HIGH REPRESENTATIVE BORRELL: I’m very pleased to welcome Secretary Blinken in person here in Brussels after our initial virtual exchanges. Today we open a new chapter in our relations marked by stronger cooperation on key foreign policy and security issues. I’m happy to see that our meeting confirms that a strong European Union-U.S. partnership is crucial to support democratic values as well as global and regional stability, prosperity, and conflict resolution.
We took two important decisions. We agreed to launch the European Union-United States Dialogue on China as a forum to discuss the full range of related challenges and opportunities. We decided to continue meetings at the senior official and expert levels on topics such as reciprocity, economic issues, resilience, human rights – human rights, security, multilateralism, and areas for constructive engagement with China such as climate change. We share an assessment of China’s role as a partner, as a competitor, and a systemic rival, as we used to say here in Europe.
We equally agreed – and this is maybe most important – to support the fullest possible involvement of the United States in the European Union defense initiative and to enhance our dialogue on these issues. The European Union Security and Defense Policy contributes to the transatlantic security and offers concrete opportunities for our cooperation.
We also discussed about Iran. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action remains a key achievement of multilateral diplomacy despite existing difficulties – they are difficulties – but in spite of that, I think that this agreement is a masterpiece of diplomacy. And Iran’s continued departure from its nuclear commitment under the JCPOA are a source of concern, and we stressed our full support to the work of the International Atomic Energy. As coordinator of the JCPOA, I welcome the Secretary’s reaffirmation that the U.S. is ready to engage and the prospects of a U.S. return to the JCPOA. We’ll work on that.
On Russia, we agreed to coordinate our efforts in addressing Russia’s confrontational behavior and encourage Russia to abandon this path. We continue to stand ready to engage with Russia on issues of common interest. We will continue working together on the European Union Eastern Neighborhood. We are committed to support the democratic aspirations, the sovereignty, and territorial integrity of these countries, starting with Ukraine. The EU and the U.S. are drivers in supporting the reforms necessary for the economic prosperity of the region.
We also talked about the Western Balkans, in which the Secretary has been engaged for a long time. On Western Balkans, European perspective remains a priority for both the EU and U.S. We will work together, avoiding any kind of competition among us to support reconciliation and improve governance, to build resilience, and push towards key reforms that make possible the European Union integration.
On the Eastern Mediterranean, we will work hand in hand for sustainable de-escalation based on our interest in a cooperative and mutually beneficial relationship with Turkey.
On Ethiopia, the Secretary Blinken and I shared utmost concerns about the humanitarian tragedy and the human rights violations in Tigray. We request unhindered humanitarian access, cessation of hostilities, an investigation of human rights violations, and an immediate withdrawal of Eritrean troops from Ethiopian territory. We will continue our close cooperation and coordination and encourage both Sudan and Ethiopia to look for solutions to their differences through peaceful means.
A special dedication was devoted to Afghanistan. We will intensify our cooperation to advance the peace process and to ensure the preservation of democratic gains as well as the long-term stability and prosperity of the country. All in all, we have a solid and comprehensive agenda for the months and the years ahead, such as bringing the pandemic under control, secure economic recovery, addressing the global climate crisis. We also plan to step up our work together in multilateral fora, such as the World Health Organization and the COVAX initiative, to jointly address the global challenges of our world.
I would like to thank the Secretary once again for being here in Brussels, for having found time to share with us a lot of concerns about world problems. It shows that, for both of us, the transatlantic partnership is the most important relationship. Thank you, Secretary.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you very much, and good evening, everyone. And Mr. High Representative, Josep, thank you. Thank you for our meeting today, thank you for your wonderful hospitality, and thank you for covering a lot of ground. And I think we could have gone on for another hour or two given the incredibly broad and deep agenda that we have. And for me, it’s a particular pleasure to be in Brussels for the first time as Secretary of State, and to have the chance to consult with our closest partners, our allies, our partners here at – within the European Union.
Between my time yesterday and today at NATO, our meetings here today at the European Commission – and you’ve heard it from the High Representative – we covered a remarkably wide range of issues relevant to our countries and relevant to the lives of our citizens, focused on our collective security, focused on our shared – our shared future. The European Union and the United States are the closest of partners, including on issues beyond our borders, and as the High Representative said, we consulted on a number of those today.
We talked about our shared concerns about Russia’s aggression, especially toward its neighbors. We talked about our shared goal of preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, the urgent need to address climate change, and the challenges that China presents to the rules-based order that we both subscribe to. To that end, indeed, as the High Representative said, we agreed today to resume the U.S.-EU dialogue on China, because we know that we can approach Beijing most effectively when we are working together and coordinating our approaches. We’re working together across all of these issues and many others on our national security and foreign policy agendas, so I suspect we will be in very close touch in the in the weeks and months ahead. You already gave me the wonderful opportunity a month ago to speak to the FAC, and I’m very much looking forward to our ongoing collaboration.
I’d just say in closing, earlier today I had an opportunity to speak at some greater length about how the United States is recommitting to our alliances and our partnerships because, simply, they are vital to our foreign policy, they’re a core source of strength, and again, they make a difference in the lives of our citizens, which is, after all, what we’re all about and what we need to be all about. We will seek every opportunity to consult and cooperate with our allies and partners, and to make sure those relationships are able to meet the new and emerging threats and opportunities of our time. And I know that’s a project that the European Union supports. The time we spent together here in Brussels has put us on even stronger footing for the future. So I thank you very much, and good evening to everyone.