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Kirby addresses concerns about Gaza, NATO and immigration

On the topic of NATO, Kirby reaffirmed the United States' commitment to the military alliance.
Kirby addresses concerns about Gaza, NATO and immigration
Posted at 2:00 PM, Feb 14, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-14 14:01:47-05

Scripps News' White House correspondent Haley Bull spoke with White House national security spokesperson John Kirby on Wednesday. They discussed numerous topics — from the Israel-Hamas war to immigration. 

Israel-Hamas war

The U.S. is involved in negotiations to free Israeli hostages being held in Gaza. The talks, which are taking place in Egypt, may have hit a roadblock. The Israel Prime Minister's Office said on Wednesday that it had not received a new proposal from Hamas on the release of the hostages. 

In response to that statement, Kirby said negotiations are ongoing. 

"We are still having these conversations, and we, again, believe that there's been some constructive nature to them, that there has been progress made," he said. "I can't speak to the prime minister's concerns. Obviously, all sides have to be OK before you can move forward."

On the front lines, Israel has said it will expand its ground operation to Gaza's southernmost city of Rafah. The international community, including the U.S., has expressed concern about the 1.4 million people who live in the area. 

Kirby said the U.S. has been in contact with Israel about protecting civilian lives. 

"One of the things that we've been talking to our Israeli counterparts about is the reduction of civilian casualties, how to operate in an urban environment where you aren't putting civilians at greater risk," Kirby said. 

Commitment to NATO

Former President Donald Trump angered world leaders over the weekend after saying he would "encourage" Russia to do whatever it wanted to countries that were not paying their fair share to NATO. 

President Joe Biden called the remarks "un-American." Kirby reaffirmed the U.S.'s commitment to NATO.

"I think our allies know very well where Joe Biden sits when it comes to NATO and how dedicated he is to making sure we meet our commitments to the alliance and that as alliance members, we meet our commitments to each other," Kirby said.

He added, "We're going to defend every inch of NATO territory if it comes down to that."

Immigration

Kirby would not speak to reports that Immigration and Customs Enforcement is considering a policy to essentially release detainees amid budget cuts. However, he noted that a bipartisan bill negotiated in the Senate would have provided more money for the border crisis, but Republican Speaker Mike Johnson said it would be dead on arrival if it made it to the House. 

"I can confirm that the president still wants to see us add components, add resources and capabilities for our Border Patrol agents down there," Kirby said. "When we look at that supplemental bill, what's the plan to get this across the finish line given speaker Johnson's comments that really provide a murky path forward for that."

Kirby went on to criticize Johnson, who has said the bill will not solve the problems at the border. 

"Does he want to be a leader here and answer the moment, the inflection point that we're in ... or did you want to let it go," Kirby pondered.


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