Via Teleconference

5:04 P.M. EDT

MODERATOR:  Great, thank you.  And thanks, everyone, for joining us today.  So this is background press call to preview the President’s upcoming travel to attend the G7 and NATO Summits.  This call is on background, attributable to a “senior administration official,” and the contents of the call are embargoed until the end of the call.

For your awareness but not for reporting, the speakers on our call today are [senior administration official] and [senior administration official].

We are going start off with them giving some quick remarks, and then we’ll take some questions.

So, [senior administration official], over to you.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Thanks, [moderator].  And thanks, everyone, for joining today.  I’m going to give a quick rundown of what to expect from the G7 Leader Summit.

President Biden and his administration’s focus on the G7 has elevated it to being the premier vehicle for multilateral engagement and demonstrated how America can rally the world’s leading democracies to act on shared challenges.

The G7, making up around 50 percent of the world’s GDP, has been a driver of the global economic recovery and a leader — the leader in imposing unprecedented actions through our sanctions and export controls on Russia for its unjustified war against Ukraine.

We will build on this work at the G7 Leaders’ Summit in the coming days. 

At the summit in Germany, President Biden will participate in seven working sessions, ranging from one on the global economy to sessions on infrastructure to climate and energy security and, of course, on Ukraine. 

In addition to the core G7 members in attendance, the G7 has also invited Argentina, India, Indonesia, Senegal, and South Africa to participate in select sessions as guest countries and leaders from international organizations as well, so it will be an opportunity for the President to engage with a wide range of global leaders.

At this G7, President Zelenskyy will join leaders to discuss our ongoing efforts to help Ukraine defend itself against Russia’s aggression.

We will have more to say in the days of the summit on deliverables, but I do want to give an overview of where our focus will be.

First, at the summit, we will roll out a concrete set of proposals to increase pressure on Russia and demonstrate our support collectively for Ukraine.

Second, we will address the impact of Putin’s war on prices rising at home and all over the world, including on energy security and food security.

Third, leaders will also advance a vision of the world grounded in freedom and openness, not coercion, not aggression, not spheres of influence.  They will strengthen our cooperation on economic issues, cyberspace and quantum, and, in particular, the challenges posed by China.

Lastly, a key piece of this effort to advance a common vision of a world grounded in freedom and openness will be the official launch of our global infrastructure partnership that will lift up our low- and middle-income partner countries while advancing U.S. economic competitiveness and national security.

With that overview, I’ll turn it over to my colleague on the NATO portion of the trip.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Alright.  Thanks very much, [senior administration official].  And good evening and thanks to everybody for joining. 

The one thing I want to add on to the end of [senior administration official]’s laydown from the G7 is that at the very top of the trip, President Biden will be meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

Germany, of course, is the — has the presidency of the G7 this year, so this will be a good opportunity for the President to check signals with Germany at the top, as well to affirm the deep and enduring ties between our two countries and our continued coordination on a broad range of global challenges.

So, as [senior administration official] said, after the G7, the President and the other leaders will be heading to Madrid for the NATO Summit.

This is going to be the fourth NATO Summit since President Biden took office.  And, I think, as we have seen with the previous three NATO Summits and dozens of leader-to-leader conversations with our NATO Allies over the last 18 months, the President has helped revitalize the Alliance and make NATO more united and stronger than ever.

As we’re seeing with the upcoming summit, key partners around the world are eager to strengthen their cooperation with NATO.  We’re seeing new countries, such as Finland and Sweden, seeking to join the Alliance.  Support for NATO membership and increasing defense spending has surged in public opinion polling of NATO countries.  And the U.S. and many of our Allies have reinforced NATO’s eastern flank and bolstered our defense and deterrence posture.

Certainly, one of the President’s top priorities when he came into office was to revitalize our alliances, and I think we are seeing one of the strongest demonstrations of that within the context of NATO.

I would also add that within the context of Ukraine, to the extent that one of Putin’s objectives was to try and sow disunity, he has clearly failed.  Because, as I said, our assessment is that NATO is more strong and united than ever.  And we really see this as the high-water mark in transatlantic solidarity in the post-Cold War period.

So, as soon as the President arrives in Madrid, he will be holding bilateral meetings with President Sánchez of Spain, as well as the King of Spain.  Spain, of course, is serving as the summit’s host country.  So, it’ll be a good opportunity for the President to check signals with him.

Ahead of the summit, the President had the opportunity to speak with President Sánchez on the phone yesterday, ahead of the summit.  He will also have the opportunity to meet with the King and, with both of them, will affirm the strong bilateral relationship that the United States has with Spain.

At the summit itself, there are a number of deliverables that we are expecting to come out, as well as a number of broad themes that we expect leaders to address.

One of the big deliverables coming out will be leaders endorsing a new Strategic Concept, which will drive NATO’s continued transformation over the coming years as the Alliance safeguards Euro-Atlantic security in response to a wide range of threats and challenges.

The last Strategic Concept was done by NATO in 2010.  And certainly, as we have seen within the last couple of months as well as within the last decade more broadly, there have been significant changes within the geopolitical environment.  And it is important that the NATO Alliance takes those into account and lays out its broad objectives going forward.

Russia obviously continues to be the most serious and immediate threat to the Alliance.  But the Strategic Concept will also address the multifaceted and longer-term challenges posed by the PRC to the Euro-Atlantic Security.

And most notably, the Strategic Concept is expected to address the challenges that we are seeing coming from China.  This will be the first time that this document has done that since that was not included in the 2010 version of the document.

In addition, the Strategic Concept will outline the Alliance’s updated approach to dealing with transnational threats, including cyber, climate, hybrid, and space.

Second, leaders will announce new force posture commitments to strengthen NATO’s defense and deterrent posture, which they agreed in March they were going to do.  The President has been very clear in the context of the Ukraine crisis that NATO would defend every inch of NATO territory.  And as we have seen in the last number of months, the United States was very quick to surge additional forces to NATO to reassure our Allies, especially those on the eastern flank.  A number of other countries have also made force posture adjustments.  And at the summit, the United States will be announcing steps to strengthen European security alongside expected major new contributions from Allies.

Third, we will ensure that NATO has the resources to deliver on its commitments.  Non-U.S. Allies have increased overall defense spending for seven straight years, and we expect this upward trajectory to continue and accelerate in the months and years to come.  Many Allies are now spending well beyond the 2 percent of GDP benchmark at NATO, and many see the 2 percent as a floor not a ceiling.

We have certainly seen, in the wake of the Ukraine crisis, a number of Allies, including Germany, making significant increases to their defense budgets, which is something that we very much welcome.

In addition, for the first time, the summit is going to include Asian leaders from Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and the Republic of Korea.  I think all of this is a good example of how Russia’s war against Ukraine has galvanized our partnerships around the world. 

It’s also showing how Ukraine is not causing us to take our eye off the ball on China.  In fact, I think quite the opposite.  It’s firmed up the democratic world on both Russia and China, and President Biden has effectively linked our efforts in Europe and Asia.  I think you will see this reflected in the Strategic Concept that deals with both Russia and China.  And you will also see this very visibly with the participation of these Asian partners in the NATO Summit this year.

Speaking of Ukraine, leaders will have a chance to hear from President Zelenskyy.  As my colleagues said, he will be speaking at the G7 Summit.  He will also be speaking at the NATO Summit, as he did in in March, which will give the leaders an opportunity to hear from him directly and will also enable NATO Allies to showcase their continued resolve to support Ukraine as it defends itself.

The U.S., as we have previewed in many other press briefings, has led the world in providing defensive assistance to Ukraine and is continuing to coordinate closely with Allies.

Secretary Austin stood up this Ukraine Defense Contact Group with the most recent meeting in Brussels last week on the margins of the Defence Ministers Meeting at NATO, which has continued to be a good organizing vehicle for the United States to continue rallying allies and partners to provide Ukraine with the security assistance it needs, as well as to give them the opportunity to hear directly from our Ukrainian military colleagues the battle plan that they are developing and the security assistance they need to be able to support that.

In closing, I would just say that, as we face the most serious security situation in decades, it’s clear that NATO is rising to the challenge with unity and resolve.  We believe that this summit will highlight the strength of the NATO Alliance, which, as I said, is stronger and more purposeful than it’s been in decades.

So, let me leave it there and turn it back over to the host.

MODERATOR:  Great, thank you.  And I just want to clarify one thing.  I got a couple of questions on this.  We, of course, defer to Ukraine on their, you know, participation, but it’s expected to be virtual at G7 and NATO.

Okay.  And with that, Operator, could you please queue up the directions to ask a question?  Thank you.

Q    Hi, thanks.  I was wondering if you could preview any of the discussions the President might have at NATO about Finland and Sweden’s applications to join.  Do you expect him to discuss Turkey’s opposition with Turkey’s representatives at that summit?  And do you expect any of that to be resolved by the end of the next week when the summit concludes?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I thank you very much for that question.  I don’t have anything further to announce in terms of specific bilateral meetings that the President will be having at NATO, although obviously the format of these meetings leaves ample opportunity for leaders to engage on the margins.

But over the last number of days, the U.S. has been engaging and is prepared to do whatever we’re asked to do to be supported in this process.

For example, National Security Advisor Sullivan, Secretary of State Blinken have already spoken with their Turkish counterparts on this issue, and we remain in close touch with Finland and Sweden at senior levels as we encourage all sides to move forward with a compromise that allows the accession process to move forward.

More broadly, Finland and Sweden are currently working directly with Turkey to address Ankara’s state and security concerns.  Their governments are best placed to give you an update on that process.  But we understand that all parties are committed to dialogue and to progress on this.

There is very strong Allied support for Finland and Sweden’s membership applications, including here in the administration, and also what we’ve seen reflected in Congress. And we look forward to quickly bringing them into the NATO Alliance. 

And we remain confident that Turkey’s concerns will be addressed and that we will be able to reach consensus as an Alliance on the entry process (inaudible).

Q    Hi, thank you so much for taking my call.  I wonder if you can say a word about the impact of the global economic situation on these meetings and whether you think that will play a big role. 

And also, in regard to China, I wonder if you expect there to be any specific language about China’s role in the global economy and its behavior in terms of not competing fairly.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Sure.  Thanks for that.  Yes, I think we expect that the global economy is going to be a very key point of discussion among the G7 leaders.  There is a plenary session devoted to the topic.

You know, I think G7 leaders are facing a common set of challenges in terms of cost-of-living challenges for their citizens, looking more broadly at the world and seeing pressures around energy prices, on food prices for countries around the world. 

You know, I think first they will talk about the extent to which those challenges are — you know, really there’s a line to be drawn directly from those challenges to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and managing as a result of that.

Secondly, I think that there’s going to be a lot of focus on what are steps that each country is taking domestically, what steps can be taken together in order to address the pressures that we’re seeing on the energy security front in order to address the challenges that we’re seeing around food security, including for a number of lower-income and vulnerable countries.

So I think that’s exactly going to be the conversation that we expect them to have, precisely because it’s such an important and common conversation across the different G7 economies but also one that impacts populations more broadly around the world.

With respect to China, I don’t want to get ahead of anything that would be discussed and agreed to this weekend.  But I think it is fair to say that, you know, last year marked an important watershed with respect to the G7 speaking for the first time to China’s unfair, China’s coercive economic practices.  We expect that that is going to be, if anything, a bigger topic of conversation this time around, recognizing the extent to which those practices have become even more aggressive and more prominent in terms of the world economy and the globe’s experience of it.

So I think that building on what we saw last year at Carbis Bay, we would expect that that’s going to be — that noting the difference between where we are today versus where we were a year ago is going to feature prominently in those discussions of China’s practices.

Q    Thanks for taking my call.  I wanted to ask you about this launch of the Global Infrastructure Partnership.  Can you give us a ballpark of how many projects might be announced, what they might look like, what continents they’ll be on?  Anything at all. 

And also, is this like a grand relaunch?  Or is this — like, how would you characterize what this is?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Thanks for that.  So, a couple of observations.  You know, I think last year at Carbis Bay, what we heard from President Biden and other leaders was a declaration of intent, a declaration of intent to build a partnership that could offer a high-road, transparent alternative for lower- and middle-income countries to invest in themselves alongside the G7. 

And what we’ve done since that declaration of intent over the past year is work intensively both within the administration, across our partners, as well as with key stakeholders, like the private sector, in order to come to a place where, at this year’s G7, one year since that initial declaration, we’re now in a place to formally launch.

It’s been a year, like I said, of going out and doing the hard work of bringing this statement of intent into being.  And what’s intended to happen — what’s intended to happen at this year’s summit is to take the next step and really push this into its formal launch into the world.

In terms of the types of projects that we expect to speak to and we expect to hear the President speaking to, you know, I don’t want to get ahead of that or get into specifics, other than to say, you know, I do think that there will be — there will be a number of projects that are that are spoken to with specificity that are illustrative of the values, illustrative of the — of the overall goals of the program and we think will be important for making clear what the partnership is going to do looking ahead, both for the United States as well as other key G7 partners, in terms of delivering for the rest of the world.

Q    Hi there.  Thanks for doing this.  On the G7 side of things, should we be expecting new sanctions and of what nature or (inaudible) new sanctions be?

And also, in terms of the energy talks, we know that the U.S. has been discussing the shape of the EU oil ban and the impact of the EU oil ban with the Europeans.  Are you expecting some kind of an agreement on ways to change the EU oil ban so that it won’t increase prices further and sort of deliver more revenue to Putin?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Thanks for that.  Again, I don’t want to get ahead of discussions, deliverables, and the like.  So I’ll, with respect to the first part of your question, just leave it at saying, you know, we expect Ukraine to be at the very front of conversations and expect to roll out a concrete set of proposals to increase the pressure on Russia to support Ukraine during the course of the summit.

With respect to your question about energy, again, there too, you know, I think we expect energy to be very much at the heart of the discussions the G7 leaders have.

I think, to take a step back, the principle that President Biden has articulated, that other G7 leaders have articulated, since the start of Russia’s invasion, has been one of maximizing pain on Putin’s regime and minimizing the spillbacks back onto the rest of the world.

I think as it relates specifically to these conversations around energy and the energy price challenges that the world and the G7 are seeing, you know, I think that what leaders are likely to speak to is a set of shared values around taking steps to reduce reliance on Russian energy.

Certainly, the embargoes that — on Russian oil that the United States, Canada, the UK, the EU have announced is part and parcel of that principle.

I think you’ll — we’ll expect them to speak to how can we take steps that further reduce Russia’s energy revenues and how do we do so in a way that stabilizes global energy markets and lessens the disruptions and pressures that we’ve seen.

Again, that all goes back to those principles articulated at the very start of Russia’s invasion: How do we maximize pain on Putin’s regime?  How do we minimize spillbacks back to the rest of the world?  And I think that’s exactly how the discussion around energy markets and energy market challenges will get framed and discussed by leaders this weekend.

Q    Thank you all for doing this.  Two questions.  First, I’m wondering if there’s any way to move some of this on the record.  It would be much more usable for those of us who can’t use background quotes.

And then second, when it comes to bolstering Ukraine’s military defense capabilities, we know that that’s going to be President Zelenskyy’s message both at the G7 and certainly at NATO.

Will the President be delivering any sort of particular calls on either G7 or NATO Allies to bolster their defense spending, both in terms of transfers to Ukraine and then to backfill supplies that they’ve already transferred?  Are you expecting deliverables on that front or just sort of a messaging push from the President for them to step up some more?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  All right, thanks for that question.  The United States, as you have seen, is continuing to roll out additional tranches of security assistance to Ukraine, with the last announcement last week of a billion dollars in security assistance, and an expectation that we will have, in the near term, additional tranches of security assistance to provide.

As I mentioned earlier, Secretary Austin has been continuing to bring together allies and partners in the context of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group.  The last meeting of that happened to occur last week on the margins of the Defense Ministerial.  That has not been happening within the context of NATO itself, even though a large number of NATO Allies and partners have been giving security assistance.

The EU notably also has given €2 billion, I believe, in security assistance to Ukraine as well through their newly established fund to do that.

So this is a constant message that the President relays to his counterparts when he has conversations with them.  I assume it is going to be something that will be actively discussed on the margins of the G7 meeting, on the NATO meeting.

The President, as well as the administration, remains in very close touch with Ukrainian counterparts.  Just this morning, Jake Sullivan and Chairman Milley had conversations with their Ukrainian counterparts to understand Ukraine’s current approach to the conflict, as well as their current security assistance needs.  And there was also an opportunity for the Ukrainians to participate in this Contact Group meeting last week.

So this really is an ongoing series of conversations that the United States at all levels, including the President, is having with our allies and partners.

The U.S. is continuing to roll out our security assistance.  We are continuing to see other allies and partners rolling out their security assistance, and also continuing to work on the question of backfill that you mentioned, including with some of the recently appropriated funding that we got from Congress in the supplemental.

MODERATOR:  Great, thanks.  Thanks, [senior administration official] and [senior administration official]. 

And to Zeke’s valid question, we’re hoping to have someone tomorrow at the podium that will be on the record.  And then, of course, you know, on our travel, on the plane, we will, of course, be on the record there as well.  So, hopefully, there’ll be more opportunities to do that.

As a reminder, this call was on background, attributable to a “senior administration official.”  The contents of this call are not under embargo — sorry, that was a convoluted way to say the embargo lifts on this call after the call ends.  So, thanks, everyone, for joining.

    5:31 P.M. EDT

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