January 23, 2022


News Network

Secretary Antony J. Blinken With Lucia Duraccio of RAI TG1

19 min read

Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

Rome, Italy

Villa Taverna

QUESTION:  Secretary Blinken, Russia is considered the mind of cyber attacks and disinformation campaigns that try to destabilize Western democracies.  What is, in your opinion, the goal of Moscow?  And what – which is the best way to fight?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, it’s hard to say what Russia’s goal is because it’s hard to put oneself in – necessarily the mind of Russian leaders.  But what I can tell you is this:  President Biden met with President Putin recently in Geneva and told him very clearly that we would like a more predictable, stable relationship.  And if we have that, I think there are areas where we can work together because it’s in our common interest.  On the other hand, if Russia chooses to engage in reckless or aggressive actions, we’ll respond, not for purposes of conflict or escalation, but because we will stand up for our interests and values.

I think what came out of the meeting are some possibilities, at least, of working more productively, for example, on strategic stability, arms control so that we get control of some of the nuclear weapons that remain in an effective way.  Also in the cyber area, we’ve had this – these recent attacks, so-called ransomware.  And we want to make sure that it’s clear that no responsible country should be in the business of harboring, giving refuge to criminal organizations engaged in these kind of attacks.  I think we had some constructive conversations and we’ll see if there are practical results that flow from it.

QUESTION:  You said we will respond.  How – what kind of response?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, I think we’ve already demonstrated in the past, President Biden has demonstrated that he will respond.  For example, we responded to the efforts to interfere in our elections, to the so-called SolarWinds cyber attack, to the attempt to poison Mr. Navalny with a chemical weapon.  There were clear and strong responses from the United States in terms of, for example, sanctions.  And many of these were done in coordination with European partners, with Canada, the United Kingdom, and others.

QUESTION:  China and U.S. seem to disagree about everything: trade tariffs, expansionism, and most of all, human rights.  Is there any common ground on your horizon?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  The relationship with China for all of us – for Italy, for the United States, for other countries – is a very complicated one, it’s – you can’t sum it up in one word.  It has adversarial aspects, it has competitive aspects, and competition is good if it’s fair.  It has cooperative aspects, including hopefully on things like climate change.  But the common denominator that we’ve been discussing with all of our European partners, including Italy, is that whether it’s adversarial, whether it’s competitive, whether it’s cooperative, we’re much better off engaging China together than we are alone.  And I think you’ve seen that in the G7 meeting, in the NATO meeting, in the U.S.-European Union meeting, there is increasingly convergence on engaging with China together from a common position.

QUESTION:  After nearly 20 years, U.S. troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan.  Don’t you think you are leave the country in the hands – are leaving the country in the hands of extremism, Taliban extremism?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  We have to start by remembering why we went to Afghanistan in the first place.  September 11th, 2001, the United States was attacked by al-Qaida, bin Laden.  Our closest allies and partners at NATO, Italy, and our other friends stood up in our defense.  They invoked Article V of NATO for the first time: an attack on one is an attack on all.  And together, we went to Afghanistan to find the people who attacked the United States on 9/11, to make sure that they could not do it again.  And we were largely successful in that effort.  Bin Laden was brought to justice 10 years ago.  Al-Qaida in Afghanistan currently does not represent a real threat to the United States, to Italy, to any of the other countries.

Meanwhile, 20 years, $1 trillion spent by the United States, and sacrifices by our partners, including Italy as well.  But also, we’re withdrawing our forces from Afghanistan, but we’re not leaving Afghanistan.  We will remain engaged diplomatically, supporting Afghanistan with economic, humanitarian, development assistance, assistance for their security forces, and doing that with our partners.

So I think it’s a fact that we were there for a reason, we succeeded in accomplishing what we set out to accomplish, and at some point Afghanistan has to find its own future with our strong support.  That’s where we are now.

QUESTION:  USA-Iran – a new beginning, or the same-old story?  I mean, how many chances are there to revive the 2015 nuclear deal?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, we’ve now had six rounds of discussions with Iran indirectly through our European partners.  We’ve narrowed a lot of the differences that existed in terms of how to get back into the nuclear agreement, but we haven’t resolved all of them.  There are some very significant differences that remain.  I can’t tell you whether we’ll succeed in overcoming those differences.  It mostly depends on decisions that are made in Tehran by the supreme leader.  If Iran is willing to do what is necessary to come back into compliance with the nuclear agreement – an agreement that was working, that was working to contain Iran’s dangerous nuclear program – we are fully prepared to do that.  But I think right now the decision is with Iran about whether it’s serious about doing that.

QUESTION:  Israel-Palestinians peace process is at stake.  President Biden reiterated that two-state solution is still on the table, is the goal —


QUESTION:  — or is the proposal of the United States.  Will U.S. embassy remain in Jerusalem?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  The U.S. embassy will remain in Jerusalem.

QUESTION:  It’s not a problem?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  It’s not.  What is a problem is that currently, the conditions that would be most conducive to being able to try to move forward on a two-state solution are simply not there.  And the immediate challenge that we have after the violence that we saw a month ago in Gaza and beyond Gaza – the most immediate challenge that we have is, first of all, the humanitarian situation in Gaza and helping people there, then helping to rebuild what needs to be rebuilt, and making sure to the best of our ability that there are no more points of friction that could lead to a renewed conflict and to try to calm the situation, as well as start to create some hope among Palestinians for the future.

We’ve now re-engaged the Palestinians.  We’ve restored assistance that had been stopped.  We’re going to have a consulate again in – that engages the Palestinians and the Palestinian Authority.  And my hope is that over time we can create a much – a more productive environment, better conditions, and then see if there is a possibility for really advancing negotiations for two states.  It does remain the best – in some ways the only – answer for a Jewish and democratic Israel and a Palestinian state.

QUESTION:  The last question is about Cuba.  A few days ago, United States voted against the UN resolution to end the Cuba embargo.  It has been the – if I remember well – 29th time —


QUESTION:  — while 184 countries voted yes.  Why Cuba is still the enemy?  I mean, the dialogue begun by Former President Obama is over forever?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  We’re in the midst of reviewing our Cuba policy.  We’ve – President Biden’s been in office for about six months.  There have been a lot of things on our plate.  He focused immediately on revitalizing our relationships with our partners and allies, like Italy, re-engaging in multilateral institutions – rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement, re-engaging with the World Health Organization, convening a summit of leaders on climate.  And then, of course, we’ve had the G7, which has made very important progress with all of our countries working together.  On COVID, a billion vaccines for the world, working to – on climate, to prevent the financing of coal-fired plants, the biggest contributor to global emissions.  A very strong and important agenda, both bilaterally with our closest partners and multilaterally in these international organizations.

And so there’s only so much you can do in six months’ time, so one of the things that we’re looking very hard at right now is the policy toward Cuba.  It’s under review.  I can tell you that as a matter of basic principle, the – any policy we pursue would have democracy and human rights at its heart, and we would want to make sure that we’re doing whatever we can to empower the Cuban people to decide their own future.

QUESTION:  I know human rights are important also about Cuba, but you talk to Saudi Arabia, to Turkey.  Maybe dialogue is necessary to improve the condition of people, Cuban people?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  We’ve never resisted dialogue anywhere.  The question is:  What is the overall policy?  And that’s what we’re reviewing.  We’ve done that in a number of areas.  We spent some months reviewing our policy toward North Korea, for example, and announced that policy just a few weeks ago.  We’re doing the same on Cuba.

QUESTION:  Thank you, Secretary.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you.  Good to be with you.

QUESTION:  Thank you.  Thank you so much.


More from: Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

News Network

  • Tennessee Department of Human Services Agrees to Pay $6.8 Million to Resolve False Claims Act Liability in Connection with SNAP Quality Control
    In Crime News
    The Tennessee Department of Human Services (TDHS) has agreed to pay the United States $6,854,416 to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act in its administration of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Until 2008, SNAP was known as the Food Stamp Program. 
    [Read More…]
  • Supporting Taiwan’s Participation in the UN System
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • Burmese Military Arrests of Civilian Government Leaders
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • Investment Professional and Author is Sentenced for Defrauding National Women’s Sorority
    In Crime News
    A Florida woman was sentenced to 24 months in prison today for her role in an investment management scheme.
    [Read More…]
  • Opening Statement at Climate Adaptation Summit 2021
    In Climate - Environment - Conservation
    John Kerry, Special [Read More…]
  • Acting Assistant Secretary Peterson’s Travel to Democratic Republic of Congo
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • American Contractor Sentenced for Theft of Government Equipment on U.S. Military Base in Afghanistan
    In Crime News
    An American military contractor was sentenced today to 51 months in prison for her role in a theft ring on a military installation in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
    [Read More…]
  • Alice man admits to distributing meth
    In Justice News
    A 29-year-old local [Read More…]
  • Visa and Plaid Abandon Merger After Antitrust Division’s Suit to Block
    In Crime News
    The Department of Justice announced today that Visa Inc. and Plaid Inc. have abandoned their planned $5.3 billion merger.
    [Read More…]
  • Readout of Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta’s Call with European Commission Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager
    In Crime News
    U.S. Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta this morning spoke with European Commission Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager. In their inaugural conversation, the two leaders discussed the Justice Department and European Commission’s mutual interest in promoting competition in a fair, global marketplace and building stronger transatlantic cooperation on justice issues and antitrust enforcement.
    [Read More…]
  • Social Media Influencer Charged with Election Interference Stemming from Voter Disinformation Campaign
    In Crime News
    A Florida man was arrested this morning on charges of conspiring with others in advance of the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election to use various social media platforms to disseminate misinformation designed to deprive individuals of their constitutional right to vote.
    [Read More…]
  • Virginia Man Sentenced for Role in Multimillion-Dollar Investment-Fraud Scheme
    In Crime News
    A Virginia man was sentenced today in the Eastern District of Virginia to 14 years in prison for his role in an investment fraud scheme in which he and his co-conspirators stole approximately $5.7 million from victim investors.
    [Read More…]
  • Aviation Security Technology: TSA Lacks Outcome-oriented Performance Measures and Data to Help Reach Objectives to Diversify its Marketplace
    In U.S GAO News
    The Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) January 2020 TSA Efforts to Diversify Security Technology (strategy) addresses the requirements of the 2018 TSA Modernization Act (the Act) and outlines 12 strategic initiatives to increase small business participation in its marketplace. Moreover, the strategy's initiatives are generally consistent with common practices cited by comparable federal agencies, including vendor outreach and linking small businesses together with bigger contractors. TSA has not developed outcome-oriented performance measures, such as baseline goals or target timeframes to assess the effectiveness of the initiatives in its strategy. While TSA collects some output metrics on its initiatives, leading practices note that outcome-based measures can help track progress in meeting goals. TSA also has not collected data on small businesses' progress across its acquisition phases, such as capturing the overall time, costs, and ability to meet security requirements. Federal standards call for the use of quality information to achieve objectives. Small businesses GAO met with told us they continue to face challenges entering TSA's marketplace—such as navigating it's testing and evaluation process and identifying security requirements—despite TSA's efforts to address them through ongoing and planned initiatives. Developing outcome-oriented performance measures and collecting data, will better position TSA to assess the effectiveness of its initiatives to diversify its security technology marketplace. Examples of Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Security-Related Technologies With the ongoing threat of terrorism, TSA is looking to innovative technologies to improve security. In response to the Act, TSA developed a strategy to promote innovation and increase small business participation in its security technology marketplace. The Act includes a provision for GAO to review this strategy. This report examines, among other things, (1) the extent to which TSA's strategy includes the statutory requirements of the Act and compares to common practices of federal agencies to increase small business participation and (2) the extent to which TSA has performance measures and data to assess the effectiveness of its initiatives. GAO compared TSA's strategy to statutory requirements and practices of comparable federal agencies; interviewed TSA and federal officials from five selected agencies responsible for small and disadvantaged business programs, and a nongeneralizable set of small businesses selected to provide various perspectives on participating in TSA's acquisition processes; and analyzed data from the Federal Procurement Data System–Next Generation. GAO is making two recommendations, including that TSA (1) develop outcome-oriented performance measures and (2) collect data, where appropriate, on small businesses' progress across TSA's acquisition phases. DHS concurred with our recommendations. For more information, contact Triana McNeil at (202) 512-8777 or McNeilT@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
  • Judicial Security Bill Advances: Judge Who Lost Son Urges Final Passage
    In U.S Courts
    A bill to protect federal judges and their families from threats and attacks has advanced to the full Senate, and a U.S. district judge from New Jersey, whose son was slain by an angry litigant, urged Congress to pass the legislation without delay.
    [Read More…]
  • Real Estate Investor Pleads Guilty to Rigging Bids at Foreclosure Auctions
    In Crime News
    A California man pleaded guilty yesterday to rigging bids at public foreclosure auctions.
    [Read More…]
  • NASA Develops COVID-19 Prototype Ventilator in 37 Days
    In Space
    A high-pressure [Read More…]
  • Justice Department Warns About Fake Unemployment Benefit Websites
    In Crime News
    The Department of Justice has received reports that fraudsters are creating websites mimicking unemployment benefit websites, including state workforce agency (SWA) websites, for the purpose of unlawfully capturing consumers’ personal information.
    [Read More…]
  • Mortality in State and Federal Prisons, 2001-2018 – Statistical Tables
    In Justice News
    This report presents detailed statistical tables on mortality in state and federal prisons. It provides information on cause of death; decedent characteristics, and mortality rates of inmate populations.
    4/29/2021, NCJ 255970, E. Ann Carson [Read More…]
  • Medicaid: CMS Needs to Implement Risk-Based Oversight of Puerto Rico’s Procurement Process
    In U.S GAO News
    Like other U.S. territories and states, Puerto Rico implements major functions of its Medicaid program by procuring services from contractors, such as the delivery of managed care services to Medicaid beneficiaries. In 2018, procurement costs represented $2.4 billion of Puerto Rico's $2.5 billion in total Medicaid expenditures. A 2019 federal indictment alleging Puerto Rico officials unlawfully steered Medicaid contracts to certain individuals has raised concerns about Puerto Rico's Medicaid procurement process, including whether this process helps ensure appropriate competition. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), within the Department of Health and Human Services, is responsible for overseeing the Medicaid program. CMS requires states and territories to use the same process for Medicaid procurements as they do for their non-federal procurements. However, CMS has not taken steps to ensure Puerto Rico has met this requirement. Instead, CMS has relied on Puerto Rico to oversee the territory's procurement process and to attest to its compliance. CMS approved Puerto Rico's attestation of compliance in 2004 and has not required subsequent updates. CMS officials told GAO that states and territories are in the best position to ensure compliance with their respective procurement laws. GAO and others have found that competition is a cornerstone of procurement. Using competition can reduce costs, improve contractor performance, curb fraud, and promote accountability. GAO reviewed selected Puerto Rico Medicaid procurements against federal procurement standards designed to promote competition and reduce risks of fraud. States and territories are generally not required to meet such standards. However, GAO and others have found that such standards can indicate whether a state's or territory's procurement process includes necessary steps to achieve fair competition. GAO found that seven of the eight selected Puerto Rico procurements did not include important steps to promote competition and mitigate the risk for fraud, waste, and abuse, underscoring the need for federal oversight. Competitive procurements. The requests for proposals for two of the three competitive procurements GAO reviewed did not include certain information on factors used to evaluate proposals and make awards. In contrast, Puerto Rico's managed care procurement—the largest procurement reviewed—included this information. Noncompetitive procurements. None of the five noncompetitive procurements GAO reviewed documented circumstances to justify not using competitive procurements, such as a lack of competition or an emergency. Puerto Rico officials explained that territorial law allows noncompetitive procurement for professional services regardless of circumstances. Because CMS does not oversee Puerto Rico's procurement process, the agency lacks assurance that Puerto Rico's Medicaid program is appropriately managing the risk of fraud, waste, and abuse. Procurements that did not include important steps to promote competition could have unnecessarily increased Medicaid costs, reducing funding for Medicaid services to beneficiaries. States' and U.S. territories' Medicaid procurement processes can directly affect their ability to prevent fraud, waste, and abuse in the program. A 2019 federal indictment alleging fraudulent Medicaid procurements in Puerto Rico has raised questions about the program's oversight. The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020 includes a provision for GAO to review oversight of Puerto Rico's Medicaid procurement process and its use of competition. This report examines CMS oversight of Puerto Rico's procurement process from its initial steps through the award, and how it helps ensure competition. GAO reviewed federal regulations, guidance, and Puerto Rico's December 2020 procurement reform plan; interviewed Puerto Rico and federal officials; and reviewed eight awards that represented about 97 percent of the costs of Puerto Rico's procurements in effect as of April 2020. These procurements were selected based on variation in cost, use of competition, and other factors. GAO assessed whether CMS addressed risks in Puerto Rico's procurement process by reviewing selected procurements against certain federal standards that apply to other non-federal entities and aim to mitigate the risk of fraud, waste, and abuse. GAO also assessed CMS's policies and procedures against federal internal control standards. GAO recommends that CMS implement risk-based oversight of the Medicaid procurement process in Puerto Rico. The Department of Health and Human Services concurred with this recommendation. For more information, contact Carolyn L. Yocom at (202) 512-7114 or YocomC@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
  • Justice Department Seeks to Shut Down Illinois Tax Return Preparer
    In Crime News
    The United States has filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois seeking to bar a Rockford area tax return preparer from preparing federal income tax returns for others.
    [Read More…]


Network News © 2005 Area.Control.Network™ All rights reserved.