Press Gaggle by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan
Aboard Air Force One
En Route Tokyo, Japan
4:33 P.M. JST
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Hi, everybody. Okay, I just have a quick topper, and then we'll have Jake Sullivan for you guys.
Okay, just wanted to give a quick update on our administration's work to speed up the import of infant formula and get more formula to stores.
Under Operation Fly Formula, the Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services are authorized to use Department of Defense contracted commercial aircraft to pick up overseas infant formula that meets U.S. health and safety standards so it can get to stores -- store shelves faster.
On Sunday morning -- or later today -- a military plane will arrive in Indiana with 78,000 pounds of specialty infant formula, enough for over half a million bottles. This formula was manufactured in an FDA-approved facility and will be inspected on arrival like all food imports.
We prioritize this for the first shipment because this formula types -- type serves a critical medical purpose and is in short supply in the United States as the result of the Abbott Sturgis plant closure.
We are working with USDA and HHS to ensure this formula goes to those who need it the most. Due to the urgency of the situation, the Secretary of Defense approved U.S. military aircraft for this mission on Friday evening.
Typically, the process to transport this product from Europe to U.S. would take two weeks. Thanks to Operation Fly Formula, we cut that down to approximately three days.
This is a testament of the President's commitment to pulling every lever to get more infant formula onto the market. And Operation Fly Formula is one tool that we are using to do so.
Okay, I have Jake Sullivan, as you all can see -- National Security Advisor.
Q: Jake, can we have you step in just a little bit? Thanks.
MR. SULLIVAN: Hey, guys, just very briefly, you all know we're on our way to Tokyo. And the President will spend tomorrow with Prime Minister Kishida and will also join a number of other leaders, some in person but largely virtually, to launch the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework.
And then, of course, on Tuesday, he'll join the Quad leaders for the second Quad Summit and also have the opportunity to meet with Prime Minister Modi and to meet with a Prime Minister who will then -- right now, Prime Minister-Designate; as of tomorrow, actual Prime Minister Albanese, who is flying up tomorrow to be able to join in person for the Quad on Tuesday, which we think is a real testament to Australia's investment in the Quad as a critical vehicle for the Indo-Pacific and this new Prime Minister's investment in hitting the ground running as a leader in the region and a close ally of the United States.
So, I'm happy to get into details on any and all things, but why don't I just stop there and let you guys fire away.
Q: Are those meetings with Modi and Albanese one on one?
MR. SULLIVAN: What do you mean by "one on one"?
Q: Is he meeting with them separately?
MR. SULLIVAN: Yes.
MR. SULLIVAN: I mean, there'll be other people in the room --
Q: I'm talking about like -- other than the Quad is what I meant.
MR. SULLIVAN: Will have disti- -- in addition to the Quad, he'll have a distinct bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Modi and a distinct bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Albanese.
Q: A question about the Quad meeting. On Taiwan: To what extent do you think that you guys will be talking with the Quad and other allies in Asia about a concrete action plan on how to respond if China were to invade Taiwan? And do you think that that action plan could include both military response and an economic response? So can you share a little bit about how much he'll talk about that with the --
MR. SULLIVAN: It won't be part of the formal agenda of the Quad. But, of course, significant security issues in the Indo-Pacific will come up, and all of the Quad members share an interest in peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.
More broadly, the Biden administration is invested in working with allies and partners to send a clear message of deterrence and to support the basic policy of the Biden administration, which is a One China policy, the Three Joint Communiqués, and the Taiwan Relations Act, that we do not want to see unilateral changes to the status quo and we certainly don't want to see military aggression.
And we do want that message coming not just from us, but from a range of allies and partners, both in the region and beyond. And we're working with allies and partners accordingly.
Q: Jake, just to follow up on Taiwan, two questions. One, do you think it will appear in the Quad statement? And two, why is it not in the IPEF, given how important it is to global supply chains?
MR. SULLIVAN: I'm not going to get ahead of the Quad statement. So, when we do the backgrounder tomorrow laying down the main components of Quad outcomes, you can pose that question at that point.
And then, in terms of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, I don't think we have yet actually announced who is in and who is not in. That will be unveiled hopefully in a very dramatic fashion. No, I'm just kidding. That will be unveiled tomorrow.
Q: Is the list finalized?
MR. SULLIVAN: The list is finalized.
Q: Is Taiwan invited?
MR. SULLIVAN: Taiwan won't be part of the launch --
Q: You said will or will not?
MR. SULLIVAN: It will not be part of the launch of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework.
Ambassador Tai met with her counterpart from Taiwan just a couple of days ago. You can find a readout of that conversation.
But we are looking to deepen our economic partnership with Taiwan, including on high-technology issues, including on semiconductors and supply chains.
But we're pursuing that, in the first instance, on a bilateral basis while we work with a range of other countries through the framework.
Q: And just one more follow-up on IPEF: China was out with some statements of Liu, the gentleman who is -- deals with their policy on the Korean Peninsula. Said it's basically closed -- a closed club; there's no reason to be doing that; things should be open and allow everybody in the Asia Pacific, including China, to join. What would you say in response to that?
MR. SULLIVAN: It's not a surprise to me that China has concerns about the number of countries, the diversity of countries who have expressed interest in and enthusiasm for IPEF.
And so, you know, it's natural that they're going to try to find ways to raise questions. In this particular case, it's just flatly untrue to call IPEF closed. It is by design and definition an open platform. And we do expect, in addition to the countries that join for the launch tomorrow, others will come along in the months and years ahead.
That being said, the breadth of participation tomorrow was such that it will very much show that it's anything but a closed club. It is a -- it is a very wide-ranging membership.
Q: Will South Korea be one of those countries?
MR. SULLIVAN: Well, now you're putting me in a funny spot, because I directly answered on Taiwan. If we start going down country by country, then I'll be announcing the membership of the Quad just stan- -- I mean, of the -- of IPEF standing here right now.
So, I'm going to leave the announcement of the participation to whatever Karine and the press team want to -- want to do with that.
But anyway -- yeah, so I'll leave it there.
Q: Is IPEF strictly just mostly economic policies at this point?
MR. SULLIVAN: Yes.
Q: Or does it also include addressing maritime security, when you talk about countering China's --
MR. SULLIVAN: No, it's not -- it's not a security arrangement. It is an economic arrangement focused around the further integration of Indo-Pacific economies, setting of standards and rules, particularly in new areas like the digital economy, and also trying to ensure that there are secure and resilient supply chains.
In that sense, maritime security is a relevant issue. But IPEF will not be negotiating out maritime security arrangements.
Q: Jake, a quick follow, too. So, the administration -- you, as well -- have often framed foreign policy strategy as a global battle between autocra- -- democracies and autocracies.
I'm wondering how you balance trying to engage economically with someone like Prime Minister Modi, who himself has been accused, under the guise of democracy, of human rights abuses and maligning Muslim minorities.
How do you balance accountability, approaching a bilateral like that, while also the desire to have an economic collaboration?
MR. SULLIVAN: President Biden has been clear from the beginning of this administration that we'll speak out when we see any form of departure from or deviation from basic principles, fundamental freedoms, human rights, the values of democratic institutions, and the rule of law. That's true for a range of countries. And, you know, we don't single India out.
And we have found a way both to pursue practical cooperation with countries that are democratic and non-democratic, while at the same time being clear and consistent of where our values lie.
Q: Are you going to push him on wheat exports?
MR. SULLIVAN: I'm sorry?
Q: Are you going to push Modi -- is the President going to push Modi on wheat exports?
MR. SULLIVAN: I'll just say that food security will be a topic of conversation at the Quad.
Q: What about Russia? What about Russia and the invasion at large? What is he going to say to Modi about that?
MR. SULLIVAN: Well, they've already had the opportunity to engage on that. And the President had an extended discussion with Prime Minister Modi when they did a virtual Quad Summit back in April. I think it was back in April, maybe even March. I think it was in March.
And they also got to speak about it when they had a short video bilateral meeting at the top of the 2+2 when the Indian ministers came to Washington.
So it won't be a new conversation. It will be a continuation of the conversation they've already had about how we see the picture in Ukraine and the impacts of Russia's brutal invasion of Ukraine on a wider set of concerns in the world, including this food security concern.
So, they'll talk all of that through. And I will leave the specifics of it to what has been a set of private and constructive exchanges, and I expect that this will similarly be constructive and straightforward.
Q: Jake, you've written a lot and talked a lot about there being a domestic angle to foreign policy. This weekend, you guys sent $40 billion to Ukraine. You're going to announce IPEF. How does this fit into the domestic angle? What's your message to people who are struggling with inflation back home about why these things are important to them?
MR. SULLIVAN: Well, first, also this weekend, the President announced and held up major -- or lifted up major new investments in the United States, job-creating investments that will help power the industries of the future, help the communities where those investments take place, employ thousands of workers. And that was true when he went to Samsung on Friday night, and it was true with the announcement with Hyundai this morning.
So this trip has, in part, been about not just talking the talk when it comes to delivering for American workers and American families when the President is engaged in foreign policy, but actually walking the walk and backing it up with real numbers that begin with a "B."
Now, when it comes to the war in Ukraine, the President has been very straightforward that if -- that if we, the United States, do not work with likeminded allies to stand up to aggression, we will pay a greater cost tomorrow. So he actually believes that this investment in the Ukrainian people's fight to defend their country and in support of our allies who live under the shadow of Russian aggression is a worthy investment in terms of the long-term contribution it makes to peace, security, and stability.
That will benefit American families and American workers. And we actually think that the American people understand that and, more than understand that, they very much support it. And we see that on a bipartisan basis with the overwhelming votes in both the House and the Senate for that funding.
With IPEF, IPEF is designed to put workers at the center -- American workers. It's designed to create the kinds of high-standard approaches to the digital economy, to the clean energy transition, to diverse and resilient supply chains, to open and transparent economic governance that will ultimately benefit American workers, American families. And you'll hear that from the President tomorrow.
Q: Okay, Jake, I want to take a step back. The President, on this trip, has highlighted China's economic slowdown.
In the past, building alliances like IPEF sometimes had been frustrated by China's economic ascendancy and its rising power. What impact do you think the slowdown is having on the U.S.'s ability to build alliances in Asia?
MR. SULLIVAN: I think that, also taking a step back, that all of the traditional expectations about trajectories of countries that have been baked in over the course of several years in the press narrative and, you know, in the public conversation, including in this region, are due for review and reconsideration. And the fact that the United States will grow faster than China this year, for the first time since 1976, is a quite striking example of how countries in this region should be looking at the question of trends and trajectories.
And -- and so, what the President said yesterday in his remarks at the press conference was something he said repeatedly over the course of his career, which is: It's never a good bet to bet against the United States. And actually, we think a lot of countries in this region are recognizing that fact.
And when you see the breadth of participation in IPEF tomorrow, we believe that that will be strong evidence that countries do want to bet on the United States, do want to be part of an economic arrangement with the United States where we're setting rules together, we're building diverse and resilient supply chains together, that American innovation is at the heart and American infrastructure investment is at the heart of the economic strategy of a lot of these countries.
So our view is that this is not about a zero-sum game with China. It's not about forcing countries to choose. But it is about offering a value proposition that we think countries are taking extremely seriously. And we think that'll be on display tomorrow.
Q: So, on -- I was going to say, on China tariffs, is the administration close to deciding whether you're going to ease those tariffs that the last administration put in place?
And then on inflation, do you think that lowering or easing some of those tariffs really would help with the inflation problem by helping reduce some prices for U.S. consumers?
MR. SULLIVAN: So the President has asked his international economic team to run the analysis on the relationship between tariffs and inflation, both top-line inflation and, just frankly, the way that families experience inflation, which is: When they go to the store to buy everyday products, are the prices higher? Would removing tariffs lead price -- those -- those prices on those goods to be lower?
So he's asked for that analysis, and he has also asked for the perspectives of the range of voices in his economic team for how to proceed when it comes to the overall approach to China trade. And he will make a decision, you know, as soon as he feels that he's got the inputs he needs to do so.
So I won't put a timetable on it. But, you know, he's considering his options when it comes to moving beyond the Trump trade strategy as we look to chart a new way forward.
Q: Hey, Jake, how long --
Q: Has he -- sorry, just to follow up -- has he gotten the analysis back from those teams yet, or is he still waiting on that?
MR. SULLIVAN: He has gotten analysis. He's received detailed written work on this question, but he's asked further questions and is looking for more input.
Q: What can you tell us about the President's briefing so far on monkeypox? And what's your current understanding of whether there is a national stockpile of vaccine the President referred to?
MR. SULLIVAN: So there -- there is a vaccine that is relevant to treating monkeypox. We have vaccine available to be deployed for that purpose.
The -- your question was about him being briefed?
Q: Yeah. And how often and by whom.
MR. SULLIVAN: So, he has been briefed. I've been out on the road, giving him updates based on the written inputs we are getting from our health and medical team and, you know, walking through with him what the -- what the current state of play looks like and, as we learn about cases both in the United States and elsewhere, making sure that he's tracking the picture.
So he's being apprised on this on a very regular basis and getting inputs from the key members of his health team.
On Korea, you've talked about the risk of a ballistic missile test, or something like that, during the President's visit. What does it say that, so far, such an incident hasn't occurred?
MR. SULLIVAN: It's hard to speculate, honestly. And anytime people start speculating on what North Korea might or might not do, they tend to have their expectations confounded one way or another.
So, all we can do is control our policy and our approach. So, we were prepared for any contingency while we were in Korea, we're prepared for any contingency while we're in Japan, and we will stay very closely lashed up with the ROK and Japan on this.
And if North Korea acts, we'll be prepared to respond. If North Korea doesn't act, North Korea has the opportunity, as we've said repeatedly, to come to the table and start negotiating (inaudible).
Q: Quick follow-up on that.
Q: (Inaudible) still saying that they could do a test?
MR. SULLIVAN: Oh, yes. Yes.
Q: So how are you going to measure the seriousness, the sincerity that the President talked about yesterday? How are you --
Q: Does the intelligence still say that there could still be a test?
MR. SULLIVAN: There could be a test.
Q: Oh, thank you.
Q: So how are you going to measure the seriousness and sincerity?
MR. SULLIVAN: The first step would be for North Korea to come forward and be prepared to actually engage in a dialogue. And thus far, they've not shown that they're willing to do so.
From there, it -- you can determine through the substance of those initial conversations whether you're on a serious pathway or not. But we're not even at step one yet.
Q: Why do you think they haven't?
Q: Are there preconditions for them getting vaccines from you?
MR. SULLIVAN: I'm sorry?
Q: Are there preconditions for them getting vaccines from you?
MR. SULLIVAN: No.
Q: Why do you think they haven't engaged while they were engaged so much with the Trump administration?
MR. SULLIVAN: They go through cycles where they respond and cycles where they don't. We're in a cycle where they're not. That's been true across multiple administrations. And I just can't speculate as to the rationale for them not (inaudible).
Q: You don't think it's about this president versus that president? You think it's just sort of a cycle that's outside of that?
MR. SULLIVAN: Yeah. I mean, every previous president going back to Bush -- so Bush, Obama, Trump -- faced a nuclear test. We haven't yet. We anticipate we may.
Each one of them faced missile tests; each one of them worked on a diplomatic approach. And at various points during each of those presidencies, the North Koreans were forthcoming, and at various points during each of those presidencies, they weren't.
And so you could ask the question: Why hasn't there been a nuclear te- -- why wasn't there a nuclear test in the first year when there was for these other presidents? And I don't think it has so much to do with who's in the Oval Office as their own rhythms and cadences.
But I just violated my own rule and started speculating about their motives -- (laughter) -- so I'll stop.
Q: On Ukraine, can you talk about when the first shipments of weapons from this new package will arrive, or when you're expecting them to go out? What's going to be in there? Anything new? And do you have anything on these --
MR. SULLIVAN: When you're saying "this new package," do you mean the next --
Q: The one he just signed yesterday.
MR. SULLIVAN: Oh, the $40 billion.
Q: The 40.
MR. SULLIVAN: So we expect him -- so the way that it works is a portion of that $40 billion is drawdown authority. So Secretary of Defense and Secretary of State have to make a recommendation to the President of a drawdown package. They are actively working through that now. We expect it'll come up to the President in the next couple of days for him to then be able to move out on. But we are on the receiving end of that based on the law and the process. So I would also go to the Pentagon and State to ask them, okay, you know, when -- when are they going to push it forward.
Q: And what's the latest, you guys believe, on what's happening on the ground in Ukraine? And do you have anything on the high-ranking commanders being fired in the Russian forces?
MR. SULLIVAN: No.
Q: And then what about that allegation from the Russian Defense Ministry that they destroyed a large batch of Western weapons from the U.S. and -- and the Europeans? Is that -- is that true? Do we think that they really did destroy a lot of weapons? I saw Ukraine was confirming it, but anything you can share?
MR. SULLIVAN: I have nothing to validate it and haven't had the opportunity to consult with the Ukrainians on it. What I can say is that, you know, we have what we believe to be a diverse and resilient supply chain for these weapons into Ukraine. So even if there is a circumstance where the Russians are able to target and hit some shipment on the ground in Ukraine, that's not going to fundamentally, from a strategic perspective, disrupt the military assistance we're providing.
Q: What can you tell us about how John Kirby is coming over? How did that all come together? And can you describe what his role will be and how often we'll see him in the briefing room?
MR. SULLIVAN: So, John Kirby, as you all know, is a very effective national security voice and advocate for the President's policies. Actually, you know, I think a good partner to you all. So we're excited to have him at the White House.
And I'm particularly excited to have him at the NSC, because having a senior voice who can come do these gaggles instead of me will just be awesome. (Laughter.) No, I'm joking. I'm joking.
No, but -- but otherwise, we'll work out how it's all going to play out in practice. The key thing is that John, at a moment when we're dealing with a series of really critical national security issues, is just going to bring a great wealth of experience. And he's going to be fun to work with for me; he'll be fun to work with for the entire press team as well.
Q: There was reporting that he would basically fill the same role that Ben Rhodes did near the end of the Obama administration. Is that sort of how you guys are seeing the role, or is it going to be different?
MR. SULLIVAN: The thing about describing models like that -- the "Ben Rhodes model" -- they tend to be unique to an individual. And Ben, who is a very good friend of mine, is a unique individual and served in a unique capacity to President Obama.
John Kirby will have the "John Kirby model" of the role of Coordinator for Strategic Communications at the NSC. And he'll shape it based on his own, kind of, capabilities, the relationship he builds with the President and the rest of the team. And so I -- I think the comparisons tend -- tend not to illuminate.
Q: All right. Thank you. Appreciate it.
Q: Thank you so much.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: We're landing, guys.
Q: Thank you.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Thanks, guys. Thanks, guys.
Q: Karine, is there a reason why Biden didn't sign the aid bill on camera -- the Ukraine aid package?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I think he just wanted to sign it very quickly. And that was the -- that was just the -- we've always said: Once he got the bills, he would sign it quickly. And once the -- once he was done with his event yesterday, he was able to do that.
Q: There's been some questions about whether or not it had to be flown over. What's your understanding of why it was flown over to sign?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, so that we can actually have the --the original copy for him to sign it. So, what happened was -- and I think we've shared this with all of you -- there was a -- a staffer who was already scheduled to be here. And so, it came -- it came with that staffer and was delivered to the President to sign. Yeah, there's nothing -- you know, there's nothing really more to it.
Q: Karine, now that the DPA has been invoked and the actions that you listed at the top for baby formula, can you say when parents in the U.S. who are trying to get baby formula will be able to readily, you know, get baby formula?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, you know, the President -- you know, you've heard us say this: The President understands the struggle of moms and dads and parents and caregivers and making sure that -- you know, making sure that we get -- a child has, you know, a healthy -- a healthy -- a healthy way of eating. A healthy formula is -- and safe -- and safe formula -- is our number one priority, which is why we're -- you know, which is why we have been very, very acutely aware of -- of the process that we've initiated with the flyover and also the DPA.
I don't have a timeline for you yet. We want to exp- -- you know, make sure it goes very quickly, because it's so critical. And we know what -- what families are going through. I -- but I don't have an exact timeline. Clear- -- clearly, we want this to happen as fast as possible, as quickly as possible.
Q: Is there a reason, also, that the administration isn't seeking a stay in the Title 42 case? I know that you're appealing.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: We're appealing. I mean, I don't have much more than -- than what the DOJ is doing is appealing Title 42.
You know, we continue to believe Title 42 is a health authority. It is an authority that CDC is -- has that was given to them by Congress. And so that is kind of what we also agree with, which is the authority that Congress gave them.
Q: Let's let you get to your seat.
Q: Thanks, Karine. Appreciate it. Thanks a lot.
Q: Thank you.
5:02 P.M. JST
Joseph R. Biden, Press Gaggle by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/356054