Tagged: EnterpriseEurope2

CALENDRIER du 13 avril au 19 avril 2015

(Susceptible de modifications en cours de semaine)

Déplacements et visites

Lundi 13 avril

President Jean-Claude Juncker meets with Mr Vítor Caldeira, President of the European Court of Auditors and with Mr Henri Grethen, European Court of Auditors’ Member Luxembourg.

Mr Frans Timmermans reçoit M. Jean-Louis Nadal, Président de la Haute Autorité pour la transparence de la vie publique.

Mr Frans Timmermans receives Mr Peter Faross, Secretary General of The European Association of Craft, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (UEAPME).

Ms Federica Mogherini and Mr Johannes Hahn attend the Informal Ministerial Meeting with Southern Partners on the future of the European Neighbourhood Policy, Barcelona, Spain.

Mr Andrus Ansip receives Mr Thierry Breton, Chairman and CEO of Atos.

Mr Valdis Dombrovskis makes a European Semester country visit to Rome; meets Mr Pier Carlo Padoan, Minister of Economy and Finance; Mr Giuliano Poletti, Minister of Labour, Mr Ignazio Visco, Governor of the Bank of Italy, and social partners.

Mr Maroš Šefčovič gives an opening speech at the Renewable Energy Economy Forum 2015 organised by the German Association for Renewables (BEE); Hannover.

Mr Maroš Šefčovič attends the Hannover Messe in Germany.

Mr Jyrki Katainen receives social partners about the Investment Plan.

Mr Jyrki Katainen receives the Confederation of European Paper Industries.

Mr Jyrki Katainen participates in EP Committee on International Trade (INTA).

Mr Jyrki Katainen delivers keynote speech at inaugural conference of EP intergroup.

Mr Günther Oettinger participates in Hannover Messe in Germany: speaks at the policy reception of the German Engineering Association (Verband Deutscher Maschinen- und Anlagenbau, VDMA) and Deutsche Messe on “Digital production – is Europe missing its opportunity?”.

Mr Neven Mimica attends the 7th World Water Forum in Daegu and Gyeongbuk in the Republic of Korea.

Mr Miguel Arias Cañete receives Mr Julio Rodriguez, Executive Vice President of Global Operations of Schneider Electric.

Mr Karmenu Vella in Riga (13-15/04). (13/04) visits the company Brivais Vilnis; meets representatives of local NGOs and Fisheries Advisory Council. (14/04) delivers speech at the Informal Environment Council. (15/04) attends the Informal Environment Council (joint meeting of the Environment and Energy ministers); delivers opening statement at the Green Bridge Forum.

M. Pierre Moscovici à Paris: rencontre M. Wilfried Guerrand, membre du Conseil d’administration du groupe Hermès et M. Jean-Noël Tronc, Directeur Général de la SACEM.

Mr Jonathan Hill delivers a speech at an event with the CEOs of SMEs organised by Eurochambres in Brussels.

Ms Violeta Bulc receives the representatives from the European Construction Industry Federation.

Ms Violeta Bulc receives Sir Graham Watson.

Ms Violeta Bulc receives Members of the Slovenian National Parliament.

Ms Elżbieta Bieńkowska attends Hannover Messe in Germany:delivers a keynote speech at the Forum “Global Business and Markets”, meets with Mrs Angela Merkel, German Chancellor and with Mr Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India.

Ms Vĕra Jourová in Berlin, Germany: meets with Mr. Heiko Maas, Minister of Justice and Consumer Protection, Ms. Maria Böhmer, Minister of State and with Dr. Thomas de Maizière, Minister of Interior.

Ms Margrethe Vestager delivers a keynote speech “In Varietate Concordia” at Syddansk Universitet on nation states and nationalism in Odense, Denmark.

Mr Carlos Moedas in Jordan: participates in the conference “Addressing shared challenges through Science Diplomacy: the case of the EU – Middle East regional cooperation”.

 

Mardi 14 avril

Informal Environment Council (14-15/04)

President Jean-Claude Juncker receives Ms Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, Minister-President of the Saarland and members of the Saarland regional government.

President Jean-Claude Juncker receives Mr Milo Đukanović, Prime Minister of Montenegro

President Jean-Claude Juncker receives Mr Jean-Claude Trichet, former President of the European Central Bank.

Mr Frans Timmermans receives Mr Ton Heerts, Chairman of the Dutch Federation of Trade Unions (FNV) and Ms Catelene Passchier, Vice-Chair of the FNV.

Mr Frans Timmermans receives representatives of the Forum of Jewish Organisations of Flanders (FJO – Forum der Joodse Organisaties).

Ms Federica Mogherini in Lübeck, Germany: visits Willy Brandt House with Mr Frank-Walter Steinmeier, German Minister for Foreign Affairs and Mr Laurent Fabius, French Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development; attends discussion with students; attends G7 Ministerial meeting.

Ms Kristalina Georgieva attends the official opening of the exhibition “The Saga of the Thracian Kings – Archaeological Discoveries in Bulgaria” in the Louvre, Paris.

Mr Andrus Ansip speaks at a policy dialogue on transforming traditional businesses and creating jobs at the European Policy Centre.

Mr Andrus Ansip participates in the meeting of the Working Group of the European Parliament Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee on the Digital Single Market in Brussels.

Mr Andrus Ansip receives Mr Edgar Berger, Chairman and CEO, International Sony Music Entertainment, Mr Stu Bergen President, International Warner Recorded Music, Mr Richard Constant General Counsel, Universal Music Group International, Ms Frances Moore CEO, International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), Ms Olivia Regnier, Director European Office and European Regional Counsel, International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI).

Mr Jyrki Katainen at the Investment Plan roadshow in the Netherlands: meets with Mr Bert Koenders, Foreign Minister; Mr Mark Rutte, Prime-Minister and Mr Jeroen Dijsselbloem, Finance Minister as well as the provinces, business leaders, students and stakeholders.

Mr Günther Oettinger participates in Hannover Messe in Germany: speaks at the event “Industry 4.0 – Made in Germany”  along with Mr. Sigmar Gabriel, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, and Prof. Dr. Johanna Wanka, Federal Ministry of Education and Research, and representatives of the industry; delivers a keynote speech ‘Europe’s Future is Digital’; meets with representatives of the industry, start-ups and research: Dr. Andreas Gruchow, Member of the Management Board of Deutsche Messe; Prof. Dr. Peter Gutzmer, Vice-President and CEO of Schaeffler; Mr. Thies Hofmann, Vice President of Business Development at Konux; Mr. Hermann Lertes, owner and CEO of H. Lertes GmbH & Co; Mr. Bernd Leukert, Member of the Executive Board of SAP; Mr. Daniel Siegel, founder of EliSE; Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Wahlster, Director and CEO of the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI); Lucas Wintjes, Senior Vice PresidentSales and Industry Sector Management Factory Automation at Bosch Rexroth.During the day, Mr Oettinger also visits different stands, notably of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, H2FC European Infrastructure Project, OWL Clustermanagement, Microsoft, T-Systems, Siemens, Weidmüller, Endress+Hauser, ABB.   

Mr Johannes Hahn attends breakfast meeting hosted by CIDOB in Barcelona.

Ms Cecilia Malmström receives Members of the Slovenian Parliament.

Ms Cecilia Malmström receives Mr José Manuel González-Páramo, EU chairman of the TransAtlantic Business Dialogue (TABD).

Mr Neven Mimica attends the 7th World Water Forum in Daegu and Gyeongbuk in the Republic of Korea.

M. Pierre Moscovici reçoit M. Branko Grčić, vice-Premier Ministre Croate, Ministre du Développement Régional et des Fonds Européens et M. Boris Lalovac, Ministre des finances croate.

M. Pierre Moscovici reçoit une délégation du groupe parlementaire SPD du Bundestag.

M. Pierre Moscovici reçoit M. Patrick Kron, président-directeur général du groupe Alstom.

M. Pierre Moscovici reçoit M. Anton Hofreiter, co-président du groupe parlementaire des Verts au Bundestag.

M. Pierre Moscovici reçoit M. Jean-Dominique Senard, Président du groupe Michelin.

Mr Jonathan Hill receives Mr Mihály Varga, Hungarian Finance Minister.

Ms Violeta Bulc receives the representatives from the European Association with tolled motorways, bridges and tunnels.

Ms Violeta Bulc receives Mr James Hogan, CEO of Etihad.

Ms Elżbieta Bieńkowska meets with Mr Krzysztof Kurzydłowski, Professor at the Warsaw University of Technology.

Ms Elżbieta Bieńkowska receives Mr Patrcik Kron, CEO of Alstom.

Ms Vĕra Jourová in Berlin: meets with the Consumer Federation, with the Federation of German Industries, with Ms. Manuela Schwesig, the Minister for Family, Elderly, Women and Youth and with Dr. Meyer-Landrut, the Head of the European Policy Division in the German Chancellery

Mr Tibor Navracsics announces the winners of EU Prize for Literature 2015 at London Book Fair, London.

 

Mercredi 15 avril

College meeting

European Parliament plenary session (Brussels)

Informal Energy Council (15-16/04)

President Jean-Claude Juncker and the College receive the Spanish King Felipe VI.

Ms Federica Mogherini attends G7 Ministerial meeting in Lübeck, Germany.

Mr Andrus Ansip receives the Board of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU).

Mr Valdis Dombrovskis attends the Governing Council of European Central Bank in Frankfurt, Germany.

Mr Jyrki Katainen participates in a Committee of the Regions conference on the Investment Plan.

Mr Jyrki Katainen receives CEOs from German Insurance companies.

Mr Johannes Hahn receives Mr Milo Đukanović, Prime Minister of Montenegro.

Ms Cecilia Malmström in Paris: meets the Prime Minister of France, Mr Manuel Valls; participates in the citizen dialogue “Parlons d’Europe” (Centre d’études européennes de Sciences Po); meets theChief of Staff of President of France, Mr Jean-Pierre Jouyet; visits the Assemblée Nationale; meets the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, Mr Laurent Fabius; visits an SME.

Mr Neven Mimica attends the World Bank and International Monetary Fund Spring Meetings in Washington DC.

Mr Christos Stylianides meets with Mr Nicos Anastasiadis, President of the Republic of Cyprus, Nicosia, Cyprus.

Mr Jonathan Hill receives Mr Patrick Odier, President of the Swiss Bankers’ Association.

Mr Jonathan Hill receives Mr Alexander Erdland, President of the German insurers’ association (GDV).

Mr Jonathan Hill gives a keynote speech at the British Bankers’ Association Reception, Brussels.

Ms Elżbieta Bieńkowska receivesrepresentatives of the Flemish Government.

Mr Tibor Navracsics gives a speech and hands over the European Heritage Label Award with Ms Silvia COSTA, Chair of Committee on Culture and Education of the EP, at the Ceremony, Brussels Solvay Library.

Ms Corina Creţu in Romania: visits EU-funded projects and meets with Mr Ioan Rus, Romanian Minister of Transport.

Mr Carlos Moedas receivesProf. Wolfgang Schuerer, Chairman of the Foundation Lindau Nobel Laureate.

Mr Carlos Moedas receives Mr Paulo Moniz, Vice-Rector of the Universidade da Beira Interior (UBI).

 

Jeudi 16 avril

President Jean-Claude Juncker receives Honorary Senator award in the European Senate, Düsseldorf-Neuss.

Ms Federica Mogherini attends Global Conference on CyberSpace 2015, The Hague.

Ms Kristalina Georgieva meets the winners of this year’s Juvenes Translatores award at a Special Award ceremony in Brussels, Belgium.

Mr Valdis Dombrovskis visits Washington and Boston, USA (16-20/04): attends the IMF and World Bank Spring meeting, gives a speech at the Atlantic Council and participate in G7 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meeting; has bilateral meetings with M5s Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the IMF, Mrs Janet L. Yellen, Chair of the US Federal Reserve, and Mrs Natalie Jaresko, Ukrainian Finance Minister and Mr Ivaras Abromavichus, Ukraine’s Minister of Economic Development and Trade. (20/04) gives a lecture at Harvard University’s Center for European Studies.

Mr Jyrki Katainen at the Investment Plan roadshow in Bulgaria: meets Mr Boyko Borissov, Prime Minister; Mr Rosen Plevneliev, President; Mr Tomislav Donchev, Deputy Prime Minister; Mr Bojidar Lukarski, Minister of Economy and as well as business leaders, investors, MPs and students.

Ms Cecilia Malmström receives Ms Mari Kiviniemi, Deputy Secretary-General of the OECD.

Ms Cecilia Malmström receives Ms Monica Mæland, Norwegian Minister of Trade and Industry.

Mr Neven Mimica attends the World Bank and International Monetary Fund Spring Meetings in Washington DC.

Mr Karmenu Vella delivers keynote speech at the Ocean Energy Forum (Hotel Crown Plaza, Brussels).

Mr Karmenu Vella attends the conference “The Atlantic our Shared Resource – Making the Vision Reality” (Palais d’Egmont, Brussels).

Mr Karmenu Vella receives members of the German Parliament.

Mr Pierre Moscovici in Washington (16-19/04): participates in a Public roundtable organised by the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) on the theme ‘The recovery in Europe – the way forward’, delivers a speech at the World Bank / EIB conference on Climate Finance and has bilateral meetings.

Mr Christos Stylianides in Belgrade, Serbia: meets Mr Aleksandar Vucic, Prime Minister; Mr Nebojša Stefanović, Minister of Internal Affairs; Mrs Jadranka Joksimović, Minister and Mr Relief Marko Blagojević, Director of the Office for Reconstruction and Flood.

Mr Christos Stylianides Belgrade, Serbia: visits the Emergency Centre and attends the ceremony for Serbia’s entry into the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.

Mr Jonathan Hill receives Mr John Rishton, CEO of Rolls Royce.

Mr Jonathan Hill receives Mr Michael Meehan, CEO of Global Reporting Initiative.

Mr Jonathan Hill delivers a speech at the event organised by the Centre for European Reform, London.

Ms Violeta Bulcin Madrid, Spain: meets with Ms Ana Pastor, Minister for Public Works, visits with Mrs Inés Ayala Sender, MEP; Mr Luis De Grandes; Mr Izaskun Bilbao, MEP and Mrs Tania Gonzáles Peñas, MEP; and with Mr Íñigo Méndez de Vigo, Secretary of State for European Affairs.

Ms Elżbieta Bieńkowska receivesMrs Monica Mæland, Norwegian Minister of Trade and Industry.

Ms Elżbieta Bieńkowska meets with representatives of THALES: Mr Serge Adrian, Senior Vice-President; Mr Pawel Piotrowski, Country Director Thales Poland and Mr Marc Cathelineau, Senior Vice-President EU-NATO-UN.

Mr Andrus Ansip and Ms Elżbieta Bieńkowska co-chair a roundtable discussion on cross-border parcel delivery with chief executives of national postal operators.

Ms Vĕra Jourová receives Mr Selakovic, Serbian Minister of Justice

Mr Tibor Navracsics gives a lecture as guest lecturer about the European Commission at Corvinus University, Budapest.

Ms Margrethe Vestager in Washington DC, USA (16-17/04): participates in the American Bar Association Antitrust Section’s 2015 Spring Meeting; meets with Ms Edith Ramirez, Chairwoman of the Federal Trade Commission; meets with Mr J. Baer, Assistant Attorney General of the Department of Justice William; meets with Mr Michael Lee, Senator and Chairman of the Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee; delivers speech on “Competition policy in the EU: Outlook and recent developments in antitrust” at the Peterson Institute for International Economics; meets with Ms Amy Klobuchar, Senator and Ranking Member of the Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee.

Mr Carlos Moedas delivers an opening speech at the conference “The Atlantic – a Shared Resource: making the vision reality”, Palais d’Egmont, Brussels.

Mr Carlos Moedas delivers the keynote speech at the European University Association’s conference, Antwerp.

 

Vendredi 17 avril

Ms Kristalina Georgieva receives MsNathalie Loiseau, director of France’s Ecole Nationale d’Administration.

Ms Kristalina Georgieva receives Mr Jean-Pierre Bourguinon, President of the European Research Council.

Mr Andrus Ansip participates in the Global Conference on CyberSpace 2015 in The Hague, Netherlands.

Mr Jyrki Katainen at the Investment Plan roadshow in Hungary: meets Mr Viktor Orbán, Prime Minister and members of the Hungarian National Assembly’s Committee on European Affairs and the Committee on Economics, as well as SMEs, investors, NGOs, research institutes and students.

Mr Günther Oettinger speaks on the occasion on ‘Energy meets Digital’ ofthe Europa Forum Lech in Austria.

Ms Cecilia Malmström in Maastricht, the Netherlands: delivers speech “EU Trade Policy: Why should European Citizens care?” at the Jean Monnet Lecture, organised by the Maastricht University (Crowne Plaza Hotel)

Mr Neven Mimica attends the World Bank and with Mr Pierre Moscovici participate in International Monetary Fund Spring Meetings in Washington DC.

Mr Karmenu Vella receives the representatives from the environmental NGOs Green 10.

Mr Christos Stylianides in Zagreb, Croatia: visits the Parliament of Croatia, meets with, Mrs Kolinda Grabar Kitarović, President of Croatia and Mrs Vesna Pusić, First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign and European Affairs

Mr Christos Stylianides in Gunja, Croatia: visits a site of the 2014 floods to see recovery and rehabilitation projects.

Mr Phil Hogan and Mr Carlos Moedas in Ireland: take part in the round table discussion in Glanbia, visit the Teagasc Food & Research Centre, Moorepark and the O’Brien Centre for Science, University College Dublin (UCD), Belfield.

Mr Jonathan Hill delivers a speech at a Reuters Newsmaker Event, London.

Mr Jonathan Hill meets Mr Terry Scuoler, CEO of the Manufacturers’ Organisation (EEF).

Ms Violeta Bulc in Madrid, Spain: participates at the “Forum Nueva Economía”, meets with the representatives of the of the Joint Committee for the EU and Committee for Public Works of the Spanish Parliament and the Spanish Senate; meets with representatives of enterprises in different transport sectors, CEOE transport council

Ms Elżbieta Bieńkowska participates at the conference: “I have a right – citizen on the EU internal market” in Wrocław, Poland.

Mr Tibor Navracsics and MrJyrki Katainen at the Investment plan Road-Show, Budapest, Hungary.

Ms Margrethe Vestager in Washington DC, USA (16-17/04): participates in the American Bar Association Enforcers Roundtable on enforcement priorities from leading antitrust authorities in the world; participates in Roundtable on banking reform at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

 

Samedi 18 avril

Mr Neven Mimica attends the World Bank and with Mr Pierre Moscovici participate in International Monetary Fund Spring Meetings in Washington DC.

Ms Violeta Bulc attends the Global Show for General Aviation in Friedrichshafen, Germany.

 

Dimanche 19 avril

Mr Neven Mimica attends the World Bank and International Monetary Fund Spring Meetings in Washington DC.

Mr Miguel Arias Cañete participates at the Major Economies Forum (MEF) on Energy and Climate, Washington DC.

Ms Margrethe Vestager delivers keynote speech on transition from Minister to Commissioner at the Danish Seamen’s Church in New York, USA.

Prévisions du mois d’avril:

20/04 Foreign Affairs Council (Luxembourg)

20/04 Agrifish Council (Luxembourg)

20-22/04 Informal Epsco Council

21/04 General Affairs Council (Luxembourg)

24-25/04 Informal Ecofin Council

27-30/04 European Parliament Plenary Session (Strasbourg)

 

Prévisions du mois de mai:

07/05 Foreign Affairs (Trade) Council

08/05 Foreign Affairs (Defence) Council

11/05 Eurogroup

12/05 Ecofin Council

18/05 Foreign Affairs Council

18/05 EYCS (Education and Youth) Council

18/05 EYCS (Culture and Sport) Council

18-21/05 European Parliament Plenary Session (Strasbourg)

21-22/05 Eastern Partnership Summit

26/05 Foreign Affairs (Development) Council

27/05 European Parliament plenary session (Brussels)

28-29/05 Competitiveness Council

31/05 Informal Agrifish Council

 

Prévisions du mois de juin:

01-02/06 Informal Agrifish Council

08/06 TTE (Energy) Council (Luxembourg)

08-11/06 European Parliament Plenary Session (Strasbourg)

09-10/06 Informal Cohesion Council

10-11/06 EU-CELAC Summit

11/06 TTE (Transport) Council (Luxembourg)

12/06 TTE (Telecommunications) (Luxembourg)

15-16/06 JHA Council (Luxembourg)

15/06 Environment Council (Luxembourg)

16/06 Agrifish Council (Luxembourg)

18/06 Epsco (Employment) Council (Luxembourg)

18/06 Eurogroup

19/06 Ecofin Council (Luxembourg)

22/06 Foreign Affairs Council (Luxembourg)

23/06 General Affairs Council (Luxembourg)

24/06 European Parliament plenary session (Brussels)

25-26/06 European Council

Permanence DG COMM le WE du 11 au 12 avril:

Anna-Kaisa Itkonen, +32 (0)460 764 328

Permanence RAPID – GSM: +32 (0) 498 982 748

Service Audiovisuel, planning studio – tél. : +32 (0)2/295 21 23

Magdy Martínez-Solimán: Statement at the Policy Symposium on “Financing Asia’s Future Growth”

06 Apr 2015

Ambassador Mr.  Abulkalam Abdul Momen (PR of Bangladesh to the UN),

Ambassador Mr. Mr. Durga Prasad Bhattarai (PR of Nepal to the UN),

Ambassador Mr. Desra Percaya (PR of Indonesia to the UN) (TBC),

Mr. Lenni Montiel, Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development, UN DESA

Mr. Shang-Jin Wei, Chief Economist, Asian Development Bank

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to this seminar on “Financing Asia’s Future Growth”. This symposium is timely and important. Timely because the third International Conference on Financing for Development, to be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in July 2015 is a historic opportunity for the international community to agree on an ambitious framework for the post-MDG era. It is also important because of the ongoing inter-governmental discussions both on FfD and on post-2015 development agenda.

I bring you warm greetings from Haoliang Xu, UNDP Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific. Mr. Xu sends his sincere and heartfelt apologies for not being able to be with you today. I am grateful for his invitation to Chair this Symposium.

I am especially pleased that this event is being jointly hosted between UNDP and the Asian Development Bank (ADB). This year’s Asian Development Outlook (ADO) will give us a reference to guide our discussions. The ADO is ADB’s flagship annual economic report, analyzing trends in and proposing forecasts for the Asia-Pacific region. ADO is smart and influential  also inside the UN’s development community and beyond.

Excellencies, distinguished delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,

This year’s ADO has as its special theme “Financing Asia’s Future Growth.” The way in which the report approaches the challenge of financing is refreshing and extremely relevant for the broader discussion around finance for development.

In the MDG-era, financing was often conceived as tallying up the resources available from different sources (mobilized domestically as well as international private flows, ranging from FDI to remittances) available to developing countries to meet the MDGs, with the gap being filled with Official Development Assistance (ODA). Over the last 15 years, estimates abounded of the billions in ODA that would be required to meet the MDGs.

It is clear that this “gap-filling” approach is insufficient as we confront the implementation of the post-2015 agenda. The universality and broad breadth of the new agenda (from poverty eradication, to economics lifestyle changes towards sustainable patterns of production and consumption, to promoting peaceful and inclusive societies) imply that estimating gaps – which is only partially possible – will inevitable take us to amounts in the trillions of dollars. We need to think anew about how we approach the challenge of financing development. And we need to think big.

While doing so, I want to emphasize the continued importance – and value – of development aid. The Addis Ababa conference represents an opportunity for donor countries to reaffirm their longstanding commitment to allocate 0.7% of GNI to ODA as well as pledge to allocate at least 0.15-0.2% of GNI to the LDCs or more. The current draft of the Addis Ababa outcome document being considered even suggests that countries agree to meet these targets by 2020. But the post-2015 agenda cannot be achieved through aid alone. There is a need to consider other forms of international public finance for investments in communicable disease control, climate change adaptation and mitigation, science, innovation and new technologies. More public resources for climate finance are needed, but these should not come at the expense of ODA.

Even lumped together, all sources of public finance will not suffice. We need to find the right convergence between policy driven and profit led sources of development finance. Incentives are needed to ensure that private investment decisions move the world towards sustainable development aspirations. The progressive elimination of inefficient and ineffective subsidies could help to shift transportation and energy investments towards less fossil fuel intensive and more sustainable options, while releasing public resources for social and development purposes. The ADO argues that the current context of low world oil prices presents an opportunity in Asia for this type of fiscal reforms. In fact, the report shows that several countries in Asia are already seizing on this opportunity, either by reducing fossil fuel subsidies, increasing taxes on their use, or both. This is the type of policy action that sends the right incentives to people and businesses, while releasing public resources, that are important in the context of the new agenda.

Financing for development in the post-2015 era cannot be considered only in the context of ‘stable times’; there are fewer of them and we have to recognize that volatility is becoming the new normal. This is particularly relevant to Asia, a region especially vulnerable to extreme climate events. But there are many sources of risk beyond disasters, with the costs of shocks as diverse as conflict and disease outbreaks high and increasing.
And, of course, we continue to face recurrent economic crisis. Asia had a painful experience with a major financial crisis in 1997/1998. The ADO reminds us of the traumatic growth collapses that occurred in 1998: Indonesia’s economy contracted by 13 percent, the Republic of Korea’s by 6 percent, Malaysia’s by 7 percent, and Thailand by 11’s percent (from pre-crisis annual growth in excess of 7 percent in every country). The development setbacks were deep and long-lasting. But Asia also showed resilience and has put in place a range of policies to better protect countries from economic shocks. It has bounced back with energy. What we need to achieve sustainable development is for nations and communities to be resilient, not only to economic but to a wider set of shocks, so that they are able to anticipate, shape and adapt to the many shocks and challenges that can devour development gains. All development needs to be risk-informed.

Excellencies, distinguished delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,

In this context, and without preempting the detailed presentation of the report and its special theme, I want to emphasize that the perspective taken in the ADO on how to finance Asia’s growth is particularly relevant. The challenge of financing is presented less as one of mobilizing resources (domestically or from abroad), and more as one of ensuring that the financial systems in Asia work to allocate savings to high-return and productive investments. This is the type of analysis that will enable us to think more broadly about financing, as a challenge of unlocking funding by pursuing policies that enable more efficient and effective resource allocation.

Excellencies, distinguished delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Allow me, before I introduce our speakers, to elaborate briefly on the important of financing for the achievement of post 2015 as well as the importance of inclusive financial sector for the eradication of extreme poverty and reduction of inequality.

Today 2.5 billion adults – more than half of the world’s working adults – are excluded from formal financial services. This is most acute among low-income populations in developing countries, where approximately 80% of poor people do not have access. Access to well-functioning and efficient financial services can empower poor women and men. It is now well-established that giving low-income households access to formal financial services can help reduce poverty and inequality.

In the Pacific, financial inclusion is particularly challenging, where less than 10 percent of adults seem to have access to basic financial services. Challenging geography, poor infrastructure and the high costs associated with delivering services to sparse populations are barriers in this region. UNDP and UNCDF are therefore jointly implementing a Pacific-wide Financial Inclusion Programme (PFIP), which helps low-income households to gain access to quality and affordable savings, insurance, credit and other financial services and financial education. The programme, with funding from the Australian Government, the European Union and the New Zealand Government, also disburses grants to financial service providers. The programme aims to add one million Pacific Islanders to the formal financial sector by 2019 by spearheading policy and regulatory initiatives, facilitating access to appropriate financial services and delivery channels and by strengthening financial competencies and consumer empowerment.

As we consider the importance of financial systems to help finance the post-2015 agenda and the need to ensure financial inclusion, UNDP’s programme in the Pacific is an illustration of the comprehensive and inclusive development approaches that we will need to pursue to finance development.

Let me take a moment to introduce our guests here.

We have with us today, Mr. Shang-Jin Wei, ADB’s Chief Economist. Mr. Wei is a key spokesperson for ADB and oversees the Economics and Research Department. Mr. Wei previously served as Professor of Finance and Economics at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business. Before joining Columbia University, he held senior positions at the IMF, at the Brookings Institution, and at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

Ambassador Mr. Abulkalam Abdul Momen, Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the United Nations, New York, has been serving in this role since August 2009. Prior to that, he served as Chairman of the Department of Economics and Business Administration, Framingham State College. He also worked earlier in senior positions in the government of Bangladesh.

Ambassador Mr. Desra Percaya, Permanent Representative of Indonesia to the United Nations, New York, has been serving in this role since Feb 2012. Prior to this, Dr. Percaya was Indonesia’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva. He has held a variety of posts related to multilateral diplomacy and international security since joining the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1986.

We have with us today Ambassador Mr. Durga Prasad Bhattarai, Permanent Representative of Nepal to the United Nations, New York. Prior to this, he served as the Permanent Secretary of Nepal’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. A career diplomat, Mr. Bhattarai held senior posts in Nepal’s foreign service and government.

Finally, we have with us Mr. Lenni Montiel, the Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development, at UN DESA. Prior to his appointment, Mr. Montiel was the Director for Economic and Social Affairs in the Executive Office of the Secretary-General, preceded by a distinguished career in development as a colleague of ours in UNDP.

Thank you.

Minister Fast Holds 'Go Global' Workshop in Uxbridge, Ontario, to Boost Canadian Exports and Jobs

Supporting and partnering with small and medium-sized businesses to seize opportunities abroad is a key part of our pro-export, pro-jobs plan, says Minister Fast

March 30, 2015 – Uxbridge, Ontario – Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada

The Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade, alongside Jayson Myers, President and CEO of Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, and Peter Hall, Vice-President and Chief Economist of Export Development Canada, today hosted an export workshop designed to provide small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with the tools and practical information they need to take advantage of international business opportunities to export.

Today’s export workshop in Uxbridge, part of a cross-country series launched by Minister Fast in November 2014, was attended by more than 50 participants. To date, 13 workshops have been hosted across Canada, attracting a total of more than 1,150 SME representatives.

By bringing together the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service, Export Development Canada, Business Development Bank of Canada and Canadian Commercial Corporation, these export workshops, delivered in partnership with Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, provide a one-stop shop offering information and tools to SMEs to help them succeed abroad.

As part of Canada’s Global Markets Action Plan, Prime Minister Harper recently announced a total of $50 million over five years in direct financial assistance to Canadian SMEs for market research and participation in trade missions. It is expected that this funding will help between 500 and 1,000 Canadian entrepreneurs per year reach their full export potential.

The Prime Minister also announced additional funding of $42 million over five years to expand the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service, with $9.2 million a year ongoing. This builds on the government’s recent expansion of our trade services in China by opening four new trade offices, bringing the total number of offices there to 15, with more than 100 trade commissioners, and strengthening our support network in India with eight offices and nearly 50 trade commissioners on the ground.

Following Minister Fast’s announcement just under a year ago, there are now more than 25 trade commissioners embedded in business associations across Canada in order to gain better insight into the needs of export-oriented industries.

With GMAP, through economic diplomacy and under a whole-of-government approach to export, the Harper Government has revolutionized Canada’s trade-promotion efforts by ensuring Canadian businesses receive the full range of support and services they need to find real export success in global markets, which creates jobs and opportunities for workers and their families here at home.

Minister Fast invited participants to join him on his upcoming trade mission to the Philippines, which will take place in May 2015.

The next export workshop will be held in Winnipeg, Manitoba, on April 8, 2015.

Quick Facts

  • One in five Canadian jobs is dependent on exports, representing 60 percent of the country’s economy.
  • Since 2006, the Harper government has concluded trade agreements with 38 countries, bringing the total to 43 countries.
  • As a result of the new trade agreement with the European Union and the entry into force of the Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement on January 1, 2015, Canadian businesses will soon benefit from preferential access to more than half of the entire global marketplace.
  • There are more than one million SMEs across Canada, with only 41,000 currently exporting. Under GMAP, the Harper Government set the goal of nearly doubling—from 11,000 to 21,000—the number of Canadian SMEs exporting to emerging markets.
  • Since 2006 the government has taken significant steps to improve support for small and medium-sized businesses, including:
    • reducing the small business tax rate to 11 percent;
    • increasing the income limit for the small business tax rate from $300,000 to $500,000;
  • implementing the one-for-one rule to cut unnecessary red tape, saving Canadian businesses more than $22 million in administrative burden as of June 2014, as well as 290,000 hours in time spent dealing with red tape; and
  • improving access to capital for innovative entrepreneurs by launching the Venture Capital Action Plan.

Quotes

“Our government is committed to working shoulder-to-shoulder with Canadian small and medium-sized businesses in Uxbridge and across the country to seize export opportunities and create jobs. Our efforts to support exporters are yielding significant results. I look forward to engaging with many more Canadian businesses across the country in the upcoming months.

“We are breaking down the silos between our export agencies, taking a whole-of-government approach to exporting and providing the tools, services and information that you and your businesses need to succeed.”

– Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade

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Max Moncaster
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Office of the Honourable Ed Fast
Minister of International Trade
343-203-7332

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UN trade report calls on governments to improve environment for e-commerce

24 March 2015 – The scope for developing countries to participate in and benefit from e-commerce is expanding, according to a new United Nations report released today, with improved connectivity, new e-commerce applications, platforms and payment solutions, and the emergence of local e-commerce companies that are tailoring their services to local demands.

The 2015 edition of the Information Economy Report (IER), published by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), analyses trends and international policy issues related to information and communications technology and its links with trade and development.

“As the digital economy expands and more business activities are affected, it becomes more important for governments to consider policies that can help to harness e-commerce for sustainable development,” said UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi, specifying that governments need to improve areas including information and communications technology infrastructure, the legal and regulatory environment, and develop skills in their populations.

The report includes a B2C (Business-to-Consumer) E-commerce Index, which draws on data to assess e-commerce readiness and help States to formulate their national e-commerce strategies. Through the Index, governments can identify their relative strengths and weaknesses. In Africa, for example, internet penetration levels need to rise to promote e-commerce readiness.

Making information and communications technology work for development requires more than expanding the infrastructure, the report says. In order to foster productive and inclusive use of information and communications technology, governments need to create legal, institutional and policy frameworks and generate the necessary skills in government, business and civil society and the Index measures progress in those areas.

Among developing countries, States at the top end of the Index are in East Asia, including the Republic of Korea and Singapore, with larger countries such as Brazil, China and Russia performing better than predicted, suggesting that large markets facilitate e-commerce.

Business-to-consumer e-commerce, valued at $1.2 trillion, is currently much smaller than business-to-business (B2B), which is worth $15 trillion, but is growing at a faster rate, especially in Asia and Africa, and is expected to double in size to $2.4 trillion by 2018.

To enable that, postal networks will be vital and the report measures data on home postal delivery as an indicator of countries’ readiness to engage in B2C e-commerce. In Latin America and the Caribbean and in Asia and Oceania, the extension of postal home delivery was found to be particularly important.

“Posts are seeing the mail makeup changing, with more merchandises making their way through their networks,” said Bishar A. Hussein, the Director General of the Universal Postal Union (UPU). “They must prepare for this growth by adapting their products and services, processes and infrastructure.”

The UNCTAD report also notes that growing concerns over cybercrime affect the willingness of both buyers and sellers to make transactions online, with research showing that the enactment of laws to facilitate security and trust in online transactions varies considerably globally, with significant gaps in many developing countries.

Although the United States is by far the most targeted country, accounting for almost half of known cases of cybercrime, information security is a rising concern for governments, enterprises and consumers around the world, especially given that $3.5 billion was lost in supplier revenue due to online fraud in 2012.

UNCTAD’s report calls for interoperability of legal measures between States, with 117 countries having enacted cybercrime legislation. Ensuring international compatibility of e-transaction laws remains a challenge and the report says the legal recognition of e-signatures, electronic contracts and evidence at a national level should ideally be extended to those originating in other jurisdictions.

Cornerstones of the new EU Energy Union

Vice-President Šefčovič speech at EUFORES 15th Inter-Parliamentary Meeting on Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency

Vienna

Ladies and gentlemen,

Two weeks ago, the European Commission adopted the Energy Union Strategy. I then called it the most ambitious energy project since the European Coal and Steel Community of the 1950s, because what we want to achieve, is nothing less than a fundamental transition of our energy system. We want to set our economy on a new, sustainable trajectory. As one Member of the European Parliament summarized it in a single image: we want to move from a Community of Coal and Steel to a Union of Sun and Wind.

Such an overarching strategy can only succeed if we work together across institutions and stakeholders at all levels: European, regional, national and local. Just like we worked together within the Commission, across portfolios, bringing together 14 Commissioners and 16 DGs. I am therefore very grateful for the opportunity to discuss the Energy Union directly with you – parliamentarians from across Europe, civil society, and businesses. Your contribution will be crucial to achieve the goals of this forward-looking energy and climate change policy.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Energy Union is a big step towards an energy market that is economically sustainable, environmentally friendly, and socially inclusive. An energy market that is integrated, interconnected, resilient and secure. It is a ‘triple win’ strategy, because it will benefit citizens, businesses, and the environment.

For that, we set out a series of concrete actions – both legislative and non-legislative – in the five dimensions that I presented to the European Parliament in my hearing and that, next week, the European Council will hopefully confirm:

  • First, securing our supply. Member States, and citizens, should know that they can rely on neighbouring countries when faced with possible energy supply disruptions. That is what the word ‘solidarity’ means in the energy field; that is how we can build more trust between Member States. We are therefore working on a series of measures to diversify our energy resources and supply routes. Next week, for instance, I will attend the groundbreaking ceremony of the Trans Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP), in Kars, Turkey; a project that will bring gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field through Turkey, into Europe. It is this kind of projects we need. But security of supply means much more than only gas, however important gas will remain for years to come. Security of supply means – and I would even say: it means first and foremost – becoming more energy efficient, knowing that for every 1% improvement in energy efficiency, EU gas imports fall by 2.6%.
  • Energy security also means: building a single energy market will allow energy to flow freely across EU countries as a fifth European freedom. This internal market is the second dimension of the Energy Union Strategy.By removing technical and regulatory barriers of cross-border energy flows, consumers will enjoy the fruits of a increased competition – lower prices and better service!
  • The third, fourth and fifth dimensions go hand in hand with the first two and go to the core of today’s conference and the work you do at EUFORES, namely: increasing energy efficiency, decarbonising our economy and investing in innovative renewable sources of energy.

This covers a very broad range of issues, which will require the full involvement of many commissioners. Let me just mention three issues, amongst many other issues, that I intend to give a serious push in the weeks and months ahead.

First, to tap the full potential of energy efficiency of buildings. The figures clearly show why more action is needed in this field: currently, 75% of Europe’s building stock is not energy efficient; buildings are responsible for 40% of energy consumption and 36% of CO2 emissions in the EU. About 35% of our buildings are over 50 years old. They eat energy! While older buildings consume about 25 litres of heating oil per square meter per year on average (some even up to 60 litres!), new buildings only need three to five litres on average. So we can – and should – do better.

Second, as the importance of the local level increases, we should pay more attention to initiatives at the local level, of course in full respect of the principle of subsidiarity. Smart Cities are an excellent example of how the municipal level can play a major role in the transformation of the energy market that we’re looking for. Last week I met an impressive delegation of mayors who shared several good examples of successful initiatives from all over Europe:

  • the German city of Heidelberg created an entire neighbourhood with only passive buildings, (in the city quarter of Bahnstadt. The neighbourhood is powered by district heating, primarily sourced from renewables with smart energy consumption meters, creating local jobs and a passive housing knowledge cluster for future projects.
  • Helsinki is a leader in heating and efficiency standards. 90% of the city is serviced by the district heating system with over 90% efficiency.
  • in the north of France, the city of Loos-en-Gohelle transformed its coal mine into a regional research centre of sustainable development. Visitors now face the surreal image of solar panels in front of the mine’s spoil tips.
  • and I could go on…

These examples showcase the various local initiatives which should be replicated across Europe, and I would add: with a particular emphasis on Central and Eastern Europe.

And third, we have to develop an energy and climate-related technology and innovation strategy to maintain Europe’s global leadership and competitiveness in low carbon technologies. Europe has all the necessary elements to become a global hub and a world leader in renewable technologies. It is in this field – in the field of low-carbon renewable energy sources, in the field of energy efficiency, in the field of smart appliances and smart grids – that Europe can regain its competitive edge! Smart grids are the European shale.

We must better focus our research and innovation policies, we must create synergies between energy and ICT (very appealing to young people), and between research and industry. New industries will emerge that will strengthen our economy and further support job creation across Europe.

It is in this context that I would also like to underline the importance of ecodesign and energy labelling. Not only because this framework will deliver by 2020 energy savings that are roughly the equivalent of annual primary energy consumption of Italy, not only because consumers can save several hundreds of euros per household per year, but also because there is a clear business case. If countries such as Brazil, China, Korea, South Africa and others adopt equipment energy labelling schemes similar to ours, it creates a market for our companies. Let us be the first mover and set the standards!

Ladies and gentlemen, the Strategy is written, the principles have been established, the real work starts now. We will start up a series of specific actions, such as:

  • developing a ‘Smart Financing for Smart Buildings’ initiative to facilitate access to existing funding instruments;
  • we will propose a strategy for heating and cooling; it’s an important hook, because as many of you told me: the energy crisis is first and foremost a heating crisis;
  • we will dedicate a significant share of the European Fund for Strategic Investments to energy efficiency and renewable energy;
  • we will review the Energy Efficiency Directive, as well as the Directive on Energy Performance of Buildings;
  • we should bring together potential investors and solid projects. There are investors willing to invest, and there is a need for smart investments, so let us connect the dots and remove obstacles
  • and we will develop, without delay, the robust governance framework that the Energy Union needs in order to deliver on its promises, including to make sure that we reach the targets set by the October European Council.

Through these and other measures, we will make sure that the principles we endorsed – such as the ‘energy efficiency first-principle – are transformed into reality and become operational.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The first reactions to the Energy Union Strategy have been positive and supportive, in the European Parliament, the Environment and Energy Council, amongst mayors, consumers, business associations, think tanks, and academia. Do not underestimate the importance of such reactions: they really help to create the positive dynamics needed to seize the current momentum and to implement what is on the table.

I therefore hope that throughout this process, I can continue to count on your support, whether you are a parliamentarian, entrepreneur, researcher, civil society activist or a citizen, and I am looking forward to your comments and ideas in today’s discussion and over the five years to come.

Thank you.

Speeches: Combatting Terrorism: Looking Over the Horizon

Thank you, Ruth. It is great to be here at SAIS – a place that has always emphasized an interdisciplinary approach to international affairs and a place well suited for this discussion about the need to address underlying causes of violent extremism in order to support current efforts to defeat terrorist networks.

From Copenhagen to Cairo, from Paris to Peshawar, in Nigeria, Libya, and China, violent extremists have perpetrated bombings, kidnappings, and shootings this year. Violent extremism is spreading geographically and numerically, and every corner of the globe is at risk. No country or community is immune. Intelligence officials argue that terrorism trend lines are worse than at any other time in modern history; despite the tactical successes of our intelligence gathering, military force, and law enforcement efforts, terror networks are spreading and new threats are emerging around the world. Accordingly, the United States and its allies in the fight against terrorism must strengthen our comprehensive strategy to address the underlying drivers that fuel the appeal and spread of violent extremism. That is precisely why President Obama recently hosted the White House Summit to Counter Violent Extremism. Joining with leaders of foreign governments, international organizations, the private sector and civil society, President Obama and Secretary Kerry launched a global effort to address the enablers of violent extremism in order to prevent the emergence of new terror threats.

It is worth putting this pivotal moment in historical context.

As we look back on the terrorist challenge of past decades, several broad phases are discernible. We saw terrorism in the 1970s, 80s, and even 90s largely in the context of political movements, nationalists and separatists, regarding terror as a tactic used most often for political gains. Our national and international organizations dedicated to addressing these movements were modest, and our response paired political, criminal justice and law enforcement efforts.

In the 1990s, however, terror attacks against U.S. targets at home against the World Trade Center and abroad against the U.S. Embassies started to shift our thinking about and approach toward terrorism. It was no longer seen only as a foreign political challenge. Of course, after the 9/11 attacks against the United States, the U.S. mobilized anew, developing extraordinary military and intelligence capabilities focused on better understanding, tracking, and where necessary, attacking terrorists and terror networks. Working closely with a small number of partners, we also developed intelligence networks and refined military operations to detect terrorists and foil their plots, and we enhanced border security, law enforcement, and other tools to protect the homeland. With the killing of Osama Bin Laden in 2011 and of countless other terror leaders, al-Qa’ida’s core was beaten back.

Yet despite the world’s devotion of enormous military and intelligence resources – as well as human treasure – the threat of violent extremism persists. Over the past 13 years, violent extremist movements have diffused and proliferated. Increasingly, they have sprung from within conflicts worldwide. And they have exploited grievances and divided societies in order to further their own aims. Weak, illegitimate, and repressive governments inadvertently created opportunities for terrorists to capitalize on popular resentment of governments make common cause with local insurgents, the discontented, and criminal networks, and operate in poorly governed territory. Additionally, terrorist methods and goals have diversified. They now control large territories in several regions of the world.

Let me offer specific illustrations of these dynamics: Tehrik-e-Taliban has long exploited local grievances in the tribal belt along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border in order to sustain itself. Members of Al-Qa’ida’s network in East Africa blended with militants from the Council of Islamic Courts to create al-Shabaab. In the loosely governed expanses of the Sahel, extremists including AQIM associated with disenfranchised Tuareg tribes to expand its power base. In Libya, Ansar al-Sharia exploited post-Gaddafi factional violence to cement itself in the Libyan landscape. And the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or Daesh today, dramatically expanded its reach and power by capitalizing on Sunni political disenfranchisement in Iraq. The rise of Daesh is on all of our minds, but it is only one manifestation of a trend that we have witnessed over the last decade. Violent extremist groups have been expanding their control and resonance in South Asia, the Sahel, the Maghreb, Nigeria, Somalia, and in the Arabian Peninsula.

Of course, the U.S. approach and that of our partners in the fight against violent extremism has been adapting as well. We continued to pursue military force to go after terrorist leaders plotting to attack the U.S. or its interests and continued to refine our intelligence capabilities. We proved adept at taking key terrorists off of the battlefield. We also adopted more comprehensive approaches toward terrorism and violent extremism, adapting to the evolving threats we faced. For example, we placed greater emphasis on building the capacity – including military, intelligence, and civilian – of our partners to address threats within their own borders and region, as well as expanding efforts to reduce the radicalization that was leading individuals to join terrorist groups. We strengthened the international counterterrorism architecture by working with our Western allies and Muslim-majority partners to launch the Global Counterterrorism Forum in 2011. This platform allows experts from around the world to share good practices and devise innovative civilian-focused approaches to addressing the terrorist and violent extremist threats freed from the politics and process of traditional multilateral bodies. That same year, the U.S. inter-agency Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communication was created to more effectively counter the violent extremist narrative. And the U.S. sought to place greater emphasis on the role of law enforcement and the wider criminal justice system in preventing terrorism and bringing terrorists to justice within a rule of law framework, thereby strengthening the international cooperation that is so essential to addressing the threat. More broadly, from his first day in office, President Obama has made clear that to be successful, all of our efforts to counter terrorism and root out the violent ideology that underpins it, must be done consistent with American values and be rooted in respect for human rights.

Still, the threat of violent extremism continues to metastasize in different dimensions. A new variant of terrorist threat is foremost on our minds today. Some of the most violent extremist groups, such as Daesh or Boko Haram, differ from Al Qaeda, because they are not similarly devoted to dogmatic treatise, militant hierarchy, or simply destroying existing state authority. Many of these new actors they seize land, resources, and population to consolidate geographic control and advance their apocalyptic visions. They violate human rights in the most egregious ways imaginable, exacerbate communal differences, and lure foreign fighters to incite violence around the world. These groups destabilize entire regions and inspire, if not actively plot, attacks on the US homeland and against our allies. They violate and undermine every aspect of the progressive norms and order that the international community painstakingly built from the ruins of World War II. They pose very real threats to U.S. interests and to international stability as they propagate and violently pursue their nihilistic goals.

The international community has responded accordingly. ISIL’s sudden and dramatic rise has animated a robust military coalition to defeat it, which the coalition will most certainly do. But physically dislodging terrorist safe havens requires a comprehensive and costly military effort, and removing violent extremists from the political landscape of failed states or failing communities is a long-term process. The most effective and useful way to address the metastasizing threat of violent extremism is to prevent its spread through less costly and destabilizing methods, to better enable the success of the our military efforts to defeat terrorism where it already has rooted. The long game lies in building an international coalition to prevent the rise of the next ISIL.

This requires a clear-eyed view of why these groups have been successful. It is not solely because of their extremist ideology, as important as it is to counteract the vitriolic incitement. These groups are more opportunistic and cynical. For example, Boko Haram exploits unrelated local grievances and decades of neglect of the Muslim north. Daesh, a successor to the former al-Qa’ida in Iraq, emerged from the inferno of Syria’s civil war and capitalized on Iraq’s political difficulties. Al Shabaab drew its strength from Somalia’s state failure, rampant corruption, and inter-clan rivalry for resources, and these conditions allow the group to continue governing rural parts of Somalia. As the group was militarily dislodged from city centers, it began seeking common cause with aggrieved minorities along Kenya’s coast, using attacks to stoke ethnic and religious tensions.

The adaptation of terror organizations highlights the need for us to continue adapting our approach to violent extremism. These realities demand thinking about violent extremism not simply in terms of individual radicalization but also in the context of dynamics that make entire communities vulnerable to radicalization, co-optation, or exploitation.

How can we most effectively do this? We know there are many forces that drive individuals to violence. Current research, including interviews with former violent extremists or rehabilitated terrorists consistently reveals that there is no single driver of violent extremism. Rather, there are a number of common ones including: boredom, intergenerational tensions, the search for greater meaning in life, perceived adventure, attempts to impress the local community, a desire for increased credibility, to belong or gain peer acceptance, and revenge.

Similarly, there is no one driver of community-wide radicalization. Participants in last month’s White House Summit to Counter Violent Extremism cited social rejection, political disenfranchisement, and economic exclusion as underlying conditions conducive to the spread of violent extremism. Yet the phenomenon of political, economic, and social marginalization as a driver of violent extremism is not new, nor is it synonymous with any one region, religious tradition, or culture. Marginalization is a strong “push factor” for many individuals and groups, and it creates a vulnerability to ideological and charismatic “pull factors.” Extremist narratives therefore become more intellectually and emotionally attractive to these marginalized communities.

Support for violent extremism does not take hold only under illiberal, authoritarian regimes; it festers anywhere liberty is denied. Even in societies with legal frameworks that guarantee respect for human rights, extremists have found resonance by exploiting real or perceived social and economic discrimination. While we may not know the precise reasons why the Charlie Hebdo attackers Saïd and Chérif Kouachi resorted to terrorism, we can see how violent extremists seek to exploit discontentment. In the low-income housing projects outside of Paris where the brothers grew up, the youth unemployment rate stands at more than 25 percent, and residents often complain of unresponsive law enforcement in the face of soaring crime and blatant hiring discrimination.

Although not the sole driver of violent extremism, marginalized and alienated groups provide “seams of vulnerability” for terrorists to exploit in their efforts to recruit and seek support. Simply put, people who think that they have nothing to lose and that playing by the rules of the system provides no avenue to opportunity or success become more susceptible to being drawn to violent radical actions to upend the status quo. We must therefore anticipate and monitor, if not ideally stitch up, these seams of vulnerability. This is the concept of preventing the rise of violent extremism before it becomes a terrorist threat. To execute this prevention strategy wisely, we need to refine how we think about policies and programming to enhance our understanding of what makes communities vulnerable to radicalization, co-optation, or exploitation by violent extremists, and we need a strategy to prioritize the allocation and alignment of resources to address first those seams most vulnerable to terrorist exploitation.

This preventive approach requires policymakers and experts to expand their focus beyond today’s dangerous threats. They must look to include communities that have not yet become terror safe havens or active conflict zones but that show susceptibility either to ideological radicalization or simply to making common cause with foreign terrorist organizations. Effective prevention requires us to work not in violent extremism “hot spots,” safe havens, or in active conflict but at the periphery – the places that terror networks will seek to penetrate as they expand their spheres of influence or as they are displaced from their current safe havens.

Prevention through addressing vulnerabilities on the periphery of terror networks broadens available interventions to include diplomatic, political, and economic tools. These approaches are possible in non-crisis environments, where bilateral cooperation is stable, development professionals have access to target populations, civil society organizations exist, youth can attend school, and adults devote their energies to economic activity, not fighting – all necessary conditions for development assistance and related interventions to take root and lead to improvements in governance and long-term economic growth.

A focus on broader interventions to address underlying factors on the periphery creates new opportunities for success in the struggle against violent extremism. Not every potential partner can participate in a military coalition, and many states are committed to international assistance programs that can be tailored to this particular challenge. A prevention approach further enlarges the coalition of effective interveners to include civil society and the private sector, who find it challenging to work in crisis zones. Civil society organizations, especially local voices, actors, and networks are essential, since they have intimate knowledge and authentic credibility to mediate disputes and misunderstandings, among communities or with state actors. Civil society organizations are especially well-suited to partner with women and youth, two groups critical for successful community resilience. For example, during last month’s White House Summit, a civil society leader from a West African country described the long, difficult process she undertook to earn the trust of a group of local imams in order to start a book club program to teach critical thinking and reasoning skills at several madrassas. Only a local actor could have won the imams’ trust, underscoring why one of non-state actors are so critical for prevention work.

The private sector can also play a role on the periphery. Building alliances with the private sector strengthens community resilience, by providing more economic opportunity to citizens and showcasing new innovation, growth, and connectivity. More private sector growth can offer another way to dampen the appeal of extremism and stabilize communities.

President Obama hosted the Summit to draw more attention to the importance of addressing the broad enablers of this extremism and to highlight the role of local communities and civil society in this effort. The President defined the Summit goal as “preventing [violent extremist] groups from radicalizing, recruiting or inspiring others to violence in the first place,” and he challenged the international community, to come up with a positive, affirmative antidote to the nihilism that terrorists peddle: “If we’re going to prevent people from being susceptible to the false promises of extremism,” he said, “then the international community has to offer something better.” The event may well prove to be a pivotal moment in the global struggle against violent extremism, opening the way to a more comprehensive, affirmative, and far-reaching effort to prevent the spread of terrorist networks.

The meeting convened an unprecedented diversity of stakeholders from more than 65 governments, civil society leaders from more than 50 countries, and two dozen private sector institutions, who engaged in an honest, straight-forward discussion about the broader enablers of violent extremism and its effects on their communities. “We know that poisonous ideologies do not emerge from thin air,” United Nations Security General Ban Ki-moon declared, as he pointed to “oppression, corruption, and injustice” as drivers of violent extremism. He cautioned that “all too often counterterrorism strategies lack basic elements of due process and respect for the rule of law.” Dr. Peter Neumann of the International Center for the Study of Radicalization cited evidence that social and political marginalization render people receptive to violent extremism. Jordan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Judeh addressed the role of Islam and called for an interfaith unity. “Religious authorities representing all religions on the face of this earth,” he said, “must unite on a narrative that discredits extremist ideology, dispels its foundations, and preaches moderation and interfaith harmony.”

The delegates outlined an ambitious, affirmative action agenda to address violent extremism. Governments, civil society, the private sector, and multilateral bodies committed to take action, both collectively and independently, in eight broad areas:

  • Encouraging local research and information-sharing;
  • Expanding the role of civil society, especially the role women and youth;
  • Strengthening community-police and community-security force relations;
  • Promoting the counter-narrative and weakening the legitimacy of violent extremist messaging;
  • Employing educational approaches and amplifying mainstream religious voices to build resilience;
  • Preventing radicalization in prisons and rehabilitating and reintegrating violent extremists;
  • Identifying political and economic opportunities for communities vulnerable to radicalization and recruitment;
  • Providing development assistance and stabilization efforts.

Several delegations have already pledged commitments in support of this comprehensive agenda. The United Nations will convene a special event this year to bring faith leaders from around the world together to promote mutual understanding and reconciliation. Japan announced a $15.5 million contribution to build capacity in the Middle East and North Africa to counter terrorism and violent extremism, including by strengthening community resilience. The European Union will create a Round of Eminent Persons from Europe and the Islamic world to encourage intellectual exchanges and promote dialogue on the cost and ramification of terrorism in our societies and to launch additional programs on how to link education and countering violent extremism. Norway will significantly expand its support for education training programs targeting populations at risk of radicalization and contribute $600,000 to the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund, and the Republic of Korea will engage IT companies to develop new initiatives to counter violent extremism.

Several delegations pledged support for counter-messaging initiatives. With European Union support, Belgium is establishing the Syria Strategic Communications Advisory Team to develop a communications strategy to provide subtle counter-narratives. The African Union has pledged to work through the Network of African Journalists for Peace to launch a continent-wide, counter-violent extremism messaging campaign, and through its Against Violent Extremism Network, Google Ideas is challenging the terrorist narrative, by leveraging and trumpeting the testimonials of more than 500 rehabilitated former extremists from 40 countries.

In addition, many countries and organizations, including Albania, Algeria, the African Union, Australia, Denmark, Djibouti, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Norway, and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, are already planning to host follow-on regional or thematic summits in an effort to involve more countries, civil society organizations, and companies in this process.

The Summit’s commitment to preventing violent extremism widens the aperture on the problem and invites deployment of development and broader foreign assistance programs to those communities particularly vulnerable to radicalization to violence.

The United States’ is committed to this multilateral action agenda. The U.S. is already working through the Global Counterterrorism Forum to support community-oriented policing in South Asia, the Horn of Africa, the Sahel, and elsewhere; nurturing entrepreneurship and strengthening innovation in emerging markets through our Global Entrepreneurship Summits and the Global Innovation through Science and Technology program; and rallying our partners across a broad array of sectors—including heads of the entertainment and technology industries, philanthropists, and policy makers—to expand economic opportunities for vulnerable and marginalized communities. In addition to the $188 million in programs that the State Department and USAID are already dedicating to implementation, President Obama has requested nearly $400 million in additional resources in the 2016 budget for the State Department to support a wider range of counterterrorism partnerships, including programs to address violent extremism.

Stay tuned for progress on this effort. President Obama invited Summit participants to reconvene at a leaders’ summit on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly in September, when heads of governments, organizations, and corporations will announce the programs and policies they have undertaken to address the drivers of violent extremism and implement the action agenda. The Summit agenda ultimately promises to identify areas of greatest risk to violent extremism and help prioritize the deployment of resources and expertise to prevent terrorism from taking hold.

Several Summit participants called the meeting a milestone in the global effort against violent extremism and a turning point for the U.S. in moving toward a holistic approach that embraces Muslim and marginalized communities, as well as the role of civil society and the private sector. The challenge now is to build on this momentum so that it produces practical and tangible outcomes. It is an opportunity to supplement, expand, and innovate for the next generation. We can complement a counterterrorism strategy that has had success in addressing immediate threats with a more comprehensive approach to prevent the emergence of new threats. This preventive approach is affirmative: by employing a broad range of tools, including diplomatic, political, development, and communications levers, it seeks to empower individuals and their communities to resist extremism without the risk of further alienating them. This approach may also prove more sustainable in employing a wider array of actors and interventions to prevent terrorist threats from expanding or emerging in the first place.

Although preventing violent extremism entails harnessing a broader toolkit than intelligence gathering, military force, and law enforcement has built to date, it does not mean that development assistance or strategic communications will replace security interventions in countering terrorism. The United States government will continue to defend the American people and its interests abroad by targeting and eliminating current terrorist threats. The President’s commitment to comprehensively preventing violent extremism will advance new tools to complement and enhance, not replace, current counterterrorism efforts.

The White House Summit already has spurred new investments and innovative programs to address the underlying drivers of violent extremism. Yet realizing this approach will not happen overnight, even here in the United States. It is, by definition, a generational effort. But the United States and our partners have embraced the need to look over the horizon, to get ahead of the next violent extremism challenge.

At the Summit, Secretary Kerry announced: “We can send a clear signal to the next generation that its future will not be defined by the agenda of the terrorists and the violent ideology that sustains them; we will not cower, and we will prevail by working together….Our collective security depends on our collective response.” When world leaders reconvene on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly in New York this September, they will have a historic opportunity to consolidate this more comprehensive approach to counterterrorism.

Press Releases: Daily Press Briefing – March 6, 2015

1:14 p.m. EST

MS. HARF: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to the daily press briefing. I have a couple toppers and then we will get your questions. A trip update first. Yesterday in Riyadh, the Secretary had meetings with foreign ministers of Gulf Cooperation Council countries. He also had meetings with King Salman, with Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef and with the Bahraini foreign minister as well. He also held a press availability, as I’m sure all of you saw. He then flew to London where he is today. Tomorrow he will stop in Paris for a meeting with Foreign Minister Fabius and then a Quad meeting with Foreign Minister Fabius, Steinmeier, and Foreign Secretary Hammond, before returning to Washington.

Next, we strongly condemn today’s terrorist attack in Jerusalem. We extend our prayers to those injured that they may fully recover. There is no justification for such attacks. The overwhelming majority of Palestinians and Israelis want to live in peace and security, and the United States will continue to stand with those who reject violence and seek a path forward toward peace. It is critical for Israeli and Palestinian leaders and ordinary citizens to work cooperatively together to lower tensions and reject violence.

Just a couple more, guys. As you may know, today the State Department will honor 10 women from 10 countries with the Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award. This was supposed to happen yesterday, because of the snow is happening today. The award goes to women who have shown exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for women’s rights and empowerment. This award is an opportunity for us to highlight the accomplishments of women who are leaders and agents of change in their communities. It’s also a moment for us to reiterate that the United States is a strong ally of women and girls everywhere, and we’re working to champion gender equality and advance the status of women and girls globally.

And finally, I’d like to welcome a group of students from the Ohio State University to today’s briefing. I’m wearing my scarlet jacket today for you. They’re in Washington for a politics, society, and law scholars program. I don’t think your university’s ever been mentioned so much as when I am at this podium in this room. But welcome and I hope it’s interesting, you get a taste of what our press briefings are like.

No pressure, Brad.

QUESTION: And you’re not even going to mention the national championship.

MS. HARF: The national champion Ohio State University Buckeyes. (Laughter.)

Yes. How could I forget?

QUESTION: Yes. Before we get onto —

MS. HARF: But thank you for reminding me.

QUESTION: You’re welcome. Congratulations again. What may or may not be more or less important matters, could I just ask about London for the Secretary?

MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: What is he doing there exactly?

MS. HARF: Today he’s meeting with his staff, conducting some phone calls before he goes to Paris tomorrow. Don’t have more details on his schedule today.

QUESTION: All right. And can we get some more clarity on what exactly the Department is doing as part of its review into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails?

MS. HARF: Yes. We are doing a review of her emails for public release, as she asked us to do on Wednesday evening in the tweet I’m sure you all have now seen. We will use FOIA standards for the review. So the standards by which we process FOIA requests, we process documents to be released, those are the standards we will use for the review.

The initial press report that we’re doing an investigation of her emails for security reasons was not correct. It has since been changed to reflect that. Again, we will start that review for public release and work as quickly as we possibly can.

QUESTION: So will you be looking into whether any sensitive but unclassified – I mean, if you come across sensitive but unclassified material that was sent over a non-official email account, what will you do? Will you not report it? Will you report it? Will you —

MS. HARF: Well, I’m not going to speculate on what might happen in that situation. I’m not going to prejudge the outcome of the review for release of the 55,000 pages. Again, that will start soon and we’ll work as quickly as we can.

QUESTION: So yesterday a senior official said something similar about prejudging, but it implied that you’re not going to talk about whether she breached a provision because you don’t want to prejudge the outcome of the review. That would —

MS. HARF: Well, we just don’t know what’s in the emails yet.

QUESTION: But that would imply that your review would look into whether she did that or not, no?

MS. HARF: Well, no – well, no. Both things aren’t necessarily true. The review is for purposes of public release. So if someone sent in a FOIA request, if – I’m sure all of you have done this – there’s a process by which we review documents for public release. That looks, for example, at whether there’s things like personally identifying information that is not released under FOIA – social security numbers, for example; that’s just one example. Obviously, I’m not going to prejudge what might happen as a result of looking through these 55,000 emails to release them publicly. That is the purpose of the review. Those are the standards by which the review will be done.

QUESTION: But what is the normal protocol then if someone breaches the provision that you shouldn’t send sensitive but unclassified information via personal email?

MS. HARF: Well, again, the Foreign Affairs Manual, which I think you’re referring to, contains policies and procedures that provide guidance to Department employees. That is quite separate from the federal regulations. Those are just two different things, and I am just not going to speculate on – on those kinds of hypotheticals.

QUESTION: But you see how that’s problematic. You’re saying there is a possibility that if you come across this, nothing will happen, nothing will be said.

MS. HARF: I did not say that. I said I’m not going to speculate on what might happen.

QUESTION: But why aren’t there —

MS. HARF: I am not ruling anything out.

QUESTION: Why aren’t there policies in place for how to deal with this? It just seems like a pretty simple thing.

MS. HARF: Well, I think nothing about this issue is simple, as we’ve all learned in the past four days, and I’m not going to speculate on what would happen throughout the course of this process if that is, in fact, found. I’m just not going to speculate on that.

QUESTION: So there are no rules in place for potential breaches of this FAM provision?

MS. HARF: I can check and see. I haven’t seen any myself, Brad —

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: — but I can check and see.

Yes, Justin.

QUESTION: Marie —

MS. HARF: We’ll just go across the front row here.

QUESTION: Thanks. The other day you said you’d check to see what policies were in place while Clinton was in office that might forbid her from using a private email account. Have you had a check – a chance to review that policy?

MS. HARF: Well, no, as I said, there was nothing in place at the time that prohibited her from using a personal email account for official business as long as the records were eventually preserved. I said that three days ago.

QUESTION: Right. But as you are aware, there have been now IG reports and cables that have surfaced that state clearly in one case that State Department officials should, quote, “avoid conducting official department business from personal email accounts.”

MS. HARF: Well, let’s – let me talk through some of that.

QUESTION: And Scott Gration appears to have been reprimanded for using personal email.

MS. HARF: Let’s talk through that.

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS. HARF: So let’s talk through those issues because they’re a little bit different and I think you’re oversimplifying it. So let’s talk through them.

When it comes to former Ambassador Gration, he resigned his position, contrary to some press reports. The IG report I believe you’re citing also refers to that same FAM. We’re all talking about the same provision in the Foreign Affairs Manual which deals specifically with sensitive but unclassified information, not – it was not a general – not a general policy or guidance about email use in general. It refers to one specific kind of email use: sensitive but unclassified. That is the same FAM that is referenced in the cable. It is the same FAM that’s referenced in the IG report.

Yes, Lesley.

QUESTION: Yeah, I was going to ask a follow-up to the same question. I mean, is there anything here from the outset that she broke any rules as far as using her personal email?

MS. HARF: Well, again, I am not going to prejudge what’s in these given that we haven’t looked through them yet. The Foreign Affairs Manual is guidance or policies for State Department employees. It is not a federal regulation. It is different than that. And again, the FAM that we are all talking about, I think, refers specifically to one kind of information and personal email use, not to personal email use in general. As we’ve always said, it is permitted, but given that things need to be preserved.

QUESTION: I think the cable itself does not refer to that one specific FAM.

MS. HARF: It does. I’m looking at the cable right here, Reference A, 12 FAM 544.3.

QUESTION: Which refers to Letter F of that – sorry to get really arcane.

MS. HARF: No, I have the FAM in front of me too.

QUESTION: But that’s just an index of the referenced FAMs, and that has nothing to do with the other subpoints of the text.

MS. HARF: No, no. So let’s – two points – three points on the cable.

First, the cable references the FAM that deals with sensitive but unclassified information as – that is the FAM that deals with SBU information. I have it in front of me. I can —

QUESTION: Right. Referring to auto-forwarding, which is not what we’re talking about.

MS. HARF: No, no, no, no, no.

QUESTION: Why don’t you read it? Why don’t you read it?

MS. HARF: FAM – okay. Our Ohio State visitors, this is not usually what happens. (Laughter.)

FAM 544 – 12 FAM 544, starting with point one, point two, point three, that all refers specifically to sensitive but unclassified information. So that FAM deals with one kind of information, not with personal email use in general.

But more broadly speaking on the cable, this is – this cable is a guidance on best practices. It’s certainly not regulations. It was more couched – and if you look at it – what can you and your family members do? It’s more —

QUESTION: Regardless of whether it’s sensitive —

MS. HARF: Wait, can I finish and then you can follow up? No, no, let me finish and then you and follow up. It’s helpful tips for people when they’re talking about this issue, again referencing a FAM that deals entirely with SBU information.

QUESTION: So you’re saying that when it says to – “Beware emails with fake password links,” that’s only about sensitive but unclassified information?

MS. HARF: No, I’m saying two things —

QUESTION: When it says, “Create —

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: — “Create strong passwords,” that’s about sensitive but unclassified —

MS. HARF: Again, isn’t that – that’s guidance, Brad.

QUESTION: When it says, “Do not reveal your personal email address,” that’s only about sensitive but unclassified?

MS. HARF: No, I’m not – that’s not what I was saying.

QUESTION: This is general guidance, correct?

MS. HARF: I said – well, two things. Look, two things are true here. I think you’re saying that one of them has to be and the other can’t be.

QUESTION: No, I think it’s both.

MS. HARF: Two things are true here – one, that the only reference listed in this cable is the one we’re all talking about that refers to SBU information. But this cable in general is talking about – is guidance on best practices, colloquial guidance for people when it came to personal email. It also uses words like “encouraged to check,” “in general, avoid doing this.” So this is certainly not a regulation or a policy.

QUESTION: That’s fine, but has —

MS. HARF: But I think that context is important.

QUESTION: If it’s general guidance, do you accept the notion that the secretary, the former secretary, didn’t follow her own guidance on best practices?

MS. HARF: I don’t. I think that’s a oversimplification of what’s going on here. I understand there’s a cable that in general is – has some guidance and best practices in it, but I think drawing that conclusion is going a step too far.

QUESTION: If she had followed everything in here, would you have said that she had followed her best practice guidance?

MS. HARF: This isn’t her best practice —

QUESTION: Or would that be an oversimplification as well?

MS. HARF: Also, this isn’t her best practice guidance. Her name is at the bottom of the cable, as is practice for cables coming from Washington.

QUESTION: It was —

MS. HARF: Some people think she wrote it —

QUESTION: Right.

MS. HARF: — which is not accurate.

QUESTION: We know that, but —

MS. HARF: Well, not everyone knows that.

QUESTION: — it was her department, so —

MS. HARF: That is true.

QUESTION: — regardless of whether she wrote this herself or punched it into the keyboard herself or —

MS. HARF: Or some – right.

QUESTION: — her personal account herself, this was her department.

MS. HARF: But I feel the need to correct some misinformation.

QUESTION: Well, just to follow up —

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: — because I was going to follow up on my question earlier, was Secretary Clinton at the time discouraged from using her own email given the knowledge that you had that this could cause issues?

MS. HARF: I just don’t have details on that.

QUESTION: On that kind of thing —

MS. HARF: I just don’t have details on that.

QUESTION: And you’re not suggesting that she wasn’t sensitive but unclassified information from her —

MS. HARF: I’m saying that we don’t know; we haven’t gone through the emails yet.

QUESTION: Well, I mean, she’s – she was the secretary of state. How could any reasonable —

MS. HARF: So you’re happy to assume what’s in those even though you haven’t seen them, Tristan?

QUESTION: I think it’s a fair assumption – 55,000 emails and she didn’t —

MS. HARF: Okay. Well, let’s talk after we go through them, and then we can have that conversation.

Indira, let’s move on.

QUESTION: So, Marie, on the same cable, a couple things. First of all, would you be willing to release that cable for us so that we could all see is?

MS. HARF: I think everyone can read it at foxnews.com if they’d like to. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Okay. And then specifically it refers in the text of it that we’ve seen —

QUESTION: Is that an endorsement? (Laughter.)

MS. HARF: That was in no way an endorsement. (Laughter.) (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: I didn’t know whether any of it was missing. I didn’t know whether any of it was missing or whether it’s complete.

MS. HARF: I actually —

QUESTION: I mean, I don’t know if it’s a complete account.

MS. HARF: Let me check.

QUESTION: But what —

MS. HARF: I don’t mean to be flip about it. Let me check.

QUESTION: What we’ve seen is that it refers to the risks of using personal email in light of Google’s Gmail hacking problems. And so that seems like that hacking problem would apply to anything, not just sensitive but unclassified information.

MS. HARF: Again, this is general guidance about personal email use. So I don’t have much more for you than that on this cable from 2011.

QUESTION: Okay. And then can you explain to us what – was there a particular issue that caused that to be issued other than the Google hacking issue? And then also in 2013 and 2014, was there some incident that precipitated the rules being strengthened, the regulations that we’ve talked about being strengthened?

MS. HARF: You’d have to check with NARA on that given – I think you’re referring to the NARA regulations from 2013 and 2014?

QUESTION: Mm-hmm.

MS. HARF: I mean, you’d have to check with them. Not to my knowledge —

QUESTION: Nothing at State happened that caused you to strengthen those regulations?

MS. HARF: I have no idea. I’m happy to check.

QUESTION: Okay. Okay.

MS. HARF: This is – but to be fair, the – and those regulations I think you’re talking about in 2013, 2014, were about preservation, not about security. So that’s —

QUESTION: That’s right. It’s a separate thing.

MS. HARF: It’s a separate thing.

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS. HARF: And again, what we’ve talked about in this room is that the rules have been unclear when it came to preservation for some time. And I know NARA is constantly trying to update them to sort of keep pace with just the amount and sheer volume of email, for example, we use, and to keep up to speed on that. I – this cable, having read a lot of cables, looks fairly ordinary to me and doesn’t look particularly like it was prompted by anything. Not knowing the backstory, this sort of looks like, again, some helpful tips when you’re using personal email.

QUESTION: Okay. And then back to the question of security, since the State Department was aware from the start that Secretary Clinton was using her personal email, can you tell us, or if you don’t know, find out for us, State Department security internet folks you would think would either have gone to her house to look at her server or would have gone over with her passwords, what devices was she going to use this on. We had that whole thing about President Obama wanting to use a Blackberry. So the security of high-level U.S. officials using devices – on what devices was she going to use it. Can you please lay out for us what steps were taken to check that?

MS. HARF: I just don’t have any details for you on that. I know there are a lot of questions about that. As we get information —

QUESTION: Will you look into it?

MS. HARF: — we can share, we will. But I know there are a lot of questions in general about this, and as we get information we can share – I just don’t have anything for you on that.

QUESTION: Okay. Then, so specifically, if someone – if you could find out for us, take the question of did someone go to her house and look at her —

MS. HARF: Indira, this question has been asked for three days now, and I am happy to keep seeing what information we can share. I don’t have any information for you at this – on this – about that at this time.

Margaret.

QUESTION: So have you sought that information, just as —

MS. HARF: I always try to get answers to your questions.

QUESTION: No, not you. Has the Department sought that information from —

MS. HARF: From inside the Department?

QUESTION: From former Secretary Clinton. Questions on what her server was, did it have encryption – have these questions been asked of the former secretary?

MS. HARF: I’m just not going to have details on that for you.

Yes, Margaret.

QUESTION: Marie – I mean, along those lines of – was there a carve-out for Secretary Clinton at the time? I mean, if the State Department was —

MS. HARF: What do you mean, a carve-out?

QUESTION: Well, if the State Department was aware that she was using personal email for work purposes, did the State Department’s lawyers bless that? I mean, if this was all kosher, it sort of changes the entire conversation if the State Department lawyers said it was fine.

MS. HARF: Well, I don’t have details to answer that question either for you. We know what the federal regulations were at the time and are now – I just don’t have much more for you – beyond that for you.

QUESTION: But was – when she came to office – I mean, I think generally when a secretary comes in, her chief of staff or somebody on her staff would’ve been briefed on what those regulations are.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm, that’s certainly the case.

QUESTION: Did that happen in her case?

MS. HARF: I can check and see if there are details on that to share.

QUESTION: Well, I mean – and if you would, and if you would find out if there were any differences. I mean, she was an extraordinary person coming into this, a very different profile than other secretaries. I mean, were there special standards for her that there weren’t for previous secretaries given not only the changes in the technology, but she herself? I mean, if the White House had signed off on this, it would’ve been a different conversation today.

MS. HARF: I can check and see if there’s more to share for you on how those decisions were made at the time.

Any – what else on this? Elliot?

QUESTION: (Inaudible) different topic.

MS. HARF: Anything else on this?

QUESTION: No, same topic.

MS. HARF: Yes, Josh.

QUESTION: I want to just follow up on our discussion Tuesday and I guess Wednesday on the genesis of the October 2014 letter to the former secretaries.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. Yep.

QUESTION: First, can you tell us who sent the letter?

MS. HARF: Who specifically signed it at the State Department?

QUESTION: Yeah. Right.

MS. HARF: I can check. I’m sorry, I do not know that. I can check.

QUESTION: Okay. And can you tell us anything more about how it began? Because there’ve now been press reports that the concern about this issue arose out of the Benghazi select committee’s investigation sometime during the August timeframe, and I’m just curious whether that had played any role whatsoever in the Department’s decision to take this pretty unusual step of approaching former secretaries.

MS. HARF: I wouldn’t call it unusual, and what I would say is I think there are also Administration sources in those press reports saying it would be grossly simplistic to say that any one thing prompted us to send this letter. As I noted, I think to you the other day in the briefing, this predated the request from the select committee just from a time perspective —

QUESTION: All their requests?

MS. HARF: I’m sorry?

QUESTION: All their requests to the Department?

MS. HARF: I can check on that. But the request that was pertinent, I think, to her email was later; that’s my understanding. It came a month later, I think.

But a couple points: This actually isn’t that unusual. We are – we have been struggling in trying to figure out how to preserve all the records given the use of email now that wasn’t even that way five years ago. And so we have had an ongoing process, as NARA has had too, to update regulations, clarify policies, make sure we have the records we need. So that was part of that process. And again, it came before the request. So I would – it would be incorrect to say that any one issue prompted this letter.

Of course, we have worked closely with the select committee and with Congress on this, have been transparent and provided as much as we can in response to their requests, so certainly, that’s a factor. But I would not say – as we’ve said now a few times, it was not any one thing that prompted this.

And we really have been – I know it’s not always in the news until now, but there has been a process of trying to update our records. NARA has actually done a lot of work to clarify what the responsibilities are of senior officials in terms of preservation, and that is an ongoing process.

QUESTION: Can you tell us – one of the press reports also said that Secretary Kerry played some role in the discussion about this email situation. Do you know if he’s played any role in that?

MS. HARF: The – about what part of it? I haven’t talked about it with Secretary Kerry.

QUESTION: In making a decision to go to the former secretaries. I mean, it does still strike me as somewhat unusual that lower-level officials in the Department would take the step of going to retired former secretaries and ask them to return records to the Department.

MS. HARF: Well, I wouldn’t say – first, I don’t know who signed it. I mean, some of those – I’m not sure the press reports referenced the Secretary. I think they talked about his staff —

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: — his senior staff, including his chief of staff – well, former chief of staff as of today, if everyone saw the news about Jon Finer. I think it’s appropriate that if – as we as a Department are trying to work through how to update the records of senior officials, including secretaries, the Secretary’s staff would be the one involved in those conversations. There’s – I don’t think there’s anything unusual about that.

QUESTION: Okay. And two other quick things on this.

MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: Is the inspector general at this point, as far as you know, conducting any review of how this email matter was handled?

MS. HARF: I haven’t heard that. You know the inspector general is independent, but – so I think you could check with them, but —

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: — not that I’ve heard, but I’m not sure I would have.

QUESTION: And at the very outset, you mentioned the FOIA review process. Among the various things they look for, is one of the things they look for in documents prior to release classified information?

MS. HARF: I’m sorry?

QUESTION: In the FOIA review process —

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: — among the various things that they look for – you mentioned PII, Social Security numbers —

MS. HARF: Yeah, yeah.

QUESTION: — SBU. Is one of the things they look for in that process, even in records that don’t bear classification markings, sensitive national security information?

MS. HARF: That – well, sensitive national security information is different than classified information.

QUESTION: Well, let’s say classified information.

MS. HARF: So which are you asking about?

QUESTION: Classified information.

MS. HARF: I can check. I don’t have all the FOIA regulations in front of me. I would also remind people that SBU is not a national security classification. It’s just not. But I can check on that and see if there’s more of a list of what FOIA looks at.

QUESTION: And as a follow-up on the FOIA —

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: By the way, you said it was Jon Finer leading it. It’s not Jon Finer.

MS. HARF: No, I said if everyone saw the news about Jon Finer. He’s the new chief of staff.

QUESTION: Oh, yes.

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: A follow-up to —

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MS. HARF: David Wade is leaving. No, no, no. Jon Finer didn’t leave on day one. (Laughter.) He’s just staying in London. (Laughter.) No, Jon Finer is our new chief of staff.

QUESTION: Hardships.

MS. HARF: Yes, yes, yes, yes.

QUESTION: On the FOIA standards you mentioned —

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: So does that mean the FOIA office will be conducting this review?

MS. HARF: I don’t have more details on that. I know it’s a good question. There’s a lot of process questions. It’s a huge batch, as we’ve talked about. So as we have more to share on the process, I will. I just don’t have it today.

QUESTION: So it hasn’t started – the process – by any means —

MS. HARF: I don’t —

QUESTION: — if we don’t know who’s actually doing it?

MS. HARF: Let me check. Let me check.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: Let me check.

QUESTION: On the emails?

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: Which other former secretaries have submitted their emails? Or have all of them submitted their emails?

MS. HARF: So we sent the letter out a few months ago. No other secretaries have yet responded. I understand Secretary Powell’s office may have said they are going back and looking to see if they have anything. It’s my understanding no other secretaries have responded.

And I would say – and I know there’s a lot of questions about transparency, but it is – I mean, what we are doing now going forward – and there’s lots of questions about the past, and I get that – she has asked us to look at all 55,000 pages and determine what is appropriate for release. So that process is going to happen. And what we determine is appropriate under those FOIA standards will be public, which I think is actually a pretty extraordinary thing.

QUESTION: So why haven’t other former secretaries responded and submitted their emails?

MS. HARF: I think you’d have to ask them. I don’t speak for them.

QUESTION: But we’re only talking – we’re talking about two other secretaries, right?

MS. HARF: So we sent —

QUESTION: I mean, Henry Kissinger wasn’t asked —

MS. HARF: No, the furthest back —

QUESTION: — to provide his 1970 —

MS. HARF: — we went was Secretary Albright.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: So Secretary Albright, Secretary Powell, Secretary Rice, and Secretary Clinton.

QUESTION: So you don’t expect to withhold any of the 55,000 due to classification —

MS. HARF: I’m not going to prejudge —

QUESTION: — sensitive classification —

MS. HARF: I’m not going to prejudge the outcome of a review.

QUESTION: They should all be —

QUESTION: As part of this review, are the emails that her staff had on the personal server going to be reviewed as well? And if not, why not?

MS. HARF: Well, this is a review of her emails and her records.

QUESTION: But they were working for her, they were State Department employees, they were ostensibly working —

MS. HARF: But that’s a different thing.

QUESTION: But if they’re working on her behalf, if they’re helping to represent her opinions, her views to the rest of the Department, why wouldn’t their emails be looked at as well?

MS. HARF: Well, I understand the question, but we’re talking about a batch of emails in response to a request from the State Department to update our secretary of state records. So we have hers, and that’s the review that we’re doing right now.

QUESTION: But the employees are – also have an obligation —

MS. HARF: I understand that.

QUESTION: — to provide and to make certain that those —

MS. HARF: I understand that.

QUESTION: — records, which are public documents, are made available. Why not just bring them all in right now and look at everything —

MS. HARF: Because you’re talking about —

QUESTION: — as opposed to a drip, drip, drip?

MS. HARF: Well, this –55,000 pages is not a drip, drip, drip, Roz. That’s a pretty big stack of paper. But I would also say this was a request for former secretaries. We can talk about separate issues about her staff, who had – who did have state.gov accounts and who were responsible for preserving that, their records there. So that’s just a separate issue, and I just don’t have anything for you on that today.

QUESTION: Will any attempt be made to check whether these are all the emails, or will you just be accepting the secretary’s word on this?

MS. HARF: Well, as we have said, her staff has said these were all the responsive emails they had to our request, and that’s really a question for her staff to answer.

QUESTION: Well, no, no. My question is: Will the State Department be attempting in any way to verify whether they are all the emails? I mean, what I imagine is there are various methods you can use to look at whether they’re in sequence or whether there are gaps. I mean, will there be any attempt to verify this?

MS. HARF: Well, a couple points. First, as I’ve said, it covers the breadth of her time at the State Department. So it covers the span of when she was here. But —

QUESTION: The request does, but —

MS. HARF: No, the records in response cover – the emails she gave us back cover the breadth of her time at the State Department.

QUESTION: How do you know that? How do you know they’re all —

MS. HARF: Because I know when she started and when she left, and they correspond to that and they cover all of the time in between. Second —

QUESTION: But she —

QUESTION: But you don’t know that there’s gaps or deleted emails or some that just weren’t sent –

MS. HARF: Well, of course, but like – there’s not, like, two months missing, right? That’s – right.

QUESTION: But you don’t – you can’t say for sure – his point is that every email and —

MS. HARF: Correct.

QUESTION: — some critics or —

MS. HARF: Correct. But I would —

QUESTION: — whatever you want to call them have picked up on this, that you can’t know that —

MS. HARF: Correct.

QUESTION: — you have every email unless —

MS. HARF: And I’ve said that.

QUESTION: — you see the server.

MS. HARF: Well, I’ve said that, obviously, her staff has said that. But I would make a second point, though, is that each individual employee has a responsibility under the federal regulations to preserve their own records with a State Department account or a personal account. When you walk out the door, it is your responsibility to provide those. Does that make sense? Regardless of what kind of account it is.

QUESTION: When you walk out?

QUESTION: Well, yeah, but there’s a difference because —

QUESTION: Right, but there’s no way to check it that makes —

MS. HARF: But there was no time – right, right.

QUESTION: There’s a difference —

MS. HARF: That was colloquial, Josh.

QUESTION: — because in a FOIA request —

MS. HARF: But thank you for fact-checking me live and instantaneously during my press briefings.

QUESTION: In a FOIA request —

MS. HARF: You should come more often, I like it. What?

QUESTION: — or a congressional subpoena, then the State Department would have the ability to look through its server to see if everything has been sent. In this case —

MS. HARF: But that’s not —

QUESTION: — you don’t have access to that server, so there’s —

MS. HARF: That’s not the process of how it works, even with state.gov emails, Brad, generally speaking.

QUESTION: You’re saying that the State Department – for all FOIA requests, it relies on the goodwill of the individuals?

MS. HARF: I am not saying that for all – anything. I’m not making a general statement about FOIA, and I’m also saying it’s not about goodwill. What I am saying is, in general, each employee is responsible for being responsive to records requests, document requests. I’m not going to get into “always,” but —

QUESTION: That sounds like goodwill if it’s up to the employee himself to do it.

MS. HARF: No, it’s not goodwill, it’s a responsibility.

QUESTION: That’s the same thing.

MS. HARF: I don’t think that’s the same thing.

QUESTION: It’s not – there’s no independent mechanism separate from that employee.

MS. HARF: Well, then maybe you have a problem with the FOIA process.

QUESTION: No, I’m asking – I don’t think you’re right, actually, but —

MS. HARF: I would bet you 100 bucks I’m right.

QUESTION: All right, I’ll take it on. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: I have a few more.

MS. HARF: No, but my point – look, my point is that like I understand your question, the crux of your question; I do. I cannot stand up here and say – that’s a question for her staff to answer. They have answered it. They can speak to that.

QUESTION: No, my question wasn’t have they been provided. My question was: Is the Department going to take any steps to verify they will be provided? That’s a different question.

MS. HARF: And I just don’t have – okay. I just don’t have any more details for you on that. I understand the question, I understand why you’re asking it, but I just don’t have more details for you than that.

QUESTION: So when the purpose is to preserve these emails as a history, so why you’re not asking for all the emails?

MS. HARF: We asked for all of her records that she had that were federal records, so we did. We asked for all of them.

QUESTION: But her office is saying they have not provided all the emails, right?

MS. HARF: Her office said that yes – no, that’s not correct, actually.

QUESTION: So then why didn’t – you haven’t asked them —

MS. HARF: Her office said – and I’m not the spokesperson for her office. People may have been confused about that this week. But what her office said is she provided everything that met that criteria.

QUESTION: But that criteria, would it be decided by the State Department, rather than her office?

MS. HARF: Well, there is criteria that NARA lays out about what is a federal record. It’s anything related to official business. So I think as her people have said, it wasn’t spreadsheets for her daughter’s wedding, but it was anything related to official business.

QUESTION: But wouldn’t people, people, Americans several decades after this would like to know what the secretary of state did at that time of her —

MS. HARF: Well, I think that’s why she’s asked us to review all 55,000 for public release —

QUESTION: I have one more question.

MS. HARF: — which I can’t think of any other public official asking anyone to do, actually.

QUESTION: So when other former secretary of states submit their emails, would that be sort of the same kind of review which you are doing right now?

MS. HARF: For public release? I don’t know, who knows. This resulted because she asked us to do this.

QUESTION: One for public release, one if there were any breach of State Department regulations?

MS. HARF: Well, I didn’t say we were looking at her emails for that purpose; I said we are not.

QUESTION: She asked you to do it, but she wouldn’t have been in compliance with the law had she not asked you to do it, correct?

MS. HARF: No. The law says nothing about releasing them publicly. The federal regulation —

QUESTION: But turning them over.

MS. HARF: Turning them over, that’s different.

QUESTION: Yes. Yeah, okay.

MS. HARF: That’s different. Still on this?

QUESTION: Marie —

QUESTION: I have one more.

MS. HARF: I think we have like eight more, but —

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MS. HARF: Oh, hello.

QUESTION: Hi, there.

MS. HARF: Wait, we have a special guest in the briefing room today. Go ahead —

QUESTION: Oh, yes.

MS. HARF: — playing the role of Elise Labott.

QUESTION: Not – I am, poorly. Not to ask you to prejudge this specific case with Secretary Clinton, but just the process of a review, wouldn’t it be incumbent on the State Department to reveal if they found any sensitive but unclassified documentation, information in emails that were reviewed?

MS. HARF: I know I’m going to go back to the same line again, but I’m not going to prejudge what might happen —

QUESTION: But I’m not asking you to prejudge her case.

MS. HARF: Or what would happen, though.

QUESTION: I’m talking about a policy on the general review process. It seems very reasonable to assume that in the course of it, if SBU was discovered that it would have to be —

MS. HARF: That that would be made public?

QUESTION: That it would be somehow dealt with, right?

MS. HARF: Again – and this was to Brad’s question – I’m happy to go back to our lawyers and see if there’s more on this about what might happen if something is discovered, but again, I don’t want to speculate on that, and we just don’t know what would happen in that situation. There are so many variables and factors, I really just don’t want to speculate.

QUESTION: Well, I have (inaudible) —

QUESTION: How did the agreement come to be?

MS. HARF: Which agreement?

QUESTION: Discussing the review, Secretary Clinton tweeted that she has asked the State Department to release these emails. Obviously, I imagine on her side that may be her aides, that’s her, that’s her lawyers. Who at State is sort of brokering the terms of this with her?

MS. HARF: Well, there aren’t terms – I mean, the terms – I’m not exactly sure what you mean by terms. There was —

QUESTION: Who’s interacting, who’s interfacing with Clinton and her team on this?

MS. HARF: There’s senior officials here; I’m probably not going to go into more details. I can check and see if we can. But senior officials here, obviously, have talked to her team throughout this process, whether it’s just an open line of communication to make sure – from a legal perspective, to make sure we’re getting what we need, or conversations with the secretary’s staff when they said – okay, we’re – when they came to us and said we’re going to ask you to review them for release, we agreed that was a conversation between senior aides here and senior aides to her.

QUESTION: You said on Wednesday you were asked about whether the cyber security office here at State had concerns. Have you gotten an answer on that?

MS. HARF: I don’t have more details for you on that.

QUESTION: Have you checked on that?

MS. HARF: I’m checking on all of this, I promise, but I just don’t have more details to share about that.

QUESTION: So – but what’s the reasoning for not being able to share that information?

MS. HARF: I just don’t have details on that to share.

QUESTION: Is it someone not providing it, or is it sensitive, or —

MS. HARF: I know there are a lot of questions about this and other issues. As we get definitive answers that I can share, I am happy to, but there are going to be questions like that that we may not be able to share information on.

QUESTION: Can I ask —

MS. HARF: I will attempt to share as much as I can.

QUESTION: Can I ask a follow-up on the sensitive but unclassified?

MS. HARF: Uh-huh, yes.

QUESTION: Two days ago, you said that it would take months to review this process because —

MS. HARF: It’s expected to take several months.

QUESTION: — you would have to scrub any sensitive but unclassified information.

MS. HARF: That’s not what I said.

QUESTION: You would have to – you mentioned, I think —

MS. HARF: Personal identifying information.

QUESTION: — personal – which is sensitive but unclassified.

MS. HARF: Not necessarily.

QUESTION: If it’s a Social Security number, if it’s a home address, if it’s —

MS. HARF: It’s not – no, not necessarily. PII is not always SBU. We’re going to get into really Wiki stuff on this, guys. I’m ready.

QUESTION: So if – so – whoa, whoa. You would scrub sensitive but unclassified information as part of this —

MS. HARF: I didn’t say that. We can take —

QUESTION: Whoa, whoa, whoa. You’re going to publish people’s Social Security numbers?

MS. HARF: I also didn’t say – I didn’t say Social Security numbers are SBU. Those are PII. It’s a different term, different thing. No, don’t roll your eyes at it, Brad. There’s – if you go into my email and I have to put a portion marking at the bottom, those are two separate portion markings.

QUESTION: Look —

MS. HARF: What I am going to commit to you is to see if there are more detailed FOIA standards that they – that we do these reviews under that we can share. There may not be, but I think that might be helpful to folks as you say, “What are you looking for in her emails”.

QUESTION: So general practice is you take out sensitive but unclassified information. Is that not correct?

MS. HARF: I don’t know. Let me check on that. Let me check.

QUESTION: But here’s the deal: You’re talking about scrubbing some information potentially, correct?

MS. HARF: Using the FOIA standards that would have been used if we had the emails at the time.

QUESTION: Using the FOIA standards. So —

MS. HARF: The same standards that would have been used no matter when we got the emails.

QUESTION: If you put out these documents in however many months or years or whatever, and you say this is the breadth of the information and you don’t say what has been scrubbed, there’s a problem with that —

MS. HARF: Well, why would we say what has been scrubbed if it was scrubbed for a legitimate reason?

QUESTION: What category?

MS. HARF: What – you want us when we release them to say what category?

QUESTION: You generally do. You pick the reason —

MS. HARF: Okay, I’ll let our team who’s doing the review know that —

QUESTION: No, listen, listen, listen.

MS. HARF: — and we’ll take that under consideration.

QUESTION: So to say – but to say today that you won’t say whether or not there’s any sensitive but unclassified info —

MS. HARF: I did not say that, Brad. I said I’m not going to prejudge the outcome of this review. What we will —

QUESTION: I think I just said the same thing. You won’t say whether or not you will do this.

MS. HARF: Right. I’m not going to say what we’re going to do in any way at the end of this.

QUESTION: But usually you have to explain your redactions. So if you do take something out, you would have to say why you took it out —

MS. HARF: I said —

QUESTION: — what type of information it is.

MS. HARF: I said we will use the FOIA standards. I can go see – Brad, look, I’ve never submitted a FOIA request. I don’t know what letter you get back and what it says about the documents. I’m sure many of you have and can speak to that. I am happy to go back to the FOIA office and see if there’s more to share about this process in general. But I’m not going to stand up here and say at the end of this process this is what we’re going to do. How would I know that? We haven’t even done the process yet. That seems wholly speculative, hypothetical, and not instructive.

QUESTION: It doesn’t – if you’re saying you’re applying the FOIA standards, usually there’s rules guiding what you take out and what you disclose about that.

MS. HARF: And I said I will check with the FOIA office to see what those are. I’m not just going to take your word for it.

QUESTION: It’s not a prejudge —

QUESTION: Marie, given that —

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: — Secretary – former Secretary Clinton is a presidential hopeful in 2016 —

MS. HARF: I will let you do that analysis.

QUESTION: Well, that’s what pundits are saying —

MS. HARF: One great part about this job is I worry about elections overseas, not at home.

QUESTION: They would probably not be this focused if it wasn’t the case. So —

MS. HARF: Do you think so, really?

QUESTION: Number two, does this Department feel under pressure in any way to be going through those emails and scrubbing, as Brad calls, sensitive – that would not ruin those – so is there any pressure that this Department is under?

MS. HARF: That’s why I wanted to say very clearly today that we’re going to use the FOIA standards, the same standards we would have used regardless of when we got these emails, regardless of who the official is. And there are career experts who do this; that’s what’s going to guide this process. I want to be very clear about that.

QUESTION: But if there are correspondence between secretary of state and her foreign counterparts, would you be consulting your foreign counterparts, foreign countries before releasing these emails?

MS. HARF: I don’t have anything to prejudge about how this review might unfold.

QUESTION: Does that include (inaudible) under the FOIA guidelines?

MS. HARF: I just said I will check on the FOIA guidelines. I’m going to go take a whole class on FOIA after this.

QUESTION: So Marie —

MS. HARF: Yes, Roz.

QUESTION: — to be very explicit to Lesley’s point, is this Department feeling any political pressure from the White House, from the Clinton camp, from any Clinton supporters to review and to remove information that could potentially be embarrassing to a possible Clinton campaign?

MS. HARF: No. No.

QUESTION: Just quick follow before I go to a new subject.

MS. HARF: Margaret’s trying desperately here, which I appreciate.

QUESTION: Just quick follow before I go to new subject.

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: As far as these emails are concerned, madam, these were on personal accounts by, you said —

MS. HARF: Account, one account (inaudible).

QUESTION: Right – several secretaries, of course, in the past also.

MS. HARF: Correct, yes.

QUESTION: So that means they were talking sensitive issues with foreign governments?

MS. HARF: I don’t know what’s in their emails. I haven’t seen them.

QUESTION: So you think they will also leak by the WikiLeaks and other leaks, part of that?

MS. HARF: I have no idea how you’re trying to bring these things all together and relate them to each other, but I don’t have much more for you than I think I’ve already said.

QUESTION: Let’s do a different topic.

QUESTION: Can we change —

MS. HARF: We can change the subject.

QUESTION: Can we go to South Korea? Do you have an update —

MS. HARF: We can, yes.

QUESTION: — on the current status —

MS. HARF: I would just like to point out that this is a very important story that I’m surprised it took us so long to get to. Yes, go ahead.

QUESTION: Yeah. Can you give us an update on the status of Ambassador Lippert?

MS. HARF: Yes. Ambassador Lippert is in stable condition in spite of the serious injuries that he sustained. He’s expected to stay in the hospital until Tuesday or Wednesday of next week. The ambassador is in good spirits but is likely to remain, as I said, in a hospital in Seoul for a couple of days.

As we said over the past few days, he underwent successful surgery in Seoul. I know the medical team there at Severance Hospital is giving periodic televised updates to the press gathered at the hospital, and I think weekend updates are scheduled for 9:00 A.M. on both Saturday and Sunday local time, just as you want to follow it over the weekend.

As we have said, he was at – in Seoul attending a breakfast lecture as the guest speaker. The attacker’s weapon was a knife. No others were reportedly injured in the attack. The President has spoken to Ambassador Lippert, as have other senior officials as well. President Park also spoke to him – excuse me – spoke to him as well.

QUESTION: And when can we expect Ambassador Lippert to return to duties?

MS. HARF: As soon as he can. As soon as he can. Of course, this – he is recovering. This was a pretty serious attack, but as soon as he can get back to the job.

QUESTION: And this – one more question —

MS. HARF: Okay, let’s do one at a time.

QUESTION: Yeah, this is —

QUESTION: Is this going to require any —

MS. HARF: Let’s – let me finish here, Roz, and then I’ll go to you.

QUESTION: This might be speculation, but do you have any insight as to what may be the possible motive for the attack?

MS. HARF: We don’t have any information on that yet. The assailant has been taken into custody, as we’ve seen, by the Korean Government. They are leading the investigation. Nothing to share on that at this point.

QUESTION: Marie —

QUESTION: Is he going to require any sort of plastic surgery? Eighty stitches is a lot.

MS. HARF: He did have 80 stitches. I’m probably not going to get into more details than that at this point.

QUESTION: Okay, but – okay, but —

QUESTION: Marie, you said that —

QUESTION: Eighty between his arm and his face? Sorry, 80 between his arm and his face?

MS. HARF: I can check if they were all in his —

QUESTION: Total, total.

MS. HARF: Total of 80, yes.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: Okay, I want to ask about his security.

MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: Yes, Ambassador Lippert was quite known for being very much out in the public, meeting, greeting, walking his dog. What was his security posture? Who was checking security at this event? There are reports that there was minimal security and that this man was able to basically walk up to the table and start slashing him.

MS. HARF: Yep, so let me – a couple of points. Within each diplomatic mission, the Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security conducts thorough threat analysis for each post, coordinates with the regional security officers, the embassy emergency action committees, and the host government. So they manage the post’s overall security program for the ambassador, of course working with the host country to do so.

A couple points on his security detail. So it’s – Diplomatic Security works with the host country in each post to determine what the security will look like. The ambassador had one full-time bodyguard assigned from the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency to the U.S. ambassador in Seoul. I would note that the U.S. ambassador is the only chief of mission in the Republic of Korea to have a Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency police officer assigned in official capacity. Given the Republic of Korea’s strict gun laws, police of

Minister Fast Holds Record-Breaking 'Go Global' Workshop in Laval to Boost Canadian Exports and Jobs

Supporting and partnering with small and medium-sized businesses to seize opportunities abroad is a key part of our pro-export, pro-jobs plan, says Minister Fast

February 27, 2015 – Laval, Quebec – Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada

The Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade, alongside Éric Tétrault, President of the Quebec chapter of Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, and Peter Hall, Vice-President and Chief Economist of Export Development Canada, today hosted an export workshop designed to provide small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with the tools and practical information they need to take advantage of international business opportunities to export.

Today’s export workshop in Laval, part of a cross-country series launched by Minister Fast in November 2014, was attended by more than 160 participants, making it the largest event so far. To date, 10 workshops have been hosted across Canada, attracting a total of more than 920 SME representatives. This “Go Global” workshop is the second held in Quebec, as the Honourable Maxime Bernier, Minister of State (Small Business and Tourism, and Agriculture), held one in Montréal in November 2014 on the margins of the Stratégies PME 2015 conference.

In November 2013, Minister Fast released Canada’s Global Markets Action Plan with the goal of doubling to 21,000 the number of Canadian SMEs exporting to emerging markets. In support of this goal, Minister Fast instructed Canada’s export agencies to enhance their coordination, closely align their activities and facilitate referrals in order to better serve and be responsive to the needs of SMEs.

By bringing together the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service, Export Development Canada, the Business Development Bank of Canada and the Canadian Commercial Corporation, these export workshops, delivered in partnership with Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, provide a one-stop shop offering information and tools to SMEs to help them succeed abroad.

As a result of the new trade agreement with the European Union and the entry into force of the Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement on January 1, 2015, Canadian businesses will soon benefit from preferential access to more than half of the entire global marketplace.

The next export workshop will be held in Oakville, Ontario, on March 4, 2015.

Quick Facts

  • One in five Canadian jobs is dependent on exports, representing 60 percent of the country’s economy.
  • There are more than one million SMEs across Canada, with 41,000 currently exporting.
  • Since 2006, the Harper government has concluded trade agreements with 38 countries, bringing the total to 43 countries.

Quotes

“Our government is committed to working shoulder to shoulder with Canadian small and medium-sized businesses in Laval and across the country to seize export opportunities and create jobs. Our efforts to support exporters are yielding significant results. I look forward to engaging with many more Canadian businesses across the country in the upcoming months.

“We are breaking down the silos between our export agencies, taking a whole-of-government approach to exporting and providing the tools, services and information that you and your businesses need to succeed.”

– Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade

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Contacts

Max Moncaster
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Ed Fast
Minister of International Trade
343-203-7332

Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada
343-203-7700
media@international.gc.ca
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Speeches: U.S. Economic Policy in East Asia and the Pacific

(As delivered)

Thank you very much. Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. Chairman Hasegawa, thank you so much for your generous introduction and for inviting me here today. It’s an honor to be with all of the membership of the Keizai Doyukai. I understand you’ve been early and strong supporters of the TPP – something I look forward to talking about in a little while.

I also want to recognize my colleagues from the United States administration, especially from the Embassy – our deputy chief of mission and also Ambassador Caroline Kennedy. Ambassador Kennedy, as I think all of you know, is a public servant cut from the same cloth as her father. His legacy of friendship with Japan lives on through her.

I have to tell you also it’s a pleasure to be back in Tokyo. I first came here – I believe it was in 1980 with my family, and I wanted to come here on my first trip as Deputy Secretary of State – and not just to have a drink at the Okura’s Orchid Bar before it’s too late. I wanted to come here to Japan because our alliance is the cornerstone of President Obama’s Asia-Pacific policy.

In fact, when I was moving from the White House to the State Department just a few weeks ago, and I was sitting with President Obama to ask him what he wanted me to focus on, he said Asia. And Secretary Kerry, when I got over to the State Department, I asked him the same question, and he gave me the same answer, and it’s simply a reflection of the importance that both the President and the Secretary attach to the region and to the Alliance with Japan.

There is a reason that President Obama made the strategic decision to rebalance America’s engagement and resources toward the region, and it’s very simple: Nowhere in the world are economic and strategic opportunities clearer or more compelling than in the Asia-Pacific. As Prime Minister Abe said last year, “Asia is a synonym for growth and another name for achievement.”

And that’s because of what the Asia-Pacific has done over the past 70 years, and what it has done is nothing short of a miracle, a miracle that stretches from the base of Mount Fuji to the emerald waters of the Coral Sea – millions out of poverty, some of the fastest growing economies on the planet, home to more than one-third of the world’s population, a growing percentage of whom are middle-class, and of course many dictatorships having given way to democracies.

That’s why the President has made seven visits to the Asia-Pacific including three separate visits to Japan. It’s why Secretary Kerry has traveled to the region nine times in just two years. It’s why Vice President Biden and almost every member of the President’s cabinet have traveled here as well – most of them more than once.

So what exactly is the United States doing to support and share in the growth, in the achievement, and the stability, prosperity, and peace that we see spreading throughout the Asia-Pacific?

We have this policy that we call the rebalance, and it has several pillars, each of which contributes in substantial ways to facilitating and supporting this region’s growth and economic dynamism. To start with, we’re redoubling our commitment to the region’s security, which is essential to its economic future. Because the plain fact is that conflict and trade do not mix. So we’ve enhanced and we’re modernizing our alliances, especially with Japan. Over the past few years, our two nations began revising our bilateral Defense Guidelines for the first time in more than two decades. This is part of a larger, transparent discussion about our collective self-defense. This review – along with Japan’s decision to relax some restrictions on defense equipment exports – will help make sure that the Alliance evolves to reflect both the shifting security environment and the growing capabilities of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces.

Elsewhere in the region, we strengthened our security alliances with South Korea, with the Philippines, with Australia, and we’ve reinforced partnerships with India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, and others. We’ve begun to conduct more joint training exercises – like the Keen Edge exercises we hold with Japan biannually. And we’ve sent more assets to the region, both diplomatic and military. And we’ve bolstered our trilateral cooperation with Japan and Australia, and with Japan and South Korea.

Strengthening our relationship with China is also part and parcel of the rebalance. We seek a relationship with China defined by practical and tangible cooperation on challenges that face both of our nations. The more we can work together, and be seen as working together, the more we can avoid the trap of inevitable rivalry.

I just came from Beijing where I met with a range of senior Chinese officials. And just in the last year – it’s been quite extraordinary – our cooperation has grown deeper and wider, from combating climate change, to facilitating travel between our people; from confidence-building measures between our militaries to working together to bring peace to South Sudan and to pursue a comprehensive agreement with Iran to ensure that its nuclear program is for exclusively peaceful purposes.

This year, we intend to build on this momentum of last year through ongoing, day-to-day bilateral discussions, our Strategic and Economic Dialogue, and the state visit of President Xi that he will make to Washington coming up in September.

But even as we deepen cooperation, we also deal forthrightly with our differences – and we will continue to do so. For example, we are firm in our stance on maritime security. Free commerce requires free waterways for ships to pass. It requires that the needs of business take precedence over squabbles over rocks and shoals.

We have made clear that the U.S. military would not abide by China’s unilateral declaration of an Air Defense Identification Zone in the East China Sea, including over the Senkaku Islands. And President Obama has clearly stated that the Senkaku Islands fall under Japan’s administration and under the mutual defense treaty with Japan and the United States. We don’t take a position on the various territorial claims of others, but we do take a strong position on how those claims are pursued. Any disagreement must be dealt with in accordance with international law, peacefully, with restraint, and avoid actions that unilaterally change the status quo. We have urged China and ASEAN to reach a code of conduct that will reduce the potential for conflict in the years to come.

The true question at the heart of these conflicts is who controls access to Asia’s abundant energy resources. The region depends, as you know, on sustainable, affordable, and reliable access to diverse energy supplies – which in turn rely upon the safe and reliable transport of oil and gas in maritime channels. Almost a third of global crude oil and over half of global LNG passes through the South China Sea, making it one of the most important trade routes in the world.

Uncertainty fueled by competing South China Sea claims affects energy security; it affects trade and commerce; it creates a more unpredictable investment environment. If we can peacefully end ongoing conflicts over rocks and reefs, then the Asia-Pacific region will be better able to attract investment. Cooperation is needed to fully prove and develop the billions of barrels of oil and hundreds of trillions of cubic feet of LNG that are estimated to reside under the sea. Developing these resources will bring jobs; it will bring growth and a more secure energy future to the region.

So enhancing security is one pillar of the President’s rebalance. Supporting regional institutions is another.

We know that strong regional institutions are essential to helping to lower tariffs, encourage cooperation, maintain stability, and resolve disputes. So that’s why we’ve remained a very strong supporter of ASEAN and its mission to promote smart energy, trade, and investment. It’s why we’ve taken an active role in APEC, an organization working to promote trade and investment liberalization, cut global carbon emissions, and expand economic opportunities for women. And it’s why we’ve worked hard to elevate the East Asia Summit to the premier forum for dealing with political and security issues throughout region.

Today, though, it is my honor to have the attention of so many of Japan’s business leaders, and so I’d like to focus the balance of my time on the third pillar of our rebalance strategy, and that of course is the economic pillar.

U.S. businesses, workers, farmers, and consumers have been a dependable foundation for growth in the Asia-Pacific for decades. I see it everywhere I travel. Trade with the United States fills bank accounts, store shelves, and ocean freighters – from the Port of Yokohama, to the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong, to the markets of Kuala Lumpur. We remain the single largest source of foreign direct investment in the region – U.S. investment stock here reached $622 billion a couple of years ago in 2012. We are also the most important market for Asian goods, exchanging well over $1 trillion dollars in trade with the continent each year.

But we’re not the only driver of growth in the Asia – far from it. Japan is fueling billions of dollars in trade with Thailand, South Korea and Hong Kong. Australia, which signed free-trade agreements with China, South Korea and Japan last year, is importing from Singapore and Japan. And of course China is exporting to Malaysia and Vietnam. Overall, trade among APEC nations reached $1.4 trillion this year and is outpacing world trade growth by a 40 percent margin.

As we look forward and deeper into 2015, the single most important step we can take together for our economic relationships is completing the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The state-of-the-art Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement – or as we call it, TPP – establishes high standards on labor, intellectual property, the environment, and it levels the playing field for businesses in all of our nations. It will unlock vast new markets. It will curb the role of state-owned enterprises as they compete with private companies. It will expand trade in a region that already represents one-third of all global exchange. And it will bring economic growth and jobs to all our shores. For example, economists predict it will add $100 billion to Japan’s GDP over the next decade.

Working together to create a rules-based regional trade architecture built on transparency and competition – this is an ambitious undertaking. But it is an achievable one. And it will change how we trade for decades to come.

This agreement is about more than the economic opportunities it unleashes, because the fact is, TPP is not just a technical trade agreement, it’s a strategic opportunity for the entire region.

The TPP serves both the United States and Japan’s strategic interests for three principal reasons:

First, it will cement the strong alliance framework and partnerships that ensure the Asia-Pacific’s security and prosperity. We’ve long had a security presence in the region, as I just discussed. The TPP is the vital next step. It will assure our allies and partners that our long-term commitment to the region reaches beyond security and into the economic realm. It will add another dimension to our strong and enduring presence in the Asia-Pacific.

Second, concluding the TPP, with over 40 percent of global GDP, will build a magnetic effect attracting non-members across the region to the benefits that it offers. It will spur them to make the necessary reforms like lowering tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade and investment. And in the end, it will lead them to enter the fold as liberal and open economies. Indeed, what we’re seeing is that a number of non-TPP countries like South Korea are expressing strong interest in joining. Even China is showing interest. We welcome new members – so long as they can meet the high standards that will be front-and-center in this agreement.

And there is a very important point there that I want to emphasize, and I want to be very clear with all of you about it. The TPP is not an attempt to isolate or contain China. Any nation that is willing to rise to the occasion and meet the high standards we have set for ourselves is welcome – China included. In fact, the world would be a better place if China made the changes and embraced the reforms that would make it an eligible candidate for TPP.

Finally, concluding the TPP is about defining the values that we want to see prevail in the Asia-Pacific – values like fair labor standards, environmental protection, and laws updating intellectual property rights. The standards enshrined within this agreement reflect our values and interests as nations committed to dynamic, just, and rules-based economic practices. The TPP offers economic stability in a turbulent world.

Ultimately, this agreement establishes a framework that enables countries throughout the region to grow together – in a way that will benefit us for generations to come. It will ensure that we focus not just on whether our economies grow, but how they grow.

So where does TPP stand today? We made lots of progress during the most recent negotiations in New York, and I was just discussing that with the chairman before we came out here. The contours of a final agreement are coming into focus. But the closer you get to the end of something as complicated and meaningful as TPP, you get to the toughest issues and the hardest choices. So we need all stakeholders in all sectors – including those of you in this room – to help make those choices and push TPP over the finish line. We need you to make the calls, convene the meetings, and remind officials of the economic and strategic benefits that this agreement will bring. With your help, we can complete this agreement and continue to bend the arc of the region in the direction of progress and prosperity.

There are enormous opportunities in the years ahead – that you know better than most anyone – to make headway on trade. And we have to seize them. But TPP alone is not a cure all. It’s not the only answer. Broad-based economic growth requires a thriving society. It requires that people have access to training and education. It requires the free flow of ideas and information. It requires the rule of law, the protection of intellectual property. And it requires that governments protect the universal human rights of their citizens.

This too is a pillar of our policy in the region, and it helps to uphold all the others. Promoting these values serves some very practical goals. When all people in society are unshackled – when they are free to think and act creatively and for themselves to question and criticize, to challenge conventional wisdom – that’s how you get innovation. That’s how you get entrepreneurship and the building blocks of a growing, self-sustaining economy.

These values empower citizens to demand a cleaner environment and safer products, to ask for high labor standards, to make their governments more accountable and less corrupt – all of which makes trade more free and fair and helps our companies compete.

That’s why in Burma we’ve been working to keep the government accountable to its people as Burma opens to the world. It’s why in Vietnam – 20 years after normalizing relations – we continue to work encourage reforms that will strengthen the rule of law and freedom of expression. And it’s why in Cambodia, we are supporting civil society and pluralistic politics while strengthening our relationship at the same time.

In the United States, entrepreneurship is almost written into our DNA. But we believe that businesses and governments alike can’t just invest in profits; we have to invest in all the tools that create prosperity, especially our human resources.

Think about this: If you asked people 50 or 100 years ago to define the wealth of a nation, they might talk about the size of its population, the expanse of its land mass, the strength of its military, the abundance of its natural resources. And all of those things still matter. And in the United States, we’re blessed with all of them. But in the 21st century, the true wealth of a nation lies in its human resources and in the ability of countries to maximize their potential, to let them be free and creative and innovative. That is the true wealth of a nation.

On top of the list, then, are the investments we have to make in our young people – the men and women who will be making our economic decisions in 10, 15 or 20 years down the road. And that’s something I know that all of you are well aware of. We are grateful for your efforts to expand student exchange programs between Japan and the United States.

And programs like the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative, or YSEALI, are also leading the way in these efforts. As we encourage students to come to the U.S. to learn about open markets and entrepreneurship, we send Americans to Asia as students, as Fulbright Scholars, as Peace Corps volunteers.

These programs empower young people to be the business leaders of the future. In Manila, I heard one YSAELI alumnus launched a program to help modernize the Philippines’ agricultural economy. In Cambodia, another graduate wrote a handbook to help students choose the right career path. And in Singapore, we brought graduates of our program together with American firms to help open markets, but also open minds.

I was in South Korea just a few days ago at the beginning of this trip. I met with college students and alumni from our International Visitor Leadership Program, and a few of them told me a little bit about their careers. Some of them were journalists. Some of them spoke passionately about their studies to become businesspeople, to become lawyers, to become engineers.

And then yesterday I sat with three remarkable young entrepreneurs on a train from Tientsin to Beijing, and they told me about the challenges and opportunities of launching start-up ventures in China.

Across the board, these young people are thinking big. They don’t just want an education; they want to be able to vote for their leaders. They don’t just want a big paycheck; they want to make sure everyone has the right to speak freely and that that right is respected at the same time.

I’ve had inspiring conversations with young people throughout the region, and every time I walk away with confidence that – if we can make the right choices today and take advantage of the economic opportunities that are staring us literally in the face – then the region’s future will be bright, and it will be in very good hands.

America’s engagement with the Asia-Pacific – economic and otherwise – is a testament to a simple fact: America too is a Pacific nation. Our commitment to this region has stood the test of time, the test of conflict, the test of Mother Nature. And one of the clearest indicators of this commitment is our long history of partnership and alliance with Japan, a partnership based not on a temporary alignment of interests, but on a permanent foundation of shared values, a partnership and alliance we look forward to reaffirming when Prime Minister Abe makes a state visit to the United States in April, a partnership that sets a powerful example for the rest of the world.

Seventy years after the end of a bloody war, our countries have never been closer. Your cities host the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet and 50,000 American troops – including the U.S. Marines on Okinawa. And across the Pacific, more than 1.3 million Japanese-Americans populate and energize cities from San Francisco to New York.

But these statistics tell only part of the story. Behind the numbers are businesses creating new technology, volunteers distributing emergency food aid in the Philippines after the typhoon, government agencies working hand-in-glove to combat climate change, battle violent extremism, and the scourge of Ebola.

The next chapter in this historic friendship will be about how we shape the Asia-Pacific economy for the 21st century and beyond. We have weathered the storms of war and conflict. We’ve transcended the differences that divided us. Now it’s up to us to take the next step and unite behind a shared economic vision.

I believe Japan, the United States, and the other economies in the Asia-Pacific region will continue to grow and prosper together. But it depends on wise leadership. And it depends on all of you, the business community, continuing to make and strengthen your connections with businesses and people across the Pacific. And it depends on our governments, seeing past short-term concerns to long-term opportunities.

Change is never easy, but we know what our shared future should look like. The task before us is to turn that vision into reality, to the benefit of this time and the benefit of generations to come. Thank you so very much.

QUESTION: Thank you for your inspiring speech. We have been very much encouraged by your confidence in TPP, especially I’ve been chairman of promoting TPP for the last four years, so I am really glad that this is going to be the time that we can probably celebrate by summertime. The next action, though, for us after TPP is the Japan-China-Korea trilateral, then going to the Rsep, so we really hope that the TPP will set the stage for the fundamental agreement going forward with China and East Asian countries. Having said all this, we, who just came back from Davos, a lot of discussion being talked about geo-political risk in East Asia, and the first thing you mentioned out of the three is also the regional security. So if you could mention a little bit about the geo-political risk in East Asia after you have visited Korea, China, and Japan – what will be the take-away after you visit, and also on a long-term basis, what we can do to keep peace over here.

QUESTION: I’d like to take the privilege of master of ceremonies and add one question related to the TPP. You said that TPP is nothing about isolating or excluding China, but on the other hand, how much do you think China is serious or ready to join TPP discussions?

DEPUTY SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you both and I want to thank you personally for your extraordinary leadership in working to advance TPP. It doesn’t happen without the kind of leadership that you, and indeed the members of this organization have made.

Let me start actually with the second question very quickly, because I just came from China. My sense is that there has been a real shift in China with regard to TPP from looking to reject and hoping in fact that it didn’t happen, to being quite curious and interested in it. And as I said a few minutes ago, we would welcome that. But like with any member, China would have to meet the high standards across the board that the TPP establishes. If that were to happen, it would be a very good thing for all of us, because those standards would continue to help China move in a positive and progressive direction. So ultimately, as with anything it’s going to be up to China more than anyone else. So we’ll see if it evolves in that direction, but once TPP gets done and you have 40 percent of the world’s GDP represented, I think that’s going to cause countries who are not in it to want to be in it. And then we have another agenda beyond TPP, and that of course is the so-called TTIP in Europe, and if you were to realize that and bring TPP and TTIP together, you would have about 75 percent of the world’s GDP represented, and again I think that will create a very powerful magnet for those countries not in either agreement to want to get in.

So geo-political risk: I’d actually start from the other way around. I see TPP as a fundamental way to lower geo-political risk, to create incentives for countries to trade together, to do business together, to work together, and to avoid conflict. That’s the power of it as a strategic proposition, not simply an economic one. But I also think that the work we’ve been doing in the region is designed precisely to lessen risk. Our presence in the region, our military presence in the region, has been a force for stability for decades. It’s allowed, I believe, some of the remarkable progress we’ve seen over the last 70 years. Similarly, the work we’re doing to try to build the institutions in the region – that too is a way to lower geo-political risk because it creates mechanisms and forums where countries can work through their differences and try and come to common solutions. That’s why we spend so much time on it.

And then the other element in this, of course, it the relationships between and among the different countries in the region, apart from the institutions, and there we’ve seen some positive developments in recent months. I think the progress that has been made in the relationship between Japan and China, including the meeting between Prime Minister Abe and President Xi at the end of last year, the commitment to work together on a number of issues – that’s encouraging. We’ve seen similarly a more positive relationship develop between South Korea and China. That’s also promising and important in terms of lowering risk. And as I said, our own relationship with China – we’re determined to build on the cooperation we’ve already established even as we address the differences. That too, I think, will lower geo-political risk.

So all of these things taken together, I think, can make a big difference. Now, there are clearly sources of significant instability. I believe the most significant source of instability in the region is North Korea and its reckless pursuit of a larger and larger nuclear program and the missiles to deliver those weapons around the world. And that’s why we’ve been trying to make common cause with Japan, with South Korea, with China, with Russia to convince North Korea that it needs to denuclearize. But I actually feel that the entire rebalance is starting to shift and lower geo-political risk, and that in turn is going to create an even more attractive place for investment and for trade.

QUESTION: My name is Hirano, MetLife Japan vice chairman. Can I ask one more TPP question? Or if it’s too much, I withdraw. OK. I heard lots of positive voices when I visited Washington last month, and I’m quite encouraged by your tone of speech – that’s quite encouraging. But we also know that there are many big impediments going forward. So my question is quite straightforward: What are the biggest remaining impediments for TPP to move forward? And to what extent can we be optimistic about the closing of negotiations? Thank you.

DEPUTY SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you very much. Well, since negotiations are ongoing at this very moment, the last thing I want to do is get in the middle of them. I trust our negotiators very much. In fact, when I first began in government 22 years ago in the Clinton administration, for about six months I shared an office with Ambassador Froman, our trade negotiator, so I’ve known him for a long time, and I know his dedication and commitment to getting this done. Let me just say this: In anything this complicated and this meaningful, the last mile or the last kilometer is the toughest. The hardest things remain at the end. But what I’m confident of is that with regard to the United States and Japan, both countries, both teams, are working through the remaining issues with determination, and I think in a very pragmatic way, and I’m convinced that there is a determination in particular from Prime Minister Abe and from President Obama to see this to conclusion in the coming weeks and months. So I never want to minimize the challenges of that last mile or last kilometer, but given the determination and good will on both sides, I’m feeling confident that we’ll get there.

QUESTION: (via interpreter) … About the Senkaku Islands and also about visiting Yasukuni Shrine where war criminals are enshrined.

DEPUTY SECRETARY BLINKEN: Again, with regard to the Senkakus, I think President Obama has been very clear. They are under Japanese administration and part of and covered by the U.S.-Japan security treaty. It’s as clear and simple as that. The only thing I would say with regard to the second part of the question is, I think that in many areas in many countries it’s important to be sensitive to history and to the sensitivities created by history, but what strikes me when I think about the countries in this region, and for example Japan and South Korea, to cite just one example, whatever the sensitivities of history, so much more unites countries than divides them. And those common interests and those shared values today, in the year 2015, are what we should focus on, what our leaders should focus on, and they are the foundation for the future that we are trying to build together. Thank you.

QUESTION: At the Keizai Doyukai, I am the chairman of the project team for empowerment of “Japan Hands.” Japan Hands means friends of Japan and experts on Japan. In your speech you mentioned about youth exchange and investment in the youth, which means the next generation is quite important, and I totally agree. And you referred to the high school exchange, but I would like to know if, under the implementation of TPP, how we can encourage the next generation of professional level or high-level exchange between Japan and the United States. Thank you.

DEPUTY SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you very much. To me, actually, nothing is more important than exchange – at every level. High school students, college students, professionals, science, technology, business – this is what knits our countries together more than anything else. This is the foundation that we are building the next generation of the relationship on. And I see this every day. As I mentioned, when I was in South Korea and then in China, I met with some of the people who had been involved in our exchange programs. And as an American, I have to tell you it’s profoundly powerful because young people will go to the United States on these programs and come back with a totally different picture of the United States, a totally different understanding than they had before. And usually it’s positive. And they share it with their families, with their friends. And this is how you build a relationship. And similarly, we have Americans coming to Japan, and they come home, and they’re able to explain Japan, to share it with their friends and with their families, and that builds the relationship. So I believe deeply in these programs, and even if I didn’t, I wouldn’t have a choice because my wife is responsible for these programs at the State Department. She’s the Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs. She runs the Fulbright program. She runs all of the exchange programs. So even if I didn’t believe it, she’d make me. But as it happens, I think nothing is more important. Ambassador Kennedy is very focused on strengthening, expanding, building these programs, and I have to tell you, maybe the No. 1 supporter and cheerleader for these programs is President Obama. He himself benefitted from exchange programs in his youth. He knows the power that they bring. I applaud you for all that you are doing and your support for these programs. Thank you.

QUESTION: I am Tabata, former board member of the International Monetary Fund representing the Japanese government. My question is the relation between the military rebalancing that you mentioned a couple of times and the security of East Asia. A couple of day ago, President Obama asked the U.S. Congress to approve the use of ground forces for the war against terrorism and so on, which means that the former original part of the rebalancing of military forces left from the Middle East and to be concentrated on Asia and so forth. But actually, if military force will be used for the war against terrorism in the Middle East or the Islamic State, then some emptiness will happen in East Asia. But as you know, last year China’s military expenditures exceeded $100 billion U.S. dollars, which is 8 percent of the world’s military expenditures. So taking account of this situation, you mentioned about practical and precise situations are important for the security of East Asia. So my question is for instance to restore Subic Base in the Philippines – you were thinking about that – at the same time, how do you think about restoring and utilizing Cam Ranh Bay in Vietnam? These are very practical strategies and so forth. I would like to ask your comment about this.

DEPUTY SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you. Let me be very clear, because I don’t want there to be any misunderstanding, and the President has been extremely clear about this – we will not be sending tens of thousands of troops back to Iraq or to Syria or anyplace else in the region for that matter. The President, as you know – and if you look at the National Security Strategy that we just published last week – we’re focused on moving away from having tens of thousands of American troops in one place locked in for years or even more. What we’re trying to do is to build the capacity of others to deal with the challenges that they face, and so in Iraq, the small number of forces that we have there are trying to help the Iraqis, to train them, to advise them so that they can deal in the first instance with the problems posed and the challenges posed by ISIL. So we are not going to be sending tens of thousands of troops back to Iraq. What the President asked for the other day was really a matter that’s very important – to demonstrate that the executive branch, the White House, and Congress are united in the way we’re going to deal with the threat posed by ISIL. And so he wanted to have Congress on record in this authorization supporting what we’re doing together to deal with this threat. And that’s what that’s about. It is not to authorize tens of thousands of ground forces in Iraq – that is not going to happen. What we’re looking at is a small number of trainers, some advisers, and indeed that’s what we have on the ground in Iraq now. So I just want to be very clear about that.

And then again, with regard to this region, I think what you’re seeing across the board is countries working together to develop their capacity. For example, the United States, Japan, South Korea, and others are working with countries from the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia for example to develop their maritime capacity. This is very beneficial in doing exactly what we discussed in response to the first question, which is lowering strategic risk, lowering tensions, creating an environment of stability. So we have a very active program working with countries throughout the region in those areas, and I think we’re already seeing the benefits of that. But the rebalance itself is balanced, with a security component, with an economic component, with an institutional component, with a bilateral component, and increasingly as well with people-to-people exchanges that are another foundation of what we’re doing. So you have to look at the balance within the rebalance to see its strength.

Thank you.

East Asia and the Pacific: Extraordinary Meeting of the Friends of the Lower Mekong

On February 2, Counselor Tom Shannon and Senior Advisor to the Secretary Ambassador David Thorne led a U.S. delegation to the Extraordinary Meeting of the Friends of the Lower Mekong in Pakse, Laos. The Friends of the Lower Mekong, a donor coordination group, came together with the countries of the Lower Mekong to discuss the connection between water resources, energy needs and food security. Accompanying Counselor Shannon and Ambassador Thorne were representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Energy.

The health of the Mekong River is essential to the economic growth and sustainable development of the region. In Cambodia, the Mekong supports the rich biodiversity of a watershed that provides more than 60% of the protein intake for the entire country. The river irrigates the “rice bowl” in Vietnam, where more than half of the nation’s rice production is concentrated in the provinces that make up the Mekong delta. In Laos, Thailand, and Burma, the Mekong is an important artery for transportation, a water source for aquaculture and agriculture, and a generator of electricity.

Meeting participants discussed the challenges of ensuring a future in which economic growth does not come at the expense of clean air, clean water and healthy ecosystems. The meeting brought together senior officials from Laos, Burma, Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam alongside representatives from the United States, the Mekong River Commission, the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank, the European Union, and the governments of Australia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, and Sweden.

At the meeting, the U.S. delegation announced several new initiatives, including the launch of USAID’s Sustainable Mekong Energy Initiative (SMEI). Through the SMEI, the United Stateswill promote the use of alternative energy and low-emission technologies. The delegation also announced that the Department of State will organize and send a Sustainable Energy Business Delegation to the region later this year.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that it will provide technical assistance on hydropower management. In conjunction, Counselor Shannon and Ambassador Thorne announced that the State Department will contribute $500,000 in support of a Mekong River study on the impacts of hydropower on the community and environment.

The Friends of the Lower Mekong will also work together to strengthen the capacity of Lower Mekong countries to more effectively implement social and environmental safeguards such as environmental impact assessments and strategic environmental analyses. The U.S. government, Asian Development Bank, World Bank, Japanese International Cooperation Agency and the Government of Australia plan to jointly develop a Regional Impact Assessment Training Center at the Asian Institute of Technology Center in Vietnam.

Under the auspices of the Lower Mekong Initiative the United States is continuing successful projects like Smart Infrastructure for the Mekong (SIM) to provide technical assistance to the region on land and water use management, renewable energy, and infrastructure development. $1.5 million will be spent on SIM projects in the Mekong region this year.

Canada Ends 2014 with Double-Digit Export Growth and Trade Surplus

For the first time, Canada’s two-way trade surpassed $1 trillion, at nearly $1.1 trillion

February 5, 2015 – Ottawa, Ontario – Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada

International Trade Minister Ed Fast today issued the following statement on Statistics Canada’s release of preliminary 2014 merchandise trade data:

“The significant export growth seen in today’s report, reaching double digits, at 10.3 percent, is good news for all Canadians.

“Following the worst global economic recession since the Great Depression, our low tax, balanced budget and pro-export plan is delivering positive results. While the global economy remains fragile and uncertain, Canada recorded a trade surplus of $5.2 billion for 2014.

“Economic and financial security, creating and protecting jobs—including in the export sector, and lower taxes for hard-working Canadians and their families, these are the priorities of the Harper government.

“2014 was the most successful year for trade in Canadian history, with the conclusion of the historic Canada-European Union trade agreement and the landmark Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement. These accomplishments provide world-class Canadian products with preferential access to more than half of the world’s economy, laying the foundation for future export growth, while protecting and creating jobs.

“In 2015, under Canada’s Global Markets Action Plan [GMAP], our government will continue to deliver the support and tools to help our Canadian businesses, especially our small and medium-sized enterprises [SMEs], reach their full export potential. Since their launch last November, I have held seven Go Global export workshops, which were attended by more than 500 SME representatives, and I will host more than 20 in the upcoming months to continue to boost exports and ensure that businesses seize the opportunities created by Canada’s trade agreements.

Quick Facts

  • Canadian exports to the world jumped more than 10 percent compared to 2013, reaching almost $529 billion in 2014.
  • Canada has recorded a trade surplus of $5.2 billion, compared to a deficit of $7.2 billion last year.
  • Canada’s exports to the United States reached more than $400 billion in 2014, an 11.6-percent growth.
  • In 2014, exports to the European Union grew by 14.6 percent.

Associated Links

Contacts

Max Moncaster
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Ed Fast
Minister of International Trade
343-203-7332

Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada
343-203-7700
media@international.gc.ca
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Press Briefing by Press Secretary Josh Earnest, 1/6/2015

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release

January 06, 2015

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

1:07 P.M. EST
 
MR. EARNEST:  Good afternoon, everybody.  Glad at least some of you were able to navigate the snowfall this morning and make it to work.  One quick announcement before we get started with questions.  Some of you asked about the President meeting with members of Congress.  I can tell you that the White House has invited the top four leaders from each party and from each chamber of Commerce — each chamber of Congress —
 
Q    Commerce, too?  (Laughter.) 
 
MR. EARNEST:  — Congress — to participate in a meeting early next week at the White House.  I believe it’s slated for Tuesday.  So this is the same group of members of Congress the President had lunch with here a couple days after the midterm elections.  So this will be an opportunity for them to talk about a range of issues, most importantly, the legislative agenda for 2015 as well as a couple of foreign policy issues as well. 
 
So I’m confident we’ll have an opportunity to talk about how that discussion goes after it has taken place. 
 
With that, Julie, let’s get started with questions.
 
Q    Thanks, Josh.  To start, can you be any more specific about the President’s priorities for that meeting both in terms of the legislative agenda and what he’s going to be talking about on foreign policy?
 
MR. EARNEST:  As a general matter, I can tell you that what the President is looking forward to talking about is some of the ideas that he’ll be talking about this week, frankly, as it relates to policies we can put in place that will benefit middle-class families.  The President believes that the best way to grow our economy is by growing the middle class, so some of those policies will be on the agenda for some discussion. 
 
We’ve already talked previously about some of the areas of common ground that we think are certainly possible to be found in the context of this Congress.  That would include tax reform, opening up overseas markets for American businesses, and even the need to modernize our infrastructure — that these are areas where the President has long talked about the benefits it would have in the American economy to make progress in these areas, and Republicans have indicated an interest in pursuing them as well. So that would be part of it as well.
 
On the foreign policy front, it’s just an opportunity for the President to update members of Congress based on their own areas of interest.  So there won’t be anything specific that he’ll be bringing to the agenda, but it’s an opportunity for him to update them on a number of foreign policy issues since they last met about a month ago.
 
Q    Okay.  Obviously you know that Republicans have expressed frustration over the last couple of years about their level of contact with the President.  I’m wondering if the White House has given any thought or come up with any strategy for what the President’s outreach to Mitch McConnell and John Boehner is going to be like now that Republicans control Congress.  Are there going to be monthly meetings, weekly phone calls?  Is there anything that’s going to be sort of structurally in place to keep the President and Republican leaders in contact?
 
MR. EARNEST:  Well, I don’t anticipate that there will be anything structured like that, but I would anticipate that the President will be in regular touch with members of Congress.  And of course, if there are members of Congress that want to — particularly leaders in Congress who want to have a conversation with the President, then they’re welcome to call here as well.
 
Q    Does he feel like he needs to be in more contact, particularly with McConnell, than he has been in the past?
 
MR. EARNEST:  Well, Mitch McConnell obviously has a different job now than he used to have and I think that that probably would necessitate more frequent conversations with the President of the United States.  But, look, the President does recognize that there’s an opportunity for Democrats and Republicans to work together, and the key to doing that is not the frequency of conversations but more the willingness from people on both sides to try to find common ground and not allow disagreements over one issue to become an obstacle to making any sort of agreement on any issue.
 
So that’s the spirit that the President will bring to that meeting.  I think there are some indications that at least some of the Republicans who attend that meeting will bring that spirit as well, and we look forward to doing what we can to try and foster more of that spirit in the New Year. 
 
Q    I’d like to ask about some comments that the French President made about the situation between Russia and Ukraine.  He said in an interview that Western nations should stop threatening Russia with new sanctions and that Russia’s position vis-à-vis Ukraine is misunderstood.  Given that the President has put such a premium on coordinating with Europe as it relates to Russia, does he agree with what President Hollande said?
 
MR. EARNEST:  Julie, I have not seen the interview that President Hollande gave, but let me just say as a general matter, I don’t think that there’s a lot of daylight between the position that President Hollande articulated and what the President here has said.  What the President has said is that as soon as Russia starts living up to the commitments that they made in Minsk to deescalate the situation in Ukraine the President stood ready to work with the international community to roll back some of the sanctions regime that has been put in place so far. 
 
You’ll recall that there was a piece of legislation that was passed by the United States Congress at the end of last year related to sanctions, and the President made pretty clear even as he signed that legislation that he did not believe that there currently was a need to add additional sanctions.  But it certainly is true that —
 
Q    He didn’t say that — he said he didn’t feel like he should add them through congressional legislation, but he would want to coordinate with Europe.  So does he feel like right now there is not a need to threaten any additional sanctions against Russia?
 
MR. EARNEST:  Well, I think what he feels the need to do — and something that I have done on a number of occasions — is make clear to the Russians and to everybody else that the longer that the Russians refuse to abide by the commitments that they’ve already made, the more risk they face from additional sanctions. I don’t know of any impending plan to add to that sanctions regime right now, but certainly the risk only increases as long as Russia continues to essentially ignore the important commitments that they’ve made to try to deescalate the situation in eastern Ukraine; that there are basic things that Russia can do to live up to those commitments, including ending the support, particularly the military support that the Russian military has offered to the separatists in eastern Ukraine, and to acknowledge and abide by generally accepted norms about the territorial integrity of independent countries on their border.
 
Steve.
 
Q    Two years ago, Josh, the President was reelected and took over and launched a bit of a charm offensive aimed at wooing members of Congress, and I don’t sense that you’re going to do anything like that this time —
 
MR. EARNEST:  It worked great, didn’t it?  Is that what you’re suggesting?
 
Q    Well, no.  Should we see this as the beginning of a charm offensive next Tuesday?
 
MR. EARNEST:  No.  I think what you should see this as is a clear piece of evidence from this President that he wants to try to find common ground with Republicans to make progress for the American people.  Now that there is Republican leadership of both houses of Congress and a Democrat in charge at the White House we’re going to have to try to compromise and try to find common ground in order to move this country forward.  And the President is determined to do that.  And we’re going to have disagreements over a wide range of issues, but we can’t allow those other disagreements to become an obstacle to trying to find some common ground.
 
Q    Now, you and the President have been fairly downbeat on the Keystone pipeline.  Republicans are moving ahead with their legislation.  Have you taken a fresh look at this?
 
MR. EARNEST:  Well, not really.  I mean, the fact is this piece of legislation is not altogether different than legislation that was introduced in the last Congress, and you’ll recall that we put out a statement of administration position indicating that the President would have vetoed had that bill passed the previous Congress.  And I can confirm for you that if this bill passes this Congress the President wouldn’t sign it either.
 
And that’s because there’s already a well-established process in place to consider whether or not infrastructure projects like this are in the best interest of the country; that in previous administrations when pipeline projects like this were considered they were evaluated by the State Department and other experts in the administration to reach a determination about whether or not that project was in the national interest. 
 
Now, the thing that is impeding a final conclusion about this pipeline is the fact that the pipeline route has not even been finalized yet, that there continues to be an outstanding question about the route of the pipeline through one part of Nebraska, and that’s related to an ongoing legal matter in Nebraska.  Once that is resolved, that should speed the completion of the evaluation of that project.
 
Q    Would you consider putting Keystone in some sort of overall legislative package where you give some things, you get some things in return?
 
MR. EARNEST:  Well, I mean, that’s — I haven’t heard any Republicans float that as a possible measure so I think I’d withhold judgment on that.  But I think the President has been pretty clear that he does not think that circumventing a well-established process for evaluating these projects is the right thing for Congress to do.
 
Q    Last thing — the President just now said he’d like to bring up human rights in Cuba in the Summit of the Americas that is coming up.  How would he do this?  Would he meet directly with President Castro?
 
MR. EARNEST:  Well, I don’t have any meetings like that to discuss at this point, but there certainly would be an opportunity for the President to speak publicly at that summit, and with so many world leaders from the Western Hemisphere gathered in one place it obviously would be a pretty high-profile venue for the President to step forward and raise his concerns about human rights in Cuba.
 
I think one of the important things about this policy announcement that we made here at the White House three weeks or so ago is that for so long when we have attended previous Summits of the Americas the focus has been on the U.S. policy toward Cuba, that many other countries in the Western Hemisphere thought that this was counterproductive and would spend a lot of time urging the United States to change our policy toward Cuba.
 
Now that that policy change has been enacted, we anticipate that there will be greater focus on encouraging the Cuban government to change their policy toward their own people and start respecting basic human rights and releasing political prisoners and doing the kinds of things that reflect the will and ambition of the Cuban people.  And that I think is an important consequence of the kind of policy change that the President made, and I do think that that will be on display at the Summit of the Americas later this year.
 
Michelle.
 
Q    On that same subject, it’s been suggested that — by some Republicans now that maybe the President should not have these high-level talks with Cuba until all those political prisoners, the 53, are released.  And you took a question yesterday as to the status of those.  So do you have a clearer answer on how many exactly have been released, what the status is?  And is that something you would consider, not having high-level talks until they’re released?
 
MR. EARNEST:  Well, we have not made any sort of commitment to have high-level talks at this point.  But I can tell you, as it relates to — with the Cuban political leadership, what I can tell you is that the government of Cuba did make a decision to release a number of political prisoners, and that was announced in a speech that Raul Castro delivered on December 17th. 
 
It’s always important to get political prisoners released, and so we welcome the step that he announced and want to see the Cuban government actually follow through on that commitment.  They’ve already released some of the prisoners, and we’d like to see this commitment completed in the near future.  I’ll remind you that this is a commitment that the Cuban government made to release political prisoners not just to the United States but also to the Vatican.
 
The other thing that I will say is we’re not in a position to talk about specific numbers, and the reason for that is simply that we’ve been careful about talking about the number of prisoners and who they are because we don’t want to put an even bigger target on their back as political dissidents.  So we want to make sure that they’re released, and this was a decision that was made by the sovereign Cuban government to do so.  They’re not doing us a favor, but they did make a commitment, like I said, to the United States and to the Vatican to do so.  And we anticipate and would hope that they will follow through on that commitment and do so in the very near future.
 
Q    Is it something that the administration would consider doing, though, kind of a quid pro quo?  I mean, not doing this unless they release the — or unless they live up to any of their commitments that they’ve made?
 
MR. EARNEST:  Well, the expectation right now is that they’ve already made this commitment and we expect them to live up to it.  I don’t think we’re going to be looking to do them any additional favors to live up to commitments they’ve already made. That’s something that they should do.
 
Now, of course, in other settings when we’re dealing with other countries where we have concerns, the idea — the prospect of the leader of a country getting a one-on-one meeting with the President of the United States can in some situations be used as a carrot.  They appreciate the opportunity to sit down with the President in a high-profile setting and have a direct exchange of views with the leader of the free world.  I wouldn’t speculate about whether or not that’s the way that the Castro regime would consider an invitation like this, but it certainly has been viewed that way by other world leaders.
 
But as it relates to the commitment that the Castro regime has already made to release political prisoners, we anticipate that they — and hope that they will follow through on that commitment.  After all, that is a commitment that they made not just to the United States but to the Vatican.
 
Q    Are you looking forward to any compromises or working together with this Congress on the issue of Cuba?  I mean, already it looks like there might be great difficulty in getting an ambassador confirmed.
 
MR. EARNEST:  Well, we would welcome the opportunity to cooperate with Democrats and Republicans on our Cuba policy.  But I guess that will sort of be up to Democrats and Republicans in Congress to decide whether or not they want to cooperate with us.
 
Q    And then really quickly on Keystone.  You just said that the President would veto this bill, yes?
 
MR. EARNEST:  I would not anticipate that the President will sign this piece of legislation.  We promised — we indicated that the President would veto similar legislation that was being considered by the previous Congress, and our position on this hasn’t changed.  Again, there’s a well-established process that should not be undermined by legislation.
 
Q    For a long time, though, you said — as recently as yesterday — that you’re not ready to issue a veto threat.  So what has changed from yesterday to today?  I mean, why are you saying this now?
 
MR. EARNEST:  Well, the text of this legislation was made public since the last time I discussed this.
 
Richard.
 
Q    Thank you, Josh.  I just want to go back to Julie’s question on Russia, France and Ukraine.  It feels that there is more daylight than you seem to see or not see between the positions.
 
MR. EARNEST:  Well, you’ve seen the interview; I haven’t seen the entire thing.  But go ahead.
 
Q    Yes, I understand.  But he talks about his willingness to lift the sanctions as soon as there is some progress in the discussions, in the January 15 discussions.  I just want to see if — it sounds to me that the unity has been shaken within the group of countries that have imposed sanctions.  Do we have the wrong perception that more and more countries, especially in Europe, considering the impact on their economy — Italy and Hungary — that they are less enthusiastic with the idea of maintaining the sanctions than the U.S.?
 
MR. EARNEST:  I mean, again, you’ve read the interview more closely than I have.  I wasn’t even aware that it had been conducted.  But let me just say as a general matter, I think that the success of the sanctions regime that has been put in place has depended on the unity — or unanimity of opinion among the coalition to put in place the sanctions regime; that the United States putting in place unilateral sanctions against Russia would not have the same kind of impact on the Russian economy that this more integrated set of sanctions would have, simply because the economy of Europe and Russia is more deeply integrated than the economy between the United States — the economies of the United States and Russia.  So the success of this strategy depends on maintaining some unity. 
 
And we have spent a lot of time over the last few months talking about what impact this sanctions regime has had on the Russian economy and the bite of those sanctions will only worsen as time goes on.  That’s why there’s such a clear incentive for President Putin to change his behavior.  And we hope that he’ll avail himself of that opportunity to live up to the commitments that he has made previously to deescalate the situation in Ukraine.  I haven’t seen any indication — again, I haven’t seen the interview, but I do believe that that continues to be the prevailing view of those who are working closely with the United States in this endeavor.
 
That doesn’t downplay that there are some sacrifices that are being made by countries in Europe, including France and Hungary and others, who do have an important economic relationship with Russia.  There’s no doubt that they’re making some sacrifices.  In some ways, I think that illustrates how committed those countries are to the strategy that the President has laid out, the fact that they are willing to make a substantial sacrifice to stand up for this critically important international norm of respecting the basic territorial integrity of other countries.
 
Q    But it sounds like they’re not ready to continue making the sacrifice.  Has the President been making some phone calls or trying to tighten this unity or unanimity?
 
MR. EARNEST:  I’m not aware of any presidential-level phone calls that have been made in the last few days at least that have been specifically focused on this topic.
 
Q    I just want — because I’ve read about that, is the White House fine-tuning a new working relationship with Russia?
 
MR. EARNEST:  I’ve seen those — I saw those reports over the holidays, too.  Obviously, the relationship that we have with Russia is something that we’ve talked a lot about in here, particularly over the last year.  It’s a complicated one because we do have this significant disagreement about the way that Russia has conducted themselves, if you will, in Ukraine.  They have violated a basic international norm.  They’ve violated the territorial integrity of an independent nation that’s on their border.  And that’s something that the United States has strong concerns about.  We obviously see the situation very differently than they as it relates to Ukraine. 
 
There are, however, other important national security issues where the United States and Russia have found some more common ground.  For example, Russia has been an important participant in the P5-plus-1 talks with Iran.  That has been beneficial to that broader process.
 
We talked last year about the role that Russia had to play in destroying the declared chemical weapons stockpile of the Assad regime.  That was an important step because it reduced or essentially eliminated the proliferation risk from that declared chemical weapons stockpile, that we could essentially destroy those chemical weapons and ensure that terrorists would not be able to get their hands on them and use them in other places.  So that’s where the United States and Russia worked closely together for the benefit of not just the Russian people and the American people, but people all around the world.
 
There has also been close and ongoing Russian-America cooperation as it relates to the space program.  Right now there are Americans and Russians that are orbiting inside the International Space Station together.  So that reflects I think, again, an ability to cooperate on very complicated issues in a way that benefits both countries substantially. 
 
And we’re going to continue to make sure that we are making clear the concerns that we have with some aspects of Russia’s behavior while also trying to work with them constructively to advance our national security interests and to make the world a little safer, like we did when we destroyed the declared chemical weapons stockpile of the Assad regime.
 
Q    Would you call it a new relationship?
 
MR. EARNEST:  No, I wouldn’t.  I would say that it’s — I guess as I’ve said a couple times now, I would describe it as complicated.
 
Mara.
 
Q    Could you just clarify the veto threat about Keystone? You will veto the House version of this legislation that — as you understand it, correct?
 
MR. EARNEST:  Well, it’s my understanding that the House and Senate bill are identical.
 
Q    Okay.
 
MR. EARNEST:  Is that not right?
 
Q    Well, that’s what I wanted to —
 
MR. EARNEST:  I was — I’m under the impression that it is, that they are the same.
 
Q    So you’re issuing a veto threat to Keystone legislation coming out of Congress?  Is that — okay.  And then I have a question about the President’s travels this week, just if you could describe kind of what he’s doing in these states, what he wants to accomplish.  But also specifically about the visit to Tennessee, is he going to make a proposal that would make community college virtually tuition-free?
 
MR. EARNEST:  Well, let me just speak more generally about this week.  The President is looking forward to the opportunity to traveling over the course of the next three days to talk about the American economy.  We have seen the American economy build up some more momentum, particularly in the second half of last year, and that’s due to a wide range of forces.
 
Some of that is due to very difficult policy decisions that this President made early in 2009 in the earliest days of his presidency.  He had to make some pretty politically unpopular decisions to rescue the American economy.  And the result has been not just that we staved off a second Great Depression but we’ve actually laid the groundwork for a stronger recovery that’s actually the envy of the entire world. 
 
And one of the things that the President will talk about tomorrow is to highlight one of those politically unpopular decisions at the time that has really paid off in spades for the American people and for American workers, and that was the decision that the President made to rescue the American auto industry.  The American auto industry is as strong as ever.  That’s thanks mostly to the very hard work and skill of the more than one million Americans that work in the American auto industry, but it would not have been possible without this administration stepping in and making the kinds of important decisions that have saved that industry, laid the groundwork for them to come back stronger than ever, but also revitalize the manufacturing industry inside the United States.
 
So the President is very pleased with the way that that came out, and that will certainly be something the President will be highlighting tomorrow.  He’ll also spend a little time talking about how important continued investments in the manufacturing sector, particularly when it comes to advanced manufacturing, are for our economy and for our workforce.
 
When the President travels to Phoenix, he will spend a little time talking about how the policies that this administration has put in place have benefitted American homeowners, middle-class homeowners.  This has been a sector of the economy that has not recovered as quickly as the manufacturing sector, but we’ve seen important gains in the second half of last year and the President wants to build on those gains and see if there is more that we can do to try to help responsible middle-class homeowners who, again, are trying to do the right thing.  So we’ll have more to say there on Thursday. 
 
Then on Friday, the President does look forward to the opportunity to visit a community college in Knoxville, Tennessee, where he’ll talk about a range of ideas that he has for making sure that we have the kind of workforce that we need in this country to continue to remain the strongest, most vibrant economy in the world, but also do it in a way that’s good for middle-class families and making sure that American workers have the skills they need to find the middle-class jobs of the future.
 
So I don’t have a lot of details I’m prepared to reveal at this point about some of the ideas the President will discuss.
 
Q    So nothing about — because Tennessee is about to do that, is about to have a project that would make community college virtually tuition-free.  He’s not going to talk about that?
 
MR. EARNEST:  Tennessee is a place where they have been focused on making sure that they have a workforce that’s very well equipped to compete for good-paying jobs.  And I guess I would point out that Tennessee has a Republican governor, they’re represented in the United States Senate by two Republican senators, so investing in the American workforce and making sure that we have a skilled workforce and making sure that middle-class families get the training and education that they need to compete for middle-class jobs, that shouldn’t be a partisan issue.  And the President will have a lot more to say, and I anticipate that he’ll speak more eloquently about this than I was just able to.
 
Major.
 
Q    Just on the auto bailout, you would concede that President Bush set it in motion and the President expanded it?
 
MR. EARNEST:  Well, I would concede that what President Bush did was he made what was also a very politically difficult decision to forestall their death.  He gave them some key infusions of cash that prevented them from going under before President Obama took office.  Yes, that is certainly true.
 
However, there were very important and difficult policy decisions that this administration made to essentially send a couple of those companies into bankruptcy and to help them make the kinds of tough decisions that are required and are paying off in spades.
 
Q    — entry-level wages, et cetera.
 
MR. EARNEST:  Yes.  So certainly, President Bush, if you will, prevented them from suffering a terrible death, but it’s under President Obama that these companies have experienced a new and vibrant life.
 
Q    Talking about other legislative matters — not Keystone but that do have some bipartisan support and may come to the President’s desk.  There’s an effort in the House and Senate to, under the Affordable Care Act, replace a 40-hour work week as opposed to a 30-hour work week to avoid the mandate for businesses with fewer than 50 employees.  What is the administration’s position on that fine-tuning of that aspect of the Affordable Care Act?
 
MR. EARNEST:  Well, my understanding — I actually think this is something that Republicans have talked about before and something that we’ve been pretty critical of in the past. 
 
It is the view of this administration that this would actually — that this proposed change would actually do a lot of harm not just to the Affordable Care Act but also to a substantial number of workers across the country.  Ironically, at least a couple of conservative thinkers happen to agree that we’re right — that Mr. Levin, who writes for the National Review, has said that this seems likely to be worse than doing nothing — this Republican proposal.  Now, the irony here is that this is somebody who I assume is not exactly an enthusiastic advocate of the Affordable Care Act, but yet he is suggesting that the proposed Republican change is even worse than the Affordable Care Act.  I assume there’s no worse criticism that could be leveled by one Republican toward another than to say that something is worse than the Affordable Care Act, but yet that is the criticism that has been lodged at this Republican proposal.
 
Q    What does the administration believe is the policy error of this approach?  What would it make worse?
 
MR. EARNEST:  Well, the issue is essentially that we would be putting even more workers in a situation where we could see some employers cutting back on their hours to try to avoid the requirement of providing them quality health insurance.  That’s what many responsible business owners and the majority of responsible business owners across the country already do, but there are some who are looking for loopholes where they can try to avoid taking that responsibility, and we certainly don’t believe that we should make that easier.  That’s not good for the Affordable Care Act; it’s not good for these workers.  That’s a position that’s long been articulated by this White House and it’s also a position that’s articulated by a number of leading conservative thinkers.
 
Q    And is it the administration’s point of view that this really isn’t a problem, that there is that sort of anecdotal sense that it’s a problem that employers are officially keeping hours down but, in fact, that’s not what’s happening?
 
MR. EARNEST:  Well, I think it’s something that I think is hard to quantify and hard to generalize about.  I certainly wouldn’t quibble with the individual experience that somebody cites, but I think it’s sometimes hard to make — see inside the mind of an employer and to determine why they’re making different staffing decisions.  What’s clear is that the temptation that some employers might have would only be sweetened significantly if this Republican change were to be put into place.
 
Q    Let me ask about the protests that are going on in Lafayette Square.  I don’t know if you can hear them, but there’s a decent-size crowd wanting to bring attention to the deaths of 43 students in Mexico, and the perception that many have — and there’s an investigative trail that suggests either government complicity or government indifference to the investigation itself.  Richard Trumka, the President of the AFL-CIO, sent the President a letter today describing this crime as part of the systematic violence, corruption, and dissolution of the rule of law in all of Mexico, indicating that the AFL-CIO believes there is a human rights crisis in Mexico in addition to a labor rights crisis.  This is a friend to the administration.  It’s pretty stinging criticism.  What is the President and the administration’s take on the state of criminal justice and human rights and labor rights in Mexico, and to what degree is that factoring into the conversations today?
 
MR. EARNEST:  Well, Major, I can tell you that as a — we have previously expressed our concern about this horrific crime that was committed in terms of the disappearance and apparent killing of 43 students in Mexico.  That is something that we have expressed some concern about.  I know that this is something — that this matter generally is something that the President discussed with President Peña Nieto during their meeting today.  They’re still meeting so I assume it could come up again.
 
The thing that’s important, though, is that we want to see the President of Mexico, President Peña Nieto, live up to our view — and a view that I think that both countries share — about the importance of the rule of law, and that peace and justice are ultimately necessary to fully achieve inclusive economic growth.  So there’s a clear incentive for both sides to live up to those kinds of values.
 
Q    This is a very live topic in Mexico as to whether or not this investigation itself is even credible, has met any basic standards of credibility or transparency.  What does the administration think about that?
 
MR. EARNEST:  Well, the investigation is still ongoing and there have been some — there have been concerns that have been raised; we’ve noted them.  There also have been some arrests that have been made, and President Peña Nieto has previously expressed what he believes is the priority that should be placed on human rights and on the rule of law.  And the President stands with him as he tries to put in place the important reforms that are necessary to try to address the situation.  But it’s clear that the work on this continues.
 
Q    Would you agree that the human rights situation is deteriorating, as Richard Trumka says and many human rights activists allege?
 
MR. EARNEST:  Well, I don’t know that I would be willing to make that judgment from here.  I think what I would say is that President Obama and President Peña Nieto share a point of view about the importance of the rule of law, and they share a point of view that peace and justice are ultimately necessary for inclusive economic growth.  And so there is a clear incentive for governments around the world, including in Mexico, to pursue policies in that vein, and it is clear that there is more that needs to be done in Mexico to ensure that those values are being upheld.
 
Ed.
 
Q    Josh, I wanted to go back to the Phoenix agenda.  You didn’t mention the President going to the VA hospital there.  Is he not going to visit the VA hospital in Phoenix that was the source of so much controversy and possible death?
 
MR. EARNEST:  I haven’t seen the President’s full schedule yet but I don’t believe at this point that that’s something he’s planning to do.
 
Q    Why not?  I mean, this is the first time he’s had a chance to be in Phoenix.  He talked from that podium and many other podiums about how important it is to send a signal to America’s veterans that he is taking care of them.
 
MR. EARNEST:  Well, Ed, the thing that I can tell you is that when the President appointed an Acting Secretary of the VA, Sloan Gibson, to that responsibility in the aftermath of some of these revelations, Mr. Gibson’s first visit as the Acting Secretary of the VA was to that Phoenix facility.  I can tell you that once the President put in place — nominated a permanent Secretary of the VA, Mr. McDonald, to that job, that his first trip as VA Secretary was down to Phoenix.  And there have been some important personnel changes that have been made at that facility there.  There have been substantial operational reforms in place that are ensuring that the needs of the veterans in Phoenix are being better met by the medical facility there.
 
So we’re pleased with the pace of reforms that have been put in place.  It is clear that there is more that needs to be done not just in Phoenix but at medical facilities all across the country.  We’ve made a covenant with our veterans, and this President is determined to make sure that we uphold it.
 
Q    On Keystone, I guess I want to drill down a little bit on what Mara was saying before.  When you answered Mara I think you were saying — specifically referred to the House bill.  I just want to make sure — this veto threat, is the door open to supporting — I mean, I know you can’t comment on every possibility, every variation, but is it only a veto threat on the House version, or pretty much the President is saying, you put something on my desk on Keystone I’m vetoing it?
 
MR. EARNEST:  Well, let me say a couple things about that.  The first thing is I am under the impression that both the House version and the Senate version are the same.  So essentially the veto threat would apply to both. 
 
The second thing is there’s an important principle at stake here, and I think that’s what I would try to articulate in answering your question, which is there is a well-established process for evaluating projects — transportation infrastructure projects like this that go across international borders, and that these kinds of projects in the past and even in previous administrations have been evaluated by the State Department and other relevant government agencies to determine whether or not the completion of these infrastructure projects is in the clear best interest of the United States.  We believe that is the right way for determining the future of the Keystone pipeline.
 
Now, the thing that has inhibited the evaluation of that project is the fact that the root of that pipeline hasn’t been completed, that there still is a disagreement in Nebraska about what the proper route through that state should be.  So it would be premature to try to evaluate the project before something as basic as the route of the pipeline has been established.
 
Q    I understand the state aspect.  But on the State Department piece of this and cross-border — as you know, the State Department has been studying this two, three years.  I understand it’s a serious issue, it needs careful study.  How many years are you going to study the project before you say yay or nay?
 
MR. EARNEST:  Well, we’re going to make sure that we know what the route of the pipeline is before we render judgment about whether or not it should be completed.
 
Q    You have an idea of the pipeline.  I understand the exact — maps have been drawn.  I mean, this has been, again, studied two, three, four years. 
 
MR. EARNEST:  Well, and that’s because the route of the pipeline has changed a number of times because of legal proceedings in Nebraska. 
 
So, look, Ed, this has been something that has been simmering for a little while here, and the administration has done a lot of work on this.  I think that is how you can tell that whatever decision is eventually reached by the administration will be one that reflects the kind of careful reflection and investigation that’s been conducted already. 
 
But again, we’re not going to render judgment on the pipeline project until the pipeline project has been — until a final project has been put forward.
 
Q    More big picture.  You were talking yesterday at the podium about cooperation and trying to work with Republicans and this meeting next Tuesday.  Not concerned at all about — day one of the new Congress, you’ve been sitting on this veto threat — well, we don’t know yet.  Day one, we’ll veto this bill.  Doesn’t that send an odd signal for cooperation?
 
MR. EARNEST:  I guess, Ed, to pick up on your metaphor about pipelines, I guess that spirit of good feelings flows both ways, between Congress and Capitol Hill.  Congressional Republicans are well aware of the position of this administration, which is that we believe clearly that this administrative process is the one that should determine this — the viability of this project.  And that is a long-held view.  It is a view that we clearly expressed in the previous Congress.  And so I guess, based on the construction of your question, maybe it raises questions about the willingness of Republicans to actually cooperate with this administration when you consider that the very first bill that’s introduced in the United States Senate is one that Republicans know the President opposes.
 
Q    He can sign it or veto it, and he’s saying veto, though.
 
MR. EARNEST:  Yes, that’s true.
 
Q    Okay.  On health care, just the last thing you were talking to Major about — on another aspect of health care.  Long story in The New York Times saying that large segments of the faculty at Harvard University, where the President went to Harvard Law School, of course — is sort of up in arms about the fact that the professors are going to have to bear a larger share of their own health care costs under the President’s new law.  These are some of the same professors who were advisors to the President’s first campaign in 2008, advocated the Affordable Care Act, and they basically said this is a great deal for America.  But now when they have to pay more, they’re up in arms about it. Isn’t that a little bit hypocritical that some of the President’s supporters at Harvard are saying, this is a great deal for America, but when I’ve got to pay more it’s terrible, it’s awful.
 
MR. EARNEST:  I can only imagine the question you’d be asking me if The New York Times reported that the faculty at Harvard was getting a great deal.
 
Q    Well, this is the fact, though — and Harvard also put out a statement, by the way, saying, the trend — they’re doing this because the trend of rising health care costs, including some driven by health care reform itself — yesterday when we talked about this you said — and there are stats backing up that health care costs are coming down in some respects, but Harvard is citing that the law itself is raising health care costs.  Isn’t that the opposite of what the White House says?
 
MR. EARNEST:  Well, I haven’t seen exactly what Harvard has said, but I do think as a general matter, the results that we’ve seen so far — they’re early, but the early results speak to the enormous benefits that the Affordable Care Act has paid to middle-class families across the country, to small business owners, to the government’s bottom line, and to the success that we’ve had in lowering health care cost, or at least slowing the growth of health care costs for people all across the country. 
 
Q    Is the President disappointed that professors at his alma mater just don’t see those benefits?
 
MR. EARNEST:  Well, let’s be clear.  There are some important benefits that they do see under the Affordable Care Act, that there are a number of patient protections that will apply to everybody.  So everybody who is on the Harvard faculty can get a free annual checkup from their doctor.  And again, that’s thanks to the Affordable Care Act.  Nobody at Harvard who has a preexisting condition can ever be discriminated against again because of that preexisting condition.  And every Harvard professor that has an old child can keep that child on their quality Harvard insurance up to age 26.  And those are the kinds of patient protections that don’t just benefit those at the bottom of the income scale, they actually benefit everybody, including the esteemed academics at Harvard University.
 
Jon.
 
Q    Steve asked you earlier about whether the President was going to engage in a new charm offensive with Republicans in Congress, and you said no.  Why not?  It’s a new world now.  They’re now in charge.  A little charm may be called for.
 
MR. EARNEST:  Well, there’s been talk about a bourbon summit.  I don’t know if you can charm people over bourbon, but maybe we’ll try.  (Laughter.)  I think the point —
 
Q    What is the status on that bourbon summit?  That was November 5th I think we talked about that.
 
MR. EARNEST:  Yes, I don’t know if that’s been scheduled, but I’m confident that the President and the new Majority Leader will follow through on that promise.
 
What I’ll say about it is this:  We’re focused a little less on sort of the charm and more on the substance.  There should be an opportunity for us to try to find common ground.  And it’s not the frequency of telephone calls or the pleasantries that are exchanged at the beginning, but actually the willingness from people in both parties to try to come together around common ground.
 
And look, we’re going to disagree — whether it’s the Keystone pipeline or the Affordable Care Act, many of those differences have been well chronicled and those aren’t going to change.  I’m not trying to paper over them, but there should be an opportunity for us to try to find some common ground.
 
And we’ve had this discussion a little bit before — in some cases, it will involve — Cheryl and I talked about this a little bit yesterday — in some cases, that will involve compromise; we’ll have to give a little, people on the other side will have to give a little.  But there may be just some places where we can say, hey, we both agree that we can invest in infrastructure.  Let’s pursue that idea.  That’s something that we — we don’t have to compromise around that.  That’s something we both agree on.
 
Now, we may have to compromise on things like the pay-fors or the priorities.  But that is something where Republicans can advance their priorities and Democrats can advance their priorities because these are priorities that they believe should exist for the whole country.  So that doesn’t require any charm. That just requires a willingness on both sides to try to meet in the middle, to try to find some common ground and compromise and move the country forward.
 
Q    So why — right out of the gate here, the new Congress coming in, the President’s leaving town, going and talking about his plan when it comes to mortgages, touting the auto bailout, doing some education.  None of those are on the top issues that you’ve talked about where there is common ground with Republicans.  Why aren’t you out there talking tax reform, trade, infrastructure right out of the box?  Seems like you’re starting from a point of confrontation, not necessarily cooperation?  You mentioned the veto threat, obviously.
 
MR. EARNEST:  Yes, well, I think there will be an opportunity for us to talk about some of those issues, as well.  I don’t know if it will be in the context of this trip, but certainly we may have an opportunity to do that.
 
The last time the President — I guess it wasn’t the last time the President traveled to Detroit, but on one of his previous visits, the President traveled to Detroit to talk about the Korea free-trade agreement that was completed under this President.  And we took the then South Korean President along, and I remember that he donned a Detroit Tigers baseball cap.  So I think that’s a pretty good illustration of the President’s commitment to those issues.
 
But, look, there will be an opportunity for us to talk about a bunch of things that Republicans agree — that Democrats and Republicans can agree on.  And I’m confident that that will come up in the President’s remarks that he delivers over the course of this week.  And I’m confident — I’m even more confident it will come up in the meeting the President intends to have with Democratic and Republican leaders here at the White House next week. 
 
There will be ample opportunity for us to talk about those things.  And again, we’ll do that because the President senses an opportunity to make some progress in priorities that the President has identified.  And there is some overlap between the priorities that the President has identified and the priorities that Republicans say that they believe in.  So we look forward to trying to stake out that common ground and move forward.
 
Q    And can I just get you to react to something that happened while you were standing up there but you probably knew it was going on?
 
MR. EARNEST:  Okay.
 
Q    The House was in the process of electing a Speaker of the House.
 
MR. EARNEST:  That’s what I hear.
 
Q    It looks like over two dozen Republicans failed to support John Boehner for Speaker, many of those not supporting him because they think that he has not been confrontational enough in dealing with the President.  I wonder if you have any reaction.
 
MR. EARNEST:  Yes.  Well, it’s my understanding that it would require substantially more than two dozen defections to prevent —
 
Q    Not substantially more.  It’s pretty close.  (Laughter.)
 
MR. EARNEST:  Well, I’m not an expert on these things.  But it sounds to me that you may have buried the lead here.  I’m not a journalist the way that you are, but it sounds like he’s been reelected as Speaker of the House.  And if that’s the case, then he certainly deserves and has the congratulations of everybody here at the White House.  That’s a substantial achievement.
 
The President’s differences with Speaker Boehner on a wide range of issues that we’ve been talking about today are not new. I know that the Speaker does not share the President’s view when it comes to the Affordable Care Act, that they disagree over the Keystone pipeline.  I know that that’s something that Speaker Boehner — that legislation is something that Speaker Boehner supports.  But there is no doubt that there are going to be strong differences of opinion between the President and the Speaker, as there have been over the course of the last four years.  What the President is determined to do, however, is to move past those disagreements and try to find some areas of common ground.  And we’re hopeful that Speaker Boehner will be willing to do the same.
 
Mike.
 
Q    Somewhat related to the meeting today with the President of Mexico — would the U.S. be open to allowing exports of crude oil to Mexico as the U.S. now does with Canada?  And did this come up in the meeting between President Nieto and President Obama?
 
MR. EARNEST:  My understanding, Mike, is that there has actually been no change in our policy on crude oil exports.  There was this decision that was announced by the administration during the holidays to provide additional clarity about how it will implement longstanding rules related to crude exports.  But our policy as it relates to crude oil exports have not changed.
 
Q    — be open to giving Mexico the same permission you give to Canada on that?
 
MR. EARNEST:  Well, I was just going to say that as it relates to the specific policy that we have with Mexico, I’d have to take the question to see whether or not there is any sort of policy change being contemplated there.
 
Q    And did this come up in the meetings, do you know?
 
MR. EARNEST:  Not that I’m aware of.  But if we can get you a more detailed readout, we’ll let you know.
 
Q    And one other thing.  People familiar say that the President will, later today, announce that Allan Landon, the former CEO of the Bank of Hawaii, is going to be nominated to the Federal Reserve Board.  One, is this correct?  And two, since the only thing I know about Mr. Landon is that he is the former CEO of Bank of Hawaii, where Obama was born —
 
MR. EARNEST:  Yes.  (Laughter.) 
 
Q    — and is a law lecturer at the University of Hawaii, does the President know him personally or is he acquainted with him?  Just since he’s from his native state, obvious question.
 
MR. EARNEST:  Well, it’s a clever question, too.  I’ll say that I don’t have any personal announcements to make from here.  But —
 
Q    Is he personally acquainted with Mr. Landon regardless of what might be —
 
MR. EARNEST:  I don’t know whether or not the President has a relationship with the gentleman that you’ve mentioned, but we’ll see if we can get you some more information about that.
 
Peter.
 
Q    Josh, free-trade agreements with places like Colombia have been held up over issues of human rights.  Is it time for the U.S. to reconsider aid to Mexico conditioned to or based on human rights?
 
MR. EARNEST:  I have not heard anybody discuss that from our side principally because many of those concerns that were registered with those governments had to do with the view of the administration that the leaders of those countries were insufficiently committed to the rule of law and to respect for basic human rights.
 
And while we certainly believe that there is more work that needs to be done in Mexico — and this terrible crime that was committed against these 43 Mexican students I think is indicative of that — we do, however, believe that there is some — that there is a view that’s shared between President Obama and President Peña Nieto about the importance of the rule of law and respect for basic human rights.  So I have not heard anybody discuss using that as an option.
 
Q    What assistance, or what more assistance perhaps, is the U.S. specifically providing right now in the effort to try to track down the perpetrators behind these 43 —
 
MR. EARNEST:  Well, I can tell you that this is something that the President — that they did discuss in the meeting, that they discussed this issue.  And the United States has supported the efforts of the federal government in Mexico to conduct this investigation and to learn more about what exactly happened.  I’m not aware if any new offers were made or any specific requests were made in the context of the meeting.  But if so, we’ll try to get you that information.
 
Q    Gay marriage is beginning in Florida at midnight, effective today.  Thirty-six states in the country and the District of Colombia now allow for same-sex marriage.  Is it time that we get rid of this sort of patchwork situation right now and move forward with a law of the land on gay marriage?
 
MR. EARNEST:  Well, let me start by saying that the President certainly — the President’s views on this are well known and the President is certainly pleased to see that Florida is taking a step in the direction of freedom and liberty and allowing these marriages to take place.
 
But the President has also said that he does not at this point enthusiastically support a national law.  But at this point, as you said, Florida is, what, the 36th or 37th state to take this step, and that’s — the 36th state.  And that’s an indication that we’re moving in the right direction.  And the President is certainly pleased about that.
 
Q    The Department of Homeland Security — obviously, the next funding battle of sorts will be whether or not — the funding they receive effective February 27th right now.  Are there contingency plans or anything being done by this administration protectively in case that funding does not go through?
 
MR. EARNEST:  Not that I’m aware of, but you should check with the Department of Homeland Security and they can provide you with — they may be able to provide you at least some more information about what sort of contingencies they’re working on.
I know that we have seen expressions from Republican leaders in both the House and the Senate indicating that they don’t want to get to a place where we’re shutting down the Department of Homeland Security.
 
Q    How big a deal would that be, though?  How significant is that sort of threshold?
 
MR. EARNEST:  Well, I’m not steeped in all of the budgetary details to give you a very precise estimate of the impact.  I know that during the last government shutdown that we experienced a little over a year ago that many Department of Homeland Security employees were considered essential government employees, which meant that they came to work anyway even though they weren’t getting paychecks right away.  So I don’t know what any tangible impact would be beyond basically withholding paychecks from a large number of individuals who show up at work every day trying to keep America safer.  So I don’t think that’s really an outcome that all that many people support.  So we continue to be optimistic that by working together, we’ll be able to head off that eventuality.
 
Byron.
 
Q    Thanks, Josh.  The language you used on the Keystone issue — you said that the President would not sign it.  If I remember civics correctly, that’s different from a veto.  Are we correct in reporting this as a veto threat?
 
MR. EARNEST:  Yes.
 
Q    And second, is the threat to veto an objection to the project itself?  Or is it an objection to Congress getting involved in the State Department process?
 
MR. EARNEST:  That’s a good question.  I tried to answer that, but let me see if I can clarify that.  I’ll just put a finer point on it.  The concern that we have right now is principally on the idea that this piece of legislation would undermine what has traditionally been and is a well-established administrative process to determine whether or not this project is in the national interest.  And that review process is underway.
 
You heard in the news conference that the President did at the end of the year, the President did make clear that he was a little skeptical of the claims that were made by some of the most enthusiastic advocates of the pipeline’s construction, about the impact it would have on energy prices or on job creation.  But the fact is a complete evaluation of that project can’t be completed until this legal dispute about the route of the pipeline has been settled and we know what the final route of the pipeline actually looks like.
 
So I guess what I would say is I’m going to withhold, and the administration would withhold, broader judgment on the project itself, although you could note our skepticism about some of the claims made by the most enthusiastic advocates of the pipeline and note that our principal objection right now to this legislation moving forward is that it undermines a well-established process that has succeeded so many times in the past, including in previous administrations, to ensure that we are carefully and properly evaluating whether or not a particular infrastructure project is actually in the interest of the United States of America.
 
Q    Wait, can you clarify that?  You say you’re skeptical of the claims of the advocates?  Are you skeptical of some of the claims of the opponents?  Because there have been some pretty extreme claims on both sides.
 
MR. EARNEST:  I think in the past, the President has expressed some skepticism about those, too.
 
Justin.
 
Q    The President — I just want to put a finer point on the 30-hour, 40-hour work week. 
 
MR. EARNEST:  Okay.
 
Q    I know that you’ve explained why you guys oppose it, but would you veto that legislation as well?
 
MR. EARNEST:  We would, yes.
 
Q    Okay.  I wanted to ask also, then, about the Regulatory Accountability Act, which is another piece of legislation you guys have previously said you’d recommend that the President veto.  It’s the one that requires cost-benefit analysis of all regulations.  That’s kind of the third of these Republican bills that they plan to bring up early at Congress.  Would you guys veto that legislation?
 
MR. EARNEST:  I haven’t actually been updated on that piece of legislation and how carefully it tracks with the previous offerings on this, so I’d withhold judgment on that for n