Secretary Antony J. Blinken and UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab at a Joint Press Availability
Remarks to the Press
Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State
No. 9 Downing
London, United Kingdom
May 3, 2021
FOREIGN SECRETARY RAAB: Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for joining us. It's a huge pleasure to welcome Secretary of State Blinken to the UK. Tony, it's great to have you here with us.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you.
FOREIGN SECRETARY RAAB: Warm welcome. I think it's fair to say the Biden administration is barely a hundred days old but has already taken a huge number of bold and very welcome steps on issues like climate change, global health, and human rights, and that's really created a momentum in efforts to tackle these pressing global issues.
Since Tony's confirmation, we've been working very closely together. And today's meeting has been another reminder of the depth and breadth of the work that we do together, the convergence of our interests, and the many shared values.
So today, Tony and I discussed a full range of issues. I'll give you a highlight of, I think, some of the key points. We talked about our shared commitment to stand up for open societies, democracy and human rights, protecting fundamental freedoms, tackling disinformation, holding human rights abuses to account. We talked â€“ a key element of this is defending the rule of law, so we're determined to reform but reinforce the multilateral system. We want to keep working together very closely on all of these points through the G7 and President Biden's democracy summit.
We also discussed China. I think it's fair to say we see eye to eye on the need to stand up for our values, holding Beijing to the commitments that they've made, whether it's in relation to Hong Kong under the Joint Declaration or wider commitments, whilst also at the same time finding constructive ways to work with China in a sensible and positive manner where that's possible. That's important, I think, on global issues like climate change. We want to see China stepping up to the plate and playing its full role.
And Tony and I also discussed a whole range of security issues â€“ Iran, Afghanistan, continuing concerns about Russia, in particular on the border with Ukraine. We stand shoulder to shoulder on these issues, and I welcome the U.S.'s firm recommitment to the NATO Alliance. It's only by working together overseas that we can keep our citizens safe at home, and I think that's true in NATO and I think it's true on COVID and the various measures that we're taking to extend and expand and promote COVAX.
Secretary Blinken and I will see the prime minister tomorrow to continue the discussions that we've had. One of the major areas of common interest is building a broader and stronger set of partnerships among countries that share our values on the most important issues of the day. So the G7 Foreign and Development Ministers' Meeting, which begins today, is a great opportunity to really drive that agenda forward.
This is the first opportunity for all G7 foreign ministers to meet together in person since 2019. I think we're glad to be able to socialize a bit together and conduct those meetings face to face rather than just doing it all on Zoom and Teams.
And I think it's also fair to say that the world's changed quite a bit in those two short years. Our societies, our economies have been shocked and shaken by coronavirus. At the same time, we're responding to a situation where our values are being challenged, the international architecture is at least in some respects being weakened, and there is also the rapid technological change which brings new opportunities. We've seen that with the collaboration on things like the vaccine, but also acute challenges. And there are global threats from COVID to climate change that frankly demand global solutions, and we are committed to trying to find and forge those solutions.
So in that context, we recognize the importance of building dynamic, agile new partnerships with like-minded countries that share our values. And that's why we invited the foreign ministers from India, South Korea, Australia, and Brunei â€“ Brunei also obviously representing ASEAN as the chair â€“ and they'll be taking part later on in the week. They're all key partners for us. I think they're also a sign of the growing focus on the Indo-Pacific region as the economic and strategic crucible for this century.
And as for the G7, well, at its core it's a partnership based on values, and so it's fitting that today we meet on World Press Freedom Day. And we've seen a whole range of attacks on journalists, from Belarus to Myanmar. Violations of media freedoms are growing around the world at what I feel is an alarming rate. And I welcome the unequivocal stance of the United States and the whole G7 on safeguarding those vital democratic bulwarks in our media freedoms.
As co-chair of the Global Media Freedom Coalition, the UK is working with our partners so that we shine a light on the violations, we hold those to account, we support journalists who are trying to shine a light on those abuses around the world, and we try and reverse what is otherwise a dangerous trend.
This cuts, I think, to the core of the values and the interests that the G7 represents right around the world, and it shows again, I think, why it's so important for us to meet together this week.
Now, let me hand over to Tony. Tony, again, thanks for being here. Thanks for our valuable discussions today, and I look forward â€“ and we look forward to welcoming President Biden to the UK in June, and I'm looking forward to a productive G7 meeting this week.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you very much, Dominic. Let me actually just start where Dominic left off, which is World Press Freedom Day, which, I have to tell you, I take very much to heart personally as well as professionally. I actually started my career as a journalist from the relatively safe confines of Washington, D.C. But as Dominic said, I think we're seeing every day the work that journalists are doing around the world in increasingly difficult and challenging conditions to inform people, to hold governments and leaders of one kind or another accountable. Nothing is more fundamental to the good functioning of our democracies, and I think we are both resolute in our support for a free press. And so it's fitting that we actually are addressing our colleagues from the press on this day.
And I have to tell you, it's particularly good to be in London for the first time as Secretary of State. I realized in thinking about it that the first time I came to the United Kingdom and to London was almost exactly 50 years ago, and many, many times since, but it's especially good to be here today and especially good, Dominic, to have the chance to spend some real time with you. We've already met twice, I think, in person at NATO. We've been on the phone innumerable times, but there's nothing quite like being face to face, or sometimes mask to mask, and I'm particularly pleased that we've had an opportunity to do that here today and that this will extend on for the next few days.
And to your point, President Biden is very much looking forward to being here for the G7 in just a little over a month. And I'm also looking forward to the opportunity to meet with Prime Minister Johnson tomorrow â€“ very much appreciate that â€“ right next door.
I also do want to take a moment to say in person what I've said in private, including to Dominic, which is to offer my own condolences and deep sympathy on the passing of His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
This year is the 80th anniversary of the Atlantic Charter, which set the foundation for the international rules-based order that our countries so strongly subscribe to and which is, as a result of the openness, security, and economic possibility it's created, been a tremendous advantage for not only the citizens of our countries but for people around the world. It's also the 75th anniversary of Winston Churchill's famous speech at Westminster College in Missouri, where he described the Special Relationship between the United Kingdom and the United States and how vital it is for our two countries and many others around the world.
Three-quarters of a century later, that Special Relationship is enduring. It's effective. It's dynamic. And it is close to the hearts of the American people. The work we do together serves our people's interests across a vast array of issues, many of which Dominic touched on, including maintaining our national security, rejuvenating our economies on a sustainable and more equitable basis.
I think our bilateral relationship is also vital to the world. The work that we do together advances progress on the most urgent global issues, global issues that are having a real impact on the lives of our citizens, including stopping COVID-19, addressing the threat of climate change, defending democratic values and open societies. As Dominic said, we're going to address these topics over the next several days with our counterparts in the G7.
And Dominic, I want to thank you and the United Kingdom not just for hosting us, but for your leadership in building an incredibly robust agenda that, again, is centered on issues that have a real impact on the lives of our fellow citizens. We'll focus on ending the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide, and the United Kingdom shares our commitment to ensuring that the world is better prepared to prevent, detect, and respond to the next pandemic.
We also have to lead a global economic recovery that's sustainable and that matches growth with equity so that the people hardest hit by the economic impact of COVID are helped, and that aligns also with the urgent need to reduce emissions and build a green economy so we can rise to the challenge of climate change. To that end, here in London we'll discuss how the world's major economies need to raise ambitions on climate action, and I commend the United Kingdom for its new 2035 target, which sets an appropriately high bar.
We'll talk about threats to the international rules-based order and to democratic values and human rights. Together, our two countries recently took measures to prevent British and American businesses from inadvertently supporting forced labor in Xinjiang and elsewhere in China. We'll continue our robust cooperation to address the atrocities in Xinjiang, a crackdown on pro-democracy activists and politicians in Hong Kong â€“ which breaches China's international commitments â€“ and the repression of media freedom across China and in other parts of the world.
I also want to thank the United Kingdom for joining us in holding Russia to account for its reckless and aggressive actions. We have reaffirmed our unwavering support for the independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of Ukraine, which I'll be visiting later this week. Also welcome the foreign secretary's recent announcement on the extension of Global Magnitsky sanctions to combat Russian human rights abuses.
And as Dominic said, our two countries are fully committed to NATO and to maintaining transatlantic unity in defense of our common values and in response to direct threats.
One final issue I'll just mention is Northern Ireland. The United States remains a steadfast supporter of a secure and prosperous Northern Ireland in which all communities have a voice and can enjoy the gains of the hard-won peace. Like several U.S. presidents before him, President Biden has been unequivocal in his support for the Good Friday Agreement, which was a historic achievement and one that we should protect. There's much more that I could say about all the work that the United States and the United Kingdom do every single day in ways quiet and otherwise to serve the interests of our people and, I believe, the broader international community.
We're connected â€“ it's often said but always important to reaffirm â€“ we're connected by ties of friendship, family, history, shared values, and shared sacrifice. We've been reminded of that again in recent weeks as we prepare to draw down our forces from Afghanistan. We've stood shoulder to shoulder for nearly 20 years sharing a mission and having each other's backs. We'll never forget it. The United States has no closer ally, no closer partner than the United Kingdom, and I am very glad for the chance to say that again here today. Thank you.
FOREIGN SECRETARY RAAB: Tony, thanks very much. Okay, we'll take some questions from the media. And I think if the tech is working, we've got James Landale from the BBC up first. James, over to you.
QUESTION: Foreign Secretary, Secretary Blinken, good afternoon. Foreign Secretary, first of all, what is your assessment of reports out of Iran yesterday suggesting a deal has been agreed to secure the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and that the tank debt was being paid?
And secondly, Foreign Secretary, you are cutting British foreign aid to Yemen, to Syria, to the United Nations Children Fund, the UN Population Fund, the UN AIDS Fund, water, sanitation, hygiene, polio eradication, conflict resolution, humanitarian preparedness, and girls' education. How can Britain claim to show global leadership at the G7 when it is cutting so much foreign aid?
And Secretary Blinken, if I may, what is your assessment of reports of a prisoner swap deal between the U.S. and Iran? Secondly, how much damage do you think has been caused by Britain's decision to cut its foreign aid budget? And thirdly, do you think the G7 is fit for purpose? Thank you.
FOREIGN SECRETARY RAAB: James, thanks for that. Look, we â€“ on the detainees and the situation of Nazanin, obviously we're working very intensively to try and secure their release. We have been for many months. I would say that it's incumbent on Iran unconditionally to release those who are held arbitrarily and, in our view, unlawfully. And the reports I'm afraid are not yet accurate in terms of her â€“ the suggestion of her imminent release.
On aid, James, we â€“ even after the cuts that we've had to make not â€“ because of the pressing COVID situation, the biggest contraction of our economy for 300 years, double the budget deficit we faced after the financial crash, we're still putting 10 billion pounds in: as a proportion of GDP, still the third biggest G7 donor; doubling our international climate finance contribution; the biggest â€“ one of the biggest bilateral humanitarian donors; the biggest donor to Gavi.
So I appreciate it being a difficult decision, but I think actually if you look at all the areas and all the positives that we are still contributing to, actually I think it shows the scope for us to be an even greater force for good in the world. But what we need to do is work with our partners in order to magnify and amplify those efforts. And that's what the G7 is all about.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Great. Well, thank you very much. And to Dominic's point with regard to our detained citizens in Iran, first, this is something that we raise at every opportunity. I have no higher priority than bringing arbitrarily detained Americans â€“ American hostages â€“ home to the United States. And that's across the board. And as Dominic said, the reports coming out of Tehran are not accurate. We are very closely engaged ourselves on this issue and we'll remain so. And as I said, I am determined to bring every American home.
More broadly on this, we have to take a stand against the arbitrary detention of citizens for political purposes. I applaud the work that Canada has done in this area, and Dominic and I discussed this as well today. And I would hope that with time and effort countries could establish a norm that this practice is simply unacceptable, because it is. And I think we'll have conversations in the coming weeks and coming months about that. Countries that engage in these actions need to know that that cannot happen with impunity and it is truly unacceptable.
I have to tell you as well that from Washington's perspective, the UK is our most vital partner, including working around the world in helping other countries, helping people fulfill their potential, and deal with some of the challenges that have been brought on by many things but including by COVID-19 now as well as the climate crisis. And I think we share a commitment both in our own countries, but in the work that we're doing around the world, to, as both the President and Prime Minister have recently said, build back better.
And we see both necessity but also opportunity in the weeks and months ahead to do just that; to restore growth but to do it in a more equitable fashion; to focus on addressing through building back better the climate crisis that we have to address and finding opportunity in that with good new jobs based on green technology. And of course, we share a commitment to and conviction about the importance of doing development work in different ways and amplifying, as Dominic said, both our respective contributions as well as bringing others along.
And to your question, I think the G7 is very fit for purpose, and it's especially fit for purpose right now. We're seeing this in the leadership of the United Kingdom in producing this incredibly robust agenda and also bringing other critical countries into the mix so that we can, I hope, amplify the effect we're having, amplify the results.
FOREIGN SECRETARY RAAB: Thanks, James. Thanks very much. I think next on the list is Shaun Tandon from AFP. Shaun.
FOREIGN SECRETARY RAAB: Shaun, you're on mute. There we go.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Still not.
FOREIGN SECRETARY RAAB: Still on mute, Shaun.
QUESTION: Sorry. Can you hear me now?
FOREIGN SECRETARY RAAB: Loud and clear.
QUESTION: Great. My apologies. You touched on the Asia Pacific, being that this has been quite an emphasis this week. To Secretary Blinken, the policy review that's supposed to come out on North Korea, how hopeful are you â€”
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Shaun, I think we lost you again. Could you repeat the question?
QUESTION: I'm sorry about that. Can you hear me now?
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Yes. Go ahead, please.
QUESTION: I'm sorry about that. North Korea, the policy review that has â€“ that was recently completed by the White House, do you believe, Secretary Blinken, that there is some hope for a resumption of diplomacy with North Korea or to return to diplomacy despite the reaction that we have seen so far from North Korea?
Mr. Foreign Secretary, if you also have any thoughts on North Korea, and if both of you have thoughts on the situation in Myanmar/Burma. We've seen an upsurge â€“ an uptick in ethnic violence â€“ violence by ethnic fighters. There have been persistent killings of protestors. International resolve, if expressed here, will it have an effect? Thank you very much.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you very much. On North Korea, yes, you're exactly right. We completed the policy review, and we conducted this review very deliberately in two ways, first with the recognition that this is an incredibly hard problem. And to state the obvious, it is yet to be solved from administration to administration, Democrat and Republican, over the years. And so we wanted to take account that history, to look at what works, what doesn't work, and how we could have an effective policy to advance the goal that we have, which is the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
Second, we did it in a deliberate way because we wanted to make sure that we were very actively consulting with all of the concerned countries, starting with our close allies South Korea and Japan, given their own very strong equities in this issue. And so we did that. We took the time to do that.
And what we have now is a policy that calls for a calibrated, practical approach that is open to and will explore diplomacy with North Korea to try to make practical progress that increases the security of the United States, our allies, and our deployed forces. And as we're doing that, we will continue to be in very close coordination and consultation with allies and partners, starting with the Republic of Korea and Japan, as well as others along the way.
I hope that North Korea will take the opportunity to engage diplomatically and to see if there are ways to move forward toward the objective of complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. And so we'll look to see not only what North Korea says but what it actually does in the coming days and months. But we have, I think, a clear â€“ a very clear policy that centers on diplomacy, and it is, I think, up to North Korea to decide whether it wants to engage or not on that basis.
FOREIGN SECRETARY RAAB: Shaun, look, we share the strategic paradigm that Tony set out. We'll support and supplement those efforts as conducted by the U.S. and, of course, our friends and partners in the region.
On Myanmar, look, we want to see an end to the violence. We want to see the military regime return to democracy and the electoral mandate that the government should have representing the people of Myanmar. We've been clear not just in our targeted sanctions, our Magnitsky sanctions, but also wider measures we're taking to stop UK businesses doing business with conglomerates or businesses controlled by the Tatmadaw, that we're going to apply pressure that way.
Equally, we've been engaged with the partners of the region. I've been discussing that with ASEAN foreign ministers recently, and we've obviously got the opportunity with the G7 guests here from Korea, from India, from Australia, but also the foreign minister from Brunei, chair of the â€“ of ASEAN at the moment, to discuss how we shift the dial and get a change for the better in Myanmar. And so we'll keep up all of those efforts on the sanctions side, but also on the diplomacy front.
Tony, I don't know whether you wanted to add anything on Myanmar.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: No, I think that covered it very well, other than to add that the five-point plan or agreement that ASEAN reached I think is important, and we are looking to ASEAN to move forward with that plan, including designating an envoy for Myanmar and getting that person to Myanmar to be able to engage all of the parties. But it is vital, regardless of anything else, that the violence cease, that prisoners be released, and that Myanmar return to the path of democracy. And I subscribe to everything that Dominic said about some of the things that we're doing or looking at to encourage that.
FOREIGN SECRETARY RAAB: Shaun, thanks very much. Next up we've got Lucy Fisher from The Telegraph. Lucy.
QUESTION: Thank you. Two quick questions, if I may. Firstly, on Northern Ireland, Secretary of State Blinken, you said the U.S. supports the Good Friday Agreement, but I wanted to ask you and Foreign Secretary Raab how secure you each view the agreement as being and whether the Northern Ireland Protocol should be renegotiated to help maintain peace.
Secondly, on Afghanistan, are you not each concerned about an explosion of violence and outpouring of refugees following the U.S. exit of troops? And Secretary Blinken, isn't Washington in effect ignoring allies like Britain, where the head of the military has voiced misgivings over this troop drawdown?
FOREIGN SECRETARY RAAB: Let me just say on Northern Ireland, the Good Friday Agreement is absolutely crucial to peace. We also recognize and appreciate the U.S. contribution to it and the stake that America feels that they have in the Good Friday Agreement. And that ought to be at the center of what we do going forward. In terms of the Northern Ireland Protocol, Lucy, obviously there are bits of it that protect the EU equities on the single market, bits that protect the integrity of the single market of the United Kingdom. We've got to make sure in the joint committee we are pragmatic, we work through all of these proposals, we implement them in a balanced way, and that's the approach that we take going forward, including with our European partners and our friends in Dublin, and indeed, with our American partners.
On Afghanistan, just to be clear, from a UK perspective, we do not feel ignored by our U.S. partners. We've had very good consultation on this and we continued that. We discussed it today. We certainly see the priority as protecting our troops in the period between now and September, making sure that we preserve the ability to deal with counterterrorism, that the gains that were hard won in Afghanistan are not lost, and also ultimately promoting dialogue and a peace process that benefits all Afghans and leaves Afghanistan as stable as possible, as inclusive as possible.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: And Lucy, just to add, as I mentioned in the opening remarks, we very much welcome the provisions in both the trade deal between the United Kingdom and the European Union as well as the Northern Ireland Protocol that will help protect the gains of the Good Friday Agreement. As the United Kingdom and the European Union begin implementing the Brexit-related provisions, we will continue to encourage them to prioritize political and economic stability in Northern Ireland.
With regard to Afghanistan, as we work toward the decision that President Biden made, we spent a good deal of time very actively consulting with our NATO partners and NATO Allies. And as I noted, Dominic and I were in Brussels together on a couple of occasions, both in advance of that decision and as the decision was being announced. We were on the phone regularly as well talking about this. And NATO made a commitment, the NATO Allies made a commitment to each other and to our partners: in together, adapt together, out together. And that's exactly what we are doing, with an emphasis on the word "together." NATO issued a unanimous statement, both in support of President Biden's decision and taking note of the actions that allies and partners would take.
At the same time, as Dominic said, we are very focused on a deliberate, safe, and orderly drawdown of our forces. We've made absolutely clear that as we withdraw forces from Afghanistan, we will protect them, and if they are attacked, we will take decisive action in response.
But we've also been clear that even as our forces are drawing down and pulling out of Afghanistan, we are not withdrawing, we are not disengaging. We intend to be very active diplomatically in terms of trying to advance negotiations and a political settlement between the Government of Afghanistan, the Taliban, and other key parties. We intend to sustain our assistance to Afghanistan, including development, economic, humanitarian; our support for Afghanistan's security forces as well. And all of that we are doing in very close coordination and very close collaboration not only with the United Kingdom, but with dozens of other countries that share that same commitment.
FOREIGN SECRETARY RAAB: Lucy, thank you very much. And finally on the list, we've got Michael Crowley from The New York Times. Michael.
QUESTION: Thank you so much. Thank you both for doing this.
President Trump was very interested in seeing Russia rejoin the G7. That idea now seems clearly off the table. At the same time, President Biden and other â€“ President Biden and other G7 leaders have said there are many shared interests with Moscow, including climate and Iran. And Mr. Biden is planning to meet with President Putin soon. Is there any consideration for including Russia at these gatherings, even informally, at some point?
Meanwhile, China was also not invited even as other â€“ several other major non-G7 nations were. So more broadly, would it be right to see this gathering as an early incarnation of a broader democratic alliance which aims to counterbalance the autocracies of China and Russia?
FOREIGN SECRETARY RAAB: So from a UK perspective, look, the door for positive relations and diplomacy is always open to us, and I think that's something shared across many of the NATO countries, but what's got to change is Russia's behavior against â€“ as a P5 member of the Security Council â€“ against the basic norms of international law, whether it's the brinkmanship and the saber-rattling on the border with Ukraine, whether it's the cyber attacks and the misinformation, or indeed, the poisoning of Aleksey Navalny, which was not just a human rights abuse, but a chemical â€“ a use of chemical weapons on Russian soil. So the opportunity for a better relationship with Russia is there. We would welcome it. But it depends on behavior and deeds.
On the second question, I'm not sure I'm quite as theological as the â€“ Michael, as you were in the way you put it. But I do see the increasing demand and need for agile clusters of likeminded countries that share the same values and want to protect the multilateral system, and I think you can see that in the guests that we brought in to the G7 â€“ Korea, South Korea, India, Australia, and South Africa. And so in that organic sense, I think we can see a shift towards that pattern of clusters of likeminded countries agile enough to work together.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: And Michael, as with most things, Dominic and I are in violent agreement. Let me just add a couple of quick words about both Russia and China.
With regard to Russia, as Dominic said, we are focused very much on Russia's actions and what course it chooses to take. President Biden's been very clear for a long time, including before he was President, that if Russia chooses to act recklessly or aggressively, we'll respond. But we're not looking to escalate. We would prefer to have a more stable, more predictable relationship. And if Russia moves in that direction, so will we, and I think President Biden will have an opportunity when he meets with President Putin to talk about that directly. And indeed, there are areas where it is manifestly in the interests of both countries to try to find ways to work together, strategic stability probably being at the top of the list. And indeed already, despite the profound differences that we have, we managed to extend the New START agreement by five years. We'll look for other opportunities. But to Dominic's point, this is really a function of what Russia chooses to do or not to.
And with regard to China, let me add I fully subscribe to everything that Dominic said. Let me just add one other quick thought: It is not our purpose to try to contain China or to hold China down. What we are trying to do is to uphold the international rules-based order that our countries have invested so much in over so many decades to the benefit, I would argue, not just of our own citizens, but of people around the world â€“ including, by the way, China. And when any country, China or otherwise, takes actions that challenge or undermine or seek to erode that rules-based order and not make good on the commitments that they've made to that order, we will stand up and defend the order. I think we also have a responsibility to offer and develop a positive vision for the future that brings countries together in common purpose. And a lot of the work that we're doing, notably through the G7, is exactly that.
Ultimately, as President Biden said the other night when he was addressing Congress, I think the challenge for us is to demonstrate in very concrete ways that we can deliver for our citizens, for the people that we have been asked to represent. And when we're looking at most of the challenges that we face that actually have an impact on their lives, whether it's this pandemic, whether it is a change in climate, whether it's the disruptive impact of new technologies, not a single one of those challenges can be effectively met by any one country acting alone â€“ even the United States, even the United Kingdom.
There is, I think, a stronger imperative than at any time since I've been involved in these issues to find ways for countries to cooperate, to coordinate, to collaborate. That's the way we advance the interests of our citizens. And the work that Dominic, the United Kingdom are doing through their presidency of the G7, that's exactly what it's designed to do, and we're very grateful to be a partner in that enterprise.
FOREIGN SECRETARY RAAB: Michael, thank you very much. I think that brings the questions to a close. Folks, thanks for joining us, and that brings the press conference to a conclusion. Thank you all very much.
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