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Biden & British PM Hold Joint News Conference. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired June 08, 2023 - 14:30   ET




All right. First question goes to James of the "Financial Times." Unless he left.

JAMES FONTANELLA-KHAN, U.S. CORPORATE FINANCE & DEALS EDITOR, "FINANCIAL TIMES": Thank you, Mr. President. I appreciate the question.

With -- you spoke about your unwavering support for the people of Ukraine. So much of that depends on funding from the U.S. Congress.

And now with the counteroffensive under way, when do you expect to return to Congress and ask for new funding?

And how much do you expect you will need? And do you think that Speaker McCarthy will agree to it given some skeptical comments that we heard earlier --

BIDEN: No, not sure. And yes.

FONTANELLA-KHAN: And to Prime Minister Sunak, you spoke earlier this week about the importance of finding long-term security arrangements and agreements for the defense of Ukraine for many years ahead.

Do you think that -- have you found a common position with President Biden on that issue? What's your preferred model for a long-term security agreement with respect to Ukraine? And does it need to be sorted out before the summit?

Thank you.

BIDEN: Let me begin by answering your question.

First of all, the Ukrainians should speak to the military operations. I won't do that from here.

We've done everything we could collectively. But individually in the United States, to make them ready, support that -- will continue, and an evolving situation that we're very optimistic. In talks with Ukraine and the Ukrainians and particularly with

Zelenskyy and our allies and partners on commitments to Ukraine, long- term security, long-term security to deter future aggression after this war ends is the goal.

And we're advancing this goal by providing the support Ukraine needs now on the battlefield, and helping them strengthen their military over the long term.

The fact of the matter is that I believe we will have the funding necessary to support Ukraine as long as it takes.

And I believe that we're going to -- that support will be real even though you hear some voices today on Capitol Hill about whether or not we should continue to support Ukraine and for how long we should support them.

The fact of the matter is I ask people to picture what would happen if we were not supporting Ukraine, do we think Russia would stop in Kyiv, do you think that's all that would be happening? I think not.

And I think the vast majority of my colleagues, even the critics, think that would not be the case, as well.

There's much more to say about Ukraine, but I hope that answers your direct question.

RISHI SUNAK, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: James, thank you for the question.

If I might actually touch on your first question first and say it's -- actually entirely reasonable for the American people to hear what I say and hopefully acknowledge the thanks that we have for their support of the situation in Ukraine.

But also ask if everyone is doing their bit. And that's why as I said the U.K. is proud to be behind the U.S., the biggest contributor to the military effort in Ukraine.

And I think it's right that other countries also step up and do their part. We're lucky to have America's investment in European security.

But we need to share the burden alongside you which is why defense spending in the U.K. has been above the 2 percent NATO benchmark. It's on an increasing trajectory.

And we would encourage other countries to follow the lead that the U.S. and the U.K. set because our security is collective.

I think the other thing for you to know about us as an ally is we also view security as indivisible between the Euro-Atlantic region and the Pacific.

That's why the ORCAS partnership is so important. That's why we're strengthening our engagement alliances in that region so the U.S. can count on the U.K. as a partner and ally, sharing the burden but also working together in every sphere that it matters.

And on your latter question, I agree with what the president said. It's about deterrence. President Putin will be thinking he can wait us out, that the alliance will tire, we'll get fatigued, and will give up. Now that is not the case.

And the more we can put in place support for Ukraine, not just in the here and now, but support that will last for a time and for years to come, I think it sends a strong signal to him that there is no point trying to wait us out. We're not going anywhere. We will be here for as long as it takes.


And hopefully, that will speed up the calculation in his mind that he should withdraw his forces and stop what is an illegal and unprovoked act of aggression.

BIDEN: Also, if you don't mind my making an addendum, I'd point out that not only do we have Europe responding, I spent a lot of time in Japan. The Japanese have stepped up.

They've stepped up in terms of their budget, stepped up in terms of their involvement, they stepped up in terms of the support for Ukraine.

Realizing that an event -- a glaring invasion with no pretext of anything other than conquering land occurring in the 21st century is a danger not only in Europe but everywhere in the world.

The next question from -- from the "PBS News Hour" -- Laura?


BIDEN: I think you're going to steal the mic.

BARRON-LOPEZ: Yes. Laura Barron-Lopez with the "PBS News Hour."

All over the country, Mr. President, Republican-led states are passing laws, passing anti-LGBTQ, anti-transgender laws that restrict rights and medical care. Intimidation is on the rise. This week, anti-LGBTQ protesters turned violent in California.

And also recently, I spoke to the parents of a transgender girl in Texas who told me that they're afraid and that they are considering leaving, not just their state but the country.

Sir, why do you think this is happening? And what do you say to parents like the ones that I spoke to, to those families who are contemplating leaving the country because they don't feel safe anymore?

Prime Minister Sunak, thank you.

You mentioned that A.I. has been a key part of your visit. What are the U.S. and the U.K. -- what is the U.K. doing with the U.S. to protect elections and democracy from A.I.-generated disinformation campaigns waged at scale by foreign actors?

And you also mentioned the warning letter sent by A.I. leaders about the potential threat, that this technology, if misused, can pose to humanity.

How is regulating artificial intelligence going to be any different than what has been done at the global scale so far to deal with climate change, another existential threat?

BIDEN: Let me answer your first question. First of all, maybe quietly when we finish you can give me the number of that family, and I will call them, let them know that the president and this administration has their back. And I mean that.

Look, as president, I was proud to end the ban on transgender troops in our military, sign the Respect for Marriage Act, strengthen the civil rights protections for LGBTQ Americans and advance LGBTQ are the around the globe.

But our fight is far, far from over because we have some hysterical and I would argue prejudiced people who are engaged in all that we see going on around the country.

It's an appeal to fear. And it's an appeal that is totally, thoroughly just unjustified and ugly.

It's wrong for that a person can be married in the morning in the United States and fired in the afternoon by their employer because they are gay. It's wrong that the violence and hate crimes targeting LGBTQ people is rising.

It's wrong that extreme officials are pushing hateful bills targeting transgender children, terrifying families, and criminalizing doctors.

These are our kids. These are our neighbors. It's cruel, it's callous. Not somebody else's kids, they're all our kids. They're the kids -- our children are the kite strings that hold our national ambitions aloft.

It matters a great deal how we treat everyone in this country. And the fact is that I'm announcing today a series of initiatives we're taking to protect the LGBT community.

I was going to do that at the front of the South Lawn. We're having Pride Day. We're going to have to postpone it because of the climate, because of the weather and the pollution out there because of the fires.

Number one, we're going to strengthen the physical safety. Dedicate resources for federal coordination to better protect Pride celebrations, marches, community centers, health care providers, and small businesses.

[14:40:58] Secondly, we're addressing civil rights violations. A new coordinator to protect LGBTQ students from book bans, which make it harder for kids to learn, and may violent their civil rights at the same time.

We're also engaging in mental health and other support. More mental health resources and funding to help families support their kids. New efforts to protect LGBTQ kids in foster care, and steps to end the absolute end of LGBTQ homelessness.

Congress has to pass -- I'm not giving up on this, just like they told me we couldn't get the Marriage Act passed. Congress must pass, must pass the Equality Act and send it to my desk.

LGBTQ Americans, especially children, you're loved, you're heard, and this administration has your back, and I mean it. We are not relenting one single second to make sure that they're protected.

SUNAK: Laura, on your question, it's clear that A.I. can bring incredible and will bring incredible benefits to society, our economies, to all of us. And as one of your leading venture capitalists just published an essay on this, which made the point eloquently yesterday.

I think it's also clear, though, that it does pose very real risks that we, as leaders, need to be cognizant of and put in place the guardrails to mitigate against.

President Biden and I had a very good conversation on this just a couple of weeks ago in Japan, in one of our sessions in Hiroshima. And we are aligned in wanting to discuss with other countries what those guardrails should be.

Here in the U.S., you've convened all the companies together recently. We've done the same in Downing Street, just a couple of weeks ago.

And I think there are a series of measures that we can implement working cooperatively as we have been discussing that will ensure that we can enjoy the benefits of this technology whilst mitigating against their risks. And that's what our citizens would expect.

And you talk about climate change, you know, we come together at COP to work multilaterally across multiple countries to bring down carbon emissions, to get funding to the countries that need it, to share research on how we can develop the green technology of the future.

Indeed, that's part of our conversations and agreement today, that we need to bring that same spirit of urgency to the opportunities that A.I. poses because the pace of the technological change is faster than people had anticipated.

And I think the letter that you mentioned kind of reminded us that we do need to work urgently to address this issue. I'm delighted that Joe and I and others will be doing that with all great haste.

And I think a couple of questions on our end.

Could I call on the BBC?


Prime minister, your aim as a Conservative Party at the last general election was a full free-trade deal with America. Isn't the simple truth of what's been announced to an acknowledgment of a failure to do that?

And to the president, why won't you do a full trade agreement with the U.K.?

Thank you.

SUNAK: So if you look at what we've announced today, what it does is respond to the particular opportunities and challenges that we face right now and into the future.

And it asks the question, what do we need to do working together that can bring most benefit to our citizens as quickly as possible? And our agreement does that.

It's a first of a kind agreement that's ambitious in what it seeks to achieve.

I think that -- I structured around a couple different areas. The first is economic security because the challenges we face are much more economic in nature, big subject of our discussions at the G-7 recently.

And the only way we're going to meet those challenges is to work together, to strengthen the resilience of our supply chains, to research the technologies of the future together.

And that's what we've announced today is a partnership that will deepen our cooperation to strengthen the economic security. And that's good for all our citizens at home.

And those risks have intensified in the past couple of years. I think that's evident.

But it also seeks to create prosperity and create jobs in both our countries.

We've announced billions of pounds of investment into the U.K., which is going to support thousands of jobs.

And the agreement that we struck today will continue to do that. It will support tens of thousands of small businesses in the U.K. We're removing unnecessary red tape so that they can trade and do business in the U.S. far easier.

And I think those types of specific targeted measures that will deliver real benefits to people as quickly as possible are the right things for us to be focused on. But I think, no doubt, as Joe and I were discussing earlier, the

economic relationship between our two countries has never been stronger. The trade is worth hundreds of buildings of pounds and dollars a year.


Over a million of our citizens in each other's countries work in each other's companies. We own the largest investors in each other's countries. And that trade is growing at something like 20 percent last year.

So the relationship is strong. It's booming. But our agreement today focuses on the particular challenges, opportunities of the moment we're in. And I think that's the right thing for us both to be focused on.

BIDEN: I think we had a really good discussion today about our economic relationship. And we've launched negotiations on critical materials and an agreement to deal with the climate crisis.

For example, there is no reason why Great Britain will not play a major role in not only critical materials but in investing in the United States of America, in all of our initiatives relating to the need for critical materials including battery technology and a whole range of things, number one.

Number two, cooperating on data and A.I. It is a limitless capacity and possibility. But we have to do it with great care, not relative to one another, but relative to the issue.

Because when I convened the leaders in A.I. about -- I think there were 13 here in the United States, the very architects of this A.I., they're also very concerned about it getting out of hand. And we've got to make sure we're all on the same page.

And we're looking to Great Britain to lead that effort this fall and put together a proposal, a group of nations to deal with, how do we deal with this?

And not only has the potential to -- to cure cancer and many other things that are just beyond our comprehension, but it's the potential to do great damage if it's not controlled.

And so we're looking for -- I'll overstate it. We're looking for watermarks on everything that has to do with produced by A.I. so we know from whence it comes. But there's a lot we have to do.

We're also addressing the national security risk posed by certain types of outbound investments.

I had a discussion with Xi Jinping in China, why was I think transferring certain technological capabilities. And I said very simply because you're using them for weapons of mass destruction and intelligence intervention.

I said we'd work out something on that, we'd have a very different relationship.

So what we're trying to do is figure out how together we can make sure that we have -- let me back up and say it this way. I don't think ever in the history of the U.N. endeavor has there been as fundamental potential technological change as is presented by artificial intelligence.

It is staggering. It is staggering.

You have some of these leaders in the industry talking about how they're concerned whether a machine will begin to think for itself, not need to be programmed.

I mean, it's just -- I know it sounds like science fiction, but it is close to science fiction, some of the things. Enormous potential.

And we're looking to Great Britain to help lead that effort, to figure out a way through this so we're at full, total cooperation.

Because there's no one -- no country we have greater faith in being able to negotiate this, not negotiate with individuals, negotiate our way through this than the prime minister. And so we -- we're in lockstep.


SUNAK: Thank you.

Last question is "The Times."

CHRIS SMYTH, WHITEHALL EDITOR, "THE TIMES": Thank you. Chris Smyth from "The Times."

Prime minister, you've made clear your support of free trade. Is today's agreement a recognition in light of Covid, the great threat of China, Russia's invasion of Ukraine that the era of unfettered globalization is over?

If so, the U.S. thinks that requires a much more interventionalist industrial policy to respond to that. Why do you think that approach is wrong for the U.K.?

And, Mr. President, what do you say to those abroad who say that your new Washington consensus is simply a fancy way of saying America First?

And in light of the warm words just now about U.K.-U.S. defense collaboration, particularly in Ukraine, do you think it's time for the first British NATO secretary-general in two decades?

BIDEN: The last question, I'm sorry?

SMYTH: Is it time for a British NATO secretary-general?

BIDEN: Maybe. That remains to be seen. We're going to have to get a consensus within NATO to see that happen. They have a candidate who's a very qualified individual.

But we're going to have -- we have a lot of discussion between us and NATO to determine what the outcome of that will be.


And with regard to -- the first part of your question you wanted me to respond to?

SMYTH: It was about, is the new Washington consensus that you and your national security have set out simply another way of saying America First as some overseas think it is?

BIDEN: Well, look, my economic policy is totally consistent with what I think is in the interest of our NATO allies and allies around the world.

One of the things that I decided to do -- and I find that the "Wall Street Journal" -- and I'm sure there's someone here from the "Wall Street Journal," and other publications -- they're talking about Bidenomics. I didn't realize I had Bidenomics going.

The bottom line is this. That the fundamental change is taking place in terms of international trade. Nobody in, at least -- very few people in the United States, and I suspect around the world, knew what supply chain meant or they were talking about supply chain.

When we found out during the pandemic that the reason why we couldn't build automobiles is because the outfit that we got our semiconductors from in Southeast Asia had shut down because of the pandemic.

We realized that -- I decided that no longer would we rely on one center of support for any of the things that are needed for our economic growth.

And I made it clear to all our NATO allies and our partners, as well, that although we were going to generate a, for example, an A.I. capacity here -- excuse me, a semiconductor capacity here in the United States attracting literally several hundred billion dollars in investment that that was available to all of our allies, all of our friends.

And they're investing as we are and benefiting in a similar way.

The bottom line here for me is that I think that the world is changing in a way that -- globalization is still real.

But the measure of what we used to call in the United States trickle- down economics, where -- if the trickle-down economics resulted in Democratic and Republican administrations for generations.

In making sure that we found the cheapest labor in the world, sent the product -- sent the work to those -- to that neighbor or those neighbors rather than cheapest labor and they sent back their products. I'm not doing that anymore. We're going to make sure that we, in fact, have a flip of that. We're sending capacity here in the United States. We're attracting capacity to build here in the United States, to send product overseas. Not the reverse.

And I know it sounds simplistic, but it's working so far. And it's not going to hurt any of our allies or friends in terms of the trade piece of this.

As a matter of fact, I'm finding they're benefiting from it, as well, because they're engaging in it with us.

And at home, they're doing similar things. So that's why we talked about the need to have relationships in terms of certain materials, battery technologies, the share.

We rely on Great Britain to produce a lot of that for us. So it is increasing trade.

But right now, it looks like it is -- because the United States is doing so incredibly well, it makes it look like it's only the United States. It's not. It's a change in direction in terms of how we view generating economic growth.

SUNAK: Just to add to that, I'd say I'm absolutely of the view that the United States, this president, does not believe in zero-sum competition amongst allies. That's what we declared together with our G-7 partners just a few weeks ago in Hiroshima.

This is a president and an administration that is completely attuned to the needs and concerns of its allies on these issues. And you can see that.

Today, as the president said, we are launching negotiations between the U.K. and U.S. on a critical minerals agreement so that the U.S. can provide us with that interaction and cooperation we need.

And the Atlantic Declaration that we've announced today just talks about strengthening, deepening our cooperation. It's not about looking in and being protectionist. It's about the exact opposite of that.

And it's about strengthening that cooperation across the full spectrum of economic, technological, and other spheres.

And that's what you will see, you'll see that from the president, you'll see it from me. You'll see the U.K. and the U.S. working even more closely together on all the big economic issues of our time.

Because that's what the moment demands, and that's what our citizens need us to do, and that's what the president and I plan to deliver.


BIDEN: It's not just our citizens. Look, the Global South, they're going to be a billion people in Africa very shortly, one billion. At the G-7, it was originally called "Build Back Better World." But we're talking about there's a new PPI -- anyway, an industrial

policy that we're all signed onto to provide the countries in Africa and in the Global South an opportunity to grow, significantly grow, which benefits the United States, benefits Europe, benefits every country because the reverse true.

If we don't figure a way in which these countries can grow and participate and have to -- be able to build infrastructure -- you know, the Canadian -- excuse me, the Chinese have a Belt and Road initiative. Well the Belt and Road Initiative turns out to be a dead- end confiscation program. Not going far.

What we're doing with our NATO allies, with the G-7, is providing opportunities.

For example, Angola should be in a position very soon to have the largest -- the largest solar facility in the world, generating significant amounts of energy. Benefits us, benefits them, brings them into the 21st century in a way that they've never been before.

We're talking about building -- and I have my team putting together with other countries, as well, to build a railroad from the Pacific Ocean -- the Atlantic Ocean all the way to the Indian Ocean. Never occurred before.

Our Departments of Agriculture are working with these countries. So there's a significant amount of cooperation, not to hoard capacity but to expand capacity to further expand opportunity because we all benefit from it.

And one thing I've learned is that we are not going to be able to deal with the global warming, which is a consequential single-most consequential threat to humanity if we don't do it, unless we engage more together, not fewer, not less together.

And so the United States will do what it can do well and invite all of our partners to be part of it if we can.

Thank you.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests, please remain in your seats as the principals and official delegations depart the East Room.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: There's evidence that (INAUDIBLE) you sold out the county. Do you have response to congressional Republicans?

BIDEN: Where's the money? I'm joking.


(CROSSTALK) BIDEN: That's a bunch of malarkey.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. President, what do you say to Americans to convince them that they should trust the independence and fairness of the Justice Department that your predecessor, Donald Trump, repeatedly attacked it?

BIDEN: Because you notice I have never once, not one single time, suggested to the Justice Department what they should do or not do relative to bringing a charge or not bringing a charge. I'm honest.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Joining us now is CNN's Jeff Zeleny and CNN global affairs analyst and senior managing editor of the "Military Times," Kimberly Dozier.

Interesting moment at the end where he was sort of asked a one-off question. Sometimes these two and two news conferences don't always give us so many opportunities to hear the answers to too many questions.

What were the takeaways for you, Jeff?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: At the end, he was asked about the potential indictment for the former president. And he said I have not once suggested what the Department of Justice should do and said I'm honest and left.

This has been a pattern of him not wanting to weigh in on these ongoing investigations, which are -- appear to be coming to a head here.

Beyond that, I think President Biden expressed confidence that they would get funding for Ukraine from this Congress.

Interestingly, the prime minister met yesterday with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. We don't know how much of their meeting was on this conversation, but he expressed confidence in that course.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: And, Kimberly, to you.

Obviously, both these leaders have long promised support for Ukraine in the long term. And yet both of them at home are facing political headwinds when it comes to opposition members and even members of their own parties that may be reluctance to make that kind of commitment.

KIMBERLY DOZIER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Exactly. We know Biden's facing a general election. But the conservatives just got pasted in local elections this past May, which means they might be calling -- they have to call elections by 2025. They're probably going to do it next year.

[14:59:54] If the Labour Party comes in, the U.K. is facing major economic issues, strikes, et cetera. It's likely that the British government will start giving less aid to Ukraine. And the U.S. might be doing the same thing.