Joe Biden

On-the-Record Press Gaggle by White House National Security Communications Advisor John Kirby

June 03, 2024

Via Teleconference

11:35 A.M. EDT

MODERATOR: Good Monday morning, everyone. Thanks for joining us for the NSC News of the Day Gaggle with John Kirby.

I'd like everyone to pause for a moment and join us in wishing John Kirby a very special happy birthday, which he is hating me for announcing to you all right now.

MR. KIRBY: You're a dead man, Sean. (Laughs.)

MODERATOR: With that important announcement, I'll turn it over to Kirby.

MR. KIRBY: Good morning, everybody. As I think you saw, today we announced that Vice President Harris and the National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan, will travel to Lucerne, Switzerland, on the 15th of this month to participate in the Summit on Peace in Ukraine.

At that conference, they will underscore the Biden-Harris administration's commitment to supporting Ukraine's effort to secure a just and lasting peace based on Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity and the principles of the U.N. Charter.

At the summit, the Vice President and Mr. Sullivan will highlight the importance of countries around the world continuing to support Ukraine's effort to secure a just and lasting peace.

And I think as you all know, this war could end tomorrow if Mr. Putin would simply withdraw his forces from Ukraine. In the meantime, we will continue, and our allies and partners will continue, to support the people of Ukraine as they fight every day to defend themselves against this aggression.

Now, if I could switch to Mexico. We congratulate Claudia Sheinbaum on her historic election as the first woman president of Mexico. President Biden and the team look forward to working closely with President-Elect Sheinbaum and her team.

As noted in the President's statement that we released this morning, we're committed to advancing the values and interests of both our nations to the benefit of our peoples.

We also congratulate the Mexican people, of course, for conducting a nationwide successful democratic electoral process involving races for more than 20,000 different positions at the local, state, and federal level. It's quite an achievement, and we congratulate them on that.

With that, we can take some questions.

MODERATOR: Thank you. For our first question we'll go to the line of Will Weissert with the Associated Press.

Q: Hi there. Happy Birthday again. Thanks so much for doing this.

Why did the President make no mention in Friday's remarks about -- that Israel remains determined to destroy Hamas? Why does the administration think that Hamas would be willing to agree with that huge Israeli caveat? And what other gaps, as Netanyahu referred to them, are there between the U.S. and Israel?

MR. KIRBY: The President has spoken numerous times about the right and responsibility of the Israelis to eliminate the threat that Hamas poses right across their border. Nothing has changed about that. The purpose of the speech was to lay out the details of this recent proposal for a hostage release, a ceasefire, and a potentially -- a potential end to hostilities for the long term. And that was the reason he wanted to lay that out for the American people.

But make no mistake -- I mean, he remains consistently supportive of Israel's right and responsibility to go after the threat posed by Hamas.

I didn't write down all your questions, but I think you asked about -- oh, why we think Hamas would go for this.

I think -- I would point you to comments that Hamas leaders themselves made on Friday, which was that they were -- that they received the President's speech in a positive way. And now they've got this proposal; they got it Thursday night. We're awaiting an official response by them. And they ought to take the deal. This gives them what they've been looking for, which is a ceasefire and, over time, through the phases, the potential withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza.

So they ought to take this deal. It's very forward-leaning. And it's good for the people of Gaza, good for the Israeli people. And they just need to move forward on it.

As for the gaps, I don't know what gaps you're referring to. I mean, I've heard different statements coming out of Israel. The Israeli Foreign Minister himself acknowledged that this was the Israeli proposal, that it was accurately -- that it is the Israeli proposal. And we're confident that it accurately reflects that proposal, a proposal that we worked with the Israelis on. So I know of no gaps to speak of.

MODERATOR: Thank you. For our next question we'll go to Steve Holland with Reuters.

Q: John -- and Happy Birthday, John. How did it come about that the President announced an Israeli -- a ceasefire plan? And did the Israelis know he was going to do it?

MR. KIRBY: Can you repeat that again?

Q: How did it come about that the President announced an Israeli ceasefire plan? And did the Israelis know he was going to do it?

MR. KIRBY: Yes, we informed them that the President was going to speak on the hostage deal before he did, of course.

And to your first question, it's important to remember this was -- it is an Israeli proposal. It's one that we and they worked on through some intense diplomacy. It's the result of our own diplomatic efforts with Israel. But it is, in fact, their proposal that they have, again, publicly acknowledged is, in fact, their proposal.

The President felt that it was important to lay it out there publicly. As you know, Steve, we don't typically go through the details of these kinds of proposals. But in this case, given where we are, given how much longer the hostages have now been held, given the fact that Hamas has reneged on several past occasions on proposals that were sent to them, and given the fact that the Israelis really did work hard to come up with this proposal and did so in good faith, the President felt it was important, for the first time, to publicly lay that out.

The timing was related based on the fact that, the night before, we had given it to Hamas. So that's what explains a Friday speech, is that Thursday it went to Hamas.

But he thought it was important to lay out the details publicly so that the whole world can see what was in here and the whole world could see how seriously Israel was taking this, and to make it clear that Hamas absolutely needs to accept this proposal. It's a good one. It gets us six weeks of peace. It gets us the hostages out. It gets us the ability to negotiate for phase two, which would get all the hostages out and a potential cessation of hostilities.

This, as the President said in his speech, is the best way to end this conflict.

MODERATOR: Thank you. For our next question we'll go with Nick Schifrin from PBS.

Q: Hey, John. Happy Birthday. Just going to be (inaudible) --

MR. KIRBY: I'm going to kill Sean Savett. (Laughter.)

Q: Quick fact-check elucidation. You've said twice now Hamas received the proposal Thursday night. Can you just confirm that was -- it's a proposal in writing that they got?

And my two major --

MR. KIRBY: Correct.

Q: Okay, got it. Great.

And two major questions. Have you received any Israeli assurance that an agreement agreed to by the war cabinet would be authorized by the full cabinet?

And a senior administration official on Friday night told us it was, quote, "minor differences" between this draft and what Hamas had put forward. Don't suppose you can detail what those minor differences are? Thanks.

MR. KIRBY: No, I really can't. I don't want to go into any more detail than the President did. And quite frankly, I hope you would agree the President actually laid out a lot of detail in terms of the phases and what each phase would produce.

But for those minor differences, I think it's best if I don't go there.

I'll let the Israelis speak to their internal domestic politics. This is an Israeli proposal. The Foreign Minister himself acknowledged that. The Prime Minister has acknowledged that. This is their proposal. I'll let them speak to internally how they arrived at it. But as I told Steve, it was certainly the result of a lot of diplomacy between them and our team over recent weeks.

MODERATOR: Thank you. For our next question we'll go with MJ Lee from CNN.

Q: Hi, John. Happy Birthday. And thanks for spending a part of your birthday with us.

First of all, just on the ceasefire deal, can you quickly confirm whether it is correct that the ball is in Hamas's court right now?

MR. KIRBY: First of all, there's no other place I'd rather be on my birthday than with all of you.

And secondly, yes, it is fair to say that the ball is in Hamas's court.

Q: Okay. And I was hoping you could help us make sense of the Prime Minister's response to the President's speech on Friday. So, the Prime Minister said that there can be no permanent ceasefire until the destruction of Hamas's military and governing capabilities, among other things. The President said in his speech last week that Hamas has been degraded to such a point that it couldn't again perpetrate another October 7th-like attack. So are they not seeing eye to eye on this?

MR. KIRBY: I think I'm going to let the Prime Minister characterize his public comments. What I can tell you is that we've had a lot of diplomatic conversations with the Israelis in recent weeks, during which or after which we arrived -- they arrived at this proposal, their proposal, again, as a result of a lot of diplomacy between us. We're comfortable that it represents fairly and honestly an Israeli proposal, a very forward-leaning Israeli proposal. And we're confident that Hamas needs to take it.

I want to make -- put a punctuation point on this one point, because it came up in the first question. There is no question at all that we don't want to see Hamas pose a threat to the Israeli people. We absolutely agree with the Prime Minister that Hamas and their ability to conduct that kind of an attack again must be prevented, and that Israel has a right and a responsibility to go after that threat and prevent another October 7.

The President said clearly on Friday that, from a military perspective, we don't assess that Hamas can conduct another October 7. We didn't say -- he didn't say that that doesn't mean that Israel can't continue to go after the threat as appropriate. As a matter of fact, as you and I are speaking, they are still operating in Rafah and trying to put pressure on those leaders and some of those military units there. And we understand that.

But now's the time, as they have militarily degraded Hamas to the point where they can't right now conduct another October 7th -- now, as they continue to put pressure on these leaders and these units in Rafah, now is the time to move forward to the next stage here, get phase one of this in place, get at least some of the hostages out, get a six-week ceasefire, get 600 trucks in a day so that we can get to phase two and a permanent cessation of hostilities.

Again, I won't speak for the Prime Minister's comments and why he said what he said. All I can tell you is this proposal is an Israeli proposal. It is the result of intense diplomacy between our two teams. The President characterized it accurately. And now it's up to Hamas to accept it.

Q: And just quickly, you said the Israelis did get a heads up that the President would be making his speech on Friday. Did they object?

MR. KIRBY: Not that I'm aware of.

MODERATOR: Thank you. For our next question we'll go with Michelle Jamrisko of Bloomberg. Michelle, you should be able to unmute yourself.

Q: Sorry about that. Good morning, Admiral. And let me add my birthday greetings with apologies.

I wanted to get your reaction to OPEC+ members agreeing to extend to next year their output cuts. How are you seeing that from a national security perspective? And how much pressure do you see that putting on prices at the pump for Americans?

MR. KIRBY: Yeah, I would just say that the President remains focused on those prices at the pump for consumers, and they continue to come down. I'm not going to be able to comment on what OPEC does from month to month. Again, our focus is going to be on the price at the pump for consumers. And the President is confident that he's got the strategies in place to do that. But I won't be able to comment much more beyond that.

MODERATOR: Thank you. For our next question we'll go with Andrea Mitchell from NBC.

Q: Hi, John. Happy Birthday.

MR. KIRBY: (Laughs.) Thank you.

Q: Sorry to chime in.

MR. KIRBY: Thank you.

Q: So, could you clarify: The Prime Minister said that he's never agreed to withdraw from Gaza. The President never said there was a complete withdrawal from Gaza. He said it would be a withdrawal from populated parts of Gaza. Is that an important distinction? Because does that leave Israel with control of those buffer zones that they have now created contrary, actually, to what the U.S. wanted?

MR. KIRBY: Yeah, I think that's getting a little ahead of where we are right now. You're right, the proposal calls for a phased withdrawal from populated centers. I think there's some flexibility in there given the tactical situation in Gaza and what that might look like.

But if we're able to get to phase one and then phase two, an Israeli withdrawal from population centers is certainly not an insignificant move on their part or for the Palestinian people of Gaza.

But that's just further afield of where we are right now. What we need right now is for Hamas to accept this proposal.

Q: And let me ask you a couple of other things just very quickly. Clearly, it does not address the number of Palestinian prisoners or their identities, which are always a huge obstacle. I mean, that's -- understandably, you're not in that kind of detail yet, but that's something that would be a hurdle. But it also does not address a pathway to a day after or a Palestinian state or Palestinian governance, which was always part of Secretary Blinken's, you know, initial proposals that he got acceptance from, from all of the Arab states, in a trip to eight different Arab countries several months ago.

MR. KIRBY: Yes, Andrea, you're right. So, first of all, on the ratio of prisoners and hostages -- to hostages, I mean, that is actually baked into this first-phase proposal. We didn't offer that level of detail. As I said, the President walked through in great detail but not every detail. And those details are hammered out in that proposal that Hamas has. I'm just not at liberty to go beyond the detail -- the level of detail the President displayed for everybody.

On your second question: You're right, but I would ask you to remember what this is and what it isn't. This proposal the President talked about is, in fact, an extension of the hostage negotiations that we've been engaged in for weeks. It is primarily designed to do three things: get hostages out -- again, in a phased approach; get more humanitarian aid in -- again, in a phased approach, hopefully up to 600 trucks a day; and then get a ceasefire in place.

In the first phase, it will be a temporary ceasefire, six weeks in duration, to allow the teams and the negotiators to negotiate what phase two looks like. And we don't know what phase two could look like. All we know is what the President -- as the President said on Friday, phase two would entail all the remaining hostages, including male soldiers, getting out -- point one; and point two, a set of circumstances that would lead to a cessation of hostilities, comma, permanently. That's what phase two would end in.

And that's really what this was about. That was the bounds of it, the left and right side of it that the President talked about. It doesn't talk about a two-state solution or what the day-after governance could look like because that's not what it's about. It's really about getting the hostages home.

But that doesn't mean that we aren't still working hard on day-after governance or that we've given up on the idea of a two-state solution. I think as you saw a week or two ago, I can't remember now, but press coverage about how close we were to an agreement, a bilateral agreement with the Saudis, a significant bilateral agreement between our two countries that could help set the conditions for bringing Israel in and moving forward on this normalization deal.

So, yes, those things weren't discussed in the speech. Yes, they are not in this, but that's because they are not in the proposal that went to Hamas. But again, it does not mean, just because it's not in that proposal, that we're not still working those objectives.

MODERATOR: Thank you. Next up we'll go to Danny Kemp with AFP.

Q: Hello?

MODERATOR: Hey, Danny, we can hear you.

Q: Great. Thank you. Thanks, Admiral. And Happy Birthday. A couple of things, if I may, very briefly.

The first is just on Ukraine and Vice President Harris attending this conference. Doesn't it look a bit bad for the President to be skipping this peace summit for Ukraine and going to a glitzy Hollywood event instead?

And secondly, anything you can tell us on any executive orders on migration that might be announced tomorrow? Thanks.

MR. KIRBY: On your second question: No, I'm not going to go there.

On your first question: What looks bad is when we have a supplemental request sitting on Capitol Hill for six months and the House Republicans refuse to move on it, to supply the arms and ammunition that Ukraine needs while they're getting attacked in the Donbas, and then the Russians decide to start attacking Kharkiv. That's what looks bad.

There hasn't been any single leader around the world who has supported Ukraine more, and more stridently, than Joe Biden. And as I said last week, no matter who represents the United States -- and oh, by the way, the Vice President is representing the United States of America at this summit -- it can't be said that the United States has in any way walked away from supporting Ukraine.

In fact, this whole peace formulation that President Zelenskyy formulated over a year ago and has been trying to operationalize, he's been able to do that, able to have these conversations, able to bring other countries to the table because the United States has been so supportive of this peace formula that he has come up with.

And we're looking forward to having the discussion in Lucerne, both the Vice President and Jake Sullivan, to see what the United States can continue to do to support it.

But you just -- I've been talking about this war since it began, back when I was at the Pentagon. There is no way that you can look at what Ukraine has been able to do over the last two-plus years and not see the hand of the United States there every single step of the way.

MODERATOR: Thank you. For our next question we'll go with David Sanger from the New York Times.

Q: Thanks. And Happy 40th, John.

MR. KIRBY: (Laughs.)

Q: You don't look a day older than this, but if you stay

in this job, you might. (Laughter.)

MR. KIRBY: I feel a lot older than the birth certificate would say.

Q: Yeah, me too.

So two questions for you. One: On Israel, your usual routine would be to say, "We're not going to make announcements for the Israeli government; it's up to the Israelis." How many times have you said this to us? But in this particular incident, the President made a decision to jam the Prime Minister by announcing this for him and then making him try to prevaricate back and forth about whether or not this was really an Israeli proposal, on which he was a lot less clear than, say, as you pointed out, your foreign minister. Was that the intent?

And then I got a quick question on Ukraine.

MR. KIRBY: No, that was not the intent. This wasn't about jamming the Prime Minister or the war cabinet. This was about laying bare, for the public to see, how well and how faithfully and how assertively the Israelis came up with a new proposal, how it shows how much they really want to get this done.

Really, if anything, this was about putting some public pressure on Mr. Sinwar and Hamas, who has repeatedly refused to accept what Israel has put forward. They simply have not proven willing to take yes for an answer. And every time, the Israelis come back with yes.

Q: So why not just let the Israelis announce it and then have the President come out and endorse it and say the ball is in Sinwar's court? That's not how you did it.

MR. KIRBY: That's not how we did it. And as I said, the President felt that where we are in this war, where we are in the negotiations to get the hostages out, that it was time for a different approach and a time to make the proposal public, to try to energize the process here, catalyze a different outcome. The President believed that this was the right approach to do it.

And as I said, the timing was really related to when it was delivered to Hamas, which was the night before.

Q: Okay. And on Ukraine: The President obviously, on Thursday, made this decision to allow American arms to be shot into a very limited area of Russia. President Zelenskyy over the weekend thanked him for this and then immediately said: It's not enough. We're going to need to have this right throughout much of the rest of Russia; we're going to need to have it perhaps in other areas.

And we actually heard Secretary Blinken, on the last day of his trip last week, say this may not be the last area that gets approved. Can you help us think through this moment?

MR. KIRBY: Well, I won't get ahead of decisions that haven't been made. As you well know, every step of this war -- as the war has evolved, the battlefield conditions have changed, we have evolved and we have changed our support to Ukraine. And that's -- I wouldn't expect that that general approach is going to be any different in coming weeks and months. We'll see where things go and what the Ukrainians need.

I mean, look, who can blame President Zelenskyy for wanting more stuff and more ability to use that stuff as his country continues to come under attack and as they particularly face a concerted -- a still-concerted effort by Russia to endanger Kharkiv, one of their most important cities in the north?

So, I mean, I don't think it should come as a shock to anybody that President Zelenskyy would be grateful on one hand, but also eager to continue to press his case going forward.

And so we'll have those talks, we'll have those conversations with the Ukrainians. Absolutely, we will. And whether it leads to any additional policy changes, I can't say at this point, but we're not going to turn our back on what Ukraine needs. And we're going to continue to try to, again, evolve our support to them as the battlefield evolves as well.

I would just reiterate that the guidance that we just issued late last week that you're referring to with respect to cross-border counter-fires is specifically focused on Ukraine's defense against military targets that are just over the border and targets that Russia is using to physically launch offensives against Ukraine proper. It just makes common sense.

And our policy with respect to prohibiting the use of ATACMS, for instance, or long-range strikes, inside of Russia has not changed.

MODERATOR: Thank you. For our next question we'll go with Karen DeYoung from the Washington Post.

Q: Thank you. Can you hear me?

MODERATOR: Yes, we can.

MR. KIRBY: Go ahead, Karen.

Q: You mentioned that Israel is still operating in Rafah and this deal doesn't mean that they can't continue to go after the threat as appropriate. If Hamas said today or tomorrow, or whenever, "Fine, we accept," does Israel immediately stop its operations in Rafah and remove its forces from that populated area? Is it simultaneous with the release of hostages? What happens first? And who takes over governance in populated areas in Gaza?

MR. KIRBY: So, as the President laid out on Friday, if Hamas accepts and we can begin phase one, it would, in fact, mean the first batch of hostages are released, again, over a period of time, of course. And over a corresponding period of time, Israel would withdraw its forces from populated centers. It would also mean, as the President said, the end or the cessation of Israeli military operations in Rafah proper. As for how many troops would move back and over what timeframe, I think that all would have to be ironed out.

And how simultaneous it is, you know, with the release of hostages, I don't have that level of detail. It's not like a shotgun start here that I know of, but it is all part of phase one.

And your second question was on governance in Rafah? Is

that what you said?

Q: In Gaza in general. (Inaudible) withdraw.

MR. KIRBY: That's what we're trying to get at here. That's why -- to Andrea's question, that's why Secretary Blinken is still working hard. And the President talked about the day after. We've got to get to the day after, and we are having conversations --

Q: I'm not talking about the day after. I'm talking about phase one. Who takes over in these places when the Israelis withdraw, both in the north and central Gaza and in Rafah?

MR. KIRBY: Well, I think you heard over the -- I mean, certainly this is a question really more for the Israelis to speak to, but Defense Minister Gallant made comments in just the last day or so about setting up civilian governance centers in Gaza that would be run by Palestinians who are not affiliated with Hamas. But I'd let them characterize that view a little bit more closely.

Q: But the Israelis have proposed this before, and the Palestinians have said the Israelis don't get to choose. And people -- the Palestinians rejected that, rejected Israel establishing this, and said, "You don't have anything to do with it." So who decides?

MR. KIRBY: Again, this is the conversation we're having with the Israelis, will continue to have with them. They've proffered some ideas on what that could look like as they would potentially withdraw from Gaza. I'd let them speak to that.

Q: And just to (inaudible) now -- so you would expect that if Hamas said today, "Fine, we accept the deal," Israel would immediately begin withdrawing its troops from Rafah (inaudible)?

MR. KIRBY: What I said was --

Q: (Inaudible) go after the threat.

MR. KIRBY: What I said was there would be corresponding discussions about the tick-tock and exactly when the hostages would be released, when the prisoners would be released, and then when Israeli forces would begin to move out of population centers. But as our understanding, in phase one, as soon as phase one begins, that operations in Rafah would end. That is our understanding.

MODERATOR: Thank you. We just have time for a couple more. We'll go to Ron Kampeas with JTA.

Q: Oh, thank you for taking my question. First of all, it seems that the crux of the disagreement as to -- between the Israelis and you guys on this thing has to do with President Biden saying the proposal says if the negotiations take longer than six weeks for phase one, the ceasefire will still continue as long as negotiations continue. That seems to suggest that basically, you know, the temporary ceasefire is going to be a permanent ceasefire, and the Israelis aren't able to do anything about it. And so, it'd be interesting to understand how exactly you do understand the transition between phase one and phase two.

And the broader question is that: On October the 10th, the President said "pure, unadulterated evil" has unleashed on this world. And I think what the Israelis want to know is: How can you leave pure, unadulterated evil in place as a part of this deal? Hamas gets to continue to exist, you know, maybe perhaps not in a capacity in which it can carry out an October the 7th, but it's still there. And I think that -- I'd just like you to address that.

MR. KIRBY: Look, I don't think I can say it any better than the President said, to your first question. During the six weeks of phase one, Israel and Hamas will negotiate the arrangements to get to phase two, which would be -- which would represent a cessation of hostilities, a permanent cessation of hostilities.

But there's an awful lot of work that has to be done to negotiate what phase two looks like. And as the President also said, you know, those negotiations would have to proceed in good faith between Israel and Hamas. And Israel will want to, as they have a right to in these negotiations, make sure that their interests are protected, of course.

And that gets to your second question. We don't ever want to see another October 7th. We don't ever want to see, going forward, Gaza under the control of Hamas, whatever post-conflict Gaza governance looks like.

And, yes, I understand we don't have all that figured out right now. We don't have all the answers to all that right now. We're working on it very, very hard. Whatever it looks like, it can't look like it did on the 6th of October, when Mr. Sinwar had the ability, singlehandedly, to violate a ceasefire that was in place and send his fighters into Israel to slaughter 1,200 people. That can't happen again.

Now, what that looks like going forward, I can't tell you right now. But if the essence of your question -- and if I don't get it right, you tell me -- but if the essence of the question is, you know, should we expect that Israel should have to live next door to that kind of a terrorist threat, the answer is no, of course not.

MODERATOR: Thank you. We have time for just one more question. We'll go to Haley Bull with Scripps.

Q: Hey. Thank you. And Happy Birthday, John. I wanted to go back to some of Netanyahu's statements since the President's announcement. Is there any concern that him so publicly speaking about their insistence of reaching their war objectives is undermining the pressure you're trying to put on Hamas?

And then, on Ukraine: I know you just outlined all the reasons why the President is such a strong supporter of Ukraine. Given that, why not send him to this peace summit then? Thanks.

MR. KIRBY: On your first question, the short answer is no. It is true that our assessment is that Hamas is militarily not capable of conducting the attacks of October 7th again. It is true that the Israelis have put an enormous amount of pressure on Hamas and have degraded their capabilities in a very significant way, or their military capabilities.

But even as you and I are speaking here, they are still conducting targeted operations inside Rafah because there are still viable threats by Hamas inside Rafah. There are still tunnel networks where they continue to harbor fighters, potentially hold hostages, and certainly store weapons. And they still have a capability down there, and Israel has every right to go after them. They are, and they're doing it in keeping with the plans that they shared with us, and they're doing it with capabilities that we continue to provide them to use.

So I simply refuse to accept the premise of the question that the President's comments with respect to military capabilities of Hamas somehow undermines Israel's ability to go after them when, in fact, they continue to go after them as you and I are speaking.

And, look, as for the -- your second question: As I said before, Ukraine has no stronger champion than President Biden. And the United States has actively participated in every single one of the previous Ukraine peace summits. Every single one. And as I said earlier, we have been the strongest, most staunch supporter of this peace deal that President Zelenskyy put forward.

Since he put it forward, the United States has been trying to find ways to operationalize it. We're sending the Vice President of the United States and the National Security Advisor to this particular peace summit -- again, because of our desire to be represented around that table.

But as I said last week -- and, by the way, that alone is high level, very serious representation by the United States.

But as I said last week, no matter who it would have been representing the United States, there can be no question that Ukraine has no stronger backer than the United States. And we've proven that time and time and time again over the last two and a half years.

I don't think you can name another nation that has done as much for Ukraine and for their ability to push back on Russia than the United States. And I don't think you can name another leader around the world -- in fact, I know you can't name another leader around the world who has done more than President Biden has to back up President Zelenskyy in every single way possible. I mean, my goodness, we were just talking, to David's question, about the cross-border policy and how that might change. And my answer is that, you know, we're going to continue these conversations; we're going to continue to help them do what they have to do.

You can't name me another foreign leader that's doing as much as Joe Biden.

MODERATOR: Thank you so much. And thank you all for joining us for our gaggle today. I hope everyone has a good rest of the day, and feel free to send us an email if we didn't get to your questions.

12:12 P.M. EDT

Joseph R. Biden, On-the-Record Press Gaggle by White House National Security Communications Advisor John Kirby Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/372561

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