James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

1:26 P.M. EST
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Hi.  Good afternoon, everyone.

Q    Good afternoon.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Happy Thursday?  (Laughs.)

Q    Question mark.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Question mark.  (Laughs.)

So, today I am honored to speak to you from our brand new press toast lectern.  Yay.

Q    Yay.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Yay.  And I’m proud to name the lectern in honor of Alice Dunnigan and Ethel Payne, the first two Black women in White House press corps.  In addition to the annual White House Correspondents Association Award in their name, we are excited to help remember their service to the American public in this way.

The Dunnigan-Payne lectern and its accompanying seal were designed over the last year, and they replace the previous lectern, which had been used in our briefing room since 2007.

The previous lectern will be preserved.  I’m sure many of you were wondering what was going to happen to the previous lectern.  So, it’s going to be preserved.

Now this lectern, a blend of modernity and tradition, is meant to embody the essence of our country’s stature, built using a harmonious combination of metal and black walnut, as you can see.

The metal speaks to the resilience and strength of our nation, while the black walnut represents the rich history and the deep-rooted foundations upon which this country stands.  The blue paint signifies vigilance, perseverance, and justice.

Every member of this team consist- — consisting of Army, Navy, and the civilians brought unique expertise and skills to the project.  And we are deeply grateful for their work and this new addition to our shared space.

So, welcome, to the — to the lectern here.

All right.  Today, here in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room, I want to take a moment and recognize the 30th anniversary of the Brady Handgun Prevention Act.

In — in 1981, one of my predecessors, Press Secretary James Brady, was left paralyzed after an assassination attempt on President Reagan. 

In 1993, the Brady Bill, which James Brady advocated for and which President Biden worked to pass as then-Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, created the background check system that we have today.

According to the Department of Justice, this system has denied over 4.4 million applications and prevented guns from getting into the hands of domestic abusers and people with felony records.

Building on these efforts, President Biden continues to take historic action on gun safety, including strengthening background checks through the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which is the most sweeping gun safety legislation in the last three decades.

Specifically, the law enhanch- — enhances background checks for people under 21, and a proposed rule implementing the law would close the gun show and Internet loophole.

President Biden has also taken more meaningful executive action than any other president to make our schools, our churches, grocery stores, and our communities safer.

We’re also encouraged to see 20 states step up to pass laws to expand background checks to cover private sales, including most recently in Minnesota and also in Michigan.

But we can’t do it alone.  Congress must fully fund the FBI and ATF, who — who administers the system, and act to establish universal background checks, pass a national red flag law, ban assault weapons, invest in proven solutions, and more.

Now turning to the economy.  Today and yesterday, we got more good news on the economy as inflation continues to fall and the economy continues to grow.

Today, annual inflation fell to its lowest level in more than two and a half years, and monthly inflation was zero — again, zero.

Gas prices are down by $1.77 from their peak after Putin’s war.  Prices for eggs, milks are down over the last year. 

The economy grew more than 5 percent last quarter, stronger than any quarter under Trump — Tru- — under Trump outside of the pandemic.

We still have more work to do.  And we understand that, and we know that; the President understands that.  The prices are — are still too high. 

That’s why President Biden is fighting to lower costs for American families by strengthening our supply chains, taking on Big Pharma to lower prescription drugs, cracking down on price gouging by banning hidden junk fees, and calling on corporations to pass savings on to consumers.

Unfortunately, congressional Republicans are pushing MAGA-nomics that fails the middle class — that fails the middle class with the following: by tax giveaways for the wealthy and big corporations, blowing up the debt; cutting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid; raising costs for hardworking families.

The good news is the President won’t let them.  He will not let this happen.

We also have significant news from EPA today, building on the Biden-Harris administration’s historic commitment to protect children and families from the — from the lead poisoning. 

The EPA announced a proposal to require water systems to replace lead service lines within 10 years, helping secure safe drinking water for communities across the country.

There is no safe level of exposure to lead, particularly for children.  And eliminating lead exposure for — from the air, water, and homes is crucial component of our commitment to advancing environmental justice.

Already, the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is investing more than $50 billion in the largest upgrade to the nation’s water infrastructure in history.  And the President is going to keep fighting to deliver safe, clean water to every community across the country.

And lastly — thank you for your patience.  I know it’s been a lot.  And lastly, tomorrow is World AIDS Day, which was established 35 years ago to commemorate those who have died due to AIDS-related illnesses and honor the more than 40 million individuals with HIV around the world.
This year also marks the 20th anniversary of the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, otherwise known as PEPFAR. 

When the program was announced by President George W. Bush in 2003, an AIDS diagnosis was a death sentence, and only 50,000 of the more than 4 million people across sub-Saharan Africa in — in need of anti- — anti-retroviral treatment for HIV were receiving it.
For more than 20 years, PEPFAR has been one of our — our nation’s most profound transformational investments and has enjoyed strong bipartisan support. 

PEPFAR has become the largest commitment by any nation to address a single disease in the world, and the program has had a remarkable impact, having saved 25 million lives and enabled 5.5 million babies to be born HIV-free to mothers living with HIV. 
That’s why the Biden-Harris administration continues to urge Congress to reauthorize PEPFAR as part of our commitment to ending HIV/AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.

Domestically, the updated National HIV/AIDS Strategy, which has re- — which — which was released by President Biden on World AIDS Day back in 2021, continues to provide a roadmap for the nation to accelerate our efforts to end the HIV epidemic in the U.S. by 2030 and increased the number of people in care and on PrEP.
With this year’s theme of, and I quote, “remember and commit,” end quote, we remember those we lost — we lost to AIDS-related illnesses, emphasize the urgency of our collective commitment to end the HIV epidemic, and recognize the courage and passion that has been essential — essential to the progress we have made so far. 
Thank you all for your patience.  I know that was a lot.  We have my colleague from NSC, Admiral John Kirby, here to give an update on all that is happening in the Middle East.
MR. KIRBY:  Thanks, Karine.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Were you — were you dozing off?  Was I that long and boring?  (Laughter.)
MR. KIRBY:  No, I was — it was fascinating. 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  I was like, you seemed — you seemed shocked — (laughs) — when I called you.
MR. KIRBY:  No, it was gripping — gripping.  (Laughter.)
Thanks, everybody.  Unfortunately, I’m going to submit you to some — a few different toppers too.  I’ll try to get through it as quickly as I can. 
Obviously, the first thing I want to talk about is what’s going on in Middle East and this extension of a deal now for a seventh full day. 

The humanitarian pause now, over the first six days, has seen more than 100 hostages released and returned to their families and a significant surge in humanitarian assistance into Gaza — several hundred trucks over the last week, which is important.
Again, we all recognize more needs to be done, more needs to get in, but we shouldn’t discount the incredible work that has been done on the ground to get more food, water, medicine, and even fuel to the people of Gaza over the last week. 

So, we’re going to continue our efforts with Israel, with Qatar, obviously, with Egypt, to support and extend this pause as much as we can and to help secure the release of all the hostages held by Hamas terrorists.
And I know one of the first questions I’m going to get is, “What are the chances of an extension?”  And I just can’t tell you that right now, except to tell you that we’re working at it literally by the hour to see if we can get this seventh day turned into an eighth and ninth and tenth and beyond.
But — but all I can do is tell you where we are right now.  And we’re glad that we got a seventh day out of this. 

The IDF, the Israeli Defense Forces, have noted that, at least at the time that I came out here, two hostages had made their way back.  I don’t know if there will be more.  We certainly hope there will be more.  But, again, we’re working on this by — by the hour.
And then I think we’ve all seen the terrible news coming out of Jerusalem: a deadly shooting attack there where at least three people were killed.  Hamas has claimed credit.  We obviously condemn this terrorist attack, this heinous violence.  Just another example of the kind of threat that the Israeli people and the Israeli nation are under by — by Hamas. 
So, we certainly extend our condolences and thoughts and prayers to all those affected and the family members that are now grieving — additional family members that are now grieving.
I want to switch, if I could, to Russia and Ukraine.  Last winter, Russia sought to destroy Ukraine’s critical infrastructure — the energy infrastructure and to deprive the Ukrainian people of access to heat and electricity at the coldest time of the year.  Russia tried to break the will of the Ukrainian people, but, of course, it failed. 
As we head into yet another winter, we expect that Russia will return to this cruel tactic and again try to pursue a campaign to destroy Ukraine’s critical energy infrastructure. 

In just the last couple of days, we’ve seen some airstrikes taken by the Russians that seem to be going after the kind of defensive systems that the Ukrainians have in place to protect their energy infrastructure. 
And, again, over the weekend, they launched a major drone attack against Kyiv and elsewhere.  We view this as a strike of what’s to — sorry, a sign of what’s to come. 
For many months, we’ve been working aggressively with our Ukrainian partners to prepare for this contingency.  And as you will all recall, it was a major topic of discussion when President Zelenskyy visited the White House last September. 

And ahead of this winter, President Biden and National Security Advisor Sullivan directed the United States government to prioritize these efforts, just as we did last year. 
So, we’ve been focused on driving forward three key lines of effort.  First, we’ve been strengthening Ukraine’s air defensive capabilities so that they can shoot down Russian –Russian missiles and their Iranian drones targeting critical infrastructure. 
That’s why we provided Ukraine, even recently in recent packages now, with Patriot batteries, HAWK and Avenger air-defense systems, counter unmanned air systems equipment, and other critical air-defense assets. 
Second, we’ve been helping Ukraine harden their critical energy infrastructure.  We provided them with extensive amounts of defensive protection equipment, including wire mesh, rebar, and HESCO barriers to protect critical infrastructure.  And our experts at DOD and at the Department of Energy and the U.S. Agency for International Development have all been advising Ukrainian officials on how to use this equipment most effectively. 
And, third, we’ve been providing Ukraine with backup equipment and supplies, including high-voltage auto transformers, industrial-size gas generators, and mobile off-grid equipment to add resiliency and prevent people from losing heat and electricity if Russia’s strikes get through and are successful.
We’re pursuing these lines of effort in coordination with our allies and our partners. 
The President has been leading a coalition of more than 50 countries to provide Ukraine with the security assistance it needs, including additional, as I said, Patriot batteries, SAM-T systems, and hundreds of air-defense missiles. 
Last winter, we stood up the G7+ Energy Coordination Group, which we continue to lead and convene on a regular basis.  Through this forum and others, our allies and partners have provided Ukraine with energy equipment and backup supplies, as I said, including power-generation equipment, transmission infrastructure, and — and further passive protection. 
This is no easy task — none of this.  We have more work to do in support of Ukraine, and we need Congress to take action to pass additional supplemental funding so that we can keep providing Ukraine with air-defense assess — assets, the protection equipment, and the backup supplies that they need. 
President Putin appears certainly intent on continuing this conflict and on taking it directly to the Ukrainian people, again, at the coldest months of the year.  We can and we must do more to assure Ukraine is in the best possible position to defend itself and its critical energy infrastructure throughout the winter. 
And I want to — just one more foot stomp on — the supplemental funding is important.  We didn’t pull those figures out of thin air.  We need that funding.  We continue to urge Congress to pass that supplemental as soon as possible. 
Again, as I said before many times, the runway is getting shorter.  And we think we got until, you know, about the end of the year before it gets really, really hard to continue to support Ukraine.  And the end of the year is coming soon. 
Now, just real quickly on Angola.  As you know, President Biden is hosting President Lourenço of Angola later this afternoon.  He’s looking forward to this meeting very, very much. 
The U.S-Angola relationship has flourished over the course of this year through frequent and productive senior-level engagements between our two countries, including in September when Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin became the first-ever sitting Secretary of Defense to visit Angola and to talk to them about mutual security opportunities, particularly in the maritime environment. 
President Biden looks forward to capping off a historic year in this bilateral relationship by discussing all of the things that we can do with President Lourenço to strengthen our — our cooperation and our relationship with Angola, not just in the security environment but — but economically and diplomatically as well.  They’re a strategic partner and a growing global voice on issues of peace and security. 
We’re particularly grateful to Angola for its very principled stand on the conflict in Ukraine and the role that President Lourenço is playing to advance solutions to conflicts elsewhere on the continent. 
Angola and the United States are expanding our economic cooperation at record speed, including pursuing additional investments through the President’s flagship Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment to build quality, sustainable infrastructure that connects Angola to — to global markets. 
And, of course, we’ll have a readout of that meeting when it’s over. 
Thank you.  Appreciate your forbearance. 
Q    Thank you, Admiral.  So, the U.S. administration has been clear that they’ve asked Israel to be more targeted in its military operations in Southern Gaza, but Israel has vowed to resume this fighting with full force —
MR. KIRBY:  Yeah.
Q    — when it starts again.  So, what has the President specifically told Netanyahu?  And how much daylight is there between what the President wants and what Israel wants?
MR. KIRBY:  So, obviously, we continue to believe that Israel has the right and responsibility to go after Hamas.  They have said — they have spoken for their military campaign, and they have said very clearly that — that when these pauses are over, they intend to go back at it. 
And as they make that decision, they will continue to find support from the United States in terms of tools and capabilities, the weapons systems that they need, as well as the advice and the perspectives that we can offer in terms of urban warfare.  No nation should have to stand for what Israel had to — had to experience on the 7th of October. 
So, I won’t speak for their operations.  And I’m certainly not going to get into private conversations that the President has had with the Prime Minister. 
But he has been clear publicly and certainly in his discussions with the War Cabinet that they will continue to have the United States’ support as they go after these terrorists. 
And, again, just look at what happened today in Jerusalem.  I mean, if anybody’s guessing and wondering whether Hamas
still has murderous intentions against the Israeli people, just look at what happened in Jerusalem today.
Q    And you had mentioned before that the U.S. believes there are two American women held.  One has been released, so does that mean there is one American woman left being held?  And what do we know about her conditions?  Do we think she could be released soon?
MR. KIRBY:  I wish I had good answers for those questions.  Unfortunately, we don’t know.  We do believe that there is — that there w- — that, of the unaccounted-for Americans, that we believe there is one other woman that’s unaccounted for and that we had believed was taken hostage. 
So, we were hoping to see two women and, of course, little Abigail come out over the last week.  We’re certainly grateful that we — we’ve now gotten six Americans out, but I don’t have additional information on this individual or where she might be or what her condition is.  I just don’t know.
Q    Does the U.S. believe that Hamas does not know where all the hostages are, or is that just something they’re propagating the U.S. believes in order to delay this?

MR. KIRBY:  I can’t say with certainty what Hamas knows or doesn’t know.  They launched these attacks on the 7th of October with two purposes: one, to kill; the other to take hostage.  And they did that to a fare-thee-well.

We do think that there are some other groups other than Hamas that might be holding hostages.  But that’s not to say that Hamas doesn’t have visibility on that or doesn’t have a way to find out about it.

So, the onus is really on Hamas, as — as this deal progresses today, to identify, locate, and secure these hostages and — and get them to the Red Cross so that they can get to safety.

But I couldn’t speak with great certainty about exactly what Hamas knows and doesn’t know.

Q    Thanks.  Is — administration officials said yesterday that there is an effort to encourage the Israelis in the Southern Gaza operation to kind of narrow the target, make sure that civilians have a clear idea of where they can seek refuge.  Is there a concern that that might give a heads-up to Hamas, as well, so that they can reposition as well and seek refuge?

MR. KIRBY:  Well, there’s a couple of things there, Trevor.  First of all, I certainly won’t speak for the Israeli military or what their plans and strategies are.  I mean, they have a right to operational security in terms of what they’re going to do, when they’re going to do it, and how they’re going to do it.

So, obviously, we certainly don’t want to say anything from the podium or publicly that would put their operational security at risk.

Secondly, we have been very consistent and clear with our Israeli counterparts that we do not support a move to the south unless or until they have adequately accounted for the protection of innocent human life — civilian life in Southern Gaza, with the understanding that there’s a whole heck of a lot more innocent civilians in Southern Gaza than there were a week or two ago because the Israelis opened up corridors for them to move south.

So, I won’t get too far ahead of operations.  But what — what we want to see and what we’re urging our Israeli counterparts to do is to make sure that there’s a proper accounting for that, that there are — that — that there is appropriate safety measures put in place so that these additional, now, hundreds of thousands of civilians are not put at greater harm’s way than they already are right now.

Q    And then the — the father of an American hostage that was released from Gaza said that he was invited to the White House to come speak with Biden in person.  Do you have a date set as far as when that’s going to take place?

MR. KIRBY:  No, sir.

Q    Okay.  And then, finally, I was wondering if you have any reaction to the death of Henry Kissinger and any explanation of how he has shaped this administration’s foreign policy.  I know he’s been consulted by Jake Sullivan and Tony Blinken and — and others.

MR. KIRBY:  Well, obviously, our — our condolences go to — to his entire family over this — over this loss.  To his wife, Nancy, and to — to everybody else in his family, of course, it’s a huge loss. 

This was a man who, whether — whether you agree with him or not, whether you hold the same views or not, he served in World War Two, served his country bravely in uniform, and for decades afterward, which I think we can all be grateful for and appreciate, just the public service.

And, again, whether you saw eye to eye with him on every issue, there’s no question that — that he shaped foreign policy decisions for decades.  And he certainly had an impact on America’s role in the world.

So, again, our deepest condolences go to the family.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead.

Q    Thank you, Karine.  John, thank you.  Just to follow up on that: Is there a reason why the administration hasn’t issued any formal statement from the President or this White House with regard —


Q    — to his death?

MR. KIRBY:  I wouldn’t read anything into that just — just yet.

Q    Okay.  And then, on the President’s comments about conditional aid to Israel, I wanted to follow up because he suggested that if conditions had been in place, the progress that we have seen so far might not have happened. 

So, of all the proposed conditions, can you explain how they would hinder efforts, whether it’s, you know, reducing the level of civilian casualties or making sure U.S. weapons are used within humanitarian law?  How would any of the proposed conditions slow down or prevent the progress that has been made?

MR. KIRBY:  Well, rather than speak to these proposed conditions, let me just take a step back and, again, reorient the discussion here.

Israel was attacked on the 7th of October in a most heinous way.  The President has been clear we’re going to continue to support their ability to eliminate that threat — the continued threat that Hamas still poses.

At the same time, as we have done that, since the early hours, we’ve been urging our Israeli counterparts to act with as much precision and care and deliberateness as they can in their targeting.

Now, again, I’m not discounting the fact that many thousands of innocent people have been killed, many thousands more injured, and hundreds of thousands displaced internally in the country — in the — in Gaza — excuse me — in Gaza.

And we continue to, again, urge our Israeli counterparts to factor all that in as they plan and execute military operations.

And as a result of — and this is what the President was talking about — as a result of our engagement with our Israeli counterparts, we have seen results.  I mean, now a week-long pause.

At the beginning of this, the idea of a pause was unthinkable to our Israeli counterparts.  But now, a week-long pause, a hundred hostages out, hundreds of trucks of aid getting in.  At the — at the outset, the idea of humanitarian assistance getting in was not something that was — was warmly received as an idea.

So, the President believes that the approach that we’ve been taking has had results.
Now, again, nobody is discounting or dismissing the loss of innocent life.  And we continue to work with and share perspectives about urban warfare with our Israeli counterparts so that they can continue to hone their operations in such a way that there’s a reduction and a minim- — a minimizing of civilian death.  But we’re going to continue that approach.
Q    And, John, I hear you.  And I know that that’s what the President has said repeatedly.  In fact, he has supported all of these conditions.  These are things that he says he believes in. 

So, I’m asking — you know, talk is one thing, but should there be actions that draw a line to say, “Hey, if you don’t do what we’re asking, there will be consequences”?
MR. KIRBY:  We believe that the approach that we’re taking thus far has produced effective results — again, without discounting civilian deaths, and I don’t mean to dismiss that at all.  We — each one is a tragedy, and we mourn them all. 
But — but we are — the approach that we’re taking thus far is having results, and it has — it has actually had a practical effect on the way our Israeli counterparts have prosecuted these operations.  I mean, just look at, for instance, the — the ground incursion into — into Gaza.
I mean, without getting into too much detail, I’ll tell you, we — we shared with them our own experience in that kind of urban warfare in places like Fallujah and in places like Mosul, and we sent over military advisors and experts to talk to them about some of those lessons learned. 

And I can tell you, they were receptive to those lessons learned.  And it did affect — again, I don’t think I’m giving anything away for the Israeli military, but it did affect the way they ultimately chose to go into Gaza.
So, I would just say we’re going to — we’re going to keep at that.
Q    Thank you.

MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, we’re running out of time.
MR. KIRBY:  I’m sorry.  I’m sorry.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  So, we’ve got to go really quickly.  (Laughs.)  Go ahead, Chris.  And then I’ve got to go to the back too. 
Q    What impact has the shooting that Hamas has taken credit for in Jerusalem had on the efforts to extend the humanitarian pauses?  And is the U.S. goal to turn these — these pauses into a more permanent ceasefire?  Is that the overall trendline that the U.S. is going for?
MR. KIRBY:  I don’t know, and no.  So, I don’t know.  I don’t think there’s been —
Q    Which one is which?
MR. KIRBY:  (Laughs.)  I don’t think there’s been any effect that — not that I — not that I’ve heard or seen — effect on the — on the deal — extending the deal by the violence in Jerusalem.  I’ve seen nothing that indicates an effect on that.
And, again, we do not support a permanent ceasefire at this time.  We do support the idea of humanitarian pauses.  And we would love to see — as I said at the outset, we want to see this 7-day pause turn into 8, 9, 10, and beyond.  But ultimately, that’s going to take Israel and Hamas to agree to the parameters of extending that deal.
But in the United States, they’ll continue to find an advocate for extension.
Q    And how has the alleged plot by an Indian government official to assassinate somebody on U.S. soil — how has that affected U.S.-Indian relations?  You know, given that, you know, the President recently hosted Modi for a state dinner, you know, relations have been trying to, you know, improve — tighten those relations, what impact does that plot have? 
MR. KIRBY:  I would remind you the state dinner happened before we knew about this.
Q    Sure.  Yeah.  But —
MR. KIRBY:  And — and I want to be careful here that I don’t get ahead of the Department of Justice and talk about an ongoing investigation. 
I would just say two things: Isra- — India remains a strategic partner, and we’re going to continue to work to improve and strengthen that strategic partnership with India. 

At the same time, we take this very seriously.  These allegations and this investigation — take it very seriously.
And we’re glad to see that the Indians are too, by announcing their own efforts to investigate this.  And we’ve been clear that we want to see anybody held — anybody that’s responsible for these alleged crimes to be held properly accountable.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead.
Q    Thank you.  On Venezuela, I wanted to ask about today.  Is the deadline that the administration set for the Venezuelan government to make progress on certain things — one of them lifting the public bans of political opposition leaders who cannot run in elections, establish a process to release wrongfully detained Americans.  So, my question is: Have you seen any progress?  And is the U.S. prepared to reimpose sanctions, which was the consequence of — of not seeing progress?
MR. KIRBY:  I haven’t seen any progress yet.  There’s eight hours left in the day.  So, we’ll see what the Venezuelans decide to do.  And I won’t get ahead of decisions about sanctions one way or the other going forward.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead, Anita.
Q    Thank you.  I have a few questions about Angola.  As you know, this exciting Lobito Corridor runs through a part of the DRC that’s been embroiled in secessionist violent conflict since 1960.  Can the Lobito Corridor work without peace in that region? 
And then, to that point, how is the White House supporting President Lourenço in his work as AU peace envoy to bring about peace? 
And then also how is the administration engaging bilaterally —
MR. KIRBY:  You know I’m on a time clock here.
Q    No, I hear you.  This is the last — second-to-last one.  (Laughter.)  Sorry.
MR. KIRBY:  I guess I should write these down.
Q    How is — how is the administration engaging bilaterally, multilaterally with Great Lakes leaders to bring about peace? 
And then, finally, what is the President’s message to President Lourenço about his country’s poor human rights track record? 
MR. KIRBY:  So, look, I’m going to try to boil this down; otherwise, I’m going to be in big trouble.  So —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  It’s okay.  It’s the — it’s the President’s time.  (Laughs.)
MR. KIRBY:  Exactly.  Me too.
This is a relationship that has been improving now, as I said, over the last year.  And the President is very much looking forward to this meeting with the Angolan president. 
There is a lot of ground to cover.  So, we never shy away from talking about human rights.  The President routinely brings that up.  I won’t get ahead of the President, and we’ll have a readout.  But — but we — he never shies away from talking about human rights when he’s talking to foreign leaders.
Number two, we welcome President Lourenço’s efforts to — to foster peace.  I said that at my — at the opening statement.  His efforts on the continent to improve peace and security and stability are welcome.  And I am absolutely certain that the two leaders will talk about that today and the prospects for that and where that’s going, including in the DRC. 
And, number three, on the Lobito Corridor, the President is very excited about this.  This is a — a real landmark effort as part of PGI and — in helping lower- and middle-income countries find sustainable investments in their infrastructure that can not only create jobs, but also open up economic opportunities — in this case, all across that southern part of Sub-Saharan Africa. 
So, it’s very exciting.  And we’re going to — we’re going to keep pushing forward with it.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:   Go ahead, in the back.
Q    Follow-up on —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  In the back.  In the back, go ahead.  Yes, sir.
Q    Thank you very much, Karine.  And thank you, John.  Two very brief questions related to foreign policy. 
One, has the President had discussions with Speaker Johnson akin to those he had with Speaker McCarthy about the supplemental on Ukraine standing alone?  And is the price tag on it $60 billion or $47 billion at this point?
MR. KIRBY:  I don’t — I don’t — I’d have to get back to you on whether there was a specific conversation with the Speaker on the supplemental. 
That said, we have had numerous discussions and briefings with members of Congress and staff members about the importance of the supplemental and moving on all four of those buckets: Israel, Ukraine, the Indo-Pacific, and border security.  We want to see them act as quickly as possible on that.
Q    So, no —
MR. KIRBY:  And the — and the total numbers are on the web
to see, but —
Q    Right.  So, no standalone, then, on Ukraine?
MR. KIRBY:  We want to see all four priorities taken up by Congress and all four funded.  The reason why it’s a supplemental is because they’re all urgent.  And as I said earlier, we’re running out of runway on Ukraine, and I would tell you the same thing for Israel.  We have some existing appropriations and authorities to continue to support Israel, but that’s — that — that well is not, you know, endlessly deep, either.
Q    And will the President send or has he chosen a representative to go to President-elect Milei’s inauguration on the following Sunday?
MR. KIRBY:  Not that I’m aware of.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead.
Q    One of the key provisions of this deal was getting Red Cross officials in to access the hostages and see their conditions.  With the fragility of the truce being there right now, is there any realistic hope that the Red Cross is actually going to get any access to these people?
MR. KIRBY:  That — that’s — that’s part of the — that’s part of the deal.  That’s what we — our expectation is that Hamas will allow that access.
Q    But have —
MR. KIRBY:  That’s — that was part of that — that was part of that arrangement.
Q    But have they just simply been saying “no” at this point?
MR. KIRBY:  I — I don’t know whether — how much access they’ve actually had, but that’s part of the deal — what they signed up to.  So, we’ll — we’ll see — we’ll see if we can get an extension on this.  I mean, you know, it’s part of the deal for pauses.  So, during a — during the pause, while you’re getting hostages out and aid in, Red Cross gets access. 
So, again, the — we’ve got one more day today.  Hopefully, we can get this thing extended, and we’ll see.
Q    And does the U.S. have any —
Q    Can — can I ask you a follow-up on Angola?
Q    — other way that they feel they can determine the condition of these hostages, especially the Americans who are there? 
MR. KIRBY:  That’s why the — that’s why the Red Cross access is so important, because it’s eyes-on.  It’s an independent view and a look to see how these people are doing.  And that’s why it’s so important and why we’ve been fighting for it.
Q    Thank you.
Q    Kirby, can I ask you a follow-up on Angola?
Q    Thank you, John.  Regarding the attack in Jerusalem in which Hamas is taking credit, does the U.S. view that attack in any way to be a violation of the ongoing truce between Israel and Hamas?
MR. KIRBY:  Tech- — and I don’t want to get into — I’m not — I’m not a — a lawyer here.  This attack happened in Jerusalem.
Q    Right.
MR. KIRBY:  The pauses in the fighting were specific to Gaza.
Q    Okay.  So, that’s a — as simple as that?  I mean, it wasn’t — therefore, it didn’t violate the —
MR. KIRBY:  It didn’t technically violate the — the deal that was in place.  But, obviously, it’s a stark reminder of — of who they’re facing and what kind of — what kind of enemy that they’re opposing.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Nadia, Nadia.  Go ahead, Nadia.
Q    Can — can I ask you a follow-up on Angola?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Go ahead, Nadia.
Q    One — one question.
Q    I mean, it’s so surprising that you don’t take a —
Q    Sorry.
Q    — you are receiving an African leader —
Q    I have —
Q    — and you can’t take a question from an African journalist.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Okay.  We can — we can end this briefing right now —
Q    I — sorry, I — I have one question. 
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  — if — if you’re not going to be respectful.
Q    So, basically — —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Okay.  John, we can end the briefing. 
Q    It’s not about ending the briefing.  I want to ask an African question because you’re receiving an African leader.
Q    I’m trying to ask a question.  Can I just —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:   All right.  Thank you.  Thank you so much.
Q    Oh, my God.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  All right.  If we — we can end this briefing if it’s not going to be respectful here. 
Q    You’re not doing the right thing. 
Q    That’s what I’m saying.  You are receiving an African leader, and you don’t take questions —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Okay.  Thanks, everybody.
Q    Karine, I have a question about gas prices.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Thanks, everybody.  All right.  Thank you.
Q    Can we do one about the falling gas prices?
2:02 P.M. EST

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