Blinken Holds Press Availability, State Department Reports

Department of State

SECRETARY BLINKEN: Well, good afternoon, everyone. First, let me say what a pleasure it is to be here in Brazil - first in Brasília, now here in Rio. And as I think many of you know, this is the 200th anniversary this year of diplomatic relations between the United States and Brazil, something that we will be highlighting and celebrating throughout the rest of the year.

It's exactly a year ago that the President and President Lula met, and I think one of the things that stood out from that meeting was a common desire, a common objective, a common goal to leave the next generation a better future. Those were President Lula's words; it's also President Biden's commitment. And I think what we're seeing in so many different areas is the United States and Brazil working closely together to do just that.

I had the pleasure and privilege of spending some time with President Lula yesterday in Brasília. I'm grateful to him for the time that he dedicated and to the depth and richness of the conversation we had. And as I reflected on what we talked about, so much of it was this common agenda between our countries to try to build effectively a better future for our people, focusing on the areas and on the issues that really have an impact in their daily lives.

We're all seized with the obligation of contending with the one existential threat to humanity, and that's climate change. And our countries have been leaders on that. Of course, the rainforest - the Amazon - is one of the world's greatest natural resources when it comes to actually effectively dealing with climate change carbon emissions. President Lula put it this way when he was at the White House with President Biden: "To take care of the Amazon rainforest today is to take of the planet Earth. And to take care of the planet Earth is to take care of our own [survival]." I don't think anyone could put it any better.

So the United States is working side by side with Brazil to support its efforts to preserve the rainforest, to combat deforestation. We're putting resources into that; we're engaged with many other countries around the world to encourage them to participate. And with USAID and other organizations in the U.S. Government, we're working in very practical, concrete ways to help with - support the management and preservation of the rainforest.

In 2025, Brazil will head up the COP, COP30, in Belém. This is a very important opportunity to advance progress on the many different ways in which all of us are dealing with climate change, and we applaud Brazil's leadership.

Another area where Brazil is leading and the United States has partnered with Brazil is on dealing with the challenge of food insecurity and global hunger. Here I'm proud of the fact the United States has invested billions of dollars over the last few years, both to deal with emergency situations that we face - the world has faced - as a result of climate change, COVID, and conflict, including Russia's aggression against Ukraine. Since 2021, the United States has invested $17.5 billion dollars in trying to support food security for people around the world. But it's not only the emergency assistance that counts, and I discussed this with President Lula. It's the work we are doing to invest in productive capacity around the world for countries from Africa to Latin America to well beyond. That is the answer to the challenge of food insecurity. We have many initiatives under way that are doing just that - adapting our agricultural systems, our food production systems.

With Brazil, we have a partnership to bring artificial intelligence and other technologies to improve the soil in countries. And one of the things that we found and is at the heart of one of our own major new initiatives - VACS, our Vision for Adapted Crops and Soil - is when you have resilient and nutritious seeds resilient to climate change and other extreme weather patterns, when you have strong soil, anything is possible.

And this initiative with Brazil is working to do just that, and that means that what we then put into the ground on top of the seeds and soil, like fertilizer, will be much more effective. So we're working to develop crops that use nutrients more efficiently, more effectively, lowering costs, lowering dependencies, and at the same time lowering emissions. It's joined with climate change. So another powerful example of where our two countries are working together in common purpose.

And then, of course, President Biden, President Lula are joined profoundly by their commitment to protecting worker rights, to defending and strengthening labor around the world. I think both presidents see it the same way. Workers, labor are at the heart of our successes as countries; we are both building economies from the bottom up and the middle out. Here again, the Partnership for Workers' Rights that the two presidents signed - stopping worker exploitation, focusing on forced labor, on child labor, promoting rights around the world - here again, our countries are joined.

And we have a joint action plan as well to eliminate racial and ethnic discrimination and promote equality, equitable access to education, to health care, to justice, particularly for people of African and indigenous origin.

I mention all of this because it was really at the heart of the conversation that I had with President Lula yesterday, and aspects are also at the heart of the G20 agenda, which Brazil is leading. And the other main purpose of this visit was to take part in a meeting with the foreign ministers led by Foreign Minister Vieira to prepare the agenda for the leaders when they have the meeting of the G20 leadership toward the end of this year. Here again, Brazil and the United States are working very closely together as partners, and it's the United States purpose in this to support and make a success of Brazil's presidency of the G20.

In all of the areas of focus that Brazil has set forward - whether, again, it comes to advancing the rights of workers and laborers, whether it comes to dealing with climate change, food security, whether it comes to reforming the institutions that shape how countries interact around the world - we are working hand in hand with Brazil on that.

Now, the scope, the scale of some of these global challenges is immense, and I know that there are times when it feels like those challenges are outpacing our collective capacity to tackle them. But I think what the G20 can demonstrate - it's demonstrated it in the past and I believe it will demonstrate it in the future - is that, no, we actually do have the capacity when we're working together, to effectively meet the moment, to meet the challenges that we're facing, to actually address the needs of the people that we represent.

The United States, for its part, is working to do that, and we had some discussion of these issues in the context of the G20.

On Ukraine, there is a strong, palpable desire among virtually all of the G20 for the Russian aggression to end and for peace to prevail in a way that upholds the rights of Ukrainians to their freedom, to their future, to the territorial integrity of their country. And that was very clear in the meetings that we had over the last two days.

The conflict in Gaza between Israel and Hamas - we're focused intensely on trying to get an agreement that results in the release of the remaining hostages and that produces an extended humanitarian ceasefire. And again, those are goals that I think virtually everyone in the G20 shares.

Haiti - an area that is close to home and close to the hearts of Americans and Brazilians alike - we see a situation that continues to deteriorate, particularly when it comes to the profound insecurity as a result of gangs that are running rampant not only in Port-au-Prince but increasingly beyond. We see a state that's on the verge of becoming a failed state, and the result is that people are suffering tremendously - not only from the violence, including sexual violence, but just from the inability to get the basic necessities of life.

Today we had a meeting that involved a number of countries, all of whom will be contributing to the mission to help provide renewed security for Haiti that was endorsed by the United Nations last fall and that we're now making - making real. We have a commitment from Kenya to lead this effort in support of the Haitian National Police, and today we had a - as I said, a meeting with well more than a dozen countries, each of whom is contributing or plans to contribute significantly to this mission with personnel, with equipment, with training, and with financial resources. And I think today we had at least another $120 million committed to that effort.

We're working together to deal with irregular migration, a challenge that countries around the world are facing in this moment. This is, simply put, a challenge of historic proportions. We see more people on the move now around the planet - not only in our own hemisphere, but around the planet - more people than ever before since we've been recording these numbers. But here again, we're working collectively to try to address the challenge.

And then in so many other places around the world where there is conflict, where there is insecurity, the United States, working with other countries, is trying to make a change and trying to make a difference - whether it's in Sudan, whether it's in the eastern DRC, Ethiopia, Somalia. We're working in all of these places to try to deal with insecurity and also, more broadly in Africa, with a very strong, affirmative agenda which I was able to highlight on my recent visit.

Finally, beyond security, we are putting together new coalitions of countries and organizations to meet shared challenges in new ways. We have a global partnership now to direct investment in infrastructure in ways that create a race to the top, not a race to the bottom - to make sure that as we pursue infrastructure projects in countries around the world and direct investment in that direction, we're doing it in a way that doesn't saddle countries with debt, that respects the rights of workers, the environment, transparency. That coalition - including here in Brazil - is increasingly focused on concrete projects and putting the resources into them.

We have countries - well more than a hundred countries - that have come together to meet a Global Methane Pledge, the largest single contributor to global warming, to cut emissions by 30 - methane emissions 30 percent by 2030. That will have a powerful impact.

And as I've discussed many times, we now have a global coalition to deal with what is now the number one killer of Americans at age 18 to 49: synthetic opioids - in the case of the United States, fentanyl, but in the case of many other countries, we see methamphetamines, we see ketamine, we see tramadol. This is one of the new challenges that increasingly countries around the world are being attentive to, because they need to be. And this was also a subject at the G20.

Finally, even as we're trying to work on issues of peace and security, even as we're dealing with these broad transnational challenges that no one country can effectively deal with alone, we also have to be reinvesting in and updating the international institutions that bring us all together to deal with these challenges. That was the subject of today's session of the G20. We have to have institutions that are more reflective of the world as it is today, not the world as it was when these institutions were created, most of them 80 years ago. We have to have institutions that are more responsive and more effective in meeting the challenges of today.

So the United States has been leading in these efforts too. We're leading the effort to expand the United Nations Security Council, both in terms of permanent and non-permanent members, so that it better reflects today's world, today's realities. We're looking and working to sharpen the UN's focus on the most critical emerging issues of the day and emerging opportunities, starting with artificial intelligence. The resolution that we have before the United Nations General Assembly is a way to set a foundation to make sure that artificial intelligence is used in a way that is safe, that's trustworthy, and that actually advances progress on issues that matter to people, including achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

We're working to make the international financial institutions more responsive, more effective, more efficient in ways that create access to capital for countries that need it, to concessional financing, and to dealing with the huge debt burdens that so many countries face. We're amplifying the voice of emerging markets and developing countries throughout these institutions. And we're working as well to mobilize private capital to make sure that it's directed the right places in the right ways.

In all of these ways, the United States is helping to lead the effort to make sure that the institutions that bring us together and where we're working together are more reflective of today's world and more effective in meeting its challenges. This is in so many ways a moment of tremendous testing for all of us. In the more then 30 years that I've been engaged in these issues in government, I can't think of a time when there's been a greater multiplicity, a greater complexity, a greater interconnectedness of the challenges we're facing. And I think that only underscores the importance of doing more than ever before in working together, in cooperating, in coordinating, in communicating.

The powerful reality is this: No one country alone has the capacity to deal with these challenges effectively. But when we work together, when we focus our efforts on common goals, I think we've demonstrated in the past and we will demonstrate in the future that there's nothing we can't actually achieve. Thank you.

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