with China tariffs as they are?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, I appreciate the question, and I understand. As it relates to this, I don’t have anything to preview on that particular topic.
Q More than 70 members of Congress sent a letter to the President on Friday asking him to take executive action to guarantee the rail workers paid sick leave. Is it clear that — that there are steps that can be taken through executive action, or has the White House determined that this is something that Congress can only do?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, first, I want to say, you know, the President is grateful to Congress for taking action to avert a rail shutdown and implement the benefits he helped secure for rail workers in the tentative agreement. So we are grateful to Congress for doing that. He’s also grateful to Senator Sanders and Representative Bowman’s continued advocacy for paid — paid sick leave.
The President has pressed Congress to advance the cause of paid sick leave throughout his administration. We’ve had many debates and discussions from — from the podium about that, about his efforts in — in that realm.
He’s exploring all options here while working to build on existing bipartisan support in Congress to make paid sick leave a reality for all workers — all workers, including rail workers, as well. Again, we are going to look at all options here.
Q So there’s potential, it is possible that executive action could be taken. You haven’t ruled that out, that it’s — it can’t be done?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don’t have anything to announce or lay out on how we’re going to move forward. What I can say is we’re going to look at all options. And we are very, very grateful to Congress for — you know, for helping to avert this rail shutdown, which would — as you all know, would have had an — really disturbed our economy in a way that would have been not — not great, not helpful, clearly, for American families across the country.
And — and, look, this is an issue that the President has been fighting for, when it comes to paid leave for all Americans, throughout the last two — almost two years of his administration. And we’re going to continue to look at all options.
Go ahead, Steve.
Q Thanks, Karine. Has the President been briefed on the news coming out of the Department of Energy tomorrow on the fusion development at the Livermore lab?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, just a couple of things on that. As you know, the Department of Energy’s analysis is still ongoing, so I’m unable to provide details of confirmation at this time. Secretary Granholm will have more details to share tomorrow when the process is complete. I’m not going to get ahead of that at this time.
Q Is the President going to have a end-of-year press conference? If so, when? If not, why not?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Say that — I’m so sorry, say that one more time?
Q Is the President going to have a end-of-the-year press conference?
Q End-of-year press conference.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Oh, I’m so sorry. End-of-year conference. You’re —
Q If so, when? If not, why not?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don’t have anything to preview on that or to announce on an end-of-year press conference. If — when we do, we — and when we — if we will, certainly we’ll share that with you. Okay. Thank you for your question.
I’ll take a couple of more. Go ahead, Courtney.
Q Thank you. The foreign traveler vaccine requirement is set to expire at the end of the month. Is the President going to renew it? Are you going to let it expire? What is the next step?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Don’t have anything to preview on the next steps on that particular question. Once we do, we’ll certainly share that.
Q And I also wanted to ask you about the ongoing negotiations in Congress about the Child Tax Credit. Can you talk about where you are on that and what some of the sticking points have been?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, as I said over a month ago, I believe from the podium, our position is simple: If Congress is going to extend tax cuts and tax breaks for business in the lame duck, they must include tax relief for working families. That’s the way we see this process moving forward. Some sort of tax credit for children is the most direct way to do that.
And as I have noted before, there are several proposals, from both Democrats and also Republicans, to provide such a relief. It is not clear to us if Congress has an interest in pushing a tax bill in the remaining two weeks.
Our point is simple: No tax breaks for businesses without tax relief for working families and children. And that’s where we’re going to continue to be on this.
Q And if I can follow up with one more. Do you feel that — I know that some of the conversation has been around limits for the Child Tax Credit on who qualifies based on income. Do you feel that the IRS or Treasury would be prepared to administer such a tax credit, given all the different demands that they have and now adding on more restrictions, as opposed to it was much more broad earlier?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, I’m not going to get ahead of what — of what the process might look like. What I can say, you know, definitively of how we see this process moving forward, at least in Congress — and, again, we are, you know — we’re not clear if this is going to happen, but we’ve pretty much laid out our — our pr- — our — our belief for how we see this moving, which is: No tax breaks for businesses without tax relief for working families and children.
Just not going to get ahead of what can potentially — how this process is going to work through the federal government, if — if and when this were to happen.
Go ahead, Alex, in the back.
Q Thank you, Karine. As you know, Elon Musk launched a series of attacks on Dr. Anthony Fauci over the weekend, calling for his prosecution. And then he shared some other memes about him and suggested he lied about — he’s lying about the origins of the coronavirus.
What’s your response, first of all, specifically to the attacks on Dr. Fauci? And second, how is your view of Twitter as a sort of public forum, and a forum for yourself and the President and many other officials here — how are those views evolving?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, we’ve been very clear about this: These attacks — these personal attacks that we’ve been seeing are dangerous — on Dr. Fauci and other public health professionals as well; are — they are disgusting; and they are divorced from — from reality. And we will continue to call that out and be very clear about that.
Again, these are incredibly dangerous, these personal attacks that we’re seeing.
Dr. Fauci has served under seven Republican and Democratic presidents. We cannot forget that. He has given — he has given his almost entire career to civ- — to civil service, public ser- — as a public servant.
His work on infectious disease, from HIV/AIDS to COVID, has saved countless lives. And, you know, it’s unfortunate that he has — you know, we are fortunate, I should say, that he has devoted his career and his life and his exceptional talent to the America’s public health — to America’s public health. And that’s what should be discussed right now. That’s what we should be thankful to him about.
And again, these are incredibly dangerous and should be called out. I’ll leave it there.
Q Thanks, Karine. Appreciate it. We know the Respect for Marriage Act is going to be signed tomorrow on the South Lawn. But, you know — and the President himself, he told me the other day that he disagrees with Catholic bishops. The bishops, of course, believe that it will harm religious freedom.
That said, this is going to be signed; we know it’s a done deal. But what does the President say to religious organizations who fear they will now be targeted or discriminated against by the government for their beliefs in traditional marriage?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, you know, on his first day in — in the White House, the President signed an executive order on preventing the — combating discrim- — discrimination against LGBTQI+ Americans, and that EO has led key agencies, including HUD, HHS, ED, DOJ, and CB- — CFPB, to strengthen non-discrimination protections in housing, healthcare, education, criminal systems, and credit and lending services.
And so, I say that because he has been so committed to this issue from the beginning of his administration. And when you — when you look at this piece of legislation that has been passed, it actually addresses, also, the question that you’re asking and takes that into account.
But, look, this is going to be — tomorrow is going to be a really important day for many Americans, millions of Americans across the country. And I think we cannot forget that.
Q But the bishops say the protections are insufficient. They’re — I just wanted — if I could just follow.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, I’m going to move on. I’m going to move on.
Go ahead. Go ahead.
Q Yes. Yeah, sure.
Q Thank you. I have a question on the African Leaders Summit. My colleague earlier asked this question, but I want to ask you about — it is no secret that China has bigger influence and more investment, more trade with Africa. And I understand this summit is not about specific countries, but it’s about sending affirmative message. But I want to ask you, what kind of role do you expect for this summit to play in terms of competing the influence of Africa against China?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, I want to be very careful here. I’m not going to go beyond what the Presi- — what the — what Jake just stated. It’s not going to be about China; it’s going to be about Africa.
It — we worked very closely with African nations, as Jake said, and also the African Union about what is important that they want to talk about and discuss with the President — not just the President, the Vice President, our Cabinet Secretaries. And so that’s going to be the focus.
That’s why we announced the $55 billion. That’s why we announced someone who is going to make sure that over the next — over the next couple of years, as we continue to move forward with our relationship with Africa, that things that we discussed, our deliverables, will occur, will happen, and showing our commitment.
And so, I think that’s where we want to stay. That’s what we want to focus on — on how we can move that relationship forward and what we can do to assist the continent.
All right. Thanks, everybody. See you tomorrow.
4:30 P.M. EST