Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield’s Interview v Ryan heather on Politico’s “Global Insider” Podcast
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Ambassador Linda Thomas-GreenfieldU.S. Representative come the united NationsNew York, brand-new YorkSeptember 15, 2021



QUESTION: Yeah, I deserve to hear friend loud and also clear.

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QUESTION: yet here’s an offer for you, Ambassador. I’ll chef you gumbo. We will certainly flip the script, and also I’ll cook gumbo because that you currently that you’ve excellent it for us.

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Oh, the is a deal. And also I have actually one, two, three, four witnesses.

QUESTION: very good, exactly. Yet how perform you find the time? the takes so long. I really nothing understand.

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: i – my ideal gumbo I ever before made i did in three hours from start to end up to the table, however usually i prepare. Usually, if I recognize that ns going to make gumbo, I could chop increase my holy trinity on Wednesday night, and also I might prepare my chicken on Friday and make certain the shrimp are currently peeled early in the morning ~ above Saturday. And also then as soon as I start with the roux, whatever is there, everything is made, and also I can just whip it all up. Yet I deserve to do it in three hours if I require to.

QUESTION: now a semi-serious question. Walk you cook gumbo for any kind of of your other ambassadors yet?

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: I have not excellent it because that my ambassadors yet, yet I’m looking forward to doing that again. And I favor to put a small okra in mine gumbo, too. I put the okra there just kind of for conversation. And also some human being don’t favor okra, yet I favor to just show it as part of the gumbo.

QUESTION: Okra gets my vote. Possibly to move into the major side that this –

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: five no, let’s forget about that. (Laughter.) this other civilization can hang out. Us can end up this conversation.

QUESTION: Well, remember, you’ll come over to my house, therefore that’s currently a deal.

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: all right, the a deal.

QUESTION: If ns could lug you earlier to day one top top the job just for a brief 2nd to kick turn off the conversation, we understand that “America First” really bruised a the majority of alliance relationships, however I nothing think a lot of of civilization know what that way day to day because that statecraft. And so ns was wondering: What go you face on day one? walk you gain a proper handover native Kelly Craft? What were you thinking when you walked into the office?

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: i didn’t walk right into the office, first and foremost. Ns got shown for the job four days before taking end the chair as president of the protection Council.

“I, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, carry out solemnly swear.”

“I, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, execute solemnly swear.”

I did interact with my predecessor, Kelly Craft, prior to coming. Over there was not a proper handover, together you could know, because of so lot politics that took location after the election. But I will certainly say the Ambassador Craft to be extraordinarily hospitable. Us spent quite a little bit of time ~ above the phone with each other, and also she was really supportive.

QUESTION: To gain political for a second, deserve to you call me what kind of challenges or damage that the plot of people like senator Ted Cruz space doing by holding increase the check hearings for the other ambassadors that have actually been nominated?

“I’ve made clean to every State room official, to every State room nominee, that i will place holds on these nominees unless and also until the Biden management follows the law and stops this pipeline, imposes the sanction.”

How long have the right to that really go top top for?

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: I shot my ideal not to it is in political since I’m actually a job person, and also so relocating from the career professional an are to the political an are was very daunting for me. However I have the right to say the it is so important for our ambassadors to get out to the field and represent the American people. And also so there is tremendous damages being excellent by holding increase our ambassadors from getting out to carry out the work that the American civilization need united state to perform to represent them overseas.

QUESTION: and do you think that that is going to rise over time? the obviously the does increase, however does it end up being an exponential trouble when this gaps just exist for not just weeks but months or even years?

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: It sure does. And also I just take my own appointment as an example. Ns was prepared to acquire to work-related in brand-new York immediately, and also I was type of left in a holding pattern until four days before the U.S. Took over the presidency of the protection Council. So ns imagine the my colleagues sitting right here in new York ~ above the defense Council were wondering what was going on, whether they would certainly actually view an American ambassador representing the United says sitting in the chair. And to come in and literally struggle the floor – I always said sprinting due to the fact that I didn’t run. I really sprinted to the finish line. I remained in meetings almost 24/7 for four days prior to I had actually to lead the security Council.

And ns think that leaves civilization with a little bit of are afraid that the U.S. Is – it’s not going to step up come the plate and also show our leadership. Ns think I’ve been able to perform that, and also our embassies proceed to operate. We have actually chargés who space there that are proficient diplomats who save our embassy running, but it’s important that we get our ambassadors out to the field.

QUESTION: So ns don’t understand if you know this, yet I often contact you the ambassador to everywhere because you’re helping to fill in for so countless of the open diplomatic positions about the world. And with the said, it makes me wonder: What space you actually concentrating on ideal now? exactly how do you narrow it down? room your number-one priorities cyber security, climate, conflicts? What is it?

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: ns wish over there were just two concerns that we were dealing with. We’re dealing with climate. We’re taking care of the pandemic. You pointed out cyber. Cyber is a huge, large issue for us. But there are roiling humanitarian and also political crises that we’re handle with. Therefore Afghanistan is certainly high on our list, however Ethiopia is same of problem to us. You check out what is keep going in Haiti now. An initial it was a political situation with the assassination that the president, and also then it was this earthquake, and now a storm. We’re handle with large issues regarded migration in the northern Triangle but also migration issues throughout the globe. So Burma – I can – the list is endless.

And at the joined Nations, as you said, i’m the ambassador come everywhere. That is also the ambassador to every issue approximately the globe. Fortunately, I have actually an extraordinary team the staff and supporting ambassadors that will be working to assist me obtain the project done. Yet you discussed ambassadors being held up. It’s crucial that we obtain that management on the ground here so the I have ambassadors in leadership roles to support me.

QUESTION: Now, one partnership that worries a many of civilization at the moment is the state the the U.S.-China relationship. I was wondering: Is there any type of hope you have the right to offer based upon your last conference or her last speak to with among your Chinese ambassador colleagues? just how does that partnership work?

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: the a complex relationship, but it’s a relationship that has locations of collaboration and particularly here in ~ the united Nations. The protection Council issued a declare on the situation in Afghanistan in which every solitary member the the security Council signed ~ above it, and also China signed ~ above it. Ns sit two seats away from the Chinese PR, so us are consistently consulting through each various other on the floor. We speak to each other on a constant basis. And while we’re not always in sync with each other on issues, the problems where we room in sync on, we’re able to relocate on those concerns very, very quickly. We have actually been may be to job-related with the Chinese, and you witnessed what we were may be to perform on the Syria cross-border, and also that was Russia.

QUESTION: and that was keeping the humanitarian crossing open so people could climate follow it, basically?

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Yes, yes. And also we to be able to obtain a unanimous poll in the defense Council top top this. We functioned within the P5, the five permanent member the the protection Council – the U.S., China, Russia, France, and Britain. And then ns worked straight with both my Chinese and Russian colleague, and also we were able come come up through an covenant on a method forward that i think is really a design for exactly how we can work together as soon as we speak to every other.

QUESTION: have the right to you describe a little about how you think the U.S., either at the UN or elsewhere, have the right to exercise some influence over the Taliban to avoid the sort of actions that they engaged in when they were last in power?

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: ns think if you simply look in ~ the security Council declare that came out critical week – again, a merged voice, all 15 nations signing top top this explain calling because that the Taliban to finish the violence, phone call on them to respect person rights and also humanitarian assistance, and specifically to respect the rights of women, and calling top top them to not allow Afghanistan come be supplied as a base because that terrorism. And that come out the the defense Council, and also it to be a strong message.

But also, we space able to connect with the UN and also to ensure the the UN continues to it is in an energetic participant within of Afghanistan. So the United nations will proceed to job-related inside of Afghanistan functioning on issues related to women and girls. For this reason the UN – the security Council – is a an essential place. The the one place, I would certainly argue, wherein we have the right to work to deal with some of these daunting issues.

QUESTION: and we recognize that you’ve to be working with allies to strengthen America’s commitment come women and also children in Afghanistan. Go that mean that you will additionally be working v allies to number out strategy on, for example, whether or no to acknowledge the Taliban if they revolve up and also say we want accreditation to the UN?

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: We certainly will have an intense discussion with our allies on the recognition issue. We’re no there yet. We have to see what sort of federal government the Taliban form, and we must see what sort of actions that they take once they type the government. You might recall that the Taliban to be never well-known in 1996 ~ they took over since of the actions the they were responsible for. So we will certainly be watching their actions very, an extremely closely before any kind of decisions will certainly be made on acknowledgment of a federal government that they are component of.

QUESTION: Is there any type of tactical maneuver you have the right to use come see an ext actions and hold-up the decision? due to the fact that I’m reasoning it’s feasible they’re walk to turn up come a credentials committee and also really shot and present up in ~ the UN leaders Week, and also it’s all going to involved a crunch quite soon.

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: i hope that is no the case. And also I can’t preview what we – what we can do in that case. But certainly, in ~ the security Council we’ll be discussing those issues. Fine be stating those problems within the U.S. Government in regards to what our plans will be together it relates to the Taliban.

I nothing imagine the this is going come come increase by center of September. We’re talk two, 3 weeks out, and they haven’t also formed a government yet. The my watch that it won’t come increase this quickly, and I’m not also sure that they us will desire to be on the global stage the quickly. But I do know that they carry out want recognition; and if they desire recognition, they’re going to need to abide by the worldwide norms that we all live by, and also that is respecting worldwide humanitarian standards and respecting human rights.

QUESTION: but I guess it’s fair to say the they’re no going to be recognized if they’re not living increase to some of those commitments.

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: definitely not by the unified States.

QUESTION: us all experienced the heroics in ~ the beginning of the year indigenous the Burmese ambassador, that stood up and also defied the armed forces takeover of his country.

“We need additional strongest feasible action native the international community to automatically end the military coup, to protect against oppressing the innocent people, come return the state strength to the people, and also to regain the democracy.”

He’s tho clinging come his post. And it’s simply a reminder the this gets personal very quickly for world in a position like you, since they’re her colleagues and also your friends. Space you tho in touch with the ambassador native Afghanistan? do you think he’s going to have the ability to hold on for a while?

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: i am in constant touch through him. Us were interacting with each various other today, and also I am really supportive of him. And we will watch and also see exactly how things evolve.

You pointed out the Burmese ambassador. I remained in regular call with him. I taken place to it is in in the basic Assembly the day the he made his speech separating himself from the junta. And I automatically – I had actually never met him in person, yet I immediately reached out to him and applauded his courage. And we have actually stayed in contact with every other. Together you know, he had actually a threat against his life. The U.S. Federal government responded immediately and fortunately were able to arrest the people involved in that and also charge them.

So we will continue to be friends and supporters that this ambassador and the Afghan ambassador relocating forward.

QUESTION: Slightly lost track the time, but I recognize you have to need come go. So i’ve just obtained two critical questions. (Laugher.) ns take the smile as submission.

One is top top UNICEF, where you talked around all the vital work the they carry out in Afghanistan. Castle the large vaccine coordinators at the global level. And the joined States has held the executive director position there due to the fact that 1946, and Henrietta Fore is going to it is in stepping under soon. Do you recognize yet what girlfriend will do to shot and make certain that write-up stays in American hand so vaccine diplomacy and also other work deserve to continue?

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Well, very first let me just congratulate Henrietta Fore, who I recognize quite well and also have operated with for many years, because that the extraordinary project that she did as the executive, management director that UNICEF. And also we’re in the procedure of reviewing candidates that we will certainly nominate because that that place to the secretary general. And as you know, the is the secretary basic who will certainly make the choice. Yet I can say that it will certainly be U.S. Intentions to placed forward a solid candidate to head the company for the next term.

QUESTION: and my last shot at goal, the on Africa. I know that you room deeply passionate about Africa and its future, and the UN is yes, really the greatest platform because that African diplomacy. So ns was wonder if friend had any thoughts there, whereby I simply – I recognize sometimes Africa’s leaders don’t constantly live as much as the promise of all those amazing young people in the continent. How have they to be in new York therefore far? space they representing all of those young civilization and all of their talent?

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: when I was assistant secretary for Africa, I always talked around Africa together being the following frontier of prosperity because that the entire globe, and I quiet strongly believe that. And also the young civilization of Africa room going to it is in the engines of Africa’s future, and also we have to engage with those young peoples.

I carry out think the African leaders have to spend an ext time with their young people. They have to listen to your young people an ext intensely, and they have to empower castle to command in the future. And that’s the message that I deliver every single time ns speak v an afri leader come encourage lock to embrace their young people and, in a sense, embrace their futures.

QUESTION: Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, say thanks to you therefore much. Ns really hope the President gives you a trip to Africa to command a delegation there at some time soon.

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AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Good. Give thanks to you an extremely much. I so delighted in talking to you and meeting you, and I’ll look forward to sharing her gumbo diplomacy v you.