Thank you, Jen. And thanks, everybody. So, as you
all know, this week President Biden will head off to Europe on the first foreign
trip of his presidency -- certainly not his first foreign trip, but the first
one as President of the United States. And the trip, at its core, will advance
the fundamental thrust of Joe Biden’s foreign policy: to rally the world’s
democracies to tackle the great challenges of our time.
We believe that President Biden goes on this trip from a position of strength:
dramatic progress against the pandemic at home; strong, projected growth that
will help power the global economic recovery as well; renewed American power and
purpose; and a rock-solid foundation of alliances that will serve as force
multipliers for our global agenda.
At the G7, he will join with his fellow leaders to lay out a plan to end the
COVID-19 pandemic with further specific commitments towards that end. He will
also join his fellow leaders to announce a new initiative to provide financing
for physical, digital, and health infrastructure in the developing world -- a
high-standard, climate-friendly, transparent, and rules-based alternative to
what China is offering.
He and the other leaders will endorse a global minimum tax of at least 15
percent, as you saw coming out of the G7 Finance Ministers Meeting a few days
ago. And the G7 leaders will make a number of significant commitments on
climate, on labor standards, on anti-corruption, and on ransomware.
At NATO, President Biden will address enduring security challenges that have
been at the core of the Alliance for a long time, including Russia and
coordinating the remaining period of the drawdown of forces from Afghanistan.
But they will also focus on emerging security challenges to the Alliance,
critically including cyber and the challenge posed by China.
President Biden will also reinforce the importance of burden sharing -- not just
the 2 percent commitment that Allies made back in 2014 at the Wales Summit, but
the need for Allies to give not just cash, but contributions to exercises and to
operations that NATO is undertaking, and to have the kinds of capabilities that
make sure that NATO is a full-spectrum alliance with Allies across the board
providing the kind of high-end capabilities NATO requires.
At the U.S.-EU summit, the President and European Union leaders will focus on
aligning our approaches to trade and technology so that democracies and not
anyone else -- not China or other autocracies -- are writing the rules for trade
and technology for the 21st century.
President Biden will also have a series of bilateral engagements, including a
U.S.-UK summit with Prime Minister Johnson, where the two leaders will reaffirm
the Special Relationship and update and upgrade it for the modern era. And we
will have further announcements about additional bilateral engagements that he
will have both in Cornwall and in Brussels in the days ahead.
After his time at the G7, at NATO, and at the U.S.-EU summit, President Biden
will go to Geneva to meet with President Putin. He will do so, of course, after
having had nearly a week of intensive consultations with allies and democratic
partners from both Europe and the Indo-Pacific. So he will go into this meeting
with the wind at his back.
Now, we have made clear repeatedly, and I will reinforce again today, that we do
not regard a meeting with the Russian president as a reward. We regard it as a
vital part of defending America’s interests and America’s values. Joe Biden is
not meeting with Vladimir Putin despite our countries’ differences; he’s meeting
with him because of our countries’ differences. There is simply a lot we have to
We believe that President Biden is the most effective, direct communicator of
American values and priorities. And we believe that hearing directly from
President Putin is the most effective way to understand what Russia intends and
There is never any substitute for leader-to-leader engagement, particularly for
complex relationships, but with Putin this is exponentially the case. He has a
highly personalized style of decision making and so it is important for
President Biden to be able to sit down with him face to face, to be clear about
where we are, to understand where he is, to try to manage our differences, and
to identify those areas where we can work in America’s interests to make
When President Biden returns to Washington next week, we believe that we will be
in a materially stronger position to manage the major threats and challenges
this country faces: COVID, climate, China, cyber, Russia, and shaping the rules
of trade and technology for the future.
So, with that, I’d be happy to take any questions that you have.
Question: Thanks, Jake. Is this the right time to be having a one-on-one meeting with
Vladimir Putin so early in President Biden’s presidency, before he’s met
one-on-one with so many other world leaders, and at a time when there isn’t a
specific deliverable that the White House is looking to achieve from the
Mr. Sullivan: So, first, we don’t think in terms of U.S.-Russia summits as being
about deliverables. Because if you’re going to wait for really significant
deliverables, you could be waiting a long time, conceivably. So what we need to
think about this summit as doing is fundamentally giving us an opportunity to
communicate from our president to their president what American intentions and
capabilities are and to hearing the same from their side. That has value in and
Secondly, in terms of the timing, it is hard from our perspective to find a
better context for a meeting with the Russian president than after time spent
with the world’s leading market economies -- the G7 -- plus India, South Korea,
Australia, and South Africa; after a meeting with all of his fellow leaders at
NATO; after a meeting with the presidents of the European Union; and then, and
only then, going into this session to be able to talk through the complex set of
issues in the U.S.-Russia relationship. That, from our perspective, is the right
context within which to engage Russia.
And as far as whether it comes too early in his presidency, if you think about
what we’ve dealt with from the outset on Russia, it’s been a busy time: We’ve
extended the New START agreement. We’ve imposed costs for election interference
and for SolarWinds. We’ve dealt with a Russian buildup on the Ukraine border.
And, of course, we are contending with a range of issues in the cyber and
ransomware domain. So, we feel that it is an effective and appropriate context
and time period for us to have this summit.
Question: And then, just as a follow-up to that: The Ukrainian President did an
interview today and implored President Biden to meet with him first, before Mr.
Biden sits down with Vladimir Putin. Is that something that you’re considering?
If not, why not?
Mr. Sullivan: Well, actually, I have come into this briefing room from the Oval
Office where President Biden was on the phone with President Zelenskyy of
Ukraine. This is a call that they had been planning to make in advance of
President Biden going to Europe and meeting with President Putin. They had the
opportunity to talk at some length about all of the issues in the U.S.-Ukraine
relationship. And President Biden was able to tell President Zelenskyy that he
will stand up firmly for Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and its
aspirations, as we go forward. And he also told President Zelenskyy that he
looks forward to welcoming him to the White House, here in Washington, this
summer after he returns from Europe.
Mr. Sullivan: Yeah.
Question: Hi, Jake. Thank you. We know that Afghanistan is going to be discussed with
our NATO Allies. There’s been a lot of concern about replacing some of those
U.S. assets, such as the drones, to be able to fight against the Taliban. Can
you bring us up to speed on where are the negotiations with Pakistan? And would
the United States like to have a drone base in Pakistan?
Mr. Sullivan: So I’m not going to get into the details of our negotiations with
Pakistan. I will only say this: We have had constructive discussions in the
military, intelligence, and diplomatic channels with Pakistan about the future
of America’s capabilities to ensure that Afghanistan never again becomes a base
from which al Qaeda or ISIS or any other terrorist group can attack the United
But in terms of the specifics of what that will look like, that will have to
remain in those private channels as we work through them.
What I will say is that we are talking to a wide range of countries about how we
build effective, over-the-horizon capacity, both from an intelligence and from a
defense perspective, to be able to suppress the terrorism threat in Afghanistan
on a going-forward basis.
Question: Jake, two questions -- one with Putin and one here back at home. With Putin,
the President is going into this meeting where there’s great tension between
both leaders. And let’s talk about the trust factor: How can you trust anything
Vladimir Putin says in this sit-down when the President comes back? You say
you’re going to learn what he’s thinking and what he wants to moving forward.
How can you trust that, as Vladimir Putin has already smeared the President’s
name? How can you do that? How can you trust?
Mr. Sullivan: Taking the measure of another president is not about trusting
them. And the relationship between the U.S. and Russia is not about a
relationship of trust. It’s about a relationship of verification. It’s about a
relationship of clarifying what our expectations are and laying out that if
certain kinds of harmful activities continue to occur, there will be responses
from the United States.
Question: What are those responses?
Mr. Sullivan: And our -- well, we will lay those out for President Putin in this
meeting, and he will understand fully where the United States stands and what we
intend to do.
But one thing I will say, April, is we believe fundamentally that our capacity
to ensure that harmful and disruptive activities against the United States do
not continue unabated is to be able to communicate clearly, directly -- not by
negotiating in public, but by explicating our position and our capabilities in
private. And that’s what President Putin intends to do.
Question: My second question, Jake, on voting -- the For the People Act. If it is not
passed, what is the national security issue with it? Is there a national
security issue with it if it’s not passed? Because we’ve heard so much over the
past few years about issues of voting. If that is not passed, is it a national
Mr. Sullivan: I would say the basic notion of democratic reform and voting
rights in the United States is a national security issue. We are in a
competition of models with autocracies, and we are trying to show the world that
American democracy and democracy writ large can work, can effectively deliver
the will of the people. And to the extent that we are not updating,
refurbishing, revamping our own democratic processes and procedures to meet the
needs of the modern moment, then we are not going to be as successful in making
that case to the rest of the world -- to China, to Russia, or to anyone else.
And so there is a national security dimension to this today, just as there was
through the decades of the Cold War.
Question: Thank you so much. My question is: Can you talk a bit about how President
Biden plans to convince, especially our European allies, that President --
former President Trump was an anomaly in some ways -- all the things that he did
to, in some ways, traumatize those leaders; calling into question the need for
NATO. What’s the plan there? And is he concerned that those scars are going to
be deeper than his ability to address them in this one trip?
Mr. Sullivan: I think our view going into this trip is that actions speak louder
than words, and that showing that the United States is capable of turning the
corner on the pandemic; showing that the United States is capable of making the
dramatic investments that will pull us up and out of this economic recovery and
help power global growth; showing the world that we are ultimately capable of
making the investments in R&D and infrastructure, innovation, and workforce --
ultimately, setting that foundation for this country will be the most effective
way to show the rest of the world that the United States has the power and
purpose to be able to deliver as the world’s leading democracy.
So that’s what he’s going to try to demonstrate. And he, as I said at the
outset, feels he goes into this from a position of strength because of the
record he’s built up over the course of the first four months.
Question: And on voting, can you talk a little bit -- is Congress being briefed on the
idea of voting as a national security issue? And if the For the People Act isn’t
passed, what will that say globally, given the fact that you just laid it out as
a national security issue?
Mr. Sullivan: So, I will say, humbly, as the National Security Advisor, I don’t
tend to get into the middle of the debates up on the Hill on issues like voting
rights. All I can say is the bottom-line principle -- not a specific question
about the vehicle or the timeframe, but rather the fundamental principle --
which is that a strong, vibrant American democracy that protects voting rights
is the best way for us to make the case to the world that our model, and not
some other model, is the right model to actually vindicate the will of the
people here in the United States, and for other democracies to be able to do the
Question: Two quick questions. One, a follow-up on Yamiche. The biggest concern of some
of our allies has been, over the last four years and even before, just the rapid
swaying back and forth of our foreign policy. Now, you can’t assure anyone
what’s going to happen after you leave, but what assurances and what will you
tell our allies that, despite what we’ve seen in the past, that we have returned
Mr. Sullivan: I think the best way to answer that question -- and this builds on
what I said to Yamiche -- is what President Biden can do is show the rest of the
world what America is capable of. If we can lead the world in ending the
COVID-19 pandemic more rapidly; if the growth we are powering for the American
people here at home helps power a global economic recovery; if we can help
rally, as the President did with his Climate Leaders Summit, action on climate
-- on the climate crisis so that we actually beat this thing, ultimately, that
is going to be the best way for people to say, “Hang on, the United States can
do this. They can deliver and we will stand up and stand behind them.” And that
is the approach that he has taken from the first day he’s been in office. That’s
the message he’s going to carry into these meetings.
And what I believe we will deliver just out of the G7 alone, in addition to the
other meetings he’s going to have on this trip, will show that the United States
retains profound capacity to help rally the world’s democracies to solve big
Question: And the second question --
Mr. Sullivan: Yeah.
Question: Yes --
Question: And I had a second question. The second question was: Will you look at
ransomware as a national security priority? How will we address that in the G7?
Mr. Sullivan: Yes, ransomware is a national security priority, particularly as
it relates to ransomware attacks on critical infrastructure in the United
States. And we will treat it as such in the G7. We will treat it at such at
every stop along the way on this trip.
Question: Thanks, Jake. What is the point of meeting Putin in person if there are no
deliverables and there’s no real trust to that relationship? Why does the
President think in-person is the most effective way to address Putin when you
could just do this on the phone?
Mr. Sullivan: Well, first of all, there’s no substitute for face-to-face
engagement in any dynamic. He’s not just going to Geneva. Right? He’s going to
Cornwall. He’s going to Brussels. He will have the chance to look in the eyes of
literally dozens of leaders over the course of his time, and all of that will be
better than just operating on the telephone. That’s --
Question: I’m asking about Putin though, not the other leaders. If there’s -- if the
Mr. Sullivan: Well, but I --
Question: -- is centered around these issues that are so complicated, what does this
President believe -- what does he believe he can bring to the table with Putin?
And how does he assess Putin as a leader that he can talk to across the table?
Mr. Sullivan: So, first, the reason I answered with “all the other leaders” is
this isn’t something unique to Putin. Meeting face to face is not just something
you do with Vladimir Putin; it’s something President Biden is going to do -- I
think, all told, when you add it up -- with somewhere approaching 35 or 36
leaders just on this one trip alone. And he has welcomed the Prime Minister of
Japan and the President of Korea. He will welcome other leaders here over the
course of the summer, because face-to-face engagement is just of a different
order of magnitude of diplomatic engagement from doing it over the phone.
Second, on this notion of deliverables in the U.S.-Russia summit: At the end of
the day, what we are looking to do is for the two presidents to be able to send
a clear signal on question -- to their teams on questions of strategic stability
so that we can make progress in arms control and other nuclear areas to reduce
tension and instability in that aspect of the relationship. And then, second,
being able to look President Putin in the eye and say, “This is what America’s
expectations are. This is what America stands for. This is what America is all
This, we believe, is an essential aspect of U.S.-Russia diplomacy because
President Putin is a singular kind of personalized leader, and having the
opportunity to come together in a summit will allow us to manage this
relationship and stand up and defend American values most effectively.
Question: Following up on the ransomware issue, given how pervasive it is and has been
for some time. U.S. officials have talked about the need for international
allies to work together on this issue. Are you looking for specific commitments
from allies? What do you want to come out of the G7 and NATO summit with, as it
pertains to ransomware to help better protect the U.S.?
Mr. Sullivan: So one of the things we’d like to see out of the G7 is the start
of an action plan that covers a number of critical areas.
First, how to deal with the -- increasing the robustness and resilience of our
defenses against ransomware attacks, collectively.
Second, how to share information about the nature of the threat among our
Third, how to deal with the cryptocurrency challenge, which is -- lies at the
core of how this -- these ransom transactions are played out.
And then, finally, how we collectively speak with one voice to those countries,
including Russia, that are harboring or permitting cyber criminals to operate
from their territory.
So those are some of the things that we are looking for as outcomes out of the
G7+. We will also speak, in the NATO context, about cyber threats, particularly
as they relate to critical infrastructure, as being of a different order of
magnitude of security threat that the Alliance has to concern itself with in a
way that it hasn’t historically. But it’s got to become a priority on a
Mr. Sullivan: Yeah.
Question: Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you so much. Okay, so about the
infrastructure financing problem that you were talking about is going to be
announced, which countries is the United States and G7 look at? Is Brazil one of
these developing countries to receive this financing?
And if you could update us about the discussions with Brazil on 5G, because you
have a delegation from Brazil here discussing with NSC officials.
And, finally, why hasn’t President Biden still talk with the Brazilian
president, Bolsonaro? Why are -- why he hasn’t? And what is the message that
this send to Brazil? It’s June. He’s already going to -- for international trip.
He has not yet speak with Brazil. So why is that?
Mr. Sullivan: So there are a number of leaders that he hasn’t had the
opportunity to speak with. And one of the reasons why, of course, as many people
in this room know, is he’s had an unbelievably packed and crowded agenda,
particularly domestically, and trying to beat the pandemic and get on the road
to COVID-19 recovery.
So he’s looking forward to making sure he gets to touch the leaders of every
significant country in the world over the course of the coming weeks and months.
On 5G, we have made clear our view and we will communicate that with the
delegation visiting from Brazil that we believe that trusted vendors for 5G are
the best way, both for -- to secure telecommunications networks and to ensure
that a country’s democratic values can be protected.
And then, finally, I’m not going to get ahead of the announcements on the
financing for infrastructure package. I will let that speak for itself. But I
will say, it will cover all of the significant regions of the world, including
Latin America and the Caribbean.
Question: Mr. Sullivan?
Mr. Sullivan: Yeah.
Question: Thank you there. When the United States rejoined the World Health
Organization, you wrote in a statement that that meant, quote, “holding it to
the highest standards.” Does that mean that the World Health Organization had
failed to meet those standards at some point? And then, what specifically is
this administration doing to make certain that they are held to those standards?
Mr. Sullivan: So, we have made clear from the beginning of this administration,
and in rejoining, that we believe the WHO does need to be reformed. Some of
those reforms are more programmatic and bureaucratic; they relate to ensuring
greater efficiency and effectiveness in responding to things like the outbreak
of COVID-19. Some of them are about making sure that there is not undue
influence or interference by any single member state or country in the WHO.
And then some of them relate to very targeted issues like the COVID-19 origins
investigation where I have personally, and we collectively, have been quite
vocal about our view that there needs to be a second round to this investigation
that truly gets to the heart of the matter, which is the original data and
original information that is still being withheld by China. And our hope is that
in the coming months we will see a credible international investigation
progress, including in respect to those items.
Question: Thank you, Jake. What is your expectation for when the U.S. will lift travel
restrictions on the UK and on Europe? And what are your current concerns? Why
haven’t they been lifted yet? What specifically are you looking for to have
happen -- for that to happen?
Mr. Sullivan: Well, let me start by saying it doesn’t really matter what I am
looking for personally, because at the end of the day this is a process being
driven by science and public health guidance. And so it is ultimately up to the
public health professionals in the U.S. government to make that determination.
We have heard very clearly the desire of our friends in Europe and in the UK, to
be able to reopen travel across the Atlantic Ocean, and we want to see that
happen. But we have to follow the science and we have to follow the guidance of
our public health professionals. So we are actively engaging with them to
determine the timeframe.
And I can’t give you a date today, but I will tell you that we recognize the
concern and we are fundamentally being guided by objective analysis in this
Question: What is your response to arguments that those continuing restrictions on the
UK and European countries are unfair, given that there are other countries that
the U.S. does
not have travel restrictions on?
Mr. Sullivan: My view on this is: We have been transparent and clear about the
basis for our travel restrictions. We have done so through a process that has
been guided by science and evidence. That is how we’ve determined how the travel
restrictions have been applied and to whom, and that is how we are going to
proceed on a going-forward basis.
This could -- this administration’s commitment to that kind of analysis is
fundamental. It is how -- it is what has guided every aspect of our response to
the pandemic, including this issue.
Question: Thank you very much, Jake. Nice to see you. I’m Jeanne Pak with
Korea. And regarding about the North Korea issues, is there a possibility of
U.S. and South Korea, Japan trilateral meeting at the G7, and you’ll be
discussing with the North Korean issues?
Mr. Sullivan: We don’t currently have a trilateral scheduled between the U.S.,
Japan, and South Korea, but I will tell you there’s a possibility for virtually
anything in these small spaces where you have just a -- you know, in this case,
10 or 12 leaders in person there in Cornwall. But there’s nothing currently on
Question: We have a logistical question, actually. Do you expect President Biden and
President Putin to spend any time together alone, or do you expect that staff
and aides will be present throughout all this summit? And can we expect a joint
press conference between the two leaders? Is this something that you’re actively
Mr. Sullivan: All of that is still being worked out. So when I’ve got more to
report on the modalities, both in terms of how the meeting will be structured
and the press elements, we’ll come back to you.
Question: Jake, I want to ask you about the relationship specifically with two leaders.
It was announced las week that the President will have a bilateral with the
Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. I know that talks have been challenging
with him. Can you describe what the administration is hoping to accomplish on
And also, secondly, with the UK, what is the dynamic, or what’s the personal
relationship between Boris Johnson and Joe Biden? I know we’ve heard about the
Special Relationship between the two countries. What’s their relationship like?
Mr. Sullivan: So, President Biden and President Johnson -- or Prime Minister
Johnson -- have had the opportunity to have a couple of phone calls. And those
phone calls have been warm. They’ve been constructive. They’ve been very much
down to business. They’ve gone through extensive agendas in both of them. And I
expect that their meeting together will just cover the waterfront. I mean,
really, a wide range of issues where the two of them and the U.S and United
Kingdom do see eye to eye. They’ve been collaborating on this plan to end the
pandemic. They’ve been collaborating on this infrastructure financing plan.
They’ve been collaborating on virtually every aspect of the G7 agenda. And they
talked very closely about how the Leaders Summit that President Biden hosted on
climate could help provide the runway into COP26, which Prime Minister Johnson
will be hosting in Glasgow.
And then, as far as President Erdogan is concerned, they will have a bilateral
on the margins of the NATO Summit in Brussels, and there, too, it’s going to be
a broad and expansive agenda -- issues right there in the region; of course, in
the Eastern Mediterranean with Syria, with Iran, Nagorno-Karabakh -- but also
the role that Turkey will play on a going-forward basis with respect to
negotiations and diplomacy in Afghanistan and how the U.S and Turkey itself deal
with some of our significant differences on values and human rights and other
And President Biden knows Erdogan very well. The two men have spent a good
amount of time together, and they are both, I think, looking forward to the
opportunity to really have a business-like opportunity to review the full
breadth of their relationship.
I’m afraid I have to go. I’m sorry, guys.
Question: One more question about Ukraine -- about the Ukraine
[inaudible]. Can we ask
you one question about Ukraine --
Mr. Sullivan: Sure.
Question: -- and whether President Zelenskyy -- you mentioned his ask to have Ukraine
join NATO. What message will the President deliver in response, if it came up?
Mr. Sullivan: So they were able to talk about, basically, every significant
aspect of the relationship, including with respect to the U.S.’s support for
Ukraine security. But in terms of the specifics of what they discussed, I’m
going to let the two of them speak for themselves. I’m not going to read out
that aspect of the meeting.