Apr 10, 2024

David Cameron and Antony Blinken Hold Joint Press Conference

David Cameron and Antony Blinken hold joint press conference
RevBlogTranscriptsAntony BlinkenDavid Cameron and Antony Blinken Hold Joint Press Conference

British foreign secretary David Cameron traveled to the US to hold a joint press conference with secretary of state Antony Blinken. Read the transcript here.

Secretary Blinken (00:59):

Good morning everyone. It is as always a great pleasure to have Foreign Secretary Cameron here at the State Department in Washington. We were just together, literally sitting next to each other for the NATO meetings that we had in Brussels last week. But we’ve had an ongoing conversation, an ongoing consultation about the major challenges that both of our countries are facing and facing together, and today was another important chapter in those conversations. Starting with Ukraine, we, of course, reaffirmed the imperative of continuing to support and help Ukraine defend itself against the ongoing Russian aggression. I have to say that the United Kingdom has been an extraordinary leader in this effort from day one, imposing sanctions and export controls on Russia and hindering its ability to continue to finance the war, ramping up investments in the defense industrial base. This is a major effort that our two countries are engaged in with many other countries, both for immediate needs but also for the future.

We have major British defense companies that are opening offices in Kyiv, working jointly with our Ukrainian friends, helping Ukraine develop its own defense products, and the UK was the first country to formalize and finalize the bilateral security agreements that 30 countries have either now concluded negotiations on or are in the process of negotiating with Ukraine to help Ukraine develop a future force, one that can deter aggression and defend itself in the future. We talked about ways to strengthen efforts to prevent the transfer in weapons of material to Russia for use in Ukraine. And this is an ongoing challenge, and we see weapons, we also see technologies to support the defense industrial base in Russia coming from North Korea, from Iran, from China. This is an area of particular concern for not only the United States, the United Kingdom, but many of our allies and partners throughout Europe. We also talked about the imperative of getting assistance to Ukraine now in terms of additional munitions, air defenses, artillery.

We both heard last week from the Ukrainian Foreign Minister Kuleba at NATO about the immediate needs. Both of our countries are pressing ourselves and pressing others to do this, and in that light, the supplemental budget request the President Biden has made of Congress is urgent and it’s imperative. House is now back in session. We look to see that brought before the House and to get a vote as quickly as possible. And again, I’ve said this before, but it is always worth reminding that when it comes to burden sharing, I have never seen a better example in my time in government now over 30 years. The United States has done extraordinary things for Ukraine. Our European partners and others beyond Europe around the world have done even more over the last two years, military support, economic support, humanitarian support. So there’s genuine burden sharing and carrying the load.

We need to continue to do our part, and again, I’ll remind that the overwhelming majority of the resources in the supplemental budget request will actually be invested right here in the United States in our own defense industrial base to produce what Ukraine needs, but providing in the meantime good American jobs. We, of course, discussed the situation in the Middle East and in Gaza. Israel has made important commitments to significantly increase the supply of humanitarian assistance throughout Gaza and has taken some initial actions as well to move on those commitments. We’re looking at a number of critical things that need to happen in the coming days, including opening a new northern point of entry for assistance into Gaza using Ashdod on a regular basis, maximizing the flow of assistance from Jordan, as well as putting in place a much more effective deconfliction mechanism with the humanitarian groups that are providing assistance.

Just yesterday, more than 400 trucks were cleared to go into Gaza, and that is the most since October 7th in any given day. But what matters is results and sustained results, and this is what we will be looking at very carefully in the days ahead. And that includes making sure that the assistance that gets into Gaza is distributed effectively throughout Gaza, not just in the south or in central Gaza. It has to get to the north as well. Of course, we have our own citizens who remain hostage in Gaza held by Hamas. We continue to work very closely with Israel, with Egypt, with Qatar on getting an agreement that would result in an immediate ceasefire and the release of hostages and also create even better conditions for surging assistance to those who need it in Gaza.

Two other quick things I wanted to touch on. In the Indo-Pacific, our two countries are aligned on the key issues before us in the Indo-Pacific, ensuring peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, South China Sea, the Korean Peninsula, standing up when the PRC is engaged in unfair trade practices and non-market practices, including addressing the global economic consequences of Chinese industrial overcapacity and the need for a level playing field. Secretary Yellen spoke very clearly and forcefully to this during her recent trip to China. This is an ongoing concern for our countries and for many other countries around the world. And of course, we have our AUKUS agreement, modernizing partnerships to meet future challenges, to promote a free and open Indo-Pacific. Australia’s selection last month of British companies to develop nuclear-powered submarines is a milestone in actually integrating our defense industrial bases. We also discussed partnerships with other countries through AUKUS, including one that we’ll discuss with Japan when Prime Minister Kishida is here this week, and having partners engage particularly in Pillar Two activities is something that will carry this partnership forward. Finally, we’re working together in this hemisphere to address shared interests and to try to advance peace, security, and opportunity. I welcome the conversations that we had about that as well. With that, David, let me turn it over to you.

Foreign Secretary David Cameron (07:42):

Well, thank you very much, Tony. It’s very good to be back in Washington, very good to be back with you. In a time of danger like this in international affairs, close alliances really matter and there is no closer alliance for us than our partnership with the United States. And I think the work we’ve been doing here and in NATO and what we’ll be doing at the G7 really demonstrates that. On Ukraine, I want to echo what Tony said. Put simply, we know what works, we know what they need, and we know what is right for us. In terms of what works, we know that if we give the Ukrainians the support they deserve, they can win this war, they can achieve the just peace that they deserve. They’ve sunk 25% of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. They’ve inflicted over 350,000 casualties on Russian armed forces who launched this unprovoked and unjustified aggression.

And we know that if we keep on backing them, we can lead this to the right conclusion. And we know what they need. We know they need air defences. The Ukrainian Foreign Minister was so clear about that in NATO. We know they need ammunition. There’s the excellent Czech initiative to bring forward ammunition that’s going to arrive in June and even before that, Britain is taking action to source more ammunition for them in the run-up to that. We know that they need support from NATO allies and a good outcome to the NATO Summit, which we were discussing this morning. And we know that they need money in the form of the frozen Russian sovereign assets and we’re making good progress in how to access that funds on an agreed basis that I think we can take forward at the G7. And of course, in terms of the money they need and the support they need, perhaps nothing is more important than the supplemental that the Congress is looking at at the moment.

And I come here with no intention to lecture anybody or tell anybody what to do or get in the way of the process of politics and other things in the United States. I just come here as a great friend and believer in this country and a believer that it’s profoundly in your interests and your security and your future and the future of all your partners to release this money and let it through. And I’m looking forward to meetings I’m going to be having in Congress later today. And above all, we know what’s right for us. We know that it is right to stop Putin’s aggression. We know it’s right for our own militaries and our own production bases to ramp up production, not just for Ukraine, but for our own stocks. And as Tony said, so many of the jobs created will be jobs created here in the United States. And indeed, when we’re dealing with our own weapons systems, jobs in the UK.

We know it’s right to send this very clear message to all those watching around the world, including China, that we stand by our allies, that we don’t reward aggression, that we help those who are trying to fight it off, and we know it’s right for our own security. That leads to the NATO Conference. We had some excellent discussions. I remember chairing the NATO summit in Wales in 2014. Back then, only three countries met the two percentage points of GDP on defense spending. I’m proud to say Britain was one of them. We’re now up to around 20 countries out of a alliance of 32 members, and I think we can make real progress between now and the summit in Washington with every country showing how they’re going to get from where they are now to that 2%.

I would urge all those countries to think about how they can do it, and would also be looking at this mission for Ukraine about how NATO can do more to coordinate and help that country in its struggle. On our discussions on Israel and Gaza, as I said at the weekend, we see this in four very clear ways. One, we back the hostages and their families who are now in day 185 of their appalling captivity. We go hard on getting aid into Gaza. It’s the right thing to do and what was previously seen as impossible is now possible, and that is hugely welcome. We want to see that followed up, that we believe in leading internationally, both at the United Nations, where we achieved a good resolution on a temporary ceasefire during Ramadan and also putting together countries

Foreign Secretary David Cameron (12:00):

Countries that back and support a future peace process, such as met in Munich, and we hope we’ll meet again shortly. But the fourth part of our plan is to support Israel and its legitimate right of self-defense to deal with the Hamas threat, and it’s important we maintain that support.

On aid, just to be clear, as Tony said, we want to see 500 trucks a day, we want to see the water switched back on, we want to see Ashdod and a northern crossing point opened. And crucially, we want to see this deconfliction, because getting aid to Gaza on its own isn’t enough. You’ve got to be able to get aid around Gaza and as we saw with the tragic killing of the World Central Kitchen workers, unless you have that deconfliction, other things like that could happen. We have a very clear plan A, for how we bring this conflict to an end.

We have a temporary pause, we turn that into a sustainable ceasefire, we see Hamas leaders removed from Gaza, we see the terrorist infrastructure taken down. That is the way to have a political process that brings the war to an end. But we have to be aware, if that doesn’t work, we have to think about what is plan B. What can humanitarian and other organizations do to make sure, that if there is a conflict in Rafah, that people can achieve safety, they can get food, they can get water, they can get medicine, and people are kept safe. And I think that’s something we’re going to have to be looking at and we were talking about today.

Finally, on the other things you mentioned, I totally agree that AUKUS is a really important alliance. And I think, one of the ways we can make it a success, as well as making sure we build our submarines and invest on time, is making progress on the ITAR regulations. If we’re going to have a partnership as close as this, between three like-minded countries, you must be able to have the free flow of munitions between us.

Finally, I just wanted to mention Haiti, where Secretary Blinken has said how important it’s that we’ll step forward and help. Britain has a number of priorities in that region, including neighboring countries that we are responsible for. But nonetheless, we will be providing over 5 million pounds, $7 million, to the fund to help support Haiti.

So, on these areas and many others, we’ve had an excellent conversation, excellent meeting. And it shows how like-minded we are on trying to make progress on these difficult conflicts that are so disrupting and disturbing our world, and we’re determined to work together very closely as we do that. Thank you.

Speaker 1 (14:27):

Thank you. The first question goes to Olivia Gazis with CBS News.

Olivia Gazis (14:34):

Thank you very much and good morning, Secretary Blinken. There’s been a spate of developments in Gaza that we’re hoping you could shed some light for us on. First, Prime Minister Netanyahu has made public pronouncements about a date being set for an offensive in Rafah. Has the US been apprised of such a date and has it been given word of any accompanying plans by Israel to ensure the safety of civilians there?

Second, you mentioned the increase of the number of trucks being permitted into Gaza on a daily basis, but aid agencies, including the UN, are still saying that much less than the minimum amount of aid required is actually getting where it needs to go. So, is Israel really doing enough, quickly enough, in order to forestall changes in US policy, as the President and you have made clear?

Foreign Secretary Cameron, you’ve come to Washington from a meeting in Florida with the former president and current presidential candidate Donald Trump. We understand that aid to Ukraine was a key item on the agenda. First, do you come away from that meeting more or less assured, that US aid to Ukraine is forthcoming in the near term?

And second, did you achieve any clarity on Mr. Trump’s reported plans to bring the war on Ukraine to an end? Specifically, did you receive any assurances that it would not involve territorial concessions by Kiev?

And with your indulgence, for both of you, just given the bleak indications out of Cairo today, Rachel Goldberg-Polin, who’s the mother of Hersh, one of the hostages who’s been held in Gaza for now more than six months, said recently, “I feel that all the parties at the table have failed”, to include the governments at the table. Do you disagree with her? Thank you.

Secretary Blinken (16:18):

Olivia, I’m happy to start, thank you. And thank you for the new iteration of asking the questions of each of us and then asking a joint question at the end, this is a new model. And I’m sure your colleagues will carry forward as well. On Rafah, no, we do not have a date for any Rafah operation, at least one that’s been communicated to us by the Israelis. On the contrary, what we have is an ongoing conversation with Israel about any Rafah operation. President’s been very clear about our concerns, our deep concerns, about Israel’s ability to move civilians out of harm’s way, to care for them once they’re out of harm’s way, and to have any kind of major military operation that doesn’t do real harm to civilians, to children, to women, to men. We are committed to ensuring that Hamas cannot govern or dictate the future of Gaza or anything else for that matter.

But, how Israel conducts any further operations in Gaza, matters a great deal. And as we’ve said, we’re talking to them about alternative and, in our judgment, effective ways at solving a problem that needs to be solved, but doing it in a way that does not endanger the innocent. Those conversations are ongoing. My expectation is that we’ll see Israeli colleagues again next week to pursue that.

With regard to the assistance that is getting in, look, we’ve been, again, very clear, starting with the President. We need to see, not just the commitments, not just the implementation of the commitments, but actual results and results that are sustained and sustained throughout Gaza, not only in the South or in central Gaza. So, I mentioned that yesterday, by our count, more than 400 trucks were cleared, which is double what had been happening heretofore. That’s important, but it’s just one step.

And again, it needs to be sustained. David referred to a number of other steps that Israel has either committed to or has already begun to take, and I mentioned some of them as well. Opening an additional crossing in the north, maximizing the route from Jordan, maximizing what is being screened at Kerem Shalom and at Rafah, fixing the water pipelines in the north, central and southern Gaza. This is critical. And, so important, putting in place a deconfliction mechanism, so that humanitarians can go about their work throughout Gaza, without fearing for their security and safety. And so that we never see again, the horrific loss with the attack on the World Central Kitchen team just a week or so ago.

So, this is a work very much in progress. And as I say, we will judge it by its results and by whether they’re sustained. But the commitments that have been made and the initial steps to implement those commitments, are positive, but a lot more needs to happen to make sure that people in Gaza have what they need.

Foreign Secretary David Cameron (19:53):

On the issue of my meeting with President Trump, this was entirely in line with precedent of government ministers meeting with opposition politicians in the run-up to elections. I remember when I was Prime Minister, meeting Mitt Romney when he was a candidate. I remember Gordon Brown meeting Barack Obama when he was a candidate. And I think, Tony, you recently had a meeting with Keir Starmer, the Labor leader in Munich. So, these things are entirely proper. But it was a private meeting, so I haven’t really got anything to add to your questions. But we discussed a range of important geopolitical subjects.

Secretary Blinken (20:31):

And on-

Foreign Secretary David Cameron (20:31):

Oh, on hostages, yes.

Secretary Blinken (20:32):

Hostages, yeah.

Foreign Secretary David Cameron (20:33):

I would just say, we are doing everything we can to help. There are two British nationals, but others with British connections, so we are doing everything we can. I would just make the point that, ultimately, the people responsible for holding these hostages are Hamas. They could release the hostages now. I’m not involved in the minutiae of the negotiations, but I know very big offers have been made by Israel to release loads of prisoners from their prisons in response to hostages being released. And we need the hostages to come home, we need the aid to get in, and it’s Hamas, more than anyone else, that is standing in the way of that happening.

Secretary Blinken (21:12):

And I would just add that, I know Rachel well. If I were sitting in her shoes, I’d undoubtedly be feeling and saying the same thing. Because, until the day that Hersh is home, we will not have succeeded in doing what we’re determined to do, which is to bring him and bring all the hostages back. We have our teams working on this 24/7. We’re working, as you know, closely with Qatar, with Egypt, with Israel. Bill Burns has been doing extraordinary work on this. Many of us have been deeply engaged working with the governments in question.

We have an offer that’s on the table now, to Hamas, that is very serious and should be accepted. Hamas could move forward with this immediately and get a ceasefire that would benefit people throughout Gaza as well as of course get the hostages home. I think, the fact that it continues to not say yes, is a reflection of what it really thinks about the people of Gaza, which is not much at all. It’s also extraordinary, the extent to which Hamas has been almost erased from this story. As we both said, going back almost to day one, none of what we’ve seen in Gaza would’ve happened, had Hamas given up the hostages right away, put down its weapons, stopped hiding behind civilians and surrendered. It has an opportunity now to agree to the proposal on a ceasefire and on hostages. The ball is in Hamas’ court. The world is watching to see what it does.

Speaker 1 (23:13):

Felicia Schwartz with the Financial Times.

Felicia Schwartz (23:19):

Thank you. Secretary Blinken, are you confident that the talks in Washington on Rafah will happen before Israel does go into Rafah and that they will follow your advice when doing so? And on assistance, how long does Israel have to sustain the aid that you spoke about or risk consequences? And do you agree with Foreign Secretary Cameron, that there needs to be a plan B? And what do you think that should be?

Foreign Secretary Cameron, you said before coming to the US, that you would encourage Speaker Johnson to get Ukraine aid through the house. But now, you are not seeing him. Why is that?

Felicia Schwartz (24:00):

And have you left your meeting with President Trump believing that he will give Johnson the green light to make that vote happen?

Secretary Blinken (24:10):

Felicia, let me take the second part first, which is on aid and how long does it need to be sustained. It needs to be sustained as long as necessary to ensure that the people of Gaza have what they need to get by and sustained as long as it takes to put in place something more permanent when this conflict comes to an end that can guarantee that people are getting what they need and begin to rebuild Gaza. So there’s no date certain at all. This needs to not only happen, not only need to be sustained, but it just needs to continue as long as it’s necessary to provide for people in Gaza. It’s as simple and as straightforward as that.

Again, with regard to Rafah, I don’t want to prejudge these ongoing talks, and I can tell you that, again, we expect to have a continuation of those talks next week. I don’t anticipate any actions being taken before those talks, and for that matter I don’t see anything imminent. But there is a lot of work to be done, and it remains our conviction that major military operations in Rafah would be extremely dangerous for civilians who would be caught in harm’s way, that, as we share the commitment to dealing with the problem posed by Hamas, we believe there are other effective ways to do it. That’s going to be the subject of these ongoing conversations. I don’t want to prejudge what the outcome will be.

Foreign Secretary David Cameron (25:49):

Thank you. I’m going to be going to the Hill. I’ve got a range of meetings with senators and congressmen both sides of the aisle. I always do this with great trepidation. It’s not for foreign politicians to tell legislators in another country what to do. It’s just that I’m so passionate about the importance of defending Ukraine against this aggression that I think it is absolutely the interest of U.S. security that Putin fails in his illegal invasion. I think it’s good for U.S. jobs that we continue to back Ukraine with the weapons that they need. And I think in terms of how the United States and the United Kingdom as allies are seen around the world, there will be people in Tehran, in Pyongyang, in Beijing looking at how we stand by our allies, how we help them, how we stop this illegal and unprovoked aggression, and working out whether we are committed, whether we’re prepared to see it through.

So I’m here to offer my opinion, to meet with anyone who wants to talk to me about it, to make those arguments. And I think the perspective, I always encourage others in Europe, particularly perhaps those right up against the fence with Russia who feel the Russian aggression, who feel the fear of it, and I think, as I said at the NATO summit last week, it’s so important that the outcome of all this is a secure and strong NATO with full U.S. and Atlantic support rather than a setback for the Western Alliance, a victory for Putin, and a sense that we don’t stand by our allies and our friends at their time of need. So that’s the spirit in which I’m here. I’m delighted to have a whole series of meetings this afternoon and some more tomorrow, and I’ll make time for any people in Congress who would welcome a conversation about this.

Speaker 1 (27:51):

Tom Bateman with the BBC.

Speaker 2 (27:54):

Thank you very much.

Secretary Blinken, first of all, the BBC spoke last week to the parents of Jacob Flickinger, who was the U.S.-Canadian citizen who was killed in the World Central Kitchen-Israeli air strike. His parents described the convoy as being chased down. They described it as a crime. What assurance can you give them that there will be meaningful accountability, given that in the last two and a half years two other American citizens have been killed at the hands of Israeli forces in cases which have not seen meaningful accountability? And what lessons do you think from those cases that soldiers on the ground are taking?

And, Foreign Secretary, you said on March the 8th that you would get new advice on Israel’s compliance with international law. You said in the coming days on March the 8th. It is now April the 9th. So when are you going to decide whether or not Israel is breaching international humanitarian law?

And you talked about on Ukraine not wanting to lecture and to come here. You’ve also said that you are dropping diplomatic niceties on this issue. You’ve compared those who won’t act to the appeasers of Hitler in the 1930s and asked people to change the narrative on Ukraine. What evidence do you have that coming here, that that approach is working? And in that context, do you still think that Donald Trump is protectionist, xenophobic, and misogynistic?

Secretary Blinken (29:29):

Tom, thank you. I’ll start first.

I spoke over the weekend to Jacob’s father and to his partner. I heard directly from them separately. Jacob leaves an 18-month-old son. Leaving everything else aside, just on a purely human level my heart goes out to that family and to that little boy who now has no father. I said the other day that the World Central Kitchen team and Jacob were genuinely heroes, and I hope that, no matter what else, we never lose sight of that fact, the extraordinary ways in which Jacob and the others put their lives on the line to help people who are so desperately in need when it mattered the most. It’s an extraordinary inspiration, but it’s also an extraordinary responsibility on our shoulders and everyone else’s to do everything we can to ensure that this never happens again, and that, in Gaza in particular, humanitarian workers can go about their work with as much security as possible.

So we are looking very carefully at the conclusions of the investigation that Israel conducted. We’re asking questions about it. We’re engaged with the Israelis, we’re engaged with humanitarian organizations, and we want to make sure that, again, the investigation produces real change that can better ensure the security and safety of humanitarian workers and, to your point as well, accountability. Israel has taken some initial steps in that direction, including by removing two senior commanders who were engaged in this horrible incident. But we’re in the process, an ongoing process, of looking at the conclusions and talking both to Israel and humanitarian organizations about it.

One other piece of business before I turn it back over to David, unfinished business, which is simply to say thank you. You heard Foreign Secretary make a commitment on behalf of the United Kingdom to supporting the efforts that we’re undertaking in Haiti and particularly supporting a multinational security support force to go in to bolster the Haitian National Police to help regain control of Port-au-Prince from the gangs to enable a democratic process to move forward toward elections and to create an environment in which humanitarian assistance, development aid can get in and get to where it’s needed. So I just want to say how grateful we are to the United Kingdom as well as to other partners who’ve been stepping up to support this effort. It means a great deal.

Foreign Secretary David Cameron (32:51):

Thank you. Thanks.

On Israel and international humanitarian law, as required by the UK’s robust arms export control regime, I have now reviewed the most recent advice about the situation in Gaza and Israel’s conduct of their military campaign. The latest assessment leaves our position on export licenses unchanged. This is consistent with the advice that I and other ministers have received, and, as ever, we will keep the position under review. Let me be clear, though. We continue to have grave concerns around the humanitarian access issue in Gaza, both for the period that was assessed and subsequently. We’ve seen a welcome increase in trucks with, as Tony said, perhaps as many as 400 going in yesterday, the highest since October the 7th, and, of course, public commitments from Israel to flood Gaza with aid. These now need to be turned into reality.

Our position is in line with our international partners. So far, no like-minded countries have taken the decision to suspend existing arms export licenses to Israel. And I’d add that Israel remains a vital defense and security partner to the UK. Our cooperation makes the UK and Israel more secure from external threats. We will continue to use this robust legal process to assess these issues. And I’d just add we don’t publish legal advice, we don’t comment on legal advice, but we act in a way that is consistent with it. We’re a government under the law, and that’s as it should be.

On the issue of dropping diplomatic niceties, in many ways what I meant by that was instead of sort of speaking in diplo-speak when I address this issue of how we help Ukraine, I can get very emotional about it. To me, this is so fundamental to how Britain and America have worked together over years, over decades, to keep our world safe and to enhance our security. I think of my grandfather landing on the Normandy beaches under the cover of an American warship. I think of how I worked together with President Obama to deal with the ISIL threat in Syria and Iraq, how we hunted down those terrible killers of British and American hostages in the Syrian desert, Jihadi John and his like.

And to me, this is the same thing. We face a huge threat from an aggressive Putin taking other country’s territory by force and it is so important that we stick together. This is the great lesson from NATO, celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, is that if we stick together, if we work together, we can create a more secure Europe but also a more secure U.S. And I say this a someone who doesn’t just like and respect America. I say this as someone who loves this country. I mean, of course, I love my own country more than anything, but I do love the United States. I feel passionate about this country, its role in the world in defending freedom and standing up to aggression, in trying to take the side of countries that are being traduced in this way. And so when I go and

Foreign Secretary David Cameron (36:00):

… speak with colleagues in Congress, I try and keep the diplomatic language, but sometimes it spills over into quite emotional language, because this is the right thing for us to do. And future generations are going to look back at us and say, “Did we do enough when this country was invaded by a dictator, trying to redraw boundaries by force? Did we learn the lessons from history? Did we do enough?” And I’m passionate that we’re not going to be found wanting, so that’s why I sometimes drop the diplomatic niceties.

I’ve said we had a good meeting. We discussed a range of international issues. But effectively, it was a private meeting and one very much in the precedent of meeting with opposition leaders. Obviously in Britain, we respect the electoral process, the democratic process here in the United States, and work with whoever is elected for the benefit to both our countries.

Speaker 1 (36:48):

And for the final question, Robert Moore with ITV.

Speaker 3 (36:54):

Hi, Robert Moore with ITV News. Thanks for both of you taking my question. Foreign Secretary, first of all, you had dinner, as we know, by all accounts, a warm and friendly dinner with Donald Trump last night. You call it a private dinner, but you’re a foreign secretary, he’s a presidential candidate. Can you, at a minimum, say at least he listened sympathetically to your argument that the House should unlock Ukraine funding? And did he give you any assurance at all that if he won in November, the United States would remain a key member of NATO? And just to follow up on my BBC colleague’s fine question about international humanitarian law and the supply of weapons, I mean, given the passions coursing through our societies about the Gaza issue, what is the argument against transparency, against letting people know what the legal advice being received by you is? Isn’t transparency everything?

And Secretary of State, I mean, you’ve expressed outrage today and in recent days about the death of those seven international aid workers, eloquent outrage. But it begs the question: there have been hundreds of humanitarians killed in Gaza over the last six months, dozens of journalists, many people who have been waving white flags and have still been shot down by IDF forces. I mean, where was the outrage then, and why then didn’t you offer to reshape American policy if necessary? Why only now? Is it just the passports that these seven held?

Foreign Secretary David Cameron (38:35):

Okay, first of all, on my dinner, I’m not going to relent from the fact that it was a private dinner, but we discussed geopolitical issues like Israel and Gaza, like Ukraine, like the future of NATO. Look, whoever I’m talking to, I tend to make the same points, which is that we’ve got to do everything we can this year to get NATO in its strongest possible shape for its 75th anniversary. And getting everyone up to 2%, having the new members joining, Sweden and Finland, having the strongest possible alliance. That the best thing we can do on Ukraine, the best thing we can do this year is to help keep the Ukrainians in this fight. They’re fighting so bravely, they’re not going to lose for want of morale. The danger is we don’t give them the support that they need. And I make that argument to anyone who will listen to me.

I argue that it is extremely good value for money for the United States and for others, perhaps for about 5 or 10% of your defense budget. Almost half of Russia’s pre-war military equipment has been destroyed without the loss of a single American life. This is an investment in United States security. So that’s what I would say. On the issue of legal advice, I think it is an important principle that legal advice is not published, that ministers consider it and act in a way that is consistent with it. We answer questions about it, as I am now, as I will be in the House of Lords, I’m sure, next week, and I’ve got a Question Time on Tuesday, but probably a statement as well. And it’s right that we answer those questions.

We have published summaries of legal advice, but that has been when we’ve been sending British troops into action, as we did in Libya or as we did recently when we sent British Air Force personnel into combat with the Houthis. I think that is a different situation, a summary of legal advice published in those circumstances. I don’t think it’s right in these circumstances, and I say we act consistent with it. We’re happy to answer questions about it. We are very clear about the deep concern we have about the humanitarian aid situation. But the overall judgment is those export licenses will remain open and continue.

Secretary Blinken (40:52):

Rob, to your question, the thousands of children, of women, of men who’ve been caught in a crossfire of Hamas’s making, going back to October, their loss, their suffering is absolutely gut-wrenching. We’ve worked from day one to do everything we could to ensure that protection of civilians was being maximized, provision of humanitarian assistance to those who needed it was also being maximized. We’ve seen results over the course of these many months, starting with the opening of the Rafah gate very early on, Kerem Shalom, flour from Ashdod, the provision of fuel on a sustained basis. But it has manifestly not been enough; far from it. The results simply have not been there. And even if the intent was, it’s the results that count. And it was clear from everything that we continue to see that we have to have change, have to have change that results in people getting the assistance they need throughout Gaza.

And that was the import of the president’s conversation last week with Prime Minister Netanyahu. But it was in many ways the culmination of many conversations that, as I said, produced results but insufficient in terms of actually meeting the needs of people. So what we’re focused on now is making sure that the commitments that Israel has made to do more, to do more effectively, and to put that in place, actually happens, and as I said, is sustained, and as I said, produces results. That’s the measure. That’s the test. That’s what we’re looking at intently. We want to do everything we can, but principally we want to see Israel do everything it can and must to reduce the impact on civilians, to get assistance to those who need it, to do it on a sustained basis.

It would also be, I think, important that so much of the understandable passion, outrage and anger directed at Israel for the plight of Palestinian civilians in Gaza, that some of that might also be reserved and directed for Hamas. It remains astounding to me that the world is almost deafeningly silent when it comes to Hamas. We would not be where we are had they not chosen to engage in one of the most horrific acts of brutality and terrorism on October 7th, and had they then, having done that, not refused these many, many months to get out of the way of civilians, to stop hiding behind them, to put down their arms, to release the hostages, to surrender. Where’s the outrage there?

Having said that, I’ll repeat what I’ve said incessantly from day one. Despite that, Israel has obligations, it has responsibilities that are moral, that are strategic, and that are legal, to do everything it can to protect civilians and to get assistance to the many who need it. That’s what we’re focused on.

Speaker 3 (44:46):

Thank you.

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