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Blinken says he gets 'occasional dig' from other countries about US democracy

Blinken says he gets 'occasional dig' from other countries about US democracy
© CARLOS BARRIA/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony BlinkenAntony BlinkenChina: Electoral reform would bring 'brighter future' for Hong Kong State sanctions Ukrainian billionaire over alleged corruption Australian PM Morrison says Biden will join first-ever 'Quad' meeting MORE said his foreign counterparts occasionally knock U.S. efforts to promote democracy abroad after the Jan. 6 riot on Capitol Hill.

While Blinken said the remarks have been “gentle,” they nonetheless underscore the deep stain the riot has left on America’s reputation on the international stage.

“People have been pretty gentle about it. But certainly there's the occasional dig from someone on the other end of the line whom we are raising concerns with about something going on in their country,” Blinken said in an interview Tuesday with NPR.

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The January mob attack resulted in the deaths of several people, including Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick. Two other officers who responded to the riot died by suicide in the following days.

Lawmakers were sent scrambling for safety before pro-Trump rioters briefly took control of the Senate chamber before being pushed out by law enforcement.

Several people who stormed the Capitol said they were acting at the supposed behest of former President TrumpDonald TrumpUS, South Korea reach agreement on cost-sharing for troops Graham: Trump can make GOP bigger, stronger, or he 'could destroy it' Biden nominates female generals whose promotions were reportedly delayed under Trump MORE, who railed against his loss in the presidential election and claimed without evidence that widespread voter fraud cost him a second term.

World leaders expressed horror at the insurrection, while some heads of state who had been pressed by Washington to implement reforms seized the opportunity to criticize the U.S.

“Last year, President Trump extended painful economic sanctions placed on Zimbabwe, citing concerns about Zimbabwe’s democracy. Yesterday’s events showed that the U.S. has no moral right to punish another nation under the guise of upholding democracy,” Zimbabwean President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa tweeted on Jan. 7.

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While Blinken noted that the U.S. reputation has been “tarnished," he said he has not been deterred from advocating for democracy reforms overseas. 

“There is no doubt that our ability to wave the banner of democracy and human rights to some extent has been tarnished by recent events, especially the egregious attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6,” he told NPR.

“I don't feel any hesitation about advancing our views on democracy and our views on human rights, because, again, I find that there's actually strength in the fact that we're confronting these things openly, that we're confronting our own deficits, our own challenges for the entire world to see,” he added. “And that's very unlike, still, most other countries in the world.”