Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield’s Interview with Laura Trevelyan of BBC World News America

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
September 21, 2021


QUESTION: And who better for us to discuss this with than America’s chief diplomat here at the United Nations – that is, the U.S. Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield – who of course has a very busy week this week, and she’s here in New York and she joins us now.

Welcome to the program, Ambassador.


QUESTION: And President Biden is calling for this new era of “relentless diplomacy.” Is item number one on the agenda repairing relations with the French, who have accused America of stabbing them in the back because of your deal with the Australians over submarines?

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Look, the President was very clear in his speech to the United Nations that we will be focusing on rallying all of our allies and all of our partners and all of the institutions of the UN system to deal with the most difficult challenges of our time. And as it relates to France, we have a strong relationship with the French. They are our oldest allies, and that relationship will continue to grow stronger. As with all friends, friends have disagreements, but those disagreements can always be dealt with in a relationship as strong as the one that we currently have with the French government.

QUESTION: But, Ambassador, would you accept that the hasty and rather chaotic U.S. exit from Afghanistan has left America’s allies in NATO with real questions about American leadership, especially as President Biden has pledged to work with allies and partners but NATO allies feel that they were told what to do by America?

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: You know, the President announced in his speech that for the first time in 20 years, the United States stands before the world not at war, and the decision to move toward a more normal diplomatic approach to dealing with issues of the world is one that I think all countries have accepted and want to see us do. The President wants to lead with diplomacy, not with our military. And we are continuing to engage with the people of Afghanistan. We are the largest contributor of humanitarian assistance to this country. We’ve made clear to the Taliban that we will judge them on their actions and not on their words and not on any commitments that they’ve written down on paper. And we will continue to provide needed humanitarian assistance through NGOs, through the United Nations systems, to support the people of Afghanistan.

QUESTION: You’re talking about how the President is underlining diplomacy, we’re seeing very much that vaccines are coming into play as an instrument of diplomacy, and China’s President Xi reiterated that China will give two billion doses of the coronavirus vaccine to the world by the end of this year. Are the Americans going to match that?

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: We are taking a strong leadership role on COVID. The President has made clear that we can’t address this pandemic alone, that every country has to engage, and I’m very happy to see that the Chinese are engaging. But I will stress what the President stressed: Our vaccines are being donated, they’re being donated without strings, and they are being donated to countries all over the world who are in need. The President will be hosting and I will be joining him tomorrow – a COVID summit where we will bring together all of the nations of the world, the NGOs, the private sector, to see how we can work together to address this pandemic. And China’s donations are certainly welcome, and we would encourage them to continue to make those donations without strings.

QUESTION: Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, thank you so much for joining us.