TRANSCRIPT: Foreign Press Center Briefing with Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and Senior Official for APEC Matt Matthews

FOREIGN PRESS CENTER BRIEFING WITH DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE AND SENIOR OFFICIAL FOR APEC MATT MATTHEWS

TOPIC:  PREVIEW OF APEC 2015

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 2, 2015, 10:30 A.M. EDT

THE WASHINGTON FOREIGN PRESS CENTER, WASHINGTON, D.C.

MR ZIMMER:  Good morning.  Welcome to the Foreign Press Center.  My name is Mark Zimmer.  I’m one of the Media Relations Officers here.  We’re very pleased to welcome you this morning to a pre-brief of the APEC 2015 meeting with Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matt Matthews. 

Before we start, I’d like to take a moment to mention International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists.  That’s today, November 2nd.  I don’t have to tell this group about the importance of a free press as part of every vibrant democracy regardless of location or culture.  This commemoration, which the UN General Assembly initiated in 2013, reminds all of us of our responsibility to prevent violence against members of the media and to ensure accountability for those who do commit violence.  The United States Government commends all of you for your role in promoting free speech, and we recognize the importance of journalists being able to do their work without fear.

With that, let me please welcome Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matt Matthews.  He will have some opening remarks, and then we’ll take questions.  I will moderate that session.  We’ll welcome colleagues in New York as appropriate.  Thank you.

MR MATTHEWS:  Good morning.  I’m very happy to be here with you all to just preview a few items in the lead-up to our APEC senior officials meeting, the APEC ministerial, and of course, the APEC leaders meeting, which will conclude our APEC year. 

I think as all of you know, APEC is a critical piece of our economic architecture in the Asia Pacific region, and we see it as the premier organization for advancing free and open trade and investment.  It’s also used to foster cooperation in promoting sustainable and equitable growth.  One of the most important parts of our Rebalance agenda is for shared prosperity in the region, and APEC contributes directly to that agenda.  There are a number of things that go into it, but APEC basically is structured to help regional integration, stability, and to support rules conducive to U.S. economic competitiveness both for us and the region as a whole.

There are a couple of reasons why APEC really does work and works effectively.  Number one, it’s the institution in the region that we use where we can cooperate on freer and more open trade and investment.  It’s the right environment for holding those discussions.  We have the right experts together both from government and from business to create substantial and workable, practical measures that help move us forward in that area. 

It’s also a good institution for capacity building.  The United States participates in that, but so do other economies in APEC.  And the purpose of that capacity building is to make sure our participatory economies in APEC or developing countries have the capabilities that enable them to take advantage of the trade liberalization that we move forward on in APEC.

And, lastly, I’d say that it’s key to ensuring economic growth that is sustainable and that benefits everyone.  That’s a key element in the themes that you’ll hear time and again during the Philippines’ year, is inclusive growth.  It’s really something that APEC has been working on for some time, but it is being highlighted during the Philippine host year. 

So, we see APEC being able to move forward on all these fronts because it’s an incubator for new ideas, for innovative approaches, and for tackling challenges in the region that other folks haven’t thought of or tried before.  That’s facilitated, as I said, by the level of frank and open discussion that we can have in APEC.  And we can have that kind of frank and open discussion because it’s an organization that’s based on consensus, and the outcomes that we reach are non-binding except inasmuch as each and every member economy commits to doing the things that we all have agreed make sense to do, that we all agree will expand trade, will create greater prosperity, and create benefits across our economies.

So what you’ll see over time is each and every economy coming to a conclusion, coming to a consensus within APEC, and then going home and doing the things they need to do to make those proposals fact, to make them real, to actually open their economies in ways that actually have spurred growth in the region.

I believe that APEC not only has but will continue to play essential role in enabling agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership and those of the WTO by helping economies envision and prepare for high-standard rules-based economic systems throughout the region.  I think one perfect example of how APEC has done that is in the area of environmental goods and services. 

So I just thought I’d highlight it for you because this year is the year in which all economies have committed to implementing commitments to either reduce tariffs on 54 items in the environmental goods and services list to below 5 percent or zeroing them out completely.  That’s an amazing step forward, and it’s a step that inspired the WTO to try to pick up a similar process.  And it’s moving forward now on a global framework.

So, again, incubator of ideas, effective means of communication within APEC where we have open discussions and plenty of time to examine the consequences of what a policy move might mean, then consensus and moving forward on it to implementation and providing that idea for others in the global economic community as a point of reference and, perhaps, adoption as in the case of environmental goods and services.

So that environmental goods and services list and the implementation of it is one of the real key highlights for deliverables this year.  But there is much more on the APEC agenda, and first and foremost I would say is work on digital economy.  This is something we’ve been working on for the past couple of years and we’re continuing to prepare it to ensure that the internet and the dissemination of new technologies that have led to rapid change is, in fact, possible within the APEC environment. 

What does this really mean for us?  It means that the internet needs to be open for markets and for free flow of information.  The free flow of information is critical to firms making rapid and accurate decisions.  So anything that prevents the free flow of information on the internet really is an impediment to growth.  It’s an impediment to prosperity. 

So we’re supporting a discussion in APEC that looks to identify those barriers and, as we move forward not only just this year but in the years to come, to thinking about ways we can move forward of dealing with the digital economy as a major trade issue for APEC, one that will allow us to address barriers in an effective way across the board.

The goal here, of course, is to make sure that we have a 21st economy in the Asia Pacific that continues to drive growth for the globe, and we’ll do that by making sure that we’re on that cutting edge, that we’re taking advantage of all the tools and all the benefits that the internet has that we can apply to our economic systems.

Another thing, of course, moving forward is work on the free trade area of the Pacific.  There is a study going on now and … working chapters are being developed by various economies.  That is something that will be progressing year by year as we look at ways of even broadening out the degree of integration within APEC.

There’s also, as I said, a key agenda on prosper – maintaining prosperity through sustainable, healthy, and resilient communities.  So what are we talking about there?  In APEC, we’ve come up with practical applications for dealing with marine debris.  There are better programs going out now where cities are undertaking very pragmatic programs that will take debris, waste material, and turn it into energy – just a creative and effective and economically viable approach.  Again, we’re doing it as an example, not only to the Asia Pacific region, but for the globe as well.

Fossil fuel subsidy reviews – we’re taking a look in APEC at those fossil fuel subsidies and asking each economy to take a clear look and ask themselves whether it’s delivering economic benefit or is it perhaps counterproductive.  And in those cases where they identify a counterproductive subsidy – that means a subsidy that doesn’t work to that – the goal that we have in mind or that – or there are other policy options that might be more efficient.  Folks are then encouraged to pursue those other options. 

On the environment, we’ve got a number of initiatives but, of course, first and foremost was the environmental goods and services agreement.  And I’d just highlight for you, in terms of environment, that the reason why that’s important is we are encouraging businesses and encouraging economies to adopt the best available technologies that allow us to grow, but to grow greener by reducing our carbon footprint.  One key way to do that is by zeroing out the tariff, cutting the tax on those items so that businesses are more likely to adopt those technologies sooner and on a broader scale.  That means that we can grow and reduce our carbon footprint at the same time.  But in addition to that, we’re also doing work on electric vehicles and, as I said, we’re doing this fossil fuel subsidy study.  So there’s that element on environment.

Again, there’s an element covering health.  And in health, we’ve done work on both reducing the barriers – or not reducing but at last identifying barriers to trade in health care products.  Again, looking forward, what we’ve got in mind here is this:  What we’re trying to do is improve the health outcomes in each and every economy, and one of the best ways of doing that is to take a look and see where are the tariff rates inconsistent with that goal?  Where are they so high that they’re actually preventing good health care products from getting to consumers who need them?  And, ultimately, what we’ll try to do is work together with our other APEC economies and come up with approaches of how we can reduce those barriers.

But another thing that we’re doing is working in public-private partnerships on infection prevention and the control that is working in conjunction with the global health security agenda.  

And a third area of work in APEC, which is very important and which requires private sector assistance – and one reason why APEC is so effective is it brings the private sector together with government – is to take a look at innovative medical products and take a look at the kind of global standards we’re adopting in applying them.

I’ll give you a following-up area for work that we’re doing, is in women’s economic empowerment.  Here, the most basic thing we’re trying to achieve is ensuring that each and every economy in APEC grows at its optimum level, but the only way you can really do that is by ensuring that women have a full right to participate in the workforce and to contribute to our economic growth. 

So in a broad range of measures, both on – by identifying policy frameworks that can facilitate and encourage full participation of women in the economy through a digital dashboard, and through a number of other specific measures, including this year we had one on transportation – women and transportation, which took a very clear look at this key node, making sure that women have safe transportation systems to get them to and from work, to make sure that that doesn’t become a barrier to their participation in the workforce.  And as a kind of ripple effect, allow economies to say, okay, that’s the way it worked in transportation; are there other areas in our economy that are, unbeknownst to us or without us having really thought through them, creating barriers that we didn’t intend but are in fact there?  As we take a look at the policy settings, we can say here are things, practical things, we can do to make sure that there’s nothing that stands between a woman and her desire to participate in that economy and generate income for her family and help that economy grow.

So one last thing I would mention to you is our work on disaster preparedness.  This is something that was particularly poignant, I think, for the Philippines here because the Philippines, of course, is subject to as many if not more disasters than any other economy in APEC, whether it’s volcanoes, whether it’s earthquakes, whether it’s typhoons.  But all economies in APEC to some degree or other have to handle these kinds of challenges.  And what we want to do, particularly in APEC, is make sure that we’re coordinating in ways that, number one, ensure that we can get humanitarian goods to and from any disaster zone as efficiently and effectively as possible.  This means over time dealing with the customs regulations and restrictions that might slow down that process.  Our goal here is to make sure we alleviate suffering as much as we possibly can, as soon as we possibly can.  And a second element of the APEC’s work on disaster preparedness is, again, I think unique to APEC because it takes a look at what happens after you’ve dealt with the immediate humanitarian crisis:  What about getting our supply chains back in business?  What about getting our businesses back up and running?  What about making sure we have resilient energy systems that can be either sustained through a disaster scenario or be returned to service as quickly as possible?  We’re looking at all those kinds of elements within the framework of discussions in APEC.  So I think you can see we have a really broad agenda, but it’s focused on delivering economic improvement and greater prosperity and greater equity throughout the system.

So I think with those opening remarks, I’ll just open it up.

MR ZIMMER:  Thank you.  Please identify yourself and your outlet.  If any guests in New York come to the microphone, we’ll recognize them.

Please, in the middle here.

QUESTION:  Thank you.  Welcome to the Foreign Press Center.  I have a question about India.  India has applied for membership of APEC and Philippines said it’s considering it.  What’s U.S. position on that?

MR MATTHEWS:  I don’t believe that there’s any active consideration within APEC for expanded membership at the current time.  From time to time, countries and economies will register interest and – at present, though, there’s been no significant discussion along those lines.  But at a future date, those things may be reviewed and we will see where they go.

One thing I would suggest is for any economy that’s interested in APEC, a great way to start is to go into – identify sub-fora or working groups that work on particular areas across our APEC agenda that are of particular interest to them and apply as a guest to send experts in to participate, both to help understand how APEC works and to get a better understanding of how we process and turn out good outcomes that help APEC be that organization that pushes for leading-edge and innovative ways of expanding a more open and free trade and investment environment.

MR ZIMMER:  In the middle here, please.

QUESTION:  Hi, I’m Alexander Panetta from the Canadian Press.  So there will be a new member of APEC this year – Canada has a new prime minister in two days.  So I’m just wondering whether there are any plans for either a bilateral or a pull-aside with Canada’s new Prime Minister Trudeau and any issues that might be priorities for the United States in dealing with a new government.

MR MATTHEWS:  Well, Canada has a new prime minister and we welcome the prime minister into the APEC family, but Canada is not a new member.  And Canada is a very significant and important member of APEC, one which we work with very closely.  We anticipate having a tremendous amount of continuity in the APEC agenda and that Canada, if it does have new priorities that it would like to raise or address, I’m sure we’ll be hearing from the prime minister and his team when we go into the ministerial and leaders agenda period during these discussions coming up.  But nothing’s been raised as of yet that I’m aware of.

MR ZIMMER:  Thanks very much.  Let’s go to the side here, please.

QUESTION:  My name is Varughese George.  I have a follow-up question on India.  I’m from India, The Hindu newspaper.  India has already been an observer since 2011 and President Obama, when he visited India last year, did say that the U.S. would support India’s membership in APEC.  So are you suggesting that there is no forward movement at all on that – India’s request for membership?

MR MATTHEWS:  I think it’s just important to be very careful and accurate about describing the President’s comments.  The President has welcomed India’s interest in APEC, and I think that speaks for itself.  We are welcoming your interest.  We welcome India’s examination of what APEC’s all about, but we have not entered into a discussion and I don’t believe India is formally pressing for actual membership now in APEC.  And remember, keep this in mind, APEC is an organization that’s consensus-based.  So each and every member of APEC has to agree to an expansion of APEC membership, and no discussions in APEC this year have focused on that topic – just so you’re focused on that, okay?  You’re welcome.

MR ZIMMER:  We’ll do the front and then we’ll go to the back, please.

QUESTION:  Thank you, Matt.  Rita Cheng from Central News Agency, Taiwan.  Every year the U.S. delegation will meet with the Taiwan’s counterpart during the APEC.  I wondered is there any meeting confirmed during this year?  And any other topic that you will be discuss with Taiwan’s counterpart? 

And also, not every country in – of APEC has been included in TPP.  I wonder the America – how America and in what way will put the – cooperate the TPP (inaudible) with the – like the region’s economic framework?  Thank you.

MR MATTHEWS:  Okay, I’m not sure if I got all of that.  But first and foremost, Taipei is a full member in APEC – Chinese Taipei is a full member in APEC, and it works across the whole APEC agenda with every other economy in APEC and we work with Chinese Taipei in those various sub-fora and working groups, in senior official meetings that I participate in with, and of course during ministerials and even the leaders meeting.  So I think you can anticipate that, just as in prior years, Chinese Taipei will be an active participant in all those elements and we look forward to that.

MR ZIMMER:  In the back, please.

QUESTION:  Good morning.  My name is Adam Xu from Voice of America, Mandarin service.  I have two questions.  You mentioned the U.S. will support the discussion on the free flow of information on the internet.  I’m wondering:  Do you have a list of participants in the (inaudible) or is this discussion going to be carried out?  And can you elaborate on the focus of such discussion, and what are your expectations?

And my second question is about the South China Sea.  Given the recent tensions in South China Sea, is it going to be on the agenda in the APEC discussions?

MR. MATTHEWS:  Thank you.  So, on digital economy, right now we’re at an early stage in the APEC process on discussing the digital economy and digital trade issues, so I would say that this is essentially a working-level process.  But both at ministerial and, I believe hopefully, at the leaders level there will be acknowledgement that this is an important issue that has to be discussed and engaged in, but it primarily has to be engaged at this working level to make sure we kind of start to flesh out all the different specifics that we think are critical to ensuring that we have a free and open internet that supports future economic growth.  So I guess that’s where I’d say we’re on that one.

And I have nothing for you on the South China Sea, except I would just reiterate that APEC is an organization that focuses on economic issues. 

MR ZIMMER:  How about on the side for this one.

QUESTION:  Hi, 21st Century Business Herald.  About TPP, some trade experts told me that among the TPP members in the ASEAN countries, Malaysia will be the one, the country that will face a lot of challenge during the TPP ratification process in terms of the prime minister’s challenge from his own party and from parliament.  So is this the case, or do you optimistic about the ratification process of TPP in Malaysia as there will be a trade minister session in the APEC?  Thanks.

MR MATTHEWS:  Well, I am optimistic about ratification of the TPP agreement by all the participating economies.  It doesn’t mean that it won’t take a lot of work.  Even in our own country we anticipate it’s going to be a major effort to make sure we do a good job of explaining the actual outcomes of TPP and what the benefits are.  But we remain optimistic and I think we remain optimistic across all the participating economies. 

MR ZIMMER:  In the middle, please, then we’ll go to the back.

QUESTION:  Hi, Maria Garcia, Notimex, the Mexican news agency.  As – Mexico as a member of APEC has started ambitious economic reforms.  Do you think that the Mexican model could be – to what extent the Mexican model could be regarded as a model for other members of the APEC?

MR MATTHEWS:  Other members of APEC?  Well, I would say this, that we have a very broad agenda of issues in APEC, and I would say it’s probably fair to say that almost every economy participating in APEC has at some point introduced innovative ideas or good policy suggestions that get discussed by APEC and ultimately adopted by APEC.  And Mexico, of course, is one of them.  But it’s part and parcel of the way in which we operate, so particularly in every host year whenever an economy decides to host, they have a chairmanship role which allows them to help highlight issues that they think are of critical importance, and they naturally do this in consultation with other economies.  But it does give them a chance to provide some additional input. 

But even in non-host years every economy has the ability to introduce at working levels at the senior official level new ideas that they think will help all the economies at APEC to grow more effectively.  And Mexico has participated in that and they are an active and helpful player in helping us move towards a more liberal and open system.  So I can only say thank you to Mexico.

MR ZIMMER:  All the way in the back, please.

QUESTION:  Hi, I’m Marion with NHK Japan Broadcasting Corporation.  I have two questions about two major economic developments in the region this year, first of all the TPP and then also economic uncertainty coming out of China and the resulting financial market volatility.  And I’m wondering if those two things would specifically be on the agenda for the leaders’ summit.  TPP, I assume, would definitely be a focus in the trade minister summit, but I’m wondering if there would be a sort of separate TPP meeting at the leaders’ level as well. 

QUESTION:  Well, there’s been no decision, I think at this point, on whether or not there will be a TPP sidebar meeting at the ministerial or at the leaders’ meeting, but I refer to USTR on that.  As we get closer to the date they may have something more for you on that. 

In terms of China, China is pursuing a broad-based economic reform agenda.  It’s a challenging process of shifting the growth model – one dependent on investment and exports to domestic demand – and it’s a natural process you would anticipate that when you go through a major economic policy transition like this that issues will arise.  They seem committed to the process.  I think though the IMF and other economies understand their commitment and are supportive of their commitment to that reform process. 

MR ZIMMER:  Do we have more in the back?  (Inaudible.)

QUESTION:  Thank you very much.  My name is Tatsuya Mizumoto from Jiji Press.  About digital economy: so, are you discussing about cyber security?  And then about TPP, I know you have no TPP agreements, so what kind of the impact you will have to (inaudible) by this?

MR MATTHEWS:  Okay, cyber security does get raised in certain fora within APEC, and – but it’s – we have a pretty strong economic focus for the discussions.  So what you want to do is make sure that you have systems in place that preserve trade secrets, that preserve the integrity of business information, et cetera.  You want to make sure that economies are protected against potential economic downside of cyber hacking, et cetera. 

But I’ll get back to you with more detail that would probably help you, because I don’t have the specifics in front of me but I’d be happy to give you more information on that in a follow-up.

And then your second question was?  I’m sorry.

QUESTION:  (Off-mike.)

MR MATTHEWS:  Yeah.  So APEC’s agenda is separate – TPP is a separate negotiating group of economies.  They’re all APEC members, but it’s done separately.  So we’re not driving the APEC agenda based on what happens in the TPP negotiations.  The APEC agenda keeps moving forward on trade liberalization processes regardless.  So – but obviously, we all welcome the successful conclusion of the TPP, but it won’t directly affect the APEC discussion process.

MR ZIMMER:  Do you have a short follow-up?

QUESTION:  Yes, I want to follow that, so on the TPP.  But I think as – to your final (inaudible) that you are going to write a TPP standard to – in the APEC area, right?  So —

MR MATTHEWS:  Right.  So there are two things.  There’s a free trade agreement of the Pacific discussion group, which basically is starting to flesh out what chapters in an APEC-wide agreement might look like.  That discussion process will go forward, and is going forward, and chapters are being worked on by individual economies who have raised their hands and volunteered to help contribute.  And I guess that’s what I can tell you.  That’s an ongoing discussion process and ongoing drafting process.  That continues. 

MR ZIMMER:  Any final questions?  Okay.

QUESTION:  I am Grigory Dubovitskiy, Russian news agency RIA Novosti.  Are you aware of any plans, maybe possible, to discuss any questions with Russian delegation on the sidelines while SOM meet, maybe you aware of what level it could be?

MR MATTHEWS:  I don’t know about – and I can say to you that I meet with the Russian delegation for the senior officials level on a regular basis and at every SOM basically – and my predecessors did.  So those discussions continue because we have points of discussion that need close communication on a regular basis.  And my team that does APEC issues is, of course, working with our counterparts in the Russian delegation to APEC.  As for more senior-level meeting schedules, I don’t have the specifics for you on that.

MR ZIMMER:  One here, and then a final couple in the back.

QUESTION:  Two quick follow-up questions.  Alexander Panetta, again, from the Canadian Press.  Can you give an example or two of some of the environmental goods and services you’re talking about, and what a change in tariffs might mean or an elimination of tariffs might mean in terms of their proliferation?  That’s the first follow-up.

And the second thing I wanted to ask was, if I understand correctly, that you don’t know yet whether there might be a meeting with the new Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada?

MR MATTHEWS:  Well, I’d refer you to the White House on their scheduling of bilateral meetings for the President during the period of the leaders’ meeting. 

As for your other question on environmental goods and services, well some obvious ones that come to mind that are covered are wind turbines and solar panels – things that you’d say just – inherently you’d say anybody who wants to operate more greenly and wants to generate green power will want to make sure we can get those products to every market in APEC with the lowest tariff possible, if not zero tariff, so that a greater number of firms and a greater number of households can actually adopt the use of those technologies to reduce their energy intake and their carbon footprint.

MR ZIMMER:  Okay.  Maybe one more after this one.

QUESTION:  All right, thank you.  Rob Gentry with TV Asahi.  I had a follow-up on your question about – on your point about reducing tariffs for health care products.  Is it tariffs or is it also non-tariff barriers that you’re interested in on that? 

And then as a general question for the leaders’ meeting, what does the U.S. hope to have in terms of discussion on currency in the region, in terms of its effect on trade?  Thanks.

MR MATTHEWS:  So for healthcare products let me just be clear, we’re in very early stages of discussions on health care products.  Really what we’re doing at this current stage in APEC is agreeing to kind of identify barriers.  But one other thing that I’d like mention to you that we’re doing with regard to healthcare products in APEC is having private sector and governmental cooperation on helping to identify substandard health care products that can enter the market or even fraudulent ones, and then making sure each economy has effective means of taking those substandard products out of the pharmaceutical system to make sure we’re not delivering products which don’t help improve the health outcomes for our citizens.  But so we’re really at an early stage on that healthcare initiative, and we’re not to the point of, I think, identifying tariffs or talking about tariff reductions but just basically doing a study of the overall picture on barriers.

And I’m sorry, what was your other question?

QUESTION:  Currency.

MR MATTHEWS:  Currency.  I can’t give you anything on that.  I don’t know that there’s – yeah, I just don’t have an answer for you on that one.

MR ZIMMER:  Do we have a final question?  Over here, one more.  Last question, please.

QUESTION:  Sorry, it’s still a follow-up to the TPP.  I just wondered, is that like the similar, that during the APEC the discussion group will have a meeting and any country who would like to join the TPP, that they will have the chance to talking about that?  It’s something like that?  Thank you.

MR MATTHEWS:  Yeah, well, thanks for that question.  I don’t believe it’s envisioned right now.  Remember, every economy that’s in the Trans-Pacific Partnership at present is focused on one thing.  It’s getting from the conclusion of the negotiation to ratification within their own system, and that’s precisely where the United States is.  So our focus is completely dedicated to preparing everything we need to do to get ratification by the U.S. Congress.  And until we get that done, we’re not really going to be focusing on other economies.

We welcome the interest of other economies in APEC who are interested in TPP, but we just have to tell folks, please understand our focus right now is getting to ratification.

MR ZIMMER:  Okay, we appreciate Mr. Matthews joining us this morning out of his busy schedule.  We appreciate your joining us.  We’ll see you next time.  Thank you.

# # #

Advertisements

TRANSCRIPT: Foreign Press Center Briefing with Professor Allan Lichtman, “State of the Race 2016: An overview of the 2016 Elections for foreign correspondents covering their first U.S. election”

FOREIGN PRESS CENTER BRIEFING WITH ALLAN LICHTMAN, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR OF HISTORY AND FREQUENT POLITICAL COMMENTATOR AND ELECTORAL FORECASTER

TOPIC:  STATE OF THE RACE 2016: AN OVERVIEW OF THE 2016 ELECTIONS FOR FOREIGN CORRESPONDENTS COVERING THEIR FIRST U.S. ELECTION

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 28, 2015, 11:00 A.M. EDT

THE WASHINGTON FOREIGN PRESS CENTER, WASHINGTON, D.C.

MODERATOR:  Hello and welcome to the Washington Foreign Press Center.  Today I would like to welcome Professor Allan Lichtman, American University professor of history and frequent political commentator and electoral forecaster, back to the Washington Foreign Press Center for another in his series of elections and political briefings.  This briefing is titled “The State of the Race, 2016:  An Overview of the 2016 Elections for Foreign Correspondents Covering Their First U.S. Election.”  Professor Lichtman’s views are his own and do not represent the U.S. Department of State. 

Without further ado, here is Professor Lichtman.

MR LICHTMAN:  In fact, my views don’t represent anyone except me, so don’t attribute it to American University, the federal government, the United States, or anyone else except Allan Lichtman. 

How many of you were here for my 2014 briefing?  A few of you.  Remember I said three things mattered in midterm elections, right?  Turnout, turnout, and turnout, and I predicted if the turnout was low, the Republicans were going to win the 2014 midterms, and that’s exactly what happened. Turnout was low and it was a very good year for Republicans.  However, things change in presidential election years.  The turnout is something along the lines of 50 percent higher than it is in midterm elections and doesn’t tend to vary quite as much from election to election. 

And obviously, unlike midterm elections where turnout can be highly dependent on what’s going on in an individual state – do you have a real tight race in that state – in a presidential year, of course, turnout is determined by the top of the ticket, the presidential contest.  But the basic dynamic is still very much the same:  High turnout tends to benefit Democrats and low turnout tends to benefit Republicans, whether in a presidential year or a midterm year.  And particularly high turnout of minority voters tends to favor Democrats; higher turnout of white voters tends to favor Republicans.

We have a very racially and ethnically polarized electorate in the United States, and it is virtually uniform.  There are variations in numbers, but the pattern is almost uniform across all the states with white voters giving majorities to Republicans and African Americans, Hispanics, and Asians giving majorities to Democrats.  There’s a slight exception to that in Florida where there’s a very strong Cuban American population that has been traditionally Republican, but that has been changing.  The older anti-Castro Cold War generation is dying out and the new generation is much less Republican, and Florida is also experiencing strong immigration from other parts of Latin America.  So today, the Hispanic vote in Florida is about 50/50; everywhere else, it tends Democratic.  And of course, the African American vote is 90 percent or more Democratic.  So turnout matters and turnout of whites versus minorities matter a great deal in this election.

I’ll turn first to the presidential contest and what’s going on in each primary.  The Democrats ought to be building a monument to Vice President Joe Biden because of what he didn’t do – that is, he didn’t get into the presidential race.  Why is that important?  Because it means there is much less likely to be a contest within the Democratic Party for the nomination.  Bernie Sanders fires up about a quarter to a third of the Democratic primary electorate.  There are a lot of people who will walk through brick walls for Senator Bernie Sanders, but he has a great deal of trouble expanding beyond that 25 to 30 percent.  He does really well in Iowa and New Hampshire – small, primarily white states – but he is being swamped in the polls by Hillary Clinton in all of the big states where there’s very strong minority voting in Democratic primaries, where money organization and name recognition matters.  You’re not going to go door to door in California, New York, and Florida. 

So it looks like, unless something really bizarre happens – and that does happen in politics – that Hillary Clinton is cruising to become the consensus Democratic nominee.  And she was helped not only by Joe Biden getting out of the race, but greatly helped by her Republican opposition.  The more things change, the more they remain the same in politics.

Some of you may even remember back to the crisis facing her husband, President Bill Clinton, the only president since Andrew Johnson in 1868 to be impeached by the U.S. House while the Republicans pressed too far.  And it made it look like – even though Bill Clinton had done some pretty dastardly things – that the Republican campaign against him was political, it was political revenge and was being sought for political advantage, not for the good of the republic.

Guess what?  The Republicans have made exactly the same mistake in going after Hillary Clinton on the Benghazi tragedy and the emails.  Yes, Hillary and the State Department made some pretty serious errors, but it has been pursued so relentlessly for so long with so little new information coming up that now, the American people overwhelmingly believe – 75 percent – that this – these investigations of Hillary Clinton are being motivated by partisanship.  And a couple of Republicans have even come out and greatly helped Hillary Clinton by saying, yeah, these hearings were designed to drive her poll numbers down or hurt her electability. 

So the Republicans have done something that Hillary Clinton could never have done by herself – make this ice lady look sympathetic and appealing and beleaguered and persecuted.  And that had greatly helped her campaign along with an absolutely superb performance in the Democratic debate and just showing she was a marathon runner in coming out of 11 hours of grilling in the Benghazi hearings absolutely unscathed.

Why does it matter that Hillary Clinton is going to be the consensus Democratic nominee?  The reason is history.  History teaches that the worst thing that can happen to the party holding the White House, which of course is the Democratic Party even though Barack Obama is not eligible to run again – the worst thing that can happen to the party holding the White House is an internal, bitter party fight.

The last time the party holding the White House survived a major internal fight for the nomination was, guess what, 1880 when James Garfield won the presidency by about one-tenth of 1 percent in the popular vote.  Since then, major internal party fights have been the kiss of death for the party holding the White House.  I need only remind you of 2008; the Republicans had a big fight, or 1980 when Ted Kennedy challenged Jimmy Carter, or 1976 when you had the bitter battle between Ronald Reagan and the sitting president, Gerald Ford.

So the reason avoiding a party fight is so critical in this election is not necessarily because Hillary Clinton is the most electable candidate.  In fact, going for the most electable candidate is about the worst strategy any party could ever adopt because you don’t know who is electable.

I remind you of 2004 when the Democrats opted for John Kerry, Senator Kerry, not because they loved him but because they thought he was electable and, of course, he lost to a very weak president who was really faltering, George W. Bush, in 2004.

So very good news for the Democrats with Joe Biden’s withdrawal and the recent resurgence of Hillary Clinton.  If form holds and Hillary Clinton becomes the consensus nominee, that’s very positive for the Democrats going into the general election.

Now, what is also interesting historically is it’s entirely different for the challenging party, for the party that does not hold the White House.  They can fight all they want and historically it makes absolutely no difference.  I point you to 2008, right, when the Democrats were the out party.  The Republicans were holding the White House and there was a long, protracted – one of the longest and most tract – protracted nomination struggles in modern history between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, and that did not stop the challenging candidate, Barack Obama, from handily winning the White House.

So the pundits have it all wrong.  It doesn’t matter that there’s this big squabble among Republicans.  It doesn’t matter that there is no clear consensus nominee and this could be a long struggle.  The pundits have no sense of history.  They have no theory of how a presidential election works.  They’re operating from the seat of their pants and they are absolutely wrong.

That said, the real action and the real interest is on the Republican side, and what is astonishing about the Republican struggle – it’s still early, but not too soon to be astonished – is that the only candidates in double digits, and they’re both over 20 points in the polls; the next highest are 8 or 9 – so the two candidates who are absolutely sweeping the Republican field now – doesn’t mean they’re going to be nominated, but it’s not that early; it’s getting close to 2016 – are two candidates who not only have never been elected to anything, who have never held public office, and that is Donald Trump and Ben Carson, who together, according to the polls, hold the support of more than 50 percent of likely Republican primary voters.

Now, you may think, oh, it’s the Republican Party.  They are the party that challenges Washington.  This is not surprising for the Republican Party.  Nonsense.  When was the last time the Republican Party nominated someone who had never held any kind of public position?  The answer is never.  The answer is never.  You have Dwight Eisenhower, who was never elected, but of course he was General of the Army.  You have Herbert Hoover, who wasn’t elected, but he was Secretary of Commerce.  You have William Howard Taft, who wasn’t elected, but he was Secretary of War and Governor General of the Philippines.  Never has the Republican Party reached out to someone who not only has never stood for election but never held public office. 

In fact, if you look at the more recent history of the Republican Party, they have always nominated a mainstream figure with lots of experience and standing within the party.  Look at their nominees: Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts; John McCain, senator from Arizona; George W. Bush, governor of Texas, son of a President; George H. W. Bush, vice president; Bob Dole, leader of the Senate; Ronald Reagan, governor of California; Richard Nixon, former senator and vice president; even Barry Goldwater, the maverick far conservative who was nominated in 1964, was still a U.S. senator from Arizona.

So you are looking at two candidates who might not seem surprising, but who are actually incredibly surprising because they completely break the mold both of the long history of the Republican Party, and even more pointedly, the recent history of the Republican Party.  They have not nominated anyone with the profile, or non-profile, of a Ben Carson or a Donald Trump.  Got to editorialize a little bit here.  Remember, these are my own opinions only. 

Donald Trump doesn’t surprise me.  I predicted Donald Trump many, many months ago, when all the pundits were scoffing at him.  Why did I predict the rise of Donald Trump?  A number of reasons.  One, he is a great showman.  He really knows how, positively and negatively, to get attention and to attract people to pay attention to him and to listen to him.  And in a crowded field, you need a shtick.  You know what a shtick is?  It’s a Jewish term, it’s used in Hollywood a lot – something that makes you different, something that stands out, something really special.  You remember the impersonation of Sarah Palin that made Saturday Night Live really stick out.  Tina Fey just had her to a T.  It was a great shtick.  And Donald Trump has a shtick.  Now, whether that shtick will last through the primaries, who knows.  But all the pundits again were wrong who said he was a meteor who would just burn out in the atmosphere.  That hasn’t happened.  He’s been atop or, until recently, very close to the top of the polls now for a very long time.

The other thing about Donald Trump is he says things that a lot of other Republican candidates believe but are too afraid, too timid to say – such as his denigrating of immigrants.  It’s inflammatory stuff, probably a majority of Americans don’t agree with it, but there is a segment within the Republican Party that likes to hear that kind of thing and believes that Donald Trump is a non-scripted kind of candidate; he’s not a controlled, Washington-establishment type of candidate.  And if there is anything that marks the Republican Party today, it’s complete disgust with Washington. 

And it’s not just because Barack Obama, a Democrat, is president; it’s because Republicans are deeply and bitterly unhappy about their own Republican Congress.  They don’t believe that their own Republican Congress had done nearly enough either to challenge Barack Obama or to imprint Republican values and Republican policies.  There’s a big segment of the Republican Party that’s quite willing to blow everything up and start all over again.

So I get Donald Trump.  I’ll tell you who I don’t get, and that’s Ben Carson.  I cannot understand what the appeal of Ben Carson is.  Watch the debate – the man had nothing to say.  He couldn’t distinguish between the debt and the deficit.  He tried to explain medical policy – his own medical policy.  He’s a doctor and he couldn’t explain his own medical policy.  But what baffles me most about Ben Carson – have people listened to what the man actually has said? 

He embodies two things that I think are the most dangerous elements that any politician could have:  a lack of a moral compass, and a lack of a sense of history.  The man has compared the Obama Administration to Nazi Germany.  This cheapens the Holocaust.  It cheapens the deaths of tens of millions of people in World War II.  Whatever you may think of Barack Obama – love him or hate him – he didn’t kill 6 million Jews.  He didn’t start a war that killed 67 million people.  What kind of moralist are you?  What kind of sense of history do you have when you make those kinds of comparisons?

I’m a Jew, and I – and I’ve studied the Holocaust.  And I am profoundly offended by his cheapening of the Holocaust by saying if the Jews only had a few guns, they could’ve stopped the Nazi war machine.  How could you be so profoundly ignorant of history?  First of all, only a tiny fraction of the Jews who perished in the Holocaust were German Jews.  Most of the Jews were from territories occupied or influenced by the Nazis – Poland, Romania, Hungary, not Germany.  And guess what?  The Jews tried to fight the Nazis with a few guns. 

Mr. Carson never seems to have heard of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.  You know how many Jews were killed?  Thirteen thousand to 20 Nazis.  Nearly 60,000 were deported to the death camps.  How you can cheapen the Holocaust, perhaps the greatest human tragedy in history, by saying it could’ve prevented – it could’ve been prevented if the German Jews had a few more guns.  I don’t get Ben Carson. 

I don’t understand how he has risen to the top of the polls, unless people just aren’t listening.  And that may be true.  Maybe he hasn’t gotten the scrutiny that a Donald Trump or a Jeb Bush has gotten, and people just think he’s this profoundly moral outsider who’s going to bring a new era to Washington.  That may well be his appeal, but I don’t get it.  I get everyone else in the Republican and Democratic field.

And the other candidate I get is Jeb Bush.  That’s the other big story, is the absolute collapse of the candidate who was considered to be the establishment favorite.  Why has the Jeb Bush campaign fallen apart to the point where some of the commentators are indicating he may even drop out of the race?  He’s already cut back on staff.  He’s already reorganized his campaign.  He already looks like a loser.  How could that possibly have happened?  Well, part of it isn’t his fault, and part of it is his fault.  What isn’t his fault is, as we’ve seen so far, this isn’t a good year for the Republican establishment.  The Republican establishment doesn’t seem to be offering anything that’s appealing to the Republican electorate.  In fact, if you put together three candidates who have never held public office and never run for anything – add Carly Fiorina to Ben Carson and Donald Trump – and you’ve got about 60 percent of the potential Republican primary electorate, with eight candidates sharing the other 40 percent.  So that is not anything that has to do with Jeb Bush personally.

But Jeb Bush has run one of the worst campaigns in modern history.  He not only commits gaffes, he doesn’t seem committed to the campaign.  He’s not crisp, he’s not sharp, he’s not appealing, he has no shtick whatsoever.  And my own pure speculation – I have no inside information on this – is the – I won’t say collapse, because remember, Lazarus rose from the dead.  John McCain rose from the dead in 2008.  Things – strange things can happen, so I won’t say collapse yet.  I’ll say terrible faltering of the Bush campaign – is he doesn’t seem to have the fire in the belly.  He doesn’t seem to want this with great passion.  He seems to be pursuing it – and again, this is my speculation – because it’s his turn.  His dad was President, his brother was President; governor of Florida, hugely important swing state.  It seemed his time.  And when confronted with this extraordinary tsunami of anti-establishment sentiment within the Republican Party and the rise of these absolutely unexpected candidates, Bush has had no answer to this point.

But I wouldn’t count him out entirely yet because there is going to be an establishment candidate.  It’s not in the end, I don’t believe, going to be only Carson and Trump.  I believe one or the other will survive and thrive as we go into the primaries, but I think there is going to be an alternative.  And the smart money of course has always been on Jeb Bush, but it’s now shifted.  Smart money’s now on Marco Rubio, another Florida candidate, and that’s kind of understandable.  He’s young, he’s good-looking, he’s got – he’s articulate, he’s charismatic.  But the problem for Rubio:  Where does he break through?  Where does he make his mark and how does he make his mark?

So I think it’s entirely up in the air who is going to be the alternative to the anti-establishment candidates, and Bush – his heart is still beating, but it’s beating very, very faintly.  But there is at least some small possibility that the heart of Jeb Bush is going to be revived, but somehow the passion has got to come internally within Jeb Bush himself.

But regardless of which Republican emerges, you’re going to see real contrasts between the two parties.  Two parties agree on almost nothing today.  People talk about polarization although it was a matter of Republicans and Democrats sitting down and having a beer or having a coffee – nonsense.  You know why there’s polarization in Washington?  Because two parties don’t agree on anything.  They don’t agree on health care, they don’t agree on taxes, they don’t agree on immigration.

And the huge sleeper issue that I think may well emerge by next year – it hasn’t been much so far – is climate change, arguably the biggest challenge that humanity is facing.  California is running out of water, which not only affects tens of millions of people in California, but because of their agricultural production, they – confronts the whole country.  A study came out yesterday saying if the world doesn’t deal with climate change, there’s going to be a huge hit to the world economy and an enormous rise in poverty.  A study came out showing the states of the Persian Gulf – get this – may be facing something that has never before been seen in the history of humanity: that is, temperatures too hot for human survival.  There’s this huge meeting in Paris.  I don’t know what will come of it, but I do think climate change could become a huge sleeper issue as we get into 2016.  And once again, the parties are absolutely at odds over whether we should do anything whatsoever about this problem of climate change.

And of course, America has crumbling infrastructure – our electric grid, our roads, our bridges are badly needing repair.  Another big issue, another huge issue: the gap between not the rich and the poor anymore; it’s now the gap between the rich and everybody else – how the party is going to address that. So look forward to an election, no matter who gets nominated, where there are going to be huge ideological differences and policy differences between the parties.

Finally, I want to say a word about the other election where the action is, and that is the United States Senate.  The United States Senate is going to be of critical importance after 2016 because the next president may well have three, four, two Supreme Court nominations to make, and remember, Supreme Court justices serve for life.  President John Adams, the second President of the United States after George Washington, served one term.  He was elected in 1796.  His party, the Federalist Party, disappeared, but he appointed John Marshall as chief justice of the United States Supreme Court.  John Marshall held that position for more than 30 years.  Today he is regarded as one of the two most influential chief justices of the U.S. Supreme Court, and he put into play principles of the long-gone, long-defunct Federalist Party.  So you cannot underestimate the importance of Supreme Court appointments, and of course, the Senate ratifies all appointments including Supreme Court appointments.  So control of the Senate is absolutely critical.

One way in which the Democrats got Republicans to stop blocking not Supreme Court appointments but a lot of other court appointments that are very important was to ban the filibuster on circuit court and district court appointments, and that opened the floodgates to a lot of Obama appointees in the courts.  You cannot underestimate the courts because the courts are often where the action is because of the gridlock in the Congress and the gridlock between the Congress and the President.  As we saw in decisions like Citizens United on allowing unlimited corporate campaign contributions, some of the most important policies are set by the Supreme Court. 

So you cannot underestimate the importance of control of the Senate, which has flip-flopped quite a bit in recent years.  The Democrats took the Senate in 2006, the Republicans took the Senate back in 2014, and now the Democrats have an opportunity to take the Senate back again in 2016 for two reasons.  One, it’s a presidential year – higher turnout, much higher turnout than at midterms.  And as I’ve explained to you several times, higher turnout favors Democrats. Secondly, Democrats are only defending a couple of western vulnerable seats – in Colorado and in Nevada, where, of course, the Democratic Senate Leader Harry Reid is retiring, so that’s an open seat.

And Republicans are facing at least seven vulnerable seats.  I’m not going to go over all of them, but they’re in states like New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Illinois, North Carolina, Ohio – mostly states won by Barack Obama in 2012.  I think the Republicans have vulnerable seats in six states won by Barack Obama in 2012.  Democrats need – they have 46 seats now, counting the Democratic-leaning independents.  They need five to take absolute control.  They need four to have a 50/50 Senate, which would mean whoever wins the presidency controls the Senate because the vice president casts the deciding vote.

So keep your eye on these vulnerable states.  They are going to decide the fate of the Senate, and right now it’s about 50/50.  The Democrats have about a 50 percent chance to win back the Senate assuming they hold one of the two vulnerable Democratic seats, which I think is reasonable, then if they can pick up five or six of the seven or so vulnerable Republican seats, they can win back the United States Senate.  And so it’s the presidency and the Senate where the action is.

There’s an old proverb I like to talk about.  I believe it’s Chinese but I’m not certain – maybe some of you can correct me – and that is, “May you live in interesting times.”  And I don’t see how politically the times could be any more interesting than they are right now.

Thank you very much.  I’ll take any of your questions.

MODERATOR:  Okay.  Please wait for the microphone and state your name and publication for the transcript.  We’ll go right there.

QUESTION:  Good morning.  As I understand —

MODERATOR:  You’re fine.

QUESTION:  Yeah.  As I understand what you tell us, you are reducing the possibilities in the Republican side.  They have two options: a populist candidate, and populist mean – I’m talking about Trump or Carson.

MR LICHTMAN:  Populist Republican.

QUESTION:  Yeah, or Jeb Bush.  I mean, could you tell us something, anything else about Rubio and the possibilities (inaudible) possibilities of Rubio?

MR LICHTMAN:  It’s very, very difficult to handicap primaries for a bunch of reasons, and those who think they know are wrong.  Reason number one is there’s so many candidates – very difficult.  The mathematics of it become asymptotically complex when dealing with multiple candidates.  Secondly, it’s not linear.  That is, one primary affects the next primary, so who – if Ben Carson, who is now well ahead in Iowa, wins Iowa, that’s going to scramble things, that’s going to change things.  If Jeb Bush comes in fifth in Iowa and fourth in New Hampshire, he may be done.  So one primary affects another, and that makes it very difficult to handicap.

And finally, the polls are not real meaningful.  If you think back to 2012, there were all kinds of Republicans who popped up in the polls – Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain, Rick Santorum – and none of them, none of them were nominated.  Republicans went back to the middle establishment figure.  So I don’t think it’s possible at this point to give any informed answer on who is going to be the nominee and whether it’s going to be an outsider or an insider.  I’m not in a position to make that prediction.

But I would say don’t count out the insider just because the outsiders are crushing in the polls now.  I still think – and I don’t know who it’s going to be, it could be Jeb – there will be a viable insider establishment candidate who can still win this nomination just based on long-term and recent history of the Republican Party.  They tend to love these mavericks but they never nominate them.

MODERATOR:  Okay, I’ll come right there.

QUESTION:  Stefan Grobe with Euronews, [France].  Good to see you.

MR LICHTMAN:  Good to see you again.

QUESTION:  You said you can’t explain Ben Carson. 

MR LICHTMAN:  I can’t.  Maybe you can.  (Laughter.)

QUESTION:  Well, my question is:  How do you explain the fact that he is the darling of a very conservative white constituency, being African American —

MR LICHTMAN:  Yeah.

QUESTION:  — and has zero support – almost zero support among African Americans?  Is that bad luck, good luck, or chance or whatever? 

MR LICHTMAN:  Well, we saw that with Herman Cain, another African American, back in 2012.  In earlier elections there was a very conservative Republican, Alan Keyes, whose support was also largely white.

I would say a couple of things.  One, nobody knows anything about Ben Carson if you look at the polls.  He seems to be this really nice guy, this really moral individual, until you really look at what he’s said and his history.  I know him really well because he’s from Maryland, my state, and I followed his actions in the Maryland struggle over abortion in the 1990s.  And he now claims to be so morally guided that he won’t even allow abortions in the case of rape or incest.  But back in the 1990s when he was actually involved in the moral struggle over abortion, he was the only player who played both sides.  He gave an anti-choice commercial and then walked back from his own commercial, said, “I really didn’t understand what I was doing,” tried to be both pro-choice and pro-life at the same time.  So it’s very hard to understand.

But in these polls, within the Republican Party, people are not voting race.  They’re voting issues and more are voting kind of these vague perceptions.  But again, don’t be deceived by the early polls.  People don’t know what Ben Carson yet stands for.  Maybe when the Republicans see what they stand for, they’ll love him.  Who knows?  But I think it’s going to be a much – if he gets the nomination, a much more difficult go for him in the general election.

MODERATOR:  We’ll come down here.

QUESTION:  Thank you very much.  Mounzer Sleiman, al-Mayadeen TV, [Lebanon].  Can you give us just your sense of how much this campaign will be financed, compared to other campaign in the past – the presidential campaign?  And I want to ask you about Florida, because this is probably tied up to your establishment prediction.  Since two prominent person, individuals —

MR LICHTMAN:  Yeah, Rubio and Jeb Bush.

QUESTION:  — do you think that Florida would be a factor, since Florida has been a factor in the election —

MR LICHTMAN:  Yes.

QUESTION:  — that could be a factor —

MR LICHTMAN:  Got it.

QUESTION:  — in the calculation of Republican to select the one in the final analysis?

MR LICHTMAN:  Very, very, very excellent questions.  First of all, on finance, the sky is the limit.  As we saw approaching a billion dollar campaign by Barack Obama last time, you can expect billion dollar campaigns on the side of both candidates.  But there’s a dirty little secret about spending in general presidential elections, not primary:  Spending doesn’t matter.  That is, there’s no particular correlation historically between who spends the most money and who wins.

And the reason is pretty simple.  In other elections, voters don’t know much, and who can get out their message by spending really matters.  But people know the presidential candidates.  You got debates, you got lots of free media.  So spending is less important.

I absolutely agree with you; Florida is critical.  And right now, both Rubio and Bush seem to be trailing in Florida.  That could knock both of them out.  One of them has got to win Florida, and then he could become the establishment candidate.  But if they both lose Florida, that could knock both of them out entirely, and that’s an early primary.  So we’re going to get some early indication. 

And by the way, when you get into the later Republican primaries after middle March, they’re winner-take-all.  So you can win those primaries with 35 percent and get every single delegate.  So things are going to change if there’s still a big contest after the middle of March.

QUESTION:  Can I have a follow-up very quickly? 

QUESTION:  That’s fine.

QUESTION:  I forgot to ask you, because I think it’s very important, to give us the difference between the caucus and the primary, please.

MR LICHTMAN:  Yeah.  Very simply put, a primary is just like any other election – you show up at the polls and you vote.  Caucus, you have to go to meetings.  And the meetings can last all day and you have a series of votes at the meetings, ultimately leading to a tally of a statewide vote.  So the big difference is you’ve got to put in a lot more time, energy, and effort to go to a caucus.  So it involves much more committed voters.  The reason, by the way, Barack Obama beat Hillary Clinton in 2008 is not what anyone thinks; it’s because Obama organized the caucus states.  And it was the victory in the caucus states for Barack Obama that put him over the top.  So organization really matters in the caucus states, which is why you got to take these generalized polls with a grain of salt, because the candidates might have very different operations on the ground.

QUESTION:  Thank you, professor.  Bingru Wang with Hong Kong’s Phoenix TV.  This time we have seen China being brought up during the debates.  So how much does China matter during the election this time, and how China card will be played out?

MR LICHTMAN:  Yeah.  I always get these questions, and they’re really good questions, from people from particular countries.  And, of course, China is going to matter a lot more than most places, because it is – there are three great powers vying, competing in the world – China, Russia, and the United States.  So policy towards China is very important. 

But the details of policy won’t matter, because – I hate to say this – but the American people never follow the details of foreign policy.  They pay attention only when there is a big crisis or a big victory.  So they’ll pay attention to the Iran nuclear treaty law.  I promise you they can’t tell you the details of it.  And what they might be paying attention to is the potential tensions and conflicts.  There’s this big issue over these islands, and the United States is not recognizing those islands as legitimate Chinese territory.  If that flares up into something more, that can become a big issue in the campaign.  But beyond that, the details of policy are going to shoot over most people’s heads.

MODERATOR:  Gentleman in back, in the glasses?  No, no; back, back; glasses.

QUESTION:  Oh.  (Laughter.)

MR LICHTMAN:  Got to get the back row.

MODERATOR:  Got to be fair to the back.  Sorry, guys.

QUESTION:  Hi, hi.  This is Ryan Hermelijn from NOS News TV, [The Netherlands].  I was wondering about the general election.  Specifically you outlined a couple of themes, but I didn’t hear the culture wars.  We have had the advancement of several liberal ideas such as the advancement of gay marriage, legalization of marijuana, assisted suicide is popping up.  There’s a backlash with Hobby Lobby and Kim Davis and such.  So how do you think that will play out in the 2016 elections?

MR LICHTMAN:  Yeah.  Before I answer that, let me – it’s related to your question.  There’s a debate tonight and do you know where it is?

QUESTION:  Boulder.

MR LICHTMAN:  Colorado.  And what is one of the biggest rising industries in the state of Colorado?  The pot industry.  Last I saw, it was a $700 million industry employing lots of folks.  Are the Republicans going to talk about the pot industry in Colorado?  And Republicans have an interesting dilemma on some of these things like pot.  Because on the one hand, the Republican Party is the party of what – free enterprise, right?  Business – they should be encouraging the pot industry, right, as a classic example of entrepreneurship and the American way.  But on the other hand, as you say, they also harbor a lot of social conservatives who obviously look askance at the use of pot and other recreational drugs. 

So it’ll be interesting to see if they say anything about this at all.  If I were the moderator, I would certainly ask them about it, because it does pit two Republican values – the problems with the social issues is people’s positions are pretty well set.  You’re not going to change someone’s mind about abortion.  You’re not going to change someone’s mind about gay marriage.  And these issues, while they play to the Republican primary electorate, don’t play to the general electorate.  The most amazing social trend in America in the past decade has been the extraordinary acceptance of gay and lesbian rights.  If you had told anyone 10 years ago that a majority of Americans would favor gay marriage, they would’ve told you you’re living in never-never land.  Just huge shifts on these social issues, so I don’t suspect the Republicans are going to pound them.

Interestingly, the Democrats might.  Democrats might try to play the abortion issue against the Republicans, particularly if you have a candidate who is coming out like Ben Carson and saying not even in cases of rape or incest are we going to allow abortions.  That’s like a 20 percent position within the electorate.

MODERATOR:  Okay, come down here.  Yeah.

QUESTION:  Claudia Trevisan from the Brazilian newspaper Estado Sao Paolo.  Going to the historical perspective, one thing that is often told is that the last time the Democrats won the White House after being in the White House for two terms in a row was 19th century, with the exception of FDR.  Like, how important it is to see this historical theme play there?

And another question:  Like, who would be the best and who would be the worst candidate on the Republican Party from the Democrat perspective?

MR LICHTMAN:  Let me answer – yeah, I got you.  Let me answer the – the second question first, and that is the one word that I would throw out of the dictionary is electability.  You have no idea who is electable in advance of an election.  As I said, parties have gone to the candidates they thought were the most electable and they’ve crashed and burned and lost.  Presidential elections – and you’ve got to read my book, The Keys to the White House; the sixth edition will be coming out in early 2016 – a system for explaining and predicting presidential elections that has not been wrong ever.  I’ve been predicting since 1984, since I was nine.  I’ve hit every election – (laughter) – correctly.

I got to tell you a little story about cultural divide.  A few years ago I was in India and Korea, giving lectures on The Keys to the White House.  And India’s this really loose, kind of chaotic, exciting place, and Korea is much more controlled and stable and sober.  And the Indians would get my jokes, but somehow some of the Koreans wouldn’t get my jokes.  And I swear, one guy, after I gave my lecture made this point and raised his hand and said, “Professor Lichtman, can you please explain to me how you were able to predict elections when you were nine?”  (Laughter.)  So real cultural divides in the world.

So according to my theory, presidential elections are referenda on the performance of the party holding the White House.  That’s why things like foreign policy successes and failures, the fate of the Iran treaty, the state of the economy, policy change, social unrest matter, and the identity of the candidate doesn’t matter.  But the pundits – who are always wrong, but I’ll have to give you the pundits’ view – they think Marco Rubio is probably the most electable Republican.  But they have no basis, really, for saying that.

In terms of winning a third consecutive term, that’s hard.  It’s not an absolute bar, but it’s hard, because one of my keys to the White House is whether or not the sitting president is running for re-election.  And after two consecutive terms, under the amendment to the Constitution, you can’t run for a third term.  So it is harder to win three consecutive terms than it is to win two consecutive terms, but it’s obviously one factor and one factor only.

QUESTION:  Thank you, professor.  Rita Chen from Central News Agency, Taiwan.  You just say the (inaudible) matter.  I wondered how possibly the issue of gender could play a role once the – it’s closing to the voting day, and —

MR LICHTMAN:  Yeah, very interesting.  I’ve spent a lot of time in Taiwan, and —

QUESTION:  And – sorry, I have a second question:  And how important the Vice President for both party if they choose the – anyone —

MR LICHTMAN:  Gotcha.  All right.

QUESTION:  Yeah.  Thank you.

MR LICHTMAN:  First, gender.  Very difficult to say.  In 2008, I predicted an Obama victory.  In fact, I became notorious because I used my keys to the White House in 2005, three years before the election, to say things are going so badly for the Republicans that the Democrats could pick a name out of the phone book and elect that person.  They kind of did.  Whoever heard of Barack Obama at that point?  But a lot of people said to me, “Your keys are going to be wrong because they don’t take into account race” – obviously not, since we’ve never had an African American candidate – and it turned out the keys were spot on.  They got the election exactly right and race made no difference.

Will gender make a difference?  Probably not, but it’s very, very hard to say.  My wife, who’s a leading women’s rights advocate, tells me gender creates more prejudice than even race, but it’s hidden.  People are not going to come out and say, “I’m not going to vote for a woman president.” 

So my overall answer is I don’t think it’s going to override other factors, but you never know because these things are impossible to measure.

QUESTION:  Hi, Zhang Yue for China Daily, [China].  I was late so I didn’t know you were talking about this earlier.  And do you agree that – the saying that the dynasty, the Bush and the Clinton, and also the unlimited campaign finance, as signs of erosion of American democracy?  Thank you.

MR LICHTMAN:  No, I don’t think dynasties erode American democracy, as our people still pick the president; there’s no dictator or dictatorial cabal picking the president.  And the truth is Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush, whatever you may think of their policies or their characters, by background and by history, are eminently qualified to run for president of the United States.  I do think money is a much bigger problem though.  I do think you’ve put your finger on something very important.  I do think unlimited money and the expense of campaigns has eroded American democracy, not so much the presidential level – as I said, money matters least – but at every other level, money matters a whole lot.  Even to win a puny seat on a county commission or city council, you have to spend upwards of $100,000.  That is a lot of money for an ordinary American.  To win a congressional seat, you probably have to spend millions of dollars in a contested – that’s just one of 435 congressional seats. 

Ninety-nine percent of Americans are priced out of the political market.  To run for office today, you either have to be reasonably affluent or tied into affluent special interests.  So we have vastly constricted the political choice and political opportunities open to Americans because of the overriding importance of money at every level below the presidency, and that is a huge problem, and it’s not going to be solved because the Supreme Court has interpreted money as speech.  As long as that decision stands and the Citizens United decision on unlimited corporate spending stands, it’s not going to be solved.

By the way, I didn’t answer the lady’s question about the vice presidential nominee.  How much does it matter?  Zero.  The worst vice presidential nomination in modern history was not Sarah Palin, it was Dan Quayle, the nominee of George H. W. Bush, who had the most embarrassing moment in the history of presidential debates when he compared himself – because he was young and inexperienced, he compared himself to John Kennedy, and Lloyd Bentsen, the experienced Democratic vice presidential nominee turned and said, “Sir, I knew John Kennedy.  John Kennedy was a friend of mine.  And with all due respect, sir, you are no John Kennedy.”  It was just a complete, utterly deflating moment.  Did it make any difference whatsoever in the presidential election?  No.  There’s no evidence that the vice president matters.

MODERATOR:  Gentleman in the white shirt in the middle.

QUESTION:  Thank you very much, professor.  My name is [Koya] Ozeki; I work for Japan’s Yomiuri.  I have two questions.  My understanding is that until a few decades ago, primaries and caucuses were much more restricted to party elites.  It was a much more restricted process.  And back in those days, I guess candidates like Donald Trump and Ben Carson had much less chance of coming up like today.  But do you hear any arguments pointing that fact out?  And do you hear any arguments calling for change of the system?

MR LICHTMAN:  Got it.

QUESTION:  Changing it back to the primary system.  And actually there’s another question.  Millennials.

MR LICHTMAN:  That was a pretty long one.  (Laughter.)

QUESTION:  I know.  Sorry about that. 

MR LICHTMAN:  Yeah, we’re running out of time, so —

QUESTION:  Millennials.  Just – and the second question is very short.  I’m interested in the Millennials.  Do they – how do they impact 2016?  Thank you very much.

MR LICHTMAN:  Let me answer your first question.  Yes, there has been a revolution in how the parties select their presidential nominees, and the revolution dates back to the Democratic nomination in 1968 when the country was so deeply divided over the Vietnam War.  You may recall the sitting President was Lyndon Johnson, who dropped out.  He was eligible to run again, but he dropped out of the election because of the divisions over the war.  And it looked Bobby Kennedy – anti-war candidate – particularly after he won the California primary would be nominated, but on the very eve of winning that primary Kennedy was assassinated.  And the result was someone who had entered no primaries, Hubert Humphrey, the Vice President, was nominated and the anti-war wing of the Democratic Party was outraged. 

And as a concession to those folks, the Democratic Party set up a commission on delegate selection headed by a very famous liberal who would be the next party nominee, Senator George McGovern of South Dakota, and they completely changed the rules for nomination.  Now the only way you could get a delegate was in open primaries and open caucuses.  It used to be there were a lot of states were the party bosses, behind closed doors, would pick the nominee, as you pointed out.  And the Democratic Party adopted this open system and the Republicans followed suit.  And since then, conventions haven’t mattered a wit.  Nominees get selected in the primaries and caucuses and by the voters.  And there has been tons of complaints about it.  Let’s go back to the old system of having these gray, wise, old men sit in a smoke-filled room and pick the nominee; it’s not going to happen.  This system is firmly in place.  No one is going to disenfranchise the voters.

As far as the millennials, I resist all that kind of breaking down the electorate in these ways.  The electorate moves in one piece generally.   Yes, there are huge differences within the electorate, but the electorate is going to make one decision and one decision only:  Have the Democrats governed well enough to get four more years in the White House, or have they governed poorly enough so that voters want a change?  That is the theory behind the keys to the White House.  And to get the scoop, as I said, my book will be out in about four months, sixth edition.

MODERATOR:  We have time for one or two more.

QUESTION:  Hello.  Oliver Grimm for the Austrian newspaper, Die Presse.  Could you briefly talk about the House and particularly in light of how the Republican Party there has – sorry, disintegrated?  Does it actually make a matter if there’s a formally Republican majority there if they can’t really decide on the things that it really wants?

MR LICHTMAN:  Yeah, I haven’t talked about the House.  Let me talk a little bit about the house.  The House, of course, is entirely different than the Senate where you’re elected in districts within the states.  And there’s one word to describe the House, and that word is gerrymander.  Do you all know what a gerrymander is?  It’s where you concoct the districts to favor one party.  And the truth is today, 85 to 90 percent of House districts aren’t competitive in the general election.  The voters don’t decide the election; the line drawers fix the districts so they’re clearly going to win for one party or the other.  And both parties do it.  Republicans have been better because they won the 2010 midterms and the last redistricting was right after that, so – strange places like Pennsylvania that’s a Democratic state that has an overwhelming Republican majority in the House.

But that also means something else.  Where’s the action, then, if it’s not in the general elections in the primary?  And this has led to the election of a lot of very conservative Republican members of the House, the so-called Tea Party Coalition.  And that’s the conflict you’re seeing within the House, between the Tea Party Coalition and the more mainstream Republicans who are more willing to possibly work with the Democrats to some extent and accommodate them.  And by the way, that same division is present within the Republican electorate itself.  There’s a small majority of Republicans, when they’re polled, who say don’t compromise; stick to principles.  But 30 to 45 to 40 percent of Republicans say we should compromise.

So you’re absolutely right, there is a real division within the Republican Party.  And while having a consensus speaker like Paul Ryan’s going to paper it over temporarily, the conflicts within the House are not going to end.

MODERATOR:  Okay.  We’ve got time for one more question.  We’ll go to (off-mike).

QUESTION:  Thank you. Jane with China’s Sina News.  My question is about social media.  How do you think the social media changed the dynamic of the presidential campaign?  And secondly – quick question – how important is the endorsement from the celebrity, congressmen, politician to the presidential candidate?  Thank you.

MR LICHTMAN:  I’ll answer your last question first.  Endorsements aren’t worth the paper they’re written on.  And that’s been true for a long time historically.  The classic example historically is Edmund Muskie, who had run for vice president on the Democratic ticket in ’68.  Had every single endorsement of everyone, had all the money, and his candidacy completely collapsed to the insurgent campaign of George McGovern.  Certainly Ben Carson and Donald Trump are not leading the field because of endorsements.  Jeb Bush would be ahead if you went solely with endorsements.  So I don’t think endorsements really matter one bit.

And what was your other question? 

Social media.  They’ve changed campaigns very little to this point.  Everyone says, “Oh, social media’s going to take over the campaign.”  Nonsense.  The overwhelming bulk of money by candidates – at every level, really – if you can afford it, is still spent on traditional media, particularly television.  And the vast bulk of campaign contributions do not come in through social media; they come in through traditional fundraising methods.

That said, however, social media is becoming increasingly important.  It hasn’t taken over yet, but I think it will be more important in this campaign than ever before because of one very simple fact:  Today, more people get their news from social media than they do from any other source.  And so people do go to social – they go to scores of different places, but social media is displacing everything else as a source of news.  So I do think it will be more important in this campaign than ever before.

Thank you all very much.

MODERATOR:  Thank you all for coming.  This event is now concluded. 

# # #

 

Washington Foreign Press Center

U.S. Department of State


WHAT:          Washington Foreign Press Center On-The-Record Briefing

 

TOPIC:          State of the Race 2016: An overview of the 2016 Elections for foreign correspondents covering their first U.S. election

 

BRIEFER:      Professor Allan Lichtman, American University Professor of History and frequent political commentator and electoral forecaster

 

WHEN:          Wednesday, October 28, 2015, at 11:00 a.m.

 

WHERE:        National Press Building, 529 14th Street, NW, Suite 800

 

RSVP:            Interested media should respond to FPCOwner@state.gov. 

 

BACKGROUND:  Allan Lichtman, American University Professor of History and frequent political commentator and electoral forecaster, will provide an overview of the ‘state of the race’ for the 2016 presidential, Congressional, and state elections on the morning of the upcoming October 28 Republican Party debate in Boulder, CO.  Professor Lichtman will discuss the state of the race for the current slate of Democratic, Republican, and third party candidates. He will also address which House and Senate races are competitive this election cycle, and whether the Democratic Party will win back the House or the Senate.  In addition, Lichtman will forecast which battleground states are competitive this election cycle and whether they are leaning red or blue.  Lastly, Lichtman will lay out a series of issues to watch, from the perspective of foreign media who are covering their first U.S. election and want to quickly get up to speed on the ways in which U.S. politics are different from other parliamentary systems around the world. 

NOTE:  All briefings are subject to change.  Please call (202) 504-6300 or visit the FPC website at http://fpc.state.gov for the latest information on this and other FPC programs.

 

BROADCASTERS:  Download a digital copy of the video at www.dvidshub.net/USDOS. 

Washington Foreign Press Center
National Press Building
529 14th Street, NW, Suite 800

Washington, DC  20045 Phone: (202) 504-6300 || Fax: (202) 504-6334

REMARKS: Secretary of State John Kerry At the 2015 Global Diaspora Week Launch Event “Partnering for Global Impact”

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE

Office of the Spokesperson

For Immediate Release

 REMARKS

October 9, 2015

Secretary of State John Kerry At the 2015 Global Diaspora Week Launch Event “Partnering for Global Impact”

October 9, 2015

Loy Henderson Auditorium

Washington, D.C.

SECRETARY KERRY:  Thank you very much.  Thank you.  Thank you very, very much.  I apologize for being a little bit late, and if this is indeed the moment you’ve all been waiting for, you’re leading very drab lives.  (Laughter.)  I’m really happy to be here with all of you.  Thank you very much. 

Welcome to the launch of the Global Diaspora Week here at the State Department.  We’re very proud of this effort and it’s a very important effort in many, many ways.  I think that you will all agree that when it comes to elevating the role of public-private partnerships in our diplomacy, the fellow who just introduced me is the gold standard for doing that.  And together with – (applause).  Where’d he go?  He’s over here somewhere.  There he is – Thomas.  Thank you very much.  And Drew O’Brien has just returned from Azerbaijan.  He is our leader of this effort at the Office of Global Partnerships, and he helped to launch, together with Thomas, the Fishackathon, which puts coders to work promoting sustainable fisheries around the world.  And he’s also working on creating – they are also working on creating opportunities for young women and girls in Rwanda through our Women in Science Girls STEAM Camp.  And he’s been a leader in bringing more veterans into the State Department through our VIP Fellowship.  So Thomas, thank you for working with Drew and providing this very, very important leadership.  You have raised everybody’s expectations, and all of us look forward to a lot more important work together.

I also want to recognize our partners at USAID, the International Diaspora Engagement Alliance, and Angelique Kidjo, who is one of the most eloquent and forceful advocates for human rights and the empowerment of girls.  Thank you, all of you, for being here and being part of this.  (Applause.)

It’s more than appropriate that we’re gathering here in this hall, which is named the Loy Henderson hall, one of our most capable diplomats, a man whose first tour brought him originally to Ireland as vice consul.

And I say this because as someone who represented Massachusetts for decades, I hold a very special place for the contributions that Irish Americans have made to both of our countries.  And I will never forget standing with my former Senate colleague, Ted Kennedy, as we looked out his office window at the so-called “Golden Stairs” of the Boston Harbor, where all eight of his great-grandparents first set foot in America.  And they traveled from Ireland on boats that were known as “coffin ships” because so many died in the crossing.  And Ted was raised on his grandfather’s stories, where those who survived the coffin ships had to then contend with employers who hung signs out in their stores saying the “Irish need not apply” for jobs.

So Ted put to use the lessons that he learned from his grandfather.  In fact, they became part of who he was – which was one of the great fighters for social justice and for all those who come to our shores in search of opportunity and liberty, and hope, freedom.

Frankly, it would be nice if that same lesson were fully understood by those who believe that America’s future is now somehow at risk because we reflect such a vast mixture of backgrounds and types.  There are some who suggest that no society as culturally diverse as ours can be as efficient or productive as one where most people are of the same religion or the same race.  But those who believe that miss the essential point – America is at its best not about groups working for themselves; it’s about free individuals becoming the best that they can be and, in so doing, making America together all that it is able to be.

Our diversity is a strength, not a weakness.  And in today’s interconnected world, let me tell you:  It is also a strategic imperative.  This era requires much more nimble institutions, more agile foreign policy.  And part of that agility comes from engaging diaspora communities.  And the reasons why are pretty simple.

First, we live in a world where the number of people living outside their country of origin has nearly tripled to more than 230 million.  The United States has the largest number of diaspora members of any country; more than 60 million Americans are first or second-generation immigrants.  And at the same time, we’ve gone from an era where power lived almost exclusively in old establishment hierarchies to an era where power lives in networks, and that is evidence in these objects that are pointing at me, recording all that we are doing.  (Laughter.)  That’s where power is in today’s world – in smartphones, and iPads, and in people’s ability to communicate 24/7 and be in touch. 

Second, diaspora communities are often the prime movers in responding to important events, whether we’re talking about a natural disaster or a terror attack, a financial crisis, or even emerging business opportunities.  If something big happens in Ukraine or Japan or Mexico or Israel or Nigeria, the diaspora is going to be talking and thinking about it almost before anybody else.  And the 21st century demands a more inclusive foreign policy, and diaspora communities are often the first people to know about an issue and bring it to the attention of people in positions of power.  They are often the first to debate an issue or to put out options; they are the first to have an impact on the ground – the most direct and the fastest.

Third, quite simply, in today’s world, partnerships matter.  No country – not even the United States – can go it alone.  So we depend on our international allies and our partners for a lot, and our diaspora communities can help make those partnerships work.  The big reason for that is the leaders of these communities are some of the best cultural ambassadors that we could ask for.

But you don’t need to take my word for it.  Just look at the headlines this week:  New York Times:  “Approval of the TPP is Vital for Continued U.S. Power in Asia.”  From The Telegraph: “Hurricane Joaquin brings flooding to south east USA.”  From The Washington Post: “The refugee crisis is here to stay.”

When you look down the list of challenges that we face – the headlines every single day, from natural disasters to promoting economic growth to the humanitarian crisis in the Middle East – one thing is absolutely clear:  Diaspora communities are helping to meet each and every one of those challenges.

After Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, leaders from the Asia Pacific diaspora worked together to support the relief efforts.  The U.S.-Philippines Society helped organize a concert to raise funds for relief, and the Vietnamese American community gave generously to the cause.

After the devastating earthquake in Nepal just this spring, Nepali American leaders in business and philanthropy launched campaigns on social media and raised tens of thousands of dollars for clothing, medical equipment, food, tents, and other emergency supplies. 

After the outbreak of Ebola, the Sierra Leone, Liberian, and Guinean diaspora community immediately rallied to turn the tide against the disease by sending urgently needed medical supplies, food, and money, and often by communicating to people directly to institute best practices and avoid spreading the disease.

Diaspora communities are also helping to build shared prosperity and empower women entrepreneurs.  The U.S.-Pakistan Women’s Council helps to promote small business development in Pakistan.  And the Calvert Foundation, together with USAID and the State Department, just launched an initiative that will make it easier for the Indian American diaspora to invest in small and medium-sized businesses back home.

Meanwhile, the State Department is working with our partners to support investment, small businesses, and education in Latin America through the Raices Initiative, which means roots, and it is appropriate because it is precisely from that kind of effort, from the seeds that are planted by that effort, that prosperity ultimately grows. 

We are all connected all the time now.  It’s part of what’s made the world smaller and it presses in on people to some degree.  But for most people, I think they see the opportunity and they see the benefit of being in touch and staying in touch and communicating the right messages. 

We see this entrepreneurial spirit in the response of Syrian Americans to the horrific crisis in the Middle East.  Doctors from the Syrian American Medical Society have lent their time and talent to support clinics in the Za’atari camp in Jordan, which I visited during my first year as Secretary.  And they are providing counseling and social services for women and children wherever possible in Syria.  And they are finding ways to reach people who would suffer or die without their help.  And that is the very definition of courage and citizenship under fire. 

Last month, I announced that the United States would raise its refugee admissions to 100,000 in 2017 in response to the Syrian migration crisis.  It is rightly a point of pride that the American people have a history of welcoming those who are in urgent need of a safe haven.  That’s part of who we are.  It’s the American DNA.  It’s how most of this country came to be here.  But we need the help of the diaspora communities today, and everyone in this room, we need your help to integrate refugees not only from Syria, but from all the other regions of conflict, from all those – for all those people who are fortunate enough to be able to find their way, through our policies, through our welcome, to come to the United States and share in this opportunity.

So in closing, let me be pretty direct:  Immigrants built America.  And immigrants continue to make America what it is today.  (Applause.)  And it is an irony that many people just don’t seem to understand that or be willing to pay respect to our own history.  It is precisely the right to be different – in background, race, culture, and tongue – that brings the American people together and makes us one.  I repeat:  It is the right to be different that defines the United States of America.

And this event, this celebration of diaspora communities and of our diversity is a beautiful and meaningful reflection of that truth. 

We should never forget that what makes America different from almost every other nation is not a common bloodline, or a common religion, or a common sectarian identity, or a common ideology, or a common heritage.  What makes us different is that we are united by an uncommon idea, that we are all created equal and all endowed with inalienable rights.  (Applause.)  That’s different and that is special.

To paraphrase Walt Whitman, each of us has a right to take his or her place in the American procession; each has the right to fulfill his or her potential, no matter who they are or how long they’ve been in the country or how much money they have.  This is the principle that defines and, most importantly, elevates America, and I am proud that our diaspora communities haven’t just heeded that call – they are leading the charge and living it every single day. 

Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

# # #

Transcript: Foreign Press Center Briefing with Heraldo Muñoz, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Chile and Catherine Novelli, Under Secretary of State for Ecomonic Growth, Energy, and the Environment

FOREIGN PRESS CENTER BRIEFING WITH HERALDO MUÑOZ, MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF CHILE AND CATHERINE NOVELLI, UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR ECONOMIC GROWTH, ENERGY, AND THE ENVIRONMENT

TOPIC:  WAVES OF CHANGE: AN UPDATE ON OCEAN POLICY AND PRACTICES

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2015, 12:30 P.M. EDT

NEW YORK FOREIGN PRESS CENTER 799 UNITED NATIONS PLAZA, 10TH FLOOR

MODERATOR:  (In progress) to the New York Foreign Press Center.  We are very honored to have with us today Catherine Novelli, Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment, and Heraldo Muñoz, the Foreign Minister of Chile.  The under secretary and the foreign minister are here to preview the Ocean Conference that Chile is hosting next week.  This briefing is on the record.  After opening remarks, we will open the floor to questions from the media and conclude the press conference after journalists have had the opportunity to ask their questions.  The under secretary and the foreign minister have agreed to remain after the official press conference to answer some questions from students.  Journalists, please wait for the microphone, and state your name and media affiliation when you’re called upon.

Before I turn it over to Under Secretary Novelli, let’s watch a message from Secretary of State John Kerry that features Foreign Minister Muñoz:

SECRETARY KERRY:  Growing up along the coast of Massachusetts, I developed a powerful connection to the ocean at a very early age.  But it wasn’t until much later that I discovered how significant the ocean is to all of humankind.

FOREIGN MINISTER MUÑOZ:  (In Spanish.)

SECRETARY KERRY:  Last year I asked for your help in protecting our oceans, and I encouraged leaders around the world to take action.  Together we are making progress.  We’ve established new marine protected areas across the globe.  Efforts to end illegal fishing and seafood fraud are gaining momentum.  We’re raising awareness about how plastic waste harms our ocean, and we are working on solutions.

Many countries are cutting carbon emissions that cause ocean acidification. 

FOREIGN MINISTER MUÑOZ:  (In Spanish.)

SECRETARY KERRY:  Show your support and make a commitment to leave behind a healthy and vibrant ocean for future generations.  Recycle more and reduce the amount of plastic that you use.  Only eat legally caught sustainable seafood.  Reduce your carbon footprint to help stop ocean acidification and climate change.

FOREIGN MINISTER MUÑOZ:  (In Spanish.)

SECRETARY KERRY:  Que hara usted para ayudar a proteger nuestro oceano? 

FOREIGN MINISTER MUÑOZ:  Let us know on social media using #OurOcean2015.

MODERATOR:  And with that, I’ll turn it over to Under Secretary Novelli.

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI:  Thank you very much.  It is an absolute honor to be here today with Foreign Minister Muñoz.  He and his government have shown incredible leadership on ocean issues, not just for this conference but all along the way.  And I am really excited that both the Secretary and myself will be visiting Valparaiso, Chile next week for the second Our Ocean Conference, and I just want to thank him for his commitment. 

As the world leaders gather here in New York for the annual United Nations General Assembly, the fate of our ocean is as an important part of the agenda.  The UN has just adopted a 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which will guide the work of the UN and member-states for the next 15 years, and a critical component of achieving all of the global goals will be conservation and sustainable use of the world’s oceans and marine resources. 

This is the good news.  And the good news is that there is a growing understanding that a healthy and resilient ocean will help drive widespread and shared prosperity, including economic, food, energy security, and will ensure the health of our planet for generations to come.  It’s been about a year since Secretary Kerry convened the first Our Ocean Conference in Washington, D.C., and that conference aimed to spur action on the threats to our ocean.  Since then, the United States and its partners around the world have been working together to tackle challenges such as ocean acidification, sustainable fishing, and marine debris.  And we’ve made a lot of progress, and so our momentum going forward is only going stronger. 

And so we’re very pleased that all of you came here to cover this event in such a busy UNGA week, and I think we’re all here because we recognize that a healthy ocean is essential to life on Earth.  Phytoplankton in the ocean produces more than half of the oxygen we breathe.  A healthy ocean provides us with millions of jobs through fishing, tourism, other industries, and with a nutritious source of protein for billions of people.  In short, we can’t live without a healthy ocean, and the well-being of our citizens depends heavily on how we treat it.  That’s why the United States, Chile, and other governments around the world, civil society, the private sector, are all working together to protect the ocean and ensure that we use its valuable resources in a sustainable manner. 

Just to go over a few things of where we’ve been in terms of last year’s Ocean Conference and the tremendous commitments that came out of that, we are moving closer – the United States and all of our partners – to the goal of having 10 percent of the ocean and coastal areas managed by marine protected areas.  Those are areas where we don’t allow fishing or other economic activity.  And we are working to ensure that these areas, the ones that have been declared, are properly enforced.  Shortly after the conference last year, President Obama expanded the Pacific Remote Islands Monument, making it the largest marine protected area in the world closed to commercial extractive activities. 

Illegal fishing and seafood fraud are also seriously undermining the economic and environmental sustainability of fisheries around the world, and it’s estimated that we lose billions of dollars to illegal fishing around the globe.  In the U.S., for us it’s especially important because we import 90 percent of our seafood.  So to address this problem, U.S. Government agencies, in consultation with environment groups, the seafood industry, and other governments are implementing the recommendations that the U.S. Presidential Task Force to Combat Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing and Seafood Fraud, which is a long name – short name is IUU – and that task force was set up as part of the Our Ocean Conference last year.  It has now come out with recommendations, including an exciting new traceability program that’s going to track seafood from the harvest anywhere in the world to entry into the United States and is going to allow consumers to know where their seafood’s come from and whether or not it was sustainably harvested.

We think this is extremely important because we want to create a level playing field and reward honest fishermen and women both here in the United States as well as around the world globally.  We’re also working to reduce marine pollution and concentrating on marine plastics.  It’s estimated that about 80 percent of the plastics in the ocean are land-based, and so we’re focusing our efforts on improving waste management systems and programs in key countries across Asia, as well as innovative waste-to-energy solutions, so actually turning the waste into energy.

As you also know, the United States is playing a strong leadership role in addressing greenhouse gas emissions that not only lead to climate change, which is well known, but also lead to acidification of the ocean.  And this acidification has very significant consequences for marine ecosystems and shellfish industries.  The ocean has absorbed 30 percent of the carbon that has been put into the atmosphere, so it’s a great bellwether of what is going on.  President Obama and Secretary Kerry are fully committed to achieving an ambitious and durable international agreement at the COP 21 in Paris later this year, and our stated intention is to cut greenhouse gas emissions 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels in 2025.  And this is relevant to this discussion today because it’s going to contribute substantially to the international efforts to reduce ocean acidification as well as climate change.

We’re looking forward to moving the ball forward on all of these things in Chile next week in Valparaiso.  There’s already an incredible lineup of participants as well as concrete commitments that the United States and other participants expect to unveil, and that will – the unveiling will wait until then.  And this is really due to the fantastic leadership of Foreign Minister Muñoz and his team, and so we are very gratified that we have had the opportunity to work with them on this oceans – Our Ocean II Conference.  And I’m going to hand this over to him to describe more their efforts, but again, I just want to commend the foreign minister for his courage and his vision.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

FOREIGN MINISTER MUÑOZ:  Thank you very much.  First of all, let me thank Under Secretary Cathy Novelli and Secretary of State John Kerry for their initiative to have organized the first Our Ocean Conference and now to have given us the baton to continue on to the second conference that will take place in Valparaiso and Vina del Mar on the 5th and 6th of October.

 

We are very pleased to be partners in this endeavor because protecting our oceans is betting on the future.  The ocean – and the conference is called Our Ocean, in singular – not in plural – because scientists have proven that through maritime currents, really there’s only one single ocean and that belongs to all of us and it is the responsibility of all to protect for the present and future generations.  So that’s why a country like Chile, that has a very long coast, our future depends on the sustainable use of the ocean, and that’s why we’ve taken up this challenge of organizing this second conference and to confront the dangers that ail the ocean. 

And these are basically three that I think Under Secretary Novelli has described very well:  First of all, illegal and unregulated and unreported fishing.  It is estimated that illegal fishing could amount to up to $20 billion in terms of business.  And this would be like the third most profitable illegal business in the world after drug trafficking and illegal trade of arms.  And this is because the consumption of fish and products of the sea by individuals has increased enormously.  FAO has estimated that during the 1960s, the per capita consumption at the world level was about 9.9 kilograms of fishing products.  That has increased to almost 20 kilos per capita during the present – during present days.  So that’s one danger that we have.  We have to control, we have to regulate illegal fishing. 

Second, acidification of the oceans which affect the corals and the change – the chain of biodiversity on which fish and mammals in the ocean feed.  And that acidification, it is estimated by some studies, has increased about 30 percent since the Industrial Revolution. 

And the third danger is the pollution of the ocean, particularly plastics.  And here there’s a huge responsibility about recycling and reducing the use of plastics because plastics in the ocean accumulate and constitute veritable islands and then disintegrate.  So that it is estimated that there is at least five concentrations of plastic, one in the so-called Indian Ocean, one in the north Atlantic, one in the south Atlantic, one in the north Pacific Ocean and in the south.  In the one in the south – it’s near Rapa Nui – Easter Island – which is part of Chilean territory.  And it is estimated that some of these concentrations of plastic reach a depth almost 80 meters and then disintegrate and affect, of course, fish and biodiversity. 

So we have to tackle this.  In order to do that, I think one of the elements that attracted Chile to support the initiative taken by Secretary Kerry and Cathy was that this is not a talk shop that we’re going to have in Chile.  Certainly, there will be speeches, but more important than that, we want commitments – voluntary commitment by governments and by institutions of civil society, because this is not only a government responsibility.  It is first and foremost, but it’s also civil society that can also contribute in a major way, so that we are asking those that are attending and speaking up to make voluntary commitments, to tell us what they are going to do to protect the ocean, whether it be a bill, whether it be a protected area – maritime protected area, or any other initiatives that will contribute to tackle the three problems that I’ve just listed.

And those of us who went to Washington last year when John Kerry organized the first conference will have to report on what we did and what we promised.  Chile promised three things:  First, that we would organize the second conference; we are doing that.  Second, that we would have a new policy on illegal fishing, and we’ve done that, and we’re going to report specifically on what.  And third, that we will join the United Nations fish stock agreement – the so-called New York agreement that would allow us to fiscalize better what goes on beyond the 200-mile exclusive economic zone, and we’re going to do that.

And now, the idea is that reporting what we’d promised, we do new commitments.  And I’m not going to speak about that, because I’ll leave it as a surprise for Valparaiso where we will be talking about new commitments that Chile will be making and all other countries attending will do the same as well as, as I said, civil society.  So we’re very excited about what’s coming soon in Valparaiso. 

We are very happy to be working also with important foundations and NGOs like National Geographic, like Oceana, like Pew, many others that will be attending there at the high level where we’ll have some high-level personalities, as well as government officials.  For certain Cathy and John will be there.  But anybody from Prince Albert of Monaco to many foreign ministers, the commissioner of fishing from the European Union, the director general of the FAO – well, it’s a long list of government officials and representatives of civil society.  So I – we hope that Valparaiso will be a major step forward. 

And as Cathy Novelli was just saying, we just approved the SDGs, the Sustainable Development Goals, and goal number 14 is the protection of the oceans.  So this is a way to begin honoring a commitment that we just approved at the highest level.  This is the way we are honoring the commitments, we feel, so that we’re very excited about what will transpire in Valparaiso within a week or so.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

MODERATOR:  Thank you very much, Under Secretary Novelli, Minister Muñoz, for those opening remarks.  We’ll go to questions.

Right here.

QUESTION:  Hi.  My name is Kahraman Haliscelik from Turkish radio and television.  It’s great to see you again, Mr. Foreign Minister, here.  Now, the issue of marine pollution.  There are a lot of private companies, conglomerates that are actually also polluting the ocean – ships in the ocean.  How do you think preventing this could be enforced?  Thank you.

FOREIGN MINISTER MUÑOZ:  Well, about – let’s see, about plastic, which is one of the major threats – clearly, recycling is one answer.  Less use of plastics, and the key is that all the plastic in the ocean comes from land, from us.  So that is the first realization that we have to have, and we have to stop throwing waste into the ocean.  In addition to that, we are seeing now that increasingly there are companies that are picking up that and recycling.  It’s very difficult to pick it up once concentrated because it begins to disintegrate into tiny little pieces.  And that’s one of the challenges that we have.  But, for example, I know of companies that will be present in this second conference that are picking up the plastic in islands, bringing it up to the continent, and recycling it.  And that – I think anything that goes in that direction, I think it would be very positive.

Evidently, in terms of longer term, education is fundamental.  This is in a sense a pedagogic endeavor as well, because to create consciousness that the oceans are fundamental for our future.  Why are we creating maritime protected areas?  Because they’re like saving accounts for the future.  And we have to have those saving accounts, obviously, free of plastic waste.  So that to the extent that we’re creating consciousness with this conference, this – that will also be a great of – deal of help, I think.

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI:  If I could just add one thing to the fantastic answer of the foreign minister, I think there’s also some long-term things that we can think about.  In the short term we have to concentrate on keeping the waste from going into the ocean.  And in the longer term, we need to really think about how do we redesign packaging, how do we both use less and also how do we use different materials so that we really can be in what’s been referred to as the circular economy so that everything that’s used gets re-used, but that depends on what’s used in the first place.  And there’s some really good work that’s being done, pioneering work that’s being done both on how to redesign packaging, but also on using biopolymers and other things.  And so those folks are going to be present at the conference, too.  And this is going to be a whole-of-Earth effort to be able to tackle this.

QUESTION:  Actually, two questions.  Alexey Osipov from Novosty.  With all respect to the United States and Chile with – as a strong country with the longest coastal lane, it looks too weak.  Where is China, Russia, Australia?  Who invited to the conference to the Valparaiso?  Who supported the program that you presented today?

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI:  Well, let me just talk about the conference, the first conference, and I’ll let the minister talk about this one.  But we invited – there were countries from everywhere at the first Our Ocean Conference.  It wasn’t just the United States and Chile; there were foreign ministers from all over the world.  And all of those folks made significant commitments as to what their countries were going to do.  So I think the reason why the minister and I are up here is because we hosted the first one and Chile’s hosting the second one, but it’s not that we’re just the only two people standing up here.  But I’ll let the minister talk about who’s coming to the second one.

FOREIGN MINISTER MUÑOZ:  Well, we’ve invited a representation of countries from all over the world.  In fact, you asked about Russia, and we’ve invited Foreign Minister Lavrov.  In fact, I’m still waiting for an answer.  I hope that he can be there, and I will be seeing him in the next couple of days, and I hope to get a positive answer.  We invited China as well at the highest level, and we know that there’s a high official attending from China.

So there’s been a very wide representation of countries that will be there, large countries and small countries, because here, you have to have due respect for small countries that – their own survival is sort of at stake.  So we’ve invited Caribbean countries because we wanted this time, since it is in Chile, to have a little bit of a more regional dimension, so that – for instance, the foreign minister of Jamaica is attending; very possibly, the first lady of Belize, who is very involved in these issues.  We’ve invited the foreign minister of Trinidad and Tobago.  We hope that he’ll be coming.  We’ve invited the foreign minister of Guyana. 

So we still, in the – as it always occurs with these conferences, we sometimes have confirmations in the last minute.  But it’s a very wide range of countries, no discrimination of any region, but – large countries and small, and many have a large stake because their future is very much at stake if we don’t act.

QUESTION:  And one more question:  Today, largest oil and gas producer is looking there, oil and gas far from even the coastal line.  And you mentioned already the marine pollution and plastic – yeah, it’s huge issues, big issues.  And what about oil and gas?

FOREIGN MINISTER MUÑOZ:  Well, look.  The ocean – Our Ocean Conference, that’s not aimed at impeding the exploration, exploitation of oil and gas.  That’s a reality.  We also need gas even though I would prefer that we increasingly use renewables as a source of energy.  But that’s part of life.

But what are we doing?  There is three elements in this conference that I think are relatively new as regards to the first one.  One is marine-protected areas that we are underlining even more than the first conference.  And marine-protected areas is – as I said before, it’s like a savings account, and it will mean that in the future then, we will protect it from these type of activities and from illegal fishing and et cetera, and from any fishing that is not – from any fishing.  So that, I think, is something that I should underline.

Second element that I think is very important:  We are going to underline oceanic island communities this time so that we will have the mayor of Easter Island, as it is known here – but in Chile we know it as Rapa Nui – we will have the mayor of Juan Fernandez, which is a major island.  You know the story of Robinson Crusoe happened in those islands.  Because communities – oceanic island communities have very much at stake and they have very much of a high interest in protecting the oceans – the waters that surround them.  So that, I think, will be an element.

And third, philanthropic initiatives.  Increasingly, there is civil society and philanthropists that are very interested in contributing.  And there will be a strong presence of philanthropists as well.

All of this makes us confident that we can make a difference with these conferences, particularly because, as I said, the idea is voluntary commitments.  Nobody’s forcing anybody to sign anything if they don’t want to.  If they come, we expect them to make announcement to make promises and to comply by them.

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI:  Can I just add to that?  I think that the concept of the blue economy is really starting to be discussed more and more.  And the meaning of that term comes from the idea that you can have blue, meaning sort of sustainable, but also economic activity at the same time, and that you don’t have to say that economic activity is somehow the enemy of conservation.  And in fact, the goal is to find a way to have both.  It’s not an either/or, it’s an “and.”  And that is also something that I think is going to be more and more discussed as we go forward, because there is an incredible source of natural resources and fish themselves which are feeding huge swaths of the world.  So we do have to think about how do we conserve that, but we conserve it so that we can continue to use it.

QUESTION:  Hello, my name is Seana Magee from Kyodo News.  I’m sorry.  I didn’t know if Japan participated in your first meeting.  And I’m wondering, will they be participating, at what level, and what contributions do you feel Japan can make as a seafood nation of importance?

And also, could you tell us a little bit about how you plan to tackle the illegal fishing – I’m sorry.  Illegal fishing – do you have any proposals that are on the table or that you hope to present at this next meeting?  Thank you.

FOREIGN MINISTER MUÑOZ:  I don’t recall if Japan was represented in the first conference, and I don’t know whether they will be represented at the second one.  I hope they will be.  I don’t recall whether there’s a high official, though.  They would be welcome for certain.

As regards how to combat illegal fishing, there are various tools.  One of them is the New York Fish Stock Agreement, for example, because joining that instrument allows us to exercise control beyond the 200-mile zone over illegal fishing, particularly because a lot of these illegal ships position themselves right by the 200-mile limit and they go in and out.  And since this New York agreement is aimed at highly migratory species, the idea is that we can exercise control that we didn’t have if we didn’t join the New York agreement.  So this is one of the instruments.

Evidently, there is more technological instruments, so that we need satellite observation, for example.  We need satellite instruments to know exactly where they are, these boats fishing illegally.  And we’ve discovered them even within our exclusive economic zone.  Happily, in Chile we have a very active navy, and that navy’s always trying to spot the illegal ships fishing illegally.  And that – we’ve had many instances where we have captured those boats, taken them to port, and fined them heavily for fishing in our zone. 

So that’s happening just about every day.  Our navy picks up – when it’s bigger ships, we’ve had observation.  I myself was at the Desventuradas Island.  These islands are in the north of Chile, and we went with the navy in an observation plane.  We went to the island – which is a beautiful island, by the way; Oceana has done a film about the richness that we have below there – and as we were coming back, there was a major ship that is known for fishing illegally.  And we went over to spot it, and they were fishing just beyond the 200-mile limit.  They were just there.  And we went down in the plane about 20 meters above it so that – to make them nervous at least.  I’m not going to give the name of the ship.

So that’s a way to exercise control over illegal fishing, but one needs resources.  That’s the key.  And when you have such a long coast and you are a developing country, then satellite observation, data gathering is absolutely fundamental.

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI:  And I would add to that – and I completely agree with all of those things – there’s another agreement called the Port State Measures Agreement.  That’s a treaty Chile’s already ratified and that we’re – the United States is working on ratified – we’ve acceded to, and so have a number of other countries.  And what’s wonderful about this is that it basically says that if you sign it, you’re not going to allow these boats who have been illegally fishing and identified as such to actually enter your port.  And so they don’t have anywhere to then go and sell their fish, which is, I think, a fantastic way to dis-incentivize this fishing.

The other thing that, as I said, we’re going to do in the United States is to institute what we hope is going to be a state-of-the-art traceability program, so that we’re going to basically say that unless you can show where this fish has come from, it’s not going to enter the commerce of the United States.  And what we’re hoping is that we can work with other countries to also help them institute these kind of things, and we’re already speaking – the European Union has a system that’s slightly different than ours but also very strict, and we’re both speaking with Japan.  We are the three largest seafood markets among us, and so we’re hoping that that can have an impact.

MODERATOR:  Thank you very much.  Unfortunately, we’re out of time for the press conference.  Thank you all for attending.  The transcript will be posted soon to fpc.state.gov.

# # #

MEDIA NOTE: Global Counterterrorism Forum Co-Chairs’ Fact Sheet: About the GCTF

 

 

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE

Office of the Spokesperson

For Immediate Release

 MEDIA NOTE

September 27, 2015

Global Counterterrorism Forum Co-Chairs’ Fact Sheet: 

About the GCTF

Below is the text of the Fact Sheet issued by the Co-Chairs (Turkey and the United States) of the Global Counterterrorism Forum on September 27, 2015.

Begin text:

The GCTF is an informal, multilateral counterterrorism (CT) platform focusing on identifying critical civilian CT needs, mobilizing the necessary expertise and resources to address such needs, and enhancing global cooperation. Launched at a ministerial meeting in New York on 22 September 2011, the Forum, with its 30 members (29 countries and the European Union), regularly convenes key CT policymakers and practitioners from nations around the world, as well as experts from the United Nations and other multilateral bodies. It has strengthened the international architecture for addressing 21st century terrorism and is promoting a strategic, long-term approach to dealing with the threat. The Forum identifies urgent needs, devises solutions, and mobilizes resources for addressing key CT challenges facing civilian institutions. With its primary focus on countering violent extremism (CVE) and strengthening criminal justice and other rule of law institutions that deal with terrorism, the GCTF aims to diminish terrorist recruitment and increase countries’ capabilities for dealing with terrorist threats within their borders and regions.

 

MEMBERS AND PARTNERS

The 30 members of the GCTF are: Algeria, Australia, Canada, China, Colombia, Denmark, Egypt, the European Union (EU), France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Morocco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the United Kingdom (UK), and the United States. Additionally, some 40 non-member states and dozens of non-member international, regional, sub-regional, and non-governmental organizations have participated in GCTF activities.

The United Nations is a close partner of the GCTF and a regular participant in its activities. The GCTF takes as a central part of its mission the implementation of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. More broadly, the GCTF’s work complements and reinforces existing multilateral CT efforts, including those of the UN and relevant regional organizations.     

 

STRUCTURE 

The GCTF consists of a strategic-level Coordinating Committee, co-chaired by Turkey and the United States; six thematic and regional expert-driven working groups; and a small administrative unit. The working groups are: (1) Criminal Justice Sector and the Rule of Law, co-chaired by Egypt and the United States; (2) Countering Violent Extremism (CVE), co-chaired by the UAE and the UK; (3) Detention and Reintegration, co-chaired by Australia and Indonesia; (4) Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTF), co-chaired by Morocco and the Netherlands; (5) Sahel Region Capacity-Building, co-chaired by Algeria and Canada; and (6) Horn of Africa Region Capacity-Building, co-chaired by the EU and Turkey. As determined during the May 2015 Coordinating Committee meeting, the United States will transition its co-chairmanship of the Forum to the Netherlands following the September 2015 Ministerial meeting. Turkey will transition its co-chairmanship of the Forum to Morocco following the ninth meeting of the Coordinating Committee in spring 2016.

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS

  • The mobilization of more than $300 million to support national and regional efforts to strengthen civilian institutions and counter violent extremism, including support for the implementation of the GCTF framework documents at both the regional and country levels.
  • The December 2012 launch of Hedayah in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE). Hedayah is the first-ever international center of excellence for training, dialogue, research, and collaboration on CVE.
  • The June 2014 launch of the International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law (IIJ) in Valletta, Malta. The IIJ is dedicated to providing criminal justice officials from across North, West, and East Africa and the Middle East with human rights-compliant training to address terrorism and related security challenges within a rule of law framework.
  • The September 2014 establishment of the Global Fund on Community Engagement and Resilience (GCERF) in Geneva, Switzerland. GCERF is the first-ever public-private global fund to support local, grass-roots efforts to counter violent extremism. GCERF is now fully operational in Geneva as a foundation under Swiss law.
  • The adoption of framework documents designed to serve as practical guides for rule of law-based CT and CVE capacity-building activities and implementing CT good practices at the national, sub-regional, and regional levels.[1] These framework documents address a variety of salient CT and CVE topics including:

[if !supportLists]·         [endif]Effective, human rights-compliant CT practice in the criminal justice sector;

[if !supportLists]·         [endif]Preventing and denying the benefits of kidnapping for ransom by terrorists;

[if !supportLists]·         [endif]Multi-sectoral approaches to CVE;

[if !supportLists]·         [endif]Community engagement and community-oriented policing as tools for CVE;

[if !supportLists]·         [endif]Supporting victims in the immediate aftermath of a terrorist attack;

[if !supportLists]·         [endif]Rehabilitation and reintegration of violent extremist offenders;

[if !supportLists]·         [endif]Effective responses to the FTF phenomenon;

[if !supportLists]·         [endif]The role of the judiciary in adjudicating terrorism offenses; and

[if !supportLists]·         [endif]Education and CVE.

 

ANNEX 1 – GCTF ACTIVITIES IN 2014-2015[2]

Coordinating Committee

Seventh Coordinating Committee Meeting, Doha, Qatar, 6-7 May 2015

Eighth Coordinating Committee Meeting and Sixth Ministerial Plenary, New York, United States, 26-27 September 2015

 

Countering Violent Extremism Working Group

Workshop on Advancing Women’s Roles in Countering Violent Extremism and Radicalization that Lead to Terrorism, Vienna, Austria, 21-22 October 2014 (jointly hosted with the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe)

Symposium on Strengthening International Cooperation to Prevent and Counter Terrorists’ Use of the Internet, Beijing, China, 17-18 November 2014

Global CVE Communications Exposition, Abu Dhabi, UAE, 9-11 December 2014 (jointly hosted with Hedayah)

Plenary Meeting of the CVE Working Group, London, United Kingdom, 2-3 June 2015

 

Criminal Justice Sector and the Rule of Law Working Group

Plenary Meeting of the CJ-ROL Working Group, Valletta, Malta, 13-14 April 2015

 

Detention and Reintegration Working Group

Workshop on Prison and Security Issues and Implementation of the GCTF Rome Memorandum Good Practices 1-6, Abuja, Nigeria, 12-13 November 2014

Workshop on Capacity Building and Training for the Appropriate Management of Violent Extremist Offenders, Medan, Indonesia, 8-9 April 2015

 

“Foreign Terrorist Fighters” (FTF) Initiative

Expert Workshop on Reintegrating Returning FTFs: Challenges and Lessons Learned, Rome, Italy, 11-12 December 2014

Inaugural Plenary Meeting of the FTF Working Group, Marrakech, Morocco, 15-16 December 2014

Workshop on Raising Community Awareness to the FTF Phenomenon, Washington, D.C., 23-24 February 2015

Conference on FTF, The Hague, the Netherlands, 8 June 2015

 

Sahel Capacity-Building Working Group

Plenary Meeting of the Sahel Working Group, Algiers, Algeria, 24-25 March 2015

Kidnapping for Ransom Experts Meeting, Algiers, Algeria, 26 March 2015

 

Horn of Africa Region Capacity-Building Working Group

Regional Exposition of Counterterrorism Efforts in the HOA Region, Kampala, Uganda, 17-18 March 2015

Plenary Meeting of the Horn of Africa Working Group, Kampala, Uganda, 19-20 March 2015

Workshop on Effective Intra- and Inter-agency Cooperation and Coordination as a Good Practice in Prevention, Investigation, and Prosecution of Terrorism Cases in the HOA Region, Bishoftu/Debrezeit, Ethiopia, 23-25 March 2015 (jointly hosted with the Intergovernmental Authority on Development’s Security Sector Program)

Horn of Africa (HOA)-focused Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Workshop, Brussels, Belgium, 11 June 2015

 

Other Meetings

Workshop on Air Traveler Security, Perth, Australia, 7-9 December 2014

Inaugural Conference of the Border Security Initiative (BSI), El Jadida, Morocco, 21-22 July 2015 (jointly hosted with the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre)

BSI Study Tour and Experts Roundtable, Cairns, Australia, 25-26 August 2015 (jointly hosted with the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre)

Meeting of the GCTF Working Group Co-Chairs on Preparing for the Next Wave: GCTF Cross-Working Group Initiatives to Address the Life Cycle of Radicalization to Violence, The Hague, the Netherlands, 3 September 2015

BSI Expert Seminar on Cross-Border Cooperation and Border Surveillance Methods, Vienna, Austria, 10-11 September 2015 (jointly organized with the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre)

 

[1] For more information on GCTF framework documents, please visit the GCTF website at www.theGCTF.org.

[2] This represents those activities implemented and planned in CY 2014.  Please visit www.theGCTF.org for additional information about all GCTF activities since the official launch in September 2011.

TRANSCRIPT: Foreign Press Center Briefing with John P. Carlin, Assistant Attorney General for National Security

 

 

FOREIGN PRESS CENTER BRIEFING WITH JOHN P. CARLIN, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR NATIONAL SECURITY

TOPIC:  UPDATE ON U.S. GOVERNMENT COUNTERTERRORISM EFFORTS

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2015, 4:30 P.M. EDT

NEW YORK FOREIGN PRESS CENTER, 799 UNITED NATIONS PLAZA, 10TH FLOOR

MODERATOR:  Good afternoon.  Welcome to the New York Foreign Press Center.  This is an on-the-record briefing on Department of Justice measures to combat violent extremism with Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin.  We’re very pleased to host him today.  I would like to ask, after his initial remarks we’ll go to Q&A, and please wait for the microphone and please identify yourself. 

Thank you.  Mr. Carlin.

MR CARLIN:  Thank you.  Good afternoon.  At the Department of Justice, the National Security Division was the first new litigating division created in about 50 years.  And we were created in 2006 as one of the post-9/11 reforms.  And our number one mission, simply, is to prevent terrorist attacks here inside the United States.  And our mission, first and foremost, when it comes to ISIL is to prevent attacks against U.S. citizens here in the United States and abroad.  And we work in coordination with our law enforcement intelligence community partners and with countries around the world to ensure that we can disrupt terrorist actors before they commit those acts. 

This is a good week with UNGA in town and the Global Counterterrorist Forum to take a step back and talk a little bit less about our efforts to protect U.S. citizens and more about our responsibilities as global partners to prevent terrorist attacks elsewhere in the world.  We have a fundamental responsibility to prevent ISIL from having U.S. citizens join ISIL in its campaign to rape, to commit sexual slavery, and to murder innocent civilians, including children, as tactics.  And so together last year, when I was here in New York for these same events, we worked on the UN Security Council Resolution 2178, which was an unprecedented mandatory resolution for every country around the world to work to put laws on the books to prevent foreign terrorist fighters from their country from going to join the fight and also to make – take steps to keep them from returning to commit terrorist attacks once they left the battleground in Iraq or Syria. 

Since that resolution last year, we commend the over 20 nations that since last year have put new laws on the books that are specifically designed to combat the support for these foreign terrorist organizations either through actual citizens from their countries or from providing material or financial support.  And among those since last year, over three dozen nations have taken law enforcement actions, have arrested individuals before they could go join these foreign terrorist organizations. 

At the Justice Department we’ve provided assistance both in the legislation and as some countries try using these statutes for the first time.  And we’ve sent our prosecutors over the last year on countless trips to work hand-in-hand with foreign partners all over the world as they draft these new laws. 

We also house and support Interpol.  And since last year, when there was a commitment by countries at this very event – and in conjunction with 2178 and also with the Global Counterterrorism Forum that consists of over 30 countries, there was a new commitment to provide information to Interpol, which we house and support.  And since last year, that has resulted in six times the amount of information being shared, approximately 4,000 new profiles on foreign terrorist fighters, from over 45 countries.

And we recognize, to talk a little bit about what we face in the United States versus other countries as they face this foreign terrorist fighter threat, although the overall number some put at 25,000 or 30,000 individuals – and that’s higher than what we saw even at the height of the conflict in Afghanistan and the FATA – that when it comes to the numbers that are from the United States, our numbers are lower, particularly even compared to our Western partners.  And we have about – we estimate around 250 U.S. citizens who have either attempted to or gone over to fight or who have gone over and returned.  That number also includes those we’ve arrested.

Since about last year, we’ve brought criminal cases against 70 individuals.  Sixty of those individuals, it was for conduct related to either supporting foreign terrorist fighters or attempting to join the group.  The other 10 is a trend that we’ve started to see here in the United States since ISIL changed its tactics and called on individuals to commit terrorist attacks where they live, particularly in Western countries.  We have over 10 criminal cases brought to date of individuals inspired by ISIL or other terrorist groups to commit attacks here in the United States.  So between the 60 who wanted to join the foreign terrorist fighter groups and the 10 who wanted to commit attacks here in the United States, that’s how we have over 70 cases.

In terms of trends inside the United States, in almost every case social media is involved.  Unlike some other countries, we’re not seeing it in any particular geographic part of the United States nor confined to any ethnic group.  The FBI currently has open investigations in all 50 states, and we have brought criminal cases in 25 different jurisdictions to date across the United States, so places that have not traditionally confronted a foreign terrorist threat.

Consistent with the fact that this is a social media-driven threat here, in over 50 percent of the cases the defendants are 25 years or younger, and in over a third of the cases they are 21 years or younger.  And for us in confronting the terrorist threat, that is different than the demographic we saw who went to support core al-Qaida in the Afghanistan FATA region. 

I think what you’ll hear tomorrow under the President of the United States leadership is the summit that he’s convening of countries throughout the world – over 60 countries – dedicated to combating this terrorist threat.  And what you’ll see is a focus – in addition to the efforts that I’ve talked about to date, the law enforcement criminal justice efforts – is a focus on efforts to prevent it from ever reaching the law enforcement system in the first place.  And that means working on countering the message and propaganda that ISIL uses to draw recruits from our communities, and it means exposing ISIL for what it really is and not what it pretends to be.

They put out images of child soldiers handing out candy to children, but in reality they’re a group that beheads and kills Muslims and non-Muslims alike with equal impunity, that rapes and sells women and children into sexual slavery, and that deliberately looks to destroy the cultural heritage of the countries in which it resides.  So a law enforcement response is essential, and we need to continue the progress that we’ve made since last year’s resolution.  But it also can only be part of the answer, and others need to dissuade would-be foreign fighters from joining ISIL in the first place. 

You’ll see the attorney general of the United States convene a first-of-its-kind Safe Cities Forum tomorrow as well that will consist of mayors across the United States but also from other countries across the world, because fundamentally to dissuade individuals in the first instance from joining these types of groups is going to require local-level, community-driven engagement.  And so I think tomorrow’s forum, the Safe Cities Forum, is going to work and introduce mayors to each other so they can talk about best practices at keeping these individuals from ever going down the path of radicalization.

I will stop there and open it up for questions.

QUESTION:   Hajime Matsuura, Japan, Sankei’s columnist here based in New York.  A question about the most – the breakdown of the social media ISIL is using.  Do you have the breakdown of which social media is popular and how you’re working with the host of or owners of the social medias?

 

MR CARLIN:  So when it comes to social media, I think you see ISIL use pretty much every available service that they can find, and they target people according to who uses the service.  So – and it’s different depending on which country that you’re in, although it is a global problem.  So here in the United States, we’re seeing it with those who are using sites that are frequented by English-language speakers or are popular in the United States.  And that really ranges through the most familiar names, be it Twitter to Facebook to YouTube videos. 

And what they do is they blast out these often slickly produced propagandistic messages using the same type of techniques that Madison Avenue advertisers use to put out images like handing out candy to children, or they’ll have an ISIL soldier in the caliphate with a kitten in one hand and a gun in the other and they’ll say, “Come join the caliphate.”  They bombard the internet with thousands and thousands of these messages a day, and the number of people who respond to them is a tiny, tiny percentage of those who they reach with that message, but it only takes a very small number from each country to either prevent – present a terrorist threat our home country, but also to reach the numbers that they’re reaching of getting people to join the fight when you’re talking about having that message reach 100 different countries.

So to the extent they’re able to get people who are language or cultural experts, then they will use those individuals who have joined ISIL already to target a particular country or audience.

QUESTION:  Hi, thank you.  Diego Senior from Caracol Radio in Colombia.  I know you’re focusing on ISIL, but this is a question that I have to ask, and it’s about a terrorist organization – deemed terrorist organization by the U.S. Government in Colombia.  And they just reached this peace accord – not a complete peace accord, but one regarding transitional justice in our country.  I’m wondering what the strategy from your department or from wherever within the Justice Department is capable of doing.  What are you guys doing or thinking to do facing terrorism – that terrorism threat which it might stop be or at some point – when will you stop calling them terrorists since they’re going to give in their weapons?

MR CARLIN:  So I’ll describe generally.  In the American legal system, the model that we’ve used to confront the international terrorist threat is using a statute called the material support to terrorism statute.  As we’ve discussed, as countries around the world are putting new statutes on their books, this is one model that they’ve – that some countries have elected to follow.  And what it hinges upon is there’s a formal process for the designation of a group or an individual as an international terrorist organization, and then the criminal consequences of that designation follow.  So to the extent that there is an armistice, what would be the key for those of us in the prosecution and law enforcement community would be whether or not they remove the FARC as a designated terrorist organization as part of the reconciliation process, and so we’ll wait and see what occurs in that regard. 

And obviously, long-term, and this includes ISIL, the endgame – we need to use law enforcement and prosecution as a tool to prevent these terrorist attacks from occurring, but we recognize that the long-term solution is one that requires the participation of states and local governments to prevent these groups from existing in the first place, and that’s what success looks like.  And that’s why I think you’ll see the President tomorrow emphasize the need to combat violent extremism and the attorney general at the Safe Cities event talk to mayors about getting rid of those root causes to that these groups don’t exist in the first instance.

MODERATOR:  We have a question from Washington.  Washington, please go ahead.

QUESTION:  Thank you.  My name is Anatoly Bochinin, TASS News Agency, Russia.  Sir, as you said today, this ISIL problem affects many countries – also Russia.  So my question is:  Do you cooperate with Russian security services?  And are you going to work with this new informational center in Baghdad which will be established these days?  Thank you.

MR CARLIN:  So I’ll say that generally, that the FBI has partnerships with law enforcement agencies throughout the world, and some countries have made a real dedicated push to share intelligence or law enforcement information regarding the terrorist threat.  Some countries have work to do in that regard, but it’s going to take a partnership when it comes to combating these foreign terrorist organizations.  And we’ve seen improvements, like I discussed in terms of INTERPOL and sharing information about terrorist identities, or since last year, with a dedicated focus on this, the number of terrorist identities has increased six times.  We have 4,000 identities into that system. 

It needs to improve further, and we hope it will.

QUESTION:  Thank you.  Harriet Alexander from The Telegraph.  You spoke about the 250 estimated citizens who’ve gone or attempted to go, and those against which you’ve got criminal cases.  I wondered if you’d talk a little bit more about the backgrounds of those people, just generally, because – I ask because in Europe, we find that an awful lot of people who are going to join these organizations have already got criminal records and have previously spent time specifically in prison.  That was very much the case in France with the Paris attacks and with the Toulouse attacks.  And I just wondered if you could talk a little bit about any de-radicalization programs that you may have in prisons.

MR CARLIN:  That’s a good question, Harriet.  So I’d say in terms of the trends that what we’ve seen is there isn’t a particular profile other than the common factors that I discussed, which is, one, in almost every case there’s some connection to social media; and two, the general demographic trending young.  And as you can imagine, as it trends younger and younger, these are not people with long criminal histories inside the United States.  And although we remain very much vigilant and concerned about the issue of prison radicalization and what occurs to individuals when they are released, that has not comprised currently the majority of the cases that we’ve seen.

What we are seeing is with this new focus on targeting the young or the unstable, that you’ll – they’ll attract individuals who you would not necessarily think of as being ISIL adherents but end up getting – going down the process of radicalization after being exposed through one of these general social media sites.  And then what they do often is once they have someone on the hook, if you will, they end up in direct communication in some of these cases – so the terrorist overseas is in direct communication with the young person or troubled person here, personally walking them down the path towards radicalization using social media.  And this is new, I know, for the United Kingdom, having talked to counterparts there, and for the United States.  In terms of a trend, I think both our countries together are struggling on new approaches to combat what is a new strategy or tactic by the terrorist group.

It is different than – although we still remain concerned, and al-Qaida still has the intent to commit the large-scale spectacular attack against a Western target, as does al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula and al-Nusrah, the al-Qaida franchise in the Syria region.  So we remain concerned and need to disrupt that large-scale spectacular attack, but this new tactic of urging people to commit the attack, even small-scale, immediately – we use the expression sometimes “the short flash to bang,” which is social media-driven, which means if you think about a fuse of dynamite, the time between when you light the fuse and when the dynamite explodes is very, very short.  That’s a hard problem for the intelligence community and law enforcement to crack and really is going to rely on partnerships.

QUESTION:  Hi there.  Justin Fishel with ABC.  I have two quick questions.  The first is about the migration issue and the refugee crisis.  As you know, the U.S. wants to bring in 85,000 refugees from Syria next year, and there are some sort of opposing views about whether this – there’s risks associated with this and risks of ISIL infiltration.  So what’s your assessment of that risk and plan to combat it?  Then I have one more other question.

MR CARLIN:  Look, our job in the law enforcement/intelligence community is to see what the decision is by policymakers to try to accommodate those who are in a terrible situation and who are facing unbelievable brutality, both by the regime and by ISIL.  And whatever decision is made, then we need to work and apply the resources to make sure that the terrorist groups don’t try to take advantage of a humanitarian gesture to get individuals predisposed to commit terrorist attacks either into Europe or the United States.  And we’ve faced that sort of challenge before and we’ll apply the resources necessary to combat it.

QUESTION:  Okay.  My last question, more a domestic politics issue.  Your division of the Justice Department is overseeing the email review, and the one piece of clarification I think – and one of the things that got really confused throughout this whole thing was why this is not a criminal probe but the – there are federal – there are people like yourselves involved in it, so how is it that it is not criminal?  That’s something that I think a lot of people are confused about, and I apologize to my colleagues for the domestic nature of this question.

MR CARLIN:  Well, I’m going to stick to the foreign press questions for this event.

QUESTION:  I’m Sajidu Haque from Bangladeshi television channel.  Do you think Bangladesh fall in high risk in near future?  Because some existing terrorist group like ISIL and al-Qaida, they are all in Pakistan, and Bangladesh, Pakistan, India fall in high risk.

MR CARLIN:  I’m sorry, I didn’t fully catch the question.

QUESTION:  Do you think near future, Bangladesh fall in high risk for terrorism – in terrorism?

MR CARLIN:  Oh, do I – do I think that there’s a high risk of terrorism occurring in Bangladesh?

QUESTION:  Yeah.

MR CARLIN:  I confess to not being an expert in terms of what the risks are of terrorist attacks occurring inside Bangladesh.  I’d say more generally, as we’ we’ve seen, this is a phenomenon that has already crossed in an unprecedented way.  It has foreign terrorist fighters from over 100 countries.  I believe Bangladesh is one of those 100 countries.  And there is a concern, certainly, if any citizen goes over to fight with one of those foreign terrorist groups, what happens when they return armed, trained on how to commit attacks, and spending a long time being steeped in this ideology?  So in that sense there’s a concern that cuts across all of these countries.

And the other issue would be the same social media phenomenon of individuals who stay at home and are contacted by this terrorist group and are encouraged to commit, if they can’t travel, terrorist acts where they live. 

QUESTION:  Vasco Jesus, VascoPress Communications, Brazil.  (Inaudible.)  Is there any sharing of information, collaboration, between the Government of Brazil and United States, your department, concerning the threat of international terrorism?  I ask you this because next year – well, Brazil doesn’t have a history of international terrorism on its borders, but next year Brazil is hosting the Summer Games, and our neighbor Argentina in the ‘90s had two huge cases – the AMIA case and the bombing of the Israeli consulate.  I would like you to comment on those, thank you.

MR CARLIN:  I’d say prior to each of the last Olympics – and this is the world in which we live now – I know that we have offered assistance, including the sharing of information, primarily through the channel of the FBI and law-enforcement-to-law-enforcement channels but also in others, to help protect not only our own citizens participating in the Games but to help protect the Games themselves.  And I know we have extended and will extend similar outreach to Brazil and look forward to working as appropriate with their authorities to help protect the Games.

QUESTION:  So far?

MR CARLIN:  I’d have to refer you probably over to FBI or other avenues to talk about current efforts to date. 

QUESTION:  Sorry, me again.  Can I just ask for a bit more information about this Safe Cities Forum?  So what actually do you think will come out of that?  I mean, is that just a talking shop where people are going to be exchanging ideas, or do you think that there’ll be concrete policies and agreements resulting from that?

MR CARLIN:  I think it is both.  It is, one, to make sure to focus individuals’ attention on this issue and to make sure that they – there’s a channel for community-to-community engagement.  But I also think they hope to, if not at that forum, to kick it off into smaller sessions to develop best practices similar to the type of best practices we’ve developed through the Global Combating Terrorist Forum that led to resolutions like encouraging the changes in – certain changes in the criminal code, like protecting classified information and figuring out a way to do that while preserving due process or undercover operations.  That’s been the type of best practice produced in my space, in the space of a group focused on criminal prosecutions.  I think for the mayors, they’re hoping when it comes to combating violent extremism that similarly there may be some community-based, local-oriented best practices for cities to take into account when they’re developing their own programs as to how to keep people from going down this path in the first instance. 

QUESTION:  Alexey Osipov from Israeli Novosti.  Most of the international media and of course politicians are politically correct; they call terrorism as at least international, but for sure 99 percent of terrorism have specific religion or specific nationality.  In your department, in your office, do you use the words like “Islamic terrorist,” anti-Israel terrorism, Palestinian terrorism, et cetera?

MR CARLIN:  So for us as lawyers under our statutes, we have the full remit for the prosecution of terrorist cases.  When it comes to international terrorism, the statute that we use, as I was describing earlier, is based on whether or not the particular group is designated as an international terrorist group.  So it keys off identifying that group and then if you provide any support – financial, even yourself to support to the group – you fall within our criminal laws.  So I wouldn’t – I don’t indict a religion or a nationality, but the name of the designated terrorist group will – will be in the indictment. 

For our domestic terrorism groups, those without an international connection, there is not a similar statute in U.S. law.  There’s a definition of terrorism that works as a sentencing enhancement and for certain evidentiary purposes, but usually what we’re charging will be the actual criminal conduct, because many times under our system – and this is different than most countries throughout the world – because of the First Amendment and our dedication to free speech and free expression and the way it plays out in our legal system, in many instances talking the talk, if you will, in support of these groups is not sufficient for a criminal charge.  You have to show some type of overt act in furtherance of a violation of a criminal statute. 

QUESTION:  Me again.  For domestic enforcement, sort of ethnic or racial profiling has been an issue under scrutiny.  How about your stance with this regard?  And is there any possibility that you’re using that kind of screening? 

MR CARLIN:  So you cannot profile an individual based on their – or target an individual and use legal tools against an individual based on their – solely upon their First Amendment-protected rights under our guidelines.  And as I said, when it comes to who that profile would be, at least with our current version of the ISIL terrorist threat, what we’re seeing is a threat that cuts across all 50 states, where we’ve currently brought criminal cases in over 25 different jurisdictions and where there’s little in common between the 70 individuals who are currently charged other than their – some connection to social media and being connected to one of these groups. 

And so I think we do need to look for – this is a lesson even in the criminal realm – but is to make parents, community members aware of what could be going on with their friend or neighbor when they’re on social media, because it’s new for a lot of parents that they’re facing this type of threat, and look for those signs which both law enforcement but also community organizations are putting out of someone who’s started down this path of radicalization. 

According to one study of cases that did end up in the criminal justice system, in 80 percent of those cases there was someone who saw that process of radicalization occurring, and in over half of those cases they did not take a step to intervene.  So if we can improve those numbers and have people in the community take steps to intervene, hopefully we can reduce the number of people that ever enter the criminal system.

MODERATOR:  We are out of time.  I’m afraid we’ll have to leave it there.  Thank you very much.

MR CARLIN:  Thank you.

# # #

Secretary of State John Kerry Nuclear Agreement with Iran September 2, 2015

 

 

 

 

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE

Office of the Spokesperson

For Immediate Release

 REMARKS

September 2, 2015

Secretary of State John Kerry Nuclear Agreement with Iran

September 2, 2015

National Constitution Center

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

SECRETARY KERRY:  Dick, thank you so much for a generous introduction.  I’ll say more about it, but I want to say good morning to all of you here.  It is great for me to be able to be here in Philadelphia.  I am delighted to see so many young people with us.  I know school has started and I know the choice between coming here and sitting in class was a very tough one.  (Laughter.)  We’re glad you made the choice you did.

I am particularly grateful that Senator Lugar chose to come here this morning in order to introduce me and to reaffirm his support for this agreement.  But I’m even more grateful for his service to our country over a course of a lifetime.  As a former colleague of his on the Foreign Relations Committee, which he referred to in his introduction, I can bear witness that Dick Lugar is one of the true legislative pathfinders of recent times, with a long record of foreign policy accomplishments.  And what he and Sam Nunn did is a lasting legacy of making this world safer.  He is also someone who has consistently placed our country’s interests above any other consideration, and he has a very deep understanding of how best to prevent nuclear weapons from falling into the wrong hands.  He is one of our experts when it comes to that judgment.

So it is appropriate that the senator is here with us this morning, and I think every one of us here joins in saying thank you to you, Dick, for your tremendous service.  (Applause.)  It’s also fitting to be here in Philadelphia, the home ground of this absolutely magnificent Center to the Constitution, the Liberty Bell, and one our nation’s most revered founders, Benjamin Franklin.  And I must say I never quite anticipated, but this is one of the great vistas in America, and to be able to look down and see Independence Hall there is inspiring, I think, for all of us here.

I would say a quick word about Ben Franklin.  In addition to his many inventions and his special status as America’s first diplomat, Franklin is actually credited with being the first person known to have made a list of pros and cons – literally dividing a page in two and writing all of the reasons to support a proposal on one side and all of the reasons to oppose it on the other.

And this morning, I would like to invite you – all of you, those here and those listening through the media – to participate in just such an exercise.

Because two months ago, in Vienna, the United States and five other nations – including permanent members of the UN Security Council – reached agreement with Iran on ensuring the peaceful nature of that country’s nuclear program.  As early as next week, Congress will begin voting on whether to support that plan.  And the outcome will matter as much as any foreign policy decision in recent history.  Like Senator Lugar, President Obama and I are convinced – beyond any reasonable doubt – that the framework that we have put forward will get the job done.  And in that assessment, we have excellent company. 

Last month, 29 of our nation’s top nuclear physicists and Nobel Prize winners, scientists, from one end of our country to the other, congratulated the President for what they called “a technically sound, stringent, and innovative deal that will provide the necessary assurance … that Iran is not developing nuclear weapons.”  The scientists praised the agreement for its creative approach to verification and for the rigorous safeguards that will prevent Iran from obtaining the fissile material for a bomb.

Today, I will lay out the facts that caused those scientists and many other experts to reach the favorable conclusions that they have.  I will show why the agreed plan will make the United States, Israel, the Gulf States, and the world safer.  I will explain how it gives us the access that we need to ensure that Iran’s nuclear program remains wholly peaceful, while preserving every option to respond if Iran fails to meet its commitments.  I will make clear that the key elements of the agreement will last not for 10 or 15 years, as some are trying to assert, or for 20 or 25, but they will last for the lifetime of Iran’s nuclear program.  And I will dispel some of the false information that has been circulating about the proposal on which Congress is soon going to vote.

Now, for this discussion, there is an inescapable starting point – a place where every argument made against the agreement must confront a stark reality – the reality of how advanced Iran’s nuclear program had become and where it was headed when Presidents Obama and Rouhani launched the diplomatic process that concluded this past July.

Two years ago, in September of 2013, we were facing an Iran that had already mastered the nuclear fuel cycle; already stockpiled enough enriched uranium that, if further enriched, could arm 10 to 12 bombs; an Iran that was already enriching uranium to the level of 20 percent, which is just below weapons-grade; an Iran that had already installed 10,000-plus centrifuges; and an Iran that was moving rapidly to commission a heavy water reactor able to produce enough weapons-grade plutonium for an additional bomb or two a year.  That, my friends, is where we already were when we began our negotiations.

At a well-remembered moment during the UN General Assembly the previous fall, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu had held up a cartoon of a bomb to show just how dangerous Iran’s nuclear program had become.  And in 2013, he returned to that podium to warn that Iran was positioning itself to “rush forward to build nuclear bombs before the international community can detect it and much less prevent it.”  The prime minister argued rightly that the so-called breakout time – the interval required for Iran to produce enough fissile material for one bomb – had dwindled to as little as two months.  Even though it would take significantly longer to actually build the bomb itself using that fissile material, the prime minister’s message was clear: Iran had successfully transformed itself into a nuclear threshold state.

In the Obama Administration, we were well aware of that troubling fact, and more important, we were already responding to it.  The record is irrefutable that, over the course of two American administrations, it was the United States that led the world in assembling against Tehran one of the toughest international sanctions regimes ever developed.

But we also had to face an obvious fact: sanctions alone were not getting the job done, not even close.  They were failing to slow, let alone halt, Iran’s relentless march towards a nuclear weapons capability.  So President Obama acted.  He reaffirmed his vow that Iran would absolutely not be permitted to have a nuclear weapon.  He marshaled support for this principle from every corner of the international community.  He made clear his determination to go beyond what sanctions could accomplish and find a way to not only stop, but to throw into reverse, Iran’s rapid expansion of its nuclear program.

As we developed our strategy, we cast a very wide net to enlist the broadest expertise available.  We sat down with the IAEA and with our own intelligence community to ensure that the verification standards that we sought on paper would be effective in reality.  We consulted with Congress and our international allies and friends.  We examined carefully every step that we might take to close off each of Iran’s potential pathways to a bomb.  And of course, we were well aware that every proposal, every provision, every detail would have to withstand the most painstaking scrutiny.  We knew that.  And so we made clear from the outset that we would not settle for anything less than an agreement that was comprehensive, verifiable, effective, and of lasting duration.

We began with an interim agreement reached in Geneva – the Joint Plan of Action.  It accomplished diplomatically what sanctions alone could never have done or did.  It halted the advance of Iran’s nuclear activities.  And it is critical to note – you don’t hear much about it, but it’s critical to note that for more than 19 months now, Iran has complied with every requirement of that plan.  But this was just a first step.

From that moment, we pushed ahead, seeking a broad and enduring agreement, sticking to our core positions, maintaining unity among a diverse negotiating group of partners, and we arrived at the good and effective deal that we had sought.

And I ask you today and in the days ahead, as we have asked members of Congress over the course of these last months, consider the facts of what we achieved and judge for yourself the difference between where we were two years ago and where we are now, and where we can be in the future.  Without this agreement, Iran’s so-called breakout time was about two months; with this agreement it will increase by a factor of six, to at least a year, and it will remain at that level for a decade or more. 

Without this agreement, Iran could double the number of its operating centrifuges almost overnight and continue expanding with ever more efficient designs.  With this agreement, Iran’s centrifuges will be reduced by two-thirds for 10 years. 

Without this agreement, Iran could continue expanding its stockpile of enriched uranium, which is now more than 12,000 kilograms – enough, if further enriched, for multiple bombs.  With this agreement, that stockpile will shrink and shrink some more – a reduction of some 98 percent, to no more than 300 kilograms for 15 years. 

Without this agreement, Iran’s heavy-water reactor at Arak would soon be able to produce enough weapons-grade plutonium each year to fuel one or two nuclear weapons.  With this agreement, the core of that reactor will be removed and filled with concrete, and Iran will never be permitted to produce any weapons-grade plutonium.

Without this agreement, the IAEA would not have assured access to undeclared locations in Iran where suspicious activities might be taking place.  The agency could seek access, but if Iran objected, there would be no sure method for resolving a dispute in a finite period, which is exactly what has led us to where we are today – that standoff.  With this agreement, the IAEA can go wherever the evidence leads.  No facility – declared or undeclared – will be off limits, and there is a time certain for assuring access.  There is no other country to which such a requirement applies.  This arrangement is both unprecedented and unique. 

In addition, the IAEA will have more inspectors working in Iran, using modern technologies such as real-time enrichment monitoring, high-tech electronic seals, and cameras that are always watching – 24/7, 365.  Further, Iran has agreed never to pursue key technologies that would be necessary to develop a nuclear explosive device. 

So the agreement deals not only with the production of fissile material, but also with the critical issue of weaponization.  Because of all of these limitations and guarantees, we can sum up by saying that without this agreement, the Iranians would have several potential pathways to a bomb; with it, they won’t have any. 

Iran’s plutonium pathway will be blocked because it won’t have a reactor producing plutonium for a weapon, and it won’t build any new heavy-water reactors or engage in reprocessing for at least 15 years, and after that we have the ability to watch and know precisely what they’re doing.

The uranium pathway will be blocked because of the deep reductions in Iran’s uranium enrichment capacity, and because for 15 years the country will not enrich uranium to a level higher than 3.67 percent.  Let me be clear:  No one can build a bomb from a stockpile of 300 kilograms of uranium enriched only 3.67 percent.  It is just not possible. 

Finally, Iran’s covert pathway to a bomb will also be blocked.  Under our plan, there will be 24/7 monitoring of Iran’s key nuclear facilities.  As soon as we start the implementation, inspectors will be able to track Iran’s uranium as it is mined, then milled, then turned into yellow cake, then into gas, and eventually into waste.  This means that for a quarter of a century at least, every activity throughout the nuclear fuel chain will receive added scrutiny.  And for 20 years, the IAEA will be monitoring the production of key centrifuge components in Iran in order to assure that none are diverted to a covert program.

So if Iran did decide to cheat, its technicians would have to do more than bury a processing facility deep beneath the ground.  They would have to come up with a complete – complete – and completely secret nuclear supply chain: a secret source of uranium, a secret milling facility, a secret conversion facility, a secret enrichment facility.  And our intelligence community and our Energy Department, which manages our nuclear program and our nuclear weapons, both agree Iran could never get away with such a deception.  And if we have even a shadow of doubt that illegal activities are going on, either the IAEA will be given the access required to uncover the truth or Iran will be in violation and the nuclear-related sanctions can snap back into place.  We will also have other options to ensure compliance if necessary.

Given all of these requirements, it is no wonder that this plan has been endorsed by so many leading American scientists, experts on nuclear nonproliferation, and others.  More than 60 former top national security officials, 100 – more than 100 retired ambassadors – people who served under Democratic and Republican presidents alike, are backing the proposal – as are retired generals and admirals from all 5 of our uniformed services.  Brent Scowcroft, one of the great names in American security endeavors of the last century and now, served as a national security advisor to two Republican presidents.  He is also among the many respected figures who are supporting it.  Internationally, the agreement is being backed, with one exception, by each of the more than 100 countries that have taken a formal position.  The agreement was also endorsed by the United Nations Security Council on a vote of 15 to nothing.  This not only says something very significant about the quality of the plan, particularly when you consider that 5 of those countries are permanent members and they’re all nuclear powers, but it should also invite reflection from those who believe the United States can walk away from this without causing grave harm to our international reputation, to relationships, and to interests. 

You’ve probably heard the claim that because of our strength, because of the power of our banks, all we Americans have to do if Congress rejects this plan is return to the bargaining table, puff out our chests, and demand a better deal.  I’ve heard one critic say he would use sanctions to give Iran a choice between having an economy or having a nuclear program.  Well, folks, that’s a very punchy soundbite, but it has no basis in any reality.  As Dick said, I was chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when our nation came together across party lines to enact round after round of economic sanctions against Iran.  But remember, even the toughest restrictions didn’t stop Iran’s nuclear program from speeding ahead from a couple of hundred centrifuges to 5,000 to 19,000.  We’ve already been there.  If this agreement is voted down, those who vote no will not be able to tell you how many centrifuges Iran will have next year or the year after.  If it’s approved, we will be able to tell you exactly what the limits on Iran’s program will be.

The fact is that it wasn’t either sanctions or threats that actually stopped and finally stopped the expansion of Iran’s nuclear activities.  The sanctions brought people to the table, but it was the start of the negotiating process and the negotiations themselves, recently concluded in Vienna, that actually stopped it.  Only with those negotiations did Iran begin to get rid of its stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium.  Only with those negotiations did it stop installing more centrifuges and cease advancing the Arak reactor.  Only then did it commit to be more forthcoming about IAEA access and negotiate a special arrangement to break the deadlock. 

So just apply your common sense:  What do you think will happen if we say to Iran now, “Hey, forget it.  The deal is off.  Let’s go back to square one”?  How do you think our negotiating partners, all of whom have embraced this deal, will react; all of whom are prepared to go forward with it – how will they react?  What do you think will happen to that multilateral sanctions regime that brought Iran to the bargaining table in the first place?  The answer is pretty simple.  The answer is straightforward.  Not only will we lose the momentum that we have built up in pressing Iran to limit its nuclear activities, we will almost surely start moving in the opposite direction.

We need to remember sanctions don’t just sting in one direction, my friends.  They also impose costs on those who forego the commercial opportunities in order to abide by them.  It’s a tribute to President Obama’s diplomacy – and before that, to President George W. Bush – that we were able to convince countries to accept economic difficulties and sacrifices and put together the comprehensive sanctions regime that we did.  Many nations that would like to do business with Iran agreed to hold back because of the sanctions and – and this is vital – and because they wanted to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.  They have as much interest in it as we do.  And that’s why they hoped the negotiations would succeed, and that’s why they will join us in insisting that Iran live up to its obligations.  But they will not join us if we unilaterally walk away from the very deal that the sanctions were designed to bring about.  And they will not join us if we’re demanding even greater sacrifices and threatening their businesses and banks because of a choice we made and they opposed.

So while it may not happen all at once, it is clear that if we reject this plan, the multilateral sanctions regime will start to unravel.  The pressure on Iran will lessen and our negotiating leverage will diminish, if not disappear.  Now, obviously, that is not the path, as some critics would have us believe, to a so-called better deal.  It is a path to a much weaker position for the United States of America and to a much more dangerous Middle East.

And this is by no means a partisan point of view that I just expressed.  Henry Paulson was Secretary of Treasury under President George W. Bush.  He helped design the early stages of the Iran sanctions regime.  But just the other day, he said, “It would be totally unrealistic to believe that if we backed out of this deal, the multilateral sanctions would remain in place.”  And Paul Volcker, who chaired the Federal Reserve under President Reagan, he said, “This agreement is as good as you are going to get.  To think that we can unilaterally maintain sanctions doesn’t make any sense.”

We should pause for a minute to contemplate what voting down this agreement might mean for Iran’s cadre of hardliners, for those people in Iran who lead the chants of “Death to America,” “Death to Israel,” and even “Death to Rouhani,” and who prosecute journalists simply for doing their jobs.  The evidence documents that among those who most fervently want this agreement to fall apart are the most extreme factions in Iran.  And their opposition should tell you all you need to know.  From the very beginning, these extremists have warned that negotiating with the United States would be a waste of time; why on Earth would we now take a step that proves them right?  

Let me be clear.  Rejecting this agreement would not be sending a signal of resolve to Iran; it would be broadcasting a message so puzzling most people across the globe would find it impossible to comprehend.  After all, they’ve listened as we warned over and over again about the dangers of Iran’s nuclear program.  They’ve watched as we spent two years forging a broadly accepted agreement to rein that program in.  They’ve nodded their heads in support as we have explained how the plan that we have developed will make the world safer.

Who could fairly blame them for not understanding if we suddenly switch course and reject the very outcome we had worked so hard to obtain?  And not by offering some new and viable alternative, but by offering no alternative at all.  It is hard to conceive of a quicker or more self-destructive blow to our nation’s credibility and leadership – not only with respect to this one issue, but I’m telling you across the board – economically, politically, militarily, and even morally.  We would pay an immeasurable price for this unilateral reversal.  

Friends, as Dick mentioned in his introduction, I have been in public service for many years and I’ve been called on to make some difficult choices in that course of time.  There are those who believe deciding whether or not to support the Iran agreement is just such a choice.  And I respect that and I respect them.  But I also believe that because of the stringent limitations on Iran’s program that are included in this agreement that I just described, because of where that program was headed before our negotiations began and will head again if we walk away, because of the utter absence of a viable alternative to this plan that we have devised, the benefits of this agreement far outweigh any potential drawbacks.  Certainly, the goal of preventing Iran from having a nuclear weapon is supported across our political spectrum and it has the backing of countries on every continent.  So what then explains the controversy that has persisted in this debate?  

A big part of the answer, I think, is that even before the ink on the agreement was dry, we started being bombarded by myths about what the agreement will and won’t do, and that bombardment continues today.

The first of these myths is that the deal is somehow based on trust or a naive expectation that Iran is going to reverse course on many of the policies it’s been pursuing internationally.  Critics tell us over and over again, “You can’t trust Iran.”  Well, guess what?  There is a not a single sentence, not a single paragraph in this whole agreement that depends on promises or trust, not one.  The arrangement that we worked out with Tehran is based exclusively on verification and proof.  That’s why the agreement is structured the way it is; that’s why sanctions relief is tied strictly to performance; and it is why we have formulated the most far-reaching monitoring and transparency regime ever negotiated.  

Those same critics point to the fact that two decades ago, the United States reached a nuclear framework with North Korea that didn’t accomplish what it set out to do.  And we’re told we should have learned a lesson from that.  Well, the truth is we did learn a lesson.  

The agreement with North Korea was four pages and only dealt with plutonium.  Our agreement with Iran runs 159 detailed pages, applies to all of Tehran’s potential pathways to a bomb, and is specifically grounded in the transparency rules of the IAEA’s Additional Protocol, which didn’t even exist two decades ago when the North Korea deal was made because it was developed specifically with the North Korea experience in mind.  Lesson learned.

The reality is that if we trusted Iran or thought that it was about to become more moderate, this agreement would be less necessary than it is.  But we don’t.  We would like nothing more than to see Iran act differently, but not for a minute are we counting on it.  Iran’s support for terrorist groups and its contributions to sectarian violence are not recent policies.  They reflect the perceptions of its leaders about Iran’s long-term national interests and there are no grounds for expecting those calculations to change in the near future.  That is why we believe so strongly that every problem in the Middle East – every threat to Israel and to our friends in the region – would be more dangerous if Iran were permitted to have a nuclear weapon.  That is the inescapable bottom line.

That’s also why we are working so hard and so proactively to protect our interests and those of our allies. 

In part because of the challenge posed by Iran, we have engaged in an unprecedented level of military, intelligence, and security cooperation with our friend and ally Israel.  We are determined to help our ally address new and complex security threats and to ensure its qualitative military edge. 

We work with Israel every day to enforce sanctions and prevent terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Hizballah from obtaining the financing and the weapons that they seek – whether from Iran or from any other source.  And we will stand with Israel to stop its adversaries from once again launching deadly and unprovoked attacks against the Israeli people. 

Since 2009, we have provided $20 billion in foreign military financing to Israel, more than half of what we have given to nations worldwide. 

Over and above that, we have invested some 3 billion in the production and deployment of Iron Dome batteries and other missile defense programs and systems.  And we saw how in the last Gaza War lives were saved in Israel because of it.  We have given privileged access to advanced military equipment such as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter; Israel is the only nation in the Middle East to which the United States has sold this fifth-generation aircraft.  The President recently authorized a massive arms resupply package, featuring penetrating munitions and air-to-air missiles.  And we hope soon to conclude a new memorandum of understanding – a military assistance plan that will guide our intensive security cooperation through the next decade. 

And diplomatically, our support for Israel also remains rock solid as we continue to oppose every effort to delegitimize the Jewish state, or to pass biased resolutions against it in international bodies.  

Now, I understand – I understand personally there is no way to overstate the concern in Israel about Iran and about the potential consequences that this agreement – or rejecting this agreement – might have on Israel’s security.  The fragility of Israel’s position has been brought home to me on every one of the many trips I have made to that country.

In fact, as Secretary of State, I have already traveled to Israel more than a dozen times, spending the equivalent of a full month there – even ordering my plane to land at Ben Gurion Airport when commercial air traffic had been halted during the last Gaza War; doing so specifically as a sign of support.

Over the years, I have walked through Yad Vashem, a living memorial to the 6 million lost, and I have felt in my bones the unfathomable evil of the Holocaust and the undying reminder never to forget.

I have climbed inside a shelter at Kiryat Shmona where children were forced to leave their homes and classrooms to seek refuge from Katyusha rockets. 

I visited Sderot and witnessed the shredded remains of homemade missiles from Gaza – missiles fired with no other purpose than to sow fear in the hearts of Israeli families.

I have piloted an Israeli jet out of Ovda Airbase and observed first-hand the tininess of Israel airspace from which it is possible to see all of the country’s neighbors at the same time.

And I have bowed my head at the Western Wall and offered my prayer for peace – peace for Israel, for the region, and for the world.

I take a back seat to no one in my commitment to the security of Israel, a commitment I demonstrated through my 28-plus years in the Senate.  And as Secretary of State, I am fully conscious of the existential nature of the choice Israel must make.  I understand the conviction that Israel, even more than any other country, simply cannot afford a mistake in defending its security.  And while I respectfully disagree with Prime Minister Netanyahu about the benefits of the Iran agreement, I do not question for an instant the basis of his concern or that of any Israeli.

But I am also convinced, as is President Obama, our senior defense and military leaders, and even many former Israeli military and intelligence officials, that this agreement puts us on the right path to prevent Iran from ever getting a nuclear weapon.  The people of Israel will be safer with this deal, and the same is true for the people throughout the region. 

And to fully ensure that, we are also taking specific and far-reaching steps to coordinate with our friends from the Gulf states.  President Obama hosted their leaders at Camp David earlier this year.  I visited with them in Doha last month.  And later this week, we will welcome King Salman of Saudi Arabia to Washington.  Gulf leaders share our profound concerns about Iran’s policies in the Middle East, but they’re also alarmed by Iran’s nuclear program.  We must and we will respond on both fronts.  We will make certain that Iran lives up to its commitments under the nuclear agreement, and we will continue strengthening our security partnerships.

We’re determined that our Gulf friends will have the political and the military support that they need, and to that end, we are working with them to develop a ballistic missile defense for the Arabian Peninsula, provide special operations training, authorize urgently required arms transfers, strengthen cyber security, engage in large-scale military exercises, and enhance maritime interdiction of illegal Iranian arms shipments.  We are also deepening our cooperation and support in the fight against the threat posed to them, to us, and to all civilization by the forces of international terror, including their surrogates and their proxies. 

Through these steps and others, we will maintain international pressure on Iran.  United States sanctions imposed because of Tehran’s support for terrorism and its human rights record – those will remain in place, as will our sanctions aimed at preventing the proliferation of ballistic missiles and transfer of conventional arms.  The UN Security Council prohibitions on shipping weapons to Hizballah, the Shiite militias in Iraq, the Houthi rebels in Yemen – all of those will remain as well.

We will also continue to urge Tehran to provide information regarding an American who disappeared in Iran several years ago, and to release the U.S. citizens its government has unjustly imprisoned.  We will do everything we can to see that our citizens are able to safely return to where they belong – at home and with their families.

Have no doubt.  The United States will oppose Iran’s destabilizing policies with every national security tool available.  And disregard the myth.  The Iran agreement is based on proof, not trust.  And in a letter that I am sending to all the members of Congress today, I make clear the Administration’s willingness to work with them on legislation to address shared concerns about regional security consistent with the agreement that we have worked out with our international partners.

This brings us to the second piece of fiction: that this deal would somehow legitimize Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon.  I keep hearing this.  Well, yes, for years Iran has had a civilian nuclear program.  Under the Nonproliferation Treaty, you can do that.  It was never a realistic option to change that.  But recognizing this reality is not the same as legitimizing the pursuit of a nuclear weapon.  In fact, this agreement does the exact opposite.  Under IAEA safeguards, Iran is prohibited from ever pursuing a nuclear weapon. 

This is an important point, so I want to be sure that everyone understands:  The international community is not telling Iran that it can’t have a nuclear weapon for 15 years.  We are telling Iran that it can’t have a nuclear weapon, period.  There is no magic moment 15, 20, or 25 years from now when Iran will suddenly get a pass from the mandates of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty – doesn’t happen.  In fact, Iran is required by this agreement to sign up to and abide by the IAEA Additional Protocol that I mentioned earlier that came out of the North Korea experience.  And that requires inspections of all nuclear facilities.

What does this mean?  It means that Iran’s nuclear program will remain subject to regular inspections forever.  Iran will have to provide access to all of its nuclear facilities forever.  Iran will have to respond promptly to requests for access to any suspicious site forever.  And if Iran at any time – at any time – embarks on nuclear activities that are incompatible with a wholly peaceful program, it will be in violation of the agreement forever.  We will know of that violation right away and we will retain every option we now have to respond, whether diplomatically or through a return to sanctions or by other means.  In short, this agreement gives us unprecedented tools and all the time we need to hold Iran accountable for its choices and actions.

Now, it’s true some of the special additional restrictions that we successfully negotiated, those begin to ease after a period – in some cases 10 or 15, in others 20 or 25.  But it would defy logic to vote to kill the whole agreement – with all of the permanent NPT restrictions by which Iran has to live – for that reason.  After all, if your house is on fire, if it’s going up in flames, would you refuse to extinguish it because of the chance that it might be another fire in 15 years?  Obviously, not.  You’d put out the fire and you’d take advantage of the extra time to prepare for the future. 

My friends, it just doesn’t make sense to conclude that we should vote “no” now because of what might happen in 15 years – thereby guaranteeing that what might happen in 15 years will actually begin to happen now.  Because if this agreement is rejected, every possible reason for worry in the future would have to be confronted now, immediately, in the months ahead.  Once again and soon, Iran would begin advancing its nuclear program.  We would lose the benefit of the agreement that contains all these restrictions, and it would give a green light to everything that we’re trying to prevent.  Needless to say, that is not the outcome that we want, it is not an outcome that would be good for our country, nor for our allies or for the world

There is a third myth – a quick one, a more technical one – that Iran could, in fact, get away with building a covert nuclear facility because the deal allows a maximum of 24 days to obtain access to a suspicious site.  Well, in truth, there is no way in 24 days, or 24 months, 24 years for that matter, to destroy all the evidence of illegal activity that has been taking place regarding fissile material.  Because of the nature of fissile materials and their relevant precursors, you can’t eliminate the evidence by shoving it under a mattress, flushing it down a toilet, carting it off in the middle of the night.  The materials may go, but the telltale traces remain year after year after year.  And the 24 days is the outside period of time during which they must allow access.

Under the agreement, if there is a dispute over access to any location, the United States and our European allies have the votes to decide the issue.  And once we have identified a site that raises questions, we will be watching it continuously until the inspectors are allowed in. 

Let me underscore that.  The United States and the international community will be monitoring Iran nonstop.  And you can bet that if we see something, we will do something.  The agreement gives us a wide range of enforcement tools, and we will use them.  And the standard we will apply can be summed up in two words: zero tolerance.  There is no way to guarantee that Iran will keep its word.  That’s why this isn’t based on a promise or trust.  But we can guarantee that if Iran decides to break the agreement, it will regret breaking any promise that it has made.

Now, there are many other myths circulating about the agreement, but the last one that I’m going to highlight is just economic.  And it’s important.  The myth that sanctions relief that Iran will receive is somehow both too generous and too dangerous.

Now, obviously, the discussions that concluded in Vienna, like any serious negotiation, involved a quid pro quo.  Iran wanted sanctions relief; the world wanted to ensure a wholly peaceful nature of Iran’s program.  So without the tradeoff, there could have been no deal and no agreement by Iran to the constraints that it has accepted – very important constraints.

But there are some who point to sanctions relief as grounds to oppose the agreement.  And the logic is faulty for several reasons.  First, the most important is that absent new violations by Iran the sanctions are going to erode regardless of what we do.  It’s an illusion for members of Congress to think that they can vote this plan down and then turn around and still persuade countries like China, Japan, South Korea, Turkey, India – Iran’s major oil customers – they ought to continue supporting the sanctions that are costing them billions of dollars every year.  That’s not going to happen.  And don’t forget that the money that has been locked up as the result of sanctions is not sitting in some American bank under U.S. control.  The money is frozen and being held in escrow by countries with which Iran has had commercial dealings.  We don’t have that money.  We can’t control it.  It’s going to begin to be released anyway if we walk away from this agreement.

Remember, as well, that the bulk of the funds Iran will receive under the sanctions relief are already spoken for and they are dwarfed by the country’s unmet economic needs.  Iran has a crippled infrastructure, energy infrastructure.  It’s got to rebuild it to be able to pump oil.  It has an agriculture sector that’s been starved for investment, massive pension obligations, significant foreign reserves that are already allocated to foreign-led projects, and a civilian population that is sitting there expecting that the lifting of sanctions is going to result in a tangible improvement in the quality of their lives.  The sanctions relief is not going to make a significant difference in what Iran can do internationally – never been based on money.  Make no mistake, the important thing about this agreement is not what it will enable Iran to do, but what it will stop Iran from doing – and that is the building of a nuclear weapon.

Before closing, I want to comment on the nature of the debate which we are currently engaged in.  Some have accused advocates of the Iran agreement – including me – of conjuring up frightening scenarios to scare listeners into supporting it.  Curiously, this allegation comes most often from the very folks who have been raising alarms about one thing or another for years.  

The truth is that if this plan is voted down, we cannot predict with certainty what Iran will do.  But we do know what Iran says it will do and that is begin again to expand its nuclear activities.  And we know that the strict limitations that Iran has accepted will no longer apply because there will no longer be any agreement.  Iran will then be free to begin operating thousands of other advanced and other centrifuges that would otherwise have been mothballed; they’ll be free to expand their stockpile of low-enriched uranium, rebuild their stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium, free to move ahead with the production of weapons-grade plutonium, free to go forward with weaponization research.    

And just who do you think is going to be held responsible for all of this?  Not Iran – because Iran was preparing to implement the agreement and will have no reason whatsoever to return to the bargaining table.  No, the world will hold accountable the people who broke with the consensus, turned their backs on our negotiating partners, and ignored the counsel of top scientists and military leaders.  The world will blame the United States.  And so when those same voices that accuse us of scaremongering now begin suddenly to warn, oh, wow, Iran’s nuclear activities are once again out of control and must at all costs be stopped – what do you think is going to happen?  

The pressure will build, my friends.  The pressure will build for military action.  The pressure will build for the United States to use its unique military capabilities to disrupt Iran’s nuclear program, because negotiating isn’t going to work because we’ve just tried it.  President Obama has been crystal clear that we will do whatever is necessary to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.  But the big difference is, at that point, we won’t have the world behind us the way we do today.  Because we rejected the fruits of diplomacy, we will be held accountable for a crisis that could have been avoided but instead we will be deemed to have created.

So my question is:  Why in the world would we want to put ourselves in that position of having to make that choice – especially when there is a better choice, a much more broadly supported choice?  A choice that sets us on the road to greater stability and security but that doesn’t require us to give up any option at all today. 

So here is the decision that we are called on to make.  To vote down this agreement is to solve nothing because none of the problems that we are concerned about will be made easier if it is rejected; none of them – not Iran’s nuclear program, not Iran’s support for terrorism or sectarian activities, not its human rights record, and not its opposition to Israel.  To oppose this agreement is – whether intended or not – to recommend in its policy a policy of national paralysis.  It is to take us back directly to the very dangerous spot that we were in two years ago, only to go back there devoid of any realistic plan or option.

By contrast, the adoption and implementation of this agreement will cement the support of the international community behind a plan to ensure that Iran does not ever acquire or possess a nuclear weapon.  In doing so it will remove a looming threat from a uniquely fragile region, discourage others from trying to develop nuclear arms, make our citizens and our allies safer, and reassure the world that the hardest problems can be addressed successfully by diplomatic means.

At its best, American foreign policy, the policy of the United States combines immense power with clarity of purpose, relying on reason and persuasion whenever possible.  As has been demonstrated many times, our country does not shy from the necessary use of force, but our hopes and our values push us to explore every avenue for peace.  The Iran deal reflects our determination to protect the interests of our citizens and to shield the world from greater harm.  But it reflects as well our knowledge that the firmest foundation for security is built on mobilizing countries across the globe to defend – actively and bravely – the rule of law.

In September 228 years ago, Benjamin Franklin rose in the great city of Philadelphia, right down there, to close debate on the proposed draft of the Constitution of the United States.  He told a rapt audience that when people of opposing views and passions are brought together, compromise is essential and perfection from the perspective of any single participant is not possible.  He said that after weighing carefully the pros and cons of that most historic debate, he said the following:  “I consent, sir, to this Constitution because I expect no better, and because I am not sure that it is not the best.”

My fellow citizens, I have had the privilege of serving our country in times of peace and in times of war, and peace is better.  I’ve seen our leaders act with incredible foresight and also seen them commit tragic errors by plunging into conflicts without sufficient thought about the consequences.

Like old Ben Franklin, I can claim and do claim no monopoly on wisdom, and certainly nothing can compare to the gravity of the debate of our founding fathers over our nation’s founding documents.  But I believe, based on a lifetime’s experience, that the Iran nuclear agreement is a hugely positive step at a time when problem solving and danger reduction have rarely been so urgent, especially in the Middle East.

The Iran agreement is not a panacea for the sectarian and extremist violence that has been ripping that region apart.  But history may judge it a turning point, a moment when the builders of stability seized the initiative from the destroyers of hope, and when we were able to show, as have generations before us, that when we demand the best from ourselves and insist that others adhere to a similar high standard – when we do that, we have immense power to shape a safer and a more humane world.  That’s what this is about and that’s what I hope we will do in the days ahead.

Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

# # #

Joint Statement on Climate Change and the Arctic

Dear FPC Journalists,

Sharing below a Joint Statement on Climate Change and the Arctic.

Regards,

 

Washington Foreign Press Center

U.S. Department of State

Tel:  (202) 504-6300

 

From: State Department Press Office [mailto:usstatebpa@subscriptions.fcg.gov]
Sent: Monday, August 31, 2015 4:31 PM
To: PA All – FPC
Subject: MEDIA NOTE: Joint Statement on Climate Change and the Arctic

 

 

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE

Office of the Spokesperson

For Immediate Release

 MEDIA NOTE

August 31, 2015 

Joint Statement on Climate Change and the Arctic

The following is the text of a joint statement from the United States and the Ministers and other representatives from France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Netherlands, Poland, Singapore, Spain, United Kingdom, and European Union:

Begin Text:

The rapid warming of the Arctic is profoundly affecting communities both in the Arctic region and beyond.  As Foreign Ministers and other representatives from the Arctic States attending the GLACIER[1] conference in Anchorage, Alaska on August 31, 2015, and recognizing the leadership role of the Arctic States in providing sustainable development and cooperation in the Arctic, we reaffirm our commitment to take urgent action to slow the pace of warming in the Arctic, focusing on actions that impact the global atmosphere as well as the Arctic itself.  The Foreign Ministers and other representatives from France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Netherlands, Poland, Singapore, Spain, United Kingdom, and European Union join us in this commitment. 

We take seriously warnings by scientists:  temperatures in the Arctic are increasing at more than twice the average global rate.  Loss of Arctic snow and ice is accelerating the warming of the planet as a whole by exposing darker surfaces that absorb more sunlight and heat.  Sea ice, the Greenland Ice Sheet, and nearly all glaciers in the Arctic have shrunk over the past 100 years; indeed, glaciers that have endured since the last Ice Age are shrinking, in most cases at a very rapid rate.  Arctic sea ice decline has been faster during the past ten years than in the previous 20 years, with summer sea ice extent reduced by 40% since 1979.  Loss of ice from Arctic glaciers and ice sheets contributes to rising sea levels worldwide, which put coastal communities everywhere at increased risk of coastal erosion and persistent flooding.  And emerging science suggests that rapid warming of the Arctic may disrupt weather patterns across the globe. 

Moreover, as the Arctic continues to warm, significant feedback loops appear to be coming into play.  Warmer, drier weather increases the occurrence, extent, and severity of wildfires that release carbon from vast tracts of burning forests, with about five million acres burned this year in Alaska alone.  Warming also promotes thawing of permafrost, which could release substantial stores of greenhouse gas emissions.  And the relentless loss of Arctic snow and ice exposes yet more land and water, which in turn absorb yet more heat. 

Arctic communities are experiencing first-hand the challenges of dealing with a rapidly changing climate.  Thawing permafrost is triggering the collapse of roads, bridges and other infrastructure, and coastal erosion is requiring entire communities to consider relocation.  Warming-induced changes can also reduce wildlife and fish populations that support subsistence hunting and fishing.  These impacts highlight the need for adaptive management and infrastructure, and illustrate the emerging threat to traditional ways of life.

As change continues at an unprecedented rate in the Arctic – increasing the stresses on communities and ecosystems in already harsh environments – we are committed more than ever to protecting both terrestrial and marine areas in this unique region, and our shared planet, for generations to come. 

In particular, we affirm our strong determination to work together and with others to achieve a successful, ambitious outcome at the international climate negotiations in December in Paris this year.[2] 

In addition, we acknowledge the importance of the Framework for Action on Black Carbon and Methane, adopted at the Arctic Council Ministerial in April 2015, which provides for enhanced opportunities to act together to reduce emissions of black carbon (soot) that impact the Arctic.  Actions to reduce methane – a powerful short-lived greenhouse gas – can slow Arctic warming in the near to medium term.  To address the largest industrial source of methane globally, we encourage all oil and gas firms headquartered or operating within our borders to join the Climate and Clean Air Coalition’s Oil and Gas Methane Partnership.

We call for additional research to characterize the response of Arctic permafrost and other carbon reservoirs to warming, and resolve to cooperate on wildland fire management, especially in hotspots that have the potential to release particularly large stores of greenhouse gases.  We further urge the scientific community, in cooperation with northern communities, to continue to provide the information and tools necessary to assist the Arctic’s most vulnerable communities build resilience to climate impacts and to prioritize further research on, and communication of, the links between a changing Arctic and impacts felt across the globe, including on how such changes may affect mid-latitude weather patterns.  We also resolve to work with our Arctic communities to deploy low-carbon solutions that can improve livelihoods, enhance energy security, and promote sustainable economic growth such as renewable energy technologies and energy efficiency measures.

Climate change poses a grave challenge in the Arctic and to the world.  But these challenges also present an imperative for cooperation, innovation, and engagement as we work together to safeguard this vital region and to inform the world why the Arctic matters to us all.

End Text

 

[1] GLACIER stands for Global Leadership in the Arctic:  Cooperation, Innovation, Engagement, and Resilience. 

[2] 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21).

Official Transcript of Foreign Press Center Briefing with Marie Harf

FOREIGN PRESS CENTER BRIEFING WITH MARIE HARF, DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON

TOPIC: FOREIGN POLICY UPDATE

THURSDAY, JULY 24, 2014, 3:00 P.M. EDT

THE WASHINGTON FOREIGN PRESS CENTER, WASHINGTON, D.C.

MS. HARF: Thank you. Hello, everyone. It’s so good to be back here, I think for my fifth briefing they were saying, so looking forward to this one and, of course, to many more.

As you know, there’s a lot going on in the world. Secretary Kerry is currently in Cairo, working to see if we can make progress on getting a ceasefire with Gaza. I was in Vienna for the last few weeks working on the Iran negotiations on the nuclear program, lots going on there as well. Obviously, you’ve seen all of the news about Ukraine lately. I’ve spoken to it a number of times in the briefing over in the State Department, but I’m sure there are questions on that as well.

So with that, I think I’m going to go ahead and open it up to questions. I’m going to try and get to everyone, so go ahead. We’ll start here and I’ll work down the front and then move towards the back. And please say – I know most of you now, but please say your name and where you’re from as well.

QUESTION: Okay. Thank you. Sonia Schott. I am today with RCA in Colombia. My question is on Latin America. There are some news that the Venezuelan general Hugo Carvajal has been arrested yesterday in Aruba under the request of the U.S. I was wondering if you have any comments on that.

MS. HARF: I hadn’t seen that. I’m happy to look into it. I’m sorry, the first question I don’t have an answer to, but I hadn’t seen that. It sounds a little dubious to me, but we can check afterwards and get you an answer.

QUESTION: I have a second one, just —

MS. HARF: Okay. Then ask a second. Hopefully I can answer this one.

QUESTION: Okay. The opposition leader in Venezuela is facing a trial and presently his wife was here denouncing a lack of transparency. I was wondering if you have any comments on that too. Thank you.

MS. HARF: Well, look, we’ve said throughout the crisis in Venezuela that this is a decision for the Venezuelan people to make. There needs to be room for dissent. There needs to be room for opposition. We cannot see arrest of – for political reasons. We have to see a process go forward that’s inclusive. We haven’t seen a lot of progress there, but this is certainly a key priority for us. It’s not about the United States, as much as sometimes the regime would like to point at us. It’s about what the Venezuelan people want and indeed deserve. So I don’t have any more updates for you than that, but obviously, we want to see an inclusive process going forward.

Yes. I’m just going to go across the front here.

QUESTION: Shi Larasteve (ph), Voice of America, Persian TV. Yesterday, a group of Republican lawmakers unveiled a legislation which forces – if passed, forces the Administration, President Obama, to seek approval from the Congress for any final deal with Iran. What is the Administration’s strategy against these maneuvers?

MS. HARF: Well, a few points. We are aware there’s new proposed legislation regarding the Joint Plan of Action, any final comprehensive Joint Plan of Action we would get to. But I’d make a few key points here. The first is that Congress has played a key role throughout the years in our policy towards Iran, most importantly by imposing very serious and significant sanctions on Iran to put the economic pressure in place that indeed has, in part, led us to the diplomatic place we are today.

But there are not 535 commanders-in-chief; there’s just one. And our diplomatic negotiating team led by the President and the Secretary and our team on the ground – I was just there for three weeks – really needs the space to be able to negotiate with the Iranians and with our partners to get to a comprehensive agreement. We have been clear with Congress that our goal is to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, to ensure their program is exclusively for peaceful purposes. But indeed, we need space to be able to get the right combination of pieces to eventually get there.

So we don’t support attempts by Congress to try to insert themselves into outlining what a final deal might look like; indeed, there are a number of different combinations that could get to our goals here, and we need the space to be able to get there. So we will continue to talk to Congress, to hear from them. We’d like to hear their ideas, but we don’t support this type of legislation.

Yes. I like your tie. It’s very festive.

QUESTION: Thank you, thank you. (Laughter.)

MS. HARF: I do. I like it.

QUESTION: I like it too. (Laughter.) This is my special tie to get questions at briefings, (Laughter.)

MS. HARF: There you go. It worked, clearly.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MS. HARF: It worked.

QUESTION: My name’s Andrei Sitov. I’m with TASS, the Russian news agency. Thank you for doing the briefing. We do look forward to many more. Thanks for our friends at the FPC for hosting it.

MS. HARF: Absolutely.

QUESTION: A couple of things. On Ukraine, first off – and I quote – you said about 20 seconds ago, “There needs to be room for dissent. There needs to be room for opposition.” The Ukrainian parliament has just taken steps, so the Ukrainian Government supports those steps to dissolve their Communist Party. Isn’t it stifling the opposition, the criticism, political voices?

MS. HARF: Well, a few points. I think I do believe what you’re referring to is draft legislation that hasn’t been approved that would ban the Communist Party. The Communist Party is not banned in Ukraine today. We do believe that all peaceful voices should be heard anywhere. So obviously, that’s something we feel is important in Ukraine and elsewhere. We will continue looking at the draft legislation as it goes through the process, but again, as of today, the Communist Party is not banned in Ukraine.

QUESTION: But do you support a ban? Do you support a ban?

MS. HARF: As I said, we’re not taking a position on the legislation other than to say that all peaceful voices should be heard in Ukraine.

QUESTION: And secondly, and more importantly, obviously, with the tragic loss of the Malaysian airplane, the Russian defense ministry have released their own tracking data and have called on others, specifically on the United States, to release yours.

MS. HARF: To release what?

QUESTION: So – the tracking data from – I understand it’s from the satellites, from what they saw from the satellites on that particular day. And they claim that there was a U.S. satellite directly above that spot on that particular day – maybe a coincidence, maybe not. They – again, have you seen their data? What do you think about their information?

And secondly, can we expect you to release yours?

MS. HARF: Well, we have released up to this point our assessment about what happened and we’ve released as much information as we can at this point, that we’ve been able to declassify that underlies that assessment. So we are continuing to work through releasing more. But I’d just make a few points, and then if you have follow-ups, we can – you wore the tie today; we can keep talking. So that’s okay.

So first, we, based on a variety of information, assess, believe that this was an SA-11 fired from an area controlled by Russian separatists inside Ukraine. We have released a photo which has the trajectory of that missile based on classified information. We can’t get into how we know that. We have released that. We have also released additional information about why the two alternative theories put forward by the Russians are not plausible – the first being that it was a Ukrainian Su-25 fighter that shot down the aircraft.

Very briefly, the reasons we do not believe that this is plausible is because the only missiles it carries are short-range infrared guided missiles. Ground photography from the crash site is consistent with expected damage from a surface-to-air missile of the kind the separatists have indeed used and bragged about having, does not correspond to the kind of – what we would expect to see from an air-to-air missile such as the Su-25 has.

So we have put forward our assessment, based on a variety of information about why we believe that it indeed was an SA-11 fired from Russian-controlled separatist area. We believe an investigation needs to go forward to determine exactly who had their finger on the trigger. We still don’t know that, don’t know the intentions behind why they did this. So we think an investigation should continue, but we will continue to put out more information as we are able to do so.

QUESTION: And —

MS. HARF: Do you want the microphone? Should we wait?

QUESTION: — about their own data, have you seen the data released by the Russians?

MS. HARF: I’ve seen some of the information put out by the Russians. Again, we feel very strongly in our assessment of what happened.

Yes, I am just going to go across the front here. So – and then I will get to the rest of the room. I promise.

QUESTION: Sungchul Rhee with SBS Seoul Broadcasting System from Seoul, Korea. I have two questions on Russia.

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: First is that this morning, Russian Government expressed concern over United States plan to introduce missile defense system in Korea – U.S. camps. It was the – it was called THAAD – the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system. What is your reaction to the – Russia’s statement here?

MS. HARF: Well, I didn’t see that specific statement, but in terms of missile defense, we have very clearly said we are committed to missile defense but also to missile defense cooperation with Russia, which would enhance the security of both NATO and of Russia. I understand there are strong opinions here in Russia about missile defense, but we have been very clear that it is not aimed at them, that we are looking at a variety of other threats, and that we will continue talking to them and being transparent with them about why we’re doing what we’re doing.

I haven’t seen this —

QUESTION: You mean the North Korean threat?

MS. HARF: Well, we are looking at a variety of threats when we talk about NATO and now we’re often looking at Iran when we talk about other places, we do look at a threat from North Korea, but – a variety of threats we’re looking at, but they are not designed to deter anything from Russia. Indeed, we’ve said we will cooperate with Russia on missile defense.

QUESTION: My second question is: You are dealing with really a lot of global issues at the same time which really you’re juggling. And – but not a few critics are criticizing the Obama Administration’s foreign policy, questioning on – if President Obama is adequately dealing with all the issues at the same time effectively. Even General Jim Jones, a former national security advisor to President Obama, appeared on TV this morning and he was citing a seismic shift in the relations between the United States and Russia. What is your reaction to those issues?

MS. HARF: Well, there’s a couple questions there and let me try to address all of them. I think in terms of our relationship with Russia over the time we’ve been in office in this Administration, we have always said we will work together when we can. If you look at – I mean, again, going back to Vienna where I was for the Iran talks, we and the Russians are in lockstep on the exact same side about how we deal with the Iranian nuclear threat. We work very closely together on that issue. That doesn’t take away from the fact that much of what I have talked about this week at the briefings and that we deal with right now in the Administration is very serious concerns about Russian activity in Ukraine. And I’ve been very – I think we’ve all been very outspoken about that in our serious concerns there.

So it’s complicated. We work together when we can and we very strongly disagree when we do. And all of those things happen at the same time because the world is a big place, and we have places where we do have overlapping interests like when it comes to Iran’s nuclear program. But very many places where we have very divergent interests as well, as you’ve seen with Ukraine.

But on the broader question of foreign policy, you’re right; the world is a complicated, dangerous place at times. We are dealing with very serious crises, whether you look at Gaza, whether you look at Ukraine, whether you look at the host of other issues we’re dealing with right now.

And what we’ve always said is that we will do a few things, right. We have, since the beginning of this Administration, rebuilt partnerships and alliances if you look all over the world. Because in these crises, you need friends and you need partners and you need allies. And so while you can never make the world a perfect place, you can help address these when you have people on your side helping you. So that’s one thing we’ve done in terms of these challenges.

And I think you’ve seen Secretary Kerry not hesitate to get on a plane and try and make progress here. We have been very actively engaged in diplomacy and diplomatic efforts on all of these crises. We believe that diplomacy in many of these instances is the best way to handle it. That’s why you see him flying all over the world, to try and make progress here, because we are deeply and personally present and engaged in trying to deal with these crises. But they’re difficult and the world is complicated, and there are no easy answers, and people who tell you there are either just not paying attention or aren’t telling you the truth – one of the two.

So I think we will keep working on all of them. We take each one individually. There’s a different way we deal with all of them, but we have a really great team who is working very hard to do so.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MS. HARF: Yeah, we can go back. Yes, yes.

MS. HARF: But you need a microphone, Andrei.

QUESTION: And just what is your biggest success story in terms of winning new friends? Thank you.

MS. HARF: Well, look, when we took office – I think you can look at when we took office in 2009, which feels like an eternity ago probably to all of us, a lot of our relationships had waned in Asia, in Europe, all around the world. There had been eight years of neglect, and in some cases outright disagreement. So we have worked very, very hard over the past, I think, now six years – is that how long it’s been? – to rebuild these alliances. If you look, again, at the P5+1 in Europe and how we’re working on Iran together, we built an international coalition on Iran – not just at the negotiating table through the P5+1, but with all of the countries that buy oil from Iran, with all of the countries who have put sanctions in place, whether it’s Japan, South Korea, the UAE, India, China, all of the countries we’ve brought together to put pressure on Iran. That was done with really painstaking diplomatic work, with people going all over the world and saying, “This is why you should join us,” even though it’s really tough for many of these countries economically.

So I think that’s just one way we’ve done it. But again, look, these are tough challenges that we face.

I’m actually going to go to New York for a question, if they can hear me.

QUESTION: Thank you, Marie. With regard to the recent development in the Gaza Strip and the bombardment of the UNRWA school in Beit Hanoun and the increasing number of innocent civilian casualties, what does the Secretary Kerry have to say about the recent development, and would that be categorized as a war crime from the U.S. Department of State perspective and precedents? And with regard to Iraq, and excuse me, I’m going to bundle my questions together —

MS. HARF: Let me do Gaza first. You stay there and I’ll come back to you for Iraq, okay? So I don’t forget. So just stay there. On the UNRWA school, we are deeply saddened, very concerned about the tragic incident at the UN facility today. We’re still trying to determine the facts. But I think the reason the Secretary is on the ground in Cairo, has been shuttling back and forth trying to get a ceasefire here is because this – everything that we see happening needs to stop. We are increasingly concerned about civilian casualties on the Palestinian side. We’ve seen many, many rockets being fired from Hamas into Israel.

So the Secretary is very committed to seeing if he can get a ceasefire here. Obviously, it’s very complicated and it takes a lot of work on all sides to get that done. So we will continue working on it and we are very concerned by the rising civilian casualties. We think the Israelis need to do more to prevent them, and we’ll keep talking to them about it.

Now your second question on Iraq.

QUESTION: Can I have a follow-up on Gaza before we move to Iraq?

MS. HARF: Sure, you can. Yes.

QUESTION: For Gaza, there is an apparent war crime committed today. How does the United States justify this to its people, to the international community, within the principles and manners that the United States try to be a mediator in this conflict?

MS. HARF: Well, we’re still trying to get all the facts about what happened today, so I don’t want to jump to conclusions or put labels before we know all of the facts. What we do know is that Hamas has repeatedly kept rockets in civilian areas – in schools, in hospitals. But at the same time, we have told the Israelis and we have said publicly that they need to take more steps to protect civilian casualties, that they’re not doing enough. So we’ll get all the facts about this before we make a determination there.

But again, this just underscores why we believe a ceasefire is so critical to try to get in place. There are gaps between the two sides that remain. I don’t know if we’ll be able to, but we’re certainly working towards it for exactly this reason.

QUESTION: Moving along to Iraq, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant is persecuting Christians, Shiites, Yazidis, people from the Shabak, just for their religious faith and affiliation. To add to the crisis, there is some reports speaking about that the ISIL government, or whatever we can call it, is now requiring all females to go through female genital mutilation surgeries. Would there be within the UN Charter – would the United States consider pushing into the Security Council, applying Chapter 7 for military action against the ISIL militias at this point?

MS. HARF: Well, just a few points in what you asked. We are aware there are conflicting reports about ISIL issuing a decree ordering female genital mutilation. We’re aware there are some conflicting reports here. We are gathering more information. We can’t confirm the details at this point. But that goes without saying that we clearly condemn strongly this abhorrent practice no matter where it is. We know it can lead to very serious health consequences. We know it’s affected approximately 130 million women and girls worldwide, which is an extraordinary number and which is really unacceptable.

So we’ll get more details on this. But more broadly speaking, we have seen ISIL or ISIS, whatever name we want to use, go to extraordinary lengths to kill civilians, to attack them, oftentimes just for their religion, which is – has absolutely no place at all in Syria or Iraq. That’s why we’ve tried to help the Iraqis fight ISIL certainly by providing support, by providing assistance. We are providing advice to them and also, of course, weapons. When it comes on the Syrian side, we have increased our support to the moderate opposition, including through asking Congress for some funding so we can equip and train them. So those efforts are all ongoing, and we’re trying to help both of those folks fight ISIL now. I don’t have anything to preview in terms of UN Security Council action, but clearly we believe we, acting in partnership with our friends in the region, can try and help them fight this threat because they have really – I mean, you see some of the Christian communities, some of the things they’re doing there. It’s just disgusting, and we need to help put it to an end.

Yes, let’s go to the back here in the white jacket. Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Thanks for doing this briefing, Ms. Harf. My name is Maria Garcia. I’m with Notimex, the Mexican news agency. The U.S. Bishop Conference sent a letter today to Secretary Kerry, and they ask to change the trade and economic policies in Central America and also address issues of drugs here and the trafficking of armaments. I wonder if the Secretary has any knowledge of the document or – and if you have any thoughts about that.

MS. HARF: Well, I haven’t seen the letter yet. You said it was sent today? Yeah. I’m sorry. I haven’t seen it, and I’m not sure if the Secretary has yet. As you know, he’s traveling, and I’m sure it will get to him soon. Obviously – and I was actually with the Secretary during his last trip there to Mexico City – there are a whole range of issues we’re working on in the region, including the security issues and when it comes to drugs and trafficking and those issues. We’ve talked a lot about the unaccompanied minors and children issue that we’ve seen coming across the border in such huge numbers lately. So there’s a whole range of issues. Trade, you mentioned, is one of them as well. So we’ll take a look at the letter when we get it, and I’m sure we’ll have some thoughts on it then. But suffice it to say, I don’t have any specific thoughts, because I haven’t seen it yet. I’m sorry.

Yes, let’s go right here in the middle, and then I’ll go to you. Let’s do you first, and then you’re next.

QUESTION: Hi. I’m Lauri Tankler with the Estonian Public Broadcasting. I got a couple questions on Ukraine —

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: — and Russia. So in your last briefing today, you already came out with the statement that you have evidence that Russia is shelling Ukraine from the —

MS. HARF: Firing artillery.

QUESTION: Yeah, firing from the Russian side of the border. What is that going to be – what does that mean in terms of that’s clearly an escalation? And what does that mean in the face of the threat of sectoral sanctions by the U.S.? Or what’s going to happen now?

MS. HARF: Well, it’s a good question. You’ve seen us continue to impose increasingly tough sanctions throughout this conflict, including very recently. And we have more ready to go if we think it’s appropriate to do so. So we’ll talk with – we’re particularly talking with our EU and European partners about how we can all impose more costs on Russia here. We know they’ve already had an impact. I don’t have anything new to announce today in terms of what might come next, but we have more steps ready to go, and we are willing to use them if we see more escalation of this kind.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: So the European Union is under more and more criticism about not getting the decision done and pushing it forward to Tuesday and so on. Does the Administration still believe that it’s addressing the Russian question in lockstep with its European allies?

MS. HARF: Well, we do. We coordinate very closely on this, and we do think that the downing of MH17 should be a wakeup call for Europe. This happened in their backyard. There were many Europeans on this plane. This can’t go unpunished, so I think that’s a conversation we’re having. We do, at the same time, know that it is – Europe is much more economically intertwined with Russia than we are, for example, and we don’t want them to have to take steps that would adversely impact their economy while trying to impose costs on the Russians. So it is a balance, but we think there’s a way to strike it where they can impose more costs, and we’re encouraging them to do so.

QUESTION: But no criticism?

MS. HARF: I think I just encouraged them to do more, and I’ve said this should be a wakeup call, and we haven’t seen them do more yet, we saw them do a little bit coming out of the Foreign Affairs Council meeting this week. No criticism, but we will keep working with them. We know it’s hard, but we do think more costs need to be imposed.

Yes, I’m going to go to you, and then I’m going to go to New York next. So one more here, and then to New York.

QUESTION: Thank you. Inga Czerny for Polish Press Agency, PAP. Could you please tell us if it’s a good or bad thing that European Court of Justice in Strasbourg today found Poland guilty of helping the U.S. setting up the secret prison of CIA where people were tortured? And generally, how do you find the fact that Poland is being held accountable for this and in U.S. nobody was actually charged?

MS. HARF: Well, I saw those reports, and I think I, unfortunately, won’t be able to comment on them in any way. We obviously have a very close relationship with Poland today on a host of issues, but I just don’t have much more for you than that.

QUESTION: (Off-mike) when can we expect the report – the Senate report of the interrogation program?

MS. HARF: I would refer you to the Senate Select Committee on that. I think they probably have the best information on timing. I don’t know the timing, quite frankly.

Let’s go to New York for a question.

QUESTION: Paolo Mastrolilli of the Italian newspaper La Stampa. Thank you very much for doing this. You say that there are still gaps to fill in the negotiation for a truce in Gaza. Could you please elaborate on that and what are the hopes to (inaudible)?

MS. HARF: Well, I wish I could, but we’re having these conversations privately and diplomatically to see if we can bridge those and aren’t going to detail the specifics in public. But this is complicated, and there’s a lot of issues that we need to deal with to get to a ceasefire, a lot of different partners we’re working with. The Secretary today has spoken with the Turkish foreign minister, the Egyptian foreign minister, the Qatari foreign minister, the Israeli prime minister, the French, the Brits, the Jordanians, a whole host of people, not all just on this topic, but to try and get everybody who has some influence with Hamas or with Israel to try and get us to a place where we can all agree on a ceasefire. Obviously we don’t talk to Hamas because we consider them a terrorist organization, but there are some of our partners who do. So we are trying to bridge the gaps through any means we can, but it’s hard and I don’t want to downplay how difficult it is.

Thanks. Let’s go to you in the back.

QUESTION: Thank you. Daniel Pacheco with Caracol Television from Colombia. Two questions. General Carvajal from Venezuela who was appointed in the consulate in Aruba was captured today. There are some reports that he sought for extradition. I don’t know if you maybe have something on that.

MS. HARF: I got – that was the first question I got asked.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MS. HARF: No, no, no, no. It’s okay. And I will say the same thing – that I hadn’t seen those reports and I don’t know the facts here. It sounds a little dubious to me, but I don’t know. So I will check and I will get you an answer, I promise.

QUESTION: This one is broader, so I’m sure you can say something.

MS. HARF: Let’s hope so.

QUESTION: President Putin was touring Latin America just before the Malaysian Airlines accident, the tragedy. He was welcomed in Argentina, in Brazil. He even met with President Santos, a big ally of the United States. Was this a very successful tour? Does this – what is your comment on this in times when you are constantly talking about isolating Russia economically and politically?

MS. HARF: Well, we do talk about isolating Russia, but as I also said a few minutes ago, we work with Russia. The Iran talks where I just was recently, we are on the same side of this issue, we are working together on the same side of the negotiating table. So we don’t believe these things are mutually exclusive, and we think other countries can and should have strong relationships with Russia, and we work with them on many issues.

So I’ve seen some of the reports from his trip there. I know a number of folks were in the region for the BRICS summit. And look, we believe countries should have relationships with other countries; doesn’t mean they shouldn’t make very clear when they disagree with them, which, of course, we do in this case.

Yes. Coming up to you.

QUESTION: Michael Ignatiou from Mega TV, Greece. Marie, you and other officials of the American Government, you are asking the Russians to withdraw from Ukraine, and you are doing this every day. But at the same time, you never ask your friend and ally, Turkey, for example, to withdraw from Cyprus. As you know, Turkey has occupied Cyprus for 40 years. What is the difference or differences between the two cases? Thank you.

MS. HARF: Well, I think there are many differences that I’m happy to talk about. In terms of Cyprus, we fully support the ongoing process under the auspices of the UN Good Offices mission; have urged both parties to seize the opportunity to make real and substantial progress toward a settlement that reunifies the island as a bi-zonal and bi-communal federation. We, as the United States, are willing to assist in any way we find useful.

I know that there are a lot of strong feelings on both sides of this issue, but there’s a process in place here to get a resolution here, and we fully support that process and can help in any way we can, but completely different situation.

Yes. I’m going to go to the gentleman in the middle back here with the blue shirt on. Yes, you.

QUESTION: Hi, thank you. My name is Oliver Grimm for the Austrian newspaper Die Presse. I have a short follow-up, and then a question on public diplomacy.

MS. HARF: I just spent a lot of time in Austria. (Laughter.) It was lovely.

QUESTION: It was pretty nice, and I think I saw the pictures from the Secretary.

MS. HARF: It is.

QUESTION: The short follow-up on the European Court of Human Rights question on (inaudible): Can you just explain why the Administration wouldn’t comment on this court’s finding? I do recollect that you quite regularly comment on European legal findings by the European Court of Justice or the – so —

MS. HARF: Sometimes we do, sometimes we don’t.

QUESTION: So if you could explain that. And then the second question would be about the reform of Voice of America. What do you make of criticism that the – I think it’s called the United States International Communications Reform Act that is in Congress now would sort of impinge on the editorial independence and the journalistic freedom of reporters working for Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, and so forth by turning it into a public diplomacy tool as it is envisioned and planned in this legislation?

MS. HARF: Right, no. We support Voice of America remaining as it is, believe it’s a very important journalistic outlet. There may be some of you in the room from Voice of America or from other related outlets. And we, I don’t think, would support efforts to take away some of the independence like we’ve seen some people on the Hill want to do. So I don’t think that’s something we would support. We’ll keep talking to Congress about it, obviously.

On the first, we don’t always comment on those kinds of cases, particularly when they involve allegations about U.S. intelligence activities, so unfortunately I just don’t have more of a comment for you on that.

Yes, I’m going to go behind you to this woman whose hand is still up. Yes, in the black shirt.

QUESTION: Hi, Lisa Rizzolo from ARD German TV. And I know you were asked at your earlier briefing about the European Union putting out a statement about the execution in Arizona, and I just wanted to see if you’ve seen anything on that and if you have anything.

MS. HARF: I’m sorry. I literally ran over here right after the briefing and hadn’t seen it. I’ve seen some of the press reports about it. And if we can take a look and if there’s an additional comment to make, I’m happy to get it around to folks. Just running around a little bit today, sorry.

Let’s go right here on the left.

QUESTION: Hi, thank you. I’m Chuanjun Wang from China’s Guangming Daily. As we know, last year in Sunnylands summit, Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed the new model of major-countries relationship with the U.S. During that time, President Obama and later high officials from the U.S. all give a positive reaction on that proposal, but recently, especially in the past three months, I noticed that during the meetings with the Chinese officials, the U.S. officials said and used the major – a new model of a major-power relationship with China, even in the SED, in the (inaudible). President Obama only used the new model of (inaudible), so I just wonder if the U.S. has changed the position on this new model and how U.S. and China should move forward regarding that.

MS. HARF: Right. Well, no, we haven’t. And you’re right, President Obama and President Xi made clear at Sunnylands last year that they are committed to building a historic bilateral relationship based on really two critical elements, and both are important. One, practical cooperation on areas where we do cooperate; and then two, constructive management of differences when they arise. And I think that is – both of those have been the hallmarks of our relationship going forward. At the S&ED, there were a number of very productive conversations that came out of those meetings. Again, cooperation where we can and constructive management of differences when we have them – those both underpin our relationship, and nothing on that has changed.

Yes. Let’s go in the middle here, and then I’ll come up front to you.

QUESTION: Michael Hernandez, Anadolu Agency. Today at the State Department, I believe you said that something like three times the Secretary has been in contact with Foreign Minister Davutoglu.

MS. HARF: He has. Today he’s spoken to him three times.

QUESTION: Okay. That’s among the most or the most that you outlined during the earlier briefing. I was wondering, what is behind this close consultation between the Secretary and foreign minister? What’s motivating it?

MS. HARF: Yeah. Well, it’s not – so just to be clear, he’s made – the count as I have on here, 15 or so phone calls today, many of them related to Gaza. So it’s part of his broader engagement on Gaza. He’s spoken to the Qatari foreign minister twice today as well. So it’s, at least with the Turks and others, related to how we can push the parties to a ceasefire in Gaza.

The other consultation, much of it has been on Ukraine and MH17.

Yes. I will go back here. Yes.

QUESTION: I’m Anwar Iqbal. I work for Pakistan Dawn newspaper. There is a Pakistani delegation here, and they met Deputy Secretary Burns and Dan Feldman and others – officials at State and White House. And there was an AP report suggesting that they are asking the United States to reconsider their withdrawal plan from Afghanistan, and they also had a discussion on the ongoing military operation in North Waziristan. So would you please like to comment on those?

MS. HARF: I haven’t gotten a full readout from those meetings yet. I know they discussed a wide range of issues. I can check and see, but I haven’t gotten a readout from those meetings yet.

Would you have one up here? Yes.

QUESTION: This week, Iraqis’ ambassador to Washington criticized the Administration for lack of support – military support for his country, and claimed that this creates vacuum which they are going to – willing to give to anybody to fill it. And they said Iran has offered literally to replace the United States. So what is the position?

MS. HARF: Well, there’s a few points. No other country, I think, can do what the United States does in terms of support. We have been very supportive of the Iraqi Government. We have done that with assistance, with weapons, with advice, with training. There are some systems we’re still trying to get delivered, which the main holdup has been slowness on the Iraqi Government’s side throughout the years. But I think now they understand the severity of the situation, and we’re trying to get things delivered as quickly as possible. And we stand ready to assist in a number of ways.

But at the end of the day, this is not a problem we can fix for the Iraqis. It is a problem that needs to be fixed by them. We saw today a president being named. Next step is the prime minister, so we can hopefully soon have a new government in place that can put forward a strategy to deal with this terrorist threat as we go forward. And we’ll help them as they do it, but we can’t do it for them. So I think we are looking forward to working with the new government and seeing what else we could possibly do to help.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MS. HARF: Well, we don’t work with Iran on Iraq. We have spoken on one occasion to Iran about it on the sidelines of another meeting, many weeks ago now. But look, we’re not going to coordinate with Iran on Iraq. What we’ve said is any country in the region, including Iran, should use its influence over different parties in Iraq to pull them together, to promote an inclusive government that – and that it’s the Iraqi army and security forces that need to fight this threat. It’s not militias; it’s not anything outside of the government. And so we’re encouraging all parties, including Iran, to do so.

Yes, and then I’ll go – actually, I’ll go to you. And then I’ll come back up to you, Andrei. Yes.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. HARF: You’re welcome.

QUESTION: My name is Jae Sun Chang, Yonhap News Agency from South Korea. Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui has said today that the United States should lower the bar for resuming the Six-Party Talks, and he also accused the United States of trying to achieve its target before the talks even resume. What’s your response?

MS. HARF: Well, I didn’t see those specific comments, but we’ve worked very closely with the South Koreans and other partners on the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. We are very committed to it. We’ve said that the North Koreans need to take certain steps before we can get back to the table, and we’ll continue to have those conversations.

QUESTION: Many critics say the United States is basically ignoring this problem of North Korean nuclear program and – while this communist nation is strengthening its nuclear capabilities day by day and – do you see any urgency in the problem?

MS. HARF: We do, and we’re certainly not ignoring it. We see quite a bit of urgency. And I think that’s why, speaking to your previous question, we do think there should be a high bar here, that it is a very dangerous threat. We’ve seen increasingly provocative rhetoric coming out of North Korea, including with recent missile launches that are in violation of UN Security Council resolutions. So it’s an issue we have a whole team very focused on, are working with our partners and the rest of the Six-Party as well, to see if we can get back to the table here.

QUESTION: My last question is, South Korea and China earlier this week signed an agreement to establish a hotline between the defense ministry of the two countries. I think China is the second country to have – after the United States – to have a hotline with South Korea’s defense ministry. This is yet another sign of deepening relations between the two countries, and what is your response?

MS. HARF: Right. Well – and we think the concept of hotlines in general, particularly if you’re talking about territorial disputes in either the South China Sea or the East China Sea, tend to be a good idea. The Japanese have talked about doing this as well. So anything that can reduce tensions and try to get these disputes resolved peacefully we do think is a good thing. So those – that’s just one of those steps that we tend to, sort of across the board, like.

Yes, Andrei.

QUESTION: Marie, when we were talking about this incident with MH17, you said that you are for a full investigation —

MS. HARF: Correct.

QUESTION: — full and fair investigation and getting to know whose finger was on that button or whatever it was that launched the missile. So basically, it’s an open question yet for you?

MS. HARF: No, that’s not what I said. We know a couple – here’s what we know based on a very wide-ranging assessment, that it was – let me just – and then you can ask follow-up. We know where the missile was fired from; we know that it was an SA-11; we know the area is controlled by Russian separatists. We know that there were no Ukrainian SA-11s within the vicinity that could’ve been fired. We know the trajectory, we know where it hit, and we know where it came down. We know that Russia has been supplying the separatists with weapons and training them on these weapons.

Now who – which one of them actually had their finger on the button, you’re right, we don’t know that. We don’t. But we know where the missile was fired from. We know who fired it, who controls that – generally speaking – and who controls that territory, who’s been funding and arming and training these folks.

QUESTION: My original question was about prejudging, because on one of the other questions you said that – on the question about the Europeans and the sanctions against Russia, you said, yeah, it cannot go unpunished. So you already know whom to punish?

MS. HARF: We know who —

QUESTION: Which is prejudging.

MS. HARF: Well, no. We know who’s been supporting these separatists for months. We know that these separatists would not be in eastern Ukraine, able to do this, without the direct backing of President Putin and the Russian Government. They wouldn’t even be there without the Russian Government’s support. They wouldn’t have weaponry without the Russian Government’s support. Forgetting about this specific incident, they wouldn’t – they today, again, have been bragging about more Ukrainian fighter jets they’ve brought down.

So we will do a full investigation into MH17, but these separatists would not be there —

QUESTION: Marie —

MS. HARF: — without the support of the Russian Government.

QUESTION: — I don’t think you are right about that. I could tell you in response that without the government – Ukrainian Government planes flying over Ukrainian cities and bombing Ukrainian peaceful civilians —

MS. HARF: That’s not —

QUESTION: — there would be no need for the civilians to defend themselves.

MS. HARF: That’s not what’s happening here.

QUESTION: And it is what’s happening.

MS. HARF: It’s not.

QUESTION: And everybody knows that’s what’s happening.

MS. HARF: Well, we can agree to disagree —

QUESTION: But basically – yeah, I know.

MS. HARF: — on this.

QUESTION: I know.

MS. HARF: But we have a preponderance of evidence on our side here.

QUESTION: But the question that I wanted to ask about this was: Why is it that you are so adamant about not admitting even the possibility that the missile was launched mistakenly or deliberately by the Ukrainians? They had their own motives for that.

MS. HARF: They don’t, though. Let me just address that specific point. Russia did release a map with alleged locations of Ukrainian SA-11 units within range of the crash. We are confident that this information is incorrect. We have information that the nearest Ukrainian operational SA-11 unit is located well out of range from both the launch and the crash sites. So there were no Ukrainian SA-11s within the range. So again, we can’t make up our own facts here. We can’t go on hunches. We have pictures of where this was launched from. We can see the trajectory. And so what we need now, as President Putin himself has said, is a full investigation. We need to see that backed up with actions, and we need to see some accountability.

QUESTION: This is your information, not information coming from Twitter or from the Ukrainians or whatever?

MS. HARF: No, this is our information. We have eyes on this area and we’ve seen some of this. Yeah.

Yes, mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Hello, Marie.

MS. HARF: Hi.

QUESTION: Thank you. Thank you so much for doing this. Atsushi Okudera from Asahi Shimbun, in Japan. The President Putin originally has a plan to visit Japan. And as you know, Japan is preparing for a peace treaty with Russia, and we have a territory issue – and a northern territory issues. So I’m just wondering that – are you supporting these – the Japanese efforts for resolving the – these – the country, territory —

MS. HARF: Well, we want Japan to have good relations with its neighbors and with other countries in the region. I don’t have more of a comment than that on what you asked about specifically. I think probably up to the Japanese to speak about that.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MS. HARF: Again, we believe that Japan should have good relationships with its neighbors. Japan is one of our closest alliances in the world. We work together on a whole host of issues, one of our most important friends that we have, and so we’ll continue working together.

QUESTION: And the same time, on the – DPRK abduction issues, you know?

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Probably it’s on July 6th that Secretary Kerry spoke to Foreign Minister Kishida of Japan, and there is some report indicate United States is concerned about the lifting sanction or visiting. Prime Minister Abe is also – has also now – there is a possibility to visit North Korea. Do you – what is the position on that? Are you concerned about the visit to North Korea?

MS. HARF: Well, in terms of the abductions issue or whether the prime minister will go to North Korea, we support Japanese efforts to resolve the abductions issue in a transparent manner. I am aware of press reports indicating that Prime Minister Abe is actually not currently considering a visit to Pyongyang. I know there’s been some conflicting reporting out there, but I don’t think he is right now. I think the Japanese Government probably has the most up-to-date information on that.

Let’s do a few more. Yes, right here, and then I’ll go up to the lady in front of you.

QUESTION: Thank you, Marie. I’m from China, with China News Service. Just now, you mentioned if it’s necessary, United States will have more steps to sanctions U.S. – the Russia if the tension escalated. So how do you define that? And yesterday, reports say the United States officials told CNN that the more troops moving to the border of the Ukraine. Is that one of them?

MS. HARF: Well, that’s certainly – we would consider that escalation, yes. Look, there’s not one blanket definition here. We take a look at the steps across the board that we’ve seen. We make assessments on a day-by-day basis. People are very focused on this. We have more steps ready to go if we are – if we decide to take them. But it’s an ongoing process here. And there is a diplomatic path forward. We have consistently said that even as we increase pressure, there’s a different path that Russia can choose to take. And I think hopefully they will do so.

Let’s do a couple more. Yes, you.

QUESTION: (Off-mike) mentioned the difficulties of the Europeans and you understand the difficulties of the Europeans in proceeding with sanctions against Russians given – Russia given the energy dependence. Can – and the IMF just warned today, actually, of the rising tensions, geopolitical tensions actually having an effect on oil prices. And I can tell you from experience the oil prices in Europe are much higher than what they are in the United States, especially in some countries like my own, which are also coming out of a very difficult crisis. Now, what can the U.S. do to assist Europe in its effort towards more energy security and diversification? Are you working with them on specific projects?

MS. HARF: We’re working together very closely. It’s a conversation we have all the time, because we know it’s difficult and we know that as more costs are imposed on Russia it will get harder for the Europeans across the board on this issue. So we work together to talk about energy flows, how we can help, energy independence, all of these issues, alternative energy, clean energy, basically how we can help relieve the pressure, if we can, by working together.

But it’s really a long-term issue. There are things we can do now, but it really is more of a discussion about what we do over the long term, so if there are crises like this we don’t have the same pressure and we can help Europe with its energy situation so we don’t have the same kind of considerations. But it is much more of a long-term issue, but we are working together at a number of levels now on that.

Yes. Let’s go – go ahead, here. Let’s do just a couple more. And we’ll go back here to folks who haven’t had a question yet next.

QUESTION: Hi. China has been proposing the Asian infrastructure development bank, and earlier this month I read news from China media who quoting – which quoting the South Korean media saying that U.S. high officials request South Korea not to support China on this issue. I just want get your comment on that. And also, what’s the U.S. position on the China’s Asian infrastructure development bank?

MS. HARF: I’m not actually familiar with that issue. So I’m happy to check with our folks and see if we have a position and what that is, and we can make sure we get it to you.

Let’s go to the back here for two of you who haven’t had questions yet.

QUESTION: Thank you so much. My name is Xavier Vila, Catalunya Radio in Barcelona. Are you aware of these – administration planning to send anyone, any observers to Scotland for the referendum in September and the Catalan one in November, or this is something that’s going to be controlled by the consulates and embassies in those areas? Thank you.

MS. HARF: I’m not aware of us sending anyone. I can check, but I’m not aware of that.

QUESTION: You’re not sending anyone?

MS. HARF: Yeah, not that I’m aware of.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. HARF: Yep. Let’s go right behind you, and then I’ll come up to you.

QUESTION: Yeah. This is Jahanzaib Ali from ARY News, Pakistan. A couple of days ago the former president Mr. Zardari was in town and had meeting with Vice President Joe Biden. So could you tell us something about that meeting, because there are too many speculations in Pakistan about that meeting. And secondly, U.S. expressing its concerns over the Haqqani Network, about their safe havens in North Waziristan (inaudible). Despite knowing that, the Pakistani military is – right now is in military operations going on there. So what type of concerns you have now about the Haqqani Network? Thank you.

MS. HARF: Well, on the first question, I think that the Vice President’s office is probably better able to speak about their meeting. I don’t have more details to share on that.

But look, we’ve long been very focused on the Haqqani Network, on their intent to cause instability in Afghanistan, to attack and kill U.S. citizens, which we’ve seen, and military service members particularly. And it’s been one of our top priorities to bring to bear sort of all of the elements of our power to help fight this threat, to degrade its capability to carry out attacks, to prevent it from raising money, and to prevent it from moving people around. So this remains one of our top priorities. We know it’s a challenge. We’re working to help particularly in Afghanistan fight this threat.

Anyone else? Let’s do just two more here. We’ll do right here, and then you can wrap us up.

QUESTION: My name is Inoue from Kyodo News Japan. Thank you for doing this.

MS. HARF: Good to see you.

QUESTION: I have a question about the SA-11. The SA-11 was apparently used by the separatists in Ukraine, that it – they are not state – they are non-state actor.

MS. HARF: Correct.

QUESTION: So do you think this incident would have any implication when you’re considering – when you’re trying to ratchet up the assistance to Syrian opposite? Because they have asked you to provide like surface-to-air missiles, like MANPADS. So do you think this incident may have any impact to your – on your decision.

MS. HARF: Well, we’ve – sorry. Finish your question. Sorry. I jumped in there a little early. Look, when it comes to that issue, we have said for a very long time that we have concerns about providing those types of systems in Syria because of the risks. You just need to see the past few days to see that. And so our position on that hasn’t changed. Any assistance we’re providing to the opposition in Syria, it’s a judgment that you make. We want to make sure people are vetted properly, that you feel comfortable providing them with assistance, and that you calibrate that assistance so you don’t give them the types of assistance that could end up in the hands of some pretty bad people and that could do pretty bad things with them. So that’s why our position on that has remained consistent. We are – concerns about the risk of the system.

Last – we’ll do two more. Two more. In the back, and then you can wrap us up, up front.

QUESTION: Thank you. Short question on Ukraine. Do you still exclude delivering any military relief or assistance to Ukrainians to have them restore the sovereignty themselves?

MS. HARF: Right. So we’ve provided a great deal of assistance monetarily and with other kinds of support as well, material support to the Ukrainians. But they – look, there’s not a military solution here, right. We need to see de-escalation. Quite frankly, nothing we gave the Ukrainian military could put it on par with the Russian military, which is why there’s not a military solution here. The Ukrainians have a right to defend their people and their territory. We’ve seen them do that. We’ll continue supporting them, again with material and assistance and money. And we review all the requests that come in from them, because we do want to keep making decisions that will help them in the best way that we think is appropriate.

Last one. Yes. You have the honor of the last question.

QUESTION: Thank you. Voice of America, Persian TV. Last time when the truth was reached in Middle East conflict was during Morsy, friend of Hamas. How important is the role of Egypt now and how do you define the relationship between the United States and al-Sisi government?

MS. HARF: Well, Egypt is playing a crucial role. Obviously, the Secretary’s in Cairo. They have long played a role in these discussions. They have a peace treaty with Israel, for example. They also have a relationship with a Hamas. It’s different than it was under President Morsy, but they do have a relationship. But that’s why we’re also talking to countries like Qatar and Turkey and others who have other relationships they can use with Hamas to see if we can get to a ceasefire.

But our relationship with Egypt is much bigger than one administration there. It’s strategic. We have strategic interests, whether it’s security, particularly in the Sinai and on the Israeli border, whether it is economically helping Egypt undertake needed economic reforms to help their people, whether it’s pushing them on human rights and freedom of expression. When you have journalists in jail that have been subjected to these horrible sentences, we believe it’s important to have a relationship so we can raise concerns. It’s the best way to engage. So it’s a very broad, longstanding relationship, and the Secretary is there right now working very closely with them. They are committed to seeing if they can help with the ceasefire here, and we think there’s a critical role they have played and can play going forward.

MODERATOR: All right.

MS. HARF: With that?

MODERATOR: With that, thank you all for coming. Thank you, Marie.

MS. HARF: Thank you.

MODERATOR: This briefing is now concluded.

MS. HARF: Thank you all so much. We will see you soon.

# # #

Washington DC Events: July 21 – 25, 2014

Washington PressPass: July 21 – 25, 2014
*********************************************************************
The Foreign Press Center is pleased to share with you our weekly announcement of events in the Washington, D.C. area. The Washington Foreign Press Center provides this information as a convenience, and the inclusion of an organization or activity does not imply endorsement, approval or recommendation. Please note that this information is subject to change.

NOTE: For the latest information on events, please check our online PressPass at: http://www.fpc.state.gov/events/index.htm

*********************************************************************
Monday, July 21, 2014

WHEN: 10:00 – 11:30 am
WHAT: Atlantic Council Discussion on “The Enemy of My Enemy: An Uneasy Coalition and the Threat of ISIS.” Speakers: H.E. Lukman Faily, Ambassador, Embassy of the Republic of Iraq to the United States; Frederic C. Hof, Senior Fellow, Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, Atlantic Council; Bilal Saab, Senior Fellow for Middle East Security, Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, Atlantic Council; Michael Singh, Managing Director, Washington Institute for Near East Policy; Matthew Spence (invited), Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Middle East Policy, U.S. Department of Defense; Moderated by Barry Pavel, Vice President and Director, Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, Atlantic Council.
WHERE: 1030 15th Street, N.W., 12th Floor
CONTACT: 202-463-7226; web site: http://www.atlanticcouncil.org
SOURCE: Atlantic Council – event announcement

WHEN: 10:30 am – 12:00 pm
WHAT: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP) Discussion on “Pakistan’s Vision for Regional Peace, Prosperity, and Economic Development.” Speakers: Ambassador Tariq Fatemi, special assistant to the Prime Minister of Pakistan; and Frederic Grare, senior associate and director of Carnegie’s South Asia Program.
WHERE: 1779 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-483-7600; web site: http://www.carnegieendowment.org
SOURCE: CEIP – event announcement

WHEN: 12:00 – 1:00 pm
WHAT: Center for American Progress (CAP) Discussion on “The Second Amendment: A Biography.” Speakers: Michael Waldman, President, Brennan Center for Justice, New York University School of Law, and author of “The Second Amendment: A Biography”; and moderator: Arkadi Gerney, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress.
WHERE: 1333 H Street, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-682-1611; web site: http://www.americanprogress.org
SOURCE: CAP – event announcement

WHEN: 12:00 – 1:15 pm
WHAT: Woodrow Wilson Center (WWC) Discussion on “Iran’s Nuclear Chess: Calculating America’s Moves.” Speakers: Robert S. Litwak, Vice President for Scholars and Academic Relations and Director, International Security Studies; Mitchell Reiss, President, Washington College, and former Public Policy Scholar, Woodrow Wilson Center; and David Sanger, Chief Washington Correspondent, The New York Times, and former Public Policy Scholar, Woodrow Wilson Center.
WHERE: 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-691-4000; web site: http://www.wilsoncenter.org
SOURCE: WWC – event announcement

WHEN: 2:00 – 3:30 pm
WHAT: Atlantic Council Discussion on “Libya: Update from the Field.” Speakers: Fadel Lamen, President, Libya’s National Dialogue Preparatory Commission; Moderated by
Karim Mezran, Senior Fellow, Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, Atlantic Council.
WHERE: 1030 15th Street, N.W., 12th Floor
CONTACT: 202-463-7226; web site: http://www.atlanticcouncil.org
SOURCE: Atlantic Council – event announcement

WHEN: 4:00 – 5:30 pm
WHAT: Center for a New American Security (CNAS) Discussion on “Living with Cyber Insecurity: Reducing the National Security Risks of America’s Cyber Dependencies.” Complete agenda and list of speakers.
WHERE: American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1200 New York Ave N.W., Abelson/Haskins Conference Room
CONTACT: 202-457-9400; web site: http://www.cnas.org
SOURCE: CNAS – event announcement

************************************************************
Tuesday, July 22, 2014

WHEN: 8:50 am – 12:00 pm
WHAT: American Enterprise Institute (AEI) Discussion on “Who Governs the Internet? A Conversation on Securing the Multistakeholder Process.” Featured speakers: Danny Sepulveda, U.S. Department of State; and Larry Strickling, National Telecommunications and Information Administration. Complete agenda and other speakers.
WHERE: 1150 17th Street, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-862-5800; web site: http://www.aei.org
SOURCE: AEI – event announcement

WHEN: 9:00 am – 2:30 pm
WHAT: Bipartisan Policy Center Conference – The 9/11 Commission Report: Ten Years Later. Featured speakers: Thomas H. Kean, former Governor of New Jersey, Co-chair, BPC Homeland Security Project; and The Honorable Lee H. Hamilton, former Representative from Indiana, Co-chair, BPC Homeland Security Project. Complete agenda and list of speakers.
WHERE: Newseum, Knight Conference Center, Eighth Floor, 555 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W.
CONTACT: 202-204-2400; web site: http://bipartisanpolicy.org
SOURCE: Bipartisan Policy Center – event announcement

WHEN: 9:05 – 10:15 am
WHAT: Atlantic Council Discussion on “The U.S. Future in Space.” Speakers: Gen. William L. Shelton, Commander, U.S. Air Force Space Command; Moderated by Barry Pavel, Vice President and Director, Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, Atlantic Council.
WHERE: 1030 15th Street, N.W., 12th Floor
CONTACT: 202-463-7226; web site: http://www.atlanticcouncil.org
SOURCE: Atlantic Council – event announcement

WHEN: 9:05 – 10:15 am
WHAT: Atlantic Council Report Launch – “All Elements of National Power.” Speakers: Gen. James L. Jones Jr., USMC (Ret.), President, Jones Group International LLC, Chairman, Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, Atlantic Council; The Hon. George Moose, Board Director, Atlantic Council; and Mr. Barry Pavel, Vice President and Director, Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, Atlantic Council.
WHERE: 1030 15th Street, N.W., 12th Floor
CONTACT: 202-463-7226; web site: http://www.atlanticcouncil.org
SOURCE: Atlantic Council – event announcement

WHEN: 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
WHAT: Woodrow Wilson Center (WWC) Discussion on “The Impact of Ukraine in the Neighborhood.” Speakers: John Herbst, Director, Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center, Atlantic Council, Ambassador to Ukraine (2003-2005); Eric Rubin, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, U.S. Department of State; Thomas de Waal, Senior Associate, Russia and Eurasia Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; Hon. Kenneth S. Yalowitz, Global Fellow, former U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Belarus from 1994-1997 and to Georgia from 1998-2001.
WHERE: 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-691-4000; web site: http://www.wilsoncenter.org
SOURCE: WWC – event announcement

WHEN: 2:00 – 3:30 pm
WHAT: U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) – “U.S. Policy Today for Africa Tomorrow:
A Conversation with Ambassadors Carson, Lyman and Moose.” Speakers: Amb. Johnnie Carson, Senior Advisor, U.S. Institute of Peace; Amb. Princeton Lyman, Senior Advisor, U.S. Institute of Peace; and Amb. George Moose, Vice Chairman, Board of Directors, ​U.S. Institute of Peace.
WHERE: 2301 Constitution Avenue, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-457-1700; web site: http://www.usip.org
SOURCE: USIP – event announcement

WHEN: 3:30 pm
WHAT: Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing on “U.S. Security Implications of International Energy and Climate Policies and Issues.” Witnesses: Panel One: Mr. Amos Hochstein, Deputy Assistant Secretary Of State For Energy Diplomacy, U.S. Department of State; Mr. Eric Postel, Assistant Administrator For The Bureau Of Economic Growth, Education And Environment, U.S. Agency For International Development; Dr. Daniel Y. Chiu, Deputy Assistant Secretary Of Defense For Strategy And Force Development, U.S. Department of Defense; Panel Two: Rear Admiral David Titley, USN (Retired), Board Member, CNA Military Advisory Board; Mr. David L. Goldwyn, Nonresident Senior Fellow, Energy Security Initiative at the Brookings Institution; Ms. Mary J. Hutzler, Distinguished Senior Fellow, Institute for Energy Research; and Mr Michael Breen, Executive Director, Truman National Security Project.
WHERE: Check hearing announcement for location of hearing
CONTACT: 202-224-4651; web site: http://www.foreign.senate.gov
SOURCE: Senate Foreign Relations Committee – hearing announcement

***********************************************************
Wednesday, July 23, 2014

WHEN: 8:00 – 10:30 am
WHAT: Atlantic Council Report Launch – “Bridging the Pacific: The Americas’ New Economic Frontier?” Speakers: Wendy Cutler, Acting Deputy US Trade Representative;
The Honorable Congressman Charles Boustany, Jr. (R-LA), Co-Chair, Friends of the TPP Caucus, U.S. Congress; The Honorable Congressman Gregory Meeks (D-NY), Co-Chair, Friends of the TPP Caucus, U.S. Congress; The Honorable Paula Stern, Board Director, Atlantic Council; Founder and Chair, The Stern Group, Inc., former Chairwoman, U.S. International Trade Commission; Ralph Carter, Managing Director, Trade and International Affairs, FedEx; Kenneth Smith Ramos, Director of the Trade and NAFTA Office, Mexican Ministry of the Economy; Peter Rashish, Atlantic Council Author and Consultant, Senior Trade Advisor, Transnational Strategy Group, LLC; Fran Burwell, Vice President and Director, Transatlantic Relations Program, Atlantic Council; and Jason Marczak, Deputy Director, Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center, Atlantic Council.
WHERE: 1030 15th Street, N.W., 12th Floor
CONTACT: 202-463-7226; web site: http://www.atlanticcouncil.org
SOURCE: Atlantic Council – event announcement

WHEN: 8:30 am – 3:00 pm
WHAT: Bipartisan Policy Center Conference on “Driving Resources into Energy Innovation.” Complete agenda and list of speakers.
WHERE: Renaissance Washington, Renaissance Ballroom, 999 Ninth Street, NW
CONTACT: 202-204-2400; web site: http://bipartisanpolicy.org
SOURCE: Bipartisan Policy Center – event announcement

WHEN: 11:00 am – 12:30 pm
WHAT: Heritage Foundation Discussion on “Alliance Challenges in Northeast Asia: Perspectives on U.S.-Japan-South Korea Relations.” Speakers: The Honorable Takeo Kawamura, Member, Japanese House of Representatives; and Bruce Klingner, Senior Research Fellow, Asian Studies Center, The Heritage Foundation.
WHERE: Heritage Foundation, 214 Massachusetts Avenue, N.E.
CONTACT: 202-546-4400; web site: http://www.heritage.org
SOURCE: Heritage – event announcement

WHEN: 12:00 – 1:00 pm
WHAT: Heritage Foundation Discussion on “Gingrich’s Contract with America: The Power of Conservative Ideas.” Speaker: The Honorable Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.
WHERE: Heritage Foundation, 214 Massachusetts Avenue, N.E.
CONTACT: 202-546-4400; web site: http://www.heritage.org
SOURCE: Heritage – event announcement

WHEN: 3:00 – 4:30 pm
WHAT: National Endowment for Democracy (NED) Discussion on “Resisting Extremism through Media: Claiming a Space for Political Cartoons in Pakistan.” Speakers: Sabir Nazar, Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow, National Endowment for Democracy; Brian Joseph, National Endowment for Democracy; and Mark Nelson, Center for International Media Assistance.
WHERE: 1025 F Street, N.W., Suite 800
CONTACT: 202-378-9675; web site: http://www.ned.org
SOURCE: NED – event announcement

WHEN: 3:30 am – 5:00 pm
WHAT: Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) Discussion on “Rogue Elephant: Harnessing the Power of India’s Unruly Democracy.” Speakers: Andrew Schwartz, Senior Vice President for External Relations, Center for Strategic and International Studies; Speaker/Author: Simon Denyer, China Bureau Chief & Former India Bureau Chief, The Washington Post; Moderator: Richard Rossow, Senior Fellow and Wadhwani Chair in U.S.-India Policy Studies, Center for Strategic and International Studies.
WHERE: CSIS, 1616 Rhode Island Avenue, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-887-0200; web site: http://www.csis.org
SOURCE: CSIS – event announcement

******************************************************
Thursday, July 24, 2014

WHEN: 9:00 – 10:00 am
WHAT: American Enterprise Institute (AEI) – Expanding opportunity in America: A conversation with House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan. Complete agenda and list of speakers.
WHERE: 1150 17th Street, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-862-5800; web site: http://www.aei.org
SOURCE: AEI – event announcement

WHEN: 9:30 – 10:30 am
WHAT: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP) Discussion on “The New Geopolitics of Energy: Challenges and Opportunities.” Speakers: Carlos Pascual, the State Department’s special envoy and coordinator for International Energy Affairs; Jessica T. Mathews, president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; Deborah Gordon, senior associate and Director of Carnegie’s Energy and Climate Program; and Bruce Jones, senior fellow and the director of the Project on International Order and Strategy at Brookings and a consulting professor at the Freeman Spogli Institute at Stanford University.
WHERE: 1779 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-483-7600; web site: http://www.carnegieendowment.org
SOURCE: CEIP – event announcement

WHEN: 10:00 am
WHAT: Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing on “Iraq At A Crossroads: Options For U.S. Policy.” Witnesses: Mr. Brett McGurk, Deputy Assistant Secretary Of State For Iraq And Iran, U.S. Department of State; Ms. Elissa Slotkin, Performing The Duties Of The Principal Deputy Under Secretary Of Defense For Policy Principal, Deputy Assistant Secretary Of Defense For International Security Affairs, U.S. Department of Defense; Panel Two: The Honorable James F. Jeffrey, Philip Solondz Distinguished Visiting Fellow, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy; Mr. Michael D. Barbero, Lieutenant General, U.S. Army (Retired); and Dr. Kenneth M. Pollack, Senior Fellow, Saban Center For Middle East Policy, Brookings Institute.
WHERE: Senate Dirksen Building, Room 419
CONTACT: 202-224-4651; web site: http://www.foreign.senate.gov
SOURCE: Senate Foreign Relations Committee – hearing announcement

WHEN: 10:00 – 11:30 am
WHAT: Stimson Center Discussion on “U.S.-Japan-China Relations: Prospects And Challenges.” Speakers: Dr. Seiichiro Takagi, Senior Adjunct Fellow, the Japan Institute of International Affairs; Yun Sun, fellow with the East Asia Program at the Stimson Center (expertise is in Chinese foreign policy, U.S.-China relations and China’s relations with neighboring countries and authoritarian regimes); and Yuki Tatsumi, senior associate of the East Asia program at the Stimson Center.
WHERE: 1111 19th Street, N.W., 12th Floor
CONTACT: 202-223-5956; web site: http://www.stimson.org
SOURCE: Stimson – even announcement

WHEN: 10:00 – 11:30 am
WHAT: Woodrow Wilson Center (WWC) Discussion on “Beyond Gender Quotas in African Politics: How to Deliver on Women’s Issues in Africa.” Speakers: Rhoda Osei-Afful, Southern Voices African Research Scholar Research Officer, Ghana Center for Democratic Development; Caroline Hubbard, Program Manager, Women’s Political Participation, National Democratic Institute (NDI); and Monde Muyangwa, Director, Africa Program.
WHERE: 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-691-4000; web site: http://www.wilsoncenter.org
SOURCE: WWC – event announcement

WHEN: 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
WHAT: House Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing on “The Struggle for Civil Society in Egypt.” Witnesses: Panel I: Mr. Charles Michael Johnson, Jr., Director, International Security and Counterterrorism Issues, International Affairs & Trade Team, U.S. Government Accountability Office; Panel II: Mr. Charles Dunne, Director, Middle East and North Africa Programs, Freedom House; Mr. Sam LaHood, Director, Indonesia and Cambodia Program, International Republican Institute (Former Egypt Country Director, International Republican Institute); Mr. Patrick Butler, Vice President, Programs, International Center for Journalists; and Ms. Lila Jaafar, Senior Program Manager,
National Democratic Institute.
WHERE: House Rayburn Building, Room 2172
CONTACT: 202-225-5021; web site: http://foreignaffairs.house.gov
SOURCE: House Foreign Affairs Committee – hearing announcement

WHEN: 12:00 – 1:00 pm
WHAT: Middle East Institute (MEI) Discussion on “Confronting the Islamic State in Iraq: Challenges and Options.” Speakers: Richard A. Clarke, chairman of the board of governors of The Middle East Institute; Steven Simon, a senior fellow at The Middle East Institute; Randa Slim, Director of the Initiative for Track II Dialogues at The Middle East Institute and a non-resident fellow at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies’ Foreign Policy Institute; and Daniel Serwer, senior research professor of conflict management, as well as a senior fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations, at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.
WHERE: Johns Hopkins SAIS, Rome Auditorium, 1619 Massachusetts Ave., NW
CONTACT: 202-785-1141; web site: http://www.mei.edu
SOURCE: MEI – event announcement

WHEN: 3:00 – 5:00 pm
WHAT: Woodrow Wilson Center (WWC) Discussion on “Why are Thousands of Central American Children Risking their Lives to Reach the United States? A View from Honduras.” Speakers: Carlos Hernández, Executive Secretary, Asociación para una Sociedad Más Justa (AJS), Honduras; Omar Rivera, Asociación para una Sociedad Más Justa (AJS), Honduras; Joy Olson, Executive Director, Washington Office on Latin America; Tani Adams, Public Policy Scholar (former), founder and Senior Scholar, International Institute of Learning for Social Reconciliation, Guatemala; and Eric L. Olson, Associate Director, Latin American Program.
WHERE: 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-691-4000; web site: http://www.wilsoncenter.org
SOURCE: WWC – event announcement

WHEN: 3:00 – 6:00 pm
WHAT: House Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing on “U.S.-India Relations Under the Modi Government.” Witnesses: Panel I: Nisha Biswal, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, U.S. Department of State; Arun Kumar, Director General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service and Assistant Secretary for Global Markets, International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce; Panel II:
Mr. Sadanand Dhume, Resident Fellow, American Enterprise Institute; and Mr. Sanjay Puri, founder and Chief Executive Officer, Alliance for U.S. India Business.
WHERE: House Rayburn Building, Room 2172
CONTACT: 202-225-5021; web site: http://foreignaffairs.house.gov
SOURCE: House Foreign Affairs Committee – hearing announcement

WHEN: 3:30 am – 5:00 pm
WHAT: Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) Statesmen’s Forum: Partnership in a Time of Peril: A View from Jordan. Speakers: His Excellency Nasser S. Judeh, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan; Moderated by
Dr. Jon B. Alterman, Zbigniew Brzezinski Chair in Global Security and Geostrategy and
Director, CSIS Middle East Program.
WHERE: CSIS, 1616 Rhode Island Avenue, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-887-0200; web site: http://www.csis.org
SOURCE: CSIS – event announcement

WHEN: 6:00 – 7:15 pm
WHAT: American Enterprise Institute (AEI) Discussion on “Is it time to end the Export-Import Bank?” Speakers: Timothy P. Carney, AEI; Tony Fratto, Hamilton Place Strategies; Moderator: Ben White, POLITICO.
WHERE: 1150 17th Street, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-862-5800; web site: http://www.aei.org
SOURCE: AEI – event announcement

******************************************************
Friday, July 25, 2014

WHEN: 10:30 am – 12:00 pm
WHAT: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP) Discussion on “India’s New Growth Story: Revitalizing U.S.-India Relations.” Speakers: Mr. Ajay S. Shriram, president of Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), and chairman and senior managing director of DCM Shriram Limited; Naushad Forbes, vice president of CII and director of Forbes Marshall, India’s leading steam engineering and control instrumentation firm; Chandrajit Banerjee, director general of CII and responsible for its overall operations; Mr. Vikram Kirloskar, vice chairman of Toyota Kirloskar Motor Private Limited, and the chairman and managing director of Kirloskar Systems Ltd; and Jessica T. Mathews, president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
WHERE: 1779 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
CONTACT: 202-483-7600; web site: http://www.carnegieendowment.org
SOURCE: CEIP – event announcement

WHEN: 11:30 am – 1:00 pm
WHAT: Hudson Institute Discussion on “The Future of Surface Warfare Lethality.” Speakers: Seth Cropsey, Moderator, Director, Center for American Seapower, Hudson Institute; Bryan Clark, Panelist, Senior Fellow, Center for Budgetary and Strategic Assessments; and Bryan McGrath, Panelist, Assistant Director, Center for American Seapower, Hudson Institute.
WHERE: Capitol Visitor Center — HVC 201, East Capitol St NE & First St SE
CONTACT: 202-974-2400; web site: http://www.hudson.org
SOURCE: Hudson – event announcement

WHEN: 12:00 – 1:00 pm
WHAT: Heritage Foundation Book Discussion – “A History Lover’s Guide to Washington, DC: Designed for Democracy.” Speaker: Alison Fortier, Author.
WHERE: Heritage Foundation, 214 Massachusetts Avenue, N.E.
CONTACT: 202-546-4400; web site: http://www.heritage.org
SOURCE: Heritage – event announcement

******************************************************

Useful Calendars:

http://fpc.state.gov/events/c42190.htm – New York Foreign Press Center PressPass

http://fpc.state.gov/events/c42191.htm – West Coast PressPass

http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/appt/ — US State Department daily appointments schedule

http://www.defenselink.mil/today/index.aspx?showdate=03/30/2007 — Today in Department of Defense (DoD)

http://www.capitolhearings.org/ — C-SPAN’s schedule of Congressional Hearings

http://npc.press.org/ — National Press Club

http://www.si.edu/events/ — Smithsonian Events

http://www.loc.gov/loc/events/ — Library of Congress