July 14, 2024

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Press Gaggle by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan En Route Paris, France

Press Gaggle by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan En Route Paris, France
Press Gaggle by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan En Route Paris, France

Aboard Air Force OneEn Route Paris, France 8:31 P.M. EDT MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Hey, everybody. Q    Hi there. MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Hello, hello. I just have a couple of things at the top, and I’ll — and I’ll hand it over to Jake Sullivan.  Earlier today, you all heard the President announce new executive actions to secure our Southern border.  These executive […]

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Aboard Air Force One
En Route Paris, France

8:31 P.M. EDT
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Hey, everybody.
Q    Hi there.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Hello, hello.
I just have a couple of things at the top, and I’ll — and I’ll hand it over to Jake Sullivan. 
Earlier today, you all heard the President announce new executive actions to secure our Southern border.  These executive actions would — would bar migrants who cross our Southern border unlawfully from receiving asylum and would be an eff- — in effect when there are high levels of encounters at the Southern border, as is the case today. 
This will make it easier for immigration officers to remove those who do not have legal basis to remain in the United States and reduce the burden on our Border Patrol agents. 
As the President said, he would have preferred to address this issue through bipartisan legislation, but the obstruction of congressional Republicans left him no choice. 
And lastly, we are on our way, as you all know, to France, where the President and the First Lady will honor U.S. service members, their families, and their sacrifices to mark the 80th anniversary of the D-Day operation. 
And with that, I will turn it over to our National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan to take it.
MR. SULLIVAN:  Thanks, guys. 
Just to set the stage for the next few days.  As Karine just said, the President is on his way to help commemorate and celebrate the 80th anniversary of the D-Day — of D-Day, the landing at Normandy by the Allies, which paved the way to victory in World War Two. 
He’ll have the opportunity on Thursday to meet with veterans who participated in the D-Day landing and also to join fellow leaders in celebrating that anniversary and giving a speech that will talk about, against the backdrop of war in Europe today, the sacrifices that those heroes and those veterans made 80 years ago and how it’s our obligation to continue their mission to fight for freedom. 
Then, on Friday, he will return to Normandy to speak at Pointe du Hoc, which is a hundred-foot-tall cliff that Army Rangers scaled under gunfire to take fortified German positions.  And he’ll talk about the stakes of that moment, an existential fight between a dictatorship and freedom.  He’ll talk about the men who scaled those cliffs and how they put themselves behind — they put the country ahead of themselves.  And he’ll talk about the dangers of isolationism and how if we bow to dictators and fail to stand up to them, they keep going and ultimately America and the world pays a greater price. 
And over the course of the two days, he’ll really be drawing a through line from World War Two through the Cold War and the stand-up of the greatest military alliance the world has ever known — the NATO Alliance — to today: where we face, once again, war in Europe; where NATO has rallied to defend freedom and sovereignty in Europe; where NATO has, in fact, expanded under President Biden’s leadership; and we’re all working together with a coalition of 50 nations to support Ukraine in its fight against Russia’s brutal aggression; where today, in 2024, 80 years later, we see dictators once again attempting to challenge the order, attempting to march in Europe, and that freedom-loving nations need to rally to stand against that as we have. 
While he’s in Normandy, he’ll have the opportunity to sit down with President Zelenskyy and have an engagement with him to talk about the state of play in Ukraine and how we can continue and deepen our support for Ukraine. 
He will also have an opportunity several days later to see President Zelenskyy again at the G7 in Italy. 
And then, as you saw, he has asked Vice President Harris to represent the United States at the peace summit in Switzerland, and I will accompany the Vice President on that trip. 
So, in the course of a little more than a week, the President will have two substantive engagements with President Zelenskyy.  And the Vice President will be there to stand behind Ukraine’s vision of peace, which is rooted in the U.N. Charter and in the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity.  And it’s a signal of the depth of our commitment to Ukraine at this vital moment.  And this opportunity for the President and Zelenskyy to sit down twice will really allow them to go deep on every aspect and every issue in the war. 
He will also have the chance to see and engage with a number of other of our Allied leaders who will be there. 
And then, of course, the trip will culminate with a state visit to France.  Of course, we’ll be in France all these days, but then it converts — it elevates into a state visit in Paris, where he’ll have the opportunity for an extended discussion with President Macron on the entire breadth of our relationship; on the war in Ukraine; on the situation in the Middle East; on our expanding cooperation in the Indo-Pacific; and on everything from the climate crisis to artificial intelligence to emerging technology to investments in resilient, secure supply chains and the clean energy transition — just across the board. 
France is one of our oldest — is our oldest and one of our deepest allies.  And this will be an important moment to affirm that alliance and also look to the future and what we have to accomplish together, both in the immediate term and in the longer term. 
So, it’s going to be action-packed, I think, extremely moving, and extremely important three days in France with business, with speeches, and with an opportunity for him to say thank you directly to the veterans who saved democracy, saved the free world, and set the stage for the decades of peace and prosperity that followed. 
And, with that, I’ll take your questions.
Q    Thanks, Jake.  Can you confirm that Ukraine has used American-supplied weapons to attack Russian territory for the first time in past — in recent days?  And does this signal — you know, have you seen any impact of the President’s sort of loosening the rules of engagement for the Ukrainians for the use of that — that armaments?  Does that change your assessment of what can happen around Kharkiv?
MR. SULLIVAN:  So, we’ve been pretty consistent in letting the Ukrainians speak to their military operations, and I will not deviate from that tradition here.  I’ll let them speak to their use of American munitions. 
As you know, what the President authorized was common sense.  Russian forces are firing at Ukraine from just across the border — north of Kharkiv.  And the President thought it was right that if Russian forces are hitting Ukraine from Russia into Ukraine that Ukraine should have the right to hit back, including with American-made weapons. 
And so, he authorized the use of weapons for that specific purpose.  And I will leave it at that for now.
Q    Jake, President Macron is apparently considering sending French military trainers into Ukraine.  Is that something that President Biden would consider as well, sending U.S. trainers into Ukraine?
MR. SULLIVAN:  As we’ve said several times on the record, we’re not planning to send U.S. military advisors or troops, trainers to train Ukraine — train Ukrainians in Ukraine. 
I will point out that the United States has stood up a substantial training infrastructure in Germany.  It has trained thousands of Ukrainian soldiers on Western-made equipment. 
We stand ready to continue and, in fact, expand that training.  We have communicated that directly to the Ukrainians.  And all of the training that we do is very closely coordinated with our allies and partners, many of whom have also conducted extensive training of Ukrainians outside of Ukraine and will continue to do so. 
We’ll have the opportunity to speak with the — the French President and the French team on the ground about what they are thinking.  And, obviously, I’m not going to get ahead of any announcements they make.  I’ll just say that, for our part, we’re not planning for a training mission in Ukraine.
Q    Jake, a Hamas spokesperson, this afternoon, essentially rejected the ceasefire plan that President Biden laid out.  He said they wouldn’t agree to a plan until Israel laid out its terms for a permanent end to the war.  I mean, how disappointing is that for you? 
And I wonder if we can cir- — like, circle back to last Friday and — you know, the President seemed like — you know, there were some statements afterwards.  It seemed like there was sort of an opening here for a deal, which was quickly closed.  So, were you all surprised with the quick rejection both from Israel and Hamas to this latest proposal?
MR. SULLIVAN:  First of all, I take issue with the end of your question where you said Israel rejected the proposal.  The Prime Minister’s own advisor went out publicly and said they accepted the proposal.  They have reaffirmed that they have accepted the proposal.  The proposal, as described by President Biden, is a proposal that Israel accepted before and continues to accept today.  And the ball is in Hamas’s court as to whether they’re going to accept it or not. 
Now, we are waiting for a response from Hamas.  You’re going to hear a lot of things in the — in the media — a lot of statements from a lot of different voices and a lot of different people.  We will regard a formal response as one that gets conveyed to the Qataris, who were the ones who transmitted the proposal from the Israeli negotiators to Hamas.  We have not gotten that yet.  We’re in not just daily but hourly contact with the Qataris.  If we hear anything, we’ll let you know. 
But I will point this out.  The President said in his speech not that Hamas had accepted the proposal but that they should.  So, he acknowledged on Friday: Hamas may choose that they think it’s just better to let the war and the suffering and the violence continue.  That wouldn’t be terribly out of character for a vicious and brutal terrorist group. 
But what we hope they will do in the end is see that the best pathway to an end to this war, the return of all the hostages, a surge of humanitarian assistance is to accept this proposal — which is a good proposal that the United States stands behind, that Israel has accepted, that the G7 has endorsed, that the Egyptians and Qataris have endorsed, and that much of the rest of the world has rallied to support. 
The onus is on Hamas, and it will remain on Hamas until we get a formal response from them.
Q    On Israel, Jake, and also this week’s theme of lessons learned from the past.  How does the U.S.’s own experience in trying to root out Iraq’s Ba’athist party — how does that inform your view of Israel’s desire to politically and militarily destroy Hamas?  Is there any daylight between Israel and Washington on this issue?
MR. SULLIVAN:  Look, I’ve stood at the podium and said that our view is that the comprehensive defeat of terror in Gaza, including Hamas and other terrorist groups, requires military action.  And we’ve seen military action.  But it requires that military operation to be connected to a broader strategy. 
And what we would continue to encourage Israel to do is to have a comprehensive, holistic strategy, including for a day after in Gaza that builds an alternative vision for the future of a stable Gaza that is not a platform for terror — where people are protected; where there is the capacity for the civilian population of Gaza to get the assistance and rebuilding that they so badly deserve and that the United States is prepared to participate in, as well as the Arab world and the rest of the world as well. 
So, what we would like to see ultimately is a comprehensive, coherent strategy that connects military operations to a strategic endgame.  And we will keep pressing and encouraging the Israelis to follow that course as we continue.
Q    Jake, on Ukraine, if I may.  A few weeks ago, this administration gave a pretty dire assessment of, you know, Russia making gains, et cetera.  Now that American weapons are coming again, now that Ukraine is able to strike on Russian soil, are you seeing the first impact?  Is the dynamic changing on the battlefield?
MR. SULLIVAN:  I’m very careful about making assessments like that, because it’s a dynamic situation and because, as I’ve said, Ukraine was in a deep hole due to the delay of the passage of the national security supplemental and the sending of substantial flows of weapons to them, and they’ve been digging out of that hole. 
We have seen them firm up the lines in key places.  We have seen them withstand the Russian assault. 
So, for example, north of Kharkiv, the Russians came hard across the line, advanced a few kilometers, and the Ukrainians are standing their ground.  They’re standing their ground in critical parts of Donetsk as well.  And they do have now the ammunition and other supplies that are necessary.  But they need more, too, as the President has said — President Zelenskyy — they need more air defense, and we are working on that.  And they need a continued flow of weaponry, which we are going to supply to them. 
So, we will watch in the coming days.  But we certainly have seen the fact that weapons arriving on the battlefield at scale and quantity in the last few days and weeks have made a difference, have made an impact.  And we hope they will continue to do so and that, ultimately, it will allow Ukraine not just to hold the line but to push back against the Russian forces that are currently menacing them.
Q    Jake, can you talk at all about what Bill Burns is doing in Doha?  Is he there to figure out the Israeli position?
MR. SULLIVAN:  No, he is not in Doha to figure out the Israeli position.  If he wanted to do that, he would go to Israel. 
But we know the Israeli position.  You’ll hear a lot of speeches, a lot of statements from a lot of different people.  It’s a raucous democracy.  A lot of politicians in America make a lot of statements.  At the end of the day, the Israeli position is quite simple.  They have put it down on paper.  It is written in words.  Those words have been transmitted on paper to Hamas via Qatar, and now we are ra- — awaiting a Hamas response.  So, we have no doubt as to the Israeli position.
The issue now is: What will Hamas do?  And the Pres- — Bill Burns is going to be in Doha consulting with the Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed, because Sheikh Mohammed, as well as the Amir of Qatar, who President Biden spoke with yesterday, have had extensive discussions with Hamas.  Bill Burns will be quite interested in hearing firsthand, in person, what the nature of those discussions was and where things go from here. 
Q    Jake, Secretary Yellen has laid out a way to leverage some of the seized Russian assets to potentially help Ukraine.  I would imagine that as the President is talking to President Macron on Saturday and with allies at the G7 a few days later that finding some kind of additional security guarantees, additional assistance for Ukraine, it’s going to be a big focus.  Can you talk about where that discussion stands and where you expect it to go, whether there may be something — a deliverable by the end of the G7?
MR. SULLIVAN:  This will be a substantial agenda item in the President’s meeting with President Macron.  It will be a topic of discussion on the margins of the celebrations at Normandy because, obviously, the clock is ticking down to the G7, and we’re going to make a big push to see if we can get clarity on a path forward over the course of the next several days. 
This is a priority for the United States.  We believe it’s a priority for the entire G7.  We want to see every country come on board with a method by which we can mobilize resources for Ukraine at scale so that they are able to have what they need to be able to succeed in this war. 
We believe there is a path forward.  President Biden has given clear direction to the team, including myself, Secretary Yellen, our G7 Sherpa team.  And we’re hard at work on this issue. 
And we may have more to tell you after the President and President Macron are able to speak, because these intensive discussions are ongoing now and it’s something the two leaders will be able to discuss.  I don’t want to get into the details right now because these are sensitive diplomatic discussions, but they are intense, ongoing.  And this is at the top of our priority list.
Q    Jake, on the Pointe du Hoc speech.  The isolationist — isolationism component you laid out seems at least in part squarely aimed at the President’s general election opponent.  So, I’m wondering if you can describe how much of that speech is going to be focused toward an international audience versus a domestic audience.  And is he going to be calling out any isolationists by name? 
MR. SULLIVAN:  The Pointe du Hoc speech is a speech about, in his view, timeless principles — principles that have served as the foundation of American security and American democracy for generations — including the generation that scaled those cliffs, including today’s generation, including the next generation. 
So, he’s going to be speaking in — in terms of principles and values and lessons from history that are applicable today.  And I will leave it at that and leave anything to the kind of nature of your — other nature of your question to others who are better able to speak to it than I am. 
I can tell you that, as the National Security Advisor, I’m very proud of the message the President is going to carry both in his Normandy remarks and at Pointe du Hoc.
Q    Also on that speech.  There’s some critics who feel that President Biden’s ability to be a messenger on this is undermined by his support for what some people believe is an autocratic government in Israel.  Do you feel that that will undermine his remarks at all?  Or what would your response be to that?
MR. SULLIVAN:  Well, Israel is a raucous democracy.  I think I used that phrase once before in this gaggle.  I didn’t know I was going to get to use it twice.  But it’s absolutely a raucous democracy, with democratic debate playing out as we speak.  A hundred and twenty thousand people were in the street rallying for the release of hostages.  Members of the sitting government are out debating one another in public, going back and forth. 
So, I think the characterization at the heart of your question doesn’t reflect how Israel’s government or society works or, in our view, will work going forward. 
I think the President has shown in the way that he has cultivated, nurtured, and elevated democratic, values-based alliances in Europe and in the Asia-Pacific just how central a priority he places on rallying our democratic partners to stand up for the cause of freedom.  And that’s fundamentally what’s at stake in Ukraine.  But it’s also at stake on the larger global stage as well.
Q    Jake, staying on Israel.  There’s some escalating rhetoric from the Israelis about its northern border potentially opening up a new — escalating tensions al- — along the border with Hezbollah.  What is the U.S. message to the Israeli government right now?  Is it still trying to cool tensions down, restraint?  Or do you believe that the Israelis are ready to launch some sort of a larger-scale operation against Hezbollah now?
MR. SULLIVAN:  President Biden touched on this in his speech on Friday.  And what he said was straightforward. 
A ceasefire in Gaza can lead to a calm on the border between Israel and Lebanon — an end to the exchanges of fire that have destabilized but, beyond that, have cause death and destruction on both sides of the border. 
That calm, then, we believe, can be converted into an enduring platform of security where people can return safely to their homes and stay in their homes.  And we have been engaging in robust diplomacy on that front.  We’ll continue to.  But we believe that that path is available and it is the bes- — best path forward. 
I’ve seen some comments in the press in the last hours — the last couple of days.  I haven’t had an opportunity yet to dig into this deeply with my Israeli counterparts.  So, I won’t speak more to that until I can talk to them directly about what their latest thinking is.
Q    On Taiwan, Jake, if I may.  In his interview with TIME, the President said, not for the first time, that he’s not ruling out using U.S. military force in case China invades Taiwan.  Is this a change of policy?  And can you maybe explain what exactly he means by “U.S. military force”?
MR. SULLIVAN:  Well, the President said in that very same interview, maybe even in the very same paragraph, that there’s been no change in policy.  The United States stands behind the One China policy, the Taiwan Communications Act, the three –Taiwan Communications Act, the Taiwan Relations Act, the Three Joint Communiqués, the Six Assurances, and we will continue to do that. 
The President also is a straightforward person.  He’s been asked this hypothetical question.  He’s given a response.  But he has been consistent and emphatic that our policy has not changed.
Q    Sticking with China.  President Xi is calling for a Gaza peace summit.  Do you think that’s a good role for China to play?  What would you like to see them do?
And also, it’s the 35th anniversary of the events in Tiananmen Square.  What is the White House’s message to freedom seekers in China and elsewhere?
MR. SULLIVAN:  The Secretary of State will be — or probably already has put out in a statement that lays out, I think, quite clearly where the Biden administration, the President, the United States stands on this important anniversary.  I will let that statement speak for itself and for us.
On the issue of President Xi’s discussion of a — of a Gaza peace summit, I don’t know what he has in mind.  I haven’t heard any details or seen anything further from them.  I would just say if the PRC is interested in bringing an end to the war in Gaza, they should sign up to the proposal sitting on the table, support it, endorse it, and call on Hamas to accept it.  That would be probably the best way to get an end to the war in Gaza. 
It’s there.  It’s available.  It should be taken.  And that’s where every responsible country should be putting its attention and energy in this vital moment.
Q    Jake, on migration.  The President’s order today obviously depends on Mexico to take back those migrants who’ve been returned.  Is the U.S. satisfied with Mexico’s current commitment to do that?  And wondering, coming away from the discussion yesterday with the President-elect, if the President is confident that she will continue the policies that AMLO’s government has with regard to migration.
MR. SULLIVAN:  I’ll leave it to the Mexican government to speak to what they are going to do on their policies.  What I will say is the President had a very constructive conversation with the President-elect.  He believes that they see eye to eye on the issue and that we can continue our good, close cooperation on it. 
And he also had the opportunity today to speak with President López Obrador, who, of course, is in office for another few months.  They had a good, constructive conversation, and the President believes they see eye to eye as well. 
And he’s, frankly, grateful for the support and partnership we’ve had from the Mexican government, and he expects that it will continue.
Q    Jake, just — just a question.  The meeting with Zelenskyy, is that going to be Thursday or — or Friday?  And then — and any other —
MR. SULLIVAN:  I’ve exceeded my mandate for supplying you with highly sensitive information like scheduling information.  (Laughter.)  So, I will — I will leave that to the powers that be.
Q    And any other pull-a- — pull-asides that we should be expecting?
MR. SULLIVAN:  Not that I have to announce today.  But as you all know, this is going to be an — an event attended by critical allies and partners, people with whom the President has close relationships.  And he will have the opportunity to engage them a number of issues.  And if anything comes out of that, your faithful servant, your obedient servant will report it to you posthaste.  (Laughter.) 
Q    Can I ask one last one with regard to the speech.  Is — is the President worried about the — the rise of right-wing parties in Europe?  And particularly, with the history that we’re commemorating with regard to D-Day, their elections this week probably will hurt Macron.  Is that something that weighs on him?
MR. SULLIVAN:  Look, the President obviously doesn’t wade into or speak to ongoing elections in Europe, including the upcoming European elections, which are set, in fact, for this Sunday.  But he’s made no bones about the fact that he believes that anti-democratic forces — forces that are retrograde, forces that want to take us back, strip away rights — have a darker vision for democracy than he has, you know, that that’s — that’s not his view.  That’s not what he sees as the right path forward for the United States or for the Transatlantic Alliance.
But he’s not going to comment on the election or on a specific party or on a specific candidate because European voters will have to make those decisions for themselves. 
Q    Jake, just on the moment that we’re in now, though, with this trip to France, then the Ukraine peace summit, the G7, and then later, the NATO Summit, it feels like we’re in a critical stretch for world peace.  What do you think needs to happen?
MR. SULLIVAN:  Well, I think, first and foremost, Hamas needs to accept the proposal.  That would help a great deal.  That would help us end the war in Gaza. 
Second, I think that the free world, the nations that have rallied to support Ukraine need to not just reaffirm but double down on that support.  And that part of that involves us making sure that we’re delivering the actual material, tangible capabilities Ukraine needs.  And I think over the coming weeks, you can expect announcements of further deli- — deliveries of substantial capability to Ukraine. 
Third, I think we need to send a clear message to Putin that he cannot outlast us and that he cannot divide us.  And we have been very good at holding the line on those two messages.  And this is going to be a great opportunity over the coming weeks to put a — not just a period at the end of that sentence but an expla- — exclamation point. 
And then, finally, we have to look at the larger set of trends and currents in the world — from artificial intelligence to the climate crisis — and see that these geopolitical challenges are vital, and we need to get them right.  But we also have to make sure that technology is working for us and not against us; that we are mobilizing common action to solve the great challenges of our time, like the climate crisis; and that democracy can deliver. 
And in these next six weeks, the President will try to put all that on display.  And he’ll draw from history to do it, as you’ll see in these next two days.  He’ll draw from the present.  And he’ll also speak about the future.
And in between all of your guys’ fun and frivolity of Paris, you’ll — you’ll get some good, good moments — good moments on this trip.  So, I’ll leave it at that. 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Thanks, Jake.
Q    Thank you, Jake. 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Thank you, Jake.
Hi.  All right.
Q    Thanks, Karine.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead.
Q    Can you talk a little bit about how the President has been following his son’s criminal trial?  Is he getting briefed by White House staff?  Is he just consuming the news?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, look, as you saw — and I — I spoke to this yesterday as well.  You heard directly from the President talk about how much he and the First Lady love his son and support their son.  And that continues, obviously, to be the case. 
I — I don’t have anything beyond the statement that he shared with all of you.  And it’s all just — I’ll just leave it there. 
Q    On — go ahead, Zeke.
Q    Do you know what — the President dropped the First Lady off at her own plane on the way to Air Force One.  Is she — she going back to Wilmington to attend the trial for day three?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I would have to refer to the First Lady’s Office on her — on her travel.  I just don’t — or — or her — yeah, her travel.  I just don’t have anything for you at this time.  So —
Q    On the executive order today, how concerned is the White House that it may face legal challenges?  And how confident are you that it will withstand those challenges?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Look, we’re confident that it will withstand legal challenges.  Look, I think we have to take a step back here.  This is a situation — when you think about the immigration system, you think about the challenges at the border that has been on- — ongoing for decades now. 
And the President has been very clear since day one of his administration that he wants to deal with this in a comprehensive way.  He wanted to deal with it in a bipartisan way.  That’s why we’re able to get that proposal coming out of the Senate. 
We saw what Republicans in the Senate did.  They voted against their own interest, their own proposal that they put forward, their own legislation.  And it’s unfortunate that they chose — they’re choosing political partisan. 
And the President has always said — I even said this in the gaggle yesterday, I’ve said this many times — that he was going to look at every option, evaluate every option to deal with a serious issue that we’re seeing with a broken system.  And so, he took that on. 
We feel confident in the leg- — in the legal component of this, but the President is never going to stop to take action.  Of course, he’s going to continue to say that in order to actually deal with this immigration system, we have to have legislation, we have to have a bipartisan option here, we have to make sure that Congress does its job and pushes forward and deals with the challenges at the bor- — border with a legislation that he can sign. 
A — and the one that they’ve rejected — the Senate Republicans rejected would have been tougher, would have been fairer.  And, you know, we are in a situation where the President said he’s going to take action, and he did.
Q    Karine, on the border.  Border numbers have been trending low this month compared to previous months.  So, why the proclama- — why do the proclamation now?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  It’s still unacceptable.  The border — what we’re seeing is still unacceptable.  And so, the President decided to take action. 
And — and so, look, we understand and we — and you all have reported, majority of Americans care about this issue.  They care about the challenges at the border. 
And the President has always said he’s going to take action, and he has.  And the e- — and you’re right.  The numbers have been trend- — trending down.  But it’s still — it’s still not where it should be.  It’s still not — doesn’t mean that we still shouldn’t take action.  And that’s what you heard from the President today.
Q    Can I ask about the South African election and just how the White House sees its future with Pretoria now that the ANC, which was such a bulwark, has — has lost so much ground? 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, look, so, we — obviously, we’re going to wish all South Africans a peaceful and democratic — well, they had — electoral process, which they had.
And, look, we have a strong relationship with South Africa.  And that leader — that relationship is going to continue based on the priorities our two governments and people share.  For example, together, we are addressing the impacts of climate change. 
You just heard Jake give a pretty eloquent response to your question and talked about the importance of that diplomacy around climate change, just as we think about the world globally, obviously, and — and collaborating on renewable energy, strengthening health security through a robust health agenda, and advancing regional peace and security and growing our bilateral trade and building inclusive economic growth for all of our people. 
And South Africa stands as a vibrant democracy.  And we look forward to continuing and strengthening our work together in the years ahead.  And as two constitutional democracies, the partnership between South Africa and the United States remains an anchor for peace and prosperity in the world. 
And so, look, that’s what we’re going to continue to do — continue that diplomacy, continue that partnership.  And I’ll leave it to — to them to speak about their — their party and their — obviously, their elections.
Q    Just sticking on the Mother Continent.  Do we have any updates on Kenya’s Haiti mission, any efforts that the U.S. is putting in to —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, I don’t have any updates.  I think, you know, when the Kenyans were here, obviously, for the state visit, they continued to reiterate their commitment to their mission in Haiti, and we’ve seen some progress.  You’ve heard Canada make some announcement as well.  And you — as you saw, there is an interim prime minister. 
So, obviously, there is movement happening that we — we support here from the United States.  And, you know, we — we want to make sure that the Haitian people have, obviously, security and they have the ability to, you know, elect their — elect their government.  And that’s where we want to get to a place to.  And so, we’re going to continue to support that effort.
Q    Karine, at the end of the President’s speech today, he said he would be talking in the coming weeks about efforts to make a more just and fair immigration system.  Can you give us more details on that?  Is that, like, speeches about stuff he’s already done or, like, more executive action? 
Q    Yeah.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  — I’m going to be mindful not to get ahead of the President on an- — making any announcement about what could be next.  Look, I think today was an incredibly important action.  We have always said — as I said it — stated earlier in one of my answers — that we are going to do everything that we can to deal with this immigration system that has been broken for decades.  And that’s what you saw the President do.
We, of course, want to see Congress come — move forward with a bipartisan legislation — pass that out of the Senate, out of the House to get that legislation to his desk so he can sign it. 
But the President is always going to look at every option on the table to make sure that we’re dealing with this broken system.  I — I’m not going to get ahead of the POTUS at this time. 
All right.
Q    Karine, one last one for you.  When the President is writing his speeches for Thursday and Friday, is he thinking at all about the service of his uncles in World War Two and his personal connection?  Should we expect any reference to — to his familial connection to the conflict?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, look, I think Jake did a really great job in laying out kind of the President’s thinking on this speech on Thursday.  And so, I don’t really have much more to add to that.  I’m going to let the President give that speech. 
It’s going to be an important moment.  Right?  This is a commemorative moment.  This is going to be an incredibly important trip with our allies and lifting up the veterans and — and what we were able to accomplish so many decades ago. 
But I’m — don’t have anything more to share on what Jake eloquently — also eloquently shared on how the President is thinking about the principles, about democracy, and how to move forward looking at history, but also how to move forward.  And I think that’s what you can expect from the speech on Thursday.
Q    Karine, on the President’s decision on Sunday to go visit another cemetery in France, a cemetery that famously his predecessor didn’t visit, what’s the message behind that?  And, you know, what does he want to tell the American people?  Why is it important to go to that place specifically?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I mean, look, I would say stay tuned.  You’ll hear directly from the President. 
But, look, this is a — he’s not just the President.  Right?  He’s the Commander-in-Chief.  He is someone who is very — very well situated in the history of this country — right? — understands the importance of our allies and our partners. 
And I think that’s what you see from this President day in and day out — and respecting that history, respecting that partnership that we have. 
And so, look, I think the President is going to speak — he is — he’s going to speak more to this.  And so, I’m just going to let him have the last word on this. 
All right.  Thanks, everybody. 
Q    Thanks, Karine.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  All right.  Enjoy.
Q    You too.
 9:07 P.M. EDT 

Official news published at https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/press-briefings/2024/06/04/press-gaggle-by-press-secretary-karine-jean-pierre-and-national-security-advisor-jake-sullivan-en-route-paris-france/

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