Full-Text Political Transcripts April 25, 2018: France’s President Emmanuel Macron’s Joint Address to US Congress

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

France’s President Emmanuel Macron’s Joint Address to US Congress

Source: Voltaire.net, 4-25-18

Mr. Vice President,
Honorable members of the United States Congress,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is an honour for France, for the French people, and for me, to be received in this sanctuary of democracy, where so much of the history of the United States has been written.

We are surrounded today with images, portraits and symbols, which remind us that France has participated – with heart in hand – in the story of this great nation. From the very beginning.

We have fought shoulder-to-shoulder many battles, starting with those that gave birth to the United States of America.

Since then, we have shared a common vision for humanity. Our two nations are rooted in the same soil, grounded in the same ideals of the American and French Revolutions. We have worked together for the universal ideals of liberty, tolerance, and equal rights.

And yet, this is also about our human, gutsy, personal bonds throughout history.

In 1778, the French philosopher Voltaire and Benjamin Franklin met in Paris. John Adams tells the story that after they had shaken hands, “they embraced each other by hugging one another in their arms and kissing each other’s cheeks”.

It can remind you of something!

And this morning, I stand under the protective gaze of La Fayette, right behind me. As a brave young man, he fought alongside George Washington and forged a tight relationship, fuelled by respect and affection. La Fayette used to call himself a “son of the United States”. And, in 1792, George Washington became a son of America and France, when our First Republic awarded citizenship to him.

Here we stand, in your beautiful capital city, whose plans were conceived by a French architect, Charles L’Enfant.

The miracle of the relationship between the United States and France is that we have never lost this special bond deeply rooted not only in our history, but also in our flesh.

This is why I invited President Donald Trump for the first Bastille Day Parade of my presidency, on 14 July last year. Today, President Trump’s decision to offer France his first state visit to Washington has a particular resonance, because it represents the continuity of our shared history, in a troubled world. And let me thank your president and the First Lady for this wonderful invitation to my wife and myself.

I am also very grateful and I would like also to thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for welcoming me on this occasion.

And I would like to especially thank you, Mr Speaker, for your invitation. I want you to know how much I appreciate this unique gesture. Thank you, sir!

The strength of our bonds is the source of our shared ideals.

This is what united us in the struggle against imperialism during the First World War. Then in the fight against Nazism during the Second World War. This is what united us again during the era of the Stalinist threat, and now we lean on that strength to fight against terrorist groups.

Let us for a moment transport ourselves to the past. Imagine, this is 4 July 1916. Back then, the United States had not entered World War I. And yet, a young American poet enlisted in the ranks of our Foreign Legion, because he loved France and he loved the cause of freedom.

This young American would fight and die on Independence Day at Belloy-en-Santerre, not far from Amiens, my home town, after having written these words: “I have a rendez-vous with death.” The name of this young American was Alan Seeger. A statue stands in his honour in Paris.

Since 1776, we, the American and French people, have had a rendez-vous with freedom.

And with it come sacrifices.

That is why we are very honoured by the presence today of Robert Jackson Ewald, a World War II veteran. Robert Jackson Ewald took part in the D-Day landing. He fought for our freedom, 74 years ago. Sir, on behalf of France: thank you. I bow to your courage and your devotion.

In recent years, our nations have suffered wrenching losses simply because of our values and our taste for freedom. Because these values are the very ones those terrorists precisely hate.

Tragically, on 11 September 2001, many Americans had an unexpected rendez-vous with death. Over the last five years, my country and Europe also experienced terrible terrorist attacks.

And we shall never forget these innocent victims, nor the incredible resilience of our people in the aftermath. It is a horrific price to pay for freedom, for democracy.

That is why we stand together in Syria and in the Sahel today, to fight together against these terrorist groups who seek to destroy everything for which we stand.

We have encountered countless rendez-vous with death, because we have this constant attachment to freedom and democracy. As emblazoned on the flags of the French revolutionaries, “Vivre libre ou mourir”. Live free or die.

Thankfully, freedom is also the source of all that is worth living for. Freedom is a call to think and to love. It is a call to our will. That is why, in times of peace, France and the United States were able to forge unbreakable bonds, from the grist of painful memories.

The most indestructible, the most powerful, the most definitive knot between us is the one that ties the true purpose of our peoples to advance, as Abraham Lincoln said, the “unfinished business” of democracy.

Indeed, our two societies have stood up to advance human rights for all. They have engaged in a continual dialogue to unpack this “unfinished business”.

In this Capitol Rotunda, the bust of Martin Luther King, assassinated 50 years ago, reminds us of the spiration of African-American leaders, artists, writers who have become part of our common heritage. We celebrate among them James Baldwin and Richard Wright, whom France hosted on our soil.

We have shared the history of civil rights. France’s Simone de Beauvoir became a respected figure in the movement for gender equality in America in the 70s. Women’s rights have long been a fundamental driver for our societies on both sides of the Atlantic. This explains why the #MeToo movement has recently had such a deep resonance in France.

Democracy is made of day-to-day conversations and mutual understanding between citizens.

It is easier and deeper when we have the ability to speak each other’s language. The heart of Francophonie also beats here, in the United States, from New Orleans to Seattle. I want this heart to beat even harder in American schools all across the country.

Democracy relies also on the faculty of freely describing the present and the capacity to invent the future. This is what culture brings.

Thousands of examples come to mind when we think of the exchanges between our cultures across the centuries. From Thomas Jefferson, who was Ambassador to France and built his house in Monticello based on a building he loved in Paris, to Hemingway’s novel Moveable Feast celebrating the capital city of France. From our great 19th-century French writer Chateaubriand bringing to the French people the dream of America’s open spaces, forests and mountains to Faulkner’s novels crafted in the deep South, but first read in France where they quickly gained literary praise. From jazz coming from Louisiana and the blues from Mississippi finding in France an enthusiastic public to the American fascination for Impressionists, and the French modern and contemporary arts. These exchanges are vibrant in so many fields, from cinema to fashion, from design to high cuisine, from sports to visual arts.

Medicine and scientific research as well as business and innovation are also a significant part of our shared journey. The United States is France’s first scientific partner.

Our economic ties create hundreds of thousands of jobs, on both sides of the Atlantic.

The story of France and the United States is a story of an endless dialogue made of common dreams, of a common struggle for dignity and progress. It is the best achievement of our democratic principles and values.

This is this very special relationship.

But we must remember the warning of President Theodore Roosevelt: “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, handed on for them to do the same”.

This is an urgent reminder indeed. Because now, going beyond our bilateral ties, beyond our very special relationship, Europe and the United States must face together the global challenges of this century. And we cannot take for granted our transatlantic history and bonds. At the core, our Western values themselves are at risk.

We have to succeed facing these challenges, and we cannot succeed forgetting our principles and our history.

In fact, the 21st century has brought a series of new threats and new challenges that our ancestors might not ever have imagined.

Our strongest beliefs are challenged by the rise of a yet unknown new world order. Our societies are concerned about the future of their children.

All of us gathered here in this noble Chamber, we – elected officials – all share the responsibility to demonstrate that democracy remains the best answer to the questions and doubts that arise today.

Even if the foundations of our progress are disrupted, we must stand firmly and fight to make our principles prevail.

But we bear another responsibility inherited from our collective history. Today, the international community needs to step up our game and build the 21st century world order, based on the perennial principles we established together after World War II.

The rule of law, the fundamental values on which we secured peace for 70 years are now questioned by urgent issues that require our joint action.

Together with our international allies and partners, we are facing inequalities created by globalization; threats to the planet, our common good; attacks on democracies through the rise of illiberalism; and the destabilization of our international community by new powers and criminal states.

All these risks aggrieve our citizens.

Both in the United States and in Europe we are living in a time of anger and fear, because of these current global threats.

But these feelings do not build anything. You can play with fears and anger for a time. But they do not construct anything. Anger only freezes and weakens us. And, as Franklin Delano Roosevelt said during his first inaugural speech, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself”.

Therefore, let me say we have two possible ways ahead.

We can choose isolationism, withdrawal, and nationalism. This is an option.

It can be tempting to us as a temporary remedy to our fears.

But closing the door to the world will not stop the evolution of the world. It will not douse, but inflame, the fears of our citizens. We have to keep our eyes wide open to the new risks, right in front of us.

I am convinced that if we decide to open our eyes wider, we will be stronger. We will overcome the dangers. We will not let the rampaging work of extreme nationalism shake a world full of hopes for greater prosperity.

It is a critical moment. If we do not act with urgency as a global community, I am convinced that the international institutions, including the United Nations and NATO, will no longer be able to exercise their mandate and stabilizing influence. We would then inevitably and severely undermine the liberal order we built after World War II.

Other powers, with a stronger strategy and ambition, will then fill the void we would leave empty.

Other powers will not hesitate one second to advocate their own model, to shape the 21st century world order.

Personally, if you ask me, I do not share the fascination for new strong powers, the abandonment of freedom, and the illusion of nationalism.

Therefore, distinguished members of Congress, let us push them aside, write our own history and birth the future we want.

We have to shape our common answers to the global threats that we are facing.

The only option then is to strengthen our cooperation. We can build the 21st century world order, based on a new breed of multilateralism. Based on a more effective, accountable, and results-oriented multilateralism. A strong multilateralism.

This requires more than ever the United States’ involvement, as your role was decisive for creating and safeguarding today’s free world. The United States invented this multilateralism. You are the one now who has to help to preserve and reinvent it.

This strong multilateralism will not outshine our national cultures and national identities. It is exactly the other way around. A strong multilateralism will allow our cultures and identities to be respected, to be protected and to flourish freely together.

Why? Because precisely our own culture is based, on both sides of the Atlantic, on this unique taste for freedom, on this unique attachment to liberty and peace. This strong multilateralism is the unique option compatible with our nations, our cultures, our identities.

With the US President, with the support of every 535 members of this joint session, representing the whole American nation, we can actively contribute together to building the 21st-century world order, for our people.

The United States and Europe have a historical role in this respect, because it is the only way to defend what we believe in, to promote our universal values, to express strongly that human rights, the rights of minorities and shared liberty are the true answer to the disorders of the world.

I believe in these rights and values.

I believe that against ignorance, we have education. Against inequalities, development. Against cynicism, trust and good faith. Against fanaticism, culture. Against disease and epidemics, medicine. Against the threats on the planet, science.

I believe in concrete action. I believe the solutions are in our hands.

I believe in the liberation of the individual, and in the freedom and responsibility of everyone to build their own lives and pursue happiness.

I believe in the power of intelligently-regulated market economies. We are experiencing the positive impact of our current economic globalization, with innovation, with job creation. We see, however, the abuses of globalized capitalism, and digital disruptions, which jeopardize the stability of our economies and democracies.

I believe facing these challenges requires the opposite of massive deregulation and extreme nationalism. Commercial war is not the proper answer to these evolutions. We need free and fair trade, for sure. A commercial war opposing allies is not consistent with our mission, with our history, with our current commitments to global security. At the end of the day, it would destroy jobs, increase prices, and the middle class will have to pay for it.

I believe we can build the right answers to legitimate concerns regarding trade imbalances, excesses and overcapacities, by negotiating through the World Trade Organization and building cooperative solutions. We wrote these rules; we should follow them.

I believe we can address our citizens’ concerns regarding privacy and personal data. The recent Facebook hearings highlighted the necessity to preserve our citizens’ digital rights, all over the world, and protect their confidence in today’s digital tools of life.

The European Union passed a new regulation for data protection. I believe the United States and the European Union should cooperate to find the right balance between innovation and ethics, and harness the best of today’s revolutions in digital data and artificial intelligence.

I believe facing inequalities should push us to improve policy coordination within the G20 to reduce financial speculation, and create mechanisms to protect the middle class’s interest, because our middle classes are the backbone of our democracies.

I believe in building a better future for our children, which requires offering them a planet that is still habitable in 25 years.

Some people think that securing current industries – and their jobs – is more urgent than transforming our economies to meet the global challenge of climate change. I hear these concerns, but we must find a smooth transition to a low-carbon economy.

Because what is the meaning of our life, really, if we work and live destroying the planet, while sacrificing the future of our children?

What is the meaning of our life if our decision, our conscious decision, is to reduce the opportunities for our children and grandchildren?

By polluting the oceans, not mitigating CO2 emissions and destroying our biodiversity, we are killing our planet. Let us face it: there is no Planet B.

On this issue it may happen we have a disagreement between the United States and France. It may happen, like in all families. But that is, for me, a short-term disagreement. In the long run, we will have to face the same realities. We are citizens of the same planet.

We have to face it. Beyond some short-term disagreements, we have to work together.

With business leaders and local communities, in order to make our planet great again, and create new jobs and new opportunities, while safeguarding our Earth. And I am sure one day, the United States will come back and join the Paris agreement. And I am sure we can work together to fulfil with you the ambitions of the Global Compact on the environment.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I believe in democracy.

Many of our forebears were slain for the cause of freedom and human rights. With the great inheritance they gave us comes the responsibility to continue their mission in this new century and to preserve the perennial values handed to us and assure that today’s unprecedented innovations in science and technology remain in the service of liberty and in the preservation of our planet for the next generations.

To protect our democracies, we have to fight against the ever-growing virus of fake news, which exposes our people to irrational fear and imaginary risks. And let me attribute the fair copyright for this expression “fake news”, especially here.

Without reason, without truth, there is no real democracy — because democracy is about true choices and rational decisions. The corruption of information is an attempt to corrode the very spirit of our democracies.

We also have to fight against the terrorist propaganda that spreads out its fanaticism on the Internet. It has a gripping influence on some of our citizens and children. I want this fight to be part of our bilateral commitment, and we discussed with your President the importance of such an agenda.

I want this fight to be part of the G7 agenda because it deeply harms our rights and shared values.

The terrorist threat is even more dangerous when it is combined with the nuclear proliferation threat. We must therefore be stricter than ever with countries seeking to acquire the nuclear bomb.

That is why France supports fully the United States in its efforts to bring Pyongyang, through sanctions and negotiations, towards denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.

As for Iran, our objective is clear: Iran shall never possess any nuclear weapons. Not now, not in 5 years, not in 10 years. Never.

But this policy should never lead us to war in the Middle East. We must ensure stability, and respect sovereignty of the nations, including that one of Iran, which represents a great civilization.

Let us not replicate past mistakes in the region. Let us not be naïve on one side. Let us not create new walls ourselves on the other side.

There is an existing framework – called the JCPOA – to control the nuclear activity of Iran. We signed it at the initiative of the United States. We signed it, both the United States and France. That is why we cannot say we should get rid of it like that. But it is true to say that this agreement may not address all concerns, very important concerns. This is true. But we should not abandon it without having something substantial, more substantial, instead. That is my position. That is why France will not leave the JCPOA, because we signed it.

Your President and your country will have to take, in the current days and weeks, their responsibilities regarding this issue.

What I want to do, and what we decided together with your President, is that we can work on a more comprehensive deal addressing all these concerns. That is why we have to work on this more comprehensive deal based – as discussed with President Trump yesterday – on four pillars: the substance of the existing agreement, especially if you decide to leave it, the post-2025 period, in order to be sure that we will never have any military nuclear activity for Iran, the containment of the military influence of the Iranian regime in the region, and the monitoring of ballistic activity.

I think these four pillars, the ones I addressed before the General Assembly of the United Nations last September, are the ones which cover the legitimate fears of the United States and our allies in the region.

I think we have to start working now on these four pillars to build this new, comprehensive framework and to be sure that, whatever the decision of the United States will be, we will not leave the floor to the absence of rules.

We will not leave the floor to these conflicts of power in the Middle East, we will not fuel ourselves in increasing tensions and potential war.

That is my position, and I think we can work together to build this comprehensive deal for the whole region, for our people, because I think it fairly addresses our concerns. That is my position.

And this containment – I mentioned it one of these pillars – Is necessary in Yemen, in Lebanon, in Iraq and also in Syria.

Building a sustainable peace in a united and inclusive Syria requires, indeed, that all powers in the region respect the sovereignty of its people, and the diversity of its communities.

In Syria, we work very closely together. After prohibited weapons were used against the population by the regime of Bashar al-Assad two weeks ago, the United States and France, together with the United Kingdom, acted to destroy chemical facilities and to restore the credibility of the international community.

This action was one of the best evidences of this strong multilateralism. And I want to pay a special tribute for our soldiers, because they did a great job in this region and on this occasion.

Beyond this action, we will together work for a humanitarian solution in the short term, on the ground, and contribute actively to a lasting political solution to put an end to this tragic conflict. And I think one of the very important decisions we took together with President Trump was precisely to include Syria in this large framework for the overall region, and to decide to work together on this political roadmap for Syria, for Syrian people, even after our war against ISIS.

In the Sahel, where terrorist networks span a footprint as large as Europe, French and American soldiers are confronting the same enemy and risking their lives together.

Here, I would like to pay special tribute to the American soldiers who fell this past fall in the region, and to their French comrades who lost their lives early this year in Mali. Better than anyone, I think, our troops know what the alliance and friendship between our countries means.

I believe, facing all these challenges, all these fears, all this anger, our duty, our destiny is to work together and to build this new, strong multilateralism.

Distinguished members of Congress,

Ladies and gentlemen,

On 25 April 1960, General de Gaulle affirmed in this Chamber that nothing was as important to France as “the reason, the resolution, the friendship of the great people of the United States”.

Fifty-eight years later, to this very day, I come here to convey the warmest feelings of the French nation, and to tell you that our people cherish the friendship of the American people, with as much intensity as ever.

The United States and the American people are an essential part of our confidence in the future, in democracy, in what women and men can accomplish in this world when we are driven by high ideals and an unbreakable trust in humanity and progress.

Today the call we hear is the call of history. This is a time of determination and courage. What we cherish is at stake. What we love is in danger. We have no choice but to prevail.

And together, we shall prevail.

Vive les Etats-Unis d’Amérique!

Long live the friendship between France and the United States of America!

Vive la République!

Vive la France!

Vive notre amitié.

Merci.

Thank you.

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Full Text Political Transcripts July 13, 2017: President Donald Trump and President Emmanuel Macron of France Remarks in Joint Press Conference

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Trump and President Macron of France in Joint Press Conference | July 13, 2017

Source: WH, 7-13-17

 

Élysée Palace
Paris, France

6:44 P.M. CET

PRESIDENT MACRON:  (As interpreted.)  Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.  First and foremost, I want to thank President Trump for his visit to Paris this afternoon and tomorrow, tomorrow morning, as well as to thank his delegation.  I was very pleased to be able to welcome President Trump and his spouse today.  He accepted the invitation I extended a couple of weeks ago in order to invite him to join the ceremonies of the 14th of July, tomorrow.

I think it is both a symbol and very important that the President of the United States could be with us tomorrow on the occasion of our National Day, and attend a military parade, which will — to which the American troops will take part.  We will be also commemorating the 100th anniversary of the American troops joining World War I with the allies in France.

I think it is important because, beyond daily news, we live in countries with roots which are deeper and go further and beyond who we are.  So the presence of President Trump was, in my eyes, not only natural, and I think it is also an excellent thing for the history of both our countries.

Earlier today, we started by sharing part of our joint history at the Invalides Museum, the Army Museum.  Then we had a working session.  And I shall say that I’m extremely pleased about it.  We’ve been able to talk about a number of topics of joint interest, and we underlined a number of shared convictions and, most importantly, a joint roadmap in order to work together in the coming month.

We agreed to implement free and fair trade, and in the field — and this is the G20, in Hamburg, also expressed in terms of sensitivity.  We want to work together in order to implement some efficient measures to tackle dumping anywhere it is taking place in all the fields, by sharing the information that we have and making sure that both the European Union and the United States can take the necessary measures in order to protect within the context of free trade, but of fair, free trade that we can protect all over sectors of activities where we are active.

We then had a long discussion which enabled us to cover all of the topics of international policies and the challenges — the security challenges for the people as well.  When it comes to fighting terrorism, from day one I can say that we’ve seen eye to eye, and we are strongly determined to take any necessary measures in order to root out terrorism and to eradicate it no matter where, in particular the narrative on the Internet.  We agreed to strengthen our action and our cooperation in fighting against propaganda.

We want to get all the major operators to limit the propaganda, and also tackle cyber criminality.  These topics, I believe, are fundamental.  And I do hope that we can strengthen the cooperation between both our countries.  And it is with a lot of satisfaction that I heard from President Trump the very same approach.  And our services will then, therefore, be working together in the coming weeks and months to have a solid action map for that.

Regarding the situation in Iraq and in Syria, here again we agreed to continue to work together, in particular in order to be able to launch together some diplomatic initiatives in order to put in place a roadmap for what will come after the war.

We talked about our role, our post-conflict role, but initially we want to put in place a contact group in order to be more efficient, in order to be able to support what is being done by the United Nations, in order to support a political roadmap, in particular for Syria after the war.  It is important to put in place some inclusive political solutions for that period of time.  We know where destabilization comes from.  The roadmap will take care of that.  We’ll cover it.  And we’ll also ask our diplomats and our staff to work along those lines so that, in the coming weeks, some concrete initiatives can be taken.  And they’re supported by the P5.

We also share the same intentions regarding Libya.  And like I told President Trump, I very much want to take a number of diplomatic initiatives, strong ones, given the situation that we know, and which requires more stability and better control over the region.

On Libya or the Sahel, I think I can say that we have the same vision, a very coherent understanding of the situation in the region, and the same willingness to act very clearly against any form of terrorism and destabilization.

Next, climate.  Well, here we know what our disagreements are.  We have expressed them on a number of occasions.  But I think it is important that we can continue to talk about it.  I very much respect the decision taken by President Trump.  He will work upon implementing his campaign promises.  And as far as I’m concerned, I remain attached to the Paris Accord, and we’ll make sure that, step by step, we can do everything which is in the accord.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is in summary what we’ve been talking about.  We will continue with a friendly tone and informal one this evening.  Regarding trade and security for both our countries, the fight against terrorism, stability in the Near and Middle East, in Libya or in the Sahel, I can say that we have a shared determination.  The United States is extremely involved in the Iraq War, and I would like to thank President Trump for everything that’s been done by the American troops against this background.  But I would like him to know that I am fully determined to act together with him in this respect — fully determined.

I very much want both our countries in these matters to increase their cooperation in the coming month, because the threat we are facing is a global one.  The enemies — our enemies are trying to destabilize us by any way.  And I believe that this is very much at the heart of the historic alliance between our two countries, and which fully justifies the presence of President Trump today and tomorrow in Paris.

Thank you.  Thank you, dear Donald.  Thank you.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Well thank you very much, President Macron.  And Melania and I are thrilled to join you and Mrs. Macron.  This is a wonderful national celebration, and we look very much forward to it.  It will be spectacular.  Tomorrow — Bastille Day.

We’re honored to be here in your beautiful country — and it certainly is a beautiful country — with its proud history and its magnificent people.  And thank you for the tour of some of the most incredible buildings anywhere in the world.  That was very, very — a very beautiful thing to see.  Thank you.

When the French people rose up and stormed the Bastille, it changed the course of human history.  Our two nations are forever joined together by the spirit of revolution and the fight for freedom.  France is America’s first and oldest ally.  A lot of people don’t know that.  Ever since General Lafayette joined the American fight for independence, our fates and fortunes have been tied unequivocally together.  It was a longtime ago but we are together, and I think together, perhaps, more so than ever.  The relationship is very good.

This visit also commemorates another milestone.  One century ago, the United States entered World War I.  And when the President called me, he had mentioned that fact — 100 years ago, that was — I said, Mr. President, I will be there.  That’s a big, important date — 100 years.

We remember the tens of thousands of Americans who gave their lives in that valiant and very difficult struggle.  We also pay tribute to the heroic deeds of the French Troops whose courage at the Battle of Marne, and countless other battles, will never be forgotten by us.  More than one million French soldiers laid down their lives in defense of liberty.  Their sacrifice is an eternal tribute to France and to freedom.  French and American patriots have fought together, bled together, and died together in the fight for our countries and our civilizations.

Today, we face new threats from rogue regimes like North Korea, Iran, and Syria, and the governments that finance and support them.  We also face grave threats from terrorist organizations that wage war on innocent lives.  Tomorrow will mark one year since a joyous Bastille Day celebration in Nice turned into a massacre.  We all remember that, how horrible that was.  We mourn the 86 lives that were stolen, and we pray for their loved ones.  We also renew our resolve to stand united against these enemies of humanity and to strip them of their territory, their funding, their networks, and ideological support.

Today, President Macron and myself discussed how we can strengthen our vital security partnerships.  We just had a meeting with our generals and our representatives, and it went very well.  France has excellent counterterrorism capabilities. The French troops are serving bravely in places like Mali to defeat these forces of murder and destruction.  The United States and our allies strengthen our commitments to defeat terrorism.

We’re also making tremendous progress.  Earlier this week, with the strong support of the United States and the Global Coalition, Iraqi forces liberated the city of Mosul from ISIS control.  Now we must work with the government of Iraq and our partners and allies in the region to consolidate the gains and ensure that the victory stays a victory, unlike the last time.

Last week, the G20 leaders also reaffirmed the right to sovereign nations to control their borders.  We must be strong from within to defend ourselves from threats from the outside.  The nations of the West also face domestic challenges of our own creation, including vast government bureaucracy that saps the strength from our economies and from our societies.

For this reason, I applaud President Macron on his courageous call for that “less bureaucracy” — it’s a good chant — “less bureaucracy,” — we can use it, too — and a Europe that protects its citizens.  We did not become great through regulation.  And in the United States, Mr. President, we also have cut regulations at a level we’ve never seen before.  So we’re very proud of that — over the last six months — but by allowing our people to follow their dreams.  That’s what it’s all about.  To achieve these dreams, however, we must also confront unfair trade practices that hurt our workers, and pursue trade deals that are reciprocal and fair.

Both President Macron and I understand our responsibility to prioritize the interests of our countries and, at the same time, to be respectful of the world in which we live.  We live in a very complex world.  We have to respect it.  The United States remains committed to being a leader in environmental protection, while we advance energy security and economic growth.

The friendship between our two nations — and ourselves, I might add — is unbreakable.  Our occasional disagreements are nothing compared to the immortal bonds of culture, destiny, and liberty that unite us.  So strongly unite us, also.  As long as we have pride in who we are, where we’ve come from, how we got here, and what we’ve achieved as free and democratic nations, then there is nothing we cannot accomplish together.

France helped us secure our independence.  A lot of people forget.  In the American Revolution, thousands of French soldiers fought alongside American troops so that, as Lafayette said, liberty would have a country.  Ever since then, courageous heroes from both nations have fought for the same noble values and the same righteous cause.

Tomorrow, the French Tricolor will once again wave proudly alongside the American Stars and Stripes.  Our brave soldiers will march side-by-side, and we will all be inspired to protect and cherish the birthright of freedom that our ancestors won for us with their sweat and with their blood.

President Macron, thank you for inviting Melania and myself to this historic celebration.  And to you and your spectacular country:  May God bless France and may God bless America.

Thank you very much.  Thank you.  Thank you, Mr. President.

PRESIDENT MACRON:  (As interpreted.)  Very well.  I think we will be taking four questions.

Neither President Trump nor myself have a microphone.  (Laughter.)

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  He’s getting first question, President?

Q    (As interpreted.)  A question for President Macron regarding what you said on the occasion of the press conference together with Chancellor Merkel.  Do you still hope that President Trump — or did you still hope that President Trump could turn his mind regarding the Paris Accord?

And now, President Trump, is it possible for you to come back to the Paris Accord and change your mind?

Next, regarding your relation, how would you describe it today?  What about the dinner tonight?  Is it going to be a dinner between friends?

PRESIDENT MACRON:  (As interpreted.)  Well, regarding climate — well, we have a number of disagreements, which are in particular due to the commitments taken by President Trump vis-à-vis his — during the presidential campaign.  So did I.  I’m aware of the high importance that that is, but we therefore talked about our disagreement.  And we actually discussed the matter even before President Trump reached the decision.

Next, should that have an impact on the discussions we are having on all other topics?  No, absolutely not.  This is the reason why we share the same views and some major common goals on many other topics or all other topics, which we’ve been discussing today, and we shall move forward together.

Next — well, of course, President Trump will tell you about it, but he’s made a number of commitments, and we’re going to be working together, and my willingness to continue to work with the United States and the President on these very major topics.  I understand that it’s important to save jobs.  That being said, we shall leave the United States of America work on what is its roadmap, and continue to talk about it.

So today there is nothing new, unprecedented, otherwise we would have told you about it.  But I believe there is a joint willingness to continue to talk about this and try and find the best possible agreement.  As far as I’m concerned, I remain extremely attached to the framework of the Paris Accord, which has been a major international breakthrough, and it is within that framework that I’m working on priorities, including for the European Union.

Lastly, as you know, I never very much want to comment who we are and what we are doing, personally.  But I can tell you that this evening, at the Eiffel Tower, it will be a dinner between friends, because we are the representatives of two countries which have been allies forever and because we’ve been able to build a strong relation which is dear to me, because it matters a great deal for both countries.  It will, therefore, give me great pleasure to have dinner together with you tonight.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  I think that I can reiterate.  We have a very good relationship, a good friendship.  And we look forward to dinner tonight at the Eiffel Tower.  That will be something special.  And, yeah, I mean, something could happen with respect to the Paris Accord.  We’ll see what happens.  But we will talk about that over the coming period of time.  And if it happens, that will be wonderful.  And if it doesn’t, that will be okay, too.  But we’ll see what happens.

But we did discuss many things today, including the ceasefire in Syria.  We discussed the Ukraine.  We discussed a lot of different topics.  We briefly hit on the Paris Accord.  And we’ll see what happens.

Yes, ma’am.  Go ahead.

Q    Thank you.  Merci, Mr. President.  Mr. President, your FBI nominee said if someone in a campaign got an email about Russia, like the one that your son Don Jr. received, that they should alert the FBI rather than accept that meeting.  Is he wrong?  Also, were you misled by your team in not knowing about this meeting?

And, Mr. President, thank you very much.  You have heard President Trump say that it may have been Russia, it may have been others who interfered with the U.S. election.  Is President Trump taking a hard-enough line on Russia, as you see it?  Merci.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Well, I’ll start off by saying, first of all, I believe that we will have a great FBI director.  I think he’s doing really well, and we’re very proud of that choice.  I think I’ve done a great service to the country by choosing him.  He will make us all proud, and I think someday we’ll see that — and hopefully someday soon.  So, we’re very proud of him.

As far as my son is concerned, my son is a wonderful young man.  He took a meeting with a Russian lawyer, not a government lawyer, but a Russian lawyer.  It was a short meeting.  It was a meeting that went very, very quickly, very fast.  Two of the people in the room, they — I guess one of them left almost immediately and the other one was not really focused on the meeting.

I do think this:  I think from a practical standpoint, most people would have taken that meeting.  It’s called opposition research, or even research into your opponent.  I’ve had many people — I have only been in politics for two years, but I’ve had many people call up — “Oh, gee, we have information on this factor or this person, or, frankly, Hillary.”  That’s very standard in politics.  Politics is not the nicest business in the world, but it’s very standard where they have information and you take the information.

In the case of Don, he listened.  I guess they talked about — as I see it, they talked about adoption and some things.  Adoption wasn’t even a part of the campaign.  But nothing happened from the meeting.  Zero happened from the meeting.  And, honestly, I think the press made a very big deal over something that, really, a lot of people would do.

Now, the lawyer that went to the meeting, I see that she was in the halls of Congress, also.  Somebody said that her visa or her passport to come into the country was approved by Attorney General Lynch.  Now, maybe that’s wrong.  I just heard that a little while ago.  But a little surprised to hear that.  So she was here because of Lynch.

So, again, I have a son who’s a great young man.  He’s a fine person.  He took a meeting with a lawyer from Russia.  It lasted for a very short period, and nothing came of the meeting.  And I think it’s a meeting that most people in politics probably would have taken.

Mr. President.

PRESIDENT MACRON:  (In English.)  Yes, to answer your question, I will not interfere in U.S. domestic policy.  And I think it’s always good between partners and allies not to interfere in others’ domestic life.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  What a good answer that was.  (Laughter.)

PRESIDENT MACRON:  (In English.)  And I do believe that both of us have a direct relationship with Russia.  President Trump had more than two hours meeting with President Putin during this past G20.  So that’s — I had two very long meetings with President Putin, the very first one in Versailles and the second one during the G20.  And this relationship is very important.  We have a lot of disagreements.  We have a lot of discrepancies, obviously, with Russia.  But in the current environment, especially in the Middle East, it’s a necessity to work together, to work together, to exchange information, to share disagreements, and to try to build solutions.

So that’s my relationship with Russia.  And we don’t have, obviously, the same relationship as the one with the U.S.  But that’s a longstanding relationship with Russia as well, and I think it’s important that both of us have direct discussion and contact with President Putin.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  One of the great things that came out of that meeting, by the way — even though it’s not part of the question — was the fact that we got a ceasefire that now has lasted for, I guess, Mr. President, almost five days.  And while five days doesn’t sound like a long period of time, in terms of a ceasefire in Syria, that’s a very long period of time.  And that was a result of having communication with a country.  So, during that five-day period, a lot of lives have been saved.  A lot of people were not killed.  No shots have been fired in a very, very dangerous part of the world, and this is one of the most dangerous parts of Syria itself.

So by having some communication and dialogue, we were able to have this ceasefire, and it’s going to go on for a while.  And, frankly, we’re working on a second ceasefire in a very rough part of Syria.  And if we get that and a few more, all of a sudden you’re going to have no bullets being fired in Syria.  And that would be a wonderful thing.

Mr. President, you have a question.

PRESIDENT MACRON:  (As interpreted.)  Third question from BFN TV.

Q    (As interpreted.)  A question to President Macron.  You went to Lausanne in order to support Paris’s bid for the Olympic Games, and on this occasion you somehow criticized President Trump’s policy without naming him.  You said that France made a very clear choice to leave its border open and not to build walls to protect its people.  Do you condemn the Muslim ban and the building of the wall between the United States and Mexico?

Regarding Syria, as it was just mentioned by President Trump, is France ready to talk directly with Bashar al-Assad in the negotiation that you mentioned?

(In English.)  You’ve mentioned a friend, Jim, who told you that Paris is no longer Paris.  You were implying at the time that Paris was not safe anymore.  You’ve also said that France and Germany are infected by terrorism and “it’s their fault because they let people enter their territory.”  Those are very strong words.  Would you repeat them today?  And do you still believe that France is not able to fight terrorism on its own territory?  Thank you.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:   You better let me answer that one first.  That’s a beauty.  (Laughter.)  He’s the one that asked the question.  That wasn’t even one of my picks.

You know what, it’s going to be just fine because you have a great President.  You have somebody that’s going to run this country right.  And I would be willing to bet — because I think this is one of the great cities, one of the most beautiful cities in the world — and you have a great leader now, you have a great President, you have a tough President.  He’s not going to be easy on people that are breaking the laws and people that show this tremendous violence.

So I really have a feeling that you’re going to have a very, very peaceful and beautiful Paris, and I’m coming back.  You better do a good job, please.  (Laughter.)  Otherwise you’re going to make me look very bad.

PRESIDENT MACRON:  (In English.)  And you’re always welcome.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Thank you.

PRESIDENT MACRON:  (As interpreted.)  Regarding the first question, like I said, I believe that the discussions that we’ve had today is the proper answer to terrorism.  The right answer is strengthen cooperation between our services and a never-ending fight against terrorists no matter where they are.  This is what I was referring to, this is what we’re working on actively together.

So, in this respect, there is no difference and no gap between the French and the American positions.  When I have something to say, I say it clearly, and I do say who I’m aiming at.  And when I refer to those who have been my opponents in the French political battle, I also mention the names.  So let us not mix up everything.

And regarding the fight against terrorism, I think the right approach is to have strengthened cooperation in the field of intelligence, is also to be working together on all the theaters of operation where we are.  And I think that the decisions we’ve reached today will enable us to do more.

Next, your question regarding Bashar al-Assad, which is an important one.  Let me put it simply:  Indeed, we now have a new approach of Syria because we want some results and we want to be closely working together with our partners, including the United States of America.  We have one main goal, which is to eradicate terrorism.  No matter who they are, we want to build an inclusive and sustainable political solution.  Against that background, I do not require Assad’s departure.  This is no longer a prerequisite for France to work on that, because I can only tell you that, for seven years, we did not have an embassy in Damascus, and still we have no solution.

Next, we also have a common red line, together with President Trump.  He intervened before I was elected, and I said it to President Putin after my election:  No use whatsoever of chemical weapons.  Any use will lead to reaction — an attack against a reaction regarding the storage places.

Next, we also want humanitarian corridors.  Also, we want to build a sustainable political stability for Syria.  This is our roadmap.  In order to stick to it, we need diplomatic initiative beyond our military actions.  This is what we’ve been agreeing upon, because we want to take an initiative with the members of the Security Council and a number of countries involved in the process.  Of course, there will be representatives of Assad that will enable us to put in place the roadmap for after the war, but there will also be representatives of the opposition and people with different backgrounds, and we will talk to all of them against that background.

One last question for an American journalist.

Q    Thank you.  (Inaudible) TV of China.  (As interpreted.)  For both Presidents:  Mr. Macron, you had your first meeting with the Chinese President during the G20 Summit.  What will France do?  How will France cooperate with all of these areas with China?  And what do you think personally of Mr. Xi Jinping?

(In English.)  Mr. President, you have just met the Chinese President during the G20 Summit.  How do you want to continue to work with China?  And what do you personally think about Mr. Xi Jinping?  Thank you very much.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Well, he’s a friend of mine.  I have great respect for him.  We’ve gotten to know each other very well.  A great leader.  He’s a very talented man.  I think he’s a very good man.  He loves China, I can tell you.  He loves China.  He wants to do what’s right for China.

We’ve asked him for some assistance with respect to North Korea.  Probably, he could do a little bit more, but we’ll find out.  We’re now working on some trade deals.  He’s been very nice.  He’s let, as you know, beef go back in, certain financing go back in, credit card financing, and various other things go back in at my request, which is a great thing for our farmers.  A lot of good things are happening, but we’re going to be working on some very major trade components.

But President Xi is a terrific guy.  I like being with him a lot, and he’s a very special person.

Okay, thank you.

PRESIDENT MACRON:  (As interpreted.)  I first talked to President Xi over the telephone, and then I got to meet him in the margin of the G20 Summit in Hamburg.  Early next year I will be traveling to China.  We’ve agreed to it.  So I cannot say that he’s a friend of mine or that I know him very well because I very much want to say things as they are.  But we had some initial contacts which were extremely fruitful and positive.

I have a lot of respect for President Xi, and I would like to say that over the past few months he did express his willingness to have a vision for multilateralism and wanted to commit himself on a number of topics.  I think that many of us remember his words in Davos, and he there very strongly expressed his vision of the role of China.  We have a number of joint commitments, including on climate.  He’s very committed to that, and he told me that he wanted to do more in the field, and I can only be happy about it.  He wants strong cooperation.

And like President Trump said, the trade issues and regarding the number of activities — there are issues, there are differences, but a joint willingness to sort them out.  And as permanent members of the Security Council, we want to work together on all of the topics we’ve been discussing today.

And China, in this respect, is a key partner in order to build peace all around the world, and I share what President Trump just said, that China is to play a very specific role regarding the rising tension, the growing tension with North Korea.  It’s important that China can play fully its role in the region.

In summary, I think he is today one of the great leaders of our world, implementing a major and ambitious reform of China society and the economy in China.  And therefore my willingness, in this respect as well, is to have strategic dialogue, the purpose of which is to continue to talk about the industry of — civil nuclear industry, economic matters, and talk about any difficulties we may have together.

Very well.  Allow me to thank you, ladies and gentlemen, and once again thank President Trump for his visit.  And I will be seeing him in a few moments in a friendly atmosphere.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Thank you very much.  Great honor.  Thank you.

END
7:20 P.M. CET

Full Text Political Transcripts November 16, 2015: President Barack Obama’s Press Conference at the G-20 Summit in Antalya, Turkey Transcript

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

Press Conference by President Obama — Antalya, Turkey

 

Source: WH, 11-16-15 

Kaya Palazzo Resort

Antalya, Turkey

4:42 P.M. EET

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Good afternoon. Let me begin by thanking President Erdogan and the people of Antalya and Turkey for their outstanding work in hosting this G20 Summit. Antalya is beautiful. The hospitality of the Turkish people is legendary. To our Turkish friends — çok teşekkürler. (Laughter.) I’ve been practicing that.

At the G20, our focus was on how to get the global economy growing faster and creating more jobs for our people. And I’m pleased that we agreed that growth has to be inclusive to address the rising inequality around the world.

Given growing cyber threats, we committed to a set of norms — drafted by the United States — for how governments should conduct themselves in cyberspace, including a commitment not to engage in the cyber theft of intellectual property for commercial gain. And as we head into global climate talks, all G20 countries have submitted our targets, and we’ve pledged to work together for a successful outcome in Paris.

Of course, much of our attention has focused on the heinous attacks that took place in Paris. Across the world, in the United States, American flags are at half-staff in solidarity with our French allies. We’re working closely with our French partners as they pursue their investigations and track down suspects.

France is already a strong counterterrorism partner, and today we’re announcing a new agreement. We’re streamlining the process by which we share intelligence and operational military information with France. This will allow our personnel to pass threat information, including on ISIL, to our French partners even more quickly and more often — because we need to be doing everything we can to protect against more attacks and protect our citizens.

Tragically, Paris is not alone. We’ve seen outrageous attacks by ISIL in Beirut, last month in Ankara, routinely in Iraq. Here at the G20, our nations have sent an unmistakable message that we are united against this threat. ISIL is the face of evil. Our goal, as I’ve said many times, is to degrade and ultimately destroy this barbaric terrorist organization.

As I outlined this fall at the United Nations, we have a comprehensive strategy using all elements of our power — military, intelligence, economic, development, and the strength of our communities. With have always understood that this would be a long-term campaign. There will be setbacks and there will be successes. The terrible events in Paris were a terrible and sickening setback. Even as we grieve with our French friends, however, we can’t lose sight that there has been progress being made.

On the military front, our coalition is intensifying our airstrikes — more than 8,000 to date. We’re taking out ISIL leaders, commanders, their killers. We’ve seen that when we have an effective partner on the ground, ISIL can and is pushed back. So local forces in Iraq, backed by coalition airpower, recently liberated Sinjar. Iraqi forces are fighting to take back Ramadi. In Syria, ISIL has been pushed back from much of the border region with Turkey. We’ve stepped up our support of opposition forces who are working to cut off supply lines to ISIL’s strongholds in and around Raqqa. So, in short, both in Iraq and Syria, ISIL controls less territory than it did before.

I made the point to my fellow leaders that if we want this progress to be sustained, more nations need to step up with the resources that this fight demands.

Of course, the attacks in Paris remind us that it will not be enough to defeat ISIL in Syria and Iraq alone. Here in Antalya, our nations, therefore, committed to strengthening border controls, sharing more information, and stepping up our efforts to prevent the flow of foreign fighters in and out of Syria and Iraq. As the United States just showed in Libya, ISIL leaders will have no safe haven anywhere. And we’ll continue to stand with leaders in Muslim communities, including faith leaders, who are the best voices to discredit ISIL’s warped ideology.

On the humanitarian front, our nations agreed that we have to do even more, individually and collectively, to address the agony of the Syrian people. The United States is already the largest donor of humanitarian aid to the Syrian people — some $4.5 billion in aid so far. As winter approaches, we’re donating additional supplies, including clothing and generators, through the United Nations. But the U.N. appeal for Syria still has less than half the funds needed. Today, I’m again calling on more nations to contribute the resources that this crisis demands.

In terms of refugees, it’s clear that countries like Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan — which are already bearing an extraordinary burden — cannot be expected to do so alone. At the same time, all of our countries have to ensure our security. And as President, my first priority is the safety of the American people. And that’s why, even as we accept more refugees — including Syrians — we do so only after subjecting them to rigorous screening and security checks.

We also have to remember that many of these refugees are the victims of terrorism themselves — that’s what they’re fleeing. Slamming the door in their faces would be a betrayal of our values. Our nations can welcome refugees who are desperately seeking safety and ensure our own security. We can and must do both.

Finally, we’ve begun to see some modest progress on the diplomatic front, which is critical because a political solution is the only way to end the war in Syria and unite the Syrian people and the world against ISIL. The Vienna talks mark the first time that all the key countries have come together — as a result, I would add, of American leadership — and reached a common understanding. With this weekend’s talks, there’s a path forward — negotiations between the Syrian opposition and the Syrian regime under the auspices of the United Nations; a transition toward a more inclusive, representative government; a new constitution, followed by free elections; and, alongside this political process, a ceasefire in the civil war, even as we continue to fight against ISIL.

These are obviously ambitious goals. Hopes for diplomacy in Syria have been dashed before. There are any number of ways that this latest diplomatic push could falter. And there are still disagreements between the parties, including, most critically, over the fate of Bashar Assad, who we do not believe has a role in Syria’s future because of his brutal rule. His war against the Syrian people is the primary root cause of this crisis.

What is different this time, and what gives us some degree of hope, is that, as I said, for the first time, all the major countries on all sides of the Syrian conflict agree on a process that is needed to end this war. And so while we are very clear-eyed about the very, very difficult road still head, the United States, in partnership with our coalition, is going to remain relentless on all fronts — military, humanitarian and diplomatic. We have the right strategy, and we’re going to see it through.

So with that, I’m going to take some questions. And I will begin with Jerome Cartillier of AFP.

Q Thank you, Mr. President. One hundred and twenty-nine people were killed in Paris on Friday night. ISIL claimed responsibility for the massacre, sending the message that they could now target civilians all over the world. The equation has clearly changed. Isn’t it time for your strategy to change?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, keep in mind what we have been doing. We have a military strategy that is putting enormous pressure on ISIL through airstrikes; that has put assistance and training on the ground with Iraqi forces; we’re now working with Syrian forces as well to squeeze ISIL, cut off their supply lines. We’ve been coordinating internationally to reduce their financing capabilities, the oil that they’re trying to ship outside. We are taking strikes against high-value targets — including, most recently, against the individual who was on the video executing civilians who had already been captured, as well as the head of ISIL in Libya. So it’s not just in Iraq and Syria.

And so, on the military front, we are continuing to accelerate what we do. As we find additional partners on the ground that are effective, we work with them more closely. I’ve already authorized additional Special Forces on the ground who are going to be able to improve that coordination.

On the counterterrorism front, keep in mind that since I came into office, we have been worried about these kinds of attacks. The vigilance that the United States government maintains and the cooperation that we’re consistently expanding with our European and other partners in going after every single terrorist network is robust and constant. And every few weeks, I meet with my entire national security team and we go over every single threat stream that is presented, and where we have relevant information, we share it immediately with our counterparts around the world, including our European partners.

On aviation security, we have, over the last several years, been working so that at various airports sites — not just in the United States, but overseas — we are strengthening our mechanisms to screen and discover passengers who should not be boarding flights, and improving the matters in which we are screening luggage that is going onboard.

And on the diplomatic front, we’ve been consistently working to try to get all the parties together to recognize that there is a moderate opposition inside of Syria that can form the basis for a transition government, and to reach out not only to our friends but also to the Russians and the Iranians who are on the other side of this equation to explain to them that ultimately an organization like ISIL is the greatest danger to them, as well as to us.

So there will be an intensification of the strategy that we put forward, but the strategy that we are putting forward is the strategy that ultimately is going to work. But as I said from the start, it’s going to take time.

And what’s been interesting is, in the aftermath of Paris, as I listen to those who suggest something else needs to be done, typically the things they suggest need to be done are things we are already doing. The one exception is that there have been a few who suggested that we should put large numbers of U.S. troops on the ground.

And keep in mind that we have the finest military in the world and we have the finest military minds in the world, and I’ve been meeting with them intensively for years now, discussing these various options, and it is not just my view but the view of my closest military and civilian advisors that that would be a mistake — not because our military could not march into Mosul or Raqqa or Ramadi and temporarily clear out ISIL, but because we would see a repetition of what we’ve seen before, which is, if you do not have local populations that are committed to inclusive governance and who are pushing back against ideological extremes, that they resurface — unless we’re prepared to have a permanent occupation of these countries.

And let’s assume that we were to send 50,000 troops into Syria. What happens when there’s a terrorist attack generated from Yemen? Do we then send more troops into there? Or Libya, perhaps? Or if there’s a terrorist network that’s operating anywhere else — in North Africa, or in Southeast Asia?

So a strategy has to be one that can be sustained. And the strategy that we’re pursuing, which focuses on going after targets, limiting wherever possible the capabilities of ISIL on the ground — systematically going after their leadership, their infrastructure, strengthening Shia — or strengthening Syrian and Iraqi forces and Kurdish forces that are prepared to fight them, cutting off their borders and squeezing the space in which they can operate until ultimately we’re able to defeat them — that’s the strategy we’re going to have to pursue.

And we will continue to generate more partners for that strategy. And there are going to be some things that we try that don’t work; there will be some strategies we try that do work. And when we find strategies that work, we will double down on those.

Margaret Brennan, CBS.

Q Thank you, Mr. President. A more than year-long bombing campaign in Iraq and in Syria has failed to contain the ambition and the ability of ISIS to launch attacks in the West. Have you underestimated their abilities? And will you widen the rules of engagement for U.S. forces to take more aggressive action?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: No, we haven’t underestimated our abilities. This is precisely why we’re in Iraq as we speak, and why we’re operating in Syria as we speak. And it’s precisely why we have mobilized 65 countries to go after ISIL, and why I hosted at the United Nations an entire discussion of counterterrorism strategies and curbing the flow of foreign fighters, and why we’ve been putting pressure on those countries that have not been as robust as they need to in tracking the flow of foreign fighters in and out of Syria and Iraq.

And so there has been an acute awareness on the part of my administration from the start that it is possible for an organization like ISIL that has such a twisted ideology, and has shown such extraordinary brutality and complete disregard for innocent lives, that they would have the capabilities to potentially strike in the West. And because thousands of fighters have flowed from the West and are European citizens — a few hundred from the United States, but far more from Europe — that when those foreign fighters returned, it posed a significant danger. And we have consistently worked with our European partners, disrupting plots in some cases. Sadly, this one was not disrupted in time.

But understand that one of the challenges we have in this situation is, is that if you have a handful of people who don’t mind dying, they can kill a lot of people. That’s one of the challenges of terrorism. It’s not their sophistication or the particular weapon that they possess, but it is the ideology that they carry with them and their willingness to die. And in those circumstances, tracking each individual, making sure that we are disrupting and preventing these attacks is a constant effort at vigilance, and requires extraordinary coordination.

Now, part of the reason that it is important what we do in Iraq and Syria is that the narrative that ISIL developed of creating this caliphate makes it more attractive to potential recruits. So when I said that we are containing their spread in Iraq and Syria, in fact, they control less territory than they did last year. And the more we shrink that territory, the less they can pretend that they are somehow a functioning state, and the more it becomes apparent that they are simply a network of killers who are brutalizing local populations. That allows us to reduce the flow of foreign fighters, which then, over time, will lessen the numbers of terrorists who can potentially carry out terrible acts like they did in Paris.

And that’s what we did with al Qaeda. That doesn’t mean, by the way, that al Qaeda no longer possess the capabilities of potentially striking the West. Al Qaeda in the Peninsula that operates primarily in Yemen we know has consistently tried to target the West. And we are consistently working to disrupt those acts. But despite the fact that they have not gotten as much attention as ISIL, they still pose a danger, as well.

And so our goals here consistently have to be to be aggressive, and to leave no stone unturned, but also recognize this is not conventional warfare. We play into the ISIL narrative when we act as if they’re a state, and we use routine military tactics that are designed to fight a state that is attacking another state. That’s not what’s going on here.

These are killers with fantasies of glory who are very savvy when it comes to social media, and are able to infiltrate the minds of not just Iraqis or Syrians, but disaffected individuals around the world. And when they activate those individuals, those individuals can do a lot of damage. And so we have to take the approach of being rigorous on our counterterrorism efforts, and consistently improve and figure out how we can get more information, how we can infiltrate these networks, how we can reduce their operational space, even as we also try to shrink the amount of territory they control to defeat their narrative.

Ultimately, to reclaim territory from them is going to require, however, an ending of the Syrian civil war, which is why the diplomatic efforts are so important. And it’s going to require an effective Iraqi effort that bridges Shia and Sunni differences, which is why our diplomatic efforts inside of Iraq are so important, as well.

Jim Avila.

Q Thank you, Mr. President. In the days and weeks before the Paris attacks, did you receive warning in your daily intelligence briefing that an attack was imminent? If not, does that not call into question the current assessment that there is no immediate, specific, credible threat to the United States today?

And secondly, if I could ask you to address your critics who say that your reluctance to enter another Middle East war, and your preference of diplomacy over using the military makes the United States weaker and emboldens our enemies.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Jim, every day we have threat streams coming through the intelligence transit. And as I said, every several weeks we sit down with all my national security, intelligence, and military teams to discuss various threat streams that may be generated. And the concerns about potential ISIL attacks in the West have been there for over a year now, and they come through periodically. There were no specific mentions of this particular attack that would give us a sense of something that we need — that we could provide French authorities, for example, or act on ourselves.

But typically the way the intelligence works is there will be a threat stream that is from one source, how reliable is that source; perhaps some signal intelligence gets picked up, it’s evaluated. Some of it is extraordinarily vague and unspecific, and there’s no clear timetable. Some of it may be more specific, and then folks chase down that threat to see what happens.

I am not aware of anything that was specific in the sense — that would have given a premonition about a particular action in Paris that would allow for law enforcement or military actions to disrupt it.

With respect to the broader issue of my critics, to some degree I answered the question earlier. I think that when you listen to what they actually have to say, what they’re proposing, most of the time, when pressed, they describe things that we’re already doing. Maybe they’re not aware that we’re already doing them. Some of them seem to think that if I were just more bellicose in expressing what we’re doing, that that would make a difference — because that seems to be the only thing that they’re doing, is talking as if they’re tough. But I haven’t seen particular strategies that they would suggest that would make a real difference.

Now, there are a few exceptions. And as I said, the primary exception is those who would deploy U.S. troops on a large scale to retake territory either in Iraq or now in Syria. And at least they have the honesty to go ahead and say that’s what they would do. I just addressed why I think they’re wrong. There have been some who are well-meaning, and I don’t doubt their sincerity when it comes to the issue of the dire humanitarian situation in Syria, who, for example, call for a no-fly zone or a safe zone of some sort.

And this is an example of the kind of issue where I will sit down with our top military and intelligence advisors, and we will painstakingly go through what does something like that look like. And typically, after we’ve gone through a lot of planning and a lot of discussion, and really working it through, it is determined that it would be counterproductive to take those steps — in part because ISIL does not have planes, so the attacks are on the ground. A true safe zone requires us to set up ground operations. And the bulk of the deaths that have occurred in Syria, for example, have come about not because of regime bombing, but because of on-the-ground casualties. Who would come in, who could come out of that safe zone; how would it work; would it become a magnet for further terrorist attacks; and how many personnel would be required, and how would it end — there’s a whole set of questions that have to be answered there.

I guess my point is this, Jim: My only interest is to end suffering and to keep the American people safe. And if there’s a good idea out there, then we’re going to do it. I don’t think I’ve shown hesitation to act — whether it’s with respect to bin Laden or with respect to sending additional troops in Afghanistan, or keeping them there — if it is determined that it’s actually going to work.

But what we do not do, what I do not do is to take actions either because it is going to work politically or it is going to somehow, in the abstract, make America look tough, or make me look tough. And maybe part of the reason is because every few months I go to Walter Reed, and I see a 25-year-old kid who’s paralyzed or has lost his limbs, and some of those are people I’ve ordered into battle. And so I can’t afford to play some of the political games that others may.

We’ll do what’s required to keep the American people safe. And I think it’s entirely appropriate in a democracy to have a serious debate about these issues. If folks want to pop off and have opinions about what they think they would do, present a specific plan. If they think that somehow their advisors are better than the Chairman of my Joint Chiefs of Staff and the folks who are actually on the ground, I want to meet them. And we can have that debate. But what I’m not interested in doing is posing or pursuing some notion of American leadership or America winning, or whatever other slogans they come up with that has no relationship to what is actually going to work to protect the American people, and to protect people in the region who are getting killed, and to protect our allies and people like France. I’m too busy for that.

Jim Acosta.

Q Thank you very much, Mr. President. I wanted to go back to something that you said to Margaret earlier when you said that you have not underestimated ISIS’s abilities. This is an organization that you once described as a JV team that evolved into a force that has now occupied territory in Iraq and Syria and is now able to use that safe haven to launch attacks in other parts of the world. How is that not underestimating their capabilities? And how is that contained, quite frankly? And I think a lot of Americans have this frustration that they see that the United States has the greatest military in the world, it has the backing of nearly every other country in the world when it comes to taking on ISIS. I guess the question is — and if you’ll forgive the language — is why can’t we take out these bastards?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, Jim, I just spent the last three questions answering that very question, so I don’t know what more you want me to add. I think I’ve described very specifically what our strategy is, and I’ve described very specifically why we do not pursue some of the other strategies that have been suggested.

This is not, as I said, a traditional military opponent. We can retake territory. And as long as we leave our troops there, we can hold it, but that does not solve the underlying problem of eliminating the dynamics that are producing these kinds of violent extremist groups.

And so we are going to continue to pursue the strategy that has the best chance of working, even though it does not offer the satisfaction, I guess, of a neat headline or an immediate resolution. And part of the reason, as I said, Jim, is because there are costs to the other side. I just want to remind people, this is not an abstraction. When we send troops in, those troops get injured, they get killed; they’re away from their families; our country spends hundreds of billions of dollars. And so given the fact that there are enormous sacrifices involved in any military action, it’s best that we don’t shoot first and aim later. It’s important for us to get the strategy right. And the strategy that we are pursuing is the right one.

Ron Allen.

Q Thank you, Mr. President. I think a lot of people around the world and in America are concerned because given the strategy that you’re pursuing — and it’s been more than a year now — ISIS’s capabilities seem to be expanding. Were you aware that they had the capability of pulling off the kind of attack that they did in Paris? Are you concerned? And do you think they have that same capability to strike in the United States?

And do you think that given all you’ve learned about ISIS over the past year or so, and given all the criticism about your underestimating them, do you think you really understand this enemy well enough to defeat them and to protect the homeland?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: All right, so this is another variation on the same question. And I guess — let me try it one last time.

We have been fully aware of the potential capabilities of them carrying out a terrorist attack. That’s precisely why we have been mounting a very aggressive strategy to go after them. As I said before, when you’re talking about the ability of a handful of people with not wildly sophisticated military equipment, weapons, who are willing to die, they can kill a lot of people. And preventing them from doing so is challenging for every country. And if there was a swift and quick solution to this, I assure you that not just the United States, but France and Turkey, and others who have been subject to these terrorist attacks would have implemented those strategies.

There are certain advantages that the United States has in preventing these kinds of attacks. Obviously, after 9/11, we hardened the homeland, set up a whole series of additional steps to protect aviation, to apply lessons learned. We’ve seen much better cooperation between the FBI, state governments, local governments. There is some advantages to geography with respect to the United States.

But, having said that, we’ve seen the possibility of terrorist attacks on our soil. There was the Boston Marathon bombers. Obviously, it did not result in the scale of death that we saw in Paris, but that was a serious attempt at killing a lot of people by two brothers and a crockpot. And it gives you some sense of, I think, the kinds of challenges that are going to be involved in this going forward.

So again, ISIL has serious capabilities. Its capabilities are not unique. They are capabilities that other terrorist organizations that we track and are paying attention to possess, as well. We are going after all of them.

What is unique about ISIL is the degree to which it has been able to control territory that then allows them to attract additional recruits, and the greater effectiveness that they have on social media and their ability to use that to not only attract recruits to fight in Syria, but also potentially to carry out attacks in the homeland and in Europe and in other parts of the world.

And so our ability to shrink the space in which they can operate, combined with a resolution to the Syria situation — which will reduce the freedom with which they feel that they can operate, and getting local forces who are able to hold and keep them out over the long term, that ultimately is going to be what’s going to make a difference. And it’s going to take some time, but it’s not something that at any stage in this process have we not been aware needs to be done.

Q (Off-mic) — Mr. President?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Okay, go ahead.

Q Should I wait for the microphone?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: No, I can hear you.

Q Okay, thank you so much. (Inaudible.) I want to ask a question (inaudible). These terrorist attacks we’ve seen allegedly have been attacks under the name of Islam. But this really takes — or upsets the peaceful people like countries like Turkey. So how can we give off that (inaudible) this is not really representative of Muslims?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, this is something that we spoke a lot about at the G20. The overwhelming majority of victims of terrorism over the last several years, and certainly the overwhelming majority of victims of ISIL, are themselves Muslims. ISIL does not represent Islam. It is not representative in any way of the attitudes of the overwhelming majority of Muslims. This is something that’s been emphasized by Muslim leaders — whether it’s President Erdogan or the President of Indonesia or the President of Malaysia — countries that are majority Muslim, but have shown themselves to be tolerant and to work to be inclusive in their political process.

And so to the degree that anyone would equate the terrible actions that took place in Paris with the views of Islam, those kinds of stereotypes are counterproductive. They’re wrong. They will lead, I think, to greater recruitment into terrorist organizations over time if this becomes somehow defined as a Muslim problem as opposed to a terrorist problem.

Now, what is also true is, is that the most vicious terrorist organizations at the moment are ones that claim to be speaking on behalf of true Muslims. And I do think that Muslims around the world — religious leaders, political leaders, ordinary people — have to ask very serious questions about how did these extremist ideologies take root, even if it’s only affecting a very small fraction of the population. It is real and it is dangerous. And it has built up over time, and with social media it has now accelerated.

And so I think, on the one hand, non-Muslims cannot stereotype, but I also think the Muslim community has to think about how we make sure that children are not being infected with this twisted notion that somehow they can kill innocent people and that that is justified by religion. And to some degree, that is something that has to come from within the Muslim community itself. And I think there have been times where there has not been enough pushback against extremism. There’s been pushback — there are some who say, well, we don’t believe in violence, but are not as willing to challenge some of the extremist thoughts or rationales for why Muslims feel oppressed. And I think those ideas have to be challenged.

Let me make one last point about this, and then unfortunately I have to take a flight to Manila. I’m looking forward to seeing Manila, but I hope I can come back to Turkey when I’m not so busy.

One of the places that you’re seeing this debate play itself out is on the refugee issue both in Europe, and I gather it started popping up while I was gone back in the United States. The people who are fleeing Syria are the most harmed by terrorism, they are the most vulnerable as a consequence of civil war and strife. They are parents, they are children, they are orphans. And it is very important — and I was glad to see that this was affirmed again and again by the G20 — that we do not close our hearts to these victims of such violence and somehow start equating the issue of refugees with the issue of terrorism.

In Europe, I think people like Chancellor Merkel have taken a very courageous stance in saying it is our moral obligation, as fellow human beings, to help people who are in such vulnerable situations. And I know that it is putting enormous strains on the resources of the people of Europe. Nobody has been carrying a bigger burden than the people here in Turkey, with 2.5 million refugees, and the people of Jordan and Lebanon, who are also admitting refugees. The fact that they’ve kept their borders open to these refugees is a signal of their belief in a common humanity.

And so we have to, each of us, do our part. And the United States has to step up and do its part. And when I hear folks say that, well, maybe we should just admit the Christians but not the Muslims; when I hear political leaders suggesting that there would be a religious test for which a person who’s fleeing from a war-torn country is admitted, when some of those folks themselves come from families who benefitted from protection when they were fleeing political persecution — that’s shameful. That’s not American. That’s not who we are. We don’t have religious tests to our compassion.

When Pope Francis came to visit the United States, and gave a speech before Congress, he didn’t just speak about Christians who were being persecuted. He didn’t call on Catholic parishes just to admit to those who were of the same religious faith. He said, protect people who are vulnerable.

And so I think it is very important for us right now — particularly those who are in leadership, particularly those who have a platform and can be heard — not to fall into that trap, not to feed that dark impulse inside of us.

I had a lot of disagreements with George W. Bush on policy, but I was very proud after 9/11 when he was adamant and clear about the fact that this is not a war on Islam. And the notion that some of those who have taken on leadership in his party would ignore all of that, that’s not who we are. On this, they should follow his example. It was the right one. It was the right impulse. It’s our better impulse. And whether you are European or American, the values that we are defending — the values that we’re fighting against ISIL for are precisely that we don’t discriminate against people because of their faith. We don’t kill people because they’re different than us. That’s what separates us from them. And we don’t feed that kind of notion that somehow Christians and Muslims are at war.

And if we want to be successful at defeating ISIL, that’s a good place to start — by not promoting that kind of ideology, that kind of attitude. In the same way that the Muslim community has an obligation not to in any way excuse anti-Western or anti-Christian sentiment, we have the same obligation as Christians. And we are — it is good to remember that the United States does not have a religious test, and we are a nation of many peoples of different faiths, which means that we show compassion to everybody. Those are the universal values we stand for. And that’s what my administration intends to stand for.

Thank you very much, everybody.

END 5:43 P.M. EET

Full Text Political Transcripts November 16, 2015: President Barack Obama’s Press Conference at the G-20 Summit in Antalya, Turkey about Paris Terror Attacks Transcript

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

Press Conference by President Obama — Antalya, Turkey

Source: WH, 11-16-15

Kaya Palazzo Resort
Antalya, Turkey

4:42 P.M. EET

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Good afternoon. Let me begin by thanking President Erdogan and the people of Antalya and Turkey for their outstanding work in hosting this G20 Summit. Antalya is beautiful. The hospitality of the Turkish people is legendary. To our Turkish friends — çok teşekkürler. (Laughter.) I’ve been practicing that.

At the G20, our focus was on how to get the global economy growing faster and creating more jobs for our people. And I’m pleased that we agreed that growth has to be inclusive to address the rising inequality around the world.

Given growing cyber threats, we committed to a set of norms — drafted by the United States — for how governments should conduct themselves in cyberspace, including a commitment not to engage in the cyber theft of intellectual property for commercial gain. And as we head into global climate talks, all G20 countries have submitted our targets, and we’ve pledged to work together for a successful outcome in Paris.

Of course, much of our attention has focused on the heinous attacks that took place in Paris. Across the world, in the United States, American flags are at half-staff in solidarity with our French allies. We’re working closely with our French partners as they pursue their investigations and track down suspects.

France is already a strong counterterrorism partner, and today we’re announcing a new agreement. We’re streamlining the process by which we share intelligence and operational military information with France. This will allow our personnel to pass threat information, including on ISIL, to our French partners even more quickly and more often — because we need to be doing everything we can to protect against more attacks and protect our citizens.

Tragically, Paris is not alone. We’ve seen outrageous attacks by ISIL in Beirut, last month in Ankara, routinely in Iraq. Here at the G20, our nations have sent an unmistakable message that we are united against this threat. ISIL is the face of evil. Our goal, as I’ve said many times, is to degrade and ultimately destroy this barbaric terrorist organization.

As I outlined this fall at the United Nations, we have a comprehensive strategy using all elements of our power — military, intelligence, economic, development, and the strength of our communities. With have always understood that this would be a long-term campaign. There will be setbacks and there will be successes. The terrible events in Paris were a terrible and sickening setback. Even as we grieve with our French friends, however, we can’t lose sight that there has been progress being made.

On the military front, our coalition is intensifying our airstrikes — more than 8,000 to date. We’re taking out ISIL leaders, commanders, their killers. We’ve seen that when we have an effective partner on the ground, ISIL can and is pushed back. So local forces in Iraq, backed by coalition airpower, recently liberated Sinjar. Iraqi forces are fighting to take back Ramadi. In Syria, ISIL has been pushed back from much of the border region with Turkey. We’ve stepped up our support of opposition forces who are working to cut off supply lines to ISIL’s strongholds in and around Raqqa. So, in short, both in Iraq and Syria, ISIL controls less territory than it did before.

I made the point to my fellow leaders that if we want this progress to be sustained, more nations need to step up with the resources that this fight demands.

Of course, the attacks in Paris remind us that it will not be enough to defeat ISIL in Syria and Iraq alone. Here in Antalya, our nations, therefore, committed to strengthening border controls, sharing more information, and stepping up our efforts to prevent the flow of foreign fighters in and out of Syria and Iraq. As the United States just showed in Libya, ISIL leaders will have no safe haven anywhere. And we’ll continue to stand with leaders in Muslim communities, including faith leaders, who are the best voices to discredit ISIL’s warped ideology.

On the humanitarian front, our nations agreed that we have to do even more, individually and collectively, to address the agony of the Syrian people. The United States is already the largest donor of humanitarian aid to the Syrian people — some $4.5 billion in aid so far. As winter approaches, we’re donating additional supplies, including clothing and generators, through the United Nations. But the U.N. appeal for Syria still has less than half the funds needed. Today, I’m again calling on more nations to contribute the resources that this crisis demands.

In terms of refugees, it’s clear that countries like Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan — which are already bearing an extraordinary burden — cannot be expected to do so alone. At the same time, all of our countries have to ensure our security. And as President, my first priority is the safety of the American people. And that’s why, even as we accept more refugees — including Syrians — we do so only after subjecting them to rigorous screening and security checks.

We also have to remember that many of these refugees are the victims of terrorism themselves — that’s what they’re fleeing. Slamming the door in their faces would be a betrayal of our values. Our nations can welcome refugees who are desperately seeking safety and ensure our own security. We can and must do both.

Finally, we’ve begun to see some modest progress on the diplomatic front, which is critical because a political solution is the only way to end the war in Syria and unite the Syrian people and the world against ISIL. The Vienna talks mark the first time that all the key countries have come together — as a result, I would add, of American leadership — and reached a common understanding. With this weekend’s talks, there’s a path forward — negotiations between the Syrian opposition and the Syrian regime under the auspices of the United Nations; a transition toward a more inclusive, representative government; a new constitution, followed by free elections; and, alongside this political process, a ceasefire in the civil war, even as we continue to fight against ISIL.

These are obviously ambitious goals. Hopes for diplomacy in Syria have been dashed before. There are any number of ways that this latest diplomatic push could falter. And there are still disagreements between the parties, including, most critically, over the fate of Bashar Assad, who we do not believe has a role in Syria’s future because of his brutal rule. His war against the Syrian people is the primary root cause of this crisis.

What is different this time, and what gives us some degree of hope, is that, as I said, for the first time, all the major countries on all sides of the Syrian conflict agree on a process that is needed to end this war. And so while we are very clear-eyed about the very, very difficult road still head, the United States, in partnership with our coalition, is going to remain relentless on all fronts — military, humanitarian and diplomatic. We have the right strategy, and we’re going to see it through.

So with that, I’m going to take some questions. And I will begin with Jerome Cartillier of AFP.

Q Thank you, Mr. President. One hundred and twenty-nine people were killed in Paris on Friday night. ISIL claimed responsibility for the massacre, sending the message that they could now target civilians all over the world. The equation has clearly changed. Isn’t it time for your strategy to change?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, keep in mind what we have been doing. We have a military strategy that is putting enormous pressure on ISIL through airstrikes; that has put assistance and training on the ground with Iraqi forces; we’re now working with Syrian forces as well to squeeze ISIL, cut off their supply lines. We’ve been coordinating internationally to reduce their financing capabilities, the oil that they’re trying to ship outside. We are taking strikes against high-value targets — including, most recently, against the individual who was on the video executing civilians who had already been captured, as well as the head of ISIL in Libya. So it’s not just in Iraq and Syria.

And so, on the military front, we are continuing to accelerate what we do. As we find additional partners on the ground that are effective, we work with them more closely. I’ve already authorized additional Special Forces on the ground who are going to be able to improve that coordination.

On the counterterrorism front, keep in mind that since I came into office, we have been worried about these kinds of attacks. The vigilance that the United States government maintains and the cooperation that we’re consistently expanding with our European and other partners in going after every single terrorist network is robust and constant. And every few weeks, I meet with my entire national security team and we go over every single threat stream that is presented, and where we have relevant information, we share it immediately with our counterparts around the world, including our European partners.

On aviation security, we have, over the last several years, been working so that at various airports sites — not just in the United States, but overseas — we are strengthening our mechanisms to screen and discover passengers who should not be boarding flights, and improving the matters in which we are screening luggage that is going onboard.

And on the diplomatic front, we’ve been consistently working to try to get all the parties together to recognize that there is a moderate opposition inside of Syria that can form the basis for a transition government, and to reach out not only to our friends but also to the Russians and the Iranians who are on the other side of this equation to explain to them that ultimately an organization like ISIL is the greatest danger to them, as well as to us.

So there will be an intensification of the strategy that we put forward, but the strategy that we are putting forward is the strategy that ultimately is going to work. But as I said from the start, it’s going to take time.

And what’s been interesting is, in the aftermath of Paris, as I listen to those who suggest something else needs to be done, typically the things they suggest need to be done are things we are already doing. The one exception is that there have been a few who suggested that we should put large numbers of U.S. troops on the ground.

And keep in mind that we have the finest military in the world and we have the finest military minds in the world, and I’ve been meeting with them intensively for years now, discussing these various options, and it is not just my view but the view of my closest military and civilian advisors that that would be a mistake — not because our military could not march into Mosul or Raqqa or Ramadi and temporarily clear out ISIL, but because we would see a repetition of what we’ve seen before, which is, if you do not have local populations that are committed to inclusive governance and who are pushing back against ideological extremes, that they resurface — unless we’re prepared to have a permanent occupation of these countries.

And let’s assume that we were to send 50,000 troops into Syria. What happens when there’s a terrorist attack generated from Yemen? Do we then send more troops into there? Or Libya, perhaps? Or if there’s a terrorist network that’s operating anywhere else — in North Africa, or in Southeast Asia?

So a strategy has to be one that can be sustained. And the strategy that we’re pursuing, which focuses on going after targets, limiting wherever possible the capabilities of ISIL on the ground — systematically going after their leadership, their infrastructure, strengthening Shia — or strengthening Syrian and Iraqi forces and Kurdish forces that are prepared to fight them, cutting off their borders and squeezing the space in which they can operate until ultimately we’re able to defeat them — that’s the strategy we’re going to have to pursue.

And we will continue to generate more partners for that strategy. And there are going to be some things that we try that don’t work; there will be some strategies we try that do work. And when we find strategies that work, we will double down on those.

Margaret Brennan, CBS.

Q Thank you, Mr. President. A more than year-long bombing campaign in Iraq and in Syria has failed to contain the ambition and the ability of ISIS to launch attacks in the West. Have you underestimated their abilities? And will you widen the rules of engagement for U.S. forces to take more aggressive action?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: No, we haven’t underestimated our abilities. This is precisely why we’re in Iraq as we speak, and why we’re operating in Syria as we speak. And it’s precisely why we have mobilized 65 countries to go after ISIL, and why I hosted at the United Nations an entire discussion of counterterrorism strategies and curbing the flow of foreign fighters, and why we’ve been putting pressure on those countries that have not been as robust as they need to in tracking the flow of foreign fighters in and out of Syria and Iraq.

And so there has been an acute awareness on the part of my administration from the start that it is possible for an organization like ISIL that has such a twisted ideology, and has shown such extraordinary brutality and complete disregard for innocent lives, that they would have the capabilities to potentially strike in the West. And because thousands of fighters have flowed from the West and are European citizens — a few hundred from the United States, but far more from Europe — that when those foreign fighters returned, it posed a significant danger. And we have consistently worked with our European partners, disrupting plots in some cases. Sadly, this one was not disrupted in time.

But understand that one of the challenges we have in this situation is, is that if you have a handful of people who don’t mind dying, they can kill a lot of people. That’s one of the challenges of terrorism. It’s not their sophistication or the particular weapon that they possess, but it is the ideology that they carry with them and their willingness to die. And in those circumstances, tracking each individual, making sure that we are disrupting and preventing these attacks is a constant effort at vigilance, and requires extraordinary coordination.

Now, part of the reason that it is important what we do in Iraq and Syria is that the narrative that ISIL developed of creating this caliphate makes it more attractive to potential recruits. So when I said that we are containing their spread in Iraq and Syria, in fact, they control less territory than they did last year. And the more we shrink that territory, the less they can pretend that they are somehow a functioning state, and the more it becomes apparent that they are simply a network of killers who are brutalizing local populations. That allows us to reduce the flow of foreign fighters, which then, over time, will lessen the numbers of terrorists who can potentially carry out terrible acts like they did in Paris.

And that’s what we did with al Qaeda. That doesn’t mean, by the way, that al Qaeda no longer possess the capabilities of potentially striking the West. Al Qaeda in the Peninsula that operates primarily in Yemen we know has consistently tried to target the West. And we are consistently working to disrupt those acts. But despite the fact that they have not gotten as much attention as ISIL, they still pose a danger, as well.

And so our goals here consistently have to be to be aggressive, and to leave no stone unturned, but also recognize this is not conventional warfare. We play into the ISIL narrative when we act as if they’re a state, and we use routine military tactics that are designed to fight a state that is attacking another state. That’s not what’s going on here.

These are killers with fantasies of glory who are very savvy when it comes to social media, and are able to infiltrate the minds of not just Iraqis or Syrians, but disaffected individuals around the world. And when they activate those individuals, those individuals can do a lot of damage. And so we have to take the approach of being rigorous on our counterterrorism efforts, and consistently improve and figure out how we can get more information, how we can infiltrate these networks, how we can reduce their operational space, even as we also try to shrink the amount of territory they control to defeat their narrative.

Ultimately, to reclaim territory from them is going to require, however, an ending of the Syrian civil war, which is why the diplomatic efforts are so important. And it’s going to require an effective Iraqi effort that bridges Shia and Sunni differences, which is why our diplomatic efforts inside of Iraq are so important, as well.

Jim Avila.

Q Thank you, Mr. President. In the days and weeks before the Paris attacks, did you receive warning in your daily intelligence briefing that an attack was imminent? If not, does that not call into question the current assessment that there is no immediate, specific, credible threat to the United States today?

And secondly, if I could ask you to address your critics who say that your reluctance to enter another Middle East war, and your preference of diplomacy over using the military makes the United States weaker and emboldens our enemies.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Jim, every day we have threat streams coming through the intelligence transit. And as I said, every several weeks we sit down with all my national security, intelligence, and military teams to discuss various threat streams that may be generated. And the concerns about potential ISIL attacks in the West have been there for over a year now, and they come through periodically. There were no specific mentions of this particular attack that would give us a sense of something that we need — that we could provide French authorities, for example, or act on ourselves.

But typically the way the intelligence works is there will be a threat stream that is from one source, how reliable is that source; perhaps some signal intelligence gets picked up, it’s evaluated. Some of it is extraordinarily vague and unspecific, and there’s no clear timetable. Some of it may be more specific, and then folks chase down that threat to see what happens.

I am not aware of anything that was specific in the sense — that would have given a premonition about a particular action in Paris that would allow for law enforcement or military actions to disrupt it.

With respect to the broader issue of my critics, to some degree I answered the question earlier. I think that when you listen to what they actually have to say, what they’re proposing, most of the time, when pressed, they describe things that we’re already doing. Maybe they’re not aware that we’re already doing them. Some of them seem to think that if I were just more bellicose in expressing what we’re doing, that that would make a difference — because that seems to be the only thing that they’re doing, is talking as if they’re tough. But I haven’t seen particular strategies that they would suggest that would make a real difference.

Now, there are a few exceptions. And as I said, the primary exception is those who would deploy U.S. troops on a large scale to retake territory either in Iraq or now in Syria. And at least they have the honesty to go ahead and say that’s what they would do. I just addressed why I think they’re wrong. There have been some who are well-meaning, and I don’t doubt their sincerity when it comes to the issue of the dire humanitarian situation in Syria, who, for example, call for a no-fly zone or a safe zone of some sort.

And this is an example of the kind of issue where I will sit down with our top military and intelligence advisors, and we will painstakingly go through what does something like that look like. And typically, after we’ve gone through a lot of planning and a lot of discussion, and really working it through, it is determined that it would be counterproductive to take those steps — in part because ISIL does not have planes, so the attacks are on the ground. A true safe zone requires us to set up ground operations. And the bulk of the deaths that have occurred in Syria, for example, have come about not because of regime bombing, but because of on-the-ground casualties. Who would come in, who could come out of that safe zone; how would it work; would it become a magnet for further terrorist attacks; and how many personnel would be required, and how would it end — there’s a whole set of questions that have to be answered there.

I guess my point is this, Jim: My only interest is to end suffering and to keep the American people safe. And if there’s a good idea out there, then we’re going to do it. I don’t think I’ve shown hesitation to act — whether it’s with respect to bin Laden or with respect to sending additional troops in Afghanistan, or keeping them there — if it is determined that it’s actually going to work.

But what we do not do, what I do not do is to take actions either because it is going to work politically or it is going to somehow, in the abstract, make America look tough, or make me look tough. And maybe part of the reason is because every few months I go to Walter Reed, and I see a 25-year-old kid who’s paralyzed or has lost his limbs, and some of those are people I’ve ordered into battle. And so I can’t afford to play some of the political games that others may.

We’ll do what’s required to keep the American people safe. And I think it’s entirely appropriate in a democracy to have a serious debate about these issues. If folks want to pop off and have opinions about what they think they would do, present a specific plan. If they think that somehow their advisors are better than the Chairman of my Joint Chiefs of Staff and the folks who are actually on the ground, I want to meet them. And we can have that debate. But what I’m not interested in doing is posing or pursuing some notion of American leadership or America winning, or whatever other slogans they come up with that has no relationship to what is actually going to work to protect the American people, and to protect people in the region who are getting killed, and to protect our allies and people like France. I’m too busy for that.

Jim Acosta.

Q Thank you very much, Mr. President. I wanted to go back to something that you said to Margaret earlier when you said that you have not underestimated ISIS’s abilities. This is an organization that you once described as a JV team that evolved into a force that has now occupied territory in Iraq and Syria and is now able to use that safe haven to launch attacks in other parts of the world. How is that not underestimating their capabilities? And how is that contained, quite frankly? And I think a lot of Americans have this frustration that they see that the United States has the greatest military in the world, it has the backing of nearly every other country in the world when it comes to taking on ISIS. I guess the question is — and if you’ll forgive the language — is why can’t we take out these bastards?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, Jim, I just spent the last three questions answering that very question, so I don’t know what more you want me to add. I think I’ve described very specifically what our strategy is, and I’ve described very specifically why we do not pursue some of the other strategies that have been suggested.

This is not, as I said, a traditional military opponent. We can retake territory. And as long as we leave our troops there, we can hold it, but that does not solve the underlying problem of eliminating the dynamics that are producing these kinds of violent extremist groups.

And so we are going to continue to pursue the strategy that has the best chance of working, even though it does not offer the satisfaction, I guess, of a neat headline or an immediate resolution. And part of the reason, as I said, Jim, is because there are costs to the other side. I just want to remind people, this is not an abstraction. When we send troops in, those troops get injured, they get killed; they’re away from their families; our country spends hundreds of billions of dollars. And so given the fact that there are enormous sacrifices involved in any military action, it’s best that we don’t shoot first and aim later. It’s important for us to get the strategy right. And the strategy that we are pursuing is the right one.

Ron Allen.

Q Thank you, Mr. President. I think a lot of people around the world and in America are concerned because given the strategy that you’re pursuing — and it’s been more than a year now — ISIS’s capabilities seem to be expanding. Were you aware that they had the capability of pulling off the kind of attack that they did in Paris? Are you concerned? And do you think they have that same capability to strike in the United States?

And do you think that given all you’ve learned about ISIS over the past year or so, and given all the criticism about your underestimating them, do you think you really understand this enemy well enough to defeat them and to protect the homeland?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: All right, so this is another variation on the same question. And I guess — let me try it one last time.

We have been fully aware of the potential capabilities of them carrying out a terrorist attack. That’s precisely why we have been mounting a very aggressive strategy to go after them. As I said before, when you’re talking about the ability of a handful of people with not wildly sophisticated military equipment, weapons, who are willing to die, they can kill a lot of people. And preventing them from doing so is challenging for every country. And if there was a swift and quick solution to this, I assure you that not just the United States, but France and Turkey, and others who have been subject to these terrorist attacks would have implemented those strategies.

There are certain advantages that the United States has in preventing these kinds of attacks. Obviously, after 9/11, we hardened the homeland, set up a whole series of additional steps to protect aviation, to apply lessons learned. We’ve seen much better cooperation between the FBI, state governments, local governments. There is some advantages to geography with respect to the United States.

But, having said that, we’ve seen the possibility of terrorist attacks on our soil. There was the Boston Marathon bombers. Obviously, it did not result in the scale of death that we saw in Paris, but that was a serious attempt at killing a lot of people by two brothers and a crockpot. And it gives you some sense of, I think, the kinds of challenges that are going to be involved in this going forward.

So again, ISIL has serious capabilities. Its capabilities are not unique. They are capabilities that other terrorist organizations that we track and are paying attention to possess, as well. We are going after all of them.

What is unique about ISIL is the degree to which it has been able to control territory that then allows them to attract additional recruits, and the greater effectiveness that they have on social media and their ability to use that to not only attract recruits to fight in Syria, but also potentially to carry out attacks in the homeland and in Europe and in other parts of the world.

And so our ability to shrink the space in which they can operate, combined with a resolution to the Syria situation — which will reduce the freedom with which they feel that they can operate, and getting local forces who are able to hold and keep them out over the long term, that ultimately is going to be what’s going to make a difference. And it’s going to take some time, but it’s not something that at any stage in this process have we not been aware needs to be done.

Q (Off-mic) — Mr. President?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Okay, go ahead.

Q Should I wait for the microphone?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: No, I can hear you.

Q Okay, thank you so much. (Inaudible.) I want to ask a question (inaudible). These terrorist attacks we’ve seen allegedly have been attacks under the name of Islam. But this really takes — or upsets the peaceful people like countries like Turkey. So how can we give off that (inaudible) this is not really representative of Muslims?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, this is something that we spoke a lot about at the G20. The overwhelming majority of victims of terrorism over the last several years, and certainly the overwhelming majority of victims of ISIL, are themselves Muslims. ISIL does not represent Islam. It is not representative in any way of the attitudes of the overwhelming majority of Muslims. This is something that’s been emphasized by Muslim leaders — whether it’s President Erdogan or the President of Indonesia or the President of Malaysia — countries that are majority Muslim, but have shown themselves to be tolerant and to work to be inclusive in their political process.

And so to the degree that anyone would equate the terrible actions that took place in Paris with the views of Islam, those kinds of stereotypes are counterproductive. They’re wrong. They will lead, I think, to greater recruitment into terrorist organizations over time if this becomes somehow defined as a Muslim problem as opposed to a terrorist problem.

Now, what is also true is, is that the most vicious terrorist organizations at the moment are ones that claim to be speaking on behalf of true Muslims. And I do think that Muslims around the world — religious leaders, political leaders, ordinary people — have to ask very serious questions about how did these extremist ideologies take root, even if it’s only affecting a very small fraction of the population. It is real and it is dangerous. And it has built up over time, and with social media it has now accelerated.

And so I think, on the one hand, non-Muslims cannot stereotype, but I also think the Muslim community has to think about how we make sure that children are not being infected with this twisted notion that somehow they can kill innocent people and that that is justified by religion. And to some degree, that is something that has to come from within the Muslim community itself. And I think there have been times where there has not been enough pushback against extremism. There’s been pushback — there are some who say, well, we don’t believe in violence, but are not as willing to challenge some of the extremist thoughts or rationales for why Muslims feel oppressed. And I think those ideas have to be challenged.

Let me make one last point about this, and then unfortunately I have to take a flight to Manila. I’m looking forward to seeing Manila, but I hope I can come back to Turkey when I’m not so busy.

One of the places that you’re seeing this debate play itself out is on the refugee issue both in Europe, and I gather it started popping up while I was gone back in the United States. The people who are fleeing Syria are the most harmed by terrorism, they are the most vulnerable as a consequence of civil war and strife. They are parents, they are children, they are orphans. And it is very important — and I was glad to see that this was affirmed again and again by the G20 — that we do not close our hearts to these victims of such violence and somehow start equating the issue of refugees with the issue of terrorism.

In Europe, I think people like Chancellor Merkel have taken a very courageous stance in saying it is our moral obligation, as fellow human beings, to help people who are in such vulnerable situations. And I know that it is putting enormous strains on the resources of the people of Europe. Nobody has been carrying a bigger burden than the people here in Turkey, with 2.5 million refugees, and the people of Jordan and Lebanon, who are also admitting refugees. The fact that they’ve kept their borders open to these refugees is a signal of their belief in a common humanity.

And so we have to, each of us, do our part. And the United States has to step up and do its part. And when I hear folks say that, well, maybe we should just admit the Christians but not the Muslims; when I hear political leaders suggesting that there would be a religious test for which a person who’s fleeing from a war-torn country is admitted, when some of those folks themselves come from families who benefitted from protection when they were fleeing political persecution — that’s shameful. That’s not American. That’s not who we are. We don’t have religious tests to our compassion.

When Pope Francis came to visit the United States, and gave a speech before Congress, he didn’t just speak about Christians who were being persecuted. He didn’t call on Catholic parishes just to admit to those who were of the same religious faith. He said, protect people who are vulnerable.

And so I think it is very important for us right now — particularly those who are in leadership, particularly those who have a platform and can be heard — not to fall into that trap, not to feed that dark impulse inside of us.

I had a lot of disagreements with George W. Bush on policy, but I was very proud after 9/11 when he was adamant and clear about the fact that this is not a war on Islam. And the notion that some of those who have taken on leadership in his party would ignore all of that, that’s not who we are. On this, they should follow his example. It was the right one. It was the right impulse. It’s our better impulse. And whether you are European or American, the values that we are defending — the values that we’re fighting against ISIL for are precisely that we don’t discriminate against people because of their faith. We don’t kill people because they’re different than us. That’s what separates us from them. And we don’t feed that kind of notion that somehow Christians and Muslims are at war.

And if we want to be successful at defeating ISIL, that’s a good place to start — by not promoting that kind of ideology, that kind of attitude. In the same way that the Muslim community has an obligation not to in any way excuse anti-Western or anti-Christian sentiment, we have the same obligation as Christians. And we are — it is good to remember that the United States does not have a religious test, and we are a nation of many peoples of different faiths, which means that we show compassion to everybody. Those are the universal values we stand for. And that’s what my administration intends to stand for.

Thank you very much, everybody.

END 5:43 P.M. EET

Full Text Political Transcripts November 13, 2015: President Barack Obama’s Statement on the Paris Terror Attacks Statement Transcript

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

Statement by the President on the Situation in Paris

Source: WH, 11-13-15

5:45 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Good evening, everybody.  I just want to make a few brief comments about the attacks across Paris tonight.  Once again, we’ve seen an outrageous attempt to terrorize innocent civilians.  This is an attack not just on Paris, it’s an attack not just on the people of France, but this is an attack on all of humanity and the universal values that we share.

We stand prepared and ready to provide whatever assistance that the government and the people of France need to respond.  France is our oldest ally.  The French people have stood shoulder to shoulder with the United States time and again.  And we want to be very clear that we stand together with them in the fight against terrorism and extremism.

Paris itself represents the timeless values of human progress.  Those who think that they can terrorize the people of France or the values that they stand for are wrong.  The American people draw strength from the French people’s commitment to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness.  We are reminded in this time of tragedy that the bonds of liberté and égalité and fraternité are not only values that the French people care so deeply about, but they are values that we share.  And those values are going to endure far beyond any act of terrorism or the hateful vision of those who perpetrated the crimes this evening.

We’re going to do whatever it takes to work with the French people and with nations around the world to bring these terrorists to justice, and to go after any terrorist networks that go after our people.

We don’t yet know all the details of what has happened.  We have been in contact with French officials to communicate our deepest condolences to the families of those who have been killed, to offer our prayers and thoughts to those who have been wounded.  We have offered our full support to them.  The situation is still unfolding.  I’ve chosen not to call President Hollande at this time, because my expectation is that he’s very busy at the moment.  I actually, by coincidence, was talking to him earlier today in preparation for the G20 meeting.  But I am confident that I’ll be in direct communications with him in the next few days, and we’ll be coordinating in any ways that they think are helpful in the investigation of what’s happened.

This is a heartbreaking situation.  And obviously those of us here in the United States know what it’s like.  We’ve gone through these kinds of episodes ourselves.  And whenever these kinds of attacks happened, we’ve always been able to count on the French people to stand with us.  They have been an extraordinary counterterrorism partner, and we intend to be there with them in that same fashion.

I’m sure that in the days ahead we’ll learn more about exactly what happened, and my teams will make sure that we are in communication with the press to provide you accurate information.  I don’t want to speculate at this point in terms of who was responsible for this.  It appears that there may still be live activity and dangers that are taking place as we speak.  And so until we know from French officials that the situation is under control, and we have for more information about it, I don’t want to speculate.

Thank you very much.

                                  END            5:50 P.M. EST

Political Musings January 13, 2015: Texas GOP Rep Weber compares Obama to Hitler for not attending Paris unity march

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Texas GOP Rep Weber compares Obama to Hitler for not attending Paris unity march

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Republican Congressman Rep Randy Weber of Texas has caused more ire than the act he was originally criticizing when he took to Twitter on Monday evening, Jan. 12, 2015 and compared President Barack Obama to mass murderer Adolf Hitler…READ MORE

Political Musings January 12, 2015: Obama admits he was wrong should have sent high profile official to Paris rally

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Obama admits he was wrong should have sent high profile official to Paris rally

By Bonnie K. Goodman

President Barack Obama finally admitted he was wrong. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters during the daily press briefing on Monday, Jan. 12, that the administration “should have sent someone with a higher profile” to the…READ MORE

News Headlines January 11, 2015: World leaders and millions march in Paris, all over the globe against terrorism

NEWS HEADLINES

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THE HEADLINES….

World leaders and millions march in Paris, all over the globe against terrorism

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Over 40 world leaders gathered in Paris, France on Sunday afternoon, Jan. 11, 2015 to lead a march of over a million in solidarity “cry for freedom” with the French capital after three days of terror attacks…READ MORE

News Headlines January 9, 2015: Three Paris terrorists killed, four hostages dead after Kosher grocery attack

NEWS HEADLINES

NewsHeadlines_Banner

THE HEADLINES….

Three Paris terrorists killed, four hostages dead after Kosher grocery attack

By Bonnie K. Goodman

The reign of terror continued in Paris, France on Friday, Jan. 9, 2015 as two hostage situations unfolded in two different locations, a kosher grocery store and a printing warehouse leaving four hostages dead, four injured, and killing three of…READ MORE

News Headlines January 8, 2015: After Paris Charlie Hebdo newspaper terrorist attack: manhunt, outrage, support

NEWS HEADLINES

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THE HEADLINES….

After Paris Charlie Hebdo newspaper terrorist attack: manhunt, outrage, support

By Bonnie K. Goodman

After a terrorist attack on Wednesday morning, Jan. 7, 2015 in Paris, France there has been an outpouring of international support for France and the newspaper at the epicenter of the attack from political leaders, the public and journalism community…READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency January 7, 2015: President Barack Obama’s Remarks on the Terrorist Attack in Paris — Transcript

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President on the Terrorist Attack in Paris

Source: WH, 1-7-15

Oval Office

12:18 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  I’ve reached out to President Hollande of France and hope to have the opportunity to talk to him today.  But I thought it was appropriate for me to express my deepest sympathies to the people of Paris and the people of France for the terrible terrorist attack that took place earlier today.

I think that all of us recognize that France is one of our oldest allies, our strongest allies.  They have been with us at every moment when we’ve — from 9/11 on, in dealing with some of the terrorist organizations around the world that threaten us.  For us to see the kind of cowardly evil attacks that took place today I think reinforces once again why it’s so important for us to stand in solidarity with them, just as they stand in solidarity with us.

The fact that this was an attack on journalists, attack on our free press, also underscores the degree to which these terrorists fear freedom — of speech and freedom of the press.  But the one thing that I’m very confident about is that the values that we share with the French people, a belief — a universal belief in the freedom of expression, is something that can’t be silenced because of the senseless violence of the few.

And so our counterterrorism cooperation with France is excellent.  We will provide them with every bit of assistance that we can going forward.  I think it’s going to be important for us to make sure that we recognize these kinds of attacks can happen anywhere in the world.  And one of the things I’ll be discussing with Secretary Kerry today is to make sure that we remain vigilant not just with respect to Americans living in Paris, but Americans living in Europe and in the Middle East and other parts of the world, and making sure that we stay vigilant in trying to protect them — and to hunt down and bring the perpetrators of this specific act to justice, and to roll up the networks that help to advance these kinds of plots.

In the end, though, the most important thing I want to say is that our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who’ve been lost in France, and with the people of Paris and the people of France.  What that beautiful city represents — the culture and the civilization that is so central to our imaginations — that’s going to endure.  And those who carry out senseless attacks against innocent civilians, ultimately they’ll be forgotten.  And we will stand with the people of France through this very, very difficult time.

Thank you very much, everybody.

END
12:22 P.M. EST

Full Text Obama Presidency June 6, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Speech at the 70th Anniversary of D-Day — Omaha Beach, Normandy

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Obama at the 70th Anniversary of D-Day — Omaha Beach, Normandy

Source: WH, 6-6-14

Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial
Omaha Beach
Normandy, France

11:16 A.M. CET

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  President Hollande; to the people of France; friends; the family; our veterans:

If prayer were made of sound, the skies over England that night would have deafened the world.

Captains paced their decks.  Pilots tapped their gauges.  Commanders pored over maps, fully aware that for all the months of meticulous planning, everything could go wrong — the winds, the tides, the element of surprise — and above all, the audacious bet that what waited on the other side of the Channel would compel men not to shrink away, but to charge ahead.

Fresh-faced GIs rubbed trinkets, kissed pictures of sweethearts, checked and re-checked their equipment. “God,” asked one, “give me guts.”  And in the pre-dawn hours, planes rumbled down runways; gliders and paratroopers slipped through the sky; giant screws began to turn on an armada that looked like more ships than sea.  And more than 150,000 souls set off towards this tiny sliver of sand upon which hung more than the fate of a war, but rather the course of human history.

President Hollande, distinguished guests, I’m honored to return here today to pay tribute to the men and women of a generation who defied every danger — among them, our veterans of D-Day.  And, gentlemen, we are truly humbled by your presence here today.  (Applause.)

Just last week, I received a letter from a French citizen.  “Dear Mr. President, and the American people,” he wrote, “[we are] honored to welcome you… to thank you again for all the pain and efforts of [the] American people and others in our common struggle for freedom.”

Today, we say the same to the people of France.  Thank you, especially, for the generosity that you’ve shown the Americans who’ve come here over the generations — to these beaches, and to this sacred place of rest for 9,387 Americans.  At the end of the war, when our ships set off for America, filled with our fallen, tens of thousands of liberated Europeans turned out to say farewell, and they pledged to take care of the more than 60,000 Americans who would remain in cemeteries on this continent.  In the words of one man, we will take care of the fallen “as if their tombs were our children’s.”  And the people of France, you have kept your word like the true friends you are.  We are forever grateful.  (Applause.)

Here, we don’t just commemorate victory, as proud of that victory as we are.  We don’t just honor sacrifice, as grateful as the world is.  We come to remember why America and our allies gave so much for the survival of liberty at its moment of maximum peril.  We come to tell the story of the men and women who did it so that it remains seared into the memory of a future world.

We tell this story for the old soldiers who pull themselves a little straighter today to salute brothers who never made it home.  We tell the story for the daughter who clutches a faded photo of her father, forever young; for the child who runs his fingers over colorful ribbons he knows signify something of great consequence, even if he doesn’t yet fully understand why.  We tell this story to bear what witness we can to what happened when the boys from America reached Omaha Beach.

By daybreak, blood soaked the water, bombs broke the sky.  Thousands of paratroopers had dropped into the wrong landing sites; thousands of rounds bit into flesh and sand.  Entire companies’ worth of men fell in minutes.  “Hell’s Beach” had earned its name.

By 8:30 a.m., General Omar Bradley expected our troops to be a mile inland.  “Six hours after the landings,” he wrote, “we held only ten yards of beach.”  In this age of instant commentary, the invasion would have swiftly and roundly been declared, as it was by one officer, “a debacle.”

But such a race to judgment would not have taken into account the courage of free men.  “Success may not come with rushing speed,” President Roosevelt would say that night, “but we shall return again and again.”  And paratroopers fought through the countryside to find one another.  Rangers pulled themselves over those cliffs to silence Nazi guns.  To the west, Americans took Utah Beach with relative ease.  To the east, the British tore through the coast, fueled by the fury of five years of bombs over London and a solemn vow to “fight them on the beaches.”  The Canadians, whose shores had not been touched by war, drove far into France.  And here, at Omaha, troops who finally made it to the seawall used it as shelter — where a general barked, “If you’re Rangers… lead the way!”

By the end of that longest day, this beach had been fought, lost, refought, and won — a piece of Europe once again liberated and free.  Hitler’s Wall was breached, letting loose Patton’s Army to pour into France.  Within a week, the world’s bloodiest beach had become the world’s busiest port.  Within a month, one million Allied troops thundered through Normandy into Europe, and as our armies marched across the continent, one pilot said it looked “as if the very crust of the Earth had shaken loose.”  The Arc de Triomphe lit up for the first time in years, and Paris was punctuated by shouts of “Vive la France!” and “Vive les États-Unis!”  (Applause.)

Of course, even as we gather here at Normandy, we remember that freedom’s victory was also made possible by so many others who wore America’s uniform.  Two years before he commanded armies, Eisenhower’s troops sliced through North Africa.  Three times before D-Day, our GIs stormed the beaches at Sicily, Salerno, Anzio.  Divisions like the Fighting 36th brawled their way through Italy, fighting through the mud for months, marching through towns past waving children before opening the gates to Rome.  As the “dogfaces” marched to victory in Europe, the Devil Dogs — the Marines — clawed their way from island to island in the Pacific, in some of the war’s fiercest fighting.  And back home, an army of women — including my grandmother — rolled up their sleeves to help build a mighty arsenal of democracy.

But it was here, on these shores, that the tide was turned in that common struggle for freedom.  What more powerful manifestation of America’s commitment to human freedom than the sight of wave after wave after wave of young men boarding those boats to liberate people they had never met?

We say it now as if it couldn’t be any other way.  But in the annals of history, the world had never seen anything like it.  And when the war was won, we claimed no spoils of victory — we helped Europe rebuild.  We claimed no land other than the earth where we buried those who gave their lives under our flag and where we station those who still serve under it.  But America’s claim — our commitment — to liberty, our claim to equality, our claim to freedom and to the inherent dignity of every human being — that claim is written in the blood on these beaches, and it will endure for eternity.

Omaha — Normandy — this was democracy’s beachhead.  And our victory in that war decided not just a century, but shaped the security and well-being of all posterity.  We worked to turn old adversaries into new allies.  We built new prosperity.  We stood once more with the people of this continent through a long twilight struggle until finally a wall tumbled down, and an Iron Curtain, too.  And from Western Europe to East, from South America to Southeast Asia — 70 years of democratic movement spread.  And nations that once knew only the blinders of fear began to taste the blessings of freedom.

None of that would have happened without the men who were willing to lay down their lives for people they’d never met and ideals they couldn’t live without.

None of it would have happened without the troops President Roosevelt called “the life-blood of America… the hope of the world.”

They left home barely more than boys and returned home heroes.  But to their great credit, that is not how this generation carried itself.  After the war, some put away their medals, were quiet about their service, moved on.  Some, carrying shrapnel and scars, found that moving on was much harder.  Many, like my grandfather, who served in Patton’s Army, lived a quiet life, trading one uniform and set of responsibilities for another — as a teacher, or a salesman, or a doctor, or an engineer, a dad, a grandpa.

Our country made sure millions of them earned a college education, opening up opportunity on an unprecedented scale.  And they married those sweethearts and bought new homes and raised families and built businesses, lifting up the greatest middle class the world has ever known.  And through it all, they were inspired, I suspect, by memories of their fallen brothers — memories that drove them to live their lives each day as best they possibly could.

Whenever the world makes you cynical, stop and think of these men.  Whenever you lose hope, stop and think of these men.

Think of Wilson Colwell, who was told he couldn’t pilot a plane without a high school degree, so he decided to jump out of a plane instead.  And he did, here on D-Day, with the 101st Airborne when he was just 16 years old.

Think of Harry Kulkowitz, the Jewish son of Russian immigrants, who fudged his age at enlistment so he could join his friends in the fight.  And don’t worry, Harry, the statute of limitations has expired.  (Laughter.)  Harry came ashore at Utah Beach on D-Day.  And now that he’s come back, we said he could have anything he wants for lunch today — he helped liberate this coast, after all.  But he said a hamburger would do fine.  (Laughter.)  What’s more American than that?

Think of “Rock” Merritt, who saw a recruitment poster asking him if he was man enough to be a paratrooper — so he signed up on the spot.  And that decision landed him here on D-Day with the 508th regiment, a unit that would suffer heavy casualties.  And 70 years later, it’s said that all across Fort Bragg, they know Rock — not just for his exploits on D-Day, or his 35 years in the Army, but because 91-year-old Rock Merritt still spends his time speaking to the young men and women of today’s Army and still bleeds “O.D. Green” for his 82nd Airborne.

Whenever the world makes you cynical, whenever you doubt that courage and goodness is possible — stop and think of these men.

Wilson and Harry and Rock, they are here today, and although I know we already gave them a rousing round of applause, along with all our veterans of D-Day — if you can stand, please stand; if not, please raise your hand.  Let us recognize your service once more.  (Applause.)  These men waged war so that we might know peace.  They sacrificed so that we might be free.  They fought in hopes of a day when we’d no longer need to fight.  We are grateful to them.  (Applause.)

And, gentlemen, I want each of you to know that your legacy is in good hands.  For in a time when it has never been more tempting to pursue narrow self-interest, to slough off common endeavor, this generation of Americans, a new generation — our men and women of war — have chosen to do their part as well.

Rock, I want you to know that Staff Sergeant Melvin Cedillo-Martin, who’s here today, is following in your footsteps.  He just had to become an American first — because Melvin was born in Honduras, moved to the United States, joined the Army.  After tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, he was reassigned to the 82nd Airborne.  And Sunday, he’ll parachute into Normandy.  (Applause.)  “I became part of a family of real American heroes,” he said.  “The Paratroopers of the 82nd.”

Wilson, you should know that Specialist Jannise Rodriguez joined the Army not even two years ago, was assigned to the 101st Airborne, and just last month earned the title of the 101st Airborne Division Air Assault Soldier of the Year.  And that’s inspiring but not surprising, when the women of today’s military have taken on responsibilities, including combat, like never before.  (Applause.)

I want each of you to know that their commitment to their fellow servicemembers and veterans endures.  Sergeant First Class Brian Hawthorne’s grandfather served under General Patton and General MacArthur.  Brian himself served two tours in Iraq, earned the Bronze Star in Baghdad for saving the life of his best friend, and today, he and his wife use their experience to help other veterans and military families navigate theirs.  And Brian is here in Normandy to participate in Sunday’s jump, and here, just yesterday, he reenlisted in the Army Reserve.

And this generation — this 9/11 Generation of servicemembers — they, too, felt something.  They answered some call; they said “I will go.”  They, too, chose to serve a cause that’s greater than self — many even after they knew they’d be sent into harm’s way.  And for more than a decade, they have endured tour after tour.

Sergeant First Class Cory Remsburg has served ten.  And I’ve told Cory’s incredible story before, most recently when he sat with my wife, Michelle, at the State of the Union address.  It was here, at Omaha Beach, on the 65th anniversary of D-Day, where I first met Cory and his fellow Army Rangers, right after they made their own jump into Normandy.  The next time I saw him, he was in the hospital, unable to speak or walk after an IED nearly killed him in Afghanistan.  But over the past five years, Cory has grown stronger, learning to speak again and stand again and walk again.  And earlier this year, he jumped out of a plane again.  The first words Cory said to me after his accident echoed those words first shouted all those years ago on this beach:  “Rangers lead the way.”  (Applause.)

So Cory has come back today, along with Melvin and Jannise and Brian, and many of their fellow active-duty servicemembers.  We thank them for their service.  They are a reminder that the tradition represented by these gentlemen continues.

We are on this Earth for only a moment in time.  And fewer of us have parents and grandparents to tell us about what the veterans of D-Day did here 70 years ago.  As I was landing on Marine One, I told my staff, I don’t think there’s a time where I miss my grandfather more, where I’d be more happy to have him here, than this day.  So we have to tell their stories for them.  We have to do our best to uphold in our own lives the values that they were prepared to die for.  We have to honor those who carry forward that legacy, recognizing that people cannot live in freedom unless free people are prepared to die for it.

And as today’s wars come to an end, this generation of servicemen and women will step out of uniform, and they, too, will build families and lives of their own.  They, too, will become leaders in their communities, in commerce, in industry, and perhaps politics — the leaders we need for the beachheads of our time.  And, God willing, they, too, will grow old in the land they helped to keep free.  And someday, future generations, whether 70 or 700 years hence, will gather at places like this to honor them and to say that these were generations of men and women who proved once again that the United States of America is and will remain the greatest force for freedom the world has ever known.  (Applause.)

May God bless our veterans and all who served with them, including those who rest here in eternal peace.  And may God bless all who serve today for the peace and security of the world.  May God bless the people of France.  And may God bless our United States of America.  (Applause.)

END
11:43 A.M. CET

Full Text Obama Presidency June 3-6, 2014: President Barack Obama’s 2014 Trip to Europe Schedule

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

The President’s 2014 Trip to Europe

Source: White House

Poland, Belgium, and France

June 3 to June 6

As part of the United States’ ongoing consultations with our allies, President Obama is traveling to Poland, Belgium, and France, June 3-6, 2014. While in Warsaw, the President will hold bilateral meetings and join other world leaders in commemorating the Polish Freedom Day, marking the 25th anniversary of Poland’s emergence from Communism. From Poland, the President will travel to Brussels for the G-7 Leaders’ Summit, and will then continue on to France to participate in commemorations marking the 70th anniversary of D-Day.


Trip Schedule

Tuesday, June 3

  • President Obama participates in an arrival ceremony at Warsaw Chopin Airport with President Komorowski, after which they meet American and Polish airmen.
  • President Obama and President Komorowski hold a bilateral meeting at Belweder Palace, followed by a press conference.
  • Afterward, President Obama and Prime Minister Tusk have a bilateral meeting at the Polish Chancellery, followed by remarks to the press.
  • In the afternoon, President Obama and President Komorowski co-host a meeting of Central and European Leaders at the Presidential Palace.
  • That evening, President Obama attends an official dinner at the Royal Castle to honor Poland’s Solidarity movement.
    View a wrap-up of the day’s activities

Wednesday, June 4

  • President Obama meets with President-elect Poroshenko of Ukraine.
  • In Brussels, President Obama meets with King Philippe and Prime Minister Di Rupo of Belgium at the Royal Palace.
  • That evening, President Obama attends the G-7 Summit, which begins with a leaders working dinner on foreign policy issues.
    View a wrap-up of the day’s activities

Thursday, June 5

  • President Obama participates in G-7 meetings on economics and energy and climate.
  • President Obama then attends the G-7 leaders working lunch on development.
  • Following the G-7, President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron of the United Kingdom hold a bilateral meeting.
  • President Obama then departs for Paris.
  • In Paris, President Obama and President Hollande of France have a private dinner.
    View a wrap-up of the day’s activities

Friday, June 6

  • President Obama departs Paris for Normandy, France.
  • President Obama and President Hollande participate in a ceremony at the American cemetery close to Omaha Beach, the site of the American landing in Normandy.
  • President Obama then attends a lunch with leaders, hosted by France.
  • Later that afternoon, President Obama attends the official international 70th D-Day commemoration ceremony at Sword Beach, Normandy, and then departs for the USA.
    View a wrap-up of the day’s activities

Full Text Obama Presidency February 11, 2014: President Barack Obama and France’s President Francois Hollande’s Remarks in Exchange of Toasts at State Dinner

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Source: WH, 2-11-14

President François Hollande of France raises a toast with President Barack Obama during the State Dinner on the South LawnPresident François Hollande of France raises a toast with President Barack Obama during the State Dinner on the South Lawn of the White House, Feb. 11, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

This evening, the President and Mrs. Obama will host a state dinner in honor of President François Hollande of France. The French State Dinner menu and theme was inspired by the shared history and friendship between the United States and France. …READ MORE

Remarks by President Obama and President Hollande of France in Exchange of Toasts at State Dinner

Source: WH, 2-11-14

South Grounds Tent

 8:48 P.M. EST

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Good evening, everybody.  Bonsoir!  Please, have a seat.  I have now officially exhausted my French.  (Laughter.)  Michelle and I are so honored to welcome you to the White House as we host President Hollande and his delegation for this historic state visit between our nations — the first in nearly 20 years.

I think we have a translation.  Is that correct?  No?  You don’t want me to translate.  (Laughter.)  Apparently not.

At our press conference today, I quoted Alexis de Tocqueville — that son of France who in 1831 set out across our young country and chronicled our American democracy.  And those who are familiar with de Tocqueville are always amazed by how well he understood this nation of ours and captured its spirit as well as anybody ever has.  And tonight, I’d like to share some of his lesser known observations.

About American dining, de Tocqueville wrote, “The absence of wine at our meals at first struck us as very disagreeable; and we still can’t understand the multitude of things that [Americans] succeed in introducing into their stomachs.”  (Laughter.)  So some things do not change.  When François came here years ago as a student to study our fast food, I suspect he said the same thing.

About the White House, de Tocqueville’s traveling companion wrote, “The President of the United States occupies a palace that in Paris would be called a fine private residence.”  (Laughter.)  And he wrote — and I very much can relate to this: “The power of the King of France would be nil if it were modeled after the power of the President.”  (Laughter.)  And the King didn’t have to deal with the filibuster.  (Laughter.)

Now, Americans took lessons from France as well.  One young American lawyer went to Paris and was deeply moved to see white and black students studying together.  And that young American was Charles Sumner, who — inspired by what he saw in France — became one of our greatest abolitionists, helped to end slavery, and is one of the reasons that all of us can be here this evening as full citizens, free and equal.

Now, it is true that we Americans have grown to love all things French — the films, the food, the wine.  Especially the wine.  But most of all, we love our French friends because we’ve stood together for our freedom for more than 200 years.  Tonight I again want to pay tribute to President Hollande for the principled leadership and personal friendship and courage that he has shown on the world stage.  Thank you, François.

We started this visit yesterday at Monticello.  And I’d like to end where we began.  Thomas Jefferson wrote, “So ask the traveled inhabitant of any nation, In what country on Earth would you rather live?  Certainly, in my own, where [are] my friends, my relations, and the earliest and sweetest affections and recollections of my life.”  But Jefferson added, “Which would be your second choice?  France.”  Of course.

And so I propose a toast:  To our friend and partner President Hollande, to all of our friends from France who are here today — vive la France, God bless America, and long live the alliance between our great nations.  À votre santé!  Cheers.  (A toast is offered.)

PRESIDENT HOLLANDE:  Mr. President, Dear Michelle, members of the Congress and French parliament, ladies and gentlemen — I hope that translation exists.  (Laughter.)

Mr. President, I would like to thank you for the warm welcome that you have extended to me and my delegation.  France and the United States of America are bound by ties of history — great history of French citizens such as Lafayette, who fought alongside the heroes of independence to allow your dream of freedom to prevail.  The glorious history of the Americans who came to fight on French soil during the First World War, and then in June 1944 to liberate the European continent from Nazi oppression.

This afternoon, it was a great moment and a great honor to award your Unknown Soldier with the insignia of the French Legion of Honor and to award medal to six glorious veterans of the Second World War.  I promise we shall never forget them.  (Applause.)

More recently, after the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attack, France shared America’s pain.  On that frightful day, (inaudible) we were all Americans.  This is the very reason why we endured together in Afghanistan.

Monsieur le Président, now I will speak French.  (Speaks French.)

I raise my glass in honor of the United States of America, of the President Barack Obama, Michelle — long life, the United States.  Vive la France et vive l’amitié entre la France et les États-Unis.

(A toast is offered.)

(As interpreted.)  Our two countries share universal values, and we have feelings for one another.  We love Americans, although we don’t always say so.  And you love the French, but you’re sometimes too shy to say so.  (Laughter.)  But we share the same universal values — freedom, democracy, respect for the law.  These principles guide our action.

Ever since I took office at the presidency, we have been defending them together.  In Mali, the French armed forces were able to rely on the efficient support awarded by the U.S. soldiers and equipment.  In the Central African Republic, your support has accompanied our operation aiming at restoring security in this country, torn by its actions and violence between religions.

Together, we have removed the unacceptable threat of an Iranian nuclear weapon, and we have succeeded in reaching an interim agreement.  In Syria, we together removed — through resorting to the threat of force — the threat of a worsening situation, and we managed to force the regime of Bashar al-Assad to accept the destruction of his stockpiles of chemical weapons.  And again, together, we are looking resolutely together for a political outcome so desperately needed.

Together, the French and the Americans, also want to work for growth and to introduce new rules that will prevent financial crises and enable us to fight more efficiently against tax evasion.  First, results are here, and the strength and robustness of the American economy is a source of hope for all developed countries.  Provided that we open up our markets and intensify our trade, we will succeed.

Together, we will also rise to the challenge of climate change.  Paris will be hosting the Climate Change Conference in 2015.  It is up to us to convince our major partners to take the necessary steps before it is too late.  And I know, again, that I can count on your commitment.

Mr. President, the relations between our two countries have reached an exceptional level of closeness and confidence, and there is one simple reason for that:  We share the same vision of the world and we show mutual respect.  The United States of America and France are two great nations.  What is expected of them is to keep a promise, a promise of freedom and the promise of progress, and also to keep a dream alive — that same dream made by Jefferson, Washington, Lafayette and the French revolutionaries — a dream to change the world.  By uniting our forces, by uniting our talents, we will be able to keep the flame of hope alive.

I raise my glass to the President of the United States of America and to Michelle Obama.  Long live the United States!  Long live France!  (Applause.)

END                9:02 P.M. EST

Full Text Obama Presidency February 11, 2014: President Barack Obama and France’s President Francois Hollande’s Speeches at Arrival Ceremony

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Inside the French State Visit

Source: WH, 2-11-14

President Barack Obama and President François Hollande of France listen to the French and U.S. national anthems during the state arrival ceremonyPresident Barack Obama and President François Hollande of France listen to the French and U.S. national anthems during the state arrival ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House, Feb. 11, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama delivers remarks during the State Arrival Ceremony for President François Hollande of France on the South Lawn of the White HousePresident Barack Obama delivers remarks during the State Arrival Ceremony for President François Hollande of France on the South Lawn of the White House, Feb. 11, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

This morning, President Obama, Vice President Biden, and the First Lady welcomed French President François Hollande to the White House – the first state visit by a French president in nearly 20 years….READ MORE

Remarks by President Obama and President Hollande of France at Arrival Ceremony

Source: WH, 2-11-14 

South Lawn

9:25 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning, everybody.  Bonjour!  That’s the extent of my French.  (Laughter.)  Few places in the world warm the heart like Paris in the spring.  This morning, we’re going to do our best with Washington in the winter.  (Laughter.)

France is America’s oldest ally, and in recent years we’ve deepened our alliance.  And today, on behalf of the American people and Michelle and myself, it is a great honor to welcome my friend President Hollande and his delegation for their first state visit to the United States — in fact, the first state visit by a French President in nearly 20 years.  (Applause.)

Yesterday at Monticello we reflected on the values that we share — the ideals at the heart of our alliance.  Here, under the red, white and blue — and the blue, white and red — we declare our devotion once more to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” — to “liberté, egalité, and fraternité.”  (Laughter and applause.)

For more than two centuries, we’ve not only proclaimed our ideals, our citizens have bled to preserve them, from a field in Yorktown to the beaches of Normandy to the mountains of Afghanistan.  And today, we are honored to be joined by two extraordinary men who were there those historic days 70 years ago.  I ask them to stand, proud veterans of D-Day who are here in attendance today.  (Applause.)

So it’s no exaggeration that we stand here because of each other.  We owe our freedom to each other.  Of course, we Americans also thank our French friends for so much else — this capital city, designed by L’Enfant; our Statue of Liberty, a gift from France; and something many Americans are especially grateful for, New Orleans and the French Quarter.  (Laughter.)

Mr. President, like generations before us, we now have the task not simply to preserve our enduring alliance, but to make it new for our time.  No one nation can meet today’s challenges alone or seize its opportunities.  More nations must step up and meet the responsibilities of leadership, and that is what the United States and France are doing together.

To our French friends, I say let’s do even more together, for the security that our citizens deserve, for the prosperity that they seek, and for the dignity of people around the world who seek what we declared two centuries ago — those “unalienable rights,” those “sacred rights of man.”

President Hollande, members of the French delegation, we are honored to have you here as one of our strongest allies and closest friends.  Welcome to the United States.  Bienvenue, mes amis.  (Applause.)

PRESIDENT HOLLANDE:  Mr. President, dear Barack, dear Michelle, ladies and gentlemen:  It’s cold in Washington.  (Laughter.)  You’re right.  But it’s a beautiful day, a great day for our American friends.  And I will speak in French because I am obliged to do that for my country.

(As Interpreted.)  We are received here, my delegation and myself, as friends.  And I am particularly touched by this reception by the President of the United States.  We are always united by a common history, from Yorktown to the beaches of Normandy.  As you said so rightly, each of our countries knows what it owes to the other — its freedom.

Yesterday, we were in Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s residence — a great American statesman, once ambassador to France — who remains one of the most beautiful symbols of the ties that unite us.  This afternoon, at the Arlington Cemetery, I shall award the Legion d’Honneur, the highest French distinction, to the American Unknown Soldier.  And I shall present American veterans who fought in the Second World War with an award and I’d like to pay tribute to these men.  (Applause.)

Thus doing, I wish to demonstrate the fact that France will never forget the spirit of sacrifice shown by these American soldiers, nameless heroes who left their homes to liberate my country and Europe.  We shall pay tribute to them during the celebrations that will take place in France to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landing.  And I hope, Barack, that you will join me on the 6th of June, 2014, 70 years after D-Day landing.

Our two countries hold universal values, values that inspired Eleanor Roosevelt and René Cassin to write together the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  We stand together to fight terrorism.  Today still, France and the United States stand side by side to make these values prevail.  We stand together with the United States to address the threat of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and chemical weapons; together to solve the crises faced by the Middle East; together to support Africa’s development; and together to fight global warming and climate change.  (Applause.)

Today, we stand united and we have built a model of friendship –- a friendship that is the best recipe for a better world, a world such as the one that was dreamt by Thomas Jefferson and Lafayette.  It is not just about friendship; it is about an alliance that will enable us to make this world a better place, a safer place, a more humane place.

Mr. President, I am proud to stand here.  You are this great man of the United States of America and you represent the United States of America, a country where everything is possible for who wants it; a country devoted to freedom and equality.  Long live the United States.  Long live France.  Long live the Franco-American friendship.  (Applause.)  Thank you.

END
9:39 A.M. EST

Full Text Obama Presidency February 10, 2014: President Barack Obama and France’s President Francois Hollande’s Remarks After Touring Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

President Obama and President Hollande Visit Monticello

Source: WH, 2-10-14

President Barack Obama and President François Hollande of France tour Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson in Charlottesville, Va.President Barack Obama and President François Hollande of France tour Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson in Charlottesville, Va., with Leslie Bowman, President of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Feb. 10, 2014 (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

This afternoon, President Obama and French President François Hollande visited Monticello, the home of former President Thomas Jefferson, just outside of Charlottesville, Virginia. Jefferson, who drafted the Declaration of Independence, was a noted Francophile, and served as the U.S. Minister to France from 1785 to 1789….READ MORE

Remarks by President Obama and President Hollande of France After Touring Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello

Source: WH, 2-10-14

Watch the Video

President Obama and President Hollande Visit Monticello
February 10, 2014 9:26 PM

President Obama and President Hollande Visit Monticello

Monticello
Charlottesville, Virginia

5:32 P.M. EST

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, this has been a wonderful visit.  And I want to thank François for joining us here today.  I thought this was an appropriate way to start the state visit because what it signifies is the incredible history between the United States and France.

As one of our Founding Fathers, the person who drafted our Declaration of Independence, somebody who not only was an extraordinary political leader but also one of our great scientific and cultural leaders, Thomas Jefferson represents what’s best in America.  But as we see as we travel through his home, what he also represents is the incredible bond and the incredible gifts that France gave to the United States, because he was a Francophile through and through.

He drew inspiration from the Enlightenment ideas that had been developed in France and throughout Europe, but he also drew from the arts, from the architecture, from the writings, from the culture and from the cuisine of France.  And so, in this sense, this home represents the bonds that helped lead to the American Revolution, helped to influence the French Revolution, figures like Lafayette, who played such a central role in our own independence — all this is signified here at Monticello.

And our hope in starting our visit this way is that, just as we can extend back through generations to see the links between the United States and France, tomorrow we’ll have an opportunity to talk about not only our current bonds and alliance but also ways that we can strengthen our cooperation in the future.

And of course, this house also represents the complicated history of the United States.  We just visited downstairs where we know the slaves helped to build this magnificent structure, and the complex relations that Jefferson, the drafter of the Declaration of Independence, had to slavery.  And it’s a reminder for both of us that we are going to continue to fight on behalf of the rights of all peoples — something that I know France has always been committed to, and we are committed to as well.

And I’m looking forward to talking about issues of human dignity and human rights not just in our own countries, but around the world as well.

So, Mr. President, welcome to Monticello, and we look forward to continuing our conversation tomorrow.

PRESIDENT HOLLANDE:  (As interpreted.)  I would like to thank especially President Obama for having invited me to this house.  This is Thomas Jefferson’s house, which means that this was a man who understood — met the secretary of Enlightenment, and he wanted to represent this life throughout this house.  You can see life everywhere.  You can see it the objects, in the refinement of the objects, and its architecture.

Why is this house a symbol?  Because here Lafayette was welcomed.  Together, Lafayette and Jefferson imagined something that seemed impossible — mainly American independence and the rights of — human rights and the rights of the citizen.  Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence, and Lafayette was also involved in drafting the Rights of the Citizen, and they met together in this house.

There is something quite unique about Jefferson in the fact that he been ambassador of the United States to France before becoming U.S. President.  I do believe that is the only American President that had that experience.  And he was U.S. ambassador to France at the time of the French Revolution, and he departed from France in August of 1789, which means after the 14th of July with the taking of the Bastille.  He thought he had seen enough and that he could go back home.  And then of course, he was involved in the governance of the United States before becoming President.  And then Jefferson purchased Louisiana from Napoleon. And today we are not demanding anything.  (Laughter.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  It was a good bargain, though.  (Laughter.)

PRESIDENT HOLLANDE:  (As interpreted.)  I also wish to confirm that this bond that unites us with Jefferson, that these bonds are sustained over time, because he represents values and principles.  Freedom, human dignity, rights — these are the values to which we are continuing to fight around the world, the United States and France.  We were allies in the time of Jefferson and Lafayette.  We are still allies today.  We were friends in the time of Jefferson and Lafayette, and we will remain friends forever.

Thank you.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Thank you very much.

END
5:41 P.M. EST

Political Musings September 8, 2013: Obama fails to gain international support for Syria strike at G20 Summit

POLITICAL MUSINGS

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/pol_musings.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Obama fails to gain international support for Syria strike at G20 Summit (Video)

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Video

President Barack Obama returned from the G20 Summit on Friday, Sept. 6, 2013 unable to gain a wide backing for a military strike against Syria from the majority of the G20 countries present at the summit. President Obama is leading….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency September 6, 2013: Joint Statement on Syria

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Joint Statement on Syria

Source: WH, 9-6-13

The Leaders and Representatives of Australia, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States of America made the following statement on the margins of the Group of 20 Nations Leader’s Meeting in Saint Petersburg, Russia:

The international norm against the use of chemical weapons is longstanding and universal.  The use of chemical weapons anywhere diminishes the security of people everywhere.  Left unchallenged, it increases the risk of further use and proliferation of these weapons.

We condemn in the strongest terms the horrific chemical weapons attack in the suburbs of Damascus on August 21st that claimed the lives of so many men, women, and children.  The evidence clearly points to the Syrian government being responsible for the attack, which is part of a pattern of chemical weapons use by the regime.

We call for a strong international response to this grave violation of the world’s rules and conscience that will send a clear message that this kind of atrocity can never be repeated. Those who perpetrated these crimes must be held accountable.

Signatories have consistently supported a strong UN Security Council Resolution, given the Security Council’s responsibilities to lead the international response, but recognize that the Council remains paralyzed as it has been for two and a half years.  The world cannot wait for endless failed processes that can only lead to increased suffering in Syria and regional instability.  We support efforts undertaken by the United States and other countries to reinforce the prohibition on the use of chemical weapons.

We commit to supporting longer term international efforts, including through the United Nations, to address the enduring security challenge posed by Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles.  Signatories have also called for the UN fact finding mission to present its results as soon as possible, and for the Security Council to act accordingly.

We condemn in the strongest terms all human rights violations in Syria on all sides.  More than 100,000 people have been killed in the conflict, more than 2 million people have become refugees, and approximately 5 million are internally displaced.  Recognizing that Syria’s conflict has no military solution, we reaffirm our commitment to seek a peaceful political settlement through full implementation of the 2012 Geneva Communique.  We are committed to a political solution which will result in a united, inclusive and democratic Syria.

We have contributed generously to the latest United Nations (UN) and ICRC appeals for humanitarian assistance and will continue to provide support to address the growing humanitarian needs in Syria and their impact on regional countries. We welcome the contributions announced at the meeting of donor countries on the margins of the G20.  We call upon all parties to allow humanitarian actors safe and unhindered access to those in need.

European signatories will continue to engage in promoting a common European position.

Full Text Obama Presidency May 18, 2012: President Obama’s First Meeting with French President Francoise Hollande to the White House — Bilateral Meeting Remarks

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY
& THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Welcomes French President Francoise Hollande to the White House

Source: WH, 5-18-12

President Obama with President François Hollande of France in the Oval Office, May 18, 2012

President Barack Obama holds a bilateral meeting with President François Hollande of France in the Oval Office, May 18, 2012 (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama today met with French President Francois Hollande for the first time when the newly-inaugurated leader stopped at the White House in advance of the G8 Summit which starts tonight at Camp David.

While much of the conversation in the Oval Office was focused on the economic situation in the eurozone — which President Obama said will also be central to the discussions throughout the weekend when they are joined by leaders from Britain, Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Russia  — others issues concerning areas of our nations’ mutual cooperation were on the agenda:

We also discussed the situation in Afghanistan, in anticipation of our NATO meeting in Chicago on Saturday and Sunday. And we agreed that even as we transition out of a combat phase in Afghanistan that it’s important that we sustain our commitment to helping Afghans build security and continue down the path of development.

We also identified the issues of Iran and Syria, the transition that’s taking place in countries like Egypt and Tunisia as topics of critical importance. And we’ll be devoting extensive time to those issues throughout the G8 meeting. France has shown great leadership on these issues, and as I indicated to President Hollande, when the United States and France, along with our other key allies, make up our minds to stand firm on the side of democracy and freedom and development, that enormous progress can be made.

POLITICAL QUOTES
& SPEECHES

Remarks by President Obama and President Hollande of France after Bilateral Meeting

Oval Office

12:35 P.M. EDT

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, it is my great pleasure to welcome President Hollande to the United States, to the Oval Office, and this evening to Camp David.

We all watched the remarkable election, and I offered him hardy congratulations and assured him that the friendship and alliance between the United States and France is not only of extraordinary importance to me but is deeply valued by the American people.

I was interested, when I was reading the President’s biography, that he actually spent some time in the United States in his youth, studying American fast food — (laughter) — and although he decided to go into politics, we’ll be interested in his opinions of cheeseburgers in Chicago.  (Laughter.)

I also warned him that now that he’s President, he can no longer ride a scooter in Paris.  (Laughter.)  I know because I’ve tried with the Secret Service and they don’t let me do it.  (Laughter.)

Obviously we have had a lot to talk about.  Much of our discussion centered on the situation in the eurozone.  And President Hollande and I agree that this is an issue of extraordinary importance not only to the people of Europe, but also to the world economy.  And we’re looking forward to a fruitful discussion later this evening and tomorrow with the other G8 leaders about how we can manage a responsible approach to fiscal consolidation that is coupled with a strong growth agenda.

We also discussed the situation in Afghanistan, in anticipation of our NATO meeting in Chicago on Saturday and Sunday.  And we agreed that even as we transition out of a combat phase in Afghanistan that it’s important that we sustain our commitment to helping Afghans build security and continue down the path of development.

We also identified the issues of Iran and Syria, the transition that’s taking place in countries like Egypt and Tunisia as topics of critical importance.  And we’ll be devoting extensive time to those issues throughout the G8 meeting.  France has shown great leadership on these issues, and as I indicated to President Hollande, when the United States and France, along with our other key allies, make up our minds to stand firm on the side of democracy and freedom and development, that enormous progress can be made.

So I’m grateful to President Hollande for being willing to come here so shortly after his election and the formation of his government.  He’s gotten off to a very strong start.  And I hope that he will find my administration and the American people strong partners in delivering prosperity not only to the people of France but helping to provide peace and security throughout the world.

PRESIDENT HOLLANDE:  (As interpreted.)  I wanted my first visit outside Europe to be to the United States in order to meet President Obama.  The Camp David G8 summit as well as the meeting in Chicago was an outstanding opportunity, and I would like to thank President Obama for taking that opportunity to allow us to have a long conversation together.

This is the first time that we meet, and not the last one; there will be many other opportunities for as long as possible.  But it was important for me, on this occasion, to reaffirm the importance of the relationship between France and the United States.

Through history, we lived together some important events.  We’ve had our differences, but we always manage to overcome them because of that strong link between our two countries.  We also share some common causes — freedom, democracy.  This is the reason why our history, our culture go back together a long way, and we managed to go through these differences when necessary and have these ties that mean that when France and the U.S. come together we can make progress.

I discussed the main topics with President Obama, including the economy and the fact that growth must be a priority, at the same time as we put in place some fiscal compacts to improve our finances.  And President Obama was able to acknowledge shared views so that we can progress.

I also — on the Greece — the eurozone situation, and our concerns regarding Greece, and we share the same views, the fact that Greece must stay in the eurozone and that all of us must do what we can to that effect.  There will be elections in Greece and we wanted to send a message to that effect to the Greek people.

Our economies depend on one another.  What happens in Europe has an impact on the U.S., and vice versa.  So we are related, and the more coherent we are, the more efficient we can be.

We also discussed Afghanistan, and I reminded President Obama that I made a promise to the French people to the effect that our combat troops would be withdrawn from Afghanistan by the end of 2012.  That being said, we will continue to support Afghanistan in a different way, our support will take a different format, and all of that will be done in good understanding with our allies within ISAF.  And so we will continue and comply with our commitment to that country, and supply and support, as I said, in a different way.

We will discuss that further in Chicago, and I’m pretty sure I will find the right means so that our allies can continue with their mission and at the same time I can comply to the promise I made to the French people.

And regarding Iran, we, again, noted that we share views and that we could start negotiations, but that being said, with the required firmness that Iran doesn’t get the nuclear military capability.

Regarding Syria and Arab Spring countries, we talked about the Deauville partnership, and here again I said that we would comply with our commitments.

What was important to say today is that, as to our responsibilities, France and the U.S. are countries that have an impact on the destiny of the world, but we are great in friendship, cohesion and partnership.  France is an independent country and cares about its independence but in old friendship with the United States of America.  So it is with that friendship and with that independence that we can be both the most efficient when it comes to dealing with the current challenges.

And I would like to thank President Obama for the knowledge he has of my life before I took office.  I will say nothing against cheeseburgers, of course.  And as to my own vehicle, the one I used to have until I took office, I hope that I will not have to use it — (laughter.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  I just want to remember that cheeseburgers go very well with French fries.  (Laughter.)

END
12:53 P.M. EDT

Full Text November 4, 2011: President Barack Obama at the G20 in France — Press Conferences Transcripts

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Progress at the G-20

Source: WH, 11-4-11
20111104 POTUS G20 Press Conference

President Barack Obama answers a question at his press conference at the G20 Summit in Cannes, France, Nov. 4, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

When world leaders gathered this week in France, they acknowledged that the global economy was facing significant challenges that put recovery from the recession at risk.

The debt crisis in Europe has put stress on the continent’s banking system, and countries like Greece and Italy are struggling to restore fiscal order.

In our country, the economy hasn’t rebounded how anyone had hoped. We’re adding jobs, but not at anywhere near the pace we need, and too many remain out of work.

And in emerging economies, the rate of growth seems to be slowing as continued financial instability in the rest of the world begins to drag these countries down, as well.

To counter these threats, the G20 leaders in France pledged to coordinate actions and policies to reinvigorate the global economy.

And the focus of that coordination? Jobs.

“There’s no excuse for inaction,” President Obama said in a press conference earlier today. “That’s true globally and it’s certainly true back home right now.”

Read the Transcript  |  Download Video: mp4 (229MB) | mp3 (22MB)

While European governments were vowing to do everything necessary to ensure the stability of the euro, the United States made a pledge of its own in the G20 action plan:

The US commits to the timely implementation of a package of near-term measures to sustain the recovery, through public investments, tax reforms, and targeted jobs measures, consistent with a credible plan for medium-term fiscal consolidation.

Press Conference by President Obama After G20 Summit

Press Center
Claude Debussy Theater
Cannes, France

3:40 P.M. CET

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Good afternoon, everybody.  I want to begin by thanking my friend, President Sarkozy, for his leadership and his hospitality.  And I want to thank the people of Cannes for this extraordinary setting.

Over the past two years, those of us in the G20 have worked together to rescue the global economy, to avert another depression, and to put us on the path to recovery.  But we came to Cannes with no illusions.  The recovery has been fragile.  And since our last meeting in Seoul we’ve experienced a number of new shocks — disruptions in oil supplies, the tragic tsunami in Japan, and the financial crisis in Europe.

As a result, advanced economies, including the United States are growing and creating jobs, but not nearly fast enough.  Emerging economies have started to slow.  Global demand is weakening.  Around the world, hundreds of millions of people are unemployed, or underemployed.  Put simply, the world faces challenges that put our economic recovery at risk.

So the central question coming into Cannes was this:  Could the world’s largest economies confront this challenge squarely — understanding that these problems will not be solved overnight, could we make progress?  After two days of very substantive discussions I can say that we’ve come together and made important progress to put our economic recoveries on a firmer footing.

With respect to Europe, we came to Cannes to discuss with our European friends how they will move forward and build upon the plan they agreed to last week to resolve this crisis.  Events in Greece over the past 24 hours have underscored the importance of implementing the plan, fully and as quickly as possible.

Having heard from our European partners over the past two days, I am confidence that Europe has the capacity to meet this challenge.  I know it isn’t easy, but what is absolutely critical, and what the world looks for in moments such as this, is action.

That’s how we confronted our financial crisis in the United States — having our banks submit to stress tests that were rigorous, increasing capital buffers, and passing the strongest financial reforms since the Great Depression.  None of that was easy, and it certainly wasn’t always popular.  But we did what was necessary to address the crisis, put ourselves on a stronger footing, and help rescue the global economy.

And that’s the challenge that Europe now faces.  Make no mistake, there’s more hard work ahead and more difficult choices to make.  But our European partners have laid a foundation on which to build, and it has all the elements needed for success:  a credible firewall to prevent the crisis from spreading, strengthening European banks, charting a sustainable path for Greece, and confronting the structural issues that are at the heart of the current crisis.

And here in Cannes we’ve moved the ball forward.  Europe remains on track to implement a sustainable path for Greece.  Italy has agreed to a monitoring program with the IMF — in fact, invited it.  Tools have been identified that will better enable the world to support European action.  And European finance ministers will carry this work forward next week.

All of us have an enormous interest in Europe’s success, and all of us will be affected if Europe is not growing — and that certainly includes the United States, which counts Europe as our largest trading partner.  If Europe isn’t growing, it’s harder for us to do what we need to do for the American people:  creating jobs, lifting up the middle class, and putting our fiscal house in order.  And that’s why I’ve made it clear that the United States will continue to do our part to support our European partners as they work to resolve this crisis.

More broadly, we agreed to stay focused on jobs and growth with an action plan in which each nation does its part.  In the United States, we recognize, as the world’s largest economy, the most important thing we can do for global growth is to get our own economy growing faster.  Back home, we’re fighting for the American Jobs Act, which will put people back to work, even as we meet our responsibilities to reduce our deficit in the coming years.

We also made progress here in Cannes on our rebalancing agenda.  In an important step forward, countries with large surpluses and export-oriented countries agreed to take additional steps to support growth and boost demand in their own countries. In addition, we welcome China’s determination to increase the flexibility of the RMB.  This is something we’ve been calling for for some time, and it will be a critical step in boosting growth.

Finally, we also made progress across a range of challenges to our shared prosperity.  Following our reforms in the United States, the G20 adopted an unprecedented set of high-level financial reforms to prevent a crisis in the future.  We agreed to keep phasing out fossil fuel subsidies — perhaps the single-most important step we can take in the near term to fight climate change and create clean-energy economies.

And even as our countries work to save lives from the drought and terrible famine in the Horn of Africa, we agreed on the need to mobilize new resources to support the development that lifts nations out of poverty.

So, again, I want to thank President Sarkozy and our French hosts for a productive summit.  I want to thank my fellow leaders for their partnership and for the progress we’ve made to create the jobs and prosperity that our people deserve.

So with that, let me take a few questions.  I’ll start with Jim Kuhnhenn of AP.

Q    New jobless numbers today back in the States.  You’re on a pace to face the voters with the highest unemployment rate of any postwar President.  And doesn’t that make you significantly vulnerable to a Republican who might run on a message of change?  And if I may add, given that you have just witnessed the difficulties of averting economic problems beyond your control, what state do you think the economy will be in when you face reelection next year?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Jim, I have to tell you the least of my concerns at the moment is the politics of a year from now.  I’m worried about putting people back to work right now, because those folks are hurting and the U.S. economy is underperforming. And so everything that we’re doing here in the — here at the G20 mirrors our efforts back home — that is, how do we boost growth; how do we shrink our deficits in a way that doesn’t slow the recovery right now; how do we make sure that our workers are getting the skills and the training they need to compete in a global economy.  And not only does the American Jobs Act answer some of the needs for jobs now, but it will also lay the foundation for future growth through investments in infrastructure, for example.

So my hope is, is that the folks back home, including those in the United States Senate and the House of Representatives, when they look at today’s job numbers — which were positive but indicate once again that the economy is growing way too slow — that they think twice before they vote “no” again on the only proposal out there right now that independent economists say would actually make a dent in unemployment right now.  There’s no excuse for inaction.  That’s true globally; it’s certainly true back home as well.  And I’m going to keep on pushing it regardless of what the politics are.

Chuck Todd.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  Clearly, there was some sort of dispute between you and the European leaders about how to fund this bailout.  And you, in your remarks, emphasized the fact that TARP was done with U.S. funds, that there wasn’t any international involvement here.  Are you confident now that the European leaders are going to own this firewall or bailout fund themselves, not looking for handouts from other countries, and that they will do what they have to do?

And the second part of my question is, how hard was it to convince these folks to do stimulus measures when your own stimulus measure — you’ve mentioned it twice now — is not going anywhere right now on Capitol Hill?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, first of all, we didn’t have a long conversation about stimulus measures, so that was maybe two or three G20s ago.  We had a discussion about what steps could be taken to continue to spur economic growth.  And that may not always involve government spending.  For example, the rebalancing agenda that I talked about is one way in which we can make a big difference in spurring on global demand.  It requires some adjustments, some changes in behavior on the part of countries.  But it doesn’t necessarily involve classic fiscal stimulus.

It wasn’t a dispute with the Europeans.  I think the Europeans agree with us that it is important to send a clear signal that the European project is alive and well, and that they are committed to the euro, and that they are committed to resolving this crisis.  And I think if you talk to European leaders, they are the first ones to say that that begins with European leaders arriving at a common course of action.

So essentially, what we’ve seen is all the elements for dealing with the crisis put in place, and we think those are the right elements.  The first is having a solution to the specific problem of Greece.  And although the actions of Papandreou and the referendum issue over the last couple of days I think got a lot of people nervous, the truth is, is that the general approach — which involved a voluntary reduction on the part of those who hold the Greeks’ debt, reducing the obligations of the Greek government — Greece continuing with reforms and structural change, that’s the right recipe.  It just has to be carried out. And I was encouraged by the fact that despite all the turmoil in Greece, even the opposition leader in Greece indicated that it’s important to move forward on the proposal.

The second component is recapitalization of Europe’s banks. And they have identified that need and they are resourcing that need.  And that I think is going to be critical to further instill confidence in the markets.

And the third part of it is creating this firewall, essentially sending a signal to the markets that Europe is going to stand behind the euro.  And all the details, the structure, how it operates, are still being worked out among the European leaders.  What we were able to do was to give them some ideas, some options in terms of how they would put that together.

And what we’ve said is — and I’m speaking now for the whole of the G20 — what we’ve said is the international community is going to stand ready to assist and make sure that the overall global economy is cushioned by the gyrations in the market and the shocks that arise as Europe is working these issues through. And so they’re going to have a strong partner in us.  But European leaders understand that ultimately what the markets are looking for is a strong signal from Europe that they’re standing behind the euro.

Q    So you’re discouraging them from looking for money — outside money?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  No, what we were saying is that — and this is reflected in the communiqué — that, for example, creating additional tools for the IMF is an important component of providing markets overall confidence in global growth and stability, but that is a supplement to the work that is being done here in Europe.

And based on my conversations with President Sarkozy, Chancellor Merkel, and all the other European leaders, I believe they have that strong commitment to the euro and the European project.

David Muir.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  I’m curious what you would say to Americans back home who’ve watched their 401(k)s recover largely when the bailout seemed a certainty, and then this week with the brand new political tumult in Greece, watched themselves lose essentially what they had gained back.  You mentioned you’re confident in the bailout plan.  Are you confident this will actually happen, and if so, that it will work?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, first of all, if you’re talking about the movements of the U.S. stock market, the stock market was down when I first took office and the first few months I was in office about 3,000 points lower than it is now.  So nothing has happened in the last two weeks that would suggest that somehow people’s 401(k)s have been affected the way you describe.

Am I confident that this will work?  I think that there’s more work to do.  I think there are going to be some ups and downs along the way.  But I am confident that the key players in Europe — the European political leadership — understands how much of a stake they have in making sure that this crisis is resolved, that the eurozone remains intact, and I think that they are going to do what’s necessary in order to make that happen.

Now, let’s recognize how difficult this is.  I have sympathy for my European counterparts.  We saw how difficult it was for us to save the financial system back in the United States.  It did not do wonders for anybody’s political standing, because people’s general attitude is, you know what, if the financial sector is behaving recklessly or not making good decisions, other folks shouldn’t have to suffer for it.

You layer on top of that the fact that you’re negotiating with multiple parliaments, a European parliament, a European Commission — I mean, there are just a lot of institutions here in Europe.  And I think several  — I’m not sure whether it was Sarkozy or Merkel or Barroso or somebody, they joked with me that I’d gotten a crash course in European politics over the last several days.  And there are a lot of meetings here in Europe as well.  So trying to coordinate all those different interests is laborious, it’s time consuming, but I think they’re going to get there.

What is also positive is — if there’s a silver lining in this whole process, it’s the fact that I think European leaders recognize that there are some structural reforms, institutional modifications they need to make if Europe and the eurozone is to be as effective as they want it to be.

I think that what this has exposed is that if you have a single currency but you haven’t worked out all the institutional coordination and relationships between countries on the fiscal side, on the monetary side, that that creates additional vulnerabilities.  And there’s a commitment on the part of European leaders, I think, to examine those issues.  But those are long term.  In the short term, what they’ve got to do is just make sure that they’re sending a signal to the markets that they stand behind the euro.

And if that message is sent, then I think this crisis is averted, because some of this crisis is psychological.  Italy is a big country with a enormous industrial base, great wealth, great assets, and has had substantial debt for quite some time — it’s just the market is feeling skittish right now.  And that’s why I think Prime Minister Berlusconi’s invitation to the IMF to certify that the reform plan that they put in place is one that they will, in fact, follow is an example of the steady, confidence-building measures that need to take place in order for us to get back on track.

Norah O’Donnell.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  The world leaders here have stressed growth — the importance of growth.  And yet growth back at home has been anemic, the new jobs report today showing just 88,000 jobs added.  The Republicans in Congress have made it clear that they’re going to block your jobs bill because they believe the tax hikes in it hurt small businesses.  At what point do you feel that you declare stalemate to try and reach common ground?  And do you feel like you have been an effective leader when it comes to the economy?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, first of all, wherever Republicans indicate an interest in doing things that would actually grow the economy, I’m right there with them.  So they’ve said that passing trade bills with South Korea and Panama and Colombia would help spur growth — those got done, with significant bipartisan support.  They’ve suggested that we need to reform our patent laws — that’s something that was part of my long-term program for economic growth; we’ve got that done.  What I’ve said is all those things are nice and they’re important, but if we want to grow the economy right now then we have to think bigger; we’ve got to do something bolder and more significant.

So we put forward the American Jobs Act, which contains ideas that are historically supported by Democrats and Republicans — like rebuilding our infrastructure, our roads and our bridges; putting teachers back in the classroom; providing tax credits to small businesses.

You say, Norah, that the reason they haven’t voted for them is because they don’t want to tax small business.  Well, actually, that’s not — if that’s their rationale then it doesn’t fly, because the bill that they voted down yesterday — a component of the American jobs bill — essentially said we can create hundreds of thousands of jobs, rebuilding our infrastructure, making America more competitive, and the entire program will be paid for by a tax not on millionaires but people making a million dollars a year or more, which in the United States is about — a little over 300,000 people.

Now, there aren’t a lot of small businesses across the country that are making that kind of money.  In fact, less than 3 percent of small businesses make more than $250,000 a year.  So what they’ve said is, we prefer to protect 300,000 people rather than put hundreds of thousands of people back to work and benefit 300 million Americans who are hurting because of low growth.

So we’re going to keep on pushing.  Now, there are steps that we can take absent congressional action.  And the refinancing proposal that we put forward in Las Vegas is an example of that — helping students with student loans.  We’re going to keep on rolling out administrative steps that we can take that strengthen the economy.  But if we’re going to do something big to jumpstart the economy at a time when it’s stabilized but unemployment is way too high, Congress is going to need to act.

And in terms of my track record on the economy — well, here’s just a simple way of thinking about it:  When I came into office, the U.S. economy had contracted by 9 percent — the largest contraction since the Great Depression.  Little over a year later, the economy was growing by 4 percent, and it’s been growing ever since.

Now, is that good enough?  Absolutely not.  We’ve got to do more.  And as soon as I get some signal from Congress that they’re willing to take their responsibilities seriously, I think we can do more.  But that’s going to require them to break out of the rigid ideological positions that they’ve been taking.  And the same is true, by the way, when it comes to deficit reduction.

We can solve all our problems.  We can grow our economy now, put people back to work, reduce our deficit.  And you get surprising consensus from economists about how to do it, from both the left and the right.  It’s just a matter of setting politics aside.  And we’re constantly remembering that the election is one year away.  If we do that, there’s no reason why can’t solve these problems.

All right?  Thank you, everybody.

END
4:04 P.M. CET

President Obama at the G20

Source: WH, 11-3-11
20111103 President Obama at the G20

President Barack Obama is greeted by French President Nicholas Sarkozy for the start of the G20 Summit in Cannes, France, Nov. 3, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

Today, President Obama is in France for a meeting of the G20 — a gathering of 20 nations that represent the world’s most important industrialized economies. In addition to working sessions with the full assembly of leaders, the President also held bilateral talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

In his conversation with President Sarkozy, he discussed the focus of this week’s talks:

I think it’s no surprise that we spent most of our conversation focused on strengthening the global economic recovery so that we are creating jobs for our people and stabilizing the financial markets around the world. The most important aspect of our task over the next two days is to resolve the financial crisis here in Europe. President Sarkozy has shown extraordinary leadership on this issue. I agree with him that the EU has made some important steps towards a comprehensive solution, and that would not have happened without Nicolas’s leadership. But here at the G20 we’re going to have to flesh out more of the details about how the plan will be fully and decisively implemented.

The President elaborated on that theme in his conversation with Chancellor Merkel:

This is going to be a very busy two days. Central to our discussions at the G20 is how do we achieve greater global growth and put people back to work. That means we’re going to have to resolve the situation here in Europe. And without Angela’s leadership we would not have already made the progress that we’ve seen at the EU meeting on October 27th.

 

Remarks by President Obama and President Nicolas Sarkozy of France in a Joint Statement

Convention Center
Cannes, France

10:38 A.M. CET

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, it is wonderful to be back in France. And I want to thank my excellent friend and colleague, Nicolas Sarkozy, for his hospitality. He and I obviously have worked together on a wide range of issues since I’ve been President, and I always welcome his frank and honest assessment of the situations here.

It’s also nice to be back visiting in France — the last time I was in the south of France — or the first time, rather, was as a college student, and I’ve never forgotten the extraordinary hospitality of the French people and the extraordinary views that are available here.

This morning, President Sarkozy and I reaffirmed our strong and enduring ties, and I’ve said on many occasions that France is not only our oldest ally, but also one of our closest, and I consider Nicolas to be an outstanding and trusted partner on the world stage.

I think it’s no surprise that we spent most of our conversation focused on strengthening the global economic recovery so that we are creating jobs for our people and stabilizing the financial markets around the world. The most important aspect of our task over the next two days is to resolve the financial crisis here in Europe. President Sarkozy has shown extraordinary leadership on this issue. I agree with him that the EU has made some important steps towards a comprehensive solution, and that would not have happened without Nicolas’s leadership. But here at the G20 we’re going to have to flesh out more of the details about how the plan will be fully and decisively implemented.

And we also discussed the situation in Greece and how we can work to help resolve that situation as well. And the United States will continue to be a partner with the Europeans to resolve these challenges.

We had the opportunity to also talk about a range of security issues. One in particular that I want to mention is the continuing threat posed by Iran’s nuclear program. The IAEA is scheduled to release a report on Iran’s nuclear program next week and President Sarkozy and I agreed on the need to maintain the unprecedented international pressure on Iran to meet its obligations.

And finally, I’m looking forward to joining Nicolas and service members from both of our countries tomorrow to celebrate the alliance between our two countries, which spans more than 200 years — from Yorktown to Libya.

And finally, I want to make mention that this is our first meeting since the arrival of the newest Sarkozy, and so I want to congratulate Nicolas and Carla on the birth of Giulia. And I informed Nicolas on the way in that I am confident that Giulia inherited her mother’s looks rather than her father’s — (laughter) — which I think is an excellent thing. And so now we share one of the greatest challenges and blessings of life, and that is being fathers to our daughters.

So again, Nicolas, thank you for your friendship. Thank you for our partnership. And thank you for your gracious hospitality.

PRESIDENT SARKOZY: (As interpreted.) Well, you see Barack Obama’s tremendous influence. For four years now, he’s been explaining to me that to be a father to daughters is a fantastic experience — he who has two daughters. So I have listened to him. As a matter of fact, I followed his example.

I must tell you that we had a heavy agenda because there is no lack of subjects for our concern. We need the leadership of Barack Obama. We need the solidarity and the support of the United States of America. We need joint common analysis as to the way we can put the world back on the path of growth and stability.

Together, President Obama and myself are trying to build the unity of the G20. And I wish to pay tribute to the United States for understanding about all the issues we’ll be discussing over the next 48 hours, and in particular, the issue of the Greek crisis — the difficulty that the euro is facing, the need to be hand-in-glove with the United States on the language of the final communiqué.

Again, I want to thank President Obama for his understanding on all matters, including that of a levy or a tax on financial transactions, where I think we found common ground, at least common analysis, mainly that the world of finance must contribute to solving the crisis that we are all facing today.

I also want to say how delighted I am that President Obama has agreed to stay a few hours after the end of the summit in order to participate in ceremonies to pay tribute to American and French troops who have fought together so many times throughout the course of our joint histories. And I’m delighted to have the opportunity to join President Obama in a television interview, because he is much loved and much liked here in France.

So we have a very heavy agenda ahead of us, and we’ll have many opportunities to see you again and explain to you what decisions we’ve been led to take.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you very much.

END
10:53 A.M. CET

 

Remarks by President Obama and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany Before Bilateral Meeting

Intercontinental Carlton Cannes Hotel
Cannes, France

11:05 A.M. CET

PRESIDENT OBAMA: It’s wonderful to be back together with my good friend, Angela Merkel. I think that the last time we were in Washington, D.C. together we presented her with the Medal of Freedom, and that indicated the high esteem that not only I, but the United States, hold her and her leadership.

This is going to be a very busy two days. Central to our discussions at the G20 is how do we achieve greater global growth and put people back to work. That means we’re going to have to resolve the situation here in Europe. And without Angela’s leadership we would not have already made the progress that we’ve seen at the EU meeting on October 27th.

We are now, having seen some progress, looking forward to working together to figure out how we can implement this in an effective way to make sure that not only is the eurozone stable, but the world financial system is stable as well. And hopefully during our bilateral meeting we’ll also have the ability to discuss a wide range of other issues, including security issues that are so important to both our countries.

But I just want to say, once again, how much I enjoy working with Angela. She exhibits the kind of practical common sense that I think has made her a leader not only in Germany but around the world.

So thank you very much.

Hold on, hold on, hold on — translation. (Laughter.) All the Americans reporters speak German, but just in case. (Laughter.)

CHANCELLOR MERKEL: (As interpreted.) Thank you very much, and let me say that I’m delighted that we have the opportunity for this meeting here. And mainly, the G20 will afford us an opportunity, during these two days of meeting, not only to talk about European matters but also about global matters that matter to both of us and that are of common interest.

And let me say, again, that I very fondly remember the evening in the White House and the award.

Thank you.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you, everybody.

END
11:08 A.M. CET

Full Text September 21, 2011: President Obama’s Speeches with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, Former President Bill Clinton, Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron & France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy & Japan’s PM Yoshihiko Noda

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by President Obama and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon in Luncheon Toasts

U.N. Secretary General's Luncheon
September 21, 2011 8:18 PM

U.N. Secretary General’s Luncheon

United Nations Headquarters, New York, NY

1:54 P.M. EDT

SECRETARY GENERAL BAN:  President Obama, Excellencies, distinguished heads of state and government, Your Highnesses, Your Majesties, distinguished ministers, ladies and gentlemen: Welcome to the United Nations. Welcome to our common house.

We are off to a flying start today, I must say. Thank you, President Obama, for your inspiring oratory, and more, for its vital importance.

As ever, we thank the United States and its generous people for hosting United Nations during last 66 years. This is the 66th session. Let me offer a special word of thanks to New Yorkers. In the last month, they have faced an earthquake, then a hurricane, now a perfect storm of the world’s leaders, creating a lot of traffic jams. And we are very much grateful for their patience.

Let me say straight off, this is my fifth lunch with the distinguished leaders of the world, and I’m very much grateful for your strong support.  In that regard, I am very glad that it is not my last lunch, and we will have five more lunches in the coming five years. (Applause.) Thank you very much. Taking this opportunity, I would like to really sincerely express my appreciation and thanks to all of the heads of state and government for your strong support. You can count on me. And it’s a great and extraordinary honor to serve this great organization.

Mr. President, 50 years ago this week, your predecessor, President John F. Kennedy, addressed the General Assembly. He came, he said to join with other world leaders — and I quote, “to look across this world of threats to a world of peace.” Looking out upon the world we see no shortages of threats.  And closer to home, wherever we might live, we see the familiar struggles of political life — left versus right, rich versus poor, and up versus down.  Seldom, however, has the debate been more emotional or strident; yet, seldom has the need for unity been greater.

We know the challenges. I won’t reprise my speech except to say that we do, indeed, have a rare and generational opportunity to make a lasting difference in people’s lives. If there is a theme in all that has been said today by the leaders, it would be the imperative of unity, solidarity, in realizing that opportunity. We must act together. There is no opt-out clause for global problem-solving.  Every country has something to give in and to gain.

Excellencies, let me close with a question. By any chance, do you ever feel that you have become a slave, you have become a slave to this machine?  (Laughter.) Somehow, I sense that I’m not alone.  I have seen so many leaders having, and speaking over the phone, even while at the summit meetings. Thanks to device like this, the world has been more connected. But let us not misunderstand that with being united and being connected depends on technology. Being united depends on us — on leaders, on institutions, and on the decisions you make.

We have come a long way since last year. Outside this building, the new flags of Southern Sudan and Libya proudly wave in the September breeze. And today I am very pleased to recognize the President of Southern Sudan — his Excellency Salva Kiir — who came to New York for the first time after their independence; and President of National Transitional Council of Libya, his Excellency Abdul Jalil — who received very strong support yesterday.  And they will continue to receive such support. Let us give them a big applause.  (Applause.)

We can be proud of the firm stand we took for freedom and democracy in Côte d’Ivoire, North Africa, and elsewhere. We can be proud of the many lives we saved, the hungry people we fed, the children we helped to grow up healthy and strong. And we can do more to make the Arab Spring a season of hope for all, to put the sustainable back into development, to prevent the crises before they explode.

And so, distinguished heads of state and government, Excellencies, Your Majesties, let us raise a glass to clarity of vision, to unity of purpose, to a common resolve for action, to the United Nations, and to continued success of each and every heads of state and government present here.

Thank you very much. Cheers. (Applause.) Cheers. Thank you. Cheers. (Applause.)

(A toast is offered.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon, everyone. These lunches come right after my remarks to the General Assembly, so I’ve already spoken too long.  (Laughter.)  As the host of the United Nations, I want to welcome all of you. In particular, though, I want to cite Secretary General Ban for his extraordinary leadership. As you begin your second term, I want to take this opportunity to thank you — not just for your leadership, but also for your lessons in life.

As we all know, the Secretary General is a very modest man, but he’s led a remarkable life. Born into World War II, as a young boy in the middle of the Korean War, having to flee the fighting with his family — just as his home country has risen, so he has risen to leadership on the world stage.

A lot of us are envious of him, because, in running for a second term, he ran unopposed — (laughter) — and he won, unanimously. (Laughter.) I’m still trying to learn what his trick is.  (Laughter.)

But, Secretary General, that fact reflects the high esteem with which all of us hold you and your leadership.  And I want to quote something that you said when you began your new term: “We live in a new era where no country can solve all challenges and where every country could be part of the solution.”  I could not agree more. Today, we see the difference you’ve made in Cote d’Ivoire, in Sudan, in Libya, in confronting climate change and nuclear safety, in peacekeeping missions that save lives every single day.

So we want to salute you. We want to salute those who serve in U.N. missions around the world, at times at great risk to themselves.  We give them their mandate, but it is they who risk their lives — and give their lives — so people can live in peace and dignity.

So I want to propose a toast. To the leader who, every day, has to work hard to try to unite nations, and to all the men and women who sustain it, especially those brave humanitarians in blue helmets. In an era of great tumult and great change, let all of us be part of the solution. Cheers. (Applause.)

(A toast is offered.)

END                                                 2:03 P.M. EDT

 

Remarks by President Obama and President Clinton at Clinton Global Initiative

President Obama at Clinton Global Initiative
September 22, 2011 9:02 AM

President Obama at Clinton Global Initiative

Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers

New York, New York

2:43 P.M. EDT

PRESIDENT CLINTON:  For three years, now, and every year he has been in the White House, President Obama has come to CGI.  He believes in what we’re trying to do.  In his former life, he was a walking NGO.  (Laughter.)  He also is one of those Americans who believes climate change is real and deserves a real response. (Applause.)

And he recently proposed to Congress a plan that even the Republican analysts who looked at the evidence, as opposed to the rhetoric, say will add between 1.5 and 2 percent to our GDP and help us to get out of this mess we’re in and enable America to help the world again.

So I’m gratified that he found the time to come here.  I appreciate the work that he’s involved with at the United Nations.  I think he has a brilliant Secretary of State.  (Laughter and applause.)  And I am profoundly gratified that he is here with us today.

Ladies and gentlemen, President Obama.  (Applause.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you very much.  Thank you.  (Applause.) It is wonderful to be here today.  It is wonderful to see so many do-gooders all in one room.  (Laughter.)  And our do-gooder-in-chief, Bill Clinton, thank you for not only the gracious introduction, but the extraordinary work that he has been doing each and every day.  You are tireless, and we are proud of what you’ve been doing.  (Applause.)

I want to thank the outstanding team here at CGI:  CEO Bob Harrison, Deputy Director Ed Hughes, all the dedicated staff.  And although she is not part of CGI, she’s certainly part of what makes Bill so successful — someone who he does not get to see enough because of me — (laughter) — but I’m grateful that he’s not bitter about it.  (Laughter.)  She’s one of the best Secretaries of State that we’ve ever had — Hillary Clinton.  (Applause.)

Now, this is the third time that I’ve been here.  Last year, I was the warm-up act for Michelle.  (Laughter.)  I just gave a big speech at the U.N. this morning, and so I will not subject you to another one.  I wanted to stop by for two reasons.

First, I want to express my appreciation for the extraordinary work that has been done by CGI.  It’s been said that “no power on Earth can stop an idea whose time has come.” And as you know, when Bill Clinton sees an idea out there, there’s no stopping him.  CGI was an idea whose time had come.  And thanks to his relentless determination — but also, I think he’d agree, thanks to, most importantly, your commitments — you’ve created new hope and opportunity for hundreds of millions of people in nearly 200 countries.  Think about that — hundreds of millions of people have been touched by what you’ve done.  That doesn’t happen very often.

That’s the other thing I want to talk about.  Around the world, people are still reeling from the financial crisis that unfolded three years ago and the economic pain that followed.  And this morning at the United Nations, I talked about the concerted action that the world needs to take right now to right our economic ship.

But we have to remember America is still the biggest economy in the world.  So the single most important thing we could do for the global economy is to get our own economy moving again.  When America is growing the world is more likely to grow.  And obviously that’s the number-one issue on the minds of every American that I meet.  If they haven’t been out of work since the recession began, odds are they know somebody who has.  They feel as if the decks have been stacked against them.  They don’t feel as if hard work and responsibility pay off anymore, and they don’t see that hard work and responsibility reflected either in Washington or, all too often, on Wall Street.  They just want to know that their leaders are willing to step up and do something about it.

So, as President Clinton mentioned, that’s why I put forward the American Jobs Act.  Not as a silver bullet that will solve all our problems, but it will put more people back to work.  It will put more money into the pockets of working people.  And that’s what our economy needs right now.

It hires teachers, and puts them back in the classroom.  It hires construction workers, puts them out rebuilding an infrastructure that has deteriorated, and we know that that’s part of our economic success historically.  It puts our veterans back to work — after having served overseas, then coming home and not being able to find a job, when they sacrificed immeasurably on behalf of our security?

That’s what we need right now — we need more good teachers in front of our kids.  I was just having lunch over at the General Assembly with the President of South Korea.  And I still remember the first time I met him, in South Korea, and I asked him, “Well, what are your biggest challenges right now?”  He says, “Education — it’s a big challenge.”  I said, “Well, I understand.  We’ve got a big challenge in the United States, as well.”  He said, “No, you have to understand, my big challenge is, the parents are too demanding.”  (Laughter.)  “They’re coming into my office, they’re saying, our children have to learn English in first grade.  So we’re having to import teachers from other countries and pay them a premium to meet the educational demands that parents are placing on us, because they know that if their children are to succeed in the 21st century economy, they’d better know some foreign languages.”  Well, think about that.  That’s what’s happening in South Korea.  Here, we’re laying off teachers in droves?

Now is the time to upgrade our roads and our bridges and our schools.  We used to have the best airports, the best roads, the best bridges, the best ports.  I’ve been asking people recently  — I’ve taken a poll in New York — how do you find LaGuardia compared to the Beijing airport?  (Laughter.)  We laugh, but that says something.  That’s not inevitable; that’s a choice that we’re making.

We talk about climate change — something that, obviously, people here are deeply concerned about.  Talking to the CEO of Southwest Airlines, they estimate that if we put in the new generation of GPS air traffic control, we would save 15 percent in fuel costs.  “Reduce fuel consumption by 15 percent, Mr. President.”  And think about what that would do, not only to potentially lower the cost of a ticket — maybe they could start giving out peanuts again.  (Laughter .)  But think what it would do in terms of taking those pollutants out of our air.

So we know what to do.  We know that an American should — who puts his life on the line, her life on the line, should never have to fight for a job when they come home.  We know that.  We know what our values are.

So this jobs bill addresses the terrible toll that unemployment inflicts on people.  It helps long-term unemployed keep their skills sharp.  It says to young people who are underprivileged, we’re going to give you a chance at a summer job that helps to establish the kind of work habits that carry on for generations.  Because part of what happens in this kind of recession environment — the disadvantage of this generation coming in and not being able to get fully employed, that lingers for a lifetime.  It affects their lifetime earnings.  That’s contrary to our values.

This jobs bill cuts taxes for every working family and every small business owner in America to boost demand and to boost hiring.  And if you’re a small business owner who hires a new worker or raises workers’ wages, you get an extra tax cut.

So this bill answers the urgent need to create jobs right away.  And I appreciate President Clinton’s strong support of this plan over the weekend.  And the reason that that’s important is because he knows a good jobs plan when he sees it.  He created more jobs in his tenure than just about anybody.  And I’m fighting hard to make sure that we get this bill passed through Congress.

As President Clinton said, every idea in there has been supported in the past by both parties, and everything is paid for.  There’s no reason why we shouldn’t pass it right away.  And for those of you who are concerned about the international economy and development, keep this in mind:  If the economy is not growing, if Americans aren’t getting back to work, it becomes that much harder for us to sustain the critical development assistance and the partnerships that help to undergird development strategies that you care dearly about all across the world.

So this is important, again, not just to the United States; this is important to the world.  It will help determine how well we can support what you are doing in the non-for-profit sector.  I’m going to be doing everything I can, everything in my power, to get this economy moving again that requires congressional support but also those things that don’t require congressional support.

Consider one of the ideas that we’re working on together.  Earlier this year, I announced a Better Buildings Initiative to rehire construction workers to make our buildings more energy-efficient.  And I asked President Clinton and my Jobs Council to challenge private companies to join us.  In June, at CGI America, we announced a commitment to upgrade 300 million square feet of space, from military housing to college campuses.  Some of these projects are breaking ground this month, putting people to work right now.  Later this year, we’ll announce more commitments that will create jobs, while saving billions for businesses on energy bills and cutting down on our pollution.

And it’s a good example of what CGI is all about:  Everybody working together — government, business, the non-for-profit sector — to create opportunities today, while ensuring those opportunities for the future.  We just need that kind of cooperation in Washington.

I have to say that I do envy President Clinton because when you’re out of Washington, it turns out that you’re just dealing with people who are reasonable all the time.  (Laughter and applause.)  Nobody is looking to score points.  Nobody is looking at the polls on any particular issue.  You’re just trying to solve problems.  And that’s the ethic that people are looking for in Washington.

We’ve got enough challenges.  It is technically difficult to figure out how we are going to deal with climate change — not impossible, but difficult.  There are technical challenges to making sure that we’re providing enough safe drinking water around the world, or making sure that preventable diseases are eradicated in countries that don’t yet have a public health infrastructure.  These things are all tough stuff.  But they’re solvable, if everybody’s attitude is that we’re working together, as opposed to trying to work at odds with each other.

And our future depends on fighting this downturn with everything that we’ve got right now.  And it demands that we invest in ourselves, even as we’re making commitments in investments around the world.  It demands we invest in research and technology, so the great ideas of tomorrow are born in our labs and our classrooms.  It demands we invest in faster transportation and communications networks, so that our businesses can compete.  It demands that we give every child the skills and education they need to succeed.

And I thank you for the commitment that you’ve made to recruit and train tens of thousands of new science, technology, engineering and math teachers.  Nothing could be more important.

We can do all this.  We can create jobs now and invest in our future, and still tackle our long-term debt problems.  Don’t tell Bill Clinton it can’t be done.  He did it.  When he was President, he did not cut our way out of prosperity; he grew our way to prosperity.  We didn’t shortchange essential investments, or balance the budget on the backs of the middle class or the poor.  We were able to live within our means, invest in our future, and ask everyone to pay their fair share.

And what happened?  The private sector thrived.  The rich got richer.  The middle class grew.  Millions rose out of poverty.  America ran a surplus that was on track to be debt-free by next year.  We were a nation firing on all cylinders.

That’s the kind of nation that we’ve got to work to build again.  It will take time after the kind of crisis that we’ve endured.  And this is a once-in-a-generation crisis.  But we can get through it.  But our politics right now is not doing us any favors.

Nevertheless, I believe we can and we will get there, by remembering what made us great — by building an economy where innovation is encouraged, education is a national mission, new jobs and businesses choose to take root right here in the United States.  And that’s what CGI reflects.  It reflects the American spirit, which is big and bold and generous, and doesn’t shy away from challenges, and says that we’re all in it together.

And when I think about the contributions that all of you have made, that makes me confident.  Those of us who have been most blessed by this nation, we are ready to give back.  But we’ve got to be asked.  And that’s what I’m hoping members of Congress recognize.  I don’t want a small, cramped vision of what America can be.  We want a big and generous vision of what America can be.  And the world is inspired when we have that vision.

And, by the way, that vision is not a Democratic vision or a Republican idea.  These are not ideas that belong to one political party or another.  They are the things a rising nation does, and the thing that retreating nations don’t do.  And we are not a retreating nation.

So despite the many challenges we face right now, I believe America must continue to be a rising nation, with rising fortunes.  And that makes — that means making sure that everybody is participating and everybody is getting a shot, because when all of our people do well, America does well.  And when America does well, that’s good for the rest of the world.  That’s what President Clinton has always understood.

So, Mr. President, thank you for all the opportunities that you help to create every day.  Thank you to all of you who are participating in CGI.  You are doing the Lord’s work.  And I can assure you that you will continue to have a partner in the Obama administration for what I expect to be years to come.

Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

END
2:57 P.M. EDT

 

Remarks by President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron of the United Kingdom

President Obama's Bilateral Meeting with Prime Minister Cameron of the United Kingdom
September 21, 2011 8:45 PM

President Obama’s Bilateral Meeting with Prime Minister Cameron of the United Kingdom

Waldorf Astoria Hotel
New York, New York
3:55 P.M. EDT

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Let me welcome Prime Minister Cameron to the United States and New York.  Obviously, there is an extraordinary special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom, and I am very fortunate that over the last year or two, David and I have been able to, I think, establish an excellent friendship as well.

And that’s part of what makes the alliance between the United States and the United Kingdom so important, is that it’s grounded not only in shared values and broad-based agreement on policy, but it’s also based on the individual relationships that we have and the friendships and joint traditions that we have.

We’ve got a lot to talk about.  We have worked closely together to help bring about freedom and peace in Libya.  We are coordinating closely in managing a very difficult time for the global economy.  We are keenly interested in finding a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  On all these issues, I’ve always found Prime Minister Cameron to be an outstanding partner.

And so I’m very grateful for his friendship, his hard work, and his dedication and his leadership on the global stage, and I look forward to a very productive discussion today.

Welcome.

PRIME MINISTER CAMERON:  Thank you.  If I may say thank you, Barack, for that warm welcome.  It’s great to be back — great to be back in New York, and particularly on this, the 10th anniversary of 9/11, a reminder of how our countries always work together in defeating terror and trying to make our world a safer place.

As you say, we worked very closely together on Libya, and I think we’re getting to a good conclusion there, with a real chance of freedom and democracy for those people.  We’re working closely together on Afghanistan; also the Middle East peace process, where we’re desperate to get that moving again.  And I’m looking forward to discussions on the world economy, which we will follow up in Cannes at the G20, where we’ve got to get the world economy moving.

So these are very important times.  I think the relationship is as strong as it’s ever been, and it’s been a pleasure working with you these last 16 months.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Excellent.  Thank you very much, everybody.

Q: Can you give us your reaction to the hikers being released?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  We are thrilled that the hikers were released, and we are thrilled for the families.  It was the right thing to do.  They shouldn’t have been held in the first place, but we’re glad they’re now home.

END
3:58 P.M. EDT

 

Remarks by President Obama and President Sarkozy of France

 

President Obama's Bilateral Meeting with President Sarkozy of France
September 21, 2011 9:07 PM

President Obama’s Bilateral Meeting with President Sarkozy of France

Waldorf Astoria Hotel
New York, New York

4:53 P.M. EDT

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  On the anniversary of September 11th, President Sarkozy gave a speech at our embassy in Paris, and he reminded the people of France, but also the world, of the extraordinary friendship that had developed, in part, because of the great sacrifices that our men and women in uniform have made over the decades to preserve freedom and democracy.  And so, not only am I grateful for the expression of deep friendship that President Sarkozy expressed, but I want to affirm the mutuality of feeling that we have towards the French people.

That partnership has been evidenced by the extraordinary work that we’ve done together in Libya.  And I want to thank President Sarkozy for his leadership, as a coalition helped the Libyan people achieve the kind of freedom and opportunity that they’re looking for.  That partnership is evidenced in the work we did together in Côte d’Ivoire to ensure that the rightfully elected leader of that country was put in place.  And our partnership and our mutual leadership will be required to deal with a range of international issues that have been discussed here at the United Nations and are going to be critical in the months and years to come, including trying to find a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but also trying to find a coordinated world strategy, global strategy, to deal with a economy that is still far too fragile.

And, of course, we still have the joint project to bring stability and transition to Afghan governance.  And we are extraordinarily grateful for the sacrifices that the men and women in uniform from France have made in that effort.

On a personal note, I consider Nicolas a friend as well as a colleague.  Thank you for your leadership.  Welcome.  And I look forward to a very productive discussion.

PRESIDENT SARKOZY:  (As translated.)  I should like to say just how delighted we are to be here in the United States, in New York, alongside Barack Obama.

Now, for we, the people of France, I must say, it’s actually easy to work with Barack Obama.  Whatever the crises we’ve had to face together, whatever the initiatives we have taken jointly, on every single occasion we have found a listening, open-minded attitude on the part of our friend, Barack Obama.  In particular, when tackling the crisis, which is still upon us today, the leadership that President Obama has shown, and showed at the time, have been of a special value to us all.

There is still much to do, in particular in paving the way to the G20 summit in Cannes.  This is our priority; our number-one priority — let me make this very clear — is to find the path to growth worldwide.

Lastly, I wish to say to what extent I am sensitive to the boldness, the courage, the intelligence, and the sensitivity of President Obama, my friend.  I liked him before his election; I liked him once he was elected; and I especially appreciate him now, when the tough times are upon us.

And there’s one thing I want to say, perhaps on a more personal note, and that I really mean from the bottom of my heart.  When things are as tough as they are right now, when the going gets as tough as it is right now, it is especially precious and important to be able to speak to what is the world’s number-one power — to someone who listens; someone who is sensitive to others; someone who is respectful and aware of other people’s redlines and prepared to take them into account, especially at a time when, as I said, we are facing fresh difficulties, and we really need, together, to go forward.

(Speaking in English.)  She speaks like me.  (Laughter.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Thank you very much.

END
5:02 P.M. EDT

Remarks by President Obama and Prime Minister Noda of Japan before Bilateral Meeting

United Nations
New York, New York

12:20 P.M. EDT

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  I want to welcome Prime Minister Noda and his delegation to New York City and to the United States.  As all of you are aware, we have an extraordinary alliance with Japan.  They are one of our closest friends, our closest allies.  We have worked cooperatively on a range of issues related to security, related to economics, and the bonds of friendship between our peoples is equally strong.

Prime Minister Noda and I have had the opportunity to speak by phone, although this is the first time that we’ve had a meeting face to face.  I know that he, like all of us, has some extraordinary challenges that we have to address.  And I know that at the top of his list is rebuilding Japan in the aftermath of the horrific tsunami that occurred.  I’ve repeatedly stressed that America will do everything that we can to make sure that that rebuilding is a success.

At the same time, obviously, we have other important work to do together.  As the two largest economies in the world, we have to continue to promote growth that can help put our people to work and improve standards of living.  We have to modernize our alliance to meet the needs of the 21st century.  And so I’m looking forward to a very productive discussion, and what I’m sure will be an excellent working relationship with the Prime Minister, as well as his team.

PRIME MINISTER NODA:  (As translated.)  The biggest priority and the immediate challenge for the Japan government is the recovery from the great East Japan earthquake and the situation with the economy.  But, at the same time, even from before the earthquake took place, we had a lot of challenges both domestically and in foreign policy areas.  And those must be dealt with one by one, thereby creating a stable (inaudible.)  That’s the challenge for my government.

Our top priority is the reconstruction from the disaster of the earthquake in Japan, the great East Japan earthquake.  The United States has provided enormous amount of support, including Operation Tomodachi and a lot of efforts made by Ambassador Roos. And on behalf of all Japanese nationals, I thank you.  And thank you for your support.

I have a firm belief that the Japan-U.S. alliance is the key pillar of our foreign policy.  Through the assistance that we received after the earthquake this has become an even more unwavering one.  And the Japanese public also were assured, and we recognize the significance and importance of our alliance.

It was reported that the meeting between our Foreign Minister Gemba and Secretary of State Clinton was a very fruitful one, and we would like to further deepen and enhance the bilateral alliance between our two countries in the three major fields of security, economy, and also the cultural and the people-to–people exchange.

One worry that I’ve have is that there is a emerging concern that once recovering the economy we might be drawn back into another recession, and Japan and the United States must work on the economic growth and the fiscal situation at the same time.  And you have the presence of Secretary Geithner here, and we have to work together at the forums — the G20 and other market forum — to coordinate with each other.  And I’m looking forward to having such discussions with you.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Thank you, everybody.

END
12:29 P.M. EDT

Full Text September 21, 2011: President Barack Obama Meets with World Leaders on Day Two at the (UN) United Nations General Assembly

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Meets with World Leaders on Day Two at the U.N General Assembly

Source: WH, 9-21-11
UNGA: potus shakes hands with Clinton at Global Initiative

President Barack Obama shakes hands with former President Bill Clinton after speaking at the Clinton Global Initiative at the Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers in New York, N.Y., Sept. 21, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton) September 21, 2011.

President Obama marked the 19th anniversary of the International Day of Peace with a series of meetings and events as he participated in the 66th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York City. The President began his day with an address to the General Assembly, where he spoke about the remarkable changes that have occurred throughout the world since the last gathering of this group:

This year has been a time of extraordinary transformation. More nations have stepped forward to maintain international peace and security. And more individuals are claiming their universal right to live in freedom and dignity.

Following the address, President Obama met with Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel and pledged America’s commitment to the pursuit of peace in the Middle East. The Prime Minister agreed with President Obama’s assertion that direct negotiations between Israel and Palestine are the only way to achieve that goal:

I think the Palestinians want to achieve a state through the international community, but they’re not prepared yet to give peace to Israel in return.  And my hope is that there will be other leaders in the world, responsible leaders, who will heed your call, Mr. President, and oppose this effort to shortcut peace negotiations — in fact, to avoid them. Because I think that avoiding these negotiations is bad for Israel, bad for the Palestinians, and bad for peace.

The President had his first face to face meeting with Japan’s new Prime Minister, Yoshihiko Noda. The two leaders discussed the ongoing recovery from the earthquake and tsunami that devastated that country earlier this year, and the importance of the strong Japan-U.S. relationship. The Prime Minister echoed the President’s desire to maintain this vital partnership:

I have a firm belief that the Japan-U.S. alliance is the key pillar of our foreign policy. Through the assistance that we received after the earthquake this has become an even more unwavering one.  And the Japanese public also were assured, and we recognize the significance and importance of our alliance.

The President also spoke at the annual luncheon hosted by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon for world leaders, where he saluted the work of those who served in U.N. missions all over the world,  “who risk their lives– and give their lives — so people can live in peace and dignity.”

UNGA: potus toasts with Ban Ki-Moon

President Barack Obama delivers a toast during the luncheon hosted by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon at the United Nations Building in New York, N.Y., Sept. 21, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton) September 21, 2011.

During a stop at the Clinton Global Initiative, President Obama discussed the the international implications of our onging economic woes. “The single most important thing we could do for the global economy is to get our own economy moving again. When America is growing the world is more likely to grow.”

Late in the day, the President and his senior foreign policy advisors met with some of our closest European allies. In a meeting with U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, both men stressed the importance of the U.S.-U.K. relationship. The two countries have  worked closely together on the fight for freedom in Libya, the war in Afghanistan and the ongoing Middle East peace process.

In his meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, President Obama said he would be relying on France to help deal with numerous pressing international issues, ” including trying to find a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but also trying to find a coordinated world strategy, global strategy, to deal with a economy that is still far too fragile.”

President Barack Obama greets President Nicolas Sarkozy of France

President Barack Obama greets President Nicolas Sarkozy of France during a bilateral meeting at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York, N.Y., Sept. 21, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

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