Phone press briefing with Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations
Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield: Thank you, Justin, and thank you all for joining me today. I want to start with a few quick thoughts on my vitally important trip to Japan and Thailand.
Over the past week, I have worked to strengthen crucial alliances, deepen cooperation in the fight against COVID-19, and promote opportunities for peace, security and stability in support. of an open and free Indo-Pacific.
Last weekend, I had the honor of leading the United States presidential delegation to the ceremony – the closing ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics. I had the opportunity to cheer on Team USA and celebrate our athletes, who truly represent America’s best. And I have to tell you that I was so proud of their courage, their determination, their sportsmanship and their leadership, on and off the field.
And I was especially delighted that the women of the United States team won almost 60% of the medals for the United States. Their success is more than a point of pride for America. He showed the world how the inclusion and empowerment of women makes nations – makes our nation stronger and more competitive.
I also wanted to virtually meet members of the Refugee Olympic Team participating in its second Olympics. I have spent most of my career working on humanitarian and refugee issues, and I know the painful experiences these Olympians had to overcome to get to Tokyo.
An Afghan refugee Olympian told me how competing in judo helped her overcome this adversity. She told me that the first thing you learn in judo is how to fall, and the next thing you learn is to get up.
I am so proud of the Refugee Team and delighted to see them grow and continue to inspire millions of refugees around the world.
During my stay in Japan, I also had the honor of meeting the Japanese Chief Secretary of the Cabinet and the Japanese Minister of State for Foreign Affairs. I had the opportunity to reaffirm our crucial alliance with Japan, and to thank and congratulate the Japanese and Olympic officials for organizing a successful Olympic Games in the face of great adversity.
I also wished them continued success with the Paralympic Games in the weeks to come. And yesterday, President Biden announced that Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff will lead the delegation to this opening ceremony.
President Biden has made it clear that we place our alliances at the center of our foreign policy. And so I also felt it was important to come here to Thailand, to reaffirm and strengthen the long-standing alliance between our nations, and to underscore our enduring commitment to Southeast Asia and the centrality of ASEAN.
The US-Thailand alliance continues to create enormous benefits for our two countries and to contribute to a more peaceful, stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific region.
Today, I had the opportunity to meet the Prime Minister, following meetings yesterday with the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the Secretary General of the National Security Council. I think we’ve had productive conversations on a range of priority issues, including the strength of the alliance, public health, climate, human rights and the humanitarian crisis triggered by the February coup. in Myanmar.
In particular, I communicated America’s strong commitment to stand with the Thai people in the fight against COVID-19. In fact, yesterday morning I visited a vaccination site in Bangkok where vulnerable people and frontline workers were receiving some of the 1.5 million Pfizer vaccines the United States provided to Thailand last week. We are reinforcing this commitment with an additional 1 million doses of vaccine, which will arrive soon.
I was proud to see our vaccines arrive in the arms of the heroic doctors and nurses of Thailand. And I was encouraged to know that this is happening all over the world as the United States provides hundreds of millions of vaccines – provided unconditionally – to save lives and eradicate this pandemic.
Yesterday I was also – yesterday I also announced $ 55 million in new US aid for humanitarian and pandemic response efforts in Thailand and Myanmar. Myanmar’s coup and the resulting humanitarian crisis have been exacerbated by COVID, and Thailand is at the forefront of responding to both challenges.
The funding I announced yesterday will support the pandemic response and take the pressure off Thailand – the strain on Thai health systems. Specifically, the funding included $ 5 million in COVID-19 aid for Thailand, as well as $ 50 million in humanitarian aid that will flow directly through partners from international and non-governmental organizations.
This assistance will provide food, water, shelter, health care and vital hygiene services to vulnerable people in Myanmar, including refugees and internally displaced people.
Today I also had the opportunity to meet with international organizations, NGOs and others working in Thailand and Myanmar to discuss the political and humanitarian challenges facing the people of Myanmar, including refugees. . I wanted them to know that we are on their side. The resources we are providing will help these NGOs and international organizations respond to the COVID crisis and meet the needs of vulnerable people, especially in the border region between Thailand and Myanmar.
Finally, let me make it clear that the United States remains deeply concerned about the current crisis in Myanmar. In close coordination with our allies and partners, we will continue to push for an early return to democracy and the release of all those arbitrarily detained, while standing firm in our support for the people of Myanmar.
With that, I look forward to your questions. Thank you very much.