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  • JUDY WOODRUFF: In his first  speech as secretary of state,  

  • Antony Blinken today unveiled the Biden  administration's top foreign policy  

  • priorities, topping that list, containing COVID-19  and melding foreign policy with domestic policy.

  • I spoke with Secretary Blinken moments ago.

  • Secretary of State Tony Blinken, welcome to the  "NewsHour." Thank you very much for joining us.

  • The world looks a lot more complicated  today, I think it's fair to say,  

  • than it did just a few months ago. There are  problems bubbling up just about everywhere.  

  • And in your statement today, you made a clear  focus on American workers right here at home.

  • Explain how that connects to what the  U.S. challenges are around the world.

  • TONY BLINKEN, U.S. Secretary  of State: Well, first, Judy,  

  • it's great to be with youThanks so much for having me.

  • And what I tried to do today is to really  lay out the president's priority that our  

  • foreign policy has to have the American people  first and foremost in mind. And he's basically  

  • asked us to make sure that, in anything we're  doing around the world, the first question  

  • we ask ourselves is, how is this going to  make life a little bit better, a little  

  • bit more secure, a little bit more prosperous, a  little bit more hopeful for our fellow citizens?

  • And of course, the economic  aspect is critical to that.  

  • But this has to be a foreign policy that's  grounded in making a real difference in  

  • the lives of Americans. That's the  first question we ask ourselves.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF: You said today that  the first priority has to be around  

  • COVID-19, making sure that the world addresses it.

  • But, as we know, the country where it originatedChina, has not been transparent. And right now,  

  • China is taking the lead in supplying vaccines  to poorer countries. So, I know many people  

  • are looking at this and wondering if the U.S. is  ceding its leadership in COVID to China, which is  

  • a country your administration is calling the chief  threat to the United States in the coming years.

  • TONY BLINKEN: Well, you're rightJudy, that China has not been  

  • fully and effectively transparent, either at  the start of this crisis, when it mattered most,  

  • or even today, as investigations are going forward  trying to get to the bottom of what happened.

  • And it is vitally important that we see  real transparency, we see real access  

  • for international experts where it counts, we see  real information-sharing, not just with regard to  

  • the past, but, critically, going forward to make  sure we can avoid another pandemic in the future.

  • We're leaning in. The United States is leaning  in on dealing with this, of course, both at home,  

  • where we're making very significant progress. You  heard the president address that just yesterday,  

  • but also around the world. We have  joined this COVAX arrangement.

  • We're contributing billions of dollars to creating  greater access to vaccines. And I think, as the  

  • months go on and as we vaccinate our own people  and make sure that every American is protected,  

  • we will also be engaged in helping the world  get vaccinated, because, at the end of the day,  

  • we will not be fully secure until the  world is vaccinated, not just Americans.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF: Another China  question, Mr. Secretary.

  • The U.S. has said that China is guilty of genocide  when it comes to the Uyghur minority population  

  • in that country. If that's the case, what  should the penalty be? China denies it.  

  • But what should the penalty be for that?

  • TONY BLINKEN: When it comes to specific  issues like the -- like the Uyghurs,  

  • I think there are a number of things  that we can and should be focused on.

  • We have got to make sure that products  and technology being exported to China,  

  • whether it's by us or anyone else, can't be  used for repressing their minority populations.  

  • Similarly, if products are being made asresult of forced labor, including from Xinjiang,  

  • we shouldn't be buying those, and we  should get other countries to do the same.

  • And, of course, we should make  sure that the world is speaking out  

  • with one voice in opposition to what's happening.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF: So much to ask you about,  

  • Mr. Secretary. I'm going to try to fly  through several more parts of the world.

  • But Iran is next. As you know, just  a few days after the United States  

  • launched an attack on Iranian-backed militias  

  • in Syria because of their attack on a -- on U.S.  forces based in Iraq, Iranian-backed militias  

  • have again today fired a rocket attack on U.S.  forces at a base in Iraq, another attack by them.

  • What should the penalty be for IranHow should they pay the price for this?

  • TONY BLINKEN: Well, Judy, we have made very clear  that -- and President Biden has made very clear  

  • that his first and most important obligation  

  • is to protect the lives and safety of  Americans, as well as our partners.

  • And in the case of the earlier attacks, the first  thing we did was to make sure we understood who  

  • was responsible. And that took some time. And then  we worked very closely with our Iraqi partners  

  • to make that determinationand then to take clear action  

  • to demonstrate that these things  could not go forward with impunity.

  • Now, you're right. We have another attack in  the last 24 hours. The first thing we have to  

  • do is get to the bottom of it and find out, to the  best of our ability, who, in fact, is responsible.

  • And then I think the president's been very clear  

  • that we will take appropriate action in  a place and at the time of our choosing.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF: Will that have any bearing on  the attempt by the United States to get Iran  

  • back to the negotiating table when  it comes to the Iran nuclear talks?

  • And is the U.S. prepared to relieve Iran of  some sanctions in order to get them back?

  • TONY BLINKEN: So, with  regard to the nuclear talks,  

  • when we pulled out of the nuclear  agreement, the so-called JCPOA,  

  • that had put Iran's nuclear program in a boxIran then started to break out from that box.

  • And it is now in a position where it is closer to  having the ability to produce fissile material for  

  • a nuclear weapon on short order, in a matter of  months. The agreement had pushed it past a year.

  • So, we have real interests in trying to  put Iran back into that box. And diplomacy  

  • is the way to do it. We have made clear  that the path of diplomacy is open.  

  • The European Union, which is one of  the parties to the original agreement,  

  • invited all of the other parties, our  European partners, Russia, China and Iran  

  • and us, to come to start to talk about the  possible return to the nuclear agreement.

  • We said yes. Iran said no. We will see what  they do going forward. We have been clear  

  • that the path of diplomacy is open. The ball  is in Iran's court to decide if it agrees.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF: But, yes or no, the  U.S. considering lifting sanctions?

  • TONY BLINKEN: We have been very clear that  Iran has to come back into compliance with  

  • its obligations under the nuclear agreementAnd if it does, we will do the same thing.

  • And that would revolve -- that  would involve, if they do it,  

  • some sanctions relief. But, again, we're  a long ways from that. Unfortunately,  

  • Iran is moving in the wrong direction. It  continues to take steps that lift the various  

  • constraints of the agreement and is making its  program more dangerous, not less dangerous.

  • So, first and foremost, we want to see Iran  come back into compliance with its obligations.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF: Saudi Arabia, a lot  of attention there, as you know.

  • The U.S. intelligence community  report released just a few days ago  

  • putting the responsibility on the  crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman,  

  • for authorizing, directing the killing, the  murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

  • The administration has imposed  sanctions, but not on the crown prince  

  • himself. President Biden said during the  campaign that Saudi Arabia would be a pariah,  

  • based on what happened. Has he blinked on this?

  • TONY BLINKEN: Let's look at what we did.

  • First of all, as you noted, we  put out a report, a report that  

  • was not written yesterday. It's been there for  well over a year. We released it. And that made  

  • clear, as you said, the responsibility  for the heinous murder of Mr. Khashoggi.

  • And, obviously, this has been reported beforeIt's not that there were any very new facts in  

  • there that hadn't been reported. But it makesbig difference when that comes out with the full  

  • imprimatur of the United States government behind  it. I think that, in and of itself, is important.

  • We sanctioned, including using  the so-called Magnitsky sanctions,  

  • some of the people directly involved in the  killing of Mr. Khashoggi. And, critically, we also  

  • denied visas to about 76 Saudis also involved.

  • And maybe most important going forward, becauseas much as this is about accountability for the  

  • past, it's trying to do everything we can to  make sure this never happens again in the future,  

  • we put in place a new rule, the Khashoggi banthat basically says that, if at the direction of  

  • a foreign government, an individual does anything  to harass, surveil or harm a political opponent  

  • of that country in the United States, that  person will not set foot in our country.

  • And that applies not just to Saudi Arabia. It  applies to the entire world. So, I think there are  

  • clear, demonstrative actions that we have taken  that not only shed a light on what happened in the  

  • past, but also put us in a stronger position going  forward to prevent it from ever happening again.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF: But when you combine thathowever, with the -- not holding him personally  

  • responsible, with not imposing sanctions against  Russia's President Vladimir Putin for the  

  • poisoning, and then again now the -- imprisoning  again of the chief -- the lead opposition leader,  

  • Alexei Navalny, does that send a signal that  the U.S. is waffling when it comes to abusing  

  • human rights, that human rights are not the  priority that this administration says they are?

  • TONY BLINKEN: Whether we like it or notwe don't choose Saudi Arabia's leaders.  

  • They do. And the crown prince is likely to be inposition of leadership for years, decades to come.

  • We have gone back to clear regular order. The  president engaged with the king. And various  

  • Cabinet secretaries have  engaged with their counterparts.

  • We deal, unfortunately, every single day  with leaders of countries who are responsible  

  • for actions we find either objectionable  or abhorrent, whether it's Vladimir Putin,  

  • whether it's Xi Jinping, whether it's any  others on a long list of people I can name.  

  • But we find ways to deal with them.

  • And the question I think we have to ask ourselvesand we did ask ourselves, is, in terms of  

  • advancing not just our interests, but our valuesare we better off rupturing the relationship with  

  • Saudi Arabia or recalibrating it, as we  did? In terms of ending the war in Yemen,  

  • are we better off having recalibrated  the relationship or rupturing it?

  • I think the answer is clear.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF: Final questionMr. Secretary, Afghanistan.

  • As you know, the U.S. is scheduled to pull  troops finally out of that country after  

  • 20 years of war in less than 60 daysToday, the White House made public what  

  • it's calling its interim national security  strategic guidance document, which says,  

  • among other things -- and I'm quoting -- "The  United States should not and will not engage in  

  • forever wars that have cost thousands  of lives and trillions of dollars.  

  • We will work to responsibly and America's  longest war in Afghanistan, while ensuring  

  • that country does not again become a safe haven  for terrorist attacks against the United States."

  • What does that mean, exactly, in  terms of keeping troops there?

  • TONY BLINKEN: Well, that's  exactly what we're looking at now.

  • And we haven't made any decisions  about the May 1 deadline to withdraw  

  • the remaining roughly 2,500 troops that  are in Afghanistan, as well as, of course,  

  • partner troops, NATO forces that are  there. We're in very close consultation  

  • with our NATO allies, with all  of the countries in the region.

  • And what we're looking at very carefully iswhat further progress can and must be made on  

  • the agreements that, for example, we reached with  the Taliban under the previous administration  

  • and the Taliban and the government of Afghanistan  

  • are working on to see if the conditions  can be in place for a durable peace?

  • All of those things are what we're  looking at. We're making the effort  

  • to advance them. But, right now, we're  reviewing the question of our troop presence,  

  • and we're doing it in full consultation  and coordination with our allies.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF: Secretary of State Tony  Blinken with a very full plate, thank you.

  • TONY BLINKEN: Thanks, Judy. JUDY WOODRUFF: Thank you so much for joining us.

  • TONY BLINKEN: Great to be with you. Thank you.

JUDY WOODRUFF: In his first  speech as secretary of state,  

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Secretary of State Antony Blinken on the Biden administration's foreign policy priorities

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    林安安 posted on 2021/05/14
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