Tagged: UNSecretaryGeneral

Ban marks International Day by stressing need for concrete action to pursue human rights

24 March 2015 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today recalled, on the 35th anniversary of the assassination of Archbishop Óscar Arnulfo Romero of El Salvador, that the United Nations has over the past year supported commissions of inquiry on the Central African Republic, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Eritrea, the recent conflict in Gaza and Syria to further the icon’s work to see that truth prevails.

“The best way to honour Monsignor Romero’s legacy of fighting for human rights and human dignity is by taking concrete action to fulfil the right to truth and other fundamental human rights in our time,” Mr. Ban said in a message marking the International Day for the Right to the Truth concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims.

The Day, observed on 24 March, was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly five years ago to honour in particular the Roman Catholic priest’s work and values as a human rights defender.

“Earlier this year, I had the honour of paying my respects at the gravesite of Monsignor Óscar Arnulfo Romero, who was murdered in El Salvador on this day in 1980,” Mr. Ban said. “Monsignor Romero was an icon for human rights and social justice.”

After witnessing numerous violations of human rights, Monsignor Romero began to speak out on behalf of the poor and the victims of repression. On 24 March 1980, an assassin fired from the door of the chapel where Romero, then Archbishop of San Salvador, was celebrating mass and shot him dead.

“The right to the truth – which is both an individual and collective right – is essential for victims but also for society at large,” Mr. Ban said. “Uncovering the truth of human rights violations of the past can help prevent human rights abuses in the future.”

“That is why,” he said, “the United Nations supports fact-finding missions, commissions of inquiry, and truth commissions to uncover the truth about gross violations of human rights and serious violations of international humanitarian law.”

The UN works to promote justice, propose reparations, and recommend reforms of abusive institutions.

In addition to the numerous commissions of inquiry supported by the UN, the world body is also providing advice and assistance to a number of transitional justice processes, including in Cote d’Ivoire and Tunisia, the Secretary-General noted.

“I once again call for the full implementation of recommendations of commissions of inquiry and truth commissions,” he said.

He went on to say: “On this vital day, let us together pledge to help victims, their families and societies realize their right to truth and protect all who strive to see the truth prevail.”

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.

New Data on Food Waste

A new study shows that reducing consumer food waste could save the global economy up to $300 billion annually by 2030.  “Globally, the food wasted by consumers is worth $400 billion a year, and this could jump to $600 billion in the next decade, as the profligate middle class expands in developing countries, the group said. Cutting the amount of food consumers discard by between 20 and 50 percent could save between $120 and $300 billion yearly by 2030, said the report for the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, an international group chaired by former Mexican President Felipe Calderon.”  (TRF http://yhoo.it/17BwGaW)

ISIS Gets Worse…”In their latest onslaught, Islamic State militants have carried out a relentless campaign in Iraq and Syria this week against what have historically been religiously and ethnically diverse areas with traces of civilizations dating to ancient Mesopotamia.  The latest to face the militants’ onslaught are the Assyrians of northeastern Syria, one of the world’s oldest Christian communities, some of whom speak a modern version of Aramaic, the language of Jesus.” (Dallas Morning News http://bit.ly/1ETPkpx)

Africa

Eighteen people were killed when a suicide bomber blew himself up at a crowded bus station in northeast Nigeria on Thursday, while a second bomber was shot dead before he could detonate his explosives, witnesses told AFP. http://yhoo.it/1BBNXhR

Fearful villagers have been fleeing their homes in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo as the army pursues Rwandan Hutu rebels in a new offensive, a resident said on Thursday  (AFP http://yhoo.it/1FyWQpN)

Ghana’s President John Dramani Mahama on Thursday promised decisive action to fix the country’s worsening electricity crisis, which has wreaked havoc in the once bourgeoning economy. (AFP http://yhoo.it/17BwGI1)

The head of the Nigerian Army has visited soldiers in the northeastern town of Baga, telling troops that the conflict against Boko Haram will soon be over. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1LKKrRI)

The World Bank is working with other development finance institutions to raise some $500 million to modernize weather and flood forecasting services in Africa. (TRF http://yhoo.it/1BBN217)

Rwandan President Paul Kagame arrives in Paris Friday, his spokeswoman said, but for a UN meeting and is not expected to meet French officials while in the country, which he accuses of complicity in the 1994 genocide. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1LKKtt5)

The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor travelled to Uganda on Thursday following the arrest of a top commander of the brutal Lord’s Resistance Army rebels. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1BBNSe3)

Any further delays to Nigeria’s election would be unacceptable and the opposition will take the government to court if the election commission chief is forced out, presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari said on Thursday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1FyX0gS)

MENA

The Obama administration’s commitment to take in potentially thousands of Syrian refugees is raising national security concerns among law enforcement officials and some congressional Republicans who fear clandestine radicals could slip into the country among the displaced. (AP http://yhoo.it/1BBLFzx)

How much is a vote worth? In Egypt’s Sadat City – a sprawling, industrial center filled with the young and unemployed – it costs the same as it did under Hosni Mubarak: blankets, sacks of fertilizer and affordable healthcare. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1LKJ2uy)

The number of Christians abducted by the Islamic State group in northeastern Syria has risen to 220 in the past three days, as militants round up more hostages from a chain of villages along a strategic river, activists said Thursday. (AP http://yhoo.it/1LKKoFG)

Yemen’s Shiite rebel leader lashed out at Saudi Arabia on Thursday, accusing it of seeking to split the country following his group’s power grab, as a U.N. envoy met the embattled Yemeni president who has fled the capital, Sanaa. (AP http://yhoo.it/17BvMeC)

The head of UNESCO says she is “deeply shocked” at footage showing Islamic State group militants using sledgehammers to destroy Iraqi artifacts, and she has asked the U.N. Security Council president for an emergency meeting on the protection of Iraq’s cultural heritage. (AP http://yhoo.it/17BwIPW)

Asia

Thailand’s parliament voted overwhelmingly on Thursday in favor of a bill that restricts political demonstrations, something critics fear will be used to smother dissent after martial law is lifted. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1BBLELK)

North Korea has told rival South Korea that it plans to unilaterally raise the minimum wage for North Koreans employed by southern companies at a jointly run industrial park starting in March, officials said Thursday. (AP http://yhoo.it/1BBLN1Y)

Almost every Pakistani citizen has a cellphone, but from now on, Big Brother is checking to make sure their name, number and fingerprints are on record. The measures are meant to tighten control of cellphones and avert their use for militant attacks after the Taliban massacre two months ago at a school in Peshawar. (AP http://yhoo.it/1BBLIv3)

The Americas

Former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan arrives in Cuba on Thursday to help prod negotiators from the Colombian government and leftist guerrillas to clinch a peace agreement. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1AwUtUH)

Chinese state-owned banks loaned $22.1 billion to Latin American countries last year, helping to keep afloat struggling economies that have been hit hard by a fall in prices for oil, minerals and other commodities that they export, according to new numbers released Thursday by the U.S. think tank the Inter-American Dialogue. (AP http://yhoo.it/1BBN7Sv)

About 10,000 people marched in Haiti’s capital Wednesday to protest what they say is chronic mistreatment of their countrymen in the neighboring Dominican Republic, where many Haitians have long lived in the shadows. (AP http://yhoo.it/1LKIK73)

Just two days ahead of a second round of talks on restoring diplomatic ties frozen for five decades, Cuba and the United States staked out competing demands to ensure progress. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1BBLy6Z)

The jubilation that greeted the announcement of U.S.-Cuban detente two months ago has faded to resignation for many Cubans who are realizing they’re at the start of a long process unlikely to ease their daily struggles anytime soon. (AP http://yhoo.it/1BBLAMf)

The full-page ad in Mexico’s national newspapers was unusual, if not unprecedented: 20 powerful business groups and think tanks publicly scolding the government for not doing its job. (AP http://yhoo.it/1BBLC6O)

Spain says it plans to deport 34 top members of violent Latin American street gangs operating in the Spanish capital. (AP http://yhoo.it/1BBMW9M)

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is backing efforts by South American nations to re-launch a dialogue between Venezuela’s government and opposition following new reports of violence. (AP http://yhoo.it/17BwGrt)

Argentina

A federal judge on Thursday dismissed allegations that Argentine President Cristina Fernandez tried to cover-up the involvement of Iranian officials in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish center, easing a crisis for her government fed by the death of the prosecutor who brought the case. (AP http://yhoo.it/1FyWY8G)

Argentina’s congress passed a law Thursday creating a new intelligence service after the mysterious death of a prosecutor who had accused the president of a cover-up in his probe of a 1994 bombing targeting Jews. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1LKKCfX)

Argentina named the president’s chief of staff, Anibal Fernandez, as the new Cabinet chief on Thursday in a reshuffle that comes as the government faces a political crisis. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1FyWUpv)

…and the rest

Despite stern talk and solemn pledges from NATO, a British-based think tank says some alliance member nations are cutting their spending on defense. (AP http://yhoo.it/1LKKygk)

Opinion/Blogs

Global Dispatches Podcast: What We Know About What We Don’t Know About Development (UN Dispatch http://bit.ly/17BCvFf)

The complex story of India’s job-producing and environment-destroying coal mines (Humanosphere http://bit.ly/1DvnWye)

Five myths about governance and development (World Bank http://bit.ly/1LNx7OD)

Roundup of Recent Writing on the Humanitarian Fallout from Boko Haram (Sahel Blog http://bit.ly/1BCbrUe)

Vulnerable families bear the brunt of Norway’s crackdown on asylum seekers (Guardian http://bit.ly/1BCbRKl)

My Friend Died Last Week – Tax Could Have Saved His Life (From Poverty to Powerhttp://bit.ly/1LNxMPP)

The poverty alert (Economist http://econ.st/1DvnLmM)

Discussion

comments…

At regional conference, Ban spotlights role of United States, its youth in UN’s success

20 February 2015 – The United States and its young people, in particular, are essential to the success of the United Nations, Secretary General Ban Ki Moon said today in his remarks to the UN Association of the United States of America (UNA-USA) Members Day gathering at Headquarters.

“I am asking you, particularly young people, to have a global vision. Just forget that you are American citizens. Living in New York or California…This is a very small world. [People elsewhere] are our brothers and sisters and fathers and mothers, so we have to live together,” Mr. Ban told participants at the UN 7th Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference.

The Secretary-General thanked the organization for its advocacy in helping reach young people and promote support for the UN in the US. As it stands now, the US is the largest single donor country to the UN – 20-27 per cent of all the Organization’s financial requirements come from US taxpayers.

In his remarks, Mr. Ban recalled growing up in Korea as a little boy. “Tens of thousands of American young men and women came to Korea to rescue us, as a part of the United Nations collective security. Without the US and without the United Nations, all Koreans or even the Republic of Korea might not have been able to exist…I owe a great deal – I am one of the greatest beneficiaries of the United Nations.”

Now, the UN is building refugee tents, providing food, water sanitation, and make-shift schools. And although this year marks 70 years since the UN’s creation and the end of the Second World War, there is still work to be done to fight racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and other forms of intolerance.

Recalling his participation at yesterday’s White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism and Terrorism, Mr. Ban emphasized the importance of solidarity among people from countries of different faiths and religions. Fighting violent extremism “is not a war against any religion by any religion or against any civilization or by any civilization. This is a war against a brutal criminality – unspeakable, intolerable brutality – beheadings, kidnapping, killing, raping.”

There are reasons why this kind of extremism happens such as bad governance including failed leadership, corruption, injustice, and inequality. Addressing this is a global challenge and not a single country, however powerful or resourceful, can do it alone. The United Nations also cannot do it alone. Therefore, it’s important to show solidarity and mobilize.

Human dignity and human rights go hand-in-hand in preventing violent extremism, Mr. Ban said. “I think you should feel a responsibility as citizens of the most resourceful, richest country in the world. You should have a global citizenship.”

Mr. Ban said he plans to host a high-level meeting, inviting all the faith leaders around the world to spotlight the importance of tolerance and education. Killing people is a crime, no matter the cause or grievance.

That’s why, on the occasion of its 70th anniversary, the UN has very ambitious goals to make the world sustainable – environmentally, socially, and economically. Member States have already announced 17 very ambitious goals with 169 targets to make these goals achieved by 2030.

“By 2030, our target is that we eradicate poverty…by that time, we will have gender equality. By that time there should be no children who are left behind at school, at least secondary schools,” Mr. Ban said.

There are still 67 million young people, school-age children who are out of primary schools. By 2030, they will have to have access to secondary school. By 2030, the UN will have reduced significantly the mothers who are dying while delivering babies and girls and boys who are dying from preventable diseases such as malaria, polio and so many diseases which are preventable. By 2030, the world will be more environmentally sustainable.

The Secretary-General said he looked forward to December this year, when in Paris the world will plan to sign a historic climate change agreement. But first, in July, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Member States will meet for a conference on development financing.

Gina Casar: Remarks at the Opening Ceremony of the Global South-South Development Expo, Organization of American States

17 Nov 2014

Washington D.C., USA

Your Excellency Ambassador Abulkalam Abdul Momen, President of the High Level Committee on South-South Cooperation and Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the UN;

Your Excellency Ambassador Kingsley Mamabolo,

Chair-elect of the Group of 77 and Permanent Representative of South Africa to the UN;

Ms. Rebeca Grynspan, Secretary General of Secretaría General Iberoamericana;

Mr. José Miguel Insulza, Secretary-General of the Organization of American States;

Mr. Christian Friis Bach, Executive Secretary of UN Economic Commission for Europe;

Mr. Jon Lomøy, Director of OECD-DAC;

Mr. Yiping Zhou, Envoy of the UN Secretary-General and Director of the UN Office for South-South Cooperation;

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good morning and welcome to the 2014 Global South-South Development Expo.

Allow me to first warmly thank the Organization of American States and Secretary-General José Miguel Insulza for generously hosting the Expo in Washington DC.

Let me also congratulate the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation – proudly hosted by UNDP – for organizing the Expo and for being a champion of co-operation and partnership across the global South.

The theme of this year’s Expo, ‘Scaling up South-South and Triangular Cooperation for Sustainable Development’, is particularly timely.

Next year, in 2015, world leaders will meet in Addis Ababa at the Financing for Development Conference, in New York for the UN Summit to adopt the new post-2015 agenda, and in Paris for the UN Climate Conference. The convergence of these and other important fora make it a decisive year. The decisions made will put the world on a trajectory to greater sustainability, equity, and prosperity – or move it further away. South-South and triangular cooperation already does – and can increasingly help us to get on track.

UNDP takes a proactive approach to supporting and facilitating South-South and triangular Cooperation because we are convinced – it is a necessary piece of the sustainable development puzzle. Without more and more effective cooperation, collaboration, and partnerships – including across and between countries in the Global South – the world is likely to fall short of addressing its shared and pressing challenges, and miss out on the opportunity to improve the lives of people everywhere. With so much on the line, this is a risk we all cannot afford to take.

South-South cooperation is a central part of the rise of the South and the good news is that South-South cooperation is already embedded in the way countries in the Global South do business.

Let me give you some quick facts. From 2008 to 2009, developing countries exported more to one another than they did to developed countries. Since 2011, developing countries have traded products and services worth more than $4 trillion dollars.

Investment flows to developing economies, much of it originating from the South, reached a new high in 2013, accounting for 52 per cent of total global foreign direct investment. In 2011, the value of South-South development assistance was estimated to have reached between $16.1 billion and $19 billion. By some accounts, the real value is higher.

The result has transformed the world economy and altered international relations forever. Hundreds of millions have been lifted from poverty – joining the ranks of the growing global middle class.

However, such achievements are undoubtedly uneven – within and between countries in the South. Rapid environmental degradation, extreme weather events, social instability, and violence have also left much of the new middle class feeling vulnerable – while threatening the livelihoods and lives of those confined to poor communities.

No one is safe from climate change, deforestation, water pollution and increasingly extreme natural disasters.

Without clean water, healthy air, or safe climate – no one can profit or prosper. A balance between economic growth and measures that improve people’s lives will raise the prospect of our societies and protect the one planet on which we depend.

The Global South has the biggest stake in ensuring that growth and prosperity is sustained, inclusive, and extends across the South. Through South-South Cooperation, countries in the Global South are acknowledging that their fates are intertwined, and that they must spare no effort to ensure that the jump in human progress is sustained. There are many encouraging examples:

• The Sister Cities International Sino-African Initiative is a trilateral partnership among the cities of Nairobi in Kenya, Denver in the USA, and Kunming in China. This initiative aims to ensure development and poverty alleviation projects address community needs, and promote transparent business practices and government accountability. As a result, access to safe water and toilet facilities to schools are successfully expanding in Nairobi.

• India IMPEX’s SUNLITE Off-grid Solar Lighting Initiative has developed a simple lantern that works for approximately 8 to 9 hours on a single day’s charge. UNHCR has procured these innovative solar lanterns for refugee camps in Kenya, Liberia, Sudan and Uganda, among others.

• Thus far, this South-South initiative has planted millions of hectares of biomass for ethanol and biodiesel production; 100,000 jobs have already been created in the first phase; youth have received leadership and management training; dependence on fossil fuel has been reduced by 10 per cent of total consumption; electricity has been distributed to remote communities; and the beneficiary population is currently about 1 million people.

• In Africa – Angola, Namibia and the Republic of South Africa have formed the Benguela Current Commission by which the three countries work together to protect an ecosystem that is highly rich in fish and other marine natural resources, across their shared coastal waters in the Atlantic Ocean.

These global examples are a testament that solutions often emerge from where the challenges are. We know that at UNDP and we are more committed than ever, and uniquely prepared, to support development partners in their efforts.

• We have placed South-South cooperation and triangular cooperation at the core of UNDP’s Strategic Plan for the period 2014-2017.

• Facilitating South-South and triangular cooperation, is central to UNDP’s ability to obtain development results. Through our presence on the ground in 177 countries and territories, UNDP offers global perspective, local insight, capacity and skills to link countries and communities to knowledge, best practice, and lessons learned.

• We have established global policy centres in Brazil, Kenya, the Republic of Korea, Singapore and Turkey to facilitate South-South policy coordination and other interactions. We are also supporting initiatives under seven strategic partnership agreements that we have signed with Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, South Africa and Turkey.

• UNDP has also declared its commitment to become a knowledge broker, through initiatives to identify, share, and adapt scalable and tested solutions from the South.

I am very pleased that UNDP is joining so many other UN organizations here, along with a high level representation from Member States, to showcase successful South-South and triangular partnership solutions.

The challenge we face now is to find ways that would enable us to effectively scale up proven solutions widely, and sustainably, together.

South-South and triangular cooperation offer a path to balancing growth and equity in the context of a new collaborative Global Partnership for Sustainable Development, where all stakeholders stand shoulder to shoulder in their political, economic, social, and environmental development efforts.

The spirit of solidarity that inspires South-South and triangular cooperation creates the space for developing countries to share lessons on policy choices, business models, and technological innovations that have been effective in lifting millions out of poverty.

Yet despite this impressive progress, one child in five still goes to bed hungry, 1.3 billion people still live in extreme poverty, 2.5 billion people still lack access to decent sanitation facilities, women and girls continue to face gender discrimination and violence, and climate change and greenhouse gas emissions still pose a major threat to populations and ecosystems.

South-South cooperation holds the promise to make a difference in the lives of millions.

As we approach the 2015 MDG target date, it is clear that strengthened efforts are needed to accelerate progress. And critical to success are broad-based global partnerships for sustainable development.

All development partners are here this week. And together, we can achieve much, much more than we can even imagine on our own.

I wish you all a very productive and rewarding Expo.

Thank you!

UN CALLING ASIA: Indigenous communities “oldest conservationists”

9 Oct 2014

Listen /

montage of indigenous peoples. UN Photo

Indigenous people are the oldest conservationists in the world, according to a consortium of indigenous groups known by the acronym, ICCA. An international meeting on biodiversity is currently underway in Korea, which is considering how knowledge and traditional practices of local communities are key to halting the loss of natural resources. Ashish Kothari is from the Indian environmental organization Kalpavriksh and the ICCA.  The Consortium has released a report on how indigenous peoples can contribute to saving the world’s biodiversity through the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Florencia Soto Nino asked Mr Kothari about this contribution.

Afghanistan facing “intense moment”

Nicholas Haysom. Photo: Fardin Waezi/UNAMA

Afghanistan is facing an “intense moment” as it transitions towards a politically stable and prosperous country. That’s according to a senior United Nations representative in the country. Afghanistan has just emerged from a protracted and disputed presidential election. A national unity government was formed in September. Setyo Budi has been speaking to Nicholas Haysom, the UN Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan. He began by asking Mr Haysom about the current political situation.

South Asia not immune to “global learning crisis”

A teacher and student at a school in India. Photo: UNESCO/GMR Akash

Millions of children in South Asia don’t get the education that gives them the fundamental skills to read, write and count, according to a paper released by the UN cultural agency (UNESCO). The paper was released on the occasion of World Teachers Day which is observed on 5 October each year to put a spotlight on the important role of teachers. According to UNESCO, because of a shortage of qualified teachers, some countries won’t be able to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of universal primary education by 2015. Nihan Koseleci, a Research Officer for the Education for All Global Monitoring Report told Derrick Mbatha that the shortage of trained teachers in South Asia should be seen in the context of what she called the global “learning crisis.”

Presenter: Jocelyne Sambira
Production Assistant: Sandra Guy
Duration: 10’00″

Mayors at UN climate summit announce pledges towards major carbon cuts in cities

23 September 2014 – A compact of Mayors from cities around the world announced today that they will expand their commitments to scale up climate resilience efforts, energy efficiency programs and resilient financing mechanisms including through an initiative that aims to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 454 megatons by 2020.

According to a statement, these and other initiatives announced at Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Climate Summit, aim to address the effects of development on the environment both in urban and rural areas.

This particular plan – known as the Compact of Mayors – brings together well over two thousands cities, including over 200 with specific targets and strategies for greenhouse gas reductions. Sixty per cent of the world’s population will live in cities by 2030 and that figure increases to 70 per cent by 2050.

“From Rio to Seoul, mayors are already making great progress in fighting climate change and preparing their cities for its devastating impacts,” said Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes. “These announcements show the world that we are committed to transparent, easily accessible, emissions reporting.”

Other announcements including the City Climate Finance Leadership Alliance and a City Creditworthiness Partnership will also help the world’s cities to reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by 8 gigatons annually in 2050 – the equivalent of 50 per cent of global coal use.

National Governments can be more ambitious in their emissions reduction commitments, according to research recently unveiled by the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

“Now is the time for nations to partner with cities as they create more ambitious climate targets over the next year, both to help the world avoid the worst impacts of climate change and to benefit millions of people,” said Mr. Bloomberg.

Today cities, banks, national governments and civil society organizations gathered at the Climate Summit to accelerate commitments to slash greenhouse gas emissions. National Governments, including China, Germany and the United States, also announced their commitments.

The carbon Cities Climate Registry, the designated central repository of the Compact of Mayors, will serve as a platform for city climate data.

“Today’s announcements, including the Compact of Mayors and its standardized reporting process and public data portal, came out of an unprecedented collaboration among city networks,” said Seoul South Korea Mayor Park Won-soon.

About 20 public and private sector partners also united today to launch the City Climate Finance Leadership Alliance to generate trillions of dollars to invest in low-carbon and climate-resistant infrastructure in cities in low- and middle-income countries.

“This will allow increased capital to flow to cities, unblocking the transformational change needed to meet the challenge of climate change and contributing to the new urban agenda of cleaner, more resilient and environmentally sustainable cities,” said UN-Habitat Executive Director Dr. Joan Clos.

The World Bank and its partners are uniting to help 300 cities strengthen their creditworthiness to attract investors. This will help cities improve their financial management, which ultimately will boost their access to private capital.

Making cities climate-friendly is one of eight action areas identified as critical during the Abu Dhabi Ascent, a two-day meeting held in the United Arab Emirates in May 2014. Other topics include agriculture and renewable energy.

Press Releases: Statement as Chair of Ministerial Debate of the UN Security Council on Iraq

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you very much, Your Excellency, Mr. al-Jafari, for a very important statement, and we appreciate very much your leadership and the new government’s efforts. Now it’s my privilege to make a statement in my capacity as Secretary of State of the United States.

Let me start again by thanking every single one of you for participating in this session. I’ve seen in the last weeks traveling around how extraordinarily busy everybody is and how committed to this effort everyone is, through their actions as well as through their incredibly busy schedules. So I’m convinced that the fact that so many countries are represented here from so many parts of the world really underscores the clear need for all of us to come together to welcome and to support the new, inclusive government in Iraq, and, of course, to put an end to ISIL’s unfettered barbarity.

I want to thank Secretary-General Ban and welcome our new Iraqi counterpart, Foreign Minister al-Jafari. I don’t need to remind anyone here that the last two times the eyes of the world were focused on Iraq was when its government was in confrontation with the international community, with great consequences. Today, however, we come together in support of the new Iraqi Government that has already made great strides in a short amount of time, and we must not miss this moment.

Last week, I made my second trip to Baghdad in just over two months, in order to meet with the new Iraqi Government. And I was very encouraged to hear them reaffirm their commitment to govern in the interests of all Iraqis and to finally begin to address the deep divisions that we’re all aware of, including those over energy resources, regional autonomy, and the composition of the security forces. All of these have plagued Iraq throughout its modern history. They’re also committed to empowering local communities to mobilize, to maintain security control in their area, and work with the international community to defeat ISIL.

Indeed, Iraq has responded to the ISIL threat with a spirit of unity that the country has not experienced in decades, if ever. Last month, an Iraqi Arab pilot, Major General Majid Ahmed Saadi, flew an Iraqi Air Force helicopter with a Kurdish crew and a Yezidi member of parliament and with the single goal of rescuing Yezidis on Mount Sinjar. Tragically, the helicopter crashed. General Saadi was the only one killed. But before he died, he told a New York Times reporter that the mission to rescue the Yezidis was the most important thing he had ever done in his entire life and career as an Iraqi pilot. This historic level of cooperation between Iraqi and Kurdish forces has resonated deeply in both communities.

As the President explained earlier this month – my President – ISIL is a terrorist organization, pure and simple. And it has no vision other than the slaughter of all who stand in its way. In a region that has known so much bloodshed, these terrorists are actually unique in their brutality. They execute captured prisoners, kneeling them down, tying their hands behind their back, a bullet through their heads. They kill children. They enslave, rape, and force women into marriage. They threatened a religious minority with genocide. And in acts of barbarism, they took the lives of two American journalists, Jim Foley and Steven Sotloff, and a British aid worker, David Haines. ISIL simply poses a threat to the people of Iraq and Syria and the broader Middle East, and if left unchecked, these terrorists certainly would pose a growing threat beyond the region because they have already promised to.

Ultimately, history will judge how the world responds to this moment, to this challenge. In the face of this sort of evil, we have only one option: To confront it with a holistic global campaign that is committed and capable of degrading and destroying this terrorist threat; to confront it with a holistic global campaign that is committed and capable enough to ensure whether in Iraq, Syria, or elsewhere, ISIL cannot find safe haven.

As President Obama has clearly explained, and as I think everyone in this room is well aware of at this point, the coalition required to eliminate ISIL is not only, or even primarily, military in nature. It must be comprehensive and include close collaboration across multiple lines of effort. It’s about taking out an entire network – decimating and discrediting a militant cult masquerading as a religious movement. The fact is there is a role for nearly every country in the world to play, including Iran, whose foreign minister is here with us here today. ISIL poses a threat to all of us, and we’re committed to working in close partnership with the new Iraqi Government and countries around the world to defeat it. That’s why I spent the past week consulting with my Iraqi counterparts and traveling in the Middle East and in Europe, building partnerships; and that’s why we were so focused on hosting this session here today.

And I thank Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal for Saudi Arabia’s leadership in hosting their conference in Jeddah, and I thank President Hollande and Laurent Fabius in France for their leadership in hosting the conference in Paris. From each of these has come a greater and greater commitment to do what we need to do. – I have to tell you that in many of the meetings that I’ve had so far, leaders aren’t talking about if they should support our campaign against ISIL; they’re asking how. And already across each of the lines of effort that we’re focused on, we have seen more than 50 countries come forward with critical commitments.

First, on military support, countries in the region and around the world are already providing assistance both in terms of kinetic action, but also in the form of training, advising, equipping, providing logistical support, and so on. In the region, countries like Egypt have committed to significantly enhance the coordination between its forces and Iraqi and Kurdish forces. But even further from away from Iraq, countries like Australia are committing to deploying fighter jets and support aircraft and personnel. Germany, in recognition of the grave threat posed by ISIL, reversed its longstanding policy against offering lethal aid. France, last night, conducted its first air strikes against ISIL targets in Iraq. These forms of assistance, provided at the request of Iraq, and with full respect for its sovereignty, are essential to combating ISIL – but they are only one part of a comprehensive approach that is required.

We’re also seeing overwhelming support when it comes to humanitarian assistance. Dozens of countries from throughout the international community have so far committed almost $1 billion to the UN-led humanitarian response in Iraq. That includes donations from countries within the region – Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and elsewhere – as well as funds from countries on the other side of the world – Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, and more.

We’re seeing encouraging progress in the effort to dry up ISIL’s illicit funding, as well. And Bahrain has offered to host an international conference in the near future to further develop a global action plan to counter terrorist financing. – As we’ll discuss next week at the session that President Obama will chair, we must also stop the flow of foreign terrorist fighters to ISIL – men and women who carry passports from countries around the world, including nearly every country represented in this room. This is yet another area where countries have already begun to take important steps, including legislation criminalizing the recruitment, preparation, and participation of their citizens in combat activities of terrorism abroad.

And finally, there is an urgent need to counter the poisonous propaganda and gross distortion of Islam that ISIL is spreading far and wide. It is time to put an end to a group, so extreme in its rejection of modernity, that it bans math and social studies for children. It’s time to put an end to the sermons by extremists that brainwash young men to join these terrorist groups and commit mass atrocities in the name of God. This is something that leaders in the region are very focused on. Saudi Arabia’s top clerics this week came out publicly and declared terrorism a “heinous crime” under Sharia law and called ISIL in particular “the order of Satan.”

All of this is vital, because we know that in preventing an individual from joining ISIL, or from getting to the battlefield in the first place, that’s the most effective measure you can take.

But for this campaign to have any chance of success, Iraq itself – and its security forces on the front lines – must be leading the way. – That’s one of the reasons why it’s imperative that we all go the extra mile to help Iraq fully re-integrate into the region and into the global community of nations. And that’s starting to happen. Last week, the Iraqis, long estranged from their neighbors and isolated from the world, were not just invited, but were warmly welcomed at international meetings in Jeddah and Paris, and now here in New York, before the Security Council and before the entire world.

And what is different about today’s meeting – and this is one reason why we’re so grateful to so many minsters for traveling here – is that the last meetings the world did not share in the deliberation or the discussion formally as it went on; they heard afterwards. Today, the world can listen to each of the ministers, and they will understand the breadth and scope of the support for this effort.

So we’re well on our way, but that doesn’t mean that we’re where we need to be. I hope that today the progress that I’ve described will continue, and over the course of this week that more partners will come forward and more commitments to these efforts will be announced.

Make no mistake: Our work to build and enhance this coalition will continue well after this week is over. I commit that to you and President Obama firmly commits that. And one of our most respected military experts sitting right here behind me, General John Allen, who served in Afghanistan in command of our forces there for two years and also in Iraq, who knows many of the people in Iraq for his service in Anbar – has agreed to come to the State Department with a presidential appointment and oversee the U.S. effort to match up each country’s capabilities with the coalition’s total needs so the line of effort is coordinated.

I look forward to hearing from all of you in the course of this afternoon. Again, I’d just close by thanking everybody for joining this discussion, and I’m absolutely confident that through a global campaign that is comprehensive and committed, we can support the promise of the new government in Iraq and we can defeat the ISIL threat – wherever it exists.

Economic growth possible even while tackling climate change, UN-backed report finds

16 September 2014 – Just one week before a major climate summit opens at the United Nations, a new report released today by a commission of global leaders argues that major structural and technological changes in the world economy are making it possible to achieve lower carbon emissions and economic growth at the same time.

“Yes, it is possible to have better growth and better climate. Yes, it is possible to create jobs and reduce poverty and at the same time reduce the carbon emissions that threaten our future. Yes, it is possible, but we need to make some fundamental changes and smart choices,” said former President of Mexico, Felipe Calderón at a UN Headquarters press conference.

Launching the Better Growth, Better Climate: the New Climate Economy report alongside UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Mr. Calderón said the new data refutes the idea that the world must choose between fighting climate change and growing the world’s economy.

“The transition to a low carbon economy can improve the quality of growth, including the creation of new jobs, cleaner area and better health. A growing number of businesses, cities and countries are showing us it is indeed possible,” said Mr. Calderón.

Chaired by Mr. Calderón, the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate – which conducted the study –, comprises 24 leaders from Government, business, finance and economics in 19 countries. The year-long study was conducted by leading research institutes from Brazil, China, Ethiopia, India, South Korea, the United Kingdom and United States and advised by a panel of world-leading economists.

Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon called the report timely, noting that greenhouse gas emissions are at record levels and the effects of climate change are not only widespread, they are costly and consequential.

“Scientists have long warned of the potential implications of climate change for economic growth. We can no longer afford to burn our way to prosperity. We must manage climate risk for sustained ¬– and sustainable – economic progress. We need a structural transformation in the global economy,” Mr. Ban said.

The UN chief said he looked forward to next week’s climate summit, where leaders from Government, business, finance and civil society are expected to deliberate challenges and deliver recommendations on how to promote low-carbon growth.

Simply put, eradicating extreme poverty is not possible without fighting climate change. The two agendas must be pushed simultaneously.

Today’s report does just that, he said. It sets out a detailed 10-point Global Action Plan of recommendations to achieve prosperity and a safer climate at the same time.

It emphasizes that over the next 15 years, about $90 trillion will be invested in infrastructure in the world’s cities, agriculture and energy systems. That is an unprecedented opportunity to drive investment in low-carbon growth and bring multiple benefits including jobs.

The Commission calculates that if fully implemented its recommendations could potentially achieve up to 90 per cent of the emissions reductions needed by 2030 to avoid climate change. But this would require decisive and early action by economic decision-makers.

“Today we are giving $600 billion in subsidies for fossil fuels, but only $100 billion in support of clean energy every year. We are paying to pollute. That cannot continue,” urged Mr. Calderón.

The report found opportunities to achieve strong growth with lower emissions in three key sectors of the global economy – cities, land use and energy. But Governments and businesses need to improve resource efficiency, invest in infrastructure, and stimulate business innovation.

Building better connected, more compact cities based on mass public transport can save over $3 trillion in investment costs over the next 15 years. Restoring just 12 per cent of the world’s degraded lands can feed another 200 million people and raise farmers’ incomes by $40 billion a year.

As the price of solar and wind power falls dramatically, over half of new electricity generation over the next 15 years is likely to be from renewable energy, reducing dependence on highly polluting coal.

Consistent Government policy signals are essential for businesses and investors to create low-carbon jobs and growth. By establishing a level playing field through an international climate agreement, Governments can unlock investment and innovation, states the report.

Daily Press Briefings : Daily Press Briefing: August 5, 2014

2:31 p.m. EDT

MS. PSAKI: I just wanted to start by giving you all just some readouts of the meetings the Secretary has been having over the course of the last few days. There are quite a few, so bear with me.

Yesterday, the Secretary met with President Kabila of the D.R.C. They discussed their shared vision for a more prosperous D.R.C. that can build on the progress achieved during the past year and bringing stability to the Great Lakes region. The Secretary and President Kabila affirmed their joint commitment to the continued demobilization and repatriation of the M23 – of former, sorry, M23 combatants and to ending the threat from the FDLR within the next six months through a continued process of voluntary demobilization backed by a credible military threat.

The Secretary also expressed support for the D.R.C. Government’s goal of establishing a more transparent international adoptions process, but reiterated U.S. concerns about the humanitarian impact of the D.R.C. Government’s suspension of visa issuance for adopted children.

During his meeting with Vice President Vicente of Angola, the Secretary welcomed Angola’s leadership in Africa and world affairs, particularly in the Great Lakes region. The United States considers Angola a key stakeholder in the Peace, Security, and Cooperation Framework peace process, and strongly supports Angola’s efforts in its role as chair of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region to help resolve the conflict in the D.R.C. The Secretary also noted Angola’s efforts on trafficking in persons through a recent recommitment to combat trafficking and USUN Ambassador Powers urged – or called for a continued engagement on peacekeeping operations both regionally and internationally.

The Secretary – hmm?

QUESTION: Power.

MS. PSAKI: I don’t know what —

QUESTION: There’s no “S”.

MS. PSAKI: Powell. I don’t know why I just said “Powell.” Long day.

QUESTION: No, Power. Power.

MS. PSAKI: I know. I know what her name is. Thank you, Matt.

The Secretary called for the next iteration of the Security and Economic Dialogue to be held in the fall. The Secretary also met yesterday with Burundi President Nkurunziza. During their meeting they discussed how to work together to build a peaceful, stable, and prosperous nation, including support to the Burundi Government law enforcement, judiciary, and military to develop the institutions and procedures that will protect citizens and establish a foundation for long-term national and regional stability.

They also discussed the critical importance for Burundi’s continued economic growth and stability for the 2016 national elections there to be peaceful, fair, free, and consistent with the spirit of the Arusha Accords. In support of these elections, they talked about the strong U.S. support for a continued robust United Nations presence in Burundi, including the current UN office in Burundi which concludes in December, and the follow-on UN electoral observation mission.

He also met yesterday with President Compaore of Burkina Faso. Secretary Kerry expressed condolences to the families of the 28 citizens who were among the 116 passengers and crew who lost their lives in the crash of the Air Algerie fight in Mali – flight in Mali just a few weeks ago. Secretary Kerry discussed the importance of developing strong institutions and peaceful transitions of power. He also expressed appreciation for Burkina Faso’s contributions to the UN peacekeeping missions and regional mediation efforts, including support of the Mali peace negotiations recently begun in Algiers.

And last one of yesterday, during an August 4th – during the meeting yesterday on the margins of the Africa Leaders Summit, Secretary Kerry congratulated Mauritanian President Aziz on his recent reelection and for assuming the chairmanship of the African Union. The Secretary applauded him for his leadership role in negotiating a cease-fire between the Malian Government and rebel groups in the country’s north, and recognized the strong U.S.-Mauritania partnership on counterterrorism initiatives in the region.

Today – just a few from today. The Secretary and Prime Minister Hailemariam of Ethiopia discussed security in South Sudan and in the Horn of Africa. The Secretary commended Ethiopia for moving the South Sudan peace process forward and working to bring the two sides of the conflict together. The Secretary also commended Ethiopia for its contributions to fighting Al-Shabaab in neighboring Somalia and for helping Somalia create a more just, peaceful, and democratic society. The prime minister remarked that regional peace and stability is the basis for economic growth, and noted that Ethiopia is working very hard to bring investors to the region. The Secretary, finally, underscored the U.S. commitment to continuing to help Ethiopia’s strength and capacity in the fields of health, education, agriculture, energy, and democracy, and human rights, noting that we provided Ethiopia $800 million in assistance annually.

The Secretary also met with AU Commission Chairperson Zuma this morning. He expressed his sincere gratitude to her for her work as chairperson of the African Union Commission. He reiterated that the African Union is a key strategic partner in implementing President Obama’s strategy for sub-Saharan Africa, strengthening democratic institutions, spurring economic growth, trade and investment, advancing peace and security, and promoting opportunity and development. They discussed the potential positive role of the summit in changing perceptions in Africa – of Africa in the United States, highlighting opportunities in Africa for U.S. investment outside of the extractive industries.

Finally, the Secretary also met this morning with South Sudan President Kiir. The meeting came at a very critical time, especially given our concern about lack of progress in peace negotiations, ongoing violence, and a worsening humanitarian crisis, which we see as the worst food security situation in the world now made worse by the recent killings of a number of humanitarian workers in South Sudan. Secretary Kerry and Ambassador Power expressed their concern about continued fighting and the growing humanitarian crisis, which will reach even more catastrophic levels in the coming months. The Secretary stressed that in order for a transitional government to be established, the parties need to come to the table and need a peace agreement.

That is the summary of our bilateral meetings. Go ahead, Matt.

QUESTION: Wow, did he have time to do anything else?

MS. PSAKI: He has done a few other things in that time, it turns out.

QUESTION: Okay. Listen, can we start with – maybe some of them have been on the Middle East. Have they?

MS. PSAKI: They have not.

QUESTION: Oh, they haven’t?

MS. PSAKI: But we can certainly start with the Middle East.

QUESTION: All right. Well, listen, we saw your comments and the comments of the White House, your comments last night and the comments of the White House, about the cease-fire and you being supportive of it and also being supportive of the talks that are now going to happen whenever they start in Cairo. What is the Administration’s thinking about U.S. participation in these talks, if at all? And if the parties who are the direct parties to this are not particularly enthusiastic about U.S. participation, are you going to try to force your way, barge into this, much in the same way the President and former Secretary of State did with the Chinese and the climate talks in Copenhagen?

MS. PSAKI: Well, that was quite a unique event. But this is an issue that, of course, the Secretary and senior levels of the Administration have been closely involved in. We expect that will continue. In terms of who will participate, we’re still determining who and at what level. Obviously, we’re in discussions not only internally but with the Israelis and the Egyptians about that as well.

QUESTION: But you do —

QUESTION: So you definitely will?

QUESTION: Yeah. You —

MS. PSAKI: Our expectation is that we will continue to remain closely engaged. In terms of who and how and when, we’re still determining that.

QUESTION: But you have decided that U.S. participation in these talks in Cairo is important and should happen, correct?

MS. PSAKI: I think it is likely we will be participating in these talks.

QUESTION: Can you —

MS. PSAKI: We will – we are determining at what level and in what capacity and when.

QUESTION: And can you say if you feel – if the Administration feels that its participation is welcome?

MS. PSAKI: I think our effort and our engagement on this process from the beginning has been welcomed by the parties. We’ve been – we were in Egypt —

QUESTION: Really? We just spent an entire, like, 10-day period where both sides were telling you the exact opposite.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think, Matt, there is sometimes a difference between what is stated publicly and what is communicated privately.

QUESTION: Aha.

MS. PSAKI: In this case, as we know, this cease-fire just took hold this morning. Obviously, in – over the course of the last 10 days or more, the Secretary has been very closely engaged, making more than a hundred phone calls related to the cease-fire. We all know he spent five days in Cairo, a day in Paris, a day in Israel. The President’s spoken with Prime Minister Netanyahu three times over the course of the last few weeks as well. So obviously, we want to see a cease-fire that will be prolonged, that will hold, that will give an opportunity to have negotiations. But there are, of course – where we are now is determining our engagement moving forward.

QUESTION: Did the U.S. Government have any direct role in achieving the cease-fire that has now taken hold?

MS. PSAKI: Well, absolutely, Arshad. I think our engagement over the past 10 days has built and led to the point we reached last night. And that’s why I referenced the number of calls and the number of visits the Secretary was engaged in. I think there are two important factors that obviously have changed over the course of the last couple of days and – or two conditions, I should say. One of them is that Israel completed work on the tunnels. At their insistence, of course, the cease-fire agreed to last week allowed for Israel to continue that work. That’s something the United States supported. Of course, that obviously made it more difficult to sustain a cease-fire, given sometimes the confusion that causes on the ground. And the second factor is, of course, that – the growing concern and pressure that has built over the course of the last 10 days, in part due to the Secretary’s involvement, from the international community. That has – there’s been a building chorus of support for a cease-fire, obviously to see an end to the rocket attacks, but also to see an end to the humanitarian crisis that we’ve seen on the ground in Gaza.

QUESTION: How – I mean, there were at least two cease-fires that were – well, there was definitely one that was more or less announced in the middle of the night in India that did not take hold. And then there was a —

MS. PSAKI: It took hold briefly. But yes, go ahead.

QUESTION: Excuse me. It took hold for 90 minutes or whatever was the number of minutes. But I think if it’s a cease-fire that lasts for less than two hours it’s – whether it actually took hold or not is kind of debatable. But in any case, it didn’t succeed. Similarly, the prior cease-fire, which was originally 12 hours and then maybe extended, did not end up lasting a long time. And what I’m trying to understand is what was the direct U.S. role in the last, say, 48 hours. Because from the outside, it kind of looks like the Israelis simply decided that they had done what they needed to do, and therefore they had decided to stop. So what was your role in the last, say, 48 hours on the current cease-fire?

MS. PSAKI: Well, in the last 48 hours the Secretary has continued to be closely engaged with Prime Minister Netanyahu, with Egyptian Foreign Minister Shoukry, with all of the parties. The point I was trying to make, Arshad, is that obviously the work of the last 10 days, built by the Secretary, by the UN, by a range of international partners, built to the point we reached now. But there are conditions that, of course, changed over the course of time, including the fact that Israel completed their work, by their own public statements, on the tunnels. Not only does that create more of a condition perhaps to have a sustainable cease-fire, it also, of course, gives the people of Israel more security that that piece of the job is done. So that certainly is a factor in terms of the conditions of how we got to this point.

And then the second piece is over the course of the last 10 days and even the last 48 hours there’s been continued, building international support for a cease-fire, concern about the civilian causalities we’re seeing, concern about the ongoing rocket fire, and those are all factors that have contributed to the point we led to last night.

QUESTION: One other one on this. There is – and I know you’re not responsible for what op-ed writers write, but there is a piece by David Ignatius today that lays out what purports to be Secretary Kerry’s ideas for the next steps. And it talks about a circumstance under which you would try to strengthen President Abbas: There would be a transfer of the border of control on the Palestinian side to PA forces; both on the Israeli and the Egyptian side, talks about disarming Hamas. But what he doesn’t talk about and what I don’t understand – and again, I know this is just somebody’s op-ed piece – but it doesn’t explain at all why Hamas would be interested in doing any of these things or in seeing any of these things happen in Gaza. Does that piece reflect the Secretary’s thinking? And if so, how do you hope to get Hamas to agree to do all these things that one would think it would be quite opposed to?

MS. PSAKI: Well, let me first say there’s no “Kerry plan.” I’ll put that in quotes. There are – there has – he has been – has long supported an effort to strengthen President Abbas and to work with other parties in the region to do just that, and that will continue. So that certainly is supportive of his view.

The reason why the negotiations are so important is because these are issues that we believe and he believes need to be worked out in Cairo with the host, the Egyptian hosts, certainly with our support. But the issue of how demilitarization would work, which we certainly support, or how efforts to open up greater economic opportunity to the people of Gaza – those are issues that need to be discussed between the parties.

QUESTION: Jen, just two – a couple very quick points. You mentioned – you said over the past 48 hours the Secretary has been actively engaged, talking with Prime Minister Netanyahu, the Egyptian foreign minister, and others. But unless something is – but I thought you answered my – you answered earlier by saying he hadn’t been in touch with Prime Minister Netanyahu over the last day. And —

MS. PSAKI: Well, he was in touch with him on Sunday.

QUESTION: Right. And what you said was the very brief phone call, interrupted by some communications problem.

MS. PSAKI: And —

QUESTION: So – but, okay, so if we go back 48 hours from right now, which is almost 3 o’clock on Tuesday —

MS. PSAKI: You want me to give you a rundown of the calls he’s —

QUESTION: Yeah.

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS. PSAKI: He’s spoken today – I would remind you since you asked me, since he’s had 12 bilats, he hasn’t had as much —

QUESTION: Right.

MS. PSAKI: — quality phone time as perhaps he would like, but he spoke with secretary – UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today. He also spoke with Egyptian Foreign Minister Shoukry yesterday. He spoke with Special Coordinator for the UN Robert Serry yesterday. So those are just the calls that he’s done over the last few days.

QUESTION: Okay. But as far as you know, he hasn’t managed to reconnect with Prime Minister Netanyahu since the —

MS. PSAKI: Not over the last 36 hours, no.

QUESTION: All right. And then you said that “there is no Kerry plan,” quote-unquote, but is – what was notable in the Washington Post piece, at least something that jumped out at me, was that there wasn’t any method or – well, you say that it – that the general goals outlined there are what the Secretary has been pushing for for months now.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: But is the Administration convinced that Hamas has to disarm? Because one of the – and if it is, how exactly does that happen? Because it doesn’t seem to be addressed in that piece.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I don’t know that that piece was meant to be a rollout document or – of any sort, certainly not officially from the government. But demilitarization, the point I was making, is something we certainly support. How we get there is a good question.

QUESTION: But is that —

MS. PSAKI: There are a lot of parties that will have that discussion. There are also pieces – this is just the last thing I’ll say. There are also priorities that the Palestinians have, including opening up some of the crossings, like Rafah crossing, more access to goods, economic opportunity, that are some of their asks in this discussion. So obviously just like in any negotiation, there are pieces that both sides are interested in.

QUESTION: But is disarmament or demilitarization, is that critical to these talks in Egypt?

MS. PSAKI: Well, it’s critical in the sense that it’s a big priority for the Israelis, and obviously they are an important party in the discussions.

QUESTION: Right. But I mean, is that something that you think must be addressed in these negotiations?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t think we’re going to be dictating what terms they will be, but certainly we understand why it needs to be part of the discussion.

QUESTION: And then my last one is just – I want to get an answer: If you’re not welcome at these – if you, meaning the Administration, is not welcome at these talks, are you going to insist, are you going to force your way into them?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t think we anticipate that at this point in time, Matt. So —

QUESTION: So what happens on Friday 1:00 a.m. Eastern, 8:00 a.m. local, when the cease-fire is supposed to be done?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Roz, I think obviously one of the priorities or one of the focuses early in any discussions will have to be an extension of the cease-fire so that there can be a longer period of time to continue the negotiations, and we don’t expect that these very difficult, complicated issues with a great deal of history will be resolved in a matter of hours.

QUESTION: Is the special envoy, Mr. Lowenstein, working the phones right now?

MS. PSAKI: Certainly. He just returned last – yesterday, but he certainly would be one of the individuals who could return to Egypt, and he certainly has been engaged on the phone. I expect that will continue.

More on this issue?

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MS. PSAKI: Or on Gaza?

QUESTION: Yes, one more quickly.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: This issue will be coming next month at the United Nations General Assembly gatherings, and what do you think UN or the international community will play a role as far as a permanent cease-fire is concerned?

MS. PSAKI: Well, the UN has been an important partner with the United States and many in the international community in supporting a cease-fire, and we expect that will continue. Obviously one of the people that Secretary Kerry has spoken with in the limited time he’s had over the past 24 hours is Robert Serry, and he was closely engaged with him throughout the course of the last several days.

Do we have any more on Gaza?

QUESTION: Yeah. Can you go back to the allegations primarily against the Israeli military, but also against Hamas, of civilian casualties, some using language such as “genocide,” “human rights violations”? The U.S. has expressed its concern over the way that some of the Israeli military’s actions were conducted during this operation, and I note your colleague at the White House did so very pointedly last Thursday. What is being done in terms of accountability since it seems that the fighting has stopped, an accountability for both sides?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Roz, I think, one, the point we were – we made with our public statements from the State Department as well is that while we certainly respect Israel’s right to defend themselves, there’s certainly more that could be done or could have been done to prevent and avoid civilian casualties. That’s the case in any war zone.

And I know – and this may be what you’re referring to – that there are reports of a push for an ICC investigation. Our view is that we continue to strongly oppose unilateral actions that seek to circumvent or prejudge the very outcomes that can only be negotiated. We’ve been very clear that, while we’ve expressed concerns when we’ve had them, there is – the only realistic path for realizing Palestinian aspirations of statehood is through direct negotiations between the parties. Obviously, our focus right now continues to be on addressing this current situation.

So, go ahead.

QUESTION: Does that mean that as part of whatever these talks will be that the question of overreach, atrocities, whatever word that you want to use, from both sides would be addressed in that venue as opposed to in ICC?

MS. PSAKI: I think that wasn’t what I was saying at all, Roz. What I was saying – I think we know what the issues will be, which are the issues that were presented by both sides. That would be the focus of the negotiations, whether that’s security for Israel or that’s economic opportunity for the Palestinian side.

QUESTION: Well, I guess what I’m asking – just – sorry, Matt. I guess what I’m asking is: Things happened in the last 29 days, and there are going to be people on both sides expecting some sort of resolution of what happened. How will that be done?

MS. PSAKI: Well, right now our focus is on seeing if the cease-fire can be extended, seeing if these core issues can be – these key issues can be addressed. The question of what the UN Security Council might do will be evaluated at a later time.

QUESTION: I don’t understand how you are concerned about an ICC investigation prejudging the outcome of final negotiations unless you are saying that the potential or possibility of war crimes having been committed is going to now be part of the peace process, in which case I think that the chances are —

MS. PSAKI: That’s not what I was saying.

QUESTION: Like, what —

MS. PSAKI: I think the reason I used that broad reference is because there have been – this is not the first time there have been rumors of; certainly, there have been issues raised in the past, and we think there’s other forums to address them.

QUESTION: Right, but —

QUESTION: Why shouldn’t – just in the interests of justice, why shouldn’t allegations of war crimes in any conflict be addressed in some forum? Why not?

MS. PSAKI: I wasn’t saying that in any broad – I wasn’t making a broad point that it shouldn’t be, Arshad. I think our focus —

QUESTION: Just not at the ICC?

MS. PSAKI: Our focus right now is on addressing the current situation.

QUESTION: Why shouldn’t an allegation of war crimes by any side in any conflict be addressed at the ICC? Why is that a bad forum? Why shouldn’t that happen?

MS. PSAKI: We – as you know, there have been occasions where we have been supportive of that.

QUESTION: So – but my question is, why not now? I mean —

MS. PSAKI: I think there is going to be a great deal of time to make a determination about what happened and what issues should be raised at a higher level, but right now we think the focus should be on addressing the current situation.

QUESTION: But why? I mean, I understand the underlying argument, I think, which is that if the Palestinians seek to join the Rome Statute or to sign onto it and then raise it, that that is a unilateral action that you believe prejudices the outcome. Correct?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: But I don’t understand why, leaving aside that one piece of it, why the Government of the United States of America would not argue that if there are credible allegations of war crimes – and there are certainly things which you, in your name, said were disgraceful and that the U.S. Government was appalled by them – why it should not support an independent investigation into what happened.

MS. PSAKI: I think we’re not at that point right now, Arshad. And I certainly didn’t in any statement call anything a war crime. Obviously, there will be a great deal of time to determine what happened and what steps should be taken. That’s not our current focus at this moment.

QUESTION: I guess that there is another route to the ICC, and that’s through the UN Security Council. Can we assume that the Administration would veto any – that the U.S. would veto any move at the Security Council to bring not just whatever Israel is alleged to do, but what Hamas is alleged to do as well, to – is that – would that be a fair assumption?

MS. PSAKI: I’m just – there hasn’t even been a UN Security Council resolution proposed.

QUESTION: Right. Well, the – so thus far —

MS. PSAKI: So I don’t think I’m going to go there at this point in time.

QUESTION: Thus far in this conflict, which has now stopped because of the cease-fire, there has been a total of one vote on any kind of an investigation into it, and you guys voted against it because you said it was one-sided.

MS. PSAKI: I understand. I’m aware.

QUESTION: So – but you’re not saying that you’re opposed to any investigation at all, as long as it’s fair.

MS. PSAKI: I have no comment on this, no evaluation of it.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: We will determine at a later date what the appropriate steps are.

New topic or – go ahead.

QUESTION: I cut off Michel (inaudible) his question.

QUESTION: Yeah, on Lebanon. Please go ahead, if you want. You’ll take Lebanon or Asia?

MS. PSAKI: Sure, I’ll do Lebanon.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: I have one on rockets in Gaza.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) the Palestinian Authority go back into Gaza to help clear the area of illegal weapons, is that it?

MS. PSAKI: I think, Lucas, there’s a great deal that needs to be discussed in terms of what is going to happen from here. A lot of those discussions will happen in Cairo. I’m not going to prejudge what the steps will be, when they’ll be, anything beyond that.

QUESTION: But aren’t there already outstanding treaties that say – like Oslo, for example, from 1995 – saying that there should not be any illegal weapons throughout Gaza?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think there are a lot of issues that need to be addressed in Gaza that will be a part of the discussions moving forward, Lucas.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: On Lebanon, to what extent are you concerned about the clashes between the Lebanese army and ISIL and Arsal at the border with Syria? And are you providing any arms and any help to the Lebanese forces?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think we put out a statement just a few days ago on this, Michel, but I will say – I can give you an update on what we are providing. As you know, we provide significant security assistance and we are currently providing $75 million in support to Lebanon’s armed forces just in FY 2014 alone. This assistance is intended to bolster the efforts to preserve Lebanese security and stability, including minimizing the spillover violence from the Syrian crisis that is impacting Lebanon. Our support for the Lebanese army, also, of course, a key institution of Lebanese statehood is critical, and the spillover effects of the Syrian crisis have increased the strain, as we all know – hence why you’re asking – and we remain fully committed.

In FY 2015, our request includes $80 million for FMF security assistance for Lebanon. The Administration’s $5 billion Counterterrorism Partnership Fund request includes funds specifically to help mitigate the spillover effects for Lebanon. As we look to the future, we’ll continue to assess, of course, how we can best assist.

QUESTION: And are you planning to provide the Lebanese army with sophisticated arms since they are fighting ISIL in a complicated area?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think our assistance includes what I’ve just outlined. I have nothing to predict for you in terms of future assistance.

Go ahead, Anne.

QUESTION: Can we stay in the region? I just wondered if the State Department has any new information or any updated comment on the case of a Washington Post correspondent, Jason Rezaian, and his wife, Yeganeh Salehi, who were detained on July 22nd and have not been heard from. Particularly, there was a report yesterday uncorroborated by IranWire that a caretaker for their building was killed at the time of their detention for asking for documentation and an arrest warrant from whoever it was who grabbed them. Do you have any information that might substantiate or refute that report?

MS. PSAKI: Unfortunately, we don’t have a great deal of information, so let me share with you what we have. We, of course, have seen the reports that an individual in Mr. Rezaian’s building died from injuries sustained – the reports you referenced. We don’t have any further information or confirmation of those reports.

We remain concerned about his detention in Iran, along with one other U.S. citizen and the non-U.S. citizen spouse of one of the two, one of which you referenced. We, of course, call on the Iranian Government and continue to call on the Iranian Government to immediately release him and the other individuals. Our focus is on doing everything possible to secure the safe return and release of Mr. Rezaian and the others detained with him.

We have requested consular access via our protecting power Switzerland. In general, however, Iran’s response to our request for consular access to dual U.S.-Iranian citizens is that Iran does not recognize their U.S. citizenship and considers them to be solely Iranian citizens. I don’t have any specific update at this point in time in our request, but we, of course, continue to monitor the situation very closely.

QUESTION: Just a quick clarification on that.

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.

QUESTION: You said that’s the Iranians’ position generally.

MS. PSAKI: Has generally been with the other American citizens, yes.

QUESTION: Right. But they – do I take it from that and what you said after that they have not given the Swiss any specific yes or no —

MS. PSAKI: There’s no specific update in this case, yes.

QUESTION: Okay, all right. Got it.

QUESTION: Do you know whether the Swiss have been able to see Jason and his wife at all?

MS. PSAKI: There’s no specific update in the case.

QUESTION: There’s no specific update or no – or there’s been no response from the Iranians to the Swiss request?

MS. PSAKI: No specific update I can provide to all of you.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: If – I’m sorry, go ahead.

QUESTION: Different topic?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Can I —

MS. PSAKI: Oh, sorry. One on Iran? Sorry. I’m sorry. Go ahead. Go ahead.

QUESTION: On Asia, can you confirm a report that the State Department had a meeting with former comfort women from South Korea last week? And if that’s the case, could you share who met from the State Department and who requested this meeting?

MS. PSAKI: Well, at their request, two members of the House of Sharing met State Department officials on July 31st and discussed their experiences. It’s important to note that State Department officials have periodically met with members of the House of Sharing in the past, so this is not the first time or it’s not without precedent. I don’t have any other updates on the level. Of course, it was here in Washington, so from our bureau here.

QUESTION: So you don’t know if it’s requested from South Korean Government?

MS. PSAKI: They were – no, it was requested from the members of the House of Sharing.

QUESTION: Okay. Do you have any concern this kind of meeting might have a negative impact on U.S.-Japan relationship, given Japan has different opinions on these issues?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think this is an issue that we have discussed, certainly, in the past with Japan. As we’ve stated many times, it is deplorable and clearly a grave human rights violation of enormous proportions that the Japanese military was involved in the trafficking of women for sexual purposes in the 1930s and 1940s. And we – as we know, that was quite a long time ago, but we encourage Japan to continue to address this issue in a manner that promotes healing and facilitates better relations with neighboring states. We have had meetings – State Department officials have periodically met with representatives from this group in the past, so it shouldn’t set a new precedent. And obviously, there’s a great deal we work with Japan on.

QUESTION: Last question: So you don’t rule out any future meeting like this?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t think I’m ruling it out. I think we meet periodically with representatives from this group.

QUESTION: Sorry, which bureau was that with?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think the EAP would be the natural —

QUESTION: Not DRL?

QUESTION: DRL?

MS. PSAKI: I’d have to check on that, actually, but it wasn’t at a – it was a working-level meeting, so —

QUESTION: Right. I’m just curious as to what bureau or multiple – maybe there were multiple —

QUESTION: Could you check on it?

MS. PSAKI: I will see if there’s more clarity we’d like to provide.

QUESTION: So you don’t have any (inaudible)?

MS. PSAKI: I’m sorry?

QUESTION: More detail of any – you don’t have any —

MS. PSAKI: I don’t think I’m going to have more detail to provide, no.

QUESTION: Going back to Iran for a second, how can you in good faith negotiate with the Iranian Government over their nuclear program when they’re taking American hostages?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Lucas, let me say first that the reason that we’re working with the P5+1 members, the reason why we have been negotiating with Iran, is because of the great concern the President, many members of Congress, the Secretary of State have about Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon. And we think preventing that is not just a priority for the United States, but for the international community.

At every point in this process, we’ve had remaining concerns about other issues where we have strong disagreements, not just the detaining of American citizens, which of course is something we have a strong concern about, but also issues like human rights violations and their work and support for terrorist activities. But preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon remains an objective and a goal we think is worthy, and one that we will, of course, continue to pursue.

QUESTION: So as all the – as these events transpire, would you say Iran is a good negotiating partner?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think Iran has abided by the JPOA. Obviously, we’re moving into a new stage of negotiations that will begin soon. As you know, in each of these negotiations, whenever we have the opportunity, we raise concerns about the American citizens who have been detained and our desire to see them return home.

QUESTION: Speaking of the nuclear talks, there are reports that there might be a sideline meeting at UNGA next month on the negotiations. Can you confirm that?

MS. PSAKI: I have seen those reports. I don’t have any update on the timing of the next meeting.

QUESTION: Yes, please. Egypt?

MS. PSAKI: Sure. Do we have any more on Iran?

QUESTION: Go ahead.

MS. PSAKI: Okay. Go ahead. Egypt.

QUESTION: Yes, please. The first one is an American FMO – MFO soldier was shot in Sinai. Do you have any information or update about him?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I know there were reports, but the media reports are incorrect. The MFO camp was not targeted during this incident. No U.S. soldier was injured. A U.S. contractor was slightly injured as a result of a stray round fired in the vicinity. The U.S. contractor has received treatment, was released, and has since returned to duty.

QUESTION: Okay. The second question regarding the – Secretary Kerry yesterday met yesterday evening – met the prime minister of Egypt. Do you have any readout of the meeting?

MS. PSAKI: I believe I do. If I don’t, I was there, and I will give you a readout.

I’ll just say that he had a meeting, as you mentioned, with the prime minister of Egypt last evening. It was his last of the day. They discussed not only our strategic and security relationship with Egypt and the path forward, but also steps that Egypt could take to continue on the path to democracy. That’s something the Secretary, of course, raises during every meeting. He also raised the issue, again, of the arbitrary arrests and our concern about that and the concern he hears from members of Congress about that as well.

QUESTION: The (inaudible) case, did that come up?

MS. PSAKI: It was more of a general conversation. He had – did raise that as recently as the last time he was there.

QUESTION: Yeah.

QUESTION: How long was the meeting in —

MS. PSAKI: If I remember, it was about 30 minutes.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: These meetings are never as long as you want them to be because they’re all trying to fit in so many.

QUESTION: So there is another question. One of the main issues of – I mean, yesterday, the Secretary had meetings and other people had meetings all related to Libya.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: What’s the main – what is your understanding now of what’s going in Libya and how it’s going to be somehow solved or find out – exit to this situation now?

MS. PSAKI: Well, the Secretary also met with the prime minister of Libya yesterday. We continue to call on all Libyans to respect the June election of the Council of Representatives, to support the work of the constitutional drafting assembly, and to reject the use of violence. Libya’s challenges can only be resolved by Libyans working together to secure a more stable and prosperous future, and we continue to stand solidly by the Libyan people as they endeavor to do so. And certainly, Libya and – actually, it was certainly an issue – I should have mentioned that – that was discussed last night during the meeting, and it’s been discussed in some of his meetings over the course of the last several days.

As you know, there’s – we’ve been working with the international community to try to address the security issues on the ground. We know this is inherently a political problem, but certainly we have remaining security concerns that we’re trying to work to address as well.

Go ahead, Arshad.

QUESTION: How much does it impair your ability to work with the Libyan Government on such things as training and establishing a security force that would be answerable to the Libyan Government that the U.S. has had to – or has withdrawn its diplomats from Tripoli?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think, one, it’s important to note that this is a temporary relocation. Ambassador Jones was in the meeting yesterday. She’s remained closely engaged with the Libyans. And as you know, this is not just a United States endeavor. It is one that we’re working with the international community on, and so those conversations are continuing at a high level. Our preference would certainly be to have our staff there, but we’ve been able to continue to engage and work on these issues, both with the Libyans as well as others in the international community who are closely engaged with it.

QUESTION: Does it make it harder not being there?

MS. PSAKI: I think, again, because a lot of these conversations and coordination are happening at a very high level, whether it’s Ambassador Satterfield, Ambassador Jones, those are continuing. But of course, it’s preferable and – to have our team on the ground, and our full team on the ground, and that’s certainly what we’d like to return to.

QUESTION: Who’s working on the issue of trying to, for lack of a better word, demilitarize Libya?

MS. PSAKI: Well, who from the State Department?

QUESTION: Well, just in general, what parties are working on it? Are there any protocols that can be looked to to try to make – to help the government secure the country so that people don’t have to get caught in between these militias fighting?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think there are a great deal of international efforts. The Secretary has been engaged in a number of meetings with a number of other countries that the British – the U.K. has hosted, others have hosted, to discuss exactly that issue. I think it hasn’t moved as quickly as we would like, Roz, but obviously, Ambassador Satterfield, certainly Ambassador Jones, others who are engaged at a very high level here, that’s one of the primary issues that they’re working on.

QUESTION: Just to be clear, are – Ambassador Jones and Ambassador Satterfield are in the same place or different places?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Ambassador Jones is the Ambassador to Libya.

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS. PSAKI: She was —

QUESTION: And Ambassador Satterfield is – I think, is special envoy?

MS. PSAKI: Correct, and he’s been working sort of as a – in coordination with other international partners on kind of how to coordinate as we work to address the issues going on in Libya.

QUESTION: The other question – you said Libyans. I mean, are you in touch with all the factions or the fighting – whatever you call it – I don’t know, it’s groups? Or just the central government?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have a list of our engagements. We can see if there’s one we can get to all of you, if you’d like.

Should we move on to new issue?

QUESTION: Jen —

MS. PSAKI: Michel, go ahead.

QUESTION: — there is a perception in the Middle East that the U.S. was behind the creation of ISIL in the region. And —

MS. PSAKI: Behind the creation?

QUESTION: The creation or supporting the ISIL. And they say that since the U.S. didn’t attack yet or so far ISIL in some parts of Iraq after they took over some parts of Iraq, that’s why the U.S. is behind the creation and supporting ISIL. What can you say about that?

MS. PSAKI: Well, that’s a ludicrous and absolutely false accusation or view. Our view is that ISIL is a group of vicious terrorists. Their campaign of terror, grotesque violence, and repressive ideology poses serious threats to the stability and future of Iraq. We’ve seen the nature of ISIL fully exposed by its ruthless attacks on not only the Iraqi people but the Syrian people. This is an issue that not only the Secretary but the President of the United States remains focused on, and I think our actions speak to how concerned we are about ISIL.

QUESTION: And why the U.S. didn’t react or didn’t attack ISIL in Iraq and Syria so far?

MS. PSAKI: Why did we not attack?

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS. PSAKI: Well, as you know, there are a couple of factors, including the assessment on the ground that, of course, DOD has the lead on. We have sent additional resources, and they’ve been there for weeks. The other is government formation, and we believe – and the Secretary’s believes and the senior members of the Administration believe – that government formation is an incredibly important part of what needs to happen in Iraq in order to proceed and that, of course, is a factor in our own decision making.

QUESTION: But Jen, I think what – I mean, it’s well and good for you to say it’s ludicrous and absurd that you created ISIL or – but I think the perception that Michel’s talking about is that you have unintentionally given this group – not – given is the wrong word, but the U.S. has armed this group to some extent because of the stuff that they’ve stolen from the Iraqi military. Is that – I mean, you don’t deny that, do you?

MS. PSAKI: We’ve all seen the same reports, Matt.

QUESTION: I mean, they – right. I mean, they’ve taken this – Humvees and other stuff and arms, correct? You don’t dispute that, right? So I guess the question is: Why doesn’t the U.S. destroy that stuff?

MS. PSAKI: Why don’t we retroactively destroy —

QUESTION: No, why don’t you go in now and take out, destroy, the U.S. equipment that this group is now using against your friends, the Iraqi army and the Peshmerga?

MS. PSAKI: I’m just not going to do an analysis from here —

QUESTION: A military analysis.

MS. PSAKI: — on what we should take, what steps militarily we will or won’t take.

QUESTION: Okay. But I think that that’s kind – that may be something that’s keeping this perception alive.

MS. PSAKI: Well, the point I’m making is obviously that’s an inaccurate perception.

QUESTION: Yes, Jen.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Regarding the ISIL, a few weeks ago you were mentioning that there was kind of a confrontation going on in the Twittersphere, as you can call it, between tweets that – so is there – this thing is still going on or they – you stopped it?

MS. PSAKI: I think a few weeks ago I spoke to our efforts to combat that. I don’t have any real updates since then in terms of their – the activity of ISIL’s Twitter account. I would you let you do analysis on that.

Do we have a new topic? Oh, go ahead, in the back. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Venezuela.

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: Last week there was an initial announcement from the State Department that the U.S. was considering punitive actions against some Venezuelan officials for human rights violations. Is there any more that you have on that? We’ve heard reports that the U.S. is moving to revoke the visas of 24 officials.

MS. PSAKI: So the announcement that was made last week – obviously since then and in conjunction with that, there have been briefings with the Hill and there have been a range of information that’s been out there in the public domain. And so, therefore, we can confirm that there are 24 individuals who will have restrictions imposed on them. Obviously, those vary, but that is a number we can confirm at this point in time.

QUESTION: So they’re done on Venezuela?

QUESTION: Quick question.

QUESTION: On Venezuela?

MS. PSAKI: I think – Venezuela. Go ahead.

QUESTION: No, I don’t have one on Venezuela.

MS. PSAKI: Okay. Go ahead.

QUESTION: All right. I want to go to Ukraine.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: One, I’m wondering if you were —

MS. PSAKI: Oh, sorry. (Laughter.) Sorry about that.

QUESTION: I’m wondering – yesterday, you said that you weren’t able to verify either of these conflicting – the many numerous conflicting reports about these Ukrainian soldiers.

MS. PSAKI: I do have a little bit of new information on that.

QUESTION: Do you have – yes.

MS. PSAKI: The OSCE observer mission on the Russian border facilitated the movement of 437 Ukrainian troops into Russia on August 3rd. The troops had requested OSCE assistance in opening a humanitarian corridor after being surrounded by separatists and finding themselves without food, fuel, and ammunition. All their attempts to negotiate a cease-fire with the separatists had failed. At least 192 of these servicemen returned to Ukraine on August 4th. The OSCE was not made aware of any asylum requests.

We also would note that the Russians have committed to return the rest of the troops as well. That’s the latest number that we have at this point.

QUESTION: Okay. I mean, this situation seems bizarre, no? I just – what I mean, so you have a situation where the Ukrainian army that you support is fighting separatists who you oppose but who are supported by Russia. And somehow the OSCE negotiates safe passage for these Ukrainian troops into Russia where they are not molested; they’re taken care of apparently. And then they – and then some of them go back.

This would seem to me to suggest that the situation is perhaps less – recognizing that there is actual shelling and fighting going on in certain places, what does this tell you about the situation between Ukrainian troops and the Russian troops on the other side of the border? Does it tell you anything?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not sure I would venture to do any broad analysis here, given the other events that have continued to happen on the ground.

QUESTION: Fair enough.

MS. PSAKI: Obviously, in this case the OSCE obviously played a significant role here in assuring their safe passage, and certainly we wanted to note that the Russians have agreed to return the troops.

QUESTION: Okay. So that’s a positive thing?

MS. PSAKI: This particular incident, certainly.

QUESTION: Right. Do —

MS. PSAKI: But obviously, there are a range of other issues that we remain concerned about.

QUESTION: Clearly. I think you’ve – yes, you’ve made that very obvious. But do you think that in the absence – if the OSCE hadn’t been there, are you concerned that there might have been – that this might have led to people dying, bloodshed?

MS. PSAKI: Well, it’s hard to know, Matt. But I mean, it was a situation obviously where they were surrounded by separatists and they had no food, fuel, ammunition.

QUESTION: Right.

MS. PSAKI: So it certainly was not a desirable —

QUESTION: Your position —

MS. PSAKI: — situation to be sitting in.

QUESTION: Okay. So your position would be then that they – this should never have happened in the first place because there shouldn’t be a separatists attacking the army?

MS. PSAKI: Well certainly. The prime – the, of course, primary point is that, yes.

QUESTION: All right. So the other thing that you were asked yesterday about this Russian military – aviation military exercise that’s going on.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: You said you were – the U.S. was very deep – was deeply concerned about it, that it’s provocative. Well, the Russian defense ministry says that this is – this exercise is not taking place really close to the Ukrainian border. It’s a thousand kilometers away. And I’m wondering if given that, if you still have deep concerns about this being a provocative exercise.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think, Matt, the point I was making yesterday that I think I would certainly stick with is that obviously the conditions and the circumstances that any of these exercises are taking place in are a relevant factor, and that when we’re in a situation where we’re trying to reach a cease-fire where the Russians say they want to reach that, these sort of exercises send a different message.

QUESTION: Right. But I mean, it’s really not close to the Ukrainian border. So if you’re deeply concerned – I mean, how far away can the Russians do military exercises without drawing the concern of the United States? I mean, do they have to be in Vladivostok? I mean, how far away from —

QUESTION: (Inaudible) the Czech Republic?

QUESTION: I mean, it —

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have an exact kilometer (inaudible) measurement.

QUESTION: Siberia? Where do they – where exactly is it that the Russians can have military exercises that won’t – that you don’t think – or that you won’t have concerns are provocative to the situation in Ukraine?

MS. PSAKI: If there are exercises in Siberia, I’m happy to speak to that at the time.

QUESTION: Okay. But you still have – you have concerns about this exercise and it being a provocative action, is that correct?

MS. PSAKI: Yes.

QUESTION: Despite the distance, the rather large distance?

MS. PSAKI: Yes.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: Jen, the Polish foreign minister is very concerned about these exercises and says that Russia is preparing to invade Ukraine, and that has generated a lot of news. The markets are way down today. Do you have any comment on that?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think there have been a range of reports and comments out there. I think it’s – there are a few things that we do know. Additional Russian forces continue to arrive along the Ukrainian border, and Russia continues to reposition forces throughout the region. We don’t have specific numbers from here to share, and specifics on troop numbers is difficult to calculate. So I’m not going to make a prediction from here, but certainly the fact that troops continue to arrive is something that we are watching closely and remain concerned about.

QUESTION: And a few hours ago, President Putin said that he was going to develop a response to the sanctions put on his country by the United States and the EU, and that’s also held – the stock market is down 1 percent as we speak. I thought these sanctions were supposed to hurt Russia, not the United States.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think, one, Lucas, I think the vast, vast, vast majority of the hurt is being felt by Russia. As you noted – or I don’t think – but related to it is the central bank’s statement in Russia that was made as well. I mean, our goal here remains continuing to impose costs to increase the – to impose sanctions to increase the costs and – on Russia and on – and to have an impact on Russia’s actions. And obviously, with everything from the amount of nearly $100 billion in capital is expected to leave Russia, the impact on the energy, financial, and defense sectors, they’re all feeling pain. And that’s, of course, what we are hopeful will have an impact.

QUESTION: But you say you want to affect Putin’s actions, but you just said that Russia is putting more forces along the border. So how are the sanctions making him change his calculus?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think with every week that passes, we’re seeing more of a dire impact on the Russian economy. And obviously, President Putin has a choice to make. Does he care about the economy and the middle class people and people living in Russia, or does he care about continuing to take aggressive actions as it relates to Ukraine?

QUESTION: Can I just follow up on one thing?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: In Lucas’s question he referred to the exercise causing the Polish concern, but you’re talking about – when you say troops, Russian troops moving towards the border, that is something entirely separate from these military —

MS. PSAKI: Separate.

QUESTION: — from the aviation exercise, correct?

MS. PSAKI: That is entirely separate, yes.

Do we have any more —

QUESTION: Next question, please?

MS. PSAKI: One more on – do we have any more on Ukraine? Go ahead.

QUESTION: One more.

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead, Arshad.

QUESTION: Excuse me if I missed this, but were you asked about the Russian media report saying that Russia is considering barring European airlines from flying over its territory, from flying over Siberia, I think, to go to the Far East?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think if Russia doesn’t like the sanctions that have been imposed and the impact they’ve had, then the more productive response would be for Russia to stop sending arms and fighters into Ukraine. And that, we feel, is the more appropriate response they could take.

QUESTION: But does it bother you that they seem to be considering retaliation?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think – sure, but I think our view is that if they want to bring an end to the sanctions, there are clear steps they can take, clear – a clear path they can take.

QUESTION: Well, but Jen, I mean, are you – you’re approaching this with the idea that they want an end to the sanctions. Are you convinced that they do? They certainly don’t have – they certainly haven’t been acting that way, have they?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, I think, again, because the pain has been building and we’ve seen the impact on the economy only growing over the course of the last several weeks, we think there are serious decisions that President Putin will need to make.

QUESTION: As far as thes

Daily Press Briefings : Daily Press Briefing – July 28, 2014

1:36 p.m. EDT

MS. PSAKI: Hi, everyone.

QUESTION: Welcome back.

MS. PSAKI: Thank you. I was going to make up a story, but I couldn’t come up with a good one. So I injured it over the course of the last couple of weeks. So this boot will be with me for about six weeks.

With that, I have one item at the top for all of you, and I wanted to – the Secretary, as you know, just returned late Saturday night from a trip that included stops in Egypt, Jerusalem, Ramallah, Paris, and Tel Aviv. And I wanted to just give you an overview of the last 10 days or so, what has transpired and where we stand today.

So let me first reiterate that the objective of the United States has been and remains stopping the rocket fire against Israeli citizens and bringing about negotiations through – that can lead to a longer-term ceasefire. Our first step – our next step, I should say, here that we’re working toward is a humanitarian cease-fire. That’s what the Secretary has been calling for; that’s what the discussion has focused on. That would not only significantly de-escalate the violence, but it would also allow urgently needed food and medicine to the people of Gaza, and that’s one of the reasons we think it’s so important.

As you all know, two weeks ago – about two weeks ago, the Egyptians put forward a cease-fire proposal that was accepted – that was supported by the United States and endorsed, certainly, by Secretary Kerry and accepted by Israel and rejected by Hamas. At that point, the war began to escalate – shortly after, I should say, the war began to escalate dramatically. And there were no serious conversations going on about how to further initiate a cease-fire. Demonstrations were increasing in the West Bank and the situation was spinning out of control. And casualties, as we all know because we all saw press reports on both sides, were increasing and there were no serious negotiations in place.

So in our view as we watched, as violence escalated, there did not appear to be a clear path to a ceasefire or an end to the violence. President Obama, as you all know, asked Secretary Kerry last weekend to travel to the region, which he did late last Sunday night, first to Egypt to build on the Egyptian ceasefire. Every step of the way through this process we’ve been consulting with and coordinating with our allies, including Israeli and Egyptian partners. And over the past week, and I know many of you have been tracking this closely, but Secretary Kerry has remained engaged with many of the key actors in the region, including Prime Minister Netanyahu, President Abbas, President Sisi, and, of course, Ban Ki-moon, in efforts to negotiate a humanitarian ceasefire.

So, as a part of this effort, it was essential to engage, as it has – as has been done in the past, including in 2012, with countries that have the most influential relationship with Hamas. This is what happened, of course, in 2012 and with the Egyptians, and this time the primary interlocutors are the Qataris and the Turks. And so as a part of that effort, the Secretary has been very closely engaged with Foreign Minister Davutoglu and Foreign Minister Attiyah, parties that we feel have the most leverage with Hamas.

So this gets us to late last week. The Secretary was obviously in the region for several days and there were several meetings with all of the interlocutors, including with the Israelis. And as you know, the Secretary traveled there. And let me be clear, during that meeting there were a range of press reports out there. So part of my effort here is to provide accurate information about what happened last week. There was never a formal U.S. proposal presented. As part of our ongoing consultations we sent them a clearly labeled confidential draft of ideas, sent an order to get Israeli comments, as part of an effort closely coordinated with the Israelis to explore a possible basis for a cease-fire.

This draft was – of ideas was based on the Egyptian proposal that they had supported from just a couple of weeks before that. So it was based on – and I shouldn’t say – not just supported, but the Israeli cabinet formally accepted. So we were surprised and were obviously disappointed that a confidential draft was leaked to the press. Our discussion draft and the Egyptian proposal both called for the immediate cessation of hostilities, the opening of broad – of border crossings, and mediation by the Egyptians on other core issues.

It’s also important to note that the Egyptian proposal accepted by the Israeli cabinet did not make any mention of demilitarization or of tunnels or of rockets. That was not in the proposal from two weeks ago that the Israeli cabinet approved and Hamas rejected. It also made no mention of the need for disarmament, and it underscored the need for discussions between Israel and the Palestinians. In effect, this proposal called for Hamas to cease hostilities that – to cease hostilities, and this was a proposal that Israel had accepted 10 days earlier. The main difference was there was additional language on humanitarian assistance for the Palestinians, something that the Israelis have historically supported. It did not include any of the demands that Hamas was making when Secretary Kerry arrived, including the release of prisoners.

Moreover, the document also reflected the need for negotiations to address the issues necessary for an enduring solution to the conflict, meaning there’s a great deal of history here, there’s a great deal of mistrust here. There – the document didn’t address every issue that each side is being presented – has presented or has spoken out about that’s of concern to them. We all know that the Israelis’ position on the importance about demilitarization – we all know their position. That’s a goal, of course, we support. We know the Palestinians care about opening up the crossings and restoring normal life for the people of Gaza. These are exactly the kind of issues that need to be addressed as a part of negotiation.

So that leads us to where we are now. The Secretary has, of course, been very closely engaged, continues to be. He has been over the course of the weekend. He has been this morning as well. Our focus now is on short-term cease-fires that can build on each other. The longer there’s a reduction in violence, the more likely it is that the parties will be able – will come to the table and talk, and that is our focus at this point. The Egyptians remain prepared to host a negotiation in Cairo. We would support that, and of course the United States would participate at a high level.

So over the course of the last week, clearly we’ve seen violence. We’ve – there’s ongoing violence. That’s of concern. That’s why we’re so focused on bringing an end to this. But we’ve also seen engagement and discussion about short-term cease-fires; we’ve seen negotiations with the parties that wasn’t happening. We’ve also seen an increase in international support where, of course – as is evidenced by the Security Council statement. Obviously we’re going to continue working on this, and the Secretary, of course, will remain very closely engaged.

That was long, I realize, but —

QUESTION: Yeah, it was long.

MS. PSAKI: — it’s been a lot that’s been happening.

Go ahead, Matt.

QUESTION: I was going to congratulate you. I think you might have set a record for the length of the opening monologue.

MS. PSAKI: It’s a complicated issue and we think that —

QUESTION: Yeah, can I ask —

MS. PSAKI: — laying out the facts is important. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Can I ask what compelled you to take up, I don’t know, seven to 10 minutes of your opening here to, I mean —

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think, Matt, that there has been a lot of confusion out there in reports about what has been happening, what the focus of our efforts is, and what our goal is, and we felt it was important to lay that out.

QUESTION: Well, I mean, you use the word “confusion.” The White House just a little while ago, the Deputy National Security Advisor Mr. Blinken was up there and said that he – it was his opinion, and I presume this is the opinion of the Administration, that some of these leaks were either misinformed leaks or they were attempts to misinform. How unhelpful – or how angry are you? How unhelpful do you believe the Israelis, or at least some Israelis have been in this issue? And how angry are you at what you claim to be a serious misrepresentation of what the Secretary was trying to do?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think let me just reiterate first that the Secretary’s goal is to bring an end from the – to the rocket fire and the rocket attacks coming from Hamas and impacting the people of Israel, and I think that’s important for everybody to remember. This is, I think we’ve certainly noted, the difference between what is discussed privately and what is noted in public accounts from anonymous sources. And no one is calling to complain about the Secretary’s handling of the situation or his engagement in this effort overseas. And our view is it’s simply not the way that partners and allies treat each other.

So it was important, in our view, to lay out on the record what the facts are about what has happened here, and we’re certainly hopeful that we can all focus moving forward on how we achieve a ceasefire and not on other misinformation campaigns.

QUESTION: When you say – so you accuse – you’re accusing at least some in the Israeli Government of waging a misinformation campaign? Is that —

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any information on the sources, Matt.

QUESTION: Right.

MS. PSAKI: But obviously there’s a great deal of information out there that’s inaccurate.

QUESTION: When you say that this is not the way friends and allies should treat each other, you’re referring to Israeli treatment of Secretary Kerry and of his – of the Administration’s attempt to get a ceasefire together?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think there are obviously some anonymous sources that are out there that are speaking on behalf of the views of the Israeli Government. Whether or not that is an accurate depiction of their position is not for me to make a judgment of, but —

QUESTION: So how serious is this, in terms of jeopardizing the relationship?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t think – I think Israel remains an incredibly important partner. The Secretary has been closely engaged in this over the course of the weekend. His – this is not about him, and his view is this is not about him. But I think we all feel that we need to focus on laying out the facts and not undergoing an effort to distort what our effort is focused on here.

QUESTION: The Israeli – the main Israeli – well, there has been a huge chorus of very, very harsh criticism of the Secretary in the Israeli media and in social media as well, claiming – some of it claiming that the Secretary has – is now pro-Hamas and that the only reason that he went into this was to save Hamas. Can you address – the argument goes Hamas was losing militarily, and he comes in and demands an immediate ceasefire, calls for an immediate ceasefire, and then the argument goes that the only reason he’s doing this, the sole reason that he’s doing this, is to save Hamas so that it can live to fight another day, I guess.

MS. PSAKI: Well, thank you for that opportunity, Matt. I’ll say that the Secretary’s reason for engaging in this, as he is, is to end the rocket attacks from Hamas that are going into – that have threatened Israel. That’s his focus. I think anyone would be hard pressed to find a stronger partner and ally with Israel than Secretary Kerry, not just over the course of the last year in his efforts with the peace process, but the entire time he was in the United States Senate.

But one of the reasons I laid that out in great detail, as I did, is because there’s a lot of information that is inaccurate about what our efforts were about, what they were focused on. The reason that he engaged with the Qataris and the Turks, who are, of course, countries that we regularly engage with about a range of issues, was because they – but on this particular issue is because they have an influential role to play in engaging with Hamas. You can’t have a ceasefire where Israel agrees to a ceasefire and the other side isn’t agreeing to a ceasefire. That doesn’t help make Israel safer, and that’s our primary objective.

QUESTION: Okay. It sounds as though you think the Administration believes that someone in Israel or multiple people in Israel were actually trying to sabotage – maybe I’m wrong, tell me if that’s – were actually trying to sabotage a cease-fire. Is that an accurate reading of your —

MS. PSAKI: I don’t want to ascribe motivations, but certainly I think those who want to support a cease-fire should focus on efforts to put it in place and not on efforts to criticize or attack one of the very people who’s playing a prominent role in getting it done.

QUESTION: All right. I’ll wrap up and let other people —

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: I have one more question and that is: Why are these critics wrong? Why is it not – why should it not be a part of a cease-fire that Hamas demilitarize and disarm? I mean, it would seem to make perfect sense if that’s the ultimate goal, or not even the ultimate goal. Should – why shouldn’t it be the short-term goal as well?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, I think demilitarization is something the United States certainly supports. But in the meantime, people are dying every day, whether it’s children in Gaza or Israeli soldiers. And what we want to see is an immediate end to the violence so we can have a discussion about these core issues. That is certainly one of them the Israelis have presented as an important issue to address, and we support that. But in the meantime, that can’t be a precursor for a cease-fire, and a humanitarian cease-fire that very importantly would allow essential medical and food – medical assistance and food to get in to the people of Gaza.

QUESTION: Sorry, indulge me one more time.

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: Prime Minister Netanyahu just gave a speech, which you’re probably aware of, and he said that they won’t stop until they take care of all the tunnels. Is that problematic for you?

MS. PSAKI: Well, the tunnels are an issue that we recognize as a legitimate threat to Israel, and I think all of you are familiar with this issue. But the way we see it, it would be very challenging, as the Israelis experience every day, to wake up and worry about the threat of terrorists coming in through tunnels into your country. They have been working on address it – on addressing the tunnels. We think that they can be addressed in a way that doesn’t escalate combat. So that’s a part of the discussion that’s being had.

QUESTION: Can I just go back to – you mentioned that nobody was ringing to complain about the Secretary’s presence and his efforts. Do you mean nobody on the official side was – no Israeli or Egyptian or Palestinians were complaining, on the Palestinian Authority side?

MS. PSAKI: Correct, mm-hmm.

QUESTION: But how do you explain the torrent of criticism in the Israeli media that Matt already referred to? The Secretary was described to – as a bull in a China shop, that he believes he could just go in and by his mere presence trying to effect a cease-fire. How do you – what do you say to all those critics who just say that he just isn’t the person to be able to negotiate this cease-fire deal?

MS. PSAKI: Well, it’s hard for me to ascribe the motivations, but I think it’s important to note that prior to the Secretary’s visit to the region, there were no discussions going on about a cease-fire. There was not a focus in the international community of what was happening on the ground. Of course there’s more work to do. There is – we need to end the violence. We’re not going to be satisfied until that happens. But it does raise the question, not all, but are there some who oppose a cease-fire or don’t want to see a cease-fire happen?

QUESTION: So do you believe – is there any sense, perhaps, that the Secretary, through his failed efforts earlier this year to get a comprehensive Middle East peace treaty, may have in some way hampered or compromised his ability to negotiate in this situation? If a few months ago, both the Israelis and Palestinians felt that they could say no to the Secretary on something which was much broader, does that not give them a renewed focus or ability to say no this time around or something?

MS. PSAKI: Absolutely not. I don’t think – we don’t think that those two issues have anything to do with each other. I think the fact that the peace process is not currently ongoing has left a vacuum for violence to fill it, but there are also a range of events, as we all know, including the death of the three teenagers, that has increased the tensions in the region. The factor that our – that we feel is different from, say, 2012, are – there’s a couple of factors. And that’s really, I think, what’s making it more challenging.

One is clearly there’s a different relationship between the Egyptian Government and Hamas. Obviously, they have the lead on this. It’s an Egyptian proposal, but the prior government essentially negotiated the ceasefire, and at this point we’re working, of course, through the Qataris and the Turks and in cooperation with the Egyptians. But that’s a different scenario.

There are also different politics on the ground. There’s increased regional tensions. And Israel – their effort has gone farther earlier than it did a couple of years ago. And the Secretary himself, as we were discussing this with him over the weekend, he was engaged, as you may know, in the 2012 effort. And his view is that the process and the dynamic is completely different. And obviously we’re dealing – the different challenging set of circumstances is certainly a contributing factor to our process.

QUESTION: And we talked a little bit about what Israel would like to see out of a ceasefire, including what Israel’s aim is, including getting rid of the tunnels. But on the other hand, is there an acceptance on the American side that Hamas isn’t just going to agree to a ceasefire for a ceasefire’s sake, because they did that in 2012 and there was supposed to be an opening up of Gaza, there was supposed to be a lifting of the blockade, there was supposed to be an opening up of the Rafah Crossing, and that hasn’t happened.

And so this time, I think there’s a sense that they’re holding out for something more. They actually want guarantees that these things will happen. Is there some sympathy in the American – on the American side with that position?

MS. PSAKI: Well, there’s certainly an understanding that the Palestinians want to see greater access, improved economic opportunity; that’s, of course, a reference to the crossings. And certainly, the border crossings would be a part of any discussion. There are other demands that they have put out there. I think our view is that the need for humanitarian – a humanitarian ceasefire is based in part on the fact that there is a dire situation on the ground where there is a need to get in medical assistance, food, that sort of assistance. And in order to have this discussion about those difficult issues, we need to see a de-escalation.

QUESTION: So the bottom line is a ceasefire first, then further negotiations? Is that what you see?

MS. PSAKI: Correct, mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Jen, just to follow up on this point. I mean, it’s not only the crossing. You’re aware that there is a siege, basically, that has Gaza cut off from the rest of the world, and it’s in the air, in the sea, fishermen are not allowed to fish and so on. So you do support lifting the siege, at least on the humanitarian basis, correct?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Said, I think there are larger issues here that will need to be discussed as a part of a longer-term negotiation. That’s going to be – the Egyptians would have in all likelihood the lead on that. So our – my point is that we’re talking about a ceasefire where those issues are not addressed in advance, because that will delay it further. And what we want to do is de-escalate the tension, put it – bring a pause, so that we can have a discussion about those issues.

QUESTION: Okay. Now, I know you are focused on bringing a pause – as you said, maybe a 24-hour humanitarian cease-fire. But in light or in view of the speech that was just made by Prime Minister Netanyahu and seeing how this whole thing morphed from going after the perpetrators of the kidnapping, and going after the rockets, now going after the tunnel, this thing is really expanding. Are you concerned that there may be a reoccupation of Gaza?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Said, I think we’re concerned about the increasing level of violence we’ve seen over the last several weeks. That’s why we’re focused on stopping it. There are a range of issues at play here that are part of the discussion, but again, I think I reiterated what our focus and – is on.

QUESTION: Just very quickly, a follow-up.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Are you aware of any efforts that are ongoing now by the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to bring along Hamas members and maybe Islamic Jihad members and go to Cairo to talk to the Egyptians perhaps to refrain their proposal? Are you aware of that?

MS. PSAKI: Well, President Abbas has been very engaged in this process. We know there have been some comments out today about his view, which we’ve been in touch with people close to him and are not accurate, and we expect there’ll be a clarification of those. But we – they have stated, and in fact, one of his top advisors stated yesterday during a Sunday show appearance that they would be willing to engage in a negotiation in Egypt. So I’d point you to that.

QUESTION: Right. And this effort, or at least the effort with the Qataris and Turks and so on, with this now over, is it – do we have something other than that? Do we have a follow-up on that, the meeting in Paris and so on? Do we have anything new?

MS. PSAKI: The effort is ongoing, Said —

QUESTION: Right.

MS. PSAKI: — and the Secretary’s been engaged with all of these parties consistently throughout the weekend, and I expect that will continue through the course of the next several days. And Foreign Minister Davutoglu, Foreign Minister al-Attiyah remain two of the key interlocutors who have influence with Hamas.

QUESTION: Considering how you have spoken to the Egyptians, the Israelis, the Palestinian Authority and (inaudible) and so on, has anyone from the negotiating team been to Gaza to see what is it like on the ground?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think we’ve seen – it doesn’t take a visit to see the photos and the video and the horrible circumstances that people are living in on the ground.

QUESTION: Yeah. I wanted to ask you – you mentioned twice, I think, why the U.S. is engaging with Qatar and Turkey. And I’m just wondering if this is in response to criticism in the media or from the Israeli Government.

And on a related note, you talked about Egypt being the lead. You also talked about the relationship between Hamas and Egypt changing. I’m wondering if there’s any consideration in the Administration about whether Egypt should be the lead given the hostility towards Hamas that you see in Egyptian state media, and the distrust that Hamas has for Egypt. Are they the right people to play that role?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think, again, there’s a range of interlocutors from the international community that are now engaged in this effort, including the UN, including the United States, including European countries. The Egyptians have played a role. They proposed the first of this year ceasefire proposal. They are open to hosting negotiations in Cairo, and we feel that’s absolutely the appropriate lead.

On your first question, the reason I mentioned that – and it goes back to what I said about the difference between public comments – or I should say anonymous public comments – and what’s discussed privately. I think in a negotiation, there’s certainly an understanding that you have to engage with both parties. Otherwise, you’re having a negotiation with yourself. So there’s an understanding of that, and our role in working with the Qataris and the Turks on this – though I should note, again, we work with them on a range of issues, of course – is to – is because of their – the influential role they can play with Hamas. So I would say it’s more about the public accounts than it is private conversations.

QUESTION: Would you – I mean, can you understand Israeli concern with you dealing so closely, particularly with the Turks, after the really inflammatory comments that have been made by not only Prime Minister Erdogan, but by Foreign Minister Davutoglu as well?

MS. PSAKI: Well, first, let me say that those comments were inflammatory and certainly not just unhelpful, but offensive. And we don’t agree – we don’t even talk to Hamas, as you all know, and certainly we don’t agree with those comments that were made by the Turks. But at the same time, when we’re talking about a dire situation on the ground and one where people are dying, people are living under threat every day, it’s important to engage with parties who can have an influence with Hamas.

QUESTION: Right, but you can understand Israel’s concern with that, can you not?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we certainly understand their concern with the comments, of course.

QUESTION: Right. But I mean, for any – when the leaders of a country make comments like that, can they really be expected to be – can you really expect the Israelis to be on board with anything that they’re going to do as it relates to this specific issue?

MS. PSAKI: Well, there has to be a – I think the question is: What’s the alternative? There has to be a way to engage with Hamas. The United States doesn’t, Israel doesn’t. This is the best path at this point to engage.

QUESTION: So if it was not very much of a difference, as you say, between the Egyptian – the initial Egyptian proposal and this Friday proposal, why weren’t the Egyptians in Paris?

MS. PSAKI: Because the purpose of our trip to Paris was not to negotiate. The parties weren’t even in Paris, as you know.

QUESTION: I know.

MS. PSAKI: The Israelis weren’t there either. The purpose was to brief the international community on what was happening.

QUESTION: Right. But if you – but the fact of the matter is that by getting up there in Paris with the Turks and the Qataris – and the Europeans, but the Turks and the Qataris – and not the Egyptians being – not having them there as well, can you see how people might take that as a turning away from the Egyptian proposal and a wholehearted embrace of Qatar and Turkey, with whom Israel has huge problems?

MS. PSAKI: Well, let me just reiterate what the purpose was, because the Secretary did a press conference with the Egyptians the night before we went to Paris.

QUESTION: I understand that.

MS. PSAKI: They fully knew we were going there to meet – that he was going there to meet with the Europeans. It was important to hear from the Qataris and the Turks for the Europeans too, because they had been engaged with Hamas. We had not been. So the purpose was to brief them and continue to build support in the international community.

QUESTION: Okay. That would suggest that – well, let me ask first: Are you saying in your – all your comments here that the leak of – this document that was leaked, this confidential document that you said was leaked, that that is accurate? That that is the document that was given to the Israelis to peruse and decide whether they liked it or not?

MS. PSAKI: As much as this piece of paper is a document, yes.

QUESTION: Right, this piece of paper. And I’m recognizing you’re saying it’s not a formal proposal, whatever. It was the ideas that they were going to discuss. But those are accurate, right?

MS. PSAKI: Yes.

QUESTION: Did the Egyptians sign off on those?

MS. PSAKI: The Egyptians were fully engaged in every aspect of our discussions.

QUESTION: Does that mean that they signed off on that?

MS. PSAKI: Well —

QUESTION: Because I think the argument that – the argument that’s being made by some Israel is that this deviated substantially from their – from the Egyptian initial proposal, which you say that’s just wrong. But I’m wondering if you can say with certainty that the Egyptians on that Friday signed off on this one-page or whatever – however many pages it was – list of ideas.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I understand what you’re asking, but I still think contextually it’s important to note this was not a document getting sign-off from. This was based on the Egyptian proposal —

QUESTION: Well, the Israelis certainly thought that it was.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I’m conveying that —

QUESTION: They voted on it.

MS. PSAKI: I’m conveying that a confidential draft of ideas, perhaps, was not something that was ready for a vote by the Israeli cabinet.

QUESTION: So they acted prematurely in rejecting it?

MS. PSAKI: I think I’ll let you make your own judgment, Matt.

QUESTION: But still, I want to get to the – back to the answer: Did the Egyptians sign off on the confidential draft of ideas?

MS. PSAKI: Well, they were engaged, and no one was asking for anyone’s sign-off at that stage in time. But I would ask all of you to take a look at the – both proposals and note what the differences are, which they’re very minimal.

QUESTION: What – are you willing to offer them up?

MS. PSAKI: I think they’re appearing publicly. I also —

QUESTION: So that means you are confirming that what has been out there is – what is out there is accurate?

MS. PSAKI: It’s accurate in the sense that three days ago, it was an informal draft of ideas that was given on a confidential basis and we asked for responses on. It’s not currently something that is relevant to the discussion.

QUESTION: It’s not? I thought —

QUESTION: Really? I thought they voted —

QUESTION: I thought it was.

MS. PSAKI: Hmm?

QUESTION: I thought it was. No?

MS. PSAKI: Currently not. Where our focus is —

QUESTION: It’s dead?

MS. PSAKI: Our focus right now is on the short-term humanitarian ceasefire.

QUESTION: Right. That’s what I thought this was.

MS. PSAKI: Well, this was a longer document or a longer description.

QUESTION: Well, what are the – the problem that the Israelis have with it is that it doesn’t – apparently that they have with it is that it didn’t address demilitarization and disarmament. But that’s a – and what you’re saying is that that’s a longer-term – I don’t understand why you’ve – you’re so angry with the Israelis that you pulled this whole – this paper off the table?

MS. PSAKI: No, that’s not at all the case, Matt.

QUESTION: All right. I don’t get it.

MS. PSAKI: I think things have moved forward since then over the course of the last several days. So I’m just saying it’s an old discussion, but it’s still out there with a bunch of information that isn’t accurate, which is why we decided to —

QUESTION: Well, things have certainly moved as – I don’t know if they’ve moved forward or backward. But why isn’t that still – that is no longer the basis of what you’re trying to do? Those ideas?

MS. PSAKI: Our basis is what I just outlined, which is —

QUESTION: But what’s going to come next? How’s the next proposal going to differ from this one?

MS. PSAKI: Well, the – what we’re discussing with both sides at this point is a humanitarian cease-fire, where the longer-term issues would be addressed at the later – at a later basis, simple as that.

QUESTION: But I thought that’s what that was?

MS. PSAKI: It is that. (Laughter.) But what I’m saying is that that draft of ideas is not a paper that’s being litigated and going back and forth with edits at this point in time. It hasn’t been for days.

QUESTION: Seeing how this would incrementally work, so you have like a 24-hour proposal followed by seven-day cease-fire, and then during that time things begin to happen or negotiations begin to happen with the involvement of, let’s say, Qatar, Egypt, and so on. Is that what it is?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Said, I think we’d certainly support a longer-term ceasefire, if we could achieve a seven-day humanitarian ceasefire. What we’re doing right now is we’re taking it day by day, and we’re hopeful that with each ceasefire we can build on the last. Because if there’s a pause, we feel that’s going to be the best opportunity for negotiations.

QUESTION: And just to follow up on Jo’s question as of a little while ago, when she said that the 2012 agreement calls for opening the crossing, lifting the siege, doing all these things, which none of it has happened – now strategically, if there is an agreement strategically, would the United States be willing to sort of guarantee that these steps, whatever steps are taken, to lift the border crossing, to open them, and so on? Would it guarantee such a thing?

MS. PSAKI: I think I’m not going to get into guarantees from here, Said. Obviously, there’s ongoing —

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MS. PSAKI: Let me finish.

QUESTION: Oh.

MS. PSAKI: There’s ongoing discussions. We are certainly aware of the issues that are important and have been discussed publicly by both sides, and they would certainly be a part of a negotiation.

QUESTION: Yes, please.

QUESTION: Now just to get us right, you’re just suggesting a 24-hour ceasefire, followed by another 24-hour cease-fire, followed by another 24-hour ceasefire —

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’d certainly support longer than 24 hours. But what our goal is is to have agreement on short – even if they’re short-term ceasefires by the parties so that – and – that we can build on, so that we can have a pause in the violence and have an opportunity to negotiate.

QUESTION: But that doesn’t actually address any of these issues that we’ve talked about here, on either the Israeli or the Hamas side.

MS. PSAKI: It does address allowing food and medical equipment in. It does address bringing a temporary end to the violence and threat of rocket attacks. That’s, right now, an important first step. And there’s no question the larger longer-term issues need to be negotiated and addressed.

QUESTION: But I think the Israeli concern about these – the short-term ceasefires is it simply gives Hamas time and space to regroup and refocus its rockets. It doesn’t actually achieve, other than – I understand that humanitarian – the humanitarian argument, but I wonder whether either party is actually very interested in a humanitarian ceasefire for the time being.

MS. PSAKI: Well, that has been the basis of our discussion. We’ve seen some agreement over the weekend on short-term humanitarian ceasefires. Certainly we would support a much longer-term ceasefire, and we would – we have advocated for that and you’ve seen the UN advocate for that and in the readout of the President’s call advocating for that. What we’re talking about is a step that we think could be an important next step or important steps in the process, and that’s why our focus is on that at this point in time.

QUESTION: And I just wondered if you had any issue or comment on Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif’s round of telephone calls he’s been making in the region yesterday to various different parties, including – and not just the region, but also with the EU and the UN, to try and also on their part effect some kind of truce. Does that concern you at all that the Iranians are getting involved, or do you welcome it? What would be your response?

MS. PSAKI: I haven’t spent a lot of time reading about his comments or his calls. I think our focus is on calling for a ceasefire, bringing an end to the violence on the ground. Efforts to put that in place I think we’d be comfortable with.

QUESTION: But in the same way that any country that has influence is – has been asked to use its influence, would you not ask Iran as well on the same – in the same vein to do so with Hamas?

MS. PSAKI: Well, certainly publicly. That hasn’t been our focus at this time because we’ve been working with other countries, as you know, who we are engaging with in issues aside from the nuclear issue to play a role in influencing Hamas.

QUESTION: Ukraine?

QUESTION: I have one more, broadly.

QUESTION: I have one.

QUESTION: Go ahead.

QUESTION: Thank you. Two questions related to this unusual level of vitriol about the Secretary. One is, do you guys have a theory or a sense as to why? Is this an attempt, an Israeli attempt to deflect blame? And I know you’re going to – I think I know what your answer is going to be, but secondly, has there been any outreach to the Secretary from Israeli officials to apologize or explain?

MS. PSAKI: Well, first, I would say I’m, of course, naturally not going to ascribe the motivation or the reason for the different leaks or anonymous comments that we’ve seen out there. But I do think that laying out the details of what has happened and the level of specificity that I did – and I appreciate all of your patience – helps convey what the facts are. And that’s why I did it.

On the second question, what’s important to note here is that the Secretary has been engaged, as has Ambassador Shapiro, as has Frank Lowenstein, with Israeli officials and others in the region basically nonstop – many calls a day with them. The focus of the discussions are about next steps and what to do next. It’s not about any – there haven’t been complaints about his handling or his engagement or involvement, so it’s almost a separate track than what we’re seeing in the public comments.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) acknowledgement?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think that has not been the focus of the discussions in any way, shape, or form.

QUESTION: Just following on from that, more broadly in terms of the U.S.-Israel relationship under the Obama Administration – more specifically the second term. This is not the first time that we have seen vitriol and very harsh criticism of the Secretary – directed at the Secretary from Israel and its supporters in the United States and elsewhere. And I’m – without ascribing a motive to what might be behind that, does the Secretary himself feel that he is still in a position to be able to deal with the Israeli Government and to be someone who can be effective in both this current Gaza situation, but also in the longer term in terms of peace talks and a peace process with the Palestinians?

MS. PSAKI: Yes. And we certainly understand, as we’ve seen in past occasions, that when there is a difficult political situation or security situation, tensions can rise and we’ve seen that in the past. But Secretary Kerry considers Prime Minister Netanyahu a friend. He has been, as I said earlier, I would be hard pressed – I think anyone would be hard pressed to find a stronger supporter for Israel than Secretary Kerry, and his engagement in the region and his efforts in this regard has been in close coordination and cooperation with the Israelis. So I would say that he will remain engaged; they have welcomed his engagement in this effort, and that will continue – he will continue his effort.

QUESTION: One, you just – they welcomed his engagement in this effort? My understanding was the Israelis fought tooth and nail, didn’t want him anywhere near this.

MS. PSAKI: Well, over the last – I think the fact that he has been engaged in perhaps a half a dozen calls or more every day with them shows you that they’re open to his engagement.

QUESTION: And second, you say that the Secretary and Prime Minister Netanyahu are friends and will remain friends. Who else is Secretary Kerry friends with in the Israeli Government?

MS. PSAKI: In the world?

QUESTION: Defense minister? No, in the Israeli Government. Other Israeli officials. Defense Minister Ya’alon?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t think I need to list a —

QUESTION: Foreign Minister Lieberman?

MS. PSAKI: — do a listing of his friends. It’s fair to say —

QUESTION: Minister Steinitz?

MS. PSAKI: — he has a range of friends in Israel, including in the government.

QUESTION: Uri Ariel? (Laughter.) Can you name one other person in – maybe one minister in —

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to get into a naming. I was —

QUESTION: But you already did. You named – you’ve named Prime Minister Netanyahu. So how many of his cabinet members do you think the Secretary could consider friends of his?

MS. PSAKI: I think when the Secretary has an issue he will raise that privately. But he has a range of friends in the government and in Israel, and certainly has been a strong supporter and continues to be.

QUESTION: Would you like to see those friends stand up for him now?

MS. PSAKI: I think, Matt, our focus here is on the ceasefire effort —

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: — but it was important to lay out the facts on the ground.

Israel or a new issue?

QUESTION: Yes.

MS. PSAKI: Israel? Go ahead.

QUESTION: The same issue. I mean, you mentioned humanitarian aid, and then you mentioned short-term ceasefire. I mean – sorry – humanitarian ceasefire and short-term ceasefire, and then long-term cease-fire which was the aim. I mean, the seven-day proposal was – is that the short-term or the long-term or the —

MS. PSAKI: Well, the seven day was the initial proposal.

QUESTION: What’s the long term for you?

MS. PSAKI: Certainly, we’d support that or a continuation of that. I think we would like to see a permanent ceasefire, if that was possible, certainly. But right now we’re focused on short-term proposals that can build on each other. Let me just note in addition to having access to humanitarian assistance into Gaza, we also announced last week additional funding – $47 million for humanitarian assistance. That’s something that we’re continuing to work on with the international community as well.

QUESTION: So can you say now you are working on humanitarian ceasefire now?

MS. PSAKI: Yes.

QUESTION: And it’s – the same talks are taking place with the counterparts at the sides?

MS. PSAKI: Yes.

QUESTION: Okay. The other question related to draft of ideas that you mentioned, is still that draft of ideas on the table or it’s off the table?

MS. PSAKI: It’s not – the focus of the discussion at this point is on immediate short-term ceasefires that we – that can build on each other. This is a – sort of a discussion from several days ago, but it was worth – we felt it was worth clarifying.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) now; can we say that?

MS. PSAKI: Well, there are a range of issues that are raised in there that will certainly be a part of a discussion, so in – security issues, including greater access to – increased access and economic opportunity for the Palestinians. So there are issues that have been the everlasting issues in this case that will be discussed and negotiated over the course of time. But in terms of a document that is being negotiated back and forth, no, there’s not line edits going back and forth between the parties.

QUESTION: So the other – which is like a follow-up to Matt’s question, which is like: Are – the Egyptian side was aware of the content and the spirit and the text of this draft of ideas, or were out of the loop?

MS. PSAKI: Absolutely aware. We were living in Cairo for five days. The Secretary spoke with Foreign Minister Shoukry multiple times a day and we were very closely involved. And again, it was based on the Egyptian proposal, and so they are obviously a key interlocutor and key lead on this effort.

QUESTION: Yes, there is another thing, which is the two issues of demilitarization of Hamas or Gaza, and the same time crossing that was proposed by – to facilitate crossing to Gaza, whether it’s Egyptian or other sides. Is – are – these issues were discussed? You say they’re going to be discussed or this was proposed to be discussed in negotiations. Are these issues, two issues were part of the deal or the talk and the draft of ideas or not?

MS. PSAKI: It was not mentioned in either – and I would encourage you, and anyone can follow me on Twitter. I tweeted the Egyptian proposal from just two weeks ago. It has all of the details in there. You’ve seen the list of – the draft of informal ideas that’s out there as well in the press. I would encourage you to compare the two. No, there was not a specific mention of demilitarization. Of course that’s something we support. There was a mention of security issues, which has been how it’s been described in many of these documents in the past.

QUESTION: So, wait, wait. I wasn’t aware that the Egyptian proposal could fit into 140 characters.

MS. PSAKI: I tweeted a link.

QUESTION: Oh, there you go.

MS. PSAKI: Thank you for your clarification. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Okay. I have – these are going to be very brief.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: They have to do with Israel. They don’t have to do with this.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: One, I asked Marie —

MS. PSAKI: And then I’ll go to Ukraine, which I would bet is the next issue, but —

QUESTION: Yes. One, I asked on Friday about this 15-year-old Palestinian-American kid who’s been held. Do you have any update on him?

MS. PSAKI: I do. Let me just find that in here, Matt. We can confirm that Mohamed Abu Nie, a U.S. citizen, was arrested on July 3rd during protests in the Shuafat neighborhood in East Jerusalem. The U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv is providing consular assistance. A consular official assisted him on July 17th – visited him, I should say – and attended his hearing on July 22nd. The Embassy’s also in contact with his family and his lawyer. Considering his age, we are calling for a speedy resolution to this case. He is now – this 15-year-old has now been held for three weeks in Israeli custody and has seen his parents only once briefly during that night, and so we are certainly gravely concerned about the detention of an American citizen child.

QUESTION: Seen only once by that – the night that he was arrested, is that what you’re saying?

MS. PSAKI: I would have to check on exactly when his parents saw him, Matt.

QUESTION: Okay. Have you – you’ve made this – you made your concerns known to the Israelis on this, yes?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Have you gotten a response from them? Is there any sign that they are going to act speedily to – I mean, he’s been in custody for – since July 2nd. That’s 20 – how many days is that?

QUESTION: Twenty-six.

QUESTION: Twenty —

QUESTION: July 27th?

QUESTION: Twenty-six days.

QUESTION: Yeah, 26 days.

QUESTION: I mean, is it appropriate for – I mean, well, one, are you aware that this kid did anything wrong?

MS. PSAKI: I just don’t have any more details other than to say he – we did not – just in terms of why we just saw him recently, he didn’t immediately inform Israeli authorities that he was a U.S. citizen. So obviously, as soon as we learned that, we contacted Israeli authorities to schedule a consular visit.

QUESTION: Are you – have the Israelis done anything wrong, as far as you know, in terms of this case? Are you – I noticed that you’re not calling for him to be released immediately. You’re calling for a quick, speedy resolution to the case, suggesting that you’re not sure that the Israelis have acted inappropriately.

MS. PSAKI: Well, our role is to ensure he’s being afforded due process under local laws and international standards, and obviously we’re providing all consular access and we’ll continue to be engaged.

QUESTION: Are you able to give us details of charges he’s facing and what conditions he’s being held in? Is he in an adult prison or is he in a juvenile section?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we understand he faces charges of rock-throwing, attacking police, carrying a knife, and leading protests. We —

QUESTION: Leading —

MS. PSAKI: And leading protests, yes. We are concerned about allegations that he’s been mistreated while in custody. We obviously take all such allegations seriously, raise them with authorities as appropriate.

QUESTION: Well —

QUESTION: But do you know whether he’s being – sorry, Matt. Do you know whether he’s being held in adult jail or a juvenile section?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have that level of detail. We can certainly check for you, Jo.

QUESTION: So when I asked if you would – were worried that – if you were – there were concerns that the Israelis had acted in appropriately, that sounds like there is concern, because you say that —

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’re concerned about allegations that he’s been mistreated.

QUESTION: What are the allegations?

MS. PSAKI: Hmm?

QUESTION: What are those allegations?

MS. PSAKI: That he’s been mistreated. I think there’s allegations out there that he’s been beaten, but we don’t have – I don’t have any more details other than the allegations that have been out there.

QUESTION: Can we move to Ukraine?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: One more on this? Sorry. Just a brief one, sorry.

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: Are you aware of reports that there’s an arms deal between Hamas and North Korea that’s about to go through, and do you have any comment on that?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’re certainly aware of press reports regarding pending arms sales from North Korea to Hamas. We have long highlighted the global security and proliferation threat posed by North Korea, and we continue to work to stop North Korea’s proliferation activities with partners in the Security Council and throughout the international community. But I’m not going to have any other comment on the specific allegations.

QUESTION: So does that mean you have no independent confirmation of this or just —

MS. PSAKI: It means I have no other comment on it.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: So let’s first of all start talking about the satellite images that were released on Sunday. Do we know where they came from, the veracity of them? Let’s start with those.

MS. PSAKI: Sure. Well, we wouldn’t have put them out publicly if we didn’t feel confident about the accuracy. Obviously, we declassify information as we can to make it available to all of you and to the American public and the international community, and that was the case here.

QUESTION: Well, do we know which satellites these images came from? Who’s – who owned them, for instance?

MS. PSAKI: I’m just not going to be able to get into any greater level of detail.

QUESTION: All right. Let’s talk about the timing of them being released. Why did we choose over the weekend, first of all?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think everybody works on the weekend. I think all of us do, and we felt it was important to put this information out publicly. It shows engagement by the separatists and with support from – with – of Russian artillery in this effort. As you know, we’ve been concerned about that engagement and that escalation, and this provides a further example of that.

QUESTION: And the means that they were released – as I understand it, the first time that we saw them was released on the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine’s Twitter account. Is that accurate?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we sent them out publicly for everyone to see from the State Department, so I think I – we sent them pretty broadly.

QUESTION: So what is it that the State Department is hoping to achieve from these? What kind of response, first of all, does the State Department have given the evidence that these satellite images are showing?

MS. PSAKI: Response to what specifically? Response to the satellite images, response to escalation?

QUESTION: Right.

MS. PSAKI: As you know, we’ve been long concerned about the fact that the Russians have been supplying, supporting, arming the separatists. We – as we have information that shows and backs up those concerns, we make that information available. We have put in place, as you know, a range of sanctions, including an additional set of sanctions last week. We fully expect the Europeans will do additional sanctions soon. And this shows the world what those concerns are and why it’s important to focus on the engagement of Russia in Ukraine.

QUESTION: So Secretary Kerry spoke with Foreign Minister Lavrov over the weekend. To what detail was this – were these satellite images discussed, and how will these satellite images affect U.S.-Russia relations moving forward?

MS. PSAKI: Well, it’s not about the satellite images. The satellite images provide evidence of what we’ve been saying publicly for some time now. They didn’t discuss the satellite images. They did discuss Secretary Kerry’s concern about the Russians’ continuing assistance and support for the separatists. And the Secretary certainly made clear he doesn’t buy the claim that they are not involved and they’re not engaged in this effort. So that was a part of the discussion. They also discussed the Secretary’s trip over the past week and the situation on the ground in Gaza.

QUESTION: Jen, what exactly in those images was declassified?

MS. PSAKI: I’d have to look at the specific images, Matt. There was some information that we have from our own sources that we put out publicly for the first time.

QUESTION: But the satellites – they were Digital Globe, right? This is not U.S. spy satellites taking – they were credited to Digital Globe, which is a commercial satellite company. So those pictures in themselves weren’t subject to classification, were they?

MS. PSAKI: I’d have to look back and see what information was newly available from those satellite photos.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: Obviously, you all have the packet of them.

QUESTION: Right. No, I’m just wondering what in there was declassified? What prior to Sunday – what information in that – in those four pages was classified prior to Sunday when they were released?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think, one —

QUESTION: The analysis?

MS. PSAKI: — there weren’t images released previously that I’m aware of that showed that Russian forces had fired across the border at Ukrainian military forces, and that Russian – there was some, of course, that Russian-back separatists have used heavy artillery. But this was, again, further evidence and further information that we made available to – in order to show what we have concerns about. That’s why we put it out publicly.

QUESTION: Right, okay. And – so that, and I – I think everyone appreciates the fact that you’re going to efforts to put out the – to put out evidence that you say backs up the claim. But does, in fact – do, in fact, those images show Russian artillery being fired into Ukraine from inside Russia? Does it?

MS. PSAKI: Well, the images showed —

QUESTION: I mean, clearly you’re not going to have video, real-time video or whatever – or maybe you do, I don’t know – but that doesn’t show – it doesn’t show that. It shows pockmarks on the ground, and then it’s got arrows drawn in, which could – so, I mean, maybe you could have an analyst or someone come and explain exactly what this is. But, I mean, to – I’m certainly not an intelligence analyst or expert in reading what these satellite photos mean. But to the casual observer, if you just showed them the pictures without the arrows drawn on them and without the text – I mean, it just looks like there’s a bunch of holes in the ground.

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, I think the images showed things such as ground scarring at a multiple rocket launch site on the Russian side of the border oriented in the direction of Ukrainian military units within Ukraine. It showed self-propelled artillery only found in Russian military units on the Russian side of the border oriented in the direction of the Ukrainian military unit. It showed a range of specifics that I think you can lead – lead you to a conclusion.

QUESTION: Okay. You’ve seen the Russian Defense Ministry came out this morning and said that basically – I mean, I guess not surprisingly, said that these are fake; they don’t show what you purport that they do show. Do you have any response to that?

MS. PSAKI: I think that strains credibility, that claim.

QUESTION: Their claim that it’s fake?

MS. PSAKI: Yes.

QUESTION: Okay. And so —

QUESTION: Why?

QUESTION: D

Ghanaian general appointed head of India and Pakistan mission

1 Jul 2014

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Delali Johnson Sakyi. UN Photo/JC McIlwaine

A Ghanaian general has been appointed by the UN Secretary-General as the Chief Military Observer and Head of Mission for the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP).

Major General Delali Johnson Sakyi succeeds Major General Young-Bum Choi of the Republic of Korea, who completed his two-year assignment on 16 June.

With more than 35 years of military command and staff experience at national and international levels, Major General Sakyi served most recently as Force Commander for the United Nations Mission in South Sudan.

Born in Ghana in 1954, he has three children.

Sophie Outhwaite, United Nations

Duration:  41″