SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY IN RIYADH
On May 7, Secretary Kerry visits Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He will meet with senior government leaders to discuss a variety of issues related to regional security. 05:06:17 KERRY MEETS EXILED YEMENI PRESIDENT ABED RABBOU MANSOUR HADI 05:17:16 SECRETARY KERRY BILAT WITH SAUDI PRIME MINISTER ABDEL AL-JUBEIR 07:25:30 PRESS CONFERENCE WITH SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY AND SAUDI ARABIAN PRIME MINISTER ABDEL AL-JUBEIR: AL-JUBEIR: (In progress) (Via interpreter) - and he met with the king, King Salman bin Abdulaziz. And he met His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, the crown prince, the first deputy premier and minister of interior. He met His Royal Highness Prince Mohammad bin Salman, the deputy crown prince and the minister of defense. We held bilateral talks at the ministry of foreign affairs. On the topics of mutual interest, including the - we - I briefed the Secretary on the meeting of the GCC, and the talks (inaudible) tomorrow on the Paris with the - in Paris with the GCC foreign ministers. We talked about the Camp David on the 13th and 14th of May. We talked about that - the Iranian interventions in the region, the negative interventions, whether in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, or Yemen, or any other places. With regard to Yemen, I have been - I debriefed him on the keenness of Saudi Arabia to send the humanitarian aids to the Yemeni people and the donation of $274 million, a donation from the (inaudible) aids to Yemen. I debriefed (inaudible) with the king (inaudible) and establishing a center in Riyadh to coordinate the relief work. But unfortunately, the keenness of the king and the Saudi Arabia to send the aids to Yemen was very difficult in view of the continuous - of the war operations there, and the (inaudible) and their allies there. I debriefed him on the (inaudible) of Saudi Arabia. (Inaudible) five days ceasefire in Yemen for coordination with the international organizations to send the aids, humanitarian aids to their (inaudible) in Yemen. The Houthis and their allies should abide by this ceasefire period and do not interfere into - in the way of these efforts, and no hostility actions against - during this period. This will be defined - this period will be defined soon and the details at the - to conclude. I debriefed the Secretary on the big step done by the king in correcting the status of the Yemenis who are in Saudi Arabia in an illegal status, from 2 million to 3 million Yemenis living on the Saudi land and correcting their immigration status. And this will allow them to have jobs to help their families in Yemen back - back in Yemen. This is different from other countries; they are deporting and extraditing the Yemenis and put them in camps for the refugees. And Saudi Arabia working for the interest and the dignity of our Yemeni brothers, whether in Yemen or in Saudi Arabia. For this reason, Saudi Arabia has taken, by direction of the king - this big step is unprecedented in the history of the world. And to conclude, I would like to stress the keenness of Saudi Arabia and its commitments that there will be a political process in Yemen that will lead to the solution of this crisis peacefully. We are looking forward to the coming Riyadh conference that will be held on the 17th of May. It's - our Yemeni brothers are discussing their internal affairs, and based on the initiatives and the results of their dialogue. We welcome any efforts done by the United Nations in holding talks between the concerned Yemeni parties anywhere in the world. We're looking at this - that it will be a support to the efforts we are making in Riyadh conference, because objective is to come to a peaceful solution in Yemen. Thank you and thank the Secretary for his visit to Saudi Arabia, and for the constructive talks between us. You may have the floor, Your Excellency. KERRY: Thank you very much, Foreign Minister al-Jubeir. Let me begin by congratulating the foreign minister on his appointment. This is today - I think because he's been so busy, the first day that he's able to get into the foreign ministry. And I was very privileged to be his first visitor. And I have appreciated through all the years the good representation of Saudi Arabia that the foreign minister has provided as ambassador to Washington and his other roles. And we really look forward to continuing to work with him in the future. He was the first person I met in the foreign ministry when I came here in the 1980s as a United States senator. We've known each other since then, and I appreciate our friendship and our relationship. As the foreign minister mentioned, last night we had a very constructive meeting with His Royal Highness, the Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Nayef, and with His Royal Highness, the Deputy Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman. I'm very grateful. We also had the foreign minister, and as the foreign minister said to you all a few minutes ago, a number of other key members of the national security team of Saudi Arabia. We talked at great length about the threat to Saudi Arabia that has emerged in Yemen, about U.S. support for Saudi Arabia's efforts, and the importance of trying to find a peaceful resolution to this crisis. King Salman has announced a conference in Riyadh which the foreign minister referred to, to which he is inviting all Yemeni parties. And we support that conference. Everyone agreed that that conference can help lead into the subsequent talks under the UN auspices, and that all of this dialogue is beneficial in an effort to try to find a political resolution to the crisis. We're very pleased also that Saudi Arabia has agreed to support the UN (inaudible) efforts to find a peaceful resolution to the situation in Yemen. I'm also particularly grateful to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, to King Salman, for the decision he made some time ago to provide $274 million in humanitarian assistance to Yemen, to the people in Yemen. As everybody knows, several weeks ago King Salman announced a transition from the initial phase of the military campaign to a political and humanitarian phase. Unfortunately, however, Houthi did not choose to be part of the process at that time. Therefore, the conflict continued and forces on the ground continued to fight, and Saudi Arabia responded. Today, we particularly welcome a new Saudi initiative to try to bring about a peaceful resolution through the announcement of their intent to establish a full, five-day renewable ceasefire and humanitarian pause - no bombing, no shooting, no movement or repositioning of troops to achieve military advantage, understanding - an understanding that needs to be reached that neither party is going to exploit the humanitarian pause. But this ceasefire is conditioned on the Houthis agreeing to live by these same commitments. So we strongly urge the Houthis and those who back them, whom we suggest use all of their influence, not to miss this major opportunity to address the needs of the Yemeni people and find a peaceful way forward in Yemen. A ceasefire has been a longstanding goal of the international community, and we deeply respect the leadership in Saudi Arabia for stepping up, taking on this initiative, and saying to the world they're prepared to meet the humanitarian needs of the people of Yemen. Now, work is being done right now as we are here to define the precise details and the date of the commencement of this ceasefire, which will be soon, but the details need to be worked out. Foreign Minister al-Jubeir and I will say more about this in Paris tomorrow. But we do know that we will have several days between today's announcement and the actual start of the ceasefire in order to allow time for the international community to prepare the food, the medicine, and the other supplies for distribution so that it can be done in an orderly and efficient process once the ceasefire does take effect, if the Houthi accept the conditions. And that will also give us time to do the diplomacy necessary to try to encourage this process to be able to take hold. The United States remains deeply concerned about the situation on the ground in Yemen, and we fully support efforts to facilitate the unimpeded delivery of humanitarian aid. And the international community and our - and the United States will redouble our efforts to stop arms flows into Yemen, consistent with the UN Security Council resolutions. So bottom line: It's vital - thanks to the Saudi initiative - that all parties agree to the ceasefire before more lives are lost. And I am pleased that President Hadi today has agreed to fully support this effort. So in my meeting today with President Hadi, I emphasized the need to also support the UN-brokered all-party negotiations, and I urged everyone - especially the Houthis - to cooperate with the UN's new Special Envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed. This is a time for effective diplomacy for potential solutions. In addition to Yemen, we discussed with my Saudi counterparts preparations for our meeting in Paris, as the foreign minister said, our meetings with the GCC, for the upcoming summit at Camp David that President Obama will host. We also discussed the potential Iran nuclear deal and ways in which the United States and Saudi Arabia can cooperate going forward. And throughout the P5+1 negotiating process, we've been constantly consulting with Saudi Arabia, and we will continue to do so. And tomorrow in Paris, we will have further discussions about that. We make clear that we remain concerned about Iran's destabilizing actions in the region, and it is precisely because of those concerns that we believe it is so important that Iran not be allowed to have a nuclear weapon. And we will continue to work with our friends and allies in the region to define America's and the GCC's security relationship going forward. Finally, the foreign minister and I reviewed the situation in Syria, our progress in our shared fight against Daesh. A lot remains to be done, but I can affirm today that Daesh's forces are increasingly under strain, its leadership has been degraded, their communications have been interrupted, their manner of operating has been changed, and its hateful ideology is increasingly being discredited. So we are fortunate that Saudi Arabia has been a critical partner in all of these efforts and we're grateful for their help. So I thank the foreign minister for his hospitality. I'm very grateful to King Salman, to His Majesty, for the time today and for his commitment to this effort. And I particularly thank the crown prince and the deputy crown prince for their significant amount of time that they contributed to the discussions and the decision making that has brought us to the possibility, if the Houthi agree, of a legitimate, country-wide ceasefire and humanitarian pause which could be renewed if people are able to seize the opportunity and the moment. And we're grateful to Saudi Arabia for taking this initiative. Thank you. I think we'll take one question from each, because unfortunately, that's all I have time for. HARF: The first question's from Pam Dockins of Voice of America. The mike's right (inaudible). QUESTION: Thank you, I appreciate it. First of all, Mr. Foreign Minister, could you elaborate on the call for the humanitarian pause? In particular, have you had any initial contact with the parties involved - the Houthis, for example - on whether or not they would be open to this? And then secondly, would Iran have a role in this pause? And Mr. Secretary, Yemen's UN ambassador has urged the international community to send in ground forces. Did you discuss that possibility in your talks today? AL-JUBEIR: Thank you for the question. With regards to contact with the Houthis, no, we haven't had contact with the Houthis. They're attacking us and attacking innocents in Yemen. We - the idea of a humanitarian pause was something that we have long discussed. We have been looking for ways to provide relief assistance to Yemen. We do so, as we speak, by dropping relief supplies from airplanes to various parts of Yemen, but it's clearly not enough. We need to be able to bring in more substantial (inaudible). We considered a pause in certain areas of Yemen for certain periods of time, and we announced this two days ago. And then we reviewed it more closely and we realized that there are challenges with having certain pockets in Yemen which - where you have a pause and other pockets where you don't have a pause, so it would complicate the delivery and the logistics of providing humanitarian assistance. So the decision was made that the pause would affect all of Yemen for a period of five days. It will be announced - the actual date will be announced shortly, God willing, and as well as the requirements. Now this is all based on the Houthis complying with the ceasefire. There will be a ceasefire everywhere or a ceasefire nowhere, and we expect that - and hope that the Houthis will be - will care enough about the Yemeni people to allow the humanitarian assistance to flow into Yemen and to cease their aggressive activities. And so we'll see if they will abide - if they will go along with something like this or not, because if they don't then it's very clear that they - that their only interest is to grab power in Yemen and that their interest is not the well-being of the Yemeni people. And so we'll see about this. With regards to the Iran - we have always maintained that Iran should have no role in Yemen. The last time I checked, Iran didn't have a border with Yemen. And so the Iranian role in Yemen has been a negative one. They have supported the Houthis financially, ideologically, as well as with weapons, and this is not helpful. They have tried to smuggle weapons into Yemen in the midst of this conflict, and we have been able to stop aircraft from landing in Sana'a airport. And the United States has been able to turn back a flotilla of Iranian ships, which we suspect were loaded with weapons that were intended to go to the Houthis. So no, I do not think that Iran's role in Yemen is a helpful one. I hope they can prevail on their allies, the Houthis, to abide by the ceasefire, but that's my view on Iran and its role in Yemen. KERRY: The simple answer is neither the United States nor Saudi Arabia are talking with each other or otherwise about sending ground troops into Yemen. QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, are there any standards or guarantees to guarantee that Iran stop its support to terrorism activities in the region, particularly in the Gulf and its sabotaging intervention in Yemen and Syria? Also, Mr. Secretary, the Syrian opposition has come to a clear vision of the future of Syria, and obviously that is without Assad. What is Washington's position towards this clear vision? Thank you. KERRY: Thank you very much. The United States is deeply concerned about Iran's activities in the region. We are planning to - we're not planning to, we are enforcing the United Nations arms embargo requirements, et cetera. We've been raising the level of effort of the maritime initiative with respect to the Gulf and area, most recently with the Theodore Roosevelt being moved in and other activities that we've been engaged in. And one of the topics of our conversation, in the context of Paris tomorrow and Camp David, will be the further steps that we will be taking together with our allies to prevent activities that are in contravention of many United Nations resolutions and also the standards and norms of international behavior between countries. So we are very, very concerned about those activities - in Iraq, with Hizballah, in Yemen, and elsewhere. So we intend to be very clear about our determination going forward to stand up against any country's illicit intervention in the affairs of another nation in a way that is challenging to regional and global security interests and other kinds of concerns. And that holds true with respect to our activities. One of the purposes - the reason President Obama invited the GCC to come to Washington and the reason we're having the preparatory meeting in Paris is really to concentrate all of our minds on those steps necessary to provide greater stability and security on a regional basis to people who want to see the region be peaceful, be undisturbed, not become the battlefield for one ideology or another, but be a place where countries can live in peace and pursue their interests. That's our goal. And the goal of the GCC effort is to see how we can provide greater assurances to people about the road ahead, as well as build an architecture which allows us to cooperate more effectively together, share information more effectively, and prepare more effectively, as well as deal immediately more effectively with those threats as they arise. And that's precisely what we will be doing, and I'm very confident about the kinds of things that have been coming together in these discussions which are going to enhance our cooperation going forward. There's no question in my mind that as a result of this, the region can be safer, and more secure, and more prosperous, and that's everybody's goal. QUESTION: Syria? KERRY: Oh, Syria. With respect to Syria, nothing has changed in the United States position. We are - we see no way, even if one wanted to, but we don't - that somebody who has engaged in the kinds of activities President Assad has engaged in over the years now - barrel bombing innocent women and children, gassing his people, torturing people, engaging in starvation as a tactic of war where innocent civilians are trapped - there are so many different things that have happened that have torn this country apart, that has seen three quarters of the country now be displaced for a refugee status, that it's hard to imagine how anybody in that country could follow that person in the future or deem them to be a legitimate leader. We don't consider that possible. We believe Assad has lost all legitimacy, and we also know that the only way to make peace ultimately is to take away the reason that people are at war. And the reason they are at war is because of Assad. So we hope that, again, those that have been supportive of him - the Russians, Iranians, others - will recognize that there could be peace in Syria and it could restore itself to a secular and united country if Assad were to come to negotiations and help implement the original Geneva accord, which remains the operative policy of the United States and all of our allies, that there needs to be a transition that restores the peacefulness of Syria. And Assad is not part of that longer-term future. HARF: Thank you. Thank you very much. AL-JUBEIR: Thank you very much. KERRY: Thank you all very much.
JURANVILLE(45): EXHIBITION OF MODULAR HOUSES
Loire Bretagne
YEMEN OLD SANAA
Shot 08/10/2007. Beauty shots of fuldings in old Sana'a.
11H53 - IT IS HERE - BLOIS, THE DISTRICT OF VIENNA - HERITAGE - HISTORY + AITRE SAINT SATURNIN
Loire Bretagne
REX TILLERSON AND ADEL AL-JUBEIR PRESS CONFERENCE
1050 WH SAUDI ARABIA PATH1 TILLERSON BRIEF FS33 73 Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson hold a press conference following a bilateral meeting in Riyadh Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Al-Jubeir hold a joint press briefing in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia D.C. Slugs: 1050 WH SAUDI ARABIA PATH1 TILLERSON BRIEF FS33 73, AR: 16X9 NYRS: WASH-14/4520/5536 & WASH-16/4539/5540 11:56:54 ADEL AL-JUBEIR, SAUDI ARABIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: Are we ready? OK. Good evening, everybody. I would like to welcome all of you to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It's a great pleasure and honor for me to welcome my colleague and friend Rex Tillerson, on his first visit to Saudi Arabia as secretary of state. Mr. Secretary, while this may be your first visit as secretary of state, you have been here many, many, many times over many, many years. You know our country and our region extremely well and I believe your country is fortunate to have you as secretary of state during this period. We in the region feel very fortunate having you at the helm of the State Department. 11:57:34 We -- today was a truly historic day in the relationship between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United States. And we believe it's the beginning of a turning point in the relationship between the United States and the Arab and Islamic world. The -- his majesty, the custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, and President Donald Trump signed a joint strategic vision declaration which sets the stage for the building of a truly strategic relationship between our two countries. It will -- our relationship will evolve into an even more strategic partnership. It will deal with ways to cooperate in terms of violent extremism, financing of terrorism, terrorism, increasing defense capabilities, working on a defense architecture for the region, initially between our two countries and then looking at how other countries can join. The strategic vision also includes trade and investment, education, and working in all fields in order to enhance our common interests and deal with the challenges that face both of our countries. 11:58:48 This is unprecedented. We have not had an agreement, I believe, signed by a king of Saudi Arabia and a president to codify the strategic relationship and where we want to take it moving forward. So this was a great accomplishment, and Mr. Secretary, thank you for your efforts in this regard. The -- in addition to the signing of this strategic vision declaration, the two countries signed a series of agreements, both commercial as well as government-to-government, that involve trade investment, that involve infrastructure, that involve technology, that involve defense sales, that involve Saudi investments in American infrastructure as well as American investments in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, whether in the form of building up our defense manufacturing capability or other areas. The total value of those investments is in excess of $380 billion. I will not get into the details because I believe our colleagues have briefed the media about this extensively. 11:59:52 We expect that these investments over the next 10 years or so will provide hundreds of thousands of jobs in both the United States and in Saudi Arabia. They will lead to a transfer of technology from the U.S. to Saudi Arabia, enhance our economy, and also enhance the American investments in Saudi Arabia which already are the largest investments of anyone. The custodians of the Two Holy Mosques and President Trump had a very, very good and very wide-ranging conversation. They discussed, of course, the challenges facing the region and the world. They began by talking about the bilateral relationship and ways to enhance it and improve it in all areas. They discussed the scourge of terrorism, extremism, terror financing, and how we can work together to eradicate it. 12:01:12 They discussed the nefarious activities of Iran and the fact that action has to be taken in order to ensure that Iran does not continue with its aggressive policies in the region, and that Iran adhere to the letter by the agreement between made it and the P5+1 countries, that Iran ceases its support for terrorism, adhere to the U.N. Security Council resolutions with regard to ballistic missiles, and ceases its human rights violations, and its interference in the affairs of the country of the region. They discussed the situation in Syria. They discussed the importance of working towards peace between Israelis and Palestinians. The custodian of the Two Holy Mosques expressed the kingdom's optimism that President Trump, with a new approach and determination, can bring a conclusion to this long conflict. He certainly has the vision and we believe he has the strength and the decisiveness. And the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia stands prepared to work with the United States in order to bring about peace between Israelis and Palestinians and Israelis and Arabs. They also discussed the situation in Yemen. And, of course, they discussed trade and investment. It was a -- they had a great lunch where the conversation actually began before the meetings. The visit, as I mentioned, is a truly historic visit. We're very honored that President Trump chose to come to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on his first visit. And we look forward tomorrow to hosting the U.S.-GCC summit in Saudi Arabia and the Arab-Islamic-American summit which is historic and unprecedented that brings together the Islamic world with the United States into a partnership and begins to change the conversation from one of enmity to one of partnership. 12:02:32 The president is to be commended for his foresight and his vision in taking this very bold and very historic step which has the potential of changing our world. If we can change the conversation in the Islamic world from enmity towards the U.S. to partnership with the U.S., and if we can change the conversation in the U.S. and in the West from enmity towards the Islamic world to one of partnership, we will have truly changed our world and we will have truly drowned the voices of extremism, and we will have drained the swamps in which -- from which extremism and terrorism emanates. I cannot overstate the importance of such a gathering. And I believe after this visit the president will go to Israel and will go to the Vatican where he will essentially address the Jewish world and the Christian world and try to bring together the three major monotheistic religions in the world into a partnership so that we move from any discussion of a conflict of civilization and move towards a discussion of a partnership of civilization. And I want to stop here and thank my friend Rex Tillerson for indulging me for taking up so much time. Welcome to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Thank you for all your efforts. And congratulations on an extremely, extremely productive and historic visit. 12:03:52 REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, thank you. And thank all of you for being here this evening. And in particular want to thank my longtime friend and colleague Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir. Adel and I have known each other for many, many years when our facial features were much younger. We remember those days. But we have remained friends for all these many years and now colleagues. And I'm really proud to be here today with him to talk about this new strengthening of the U.S.-Saudi partnership and relationship. As Adel just described it, today truly is a historic moment in U.S.-Saudi relations. The United States of America, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are really dedicating ourselves to a new strategic partnership, new for the 21st Century, and charting a renewed path toward a peaceful Middle East where economic development, trade, diplomacy, are hallmarks of regional and global engagement, something that we will be working closely together on. 12:04:52 This growing partnership is really grounded in trust, trust between our two nations that we are pursuing the same objectives, cooperation and a shared interest. The elements of this declaration that was signed today, the joint strategic vision, there are many, many elements. And there's a lot of work now to implement those elements and really put them into motion. And so that is going to require significant ongoing engagement and dialog between our two nations. And so I think you will find that we will be meeting with a great deal of regularity in order to review how these things are progressing. And that is only going to serve to further strengthen I think our cooperation, and also I think sends a very strong message to our common enemies. It strengthens the bonds between us and it does chart this new pathway forward and will guide our path forward. 12:05:47 You know, at the core of our expanding relationship really are our shared security interests. America's security at home is strengthened when Saudi Arabia's security is strong as well. And the United States of America, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, are embarking on a number of new initiatives to counter violent extremist messaging, as you just heard Foreign Minister Jubeir describe. We're also going to be pursuing new approaches to disrupting financing of terrorism and advancing defense cooperation. Today, the United States and Saudi Arabia are conducting vital new expansions of security relationship that really spans over seven decades. But I think one of the real hallmarks of today is the economic cooperation, and, you know, if you have strong economic engagement between two countries, that really is foundational to a strong security relationship as well. As you heard Foreign Minister Jubeir mention, today we announced 23 foreign investment export licenses leading to upwards of more than $350 billion of historic direct investment, $109 billion of that is in arms sales to bolster the security of our Saudi partners. 12:07:07 These are going to result in literally hundreds of thousands of American jobs created by these direct investments in purchases of American goods, American equipment, American technology, but also, investment into the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as well. And I think it's important to note that this is an indication of the confidence that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has in the United States's investment climate. And I think as they evaluate the future investment climate of the United States, what they are seeing already are the positive impacts of President Trump's actions to improve the business climate in the U.S. for investment and job creation, and they intend to be a part of that with these investments. 12:07:51 Similar to this is a great vote of confidence in the United States in the business environment in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as they continue to advance in their own reforms and seek new opportunities for their own people to create jobs as well. So strong economic relationships are the foundation for strong security relationships as well. The intended sales of the defense packages in particular fall into five broad categories, border security and counterterrorism, maritime and coastal security, air force modernization, air and missile defense, cyber security, and communications upgrades. And I think you can surely identify in all of these, the importance that all of those areas haves to U.S. national security as well. 12:08:37 Obviously, along with this will go a lot of training and support to strengthen our partnership with the Saudi armed forces as well which just further strengths our mil-to-mil relationship. The package of defense equipment and services supports the long- term security of Saudi Arabia and the entire Gulf region, in particular in the face of malign Iranian influence and Iranian-related threats which exist on Saudi Arabia's borders on all sides. Additionally it bolsters the kingdom's ability to provide for its own security and continuing -- contributing to counterterrorism operations across the region. And the important part of this is this huge arms sales package reduces the burden on the United States to provide this same equipment to our own military forces and will strengthen Saudi security forces for the future so that Saudi Arabia is more capable of carrying a greater share of the burden of their own security which, as I indicated, is important to the U.S. national security as well. So it lowers the demands on our own military, but it also lowers the cost to the American people of providing security in this region. So extremely important to the future of the relationship, but also, to the cost of providing security for American citizens in this region. It does commit the -- it does demonstrate the commitment to our partnership with Saudi Arabia, as I indicated, expanding hundreds of thousands of new jobs. I think the other important announcement, which Adel just mentioned, was the new counterterrorism initiative, the new global center for combating extremist ideology, which will be opened in Riyadh, will be a Saudi-led hub for defeating extremism in the information space. As you've heard us say often, we have to defeat ISIS on the battlefield, but we really have to defeat ISIS in the cyber space. This is their recruiting tool. This is how they message to lone wolves around the world. And this center is going to concentrate heavily on how to enter that space from the standpoint of experts that live in this part of the world and understand how to message to those who might be influenced by radical messaging. Our partners in the Gulf Cooperation Council, including Saudi Arabia, will be signing a new agreement tomorrow to close gaps in many of these areas, including the financial infrastructure, which terrorists can exploit, and we commend them for refusing to let terrorists conduct financial operations in their countries. We are calling on all countries to crack down on the way financing and funds reach terrorist organizations. 12:11:20 All of these new initiatives will bolster our joint efforts to deter regional threats from Iran in Syria, Iran in Yemen, and on Saudi Arabia's borders, as I mentioned. These new steps forward will serve the national security interest of the American people and the kingdom both. We're very proud of this relationship that we're embarking upon with the kingdom and are very appreciative of the leadership of his royal highness King Salman in putting these initiatives forward. We've had a really productive day today, a truly historic day in this relationship. Thank you. QUESTION: Mr. Secretary... (CROSSTALK) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have time for just a few questions. QUESTION: Mr. Secretary... (CROSSTALK) QUESTION: Good afternoon, Secretary Tillerson. My question is, "together we prevail" is the slogan of this summit as a shared character in both King Salman's character and President Trump. Now you just said earlier in your briefing that Saudi Arabia and the United States share some objectives. Having said that, are there any crucial and solid actions that will be announced you're taking towards Iran policy of expanding in the region? 12:12:40 TILLERSON: Well, we are closely coordinating our efforts in terms of how to counter Iran's extremism and its export of extremism, in particular its support for foreign fighters, its payment of foreign fighters, its support of militia, that are operating not just in Yemen, but in Iraq and in Syria. We are coordinating carefully around how we view the nuclear agreement, the JCPOA to be used in containing Iran's nuclear aspirations. It's not just between ourselves and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, but as you're well aware, we have a group of like-minded that is focused on Yemen, a group of like-minded that is a coalition of countries focused on Syria. So I think the leadership really starts here in the kingdom with the strong leadership of his royal highness, as well as the crown prince, the deputy crown prince, and certainly the foreign minister. They have been wonderful and very strong conveners of others who are like-minded in terms of this fight against terrorism broadly, but specifically Iran's role in supporting extremist organizations. (CROSSTALK) QUESTION: Mr. Secretary -- and I have a question for you, (INAUDIBLE). Secretary Tillerson, two questions. Will you ever pick up the phone and call Iran's foreign minister? Have you ruled out diplomacy with Iran? And secondly, on Yemen, how does pouring in more weapons via Saudi Arabia actually hasten an end to that brutal war? And Minister al-Jubeir, can I get your reaction to the election -- re-election of Hassan Rouhani and what (INAUDIBLE) the Trump administration about whether to stick by what they have seen as a flawed nuclear agreement? 12:14:33 TILLERSON: Well, in terms of whether I would ever pick the phone up, I've never shut off the phone to anyone that wants to talk or have a productive conversation. At this point, I have no plans to call my counterpart in Iran, although in all likelihood we will talk at the right time. In terms of the situation in Yemen, our emphasis is on finding a political solution. We view it as a tragic situation, obviously millions of people on the brink of starvation because of the impact of the fighting. But we also think it's important to put the pressure on parties to come to the table and talk. So I want to make it clear that we have efforts under way on both fronts. I think the rebels in Yemen, those that have taken over the government in Yemen, have overthrown the government, have to know they cannot sustain this fight. They have to know that they will never prevail militarily. But they're only going to feel that when they feel the resistance militarily. So it's important we keep the pressure on them. And many of the armaments we're providing to Saudi Arabia will help them be much more precise and targeted with many of their strikes. But it's important that pressure be kept on the rebels in Yemen. 12:16:00 At the same time, we are actively engaged with others in the region to see if we can now advance a process by which we can bring this thing to a halt politically. We have a lot of work ahead of us in that regard. 12:16:17 AL-JUBEIR: Thank you. Margaret (ph), with regard to the re- election of Rouhani, this is an internal Iranian matter, who they choose for their president is their business, as it should be. From our perspective we judge Iran by its actions not by its words. The Iranians have in the past have said some things and done something else. They want to have better relations with us, but then they attack our embassies and assassinate our diplomats. They plant terror cells in my country and in countries allied to us. They supply militias that want to destabilize countries, like Hezbollah and like the Houthis and others in Syria with weapons. They intervene and meddle in the affairs of Arab countries like Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen. They support terrorism. They created the world's foremost terrorist organization, Hezbollah. They provide comfort and support for al Qaeda with many of the al Qaeda leaders living in Iran for now more than 15 years. They are -- they have a relationship with the Taliban that destabilizes Afghanistan. And so when Iran does all of these things, when they execute terrorist attacks in my country, in 1996, Khobar Tower bombings, where the Iranian military attache behind Brigadier General Sharifi, he was the control officer, with the heads of the plot escaped and fled to Iran and have been living in Iran ever since. This is the not the behavior of good neighborliness, and this is not the behavior of a country that wants others to treat it with respect. 12:17:49 This is the behavior of a state sponsor of terrorism who deservedly is on the list of state sponsors of terrorism, and who deservedly is sanctioned by the international community for this behavior. So if Iran wants to be a normal country and wants others to treat it like a normal country, it has to act in accord with international law and the values and the mores of the international system that have existed for centuries. We welcome an Iran that is open to the world. We welcome an Iran that lives at peace with its neighbor. We welcome an Iran that doesn't interfere in the affairs of other countries. But this is not the Iran we see. So when you come back to your question of what do we think about the re-election of Rouhani, we want to see deeds, not words. And we will continue to judge Iran based on its deeds. And we will continue to base our policy vis-a-vis Iran based on Iran's deeds. 12:18:45 If I may say something, Mr. Secretary, about Yemen. The perception is that we are fighting in Yemen for a reason or that we have no objective or no goals. The perception is that this was an aggressive war. It was not. People forget how this started. Saudi Arabia and the GCC worked together to come up with a GCC initiative which created the transition from President Saleh to President Hadi. Yemen was in a transitional period. The Yemenis set up what they call their national dialog which includes elements of all walks of Yemeni life and all regions of Yemen, women, students, tribal people, different religious sects. And they came up with a blueprint, a vision for what Yemen should look like going forward, a federal system, rights for everyone, and on and on and on. And then they were going to codify that into a constitution. Then the Houthis staged their coup. They attacked the city. They seized the government. And they took total control of a country that is critically important to the security of the region. 12:19:50 Now we have radical militia, allied with Iran and Hezbollah, in possession of ballistic missiles and an air force that has taken over a friendly government. Friendly government asks for support, we intervened. From day one we have said, there is no military solution. The solution is political. The Houthis have to go back to the negotiating table and implement the outcomes of the national dialog in Yemen. The Houthis are less than 50,000 in a country of 28 million. It is unacceptable that they would be allowed to seize power and get away with it. And so we and a coalition of countries have been fighting to restore the legitimate government of Yemen, which now is in control of 80 percent of the territory. We have made mistakes and we have acknowledged those and we have investigated those. But we have been charged with things that we didn't do. We were supposed to have attacked a wedding that never happened. We were supposed to have bombed the Old City Sana'a, which never took place. We are supposed to have destroyed cranes at Hudaydah port, which we didn't do, the Houthis did it from the ground up. 12:20:54 But these charges were leveled at the kingdom and the coalition and they were not correct. But the image prevailed that we were waging an aggressive war against the country and the Houthis were made to look like they're victims when it was they who started this and it was they who lobbed more than 40 ballistic missiles at our country's towns and cities. It is they who have violated thousands of times cease-fire arrangements that were put in place. It is they who have made 70 agreements and reneged on -- more than 70 and reneged on every single one of them, not the coalition, not the legitimate government. When it comes to assistance, Saudi Arabia has been by far the largest provider of humanitarian assist to Yemen. The areas under government control have no problem distributing aid. The areas that the Houthis control, they steal the aid and they sell it to fund their war machine. The starvation that exists in Yemen exists because the Houthis laid siege on towns and villages and will not allow humanitarian supplies to get in. That's why people are starving, not because of the bombing. 12:22:03 The starvation is because the Houthis steal ships coming in to Hudaydah, and like I said, sell the products to fund their war machine. We have distributed aid to every area of Yemen that we can. We are running the largest hospital inside there, incidentally, the Houthi capital, that the hospital that the kingdom built 30 years or so ago, and has been operating ever since in order to help the Yemenis. This hospital has been operating even through the hostilities because we have no enmity against any enemy, but we will not allow Iran (sic) to fall prey to a radical militia allied with Iran and Hezbollah. We know what that ends up looking like when we look at the past in our region. And so we appreciate the position of the Trump administration in terms of providing support for our efforts in Yemen, both diplomatically, logistically, and so forth. We appreciate their understanding of what's at stake here. And we appreciate and we believe that because of this support we will be able to put enough pressure on the Houthi (INAUDIBLE) to bring them to the negotiating table and to make an agreement based on the GCC initiative, the outcomes of the Yemeni national dialog, and U.N. Security Council 2216. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any others? (CROSSTALK) QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) will you please elaborate more on the Saudi-U.S. vision that was signed today, especially on the technology and the education? 12:23:39 AL-JUBEIR: The vision that was signed today is, as we both mentioned earlier, truly historic, because it's unprecedented. We have the custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and president of the United States signing an agreement on a -- signing a declaration that outlines a vision for how we want to elevate an already strategic relationship to an even higher level, that we want to intensify the consultation, we want to intensify the cooperation, whether it's in counterterrorism, whether it's in defense, whether it's in technology transfer, whether it's in education, whether it's in trade, whether it's investment. And we want to create a mechanism that is headed by both the custodians of the Two Holy Mosques and the president or whoever they designate that would be a group that would meet periodically in order to see how we can implement a lot of the visions or the strategies or the initiatives that we have. The expectation is that -- well, the United States, as I mentioned earlier, is the largest investor -- foreign investor in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. And incidentally, Exxon Mobil, the secretary's former company, is the largest single investor in Saudi Arabia. 12:24:52 The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been a good home for American investments. And American companies have been good partners who have transferred technology to the kingdom, who have provided jobs to Saudis, and who have also helped, most importantly, small- and mid- sized businesses gain work and gain technology and gain jobs. So this is very good. The vision and the economic agreements that were signed that Rex spoke about earlier will increase American investment in Saudi Arabia tremendously and will provide more opportunity for Saudi individuals and for Saudi small- and medium- sized businesses to benefit from those investments, including the technology transfer. As in reverse, American -- the American people will benefit from Saudi investments in the United States which will, again, provide hundreds of thousands of jobs. So I have -- like I said, this is a truly historic summit. This is a turning point in the relationship that will take it from a strategic relationship and partnership towards a truly strategic relationship and partnership. QUESTION: Mr. Secretary... (CROSSTALK) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll take our last question. Jen Jacobs (ph). We'll take our last question from Jen. (CROSSTALK) QUESTION: Two questions. Can you say if the election today of Rouhani will change anything in Iran? And also, Secretary Tillerson, would you able to say, does the White House know who this person of interest is that's being investigated in the Russia investigation? 12:26:32 TILLERSON: Let me -- I'm going to answer both of those as well and then turn it to the foreign minister. I do not have any information or knowledge regarding the person of interest that has been referenced. I might comment on the Iranian elections as well, that what we hope, what I would hope, is that Rouhani now has a new term and that he use that term to begin a process of dismantling Iran's network of terrorism, dismantling its financing of the terrorist network, dismantling the manning and the logistics and everything that they provide to these destabilizing forces that exist in this region. That's what we hope he does. We also hope that he puts an end to their ballistic missile testing. We also hope that he restores the rights of Iranians to freedom of speech, to freedom of organization so that Iranians can live the life that they deserve. 12:27:31 That's what we hope this election will bring. I'm not going to comment on my expectation, but we hope, if Rouhani wanted to change Iran's relationship with the rest of the world, those are the things he could do. 12:27:48 AL-JUBEIR: As a sign of how truly strategic our partnership is, I agree with what Rex said. (LAUGHTER) QUESTION: Mr. Secretary... (CROSSTALK) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, everybody. Thank you very much. Appreciate your time.
VENDÔME - RESTORATION OF THE CASTLE
Loire Bretagne
WHITE HOUSE BRIEFING WITH JOSH EARNEST - STIX
THE REGULAR WHITE HOSUE BRIEFING WITH JOSH EARNEST STIX White House Briefing with Josh Earnest DC Slug: 1230 WH BRIEF STIX RS37 77 & 1230 WH BRIEF CUTS RS38 78 AR: 16x9 Disc #807/829 808/830 NYRS: WASH3 (4523) / WASH4 (4524) 13:17:14 EARNEST: Good afternoon, everybody. Nice to see you. I apologize for the late start of the briefing. I wanted to give you all an opportunity to see the end of the spirited conversation that the president participated in in Georgetown. I suspect we'll have the opportunity to discuss that a little bit more here. Before we do, however, I want to commend to your attention a statement that was issued earlier today by Bernadette Meehan, who is the spokesperson for the National Security Council. She issued a statement today that it's with a heavy heart that earlier this week, we marked American journalist Austin Tice's 1,000th day in captivity. I won't read re-read her entire statement, but obviously our thoughts and prayers are not just with Austin today, but they're also with his parents, Debra and Marc and his brothers and sisters who are missing him dearly. 13:18:02 The United States government, working closely with our Czech protecting power in Syria, is trying to bring him home. And that is an effort that is ongoing and has been for some time, and certainly something that we are very focused on every day, but today we're particularly mindful of this week being his 1,000th day in captivity. So, on that somber note, Jim, let's move to your questions. QUESTION: Thanks. I wanted to ask you about trade and this procedural vote that's going to take place this afternoon in the Senate. We're already hearing some pro-trade Democrats' kind of low-ball expectations on that vote. I believe Steny Hoyer in the House said that if that -- if the 60 votes don't materialize, it's not the end of the story. I'm wondering how much of a setback is it to the president to lose this vote today, if that were to happen? Is it -- does it -- are there other opportunities ahead? Or is this an uphill climb or a worst climb (inaudible)? 13:19:07 EARNEST: Well, Jim, the thing that we have been very clear about from the very beginning is that the president was seeking from the United States Congress the authority necessary to complete the TPP agreement and the authority that's necessary to enforce it. And we were gratified earlier this spring when the Senate Finance Committee acted in bipartisan fashion to produce legislation that would do exactly that. 13:19:30 Not only was that legislation supported by both Democrats and Republicans on the committee, it was supported by a majority of Republicans and a majority of Democrats on the committee. And that is a testament to the commitment to bipartisanship that's been on display in the Senate in the Finance Committee in particular. 13:19:50 EARNEST: Now, what's also true is that it is not unprecedented, to say the least, for the United States Senate to encounter procedural snafus. That was true when Democrats were in charge of the United States Senate. We have talked before about that's been true when Republicans have been in charge of the United States Senate. And what we're hopeful is that every member of the United States Senate can summon the bipartisan spirit that was on display in the Senate Finance Committee to work through this procedural snafu. 13:20:26 And the good news is that we have seen statements in public already today from people like Leader McConnell, from Senator Wyden, even Senator Hatch, who obviously was instrumental to crafting this bipartisan compromise, to a willingness to work in bipartisan fashion to untangle this procedural knot that the Senate right now is mired in. 13:20:54 So we're obviously going to continue to remain engaged with Members of the United States Senate. But the truth is most of our discussions are focused on the substance. And you know, the Senate has a process for working through these procedural challenges and we're pleased to see Democrats and Republicans both indicating a willingness to work through these procedural challenges. QUESTION: It seems one of the main challenges right now is deciding which aspects of trade and trade-related bills get dealt with. Does the President have a view on whether there's particularly a bill on customs provisions that includes a currency -- currency language that the White House is not thrilled with, but would have -- certainly did not want it in the Trade Promotion Authority Bill. It ended up in the customs bill. Does the President want that to proceed? Would the President prefer that just two bills, as McConnell has proposed move through the process? 13:21:57 EARNEST: Well, what we've been clear about is the President needs both the authority to complete the TPP deal as well as the authority necessary to enforce it. And there are obviously strongly held views in the Senate that many times cross partisan lines about the wisdom of the way in which the legislation is written and advance through the Senate. 13:22:20 So these are procedural challenges that members of the Senate will have to work through. And the President of the United States and members of his staff will continue to remain engaged and having conversations with members of the Senate, the Democrats and Republicans, about the substance of this proposal. And we're going to continue to work through these challenges. QUESTION: Procedural challenges ultimately become in the fate of legislation, however. And I'm wondering, given the effort that the President has put into this, what does it say about those efforts if, right now on the verge of the eve -- on the verge of this vote, we still don't know which way it's going to come out? 13:23:03 EARNEST: Well, I just would observe that these kinds of procedural snafus have cropped up, even when we're talking about otherwise pretty simple and straightforward pieces of legislation. And the legislation that currently is -- that has been passed through the Senate Finance Committee is anything but simple and straightforward. I think anybody would acknowledge that this complicated. But the President believes that it doesn't give him the authority that's necessary to complete the deal and to enforce it. And that's why he has been strongly encouraging Democrats to support it. 13:23:43 But that's different from the kind of procedure snafu that currently is facing the United States Senate. So they're going to have to, you know, work through this challenge and we'll remain engaged with them as they do. OK. QUESTION: So a group of pro-trade Senators are saying they're not going to support today's vote, unless the four bills are packaged together. What is the White House position on packaging those four bills together? Do you agree with them or would you rather they just do the one thing or what do you think? 13:24:15 EARNEST: Well, the case that we have made to both Democrats and Republicans, but principally Democrats, is that the authority that's vested in this legislation is critically important to the future of our economy. And so we have made a case both publicly and privately about the importance of the Senate acting in bipartisan fashion to get this done. And we are gratified that we saw that kind of bipartisanship in the Senate Finance Committee. And it's going to be incumbent upon Democrats and Republicans in the Senate to work together to figure out how to overcome this procedural snafu and advance legislation that, as we saw in the Finance Committee, has clear bipartisan support in the Senate. QUESTION: So you're not going to take a position on how that snafu, as you call it, should be worked through? 13:25:05 EARNEST: Well, when it comes to these procedural things, you know, we have often made clear that it's the responsibility of the Senate to work through them. We're going to continue to remain engaged and have conversations with members of the Senate as they do exactly that. But ultimately, this will be the responsibility of members of the Senate to work through. 13:25:25 One other thing that I will say is, and again I've said this about legislation that's far less complicated than this one, which is that we live in an era of divided government where there are Republicans who are in charge of both houses of Congress. There's a Democrat that's sitting in the Oval Office. There is a Republican majority in the Senate, but it's not a filibuster-proof majority, which means that for anything to become law, party-line votes are not going to cut it. And that's why, you know, we're going to continue to urge members of the Congress to act in bipartisan fashion. We've seen that kind of bipartisan spirit on display in the Senate Finance Committee and it yielded a good result. 13:26:05 And we're hopeful that as the Senate works through these -- through this particular procedural snafu that they will encounter the kind of bipartisan compromise that will be required to advance any legislation. QUESTION: (inaudible) topic, Iranian warships are traveling with a cargo ship that is bound for Yemen. And Tehran says that the cargo ship is carrying aid. What's the U.S. response to this? And will the U.S. presence in that region make an effort to stop Iran from moving this -- letting this ship go directly to Yemen? 13:26:42 EARNEST: Roberta, I can tell you that the United States is monitoring this latest maritime shipment from Iran to Yemen. What we expect is that the humanitarian assistance that Iran is willing to offer will be -- will occur through the process that's already established by the United Nations. 13:27:02 Now, what the United Nations has done is they've established essentially a relief effort inside of Djibouti where humanitarian aid can be off-loaded in Djibouti. It can be processed by U.N. experts. And effectively and efficiently distributed to those who are most in need in Yemen. 13:27:26 This has the effect of ensuring that, for example, there's no accusation of -- of political preference being demonstrated by who receives the aid. We can also make sure that the aid that's needed in some parts of the country gets to the right places. In some places, the priorities can be placed on medical supplies. In some cases, there will be a priority placed on food. In other cases, there may be a priority placed on fuel. This is basically an effort to try to be responsive to the needs of the local populations. And there are officials at the United Nations that have an expertise in this area. 13:28:04 The thing that's also important is that using this essentially a logistics hub in Djibouti will allow for the enforcement of United Nations Security Council resolution 2216, which put in place an arms embargo against the Houthi rebels. And so by allowing the U.N. to process those humanitarian donations and to efficiently distribute them, we'll make sure that we're enforcing the arms embargo, while at the same time most efficiently and ineffectively delivering assistance to those who are most in need. QUESTION: So will the U.S. ensure that that ship does not go (OFF-MIKE) Houthi or whoever? 13:28:44 EARNEST: Well, it's my understanding that the journey of this particular maritime vessel has only recently begun from Iran, and we're monitoring the -- the shipment, and again we would urge Iran to utilize this relief hub that's been established in Djibouti. 13:29:04 I mean, the other thing that I'll -- I guess the last thing I'll point out on this, is that the Iran understands that they can't afford to play games with humanitarian assistance to people who are in dire need, like we see in Yemen. And the Iranians know as well as anyone that a political stunt to defy their regional rivals outside the U.N. system is provocative and risks a collapse of the U.N.-led humanitarian cease-fire that's scheduled to go in place later today. OK. Mara. QUESTION: Just back to trade for a minute. This seems to kind of dismiss (OFF-MIKE) is just a procedural snafu. Assuming it gets stalled, do you feel confident you have the votes in both houses to pass fast track? 13:29:50 EARNEST: Well, the -- what is true, and I think Senator Wyden himself, through one form or another made clear, that the concerns they have about the current procedural problem in the United States Senate has not in any way affected his overall support for the legislation that advanced through the Senate Finance Committee. QUESTION: His overall support or Democrats' overall support? 13:30:17 EARNEST: His overall support. QUESTION: OK. EARNEST: And I think that the point is, I think as other Democrats talk about this, I think that you'll find other Democrats who are saying the same thing. QUESTION: And you're confident? 13:30:28 EARNEST: Well, what I'm confident is that the -- that a no vote on this procedural situation should not be interpreted as a change in position on the substance of the bill. And again, I don't speak for these senators, so you should go ask them, but Senator Wyden, I know, is one person who has made clear that that's his view. I suspect that there a number of others. I say that based on the fact that there were seven Democrats who voted this particular legislation out of the Senate Finance Committee, and that I think is an indication that there is present already Democratic support for this legislation, and the potential that even more Democrats could support the legislation, as if and when it makes its way to the floor. QUESTION: Great, but is the president frustrated that Hillary Clinton hasn't said anything in support of this? 13:31:19 EARNEST: Not particularly. She's not a member of the United States Senate. I think if she weren't a member of the -- if she were a member of the United States Senate, then -- then we might. But in this case, you know, she's -- she's got a campaign to run, and I think what she -- what she has indicated is consistent with what the president has said about this in terms of the goal of the TPP negotiations, which is to open up opportunity for American businesses overseas in a way that we can ensure benefits to middle class families across the country. 13:31:50 The president obviously shares those values and shares that goal. OK, Richard. QUESTION: Thank you, Josh. Two questions. First one, Russia. Is the -- is the Secretary Kerry bringing a message, a personal message from president to president? 13:32:06 EARNEST: I don't know that there's a personal message that the Secretary of State is bringing with him, is taking with him to Russia, but obviously there are a range of issues that will be discussed by the secretary of state and both his Russian counterpart and President Putin. As I showed before I walked out here, I was informed that the meeting with President Putin had just begun, so there are a range of issues for us to talk about, everything from obviously the situation in Syria, to the on-going negotiations with Iran. Russia has played a key part in those talks as a member of the P5-plus-1. 13:32:44 And we're certainly going to spend a lot of time talking about the situation in Ukraine and the need for Russia and the separatists that they back in Eastern Ukraine to live up to the terms of the Minsk implementation plan. 13:32:59 So far, we haven't seen that. But living up to those commitments will be in a critical part of deescalating the conflict that we see in Ukraine right now. QUESTION: Conceivable that the relationship will go ahead, even if nothing really changes on the Ukrainian front? 13:33:15 EARNEST: Well, as we've talked about a number of times in this room, the -- the United States has a complicated relationship with Russia, that there are some very vigorous disagreements we have on a number of issues. The most prominent of them is Ukraine. It's certainly not the only one. But there are a wide range of other areas where the United States and Russia have been able to work effectively together to advance the interests of citizens in both our countries, and everything, you know, this is indicative -- this is true of the space program, where obviously Russian scientists and astronauts have worked closely and effectively with American scientists and astronauts to explore outer space. 13:33:54 EARNEST: This has also been true of ridding Syria of their declared chemical weapons stockpile, that that would not have occurred without the effective coordination cooperation of the United States and Russia to round up that declared chemical weapons stockpile and dispose of it in a way that would prevent the proliferation of those specific materials that would proliferate it and pose a pretty serious threat to our interest and to our people. QUESTION: May be simplistic. But you say often complicated relationship. But would you say it's still a constructive relationship? 13:34:33 EARNEST: There's no question that we have been able to use elements of our relationship to advance the national security interest of the United States. The national security interest of the United States was enhanced with the destruction of Syria's declared chemical weapons stockpile. The national security interest of the United States is advanced, if we can capitalize on this diplomatic opportunity to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. 13:34:54 Again, that will require the cooperation and support of Russian negotiators. And thus far, that's exactly what we've received, in way that's good for the United States. It also happens to be good for the people of Russia. And so, I think that is an indication that we can work effectively together, despite the significant disagreements we have, about the way that Russia has handled their business, when it comes to their relationship with Ukraine. QUESTION: Last question, totally different topic. Sorry. The Braddy (ph) story -- Tom Brady story. I just want to know. EARNEST: People in Canada following this closely. (CROSSTALK) QUESTION: Hopefully -- actually. EARNEST: OK. QUESTION: And not only the people in general, but also the kids are following American football a lot. EARNEST: Yeah. QUESTION: And I would like to know how does the White House see, like, prominent players like this, should they be a role model -- aren't they role model for kids? And by extension, shouldn't they follow higher standards of overall behavior? 13:35:47 EARNEST: Well, there has been a lot of discussion. (LAUGHTER) I will say that I spent a lot of time thinking about all the things that are going to come up in this briefing and a number of them we'll get to. This is one of them, actually. I will just say that as a general matter, I have not spoken to the President about this particular issue. And I haven't thought nearly as much about this issue as, obviously, executives at the NFL have, and as many NFL fans and particularly Patriots fans have. 13:36:20 I will say, just as a general matter, that I do think that people around the world, particularly children, particularly boys, do look up to Tom Brady. He is somebody who has a reputation for professionalism. He's somebody who's enjoyed tremendous success on the football and has carried himself off the field in a way that has earned the respect of a lot of people. 13:36:45 And I think that has he confronts this particular situation and he determines what the next steps will be for him, that he'll be mindful of the way that he serves to be -- the way he serves as a role model to so many, not just American kids as you point out, but to kids around the world. Andrew (ph)? QUESTION: Raul Castro said today that Cuba and the U.S. could exchange our ambassadors as soon as May 29th, I think he said. Does that fit your expected time frame and could we see a re-establishment of diplomatic relations within weeks? 13:37:19 EARNEST: Well, I know that there are additional conversations that are planned between now and the end of May. And you know, our efforts to work with Cuba to start to normalize the relations between our two countries is something that we continue to pursue. The President had the opportunity to visit with President Castro in Panama a few weeks ago. And that certainly continue to advance this effort toward normalization. They also had an opportunity to have an extended discussion the priority that the United States places on respecting basic universal human rights. 13:37:56 And you know, these are -- that is a -- we have expressed quite often in public and in private the concerns that we have with the Cuban Government and the frequency with which they trample (ph) the basic universal human rights of their people. And that's a concern. And the President's view is that after 50 years of a policy that tried to isolate Cuba, that the United States demonstrated very little ability to influence the Cuban government on -- when it came to basic protections for human rights. 13:38:29 And the president feels strongly that by changing our policy, by seeking greater engagement not just between the Cuban government and the American government, but between the Cuban people and the American people, that we can continue to support the Cuban people as they seek the kind of government that respects their rights and allows them to fulfill their ambitions. 13:38:52 So we're going to continue to advance this process and it's one that this administration takes very seriously. And it's been -- it continues to be the source of extensive discussion within the United States government, but also with the Cuban government. QUESTION: (inaudible) president have ambassadorial candidates or a short list in mind? EARNEST: He may, but not one I'm prepared to announce right now. OK? Margaret? QUESTION: Thank you. (inaudible) TPA question, but first a Tom Brady followup. EARNEST: OK. QUESTION: So, I just wanted to clarify. You said that you hadn't spoken with the president about it yet. Did you mean the issue of whether Tom Brady should be a role model for kids? Or do you mean at all? Because we were sort of trying to figure out what he thinks as a sports fan about the punishment both for Brady and for the team. And also on a related thread, the idea that the controversy over whether or not he skipped the White House announcement because he's angry about you and the president (inaudible)? 13:39:49 EARNEST: Well, the -- I saw some of those news reports myself. The -- I have not spoken to the president since this latest announcement from the NFL, I guess it was just yesterday, about the -- the punishment that they've handed down against the Patriots and against Mr. Brady. And I've not spoken to the president about Mr. Brady's status as a role model. 13:40:10 I've also not talked to the president about Mr. Brady's decision not to attend the White House celebration of their Super Bowl victory last -- earlier this year. QUESTION: (inaudible) he thinks about (inaudible). EARNEST: OK. There may be an opportunity for you to ask him. QUESTION: OK. On TPA-TPP, Patty Murray spotted, as they say, outside with Denis McDonough just before the president left for Georgetown. And I'm wondering what that was about. Was it her coming to give him a heads up? Was it him trying to do a last minute whip kind of thing? And was there anyone else here? Like, what -- what was going down there? What happened? What was that? 13:40:46 EARNEST: Well, my understanding is that Senator Murray had a meeting at the White House on an entirely different issue. But as indicative... (CROSSTALK) QUESTION: (inaudible) Tom Brady? (LAUGHTER) EARNEST: Possibly. (LAUGHTER) Given her status as a loyal Seahawks fan, I doubt it. (LAUGHTER) 13:41:05 But she was here on a different issue, and I do think that -- I am aware that the chief of staff did want to have a conversation with her while she was here on the, you know, the current efforts to resolve the procedural snafu in the United States Senate. 13:41:21 This is indicative of the kinds of conversations that the president and senior White House officials have been having over the last several weeks with members of the Senate in both parties, mostly Democrats, but occasionally a Republican conversation or two. And, you know, again, we're going to continue to try to nurture this bipartisan agreement. And as members of the Senate try to tap into that bipartisan spirit that allowed for the strong support of this legislation at the committee level, hopefully we'll be able to advance on the floor as well. QUESTION: (inaudible) so he -- he grabbed her on the way out, because he knew she was here and he did want to talk to her? 13:41:57 EARNEST: I don't know if it was on the way out or on the way in. She was here for a different reason, and they did have a brief conversation about... QUESTION: Yeah, that's what they were talking about even though that's not why she was originally (inaudible). EARNEST: Correct. QUESTION: OK. Thanks. EARNEST: John? 13:42:09 KARL QUESTION: You called this issue with the trade bill a "snafu." EARNEST: That's correct. KARL QUESTION: A procedural snafu. EARNEST: A procedural snafu. (CROSSTALK) KARL QUESTION: A procedural snafu. (CROSSTALK) KARL QUESTION: Remind me. What does SNAFU stand for? (LAUGHTER) 13:42:22 EARNEST: This is a family program, John (ph)? KARL QUESTION: The first words are "situation normal." (LAUGHTER) KARL QUESTION: But -- but isn't the core of the problem here that prominent -- some of the most prominent figures in the president's party on Capitol Hill are simply not with him on this? It's not just Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders on the left. I mean, it's... EARNEST: Those are prominent figures in their own right. KARL QUESTION: Sure. Yeah. But I mean, within the leadership... (CROSSTALK) KARL QUESTION: Of course, Elizabeth Warren's now a member of leadership. 13:42:53 EARNEST: Yeah. I would acknowledge that there are -- there are a number of Democrats who do not intend to support this legislation. But what I would also quickly follow up to say is that it's the president's view that there is ample reason for Democrats to support legislation that would give him the authority to complete the TPP negotiations and the authority that's necessary to enforce whatever agreement is reached. 13:43:15 KARL QUESTION: So what does that say about the president's power of persuasion with his own party right now that the -- that the most prominent players on Capitol Hill don't agree with him on this, are not convinced by his arguments on this and the most prominent player outside, Hillary Clinton, won't step forward to -- to make the case or even, you know, say she agrees with the president? 13:43:37 EARNEST: I think what I would do, John, is I would urge you to withhold judgment about the president's persuasion ability until we've had an opportunity to try to advance this piece of legislation... (CROSSTALK) EARNEST: I would -- I'm not in the prediction business, particularly when it comes to actions that are taken on Capitol Hill. But I think the president's made clear that he considers this to be a domestic priority, principally because of the positive impact it would have on expanding economic opportunity for American businesses and American workers. 13:44:04 QUESTION: OK, then (inaudible) subject, the decision to allow Shell to drill in the Arctic, as you've seen, environmental groups are -- are upset by this decision. One, Friends of the Earth said, "It is outrageous how our own government appears determined to sacrifice our precious Arctic ocean for Shell's profits. What is your response to that, and how do you square this decision to allow more drilling in the Arctic with what the president has said about climate change? 13:44:38 EARNEST: John (ph), this reflects the all -- all-of-the-above approach that this administration has taken to our energy security. And the face is we have taken steps to open up some regions of the Arctic to closely supervise drilling by Shell. There're some additional permitting steps that need to take place before the -- this activity will begin. 13:45:03 But this is something that will be done under the script oversight of the Department of Interior, and it will be consistent with the upgraded safety standards that have been put in place in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. 13:45:17 What's also true is that there are significant areas of the Arctic that have been designated for protection under the leadership of this president. That includes 9.8 million acres in the waters of the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas. That includes the designation to protect Alaska's Bristol Bay from mining activity. And you'll recall there was a big hullabaloo when the president reupped his proposal to permanently protect another national treasure, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. 13:45:51 And, you know, that's an indication that we need to have an all-of-the-above approach. What's also part of this approach is investment in and capitalizing on the opportunity that exists when it becomes -- when it comes to renewable energy. That's why, under the president's watch, we've seen that the amount of energy that's generated by the wind has tripled just under the president's tenure in office, and we've actually seen that the amount of energy that's generated by the wind has tripled just under the president's tenure in office. And we've actually seen that the amount of energy that's produced by solar has increased 20 times since the president's first day in office. 13:46:23 So, we've made substantial progress in investing in and capitalizing on the opportunity that exists when it comes to renewable energy. We've talked at length about the kinds of steps that we have taken when it comes to increasing energy efficiency, both in our cars and trucks but also in our buildings, in a way that's had positive economic benefits for middle class families across the country, but also had a positive impact on our climate. 13:46:45 But what's also true is the president's committed to ensuring that we are doing as much as we can to protect our energy security, and that means looking for opportunities to safely you know, develop sources of energy on American soil. And I think this -- again, this decision reflects the effort to pursue that all of the above approach. OK. Bill? QUESTION: The president today talked at some length about rates for the panel on poverty that he had in Georgetown. EARNEST: Mm-hmm. QUESTION: His remarks seemed deeply personal, and at much greater length than we've heard. And on top of this, the first lady of course made some remarks about her experiences with rates at her speech in Tuskegee. Is this something that they've set out to do? Is this a change of some sort? Is there a message they're starting to send? 13:47:40 EARNEST: Well, I think that what -- much of what you've seen from the president, at least over the last couple of weeks, has been a reflection of the national debate and dialog that has been taking place across the country when it comes to these issues of the relationship between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve and protect. There is a obviously significant overlap when it comes to that issue and the issue of race. They're not the same thing, but to deny that race is an element of some of those challenges is to deny sort of the basic fact of what's going on. 13:48:18 And the president, you know, has been asked a number of questions about this, and he's answered them. And talking about -- spoken about it freely. QUESTION: In the previous six years, he's had relatively little to say about race. 13:48:29 EARNEST: Well, I don't know. The president gave a pretty prominent speech when he was running for office on this topic, and the president had ample opportunity to weigh in on things like the tragic death of Trayvon Martin, and other situations where the president has spoken out on these issues, principally because they've been part of a broader national debate, and the president, as the first black president of the United States, I think has something, and he thinks has something important to contribute to that debate. 13:48:51 And so, you know, I think what the president was most interested in talking about today was a discussion and an examination and in some cases even a debate about how to expand economic opportunity in this country for all Americans. But you know, at different points in the conversation, it did cause him to reflect more on his own views about how to address some of the challenges that we face when it comes to the persistent divisions around race. QUESTION: He also mentioned Austin Tice at the outset. We believe he's been held by the Syrians, and is there anything particular we're doing to try to obtain his release, as opposed to other hostages? 13:49:33 EARNEST: Well, we continue to be very focused on trying to rescue and return him. I don't have much I can say in terms of our view about where or by whom he's is being held, but I can tell you that we continue to work through our Czech protecting power in Syria, to get information about his welfare and his whereabouts. And we're certainly appreciative of the Czech mission for their efforts on behalf of Austin and effectively on behalf of the American people in trying to secure his safe return. 13:50:05 The other thing that's true is the United States has been in periodic direct contact with Syrian government officials, strictly on consular issues, including the case of Austin Tice. But for privacy and security reasons, I don't have any additional details about that beyond -- beyond that description of periodic direct contact with government -- Syrian government officials. QUESTION: Do you have anything on a helicopter missing in Nepal? EARNEST: I don't have anything on that, but we can check on it. OK. Jim? QUESTION: Josh. Getting back to the president's remarks at this poverty event, at one point, he said "there are some communities where I am not -- I don't know -- not only do I not know poor people, I don't even know people who have trouble paying the bills at the end of the month. I just don't know these people." Was he trying to say that he is somewhat out of touch? 13:50:53 EARNEST: No. (LAUGHTER) That would be a gross misreading of his comments. QUESTION: That's why I'm asking. EARNEST: That's good, and I'm glad you did. The president began those comments by noting that what we see in this country is a greater degree of class segregation, and what that essentially means is that -- is that -- that people who are in the upper income brackets live in neighborhoods where they're surrounded by other people who are in the same income bracket and don't come into regular contact with people who may have -- may have trouble paying the bills on a monthly basis. 13:51:27 And the president, I was articulating his concern that that kind of segregation, class segregation, has affected our -- has affected the policy debate about the best way to address some of these persistent challenges in our society. 13:51:44 And I think the president indicated that it was important for all of us to challenge ourselves to sort of step outside of our own comfort zone and to think more broadly about some of these issues. QUESTION: And with those comments today and the announcement about the library, it seems to be I don't know, it seems as if he's starting to think about his legacy, and that his legacy is on his mind. And I know you're going to tell me he's hard at work, you know, trying to get things done for the American people. Well, we'll think about legacy every once in awhile, but you know, he's not going to spend a whole lot of time thinking about that. But it does seem like he's spending some time thinking about that. 13:52:19 EARNEST: Well -- Jim, the principal reason that the President established a foundation and appointed some of his closest friends and most trusted advisers to serve on that foundation is so that he wouldn't have to spend so much time thinking about it. That has been the work of the board of the foundation and they have, of course, kept the President updated on their work. They've kept the First Lady updated on their work, too. She's got a say in this. And... QUESTION: Well, I guess my point is he is thinking about it. He's spending a lot more time thinking about... EARNEST: Well, I guess my... QUESTION: ... talking about it. 13:52:47 EARNEST: ... I guess my point is that the President is focused on his responsibility as the President of the United States. And I think that he's been very clear with all of you that he's determined to used every single day that he has remaining in office to advance the agenda that he's put forth for the American people. And that's why he would set up a system where he would have people who are focused on his post-Presidency life who can start working and planning for that stuff now, so that the President himself doesn't have to dedicate nearly as much time or energy or thought to that process. And he'll have ample time post-presidency, to think about what those kinds of priorities will be. QUESTION: And what does the selection of the south side of Chicago say about the legacy of his presidency? 13:53:29 EARNEST: Well, you know, obviously, the south side of Chicago is where the President got his political start. And the President spent many of his formative years in that community. And it's where he met his wife, it's where he raised his kids. But it's also where he got interested in politics and interested in public service and interested in trying to work through the government system to benefit people all across the country, but also ensure that we're expanding economic opportunity for everybody and particularly for middle-class families and for those who are trying to get into the middle class. 13:54:09 And you know, that's -- I think that's what makes the south side of Chicago an appropriate venue for the future Obama presidential library. QUESTION: And getting back to Putin, is the President trying to test the waters here to see if that relationship can be improved? Is that why the Secretary met with him? EARNEST: Well, no... QUESTION: What's going on... 13:54:27 EARNEST: ... I would not describe it that way. I would describe this as, part of our regular efforts to communicate with the Russian Government, Secretary of State John Kerry... QUESTION: He can do that with Foreign Minister Lavrov. This is -- how long has it been since a high-level person from this administration has met with Vladimir Putin? EARNEST: I'm not... QUESTION: I would imagine it's been a while. 13:54:51 EARNEST: It probably has been a few months, at least, since the President spoke to him on the phone. QUESTION: It's a significant meeting, it seems to me. It would be (inaudible) as a significant meeting. EARNEST: Well, I think any time that you're meeting with the Russian President and it's the Secretary of State that's doing it, then yes, that would be an important meeting. But it is, you know, part and parcel of our ongoing effort to communicate with the Russian Government on a wide range of issues. Many of those issues will be difficult ones to discuss around the table, because we have pretty -- we have significant differences with them, when it comes to the need for Russia to respect the basic territorial integrity of their Ukrainian neighbors. 13:55:25 At the same time, there are other areas where we're able to work more constructively and cooperatively to advance the interests of both our countries. And I'm confident that issues in both categories will get significant attention in today's talks. QUESTION: Maybe I'm beating around the bush too much. I'll get right to it. So -- and the G7 meeting is coming up next month. There's no possibility that Russian can be invited back into the G7 and it will become the G8, certainly not within the next month, I would imagine. EARNEST: That's... QUESTION: Has that kind of conversation at all happened? 13:55:53 EARNEST: Well, at this point, I think that's pretty difficult to imagine. You know, we've got -- we've laid out a long list of concerns that we have with Russian behavior. But I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that we've also been very clear, both in public and in private, with the Russians about what kind of steps they can take to essentially reduce the amount of isolation that they're currently facing. 13:56:16 We've seen that the Russian economy has -- has weakened significantly both because of declining energy prices, but also because of the sanctions that have been put in place by the United States, in coordination with our European allies. And we've been very clear that we'd be prepared to take some steps to relax or even remove those sanctions if Russia started to live up to the commitments that they've made in the context of the Minsk implementation plan. 13:56:44 And there's obviously a lot of work for them to do to live up to those commitments because thus far they haven't. But if there's any mystery about what will be required to get -- for Russia to be able to start to enjoy the benefits of a more normal relationship with countries around the world and with countries in Europe, and certainly the United States, there shouldn't be because we've been very clear about what kinds of steps we'd like to see them take. OK? But I guess my point is I don't envision those -- I'm happy to be proven wrong, but I don't envision those steps being completed in advance of next month's G-7 meeting. QUESTION: (inaudible) talking about Russia in space and you sounded somewhat more optimistic than some of the language we've heard from this administration over the last several months with respect to Russia and (inaudible) isolation... (CROSSTALK) 13:57:33 EARNEST: Well, I think that -- I think that underscores the complexity of our relationship and certainly doesn't in any way diminish the very serious concerns that we have with Russia's failure to respect the territorial integrity of their Ukrainian neighbors. OK? Chris? QUESTION: Thanks, Josh. (inaudible) the movement to put a woman on the 20 dollar bill have announced that they have voted -- the public has voted for Harriet Tubman. EARNEST: A wonderful choice. QUESTION: They've delivered a petition to the White House formally asking the president to take action on this. Is he even aware of this? Would he direct -- I guess it would be Secretary Lew to look into it any further? 13:58:11 EARNEST: This organization has been quite effective at generating media attention. And the president as an avid consumer of the news I'm confident has at least a general awareness of their efforts. I don't know if he's aware of the petition that they -- that they delivered. But, you know, for questions about the currency, I'd refer you to the Treasury Department and Secretary Lew. QUESTION: Care to venture a guess on how likely it is we'll see a woman on the 20 by 2020? (LAUGHTER) 13:58:37 EARNEST: No. (LAUGHTER) All right. QUESTION: Going back to trade for a minute, beyond the meeting that you referenced with Senator Murray, what else has the White House been doing in these last couple of days to make a last push? Has the president been making calls? Has Denis McDonough been making calls? Or at this point, are you just counting on the Senate to resolve this procedural snafu? 13:59:03 EARNEST: There have been a number of calls that have been placed by everyone -- by many people at the White House; by many senior White House officials up to and including the president. I don't have any details about those conversations or those phone calls to share with you. There were reports that the president had scheduled a meeting yesterday with a small group of Senate Democrats that had to be put off because of the voting schedule on the floor of the United States Senate. You might call that a scheduling snafu. But these -- these kinds of things crop up. And I think -- I mention it only to highlight that this gives you a pretty good indication of our ongoing efforts to engage members of the United States Senate and to encourage them to support legislation that would give the president the authority that he needs to complete the agreement and the authority that he needs to enforce it. OK? Leslie? QUESTION: Thanks, Josh. I wanted to go back to the library. The president has said that he will not be involved in raising money for it himself, but a lot of good government... EARNEST: While he's in office. QUESTION: Yes, while he's in office. Yes. But a lot of good-government groups have suggested that it still raises the possibility of conflict of interest by having groups that he's very much affiliated with raising money for the library. Does the White House consider this a conflict? And have you done anything to prevent this? 14:00:19 EARNEST: Well, I'd refer you to my colleagues at the Foundation who will be steeped in all these details. But I can tell you that there are a number of steps that the Foundation is planning to take to ensure that they live up to the high standards that the president established as a candidate for this office. The Foundation will not accept donations from PACs or lobbyists while the president is in office. The Foundation will not accept donations from foreign governments while the president is in office. And the Foundation intends to disclose, on a quarterly basis, the donations that they do receive in excess of $200 or $250, again, to sort of fulfill the transparency that the president's talked about quite a bit. And -- so go ahead. QUESTION: Was that something that was worked out with the White House to avoid potential conflicts of interest? 14:01:09 EARNEST: Well, though -- certainly the Foundation was interested in living up to the very high standard that the president himself established. I don't know, frankly, if there were any specific conversations that took place between the White House and the Foundation. But, again, based on the fact that the president had appointed to the Foundation people who are intimately aware of his knowledge and his approach to these issues in the past understood that it would be a priority for the Foundation to live up to that high standards the president himself set in the context of his campaign. OK? Alexis? QUESTION: Just to clarify -- just -- you're saying, just to make sure, any dollar you would like to give to the library while the president is serving as president, who would like to give more than $200 has to agree that their donation will be made public? 14:02:00 EARNEST: That's my understanding. You should confirm that with the Foundation, but that's my understanding of the rules that they've established. OK? Dave? QUESTION: Thanks, Josh. At the GCC Summit later this week, does the president intend to bring up human rights concerns in countries that are participating? 14:02:16 EARNEST: Well, that will not be the focus of the meeting. Obviously, this will be an important opportunity for the United States to deeper -- deepen and modernize our security cooperation with our GCC partners. You know, much of the conversation will be focused on what these countries can do to better coordinate their own security measures. So there's been a lot of talk about sort of what -- what sort of additional assistance will the United States provide? Obviously, there's already a significant U.S. military presence in the region. Each of these countries, has a significant military-to-military relationship with the United States when it comes to getting military hardware and security hardware to provide for the security of their country. The thing that the United States believes would significantly enhance the effectiveness of the -- of these countries when providing for their own security, is to strengthen their interoperability. That is to say, what can they do to make sure that the countries are not relying on the United States to make sure that they're coordinating the efforts, but what can they do directly to coordinate their efforts? 14:03:32 Let me give you one example. There's been some discussion about how important ballistic missile defense is to the national security of many of these countries. And many of these countries do have a robust infrastructure when it comes to missile defense. But of course, ballistic missiles don't respect political boundaries, and that the architecture of this missile defense would be greatly enhanced if you had missile defense not just for an individual country, but for the entire region, and that you have these missile defense batteries essentially working in concert to protect all of the countries in the GCC. 14:04:09 And so this is indicative of how important it is for this interoperability to be established, and for these individual governments to work together to enhance their security. It doesn't necessarily reflect a need for additional hardware. It reflects a need for a commitment to pursuing this kind of cooperative relationship with their neighbors. QUESTION: Getting back to the human rights question, many human rights activists are saying today that the people who are participating in this meeting with the president from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE, are the very people that need to hear from the president about human rights abuses in their countries, because they're the ones who are in charge of the state security apparatuses. And these human rights activists are questioning whether the president is quote, unquote "tough enough" to raise those kind of concerns with these people. Do you have a response to that? 14:05:03 EARNEST: Well, that's an interesting way to put it. Again, I'll -- let me just reiterate that the meetings will be focused on regional security cooperation, but the president and members of his team will, as they do in every meeting, stress the need for long-term solutions that build more inclusive governance and service delivery in conflict- ridden societies, promote reconciliation, protect all minorities, and respect universal human rights, including freedoms of expression, association, and peaceful assembly. This is a -- this is a priority for the United States, both when it comes to our values and our priorities. 14:05:40 But what we also know is that respect for basic universal human rights has an impact on broader, long-term regional stability, and that if we -- advancing these goals will benefit the United States, and we know will enhance the prospects for long-term regional stability among these partners of ours. OK. John? QUESTION: Thank you, Josh. Two questions. First, Greece today made its payment back to the IMF of its latest portion of the loan that it had. Now, there's been some concern that it might not be able to do so the next time it's up. The president, we know, has talked to Chancellor Merkel about this. Is he in regular consultation with her and Prime Minister Tsipras on the Greek loan repayment? 14:06:30 EARNEST: The president is not, but the Treasury secretary, Jack Lew, has been engaged with his counterparts and with some European leaders on this issue with some regularity. This is the way that the United States facilitated previous rounds of this -- of these financial difficulties. We're obviously aware of the significant economic consequences and financial consequences for Greece being able to meet its obligations and continue to be a part of the currency union in Europe. 14:07:07 And that's why you've seen Secretary Lew be actively engaged both with his counterparts, but also with some European leaders, including Prime Minister Tsipras, when it comes to trying to facilitate these kinds of solutions. 14:07:23 But ultimately, and what we have said is the United States is prepared to support Europe as they confront these challenges. But ultimately, it's going to be the responsibility of Greece and the E.U. and the other multilateral institutions that are involved to resolving these difficulties. QUESTION: Returning to the home front in Congress, a question about TPP. Two weeks ago, Chairman Paul Ryan of the House Ways and Means Committee insisted that the agreement contains nothing dealing with immigration and later, Chairman Goodlatte of the judiciary committee put out a statement praising USTR Froman for not including immigration. Now Senator Sessions and some other lawmakers have said it does indeed include portions of a comprehensive immigration package in the trade deal. Who's right on this? Can the White House say? 14:08:18 EARNEST: Well, I think I would trust the word of Ambassador Froman. He obviously has the principle responsibility for negotiating this agreement. And I know that this is a discussion that he's had with members of Congress quite frequently. 14:08:39 And we believe that the way to ultimately resolve our broken immigration system is to pass legislation that would finally bring some accountability to our broken immigration system. And we believe that's something that Congress should do, and we've made that case for a long time. But I do not envision that being coupled together with this other economic priority, which is the passage of TPA legislation that would give the president the authority that he needs to complete TPP agreement and the authority that he needs to enforce it. QUESTION: So you're saying that Chairman Ryan and Chairman Goodlatte are correct when they said TPP has nothing to do with immigration? 14:09:07 EARNEST: And I think they said that based on their own conversations with Ambassador Froman, and considering that he is the principle negotiator here, I think he's an awfully good source. There's probably not a better one. OK? Cheryl (ph)? QUESTION: Thanks. The president, in his comments this morning, on -- on poverty, said it would take some money to invest in early childhood education, worker training and infrastructure jobs. But the bills coming out of Congress right now, the spending bills still keep sequestration. What progress have you made in trying to come to agreement on spending this year? 14:09:42 EARNEST: Not much. We -- we've obviously raised, you know, some significant concerns about some of the appropriations bills that are working their way through the committee process. Just yesterday, the -- the director of the Office of Management and Budget, Shaun Donovan, sent a letter to members of the Transportation and Housing Appropriations Subcommittee to raise some significant concerns with the legislation that they were working on. The early draft legislation includes a billion-dollar cut in our infrastructure investments. It reflects a significant cut in the Choice Neighborhoods program that would significantly underfund that important priority, particularly when we're talking about issues of expanding opportunity, economy opportunity for everybody in this country. So we have some pretty significant concerns about the current status of those appropriations efforts. 14:10:36 But there's still ample time for Democrats and Republicans to do what Paul Ryan and Patty Murray did a couple years ago, which is to sit down together in bipartisan fashion and figure out a way that Congress can go beyond the sequester caps that hardly anybody supports. And so that's what we're hopeful that they'll be able to do. And if we see that Democrats and Republicans are able to work together in that effort, they'll have the full support of the White House as they try to find that bipartisan common ground. We believe that'd be good for the political process, but most importantly, it'd be good for economy to avoid a government shutdown and to make sure that our priorities, both when it comes to defense but also to our economy, are properly recognized. OK? Kevin? QUESTION: Josh, thanks. I want to take you back to September 2012, Ben Rhodes' now infamous memo... EARNEST: I think it's infamous for some of the way it's been covered in the media. (LAUGHTER) That's the reason it's infamous. But go ahead. QUESTION: Indeed, yeah. At the time, he said it was not explicitly about Benghazi. And I want to read to you something that Jay Carney said, your predecessor, in April 2014. When referring to that memo, he said, in fact, this was not -- it was explicitly not about Benghazi; it was about the overall situation in the region, the Muslim world, where you saw protests outside of embassy facilities across the region, including Cairo, Sana'a, Khartoum and Tunis. Yesterday, former CIA Deputy Director Mike Morell said that Jay misled reporters in the public when he suggested that this was a broad sweep of protest in the region and not specifically about Benghazi. What's your reaction to that? 14:12:23 EARNEST: My reaction is that Mr. Morell makes clear that the talking points surrounding the Benghazi attack were not politicized. In fact, what he wrote is there's no such conspiracy, as I've already explained, and there's no evidence to support such a theory. No committee of Congress that has studied Benghazi has come to this conclusion. He went so far as to call Benghazi the, quote, "poster child of the intrusion of politics into national security." He went on to say, "I believe Benghazi is an example of what is wrong with American politics -- politicians focused on scoring political points rather than working together to advance the interests of our country." 14:12:57 And with that, I would whole heartedly agree with Mr. Morell. QUESTION: And yesterday, he said Jay misled the public and reporters in suggesting that that memo was not politicized. Was he lying then? Or is he lying now? 14:13:13 EARNEST: Well, again, I think that the point that Mr. Morell makes in his book is the relevant one, which is that it is false to suggest that this thing has been politicized -- this tragedy had been politicized by the administration. I think unfortunately, we have seen some -- again, as Mr. Morell says, some who have sought to rather cynically try to score political points by politicizing what is a legitimate tragedy. And that's unfortunate. QUESTION: Well, why would McDonough then send Morell with Rice to the Hill, for example, whose talking points, it seems pretty evident, clearly mirrored the memo from Rhodes (ph), rather than the CIA's assessment? 14:13:52 EARNEST: What's clear is that this administration, as we have throughout this whole saga of supposed congressional oversight, is to provide members of Congress with the most direct, specific, granular knowledge possible. And one way to make sure that members of Congress had good insight into what the intelligence community was thinking was to send the deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency up to Capitol Hill to explain it to them. QUESTION: Lastly, on a much lighter note, on Brady. EARNEST: Yes? QUESTION: Four games, a million bucks, a couple of draft picks -- appropriate? 14:14:26 EARNEST: That's a decision for the NFL to make and... QUESTION: But what do you think? EARNEST: Yeah, well, I've got lots of thoughts, but none of them I'm willing to share here. All right. Thank you. Chris? QUESTION: Josh, today the Food and Drug Administration issued draft guidance that would eliminate the lifetime ban prohibiting gay and bisexual men from donating blood and replaced it with a policy requiring one year of abstinence before they can donate. Does the president think this is a good, final policy? Or should the FDA move on to eliminate the ban altogether? EARNEST: It's my understanding, based on what I've heard about this, that the FDA has not rendered a final judgment on this; that this is the subject of ongoing consideration both by scientists, but also by the public health professionals at the FDA that have a responsibility for ensuring that the American people and their blood supply is safe. Obviously, you know, we're going to be guided by the science when it comes to this. QUESTION: The president has said before that he opposed discrimination. Wouldn't that -- why wouldn't that naturally apply to the issue of donations -- blood donations from gay and bisexual men? 14:15:29 EARNEST: Well, because again, this will be something that's going to be guided by the science. And the president does have a very strong record when it comes to ensuring that we're not discriminating against people because of who they love. And the president feels strongly about that -- about that principle being abided by. He also feels strongly about making sure that we have, you know, an effective system that manages the reserve blood supply of the country. And we're mindful of that, and that's why, you know, we've got some of the best scientists in the world at the FDA that are looking at this issue and making sure that we can reach an agreement, or reach a policy that is in the best interests of the country. QUESTION: One more thing. The Texas House of Representatives is scheduled to vote today on a bill that would apparently seek to defy a Supreme Court ruling in favor of same sex marriage by prohibiting the use of local and state funds to issue a marriage license to a same sex couple. Is the president aware of this legislation, and does he oppose it? 14:16:25 EARNEST: I've only seen some news coverage of this. The -- I refrain for putting myself on the hook for every piece of legislation that is considered by a state legislature. But obviously, this is among the things that the supreme court is considering now, and will ultimately have a decision on hopefully later this summer. QUESTION: It sounds (ph) like that (inaudible) to you, if someone... EARNEST: I wouldn't... (LAUGHTER) 14:16:47... I wouldn't draw any conclusions based on the way that it sounds at this point. But I think the president's values when it comes to this question are -- are very clear and well articulated. Jordan? QUESTION: Thanks, Josh. Leader McConnell and Senator Hatch are saying that Senator Wyden backtracked on a commitment for a deal that would bring TPA and TAA to the floor only. Is that the White House understanding, as well? And does the White House still view Senator Wyden as a reliable partner on the trade issue? 14:17:16 EARNEST: Jordan, what we saw in the Senate Finance Committee was the chairman, Senator Hatch, working closely with the ranking member, Senator Wyden, to put together a -- a trade proposal that ensures the president has the authority that he needs to complete a TPP agreement and the authority that he needs to enforce it. 14:17:42 And we were pleased to see that they were able to work in bipartisan fashion together to put together this bipartisan compromise. That what they did was, they worked with members of their committee to -- to craft an agreement that attracted the majority -- the support of the majority of Republicans and the majority of Democrats. And that is effective bipartisan work at the committee level in the United States Senate. 14:18:04 And we're hopeful that that kind of spirit and that kind of focus on the content of legislation that does stand to benefit the American economy will prevail as this -- as the Senate works its way through this procedural SNAFU. QUESTION: And one more on Israel. The White House said after the elections that it would conduct a reassessment of the U.S.'s diplomatic relationship with Israel. Now that the government has been formed, is there an update on that reassessment? Have you guys made any decisions on how you're going to move forward? 14:18:36 EARNEST: Well, I want to quibble with one aspect of your question, which is I don't think that there is a reconsideration of our diplomatic relationship with Israel. The relationship between the United States and Israel is strong, and it is focused primarily on the critically important security cooperation between our two countries. That security relationship is critical to the very existence of Israel and critical to their national security but also has important benefits for the American people and for American national security. 14:19:05 We did -- and the president did indicate that the -- that the prime minister's comments about the pursuit of a two-state solution necessarily prompted a reconsideration of our approach to trying to resolve the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians but that in no way inhibited our ability to -- to communicate with the Israelis, particularly when it comes to our security cooperation. And, you know, the United States has continued to take a variety of steps, even in a range of multilateral fora, to stand up diplomatically for Israel, even in situations that, you know, left the United States feeling a little isolated. 14:19:52 But that underscores the depth of not just the president's commitment to our relationship with Israel, but it reflects the depth of the relationship between our two countries, one that has persisted across -- across generations and one that has persisted even as the leaders of the two countries have been representing different political parties. And that kind of bipartisan commitment to Israel is a hallmark of that relationship, and reflects the deep ties between our two countries that endure to this day. QUESTION: We shouldn't expect any announcements or changes to be made? 14:20:27 EARNEST: No, well, again, I wouldn't expect any broad announcements. But you know, the -- the approach that we take to trying to facilitate a resolution of the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians is necessarily different because of the comments made by the prime minister in the closing days of his election. OK. Sharish, (ph) I'll give you the last one. QUESTION: Thanks Josh. What is -- what is objectionable about having the currency language in TPP (OFF-MIKE) 14:20:56 EARNEST: The concern that we have expressed about some of the currency language that's included is -- is twofold. The first is that the United States, pursuing regular sort of diplomatic economic negotiations, has been effective in addressing some of the currency practices of other countries that have put the United States at a -- at a disadvantage. 14:21:25 So again, a couple of examples that I've cited a couple of times, since 2010, China's exchange rate is up nearly 30 percent on a real effective basis. And that's because when U.S. officials are meeting with China in the context of the G-20 and in the context of the IMF, that there's an opportunity for us to relay our concerns on this issue and that diplomacy has been effective and -- in leveling the playing field, or at least beginning to level the playing field for American businesses who are competing against Chinese enterprises that may benefit from a devalued currency. 14:22:01 Similar -- we've seen a similar phenomenon in Japan, that over the last three years, Japan has not intervened in the foreign exchange market. There were significant concerns by U.S. manufacturers, including some in the auto industry, about Japanese interventions. And we haven't seen that over the last three years. And again, that's because of the advocacy of U.S. officials. So the point is, we do have mechanisms in place that will allow us to advance the interests of the U.S. economy when it comes to currency policy. The other concern that we have is that the proposal, one of the proposals that's currently being considered by the Congress, would -- at least could potentially undermine the independence of the Federal Reserve. And it could make it easier for other countries to try to encroach on the ability of the Federal Reserve to make independent decisions about what they believe is in the best interest of the U.S. economy. 14:22:52 And the president doesn't believe that's good for the economy at all in this country. It certainly is not good for American businesses and American workers. So, the point is, we believe that we have a variety of effective mechanisms already that allow the administration, as we have effectively done when it comes to China and Japan, to protect the interests of the United States and our economy when it comes to currency policy. QUESTION: So, that is the White House suggesting lobbying Minority Leader Reid to drop the idea of rolling all four together? 14:23:24 EARNEST: Well, we have made clear what our views are, both on this specific currency topic and more broadly about the need for legislation that would give the president the authority he needs to complete the agreement and to enforce it. And that's the guidance that we have shared with, you know, in all of the conversations that we've had with members of Congress. And you know, what we're counting on is that Democrats and Republicans in the United States Senate will be able to work together in the same way that Democrats and Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee did, to find bipartisan common ground and pass legislation that the president believes is critically important to our long-term economic success right here in the United States. All right? Thanks everybody. QUESTION: Thanks, Josh. QUESTION: Thank you.
BLOIS - EXHIBITION UN CHATEAU 100 CLICHES
Loire Bretagne
SATURDAY PAGE: HERITAGE, BLOIS: CHÂTEAU DE CHEMERY AND TOUR BEAUVOIR
Loire Bretagne
PARIS ILE DE FRANCE N°86: They are mobilizing for the suburbs
Paris / Ile-de-France
AUCTION CHAPEL
FR3 / France 3
S DESK History of the Genesis Museum at its opening
Nord
S DESK History of the Genesis Museum at its opening
Nord
OFF Lille: the UEFA Euro 2016 letters
Nord
According to a survey by the Order of Architects, Architecture does not influence the PADDUC enough
Méditerranée
According to a survey by the Order of Architects, Architecture does not influence the PADDUC enough
Méditerranée
SOLEMN DECLARATION by Paul GIACOBBI advocating the opening of a DIALOGUE through AMINISTIA
Méditerranée
ADC: the TEXT on AMNESTY adopted by 48 elected officials on 51 ...
Méditerranée
Reforms Local authorities Everything is still possible for P. CHAUBON
Méditerranée
Reforms Local authorities Everything is still possible for P. CHAUBON
FR3 / France 3
Serie. The citadel of carcassonne
TF1 News (Private - August 1982 ->)
The Louvre takes off
Nord
[Visit of the Louvre Lens]
TF1 News (Private - August 1982 ->)
National edition: [issue of April 15, 2011]
FR3 / France 3