Joe Biden

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan

April 24, 2023

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

1:19 P.M. EDT

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Good afternoon, everybody.

Q: Good afternoon.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Happy Monday.

Q: Happy Monday.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I have two things before we get to our guest this morning -- or this afternoon.

Today, the President and the First Lady will honor the 2023 Teachers of the Year from state and territories across the United States for their excellence in teaching and commitment to students' learning.

This year's National Teacher of the Year is Mrs. Rebecka Peterson, a mathematics teacher from Tulsa, Oklahoma.

As a classroom teacher for more than 30 years, the First Lady is proud to continue this tradition of celebrating Teachers of the Year for their excellence in teaching and commitment to students' learning.

From -- from day one, the Biden-Harris administration has been committed to celebrating and elevating the teaching pro- -- the teaching profession and taking comprehensive actions to increase teacher pay, improve working conditions, and develop high-quality pathways into the teaching profession.

And given that commitment, it bears noting that, right now, Speaker McCarthy is demanding we slash education from -- funding by 22 percent. And if we don't, he's threatening he will throw the United States into default and tank the economy. That's the equivalent of cutting up to 60,000 teaching jobs, affecting 25 million children. And it would mean as many as 7.5 million children with disabilities could face reduced support.

So today, while celebrating our nation's educators, the President is going to talk about why slashing funding for education is the last thing our country needs and why this administration is focused on supporting our teachers and schools.

Also today, the President shared that Domestic Policy Advisor Ambassador Susan Rice will depart the White House late next month.

Susan has served at the highest levels of government for the last three Democratic administrations: eight years in the Clinton administration, eight years in the Obama administration, and since day one here with President Biden. It's truly very impressive.

She has served as National Security Advisor, U.N. Ambassador, and, for the last two years, brought steady and capable leadership to the Domestic Policy Council.

Thanks to her tireless efforts, we expanded and strengthened the Affordable Care Act, released a comprehensive national mental health strategy, and finally enabled Medicare to negotiate lower prescription drug prices for seniors and cap the cost of insulin at 35 bucks.

We've -- we've taken historic actions to reduce gun violence and advance police reform.

We are making college more affordable and accessible and fighting for student debt relief.

And we are increasing access to high-quality childcare and long-term care.

As the only person to serve as both National Security Advisor and Domestic Policy Advisor, Susan's record of public service makes history.

We are so grateful to Susan for her service over the last two-plus years and to -- and to throughout her career to our country.

On a personal note, I have known Susan for many, many years. She is a -- she has become a friend and a mentor to me. And we are -- I am very sad to see her go but also very thankful for her service to this country.

With that, our National Security Advisor is here today to -- to talk a little bit about the upcoming state visit with South Korea and also take any other questions you may have on Sudan and other foreign policy items.

Go ahead.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Karine. And good to be with you guys today.

And let me start by echoing what Karine just said: I'm also very sad to see Susan go, although we still have a few more weeks with her. And, you know, really grateful for having had the opportunity to serve with her in this administration, in this White House, as well as in the previous administration as well.

As Karine said, I'm going to make a few comments at the top. And I hope you'll bear with me because I want to be able to talk through both the situation in Sudan and the upcoming state visit by the President of the Republic of Korea, and then a brief comment on what we saw unfold up in New York today with Foreign Minister Lavrov's visit. And then I'll be happy to answer your questions.

As you all know, on Saturday, on the President's orders, the United States military conducted a successful operation to extract all U.S. government personnel from Khartoum.

We are proud of the extraordinary commitment of our embassy staff, who performed their duties with courage and professionalism. And we are grateful for the unmatched skill of our service members who successfully brought them to safety. We thank Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Saudi Arabia, each of which were critical to the success of our operation.

At the President's direction, we are actively facilitating the departure of American citizens who want to leave Sudan, as the State Department has been urging them to do for years.

We have deployed U.S. intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance assets to support land evacuation routes, which Americans are using. And we're moving naval assets within the region to provide support. American citizens have begun arriving in Port Sudan, and we are helping facilitate their onward travel.

We're also supporting the efforts of our partners and allies, including local partners, to evacuate or otherwise ensure the safety of their people. U.S. Africa Command has established a deconfliction cell for this purpose.

We've made clear to the highest levels of both the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces that they are responsible for ensuring the protection of civilians and noncombatants, including people from third countries and humanitarian staff who are still to this day working to save lives.

We continue to condemn in the strongest possible terms the violence between the SAF and the RSF, and we have now deployed a USAID Disaster Assistance Response Team -- a DART Team -- to the region to help coordinate our humanitarian response.

This tragic violence has already cost the lives of hundreds of innocent civilians. It is unconscionable. It must stop. The belligerent parties must implement an immediate and unconditional ceasefire, adhere to international law, allow unhindered humanitarian access, and respect the will of the people of Sudan to return to a path of civilian rule.

I want to stress that we have only temporarily suspended operations at the U.S. Embassy in Sudan. We fully intend to resume those operations as soon as it is safe to do so. We remain deeply committed to the Sudanese people and to their future.

Also, as you know, President Biden will welcome President Yoon to -- for the White House's second official state visit this week, marking the first state visit by an Indo-Pacific leader during the Biden-Harris administration.

This visit also marks 70 years of the U.S.-ROK alliance. We're celebrating the last seven decades of this alliance, and we're looking forward to the next seven decades.

Under the Biden-Harris administration, the U.S.-ROK alliance has grown far beyond the Korean Peninsula and is now a force for good in the Indo-Pacific and around the world. The two leaders themselves have developed a rapport over the course of the -- less than one year since President Yoon took office in Korea. And they've had a total of four engagements already just in that short time.

Our economic and people-to-people ties will be front and center on this visit. During the Biden administration alone, just in the last two-plus years, the Republic of Korea has invested over $100 billion in the United States. That is translating to jobs across this country. This includes the Samsung semiconductor fab in Texas, Hyundai's work to build an EV factory, significant new investments by SK in battery plants, among others.

The summit will also celebrate what we've been able to do under President Yoon's leadership since he took over.

From unveiling its first-ever Indo-Pacific strategy to being the first president of the ROK to ever attend a NATO summit to co-hosting the second summit for democracy, the ROK is stepping up around the world.

President Yoon has also shown determination and courage in his moves to improve ties between the ROK and Japan, an issue that has long been of deep interest to President Biden.

Together, President Yoon and Prime Minister Kishida are strengthening the ROK-Japan relationship in ways that leave us all stronger and have helped contribute to a stronger trilateral relationship among the United States, the ROK, and Japan.

This visit, of course, also comes at a critical moment as North Korea continues to develop its nuclear and missile capabilities. The two leaders will have a chance to consult closely on that.

President Biden will reinforce and enhance our extended deterrence commitments to South Korea with respect to the threat the DPRK poses.

The alliance remains committed to pursuing dialogue with the DPRK to achieve a peaceful, diplomatic resolution to longstanding differences and to achieve the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

We are ready to meet at any time, at any place to address serious concerns, and we are open to the possibility of humanitarian assistance with appropriate safeguards to help the people of the DPRK.

While we've long been focused on the Korean Peninsula though, this alliance is doing far more than ever around the region and around the world.

The ROK, for example, has stood fast in support of Ukraine since Russia's brutal invasion over a year ago. The ROK has committed to provide over $230 million in humanitarian assistance since Russia's invasion, which includes non-lethal military aid, medical supplies, and generators. And the ROK has also joined the international community by implementing sanctions and export controls on Russia.

On Wednesday, President Biden and President Yoon will announce major deliverables on extended deterrence, on cyber cooperation, on climate mitigation, on foreign assistance, on investment, and on strengthening our people-to-people ties.

And we'll have more to share on the specific deliverables tomorrow and going into Wednesday.

Lastly, I just want to take a moment to recognize and lift up the words of Elizabeth Whelan at the U.N. Security Council today.

As you all know, Elizabeth is the -- is the sister of Paul Whelan, who has been wrongfully detained in Russia for far too long now, despite our quite extraordinary efforts to bring him home, which the Russian government has repeatedly spurned.

I've met Elizabeth, and I've felt firsthand what the U.N. Security Council saw up close today. She is an incredible voice for all of us who are outraged by the practice of wrongful detention.

We'll keep working until we've brought Paul home, and we will keep working until we've brought Evan home and all Americans globally who are wrongfully detained or being held hostage.

Thank you again for your patience and hearing me out. And I'd be happy to take your questions.


Q: Thanks, Jake. Starting on the -- facilitating the departure of Americans from Sudan. What -- is that American boots on the ground? What are -- what -- how many of the estimated Americans who are there do you intend to get out or can you plausibly get out of the country?

MR. SULLIVAN: Well, first, we have not put American boots on the ground in Sudan, other than for the brief period that we brought the military in to evacuate our personnel. We have placed ISR assets -- intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance assets -- over the land evacuation route to help facilitate safe travel by land from Khartoum to the Port of Sudan. And we have started to see a more regular pattern of convoys begin to arrive, including convoys that have Americans in them.

Once at the Port then, we are using diplomatic facilities in neighboring countries to help those Americans with their onward travel so that they can get safely out of the country.

We anticipate that this route will continue to be available for Americans who are looking to leave. And convoys continue to get organized, depart Khartoum, and arrive at the Port of Sudan.

As I mentioned, we have also begun to move naval assets for any potential contingencies off the coast of the Port of Sudan.

Those are the major ways in which right now we are providing the kind of support and facilitation to help Americans who want to leave be able to leave, and Americans are in the process of availing -- availing themselves of that. And as I said before, we have seen Americans begin to show up in the Port of Suda- -- in the Port of Sudan.


Q: Thanks, Jake. Just following up on that. And maybe this is what some of the naval assets are for in terms of contingency planning. Are there U.S. emergency assets outside of or beyond the intelligence capability and assets that can be called on should one of the convoys that has U.S. citizens inside of it come under attack?

MR. SULLIVAN: So I don't want to speculate about a particular contingency, but I will say this: The President, immediately after the outbreak of violence several days ago, did order the deployment of capabilities to the region to be able to deal with any number of contingencies.

Some of those capabilities were used to be able to get the personnel from our embassy, and the military has walked through the specifics of that. Capabilities in countries near Sudan remain available at the President's disposal should they become necessary.

We don't at the moment have any plans to put those to use, but we are prepared for a range of contingencies. And the naval assets will add to that. But that is not the sum total of what we have available in the region should it be necessary.


Q: Jake, thank you, after I know what was a busy weekend for you. You say the U.S. has temporarily pulled out of Sudan and will return when it's safe to do so. Who is responsible for the safety or the security the U.S. embassy right now? I'm curious if you'd respond to the charges over the weekend that, in essence, the Biden administration now has lost two U.S. embassies during the President's term.

And I've got another on Lavrov, if you don't mind. Go ahead.

MR. SULLIVAN: Well, so, first, what I would say about the -- the question of security at the embassy compound outside Khartoum is that I don't want to get into specifics on how it is that we are taking steps to ensure its continued security, only to say that we had a contingency plan in place. We are now executing that contingency plan. That can't guarantee, obviously, the security of the embassy, but we believe that we have put steps in place to be able to protect that compound in the days and weeks ahead and that we do intend to resume operations as soon as we are capable of doing so.

I'm not sure what you mean by a charge about quote, unquote, "losing embassies." The broader diplomatic community, including the entire United Nations community in Khartoum, has closed down in Sudan. Diplomatic personnel from allies and partners around the world are being evacuated. And of course, the United States has evacuated its personnel.

This happens from time to time. And if you look back over the course of months and years, you see military-assisted departures from embassies. You see, in some cases, noncombatant evacuation operations. That's in the nature of having 270 total diplomatic posts around the world.

There will be times when the conditions are not conducive to sustaining operations in all 270 at the same time. But our goal, as I said before, is to be able to resume operations in Khartoum as soon as we are capable of doing so.

Q: The Russian Foreign Minister, when he came to New York, is apparently upset that visas were not issued to Russian journalists to accompany him. Was that done in response to the detention of Evan Gershkovich?

MR. SULLIVAN: I -- as you know, when it comes to visa matters, that is a matter for the State Department, who is statutorily charged with the responsibility of taking visa applications and responding to them. So it wouldn't be appropriate for me to comment on that. I'd refer you over to the State Department.


Q: Thanks, Jake. Just -- as you're talking about contingencies for Sudan, will the U.S. at any point be willing to send peacekeeping troops to the country?

MR. SULLIVAN: I don't have any plans or announcements to make about the United States deploying peacekeepers to Sudan, to putting American boots on the ground to try to keep the peace in Sudan. That is not presently in contemplation. I don't expect it will be.


Q: Is there -- sorry, quick follow-up there. Can you lay out any of the contingencies beyond the deployment of naval assets? Just anything you can talk about?

MR. SULLIVAN: What do you mean by --

Q: Sorry, can you -- can you talk about any of the contingencies that you just were referring to?

MR. SULLIVAN: So, look, I'm not going to speculate about things that had- -- haven't happened. All I'm saying is that when it comes to being able to respond in extremis should we feel we need to do so to protect the security of our people who may be coming under threat, the United States has the kinds of assets and capabilities necessary to be able to do that.

But from our perspective right now, we believe that the current course that we are on, which is to continue to try to facilitate and support this land evacuation route, is the best way for us to proceed. Again, that involves a set of ISR assets. It does not currently involve U.S. forces on the ground.


Q: Jake, you just mentioned that you are seeing more Americans arriving at the Port of Sudan, but it seems that last night and over the weekend the State Department was warning Americans to be cautious of private convoys because they were too dangerous headed in that direction. So, did something shift there because of the assets that have been put in place? And is the message now it would be safe to travel to the port?

MR. SULLIVAN: So, we were very clear-eyed about this. There are risks with any potential option. There were risks when we flew helicopters in to get our people out.

So, we're not saying anything is an ironclad safe option, and it would be wrong of us to tell Americans, "Oh, you've got nothing at all to be concerned about." There's obviously fighting happening in this country. And whether it's trying to leave by air or by ground or shelter in place, all of them bring risks with them.

So, we are communicating risks quite clearly and quite directly to people, as we have communicated risks over more than a decade to tell Americans not to travel to Sudan in the first place and to leave Sudan if they were there.

But what we are also saying is that, for those Americans who are interested in joining a convoy, we have been providing information about how they can do that. And then, as I mentioned before, we are now providing some degree of overwatch to try and ensure that these convoys can arrive safely. We have seen a number of them now arrive safely; we have seen Americans among those convoys.

And so, we are going to be very clear with Americans both about the risks and about the available options to them. And we will continue to stay in close communication with those Americans who we have contact information from. And the State Department is doing that on a day-to-day basis -- in some cases, on an hour-to-hour basis. We remain available to any American in Sudan who is looking for support and guidance from the U.S.

Q: And --


Q: -- can you provide any update just on even the hope or possibility of a ceasefire, where negotiations stand? I know the U.S. is still in touch with generals on both of the warring sides. Is there any role the White House and the President has played in those talks, anything you can share on that front?

MR. SULLIVAN: So, we have had, from the White House, a number of conversations with key people in Sudan as well as from the State Department and from our ambassador on the ground, who was in daily contact until he was pulled out but will remain working the phones from his position now outside of the country.

I don't want to speculate about what will or won't happen, because it's a very dynamic situation. But we have not given up on the notion that there could be a ceasefire that comes into effect and is durable.

There was a ceasefire in place during a portion of the Eid holiday. There is, as we speak now, efforts by both sides to have a diminution in violence. There is a goal to continue extending that beyond the end of the Eid period. And we will keep working with close partners in pushing the two sides to try to deepen and extend the diminution in violence that we have seen and to try to get a permanent and durable ceasefire in place.

I can't give you a prediction as to whether that is likely to be successful or unsuccessful. We see the risk of protracted conflict here. But we also see a possibility, one that we are going to exercise every tool we have available to us that we could get to a ceasefire, and we want to drive to that if at all possible.


Q: Jake, what more can you tell us about the contours of the nuclear deterrence package that you're going to announce this week? Is it -- should we view in the context of the desire on the part of the majority of people in South Korea that they should have their own nuclear deterrence?

MR. SULLIVAN: We will have the presidents -- the two presidents -- actually release a statement that deals with the question of extended deterrence, particularly in the context of the threat and the evolving threat posed by the DPRK.

I'm going to wait until we roll out that statement. I won't preview it in great detail from this podium.

But what I will say is that we believe that that statement will send a very clear and demonstrable signal of the United States' credibility when it comes to its extended deterrence commitments to the Republic of Korea and to the people of Korea. And we also believe that the ROK has been a good steward of its non-proliferation obligations under the NPT and will continue to do so.


Q: Thanks, Jake. One of the early, kind of, themes of the -- messages of the administration was foreign policy for the middle class. I was just -- wanted to ask: Is that still a driving theme? And is it now harder to achieve, considering these increasing challenges around the world -- what's going on now in Sudan -- (clears throat) -- pardon me -- as well as Ukraine?

MR. SULLIVAN: So, you know, I've heard some voices saying, for example, we shouldn't support Ukraine because we have to be focused at home. And my answer to that is the same answer that Democratic and Republican Presidents have given over the course of decades, which is: We're the United States of America. We can and must do both.

We can look after our people at home and make far-reaching investments in the middle class here for good-paying jobs for years and decades to come while also standing up for the values that we hold dear around the world, including the value of freedom and freedom for the people of Ukraine.

We are capable of doing both. And that's not an abstract proposition. That is the last year, since the war broke out.

In that time, we have not only mobilized an international coalition to resist Russian aggression and to protect Ukraine as a sovereign and independent country, we have also made historic investments in clean energy, in infrastructure, in technology, in the United States -- investing in this country in ways that are going to make the middle class stronger, more vibrant, and bigger than it was when President Biden took office.

So, from my perspective, the United States has significant obligations around the world, obligations that relate directly to our national security and to the wellbeing of working people here in this country. We will discharge those obligations. We will do that while at the same time putting in place the most significant set of investments in more than a generation in working people, middle-class people in the United States.

And so, I think the results speak for themselves.

Q: Another on Ukraine --

MR. SULLIVAN: And the answer is yes, we still are committed to a foreign policy for the middle class.


Q: Thanks, Jake. You said from podium that the U.S. government has been telling Americans not to go to Sudan for more than a decade, it's not sa- -- and if they're there, to leave.

Obviously, that message has had limited impact, because there are thousands of Americans who were living in Sudan when this fighting broke out. Is there more that needs to be done for Americans in countries where you think they should not be to drive home that message in a more direct way so that they're not in harm's way when danger erupts?

MR. SULLIVAN: Look, Americans are free people. We cannot dictate where they travel, tell them they must go or not go to a particular place. We can only give them the best, clearest, most sustained, most consistent advice. And we have been as clear, as consistent, and as sustained as we possibly can over the course not just of this administration but previous administrations to tell people about the dangers of living in Sudan.

I would also point out that the American people do need to understand -- as I've stood at this podium and said in other contexts, like in Ukraine: It is not standard practice for the United States to send in the U.S. military into warzones to extract all American citizens. We didn't do it in Libya. We didn't do it in Syria. We didn't do it in Yemen. And, no, we didn't do it in Ukraine.

Afghanistan was a unique case involving the end of a 20-year war that the United States was centrally involved in.

But Americans should understand that we will do -- go to great lengths to support and facilitate their departure from difficult circumstances, that we will try to protect them from harm as best as we possibly can, but that there should not be a broad expectation of a massive military operation to seize an airport or otherwise evacuate people from a country.

And that has been the pattern over the course of many years. It is the exception, not the rule, for us to do something like that.

Q: So when it comes to those great lengths you just mentioned, Kirby this morning said that right now, you noted, it's not very safe to try and run some larger evacuation. But should we take that to mean that there is a willingness to conduct a larger-scale evacuation if and when conditions improve, or no?

MR. SULLIVAN: Well, there's certainly a willingness to take steps to help Americans be able to get out of the country. And if those steps, in a risk analysis, included, you know, potentially facilitating civilian flights or anything else along those lines, the President has asked for every conceivable option to be able to help Americans. We would like to help as many Americans go as possible.

But we want to be able to do so in a way that is fundamentally reducing overall risk, not increasing overall risk. That's the calculus that we're making on a day-to-day basis.

And right now, we believe that the best way for us to help facilitate people's departure is, in fact, to support this land evacuation route, as well as work with allies and partners who are -- who are working on their own evacuation plans as well.

Q: And could you just -- could you just take us a little bit behind the scenes of the President's decision to evacuate the embassy on Friday night? What -- you know, what was it that tipped the scale for him to realize, you know, "This is go time"?

MR. SULLIVAN: I think it was a combination of three things.

One, the opportunity presented itself because it became clear to us that this was a viable operation; that we could run it, we could do it. And so he thought, "Okay, you've given me a successful -- an option that will be successful."

Second, it became clear also that there was a decent likelihood that we would see some form of protracted conflict, even if punctuated by moments of ceasefire. And so, we couldn't just wait for the end of this all.

And then third and finally, there were considerations -- which I won't go into great detail here -- involving how long you can sustain a platform with the full complement of U.S. personnel living at an embassy indefinitely while fighting is raging and supplies are difficult to obtain.

So, you put all of those things together. The President felt this was the right moment, it was the right opportunity. He directed his military to seize that opportunity, and they successfully carried out the mission.


Q: On Ukraine. Thank you -- thank you, Jake. On Ukraine, I wanted to give you the opportunity to respond to a former White House stenographer who this month outed you as a anonymous senior administration official who briefed reporters on Air Force Two en route to Ukraine in 2014.

He says that you spoke about giving aid to the Ukrainian national gas industry just days after the first -- or the second son had secretly joined the board of a Ukrainian gas company.

He says he considers you part of a corrupt influence-peddl- -- -peddling conspiracy. He wants to testify to a Delaware grand jury about it.

Do you have a response to that? And were you part of a corrupt influence-peddling operation involving Biden family in Ukraine or any other country?



Q: Thank you so much, Jake. Two questions. One about the conversation you had with your counterpart from Brazil about the comments -- Lula comments on the war in Ukraine. Do you believe that conversation put the episode behind and smoothed the situation?

And today, Brazil condemned the violation of Ukraine's territorial integrity at the U.N. Security Council. So, right now, do you have confidence you can count on Brazil on the matter?

And then I have another question about the delegation with Colombia.

MR. SULLIVAN: I had a good conversation with my Brazilian counterpart, Ambassador Amorim. We covered a wide range of issues, including Ukraine and including some of the public comments that we had seen. It was constructive. It was detailed.

We agreed we were going to follow up and have a further, longer strategic conversation about the full range of issues that the U.S. and Brazil both face around the world. And I'll leave it at that for now.

But I do have confidence in the fundamental underlying strength of the U.S.-Brazil relationship. It is a relationship of two great democracies, two peoples who are dynamic and innovative. And there's a lot of good work we can do together, including, for example, in protecting the Amazon. And President Biden just made a significant announcement of U.S. support for a Brazilian initiative to be able to protect the Amazon.

That's the kind of thing that we should build on even as we take on these difficult geopolitical challenges together.


Q: (Inaudible) Colombia one? The delegation with Colombia.

Q: Quick ques- -- sorry, was that -- we're both on the same line.

MR. SULLIVAN: Yeah, go for it and then --

Q: Thank you.

Q: Okay. Okay. I'll get it. Thanks. I'll go first? Okay, thank you.

Going to the state visit, is -- is the question of South Korea contributing to Ukrainian ammunition supplies going to be part of the -- something they'll discuss, whether that's via the U.S. or directly to Ukraine? Thank you.

MR. SULLIVAN: Well, I will disappoint you by saying that I'm not going to get into the private conversations that they will have about Ukraine. Obviously, Ukraine is going to be an important topic of conversation.

The President will thank President Yoon for the $230 million in non-lethal assistance they have given, the support on sanctions and export controls. And then they will have a chance to talk about the military situation on the ground there.

But I'm not going to go further and get ahead of the President in terms of that conversation that will take place when President Yoon and he meet here at the White House on Wednesday.

Yeah, I'll take the -- and then I'll call it a day. So --

Q: Thank you. Thank you, Jake. I appreciate the coverage into -- on the 70th anniversary of U- -- the U.S. and South Korea alliance. And the South Korean people are excited about what gift President Yoon will bring from this summit. So what, you know, would be the surprising agreement between President Yoon and President Biden? What kind of --

MR. SULLIVAN: Well, if I told you about the surprising agreement, then it wouldn't be a surprise anymore. (Laughter.)

So, no, I don't -- look, actually, I don't -- we're not going to spring something on the world or on the American people or on the Korean people.

I think the Korean and the American people are expecting to see a summit in which there are tangible deliverables in the security space -- and we will have deliverables related to extended deterrence; in the economic space; and there will be announcements of significant investments in the people-to-people space, and you will see announcements in that regard as well.

And then they expect the two presidents to cover issues related to the big topics of the day, from the war in Ukraine to the climate crisis.

And so, I think this summit is going to meet the very high expectations that both publics have from it. And they're right to have high expectations because we are reaching a new level in strength of the U.S.-ROK Alliance. I think that will be on full display when President Yoon is here on Wednesday.

And we are very much looking forward to laying out the full suite of achievements and outcomes from this summit on Wednesday. And I will not further steal the thunder from the President, either this President or the ROK President, before doing that on Wednesday.

Q: One more -- one more thing on Russia. Russia mentioned the possibility of sending more than 10,000 North Korean troops to the Donbas. How can you say about this?

North Korea's troops -- special forces -- to Donbas in Ukraine. So how are you going to say about this?

MR. SULLIVAN: I mean, our position is that there should not be Russian forces on sovereign Ukrainian territory. And there shouldn't be forces of any other hostile country on sovereign Ukrainian territory either.

And that position is clear and unequivocal -- shared between the U.S., the ROK, and every country that has voted to condemn this brutal illegal war of aggression being perpetrated by Russia against Ukraine.

Thank you, guys.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I think the pool has to gather?

MS. DALTON: It's everybody. It's open --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Oh, every- --

MS. DALTON: It's open press.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Oh, it's open press.


MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay. All right. Well, I guess you guys can go gather, if you choose to do.

Q: Karine, can we just ask you real quick -- the President has been under some calls to now sit down with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy now that he has released his -- the outlines of his plan on the debt limit. Why is -- is now the time for the President to actually speak to the Speaker and begin substantive negotiations?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So here's the thing, Zeke -- (laughs) -- I tried to --

Look, we've been very clear. We're not going to negotiate over -- over avoiding default. We've been very clear about that.

We -- the ad- -- the administration is going to have a conversation with leaders over the budget, over the spending cuts. We've been very clear about that. And we've been -- we've said that from the beginning -- from the beginning of this process that, look, we'll have that conversation.

But when it comes to default, when it comes to their constitutional duty, that is something that they can do today. They can actually deal with something that would be devastating if they didn't take action, right?

Now, when it comes to what we have seen them put forward -- 22 percent cut on education, on veterans, on Meals on Wheels, on food safety, on law enforcement -- all of those things are devastating to workers, seniors, to our children, to working families. And clearly, they showed us what their value were.

But what they have done is they have put those two things together -- the de- -- the debt ceiling and spending cuts. And we have always been very clear, Zeke -- we have been very, very clear -- we are not going to negotiate when it comes to the full faith and credit of this nation. And they are holding that hostage currently. They're holding the economy hostage.

And so, look, they have to -- they have to -- we're not negotiating over -- over that. And they have to avoid default.

Q: So what do they need to do -- what does the Speaker need to do?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: It's very clear. They -- it's very clear. They need to -- they need to make sure that we're not put in a situation where our economy could put -- be put at risk. And, again, been very clear about that.

I'm going to -- I know we have to -- I think we have to --

MS. DALTON: Anyone who wants to cover has to leave now.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, you have to leave now if you want to cover -- if you want to cover. And I'll go for another -- I think once he starts speaking, we have to end. So I'll go for a couple more minutes.

Go ahead.

Q: Thank -- thank you, Karine. Just, we saw the mifepristone decision. And so, I wanted to -- we saw the statement from the President, of course, over the weekend as well. Just going forward as that case makes its way through the courts, what more can we expect to see from the White House and from the President and, of course, the VP?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look -- so the one thing that really want to make sure that we are -- that the American people understand that mifepristone is very much -- remains available while we continue the fight in courts. And that's what we are committed to do.

We've said this over and over again. This administration -- the Biden-Harris administration is going to continue to fight for women's rights.

We're going to continue to fight for the FDA to have the right to -- to make these medical decisions, to make these evidence-based decisions.

And so, that's what we saw. That's what the judgment really putting -- putting -- preventing the lower court decision from going into effect, which is incredibly important. But we are going to continue to fight, and we're going to continue to call on Congress to codify Roe. And that is something that you heard -- that you saw in the President's statement that you -- something that you've heard from the President, many times.

Again, the fight continues. We're going to continue to fight for millions of women who are across the country. And that will not stop.

Q: So just a specific question on that. A lot of retail pharmacies, the pharmacy chains around the country, are going through this certification process to keep the pill available or even, in some situations, make the pill available for the first time. Can you give us an update on where things stand? Is the White House working with HHS? Because that regulatory change was proposed in January. Is there -- is there any update on that? Because that's likely to obviously --

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don't -- I don't have an update. That is something that HHS can speak to much more directly. What I can say from here is that we believe that we will prevail in the courts. We believe that the law is on our side. And we're going to continue to fight for millions of women across the country.

Go ahead, Joey.

Q: Yeah, thanks, Karine. I want to follow up on what Zeke asked here. Senator Klobuchar on CNN yesterday said that President Biden should sit down and negotiate with the Speaker on the budget, but also made clear that the spending cuts, you know, should not be tied to the debt ceiling. And so, would President Biden sit down with McCarthy to debate, to negotiate their -- their different budget proposals? Or where do -- what is the position on meeting with him?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, we -- I want to be very clear here. The House Republicans' position is: Unless the President and the Senate agree to their entire agenda, that they're going to default and crash the economy. And -- and that is dangerous. That is something that we're going to continue to call out. And it is unreasonable to do.

We have been very clear: There will not be any negotiation around de- -- around the debt ceiling. Right?

This is something that is their constitutional duty to do. They've done it three times. You've heard me say it over and over again. They did it three times in the last administration, and they should do it now.

And, look, you know, every -- every Republican that votes for this bill that Speaker McCarthy and MAGA Republicans have put forth, they're voting for cutting -- cutting costs on veterans. They're voting for cutting costs on education. I just laid out at the top of the briefing what that would mean: 60,000 -- I mentioned 60,000 teachers. I mentioned how many -- how many kids it would affect.

And so, that's what they would be voting for: against those things that American families need. And we're talking about programs that they need to meet ends meet.

And so, we've been very, very clear: It is unreasonable to put forth what they did last week. It is cruel. That piece of legislation is cruel.

And so, they need to really make sure that they -- that we don't go into default. And that's what they're asking to do. They're asking to hold our -- hold our economy hostage and go into default. And that's something that we're going to continue to call out.

Q: Now, last week you didn't seem to rule out the possibility, though, of President Biden sitting down with McCarthy at some point. Is that something you're open to?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, again, House Republicans must avo- -- avoid default. Been very clear. And that is within their power to do at any moment. That is within their power to do at any moment. And so, that's what we're expecting them to see.

I think I have to wrap it up super quick, guys. Go ahead.

Q: In the -- so, in the Ralph Yarl shooting, again, city local leaders are calling on the DOJ to step in and pursue hate crime charges. Is that something that the White House would support?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I'm -- I'm not going to get ahead of DOJ. That's something that they need to decide.

We've been very clear about Ralph Yarl. As you know, the President spoke to him and his family last week to wish him a speedy recovery. And we've been very clear on what -- how we see moving forward when it comes to gun violence and Congress to do more, Republicans in Congress to do more.

Q: Governor Parson said Biden was --


MS. DALTON: (Inaudible). Sorry.

Q: -- the President was politicizing the situation. Do you believe that the President was politicizing the situation?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I don't -- I didn't -- I'm sorry. I didn't hear the first part.

Q: The governor of Missouri said the President was politicizing the situation (inaudible).

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: What the President is doing is trying to protect families and communities across the country. That's the action that this President has taken the last two years, doing more -- almost two dozen actions and executive orders to make sure that we are stopping or trying -- taking steps to stop an epidemic that we're seeing with gun violence. And that's what he should do as President.

Now we ask the House Republicans -- House Republicans to do the same, to have some courage so we can protect our families and protect our kids.

Thanks, everybody. I'll see you tomorrow.

2:01 P.M. EDT

Joseph R. Biden, Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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