Remarks by a Senior U.S. Official in a Background Briefing on Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield’s Travel to Iceland

Senior U.S. Official
May 15, 2023


MODERATOR: Thank you so much and good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to this background briefing. The focus of today’s call is U.S. Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield’s travel to Iceland. This call is on background and you can attribute what you hear to a senior U.S. official.

For your knowledge only and not for reporting purposes, I’m happy to let you know that we have on the line with us today [Senior U.S. Official]. Again, you can attribute what our briefer says to a senior U.S. official, and this call will be embargoed until its conclusion. 

[Senior U.S. Official], you have the floor.

SENIOR U.S. OFFICIAL: Okay. Thanks, [Moderator]. Hello, everyone. As we announced last week, Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield is leading the U.S. delegation to the fourth Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe, taking place this week in Reykjavik, Iceland. President Biden asked the ambassador to lead our delegation to underscore the United States’ commitment to our European alliances. She will also highlight the United States’ strong bilateral relationship with Iceland. The Council of Europe Summit will focus on efforts to protect human rights, democracy, and the rule of law amidst threats stemming from Russia’s war in Ukraine as well as democratic backsliding around the world.

With our allies in Europe, we have worked together to respond to Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. And at the summit, the Council of Europe will take a critical step to hold Russia accountable for its war of aggression by establishing a new register of damage caused by the aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine. The United States is proud to join the register as a founding associate member. At the summit, Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield will represent the United States in joining the enlarged partial agreement establishing the register.

You may recall that the UN General Assembly in November of last year passed a resolution recommending the creation of an international register of damage caused by Russia’s “internationally wrongful acts” in Ukraine. In establishing such a register, the Council of Europe is taking an important step to hold Russia to account. The United States plans to provide funding, working with Congress to support the register.

Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield will take the opportunity to meet with a number of our European partners at the summit. As a member of President Biden’s cabinet, Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield has made it a priority to engage with and visit our partners on the continent, both large and small, each contributing to our collective effort in supporting Ukraine and holding Russia accountable. That includes visits in the last year or so to Albania, Moldova, and Romania as well as Poland and Ukraine. The ambassador will continue that engagement as she arrives in Reykjavik today.

We anticipate she will meet with our Security Council colleague Malta, among others, and, of course, with Icelandic officials. Iceland is a NATO Ally and close partner of the United States on a wide range of issues including transatlantic security, combating the climate crisis, and strengthening respect for human rights and gender equality. Through her engagements with civil society, the private sector, and government officials, Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield looks forward to learning more about the ways the U.S. and Iceland can collectively promote energy and food security, advance gender equality, and combat climate change.

And with that, I’ll stop and I’m happy to take any questions.

MODERATOR: Thank you, [Senior U.S. Official]. Again, if you joined late, this call is on background and you can attribute what you hear to a senior U.S. official, and I’ll ask our operator to review the instructions for joining the queue for questions. 

OPERATOR: Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, again, if you’d like to ask a question, please press 1 and then 0 on your telephone keypad. You can withdraw your question at any time by repeating the 1-0 command. And if you’re using a speakerphone, please pick up the handset before pressing those numbers. Once again, if you have a question, you may press 1 then 0 at this time. Give me just a moment here.

And currently no questions in queue from the phones. Again, it is 1-0. Okay. And no questions.

MODERATOR: All right. If we have no questions, I want to thank [Senior U.S. Official] for joining us today. Thanks to all of you for calling in. The embargo on the call is now lifted. Thank you.

SENIOR U.S. OFFICIAL: Thank you.