Remarks by President Biden in Press Conference | Beaufort County Now | Remarks by President Biden in Press Conference

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
Press Release:

Cornwall Airport Newquay  •  Cornwall, United Kingdom  •  June 13  •  2:52 P.M. BST

    THE PRESIDENT: Well, good afternoon. And let me start by thanking Prime Minister Johnson for the incredible hospitality and welcome that he provided for all of us at the G7. I'd like to take — thank Yael Lempert, who is our chargé at the embassy, filling in for the ambassador — an ambassador; we'll have one soon. But she did a great job supporting the entire team, and Yael is vital to keeping this UK-U.S. partnership going and moving smoothly as it is now.

    We've just wrapped up what has been an extraordinary, collaborative, and productive meeting at the G7. Everyone at the table understood and understands both the seriousness and the challenges that we're up against, and the responsibility of our proud democracies to step up and deliver for the rest of the world. That's what the G7 is all about. And rallying the world's democracies to meet the challenges that the world faces, and deliver for our people and for people, quite frankly, everywhere.

    Ending the pandemic and maintaining robust support for an equitable, inclusive global economic recovery were the top priorities of our nations as we got together. We know we can't achieve one without the other; that is, we have to deal with the pandemic and — in order to be able to deal with economic recovery, which — as we're doing in the States, but we committed that we're going to do more for the rest of the world as well.

    The fact is that we — the U.S. contribution is the foundation — the foundation to work out how we're going to deal with the 100 nations that are poor and having trouble finding vaccines and having trouble dealing with reviving their economies if they were, in the first place, in good shape.

    And we — I committed that we would provide a half a billion — a half a billion beyond the 80 million we've already done — half a billion doses of Pfizer vaccine, which we contracted to pay for, in addition to money we put into the COVID [COVAX] project, which is that COVID [COVAX] is — and I know you all know, but a lot of people may not know what COVID [COVAX] is — that is a system whereby they're going to provide funding for states to be able to get access to vaccines on their own, as well.

    But the bottom line is: What that generated was a commitment by the rest of our colleagues at the G7 that they would provide another half billion. So we're going to have a billion doses of vaccine.

    And, in our case, this includes sharing more than — not just the one billion doses overall, but we're going to provide for 200 million of those doses by the end of the year, another 300 million by the first half of next year. And so, it's — it was greeted with some enthusiasm.

    And we've agreed to work together so that the world is better prepared to detect and deal with future pandemics, because there will be future pandemics.

    We have a — I'm sure you've seen it; if you haven't, you'll get it — a joint statement we put out of the G7. You've seen it, I'm sure. And we are committed to follow on to do some significant work, including not only how we deal with the distribution and help in getting shots in arms to the rest of the world, but how we're going to deal with putting together a mechanism to anticipate and deal with and be aware of the next — the next pandemic when it comes along. And there will be others.

    And we also agreed to take important steps that are going to support global economic recovery by laying the foundation for an equitable global economy. Critically, the G7 leaders endorsed a global minimum tax of 15 percent. So many corporations have been engaged in what are essentially tax havens, deciding that they would pay considerably less than other — in other environs around the world. And — but this is going to make sure there's a minimum tax, and I'm going to have — I'm going to move on this at home as well — a minimum tax for corporations to pay for the profits they make anywhere in the world.

    And this agreement is going to help arrest the race to the bottom that's been going on among nations attracting corporate investment at the expense of priorities like protecting our workers and investing in infrastructure.

    We also made a momentous commitment at the G7 to help meet more than a $40 trillion need that exists for infrastructure in the developing world. I put forward an idea that was called — we named the "Build Back Better World Partnership," which is — we're calling it the "B3W."

    The point is that what's happening is that China has this Belt and Road Initiative, and we think that there's a much more equitable way to provide for the needs of countries around the world.

    And so it's been — it's a values-driven, high-standard, transparent financing mechanism we're going to provide and support projects in four key are- — key areas: climate, health, digital technology, and gender equity. And we believe that will not only be good for the countries, but it'll be good for the entire world and represent values that our democracies represent, and not autocratic lack of values. By harassing the full potential of those who are harassing, we're going to have to try and change things. That's the whole idea.

    But here's the deal: We're going to make sure that we are able to pull together the ability to use the development financing institutions and other development tools to expect the bold, new infrastructure investment in low- and middle-income countries over the coming years, much of it coming from the private sector, which will generate the capital put in; will generate significantly more capital from the private sector.

    We also made a historic commitment to permanently eliminate the use of our public finance to support unabated coal projects around the world, and to end — and to end them by this year. The G7 agreed to that. And those who are not members, but visiting members who are participating in the G7, who have coal-fired facilities have also agreed that they would work in that direction as well.

    So, transitioning the world to cleaner energy sources is urgent, it's essential if we're going to beat the climate. And there is — one of the things I — some of my colleagues said to me when I was there was, "Well, the United States is — their leadership recognizes there is global warming." And I know that sounds silly, but, you know, we had a President who last — who basically said it's not a problem — global warming. It is the existential problem facing humanity, and it's being treated that way. So we're going to provide up to $2 billion to support developing company [sic] — countries as they transition away from unabated coal-fired power.

    In addition, we also agreed to tackle corruption, which is a threat to societies everywhere. I pointed out in a conversation I had with — with one of the leaders of — well, actually with China. And that was — it was a request for me not to try to — when I was asked what I was going to be doing after being elected, I said we're going to reestablish the strength of American relationships so we can be counted on again — alliances — and suggested that, "Well, maybe you shouldn't get the Quad..." — meaning India, Japan, Australia, and the United States — "...working together, and maybe you shouldn't be pushing on strengthening the European Union to deal with the West not just to have..." — and so on.

    And I said, for an American president to — every president to be sustained, or prime minister, has to represent the values of their country. And I pointed out — and I mean this sincerely: We're unique as a country. We're built on — we're unique in a sense that we're not based on ethnicity or geography or religion; we're one nation that said we organized on an idea: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men and women are created equal." It sounds corny, but it's real.

    And any President who doesn't act consistent with what the — the raison d'état for the nation is cannot be sustained that — the support of that country.

    And so what we were able to do is: We know that corruption undermines the trust in governments, siphons off public resources, makes economies much less competitive, and constitutes a threat to our security. So we're going to work together to address issues like the abuse of shell companies and money laundering through real estate transactions. And we've agreed that we're going to work together to address cyber threats from state and non-state actors like criminal ransomware networks, and hold count- — countries accountable that harbor criminal ransomware actors who don't hold them accountable.


    And over the past few weeks, the nations of the G7 have affirmed that democratic values that underpin everything we hope to achieve in our shared future, that we're committed to put them to work: One, delivering vaccines and ending the pandemic. Two, driving substantial, inclusive economic recovery around the world. Three, in fueling infrastructure development in places that most badly need it. And, four, in fighting climate change.

    The only way we're going to meet the global threats that we're — is by working together, and with our partners and our allies. And I conveyed to each of my G7 counterparts that the United States is going to do our part. America is back at the table. It's — America is back at the table.

    The lack of participation in the past and full engagement was noticed significantly, not only by the leaders of those countries, but by the people in the G7 countries. And America is back in the business of leading the world alongside nations who share our most deeply held values.

    And so the bottom line is: I was very pleased with the — with the outcome of the — of the entire conference. And, you know, I noticed there was a lot of coverage of my individual comments made by my colleagues about how we were all getting along together. But the truth of the matter is: We did. It wasn't — I felt it wasn't about me, but it was about America. I felt a genuine sense of enthusiasm that America was back at the table and fully, fully engaged.

    And now I'm going to be heading off to — to Brussels, to NATO. And the same — many of the same people are going to be at that table, and — in NATO — and to make the case we are back, as well. We do not view NATO as a sort of a protection racket. We believe that NATO is vital to our ability to maintain American security for the next — next — the remainder of the century. And there's a real enthusiasm.

    I made it clear — and I pointed out, and I thanked them — you know, Article 5 is, "An attack on one is an attack on all." Well, what Americans sometimes — don't forget — remember what happened on 9/11. We were attacked. Immediately, NATO supported us. NATO supported us. NATO went until we got bin Laden. NATO was part of the process. And I want them to know, unlike — whether they doubt it — that we believe NATO and Section [Article] 5 is a sacred obligation.

    Bottom line is: I think — I think we've made some progress in reestablishing American credibility among our closest friends and our — our values.

    Now, why don't I take some of your questions? And I'm told, Jonathan, I'm supposed to talk — recognize you first.

    Q:  Well, I appreciate — I appreciate that, sir. Thank you very much. Mr. President, Vladimir Putin — (a microphone is brought to Mr. Lemire) — thank you.

    Vladimir Putin, who you'll be seeing in a few days in Geneva, said just a couple of days ago that he believed that U.S.-Russia relations were at a low point. In what concrete ways could your summit change that?

    And then, secondly, on the same topic: You have said previously, and in the run-up to the summit, that you would be unafraid to call out Russia's disruptive actions — like cyber hacks, Ukraine, election interference — but you're not having a joint press conference with Putin. Why not take the chance to stand side by side with him and say those things to him with the world watching?

    THE PRESIDENT: (Laughs.) Well, let me make it clear: I think he's right that it's a low point, and it depends on how he responds to acting consistent with international norms, which, in many cases, he has not.

    As I told him when I was running and when I got elected, before it was — I was sworn in, that I was going to find out whether or not he, in fact, did engage in trying to interfere in our election; that I was going to take a look at whether he was involved in the — a cybersecurity breach that occurred, et cetera; and if I did, I was going to respond.

    I did; I checked it out. So, I had access to all the intelligence. He was engaged in those activities. I did respond and made it clear that I'd respond again.

    With regard to — I always found — and I don't mean to suggest that the press should not know — but this is not a contest about who can do better in front of a press conference to try to embarrass each other. It's about making myself very clear what the conditions are to get a better relationship are — with Russia.

    We're not looking for conflict. We are looking to resolve those actions which we think are inconsistent with international norms, number one. Number two, where we can work together, we may be able to do that in terms of some strategic doctrine that — that may be able to be worked together. We're ready to do it. And there may be other areas. There's even talk there may be the ability to work together on climate.

    So the bottom line is that I think the best way to deal with this is for he and I to meet, he and I to have our discussion. I know you don't doubt that I'll be very straightforward — (laughs) — with him about our concerns. And I will make clear my view of how that meeting turned out, and he'll make clear how — from his perspective, how it turned out.

    But I don't want to get into being diverted by, "Did they shake hands? How far did they ta- — who talked the most," and the rest. Now, he can say what he said the meeting was about, and I will say what I think the meeting was about.

    That's — that's how I'm going to handle it.

    Q:  Okay, thanks.

    THE PRESIDENT: I'm sorry, I'm going to get in trouble with staff if I don't do this the right way.

    Jennifer Jacobs, Bloomberg.

    [ ... ]

    Read the full transcript HERE.

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