PM delivers remarks in Brampton

Brampton, Ontario – 12 August 2014

Prime Minister Stephen Harper today delivered the following remarks at India’s National Day Gala in Brampton:

“Thank you very much.

“Good evening.

“Namaste.

“I want to thank everybody for that warm welcome and just tell you how delighted I am to be here.

“Thanks of course to our masters of ceremonies, to Parm Gill and Angie Seth for kicking us off tonight.

“Also special greetings to all guests from all levels of government who are here with us tonight, both Canadian and international, to Consul General Mishra.

“Particularly to my colleagues from the Government of Canada, and I know they’ve already been introduced.

“There are way too many for me to name but look we’ve got a great turn out.

“I’d like them all to stand up one more time.

“Give all my colleagues from the Parliament of Canada your warm greeting.

“You will know ladies and gentleman that our Government has, in fact we’re proud to have, eight Canadians of Indian descent serving in our caucus.

“In fact, there are today more men and women who were born in India serving in Canada’s Parliament than at any other time in our country’s history.

“Let me also just recognize a few people who worked so hard to make this occasion such a tremendous success.

“Obviously first, my introducer, for her leading role in helping to drive the organization of this great event – she asked me 67 times to attend – let’s give her one more round of applause, my introducer, Dr. Senator Asha Seth.

“Now to be fair, the Senator was working with a great team, so let’s also show our appreciation once again to the other members of the Canada India Friendship Group and to members of the Advisory Board.

“Thank all of them for their great work in putting this tremendous event together.

“Now, ladies and gentlemen, I know tonight we’re a couple of days early but I would like to personally wish each of you, I would like to in fact wish all Indo-Canadians a very happy India Independence Day.

“In a matter of days, Prime Minister Modi will do, for the first time, what each of his predecessors have done: raise the deep saffron, white and green flag of India above the Red Fort in New Delhi.

“So, on behalf of the Government of Canada and indeed, I know, all of the people of Canada, let’s extend our best to Prime Minister Modi and the Indian people as they mark 67 years of independence.

“Now ladies and gentlemen, Canada’s relationship with India is special because despite the great differences between our two countries, we have growing economic ties, we have vast people-to-people ties, and all of these things are cemented together by common values: democracy, justice, pluralism, peace, human rights, the rule of law.

“And in what is a very uncertain and divided world, it is comforting to know that Canada has certain friends, like India, who share these values.

“Now ladies and gentlemen, in preparation for tonight’s event, I could not help but reflect on how much has changed here in Canada and around the world since my first visit to India back in 2009.

“Five years ago, our Government was navigating Canada through the midst of the worst global economic crisis since the Great Depression.

“Indeed, much has changed.

“With regards to the global recession, whereas Canada was the last G-7 country to feel its impact, we have been the first country to recover from it.

“And today, despite challenges and uncertainties around the world – challenges and uncertainties that do continue to impact us – Canada’s economy is strong, it is growing, creating good jobs and opportunities for hard-working Canadians.

“There are more Canadians working today than at any time in our country’s history.

“Today, Canada is also widely rated as the best country in the G-20 in which to do business.

“We have the soundest financial sector in the world.

“And we have the most prosperous middle class, among significant developed economies.

“We have lowered taxes and, next year, years ahead of other countries, we are going to balance the budget here in Canada.

“Now thinking again back to my trip to India in 2009, Canada then had free trade agreements with only five countries in the entire world.

“Since then, we have expanded that by almost 10 times.

“Today, we have free trade agreements, agreements in principle, with 43 countries.

“Put another way, Canada has secured free trade agreements with nearly a quarter of the world’s countries, and Canadian businesses are going to have tariff-free access to more than half of the total global economy, including, as you know, with the European Union and the Republic of Korea.

“Now it’s my hope – it’s our Government’s hope – that over the years to come Canada and India will continue to develop our own economic and trading relationship.

“And that is, of course, another area where things have changed greatly since 2009.

“We can rightly say that the chill that characterized relations between Canada and India for decades is a thing of the past.

“Before our Conservative Government came to office, Canada’s relationship with India had been essentially frozen for most of the period since the 1970s.

“Since taking office our Government has worked hard to revitalize and strengthen Canada-India relations.

“We have concluded a Social Security Agreement, an historic Nuclear Cooperation Agreement, and we have launched our own bilateral Canada-India free trade negotiations.

“Know that our Government will continue to work to break-down barriers that hinder bilateral trade and investment, and that senior members of our Government will continue to visit India.

“Just a couple of years ago I had the great fortune, as the Senator mentioned, of returning to India.

“Because one trip was obviously not near enough to even to scratch the surface of that large, ancient and fascinating civilisation.

“In fact, my second trip to India was the longest bilateral visit any Canadian Prime Minister has ever made to any country in the world.

“And we have been following up on that – we now have eight Canadian consular and trade promotion offices operating across the Republic of India, a number we are looking to add to.

“These offices are helping to facilitate visa and immigration applications, and they’re helping to create more opportunities for Canadian businesses in places such as New Delhi and Bangalore, Chandigarh in Punjab, and Ahmedabad in Gujarat.

“The state of Gujarat in particular – the state where Prime Minister Modi served as chief minister for more than a decade – is home to some of the brightest and best entrepreneurial minds in the world.

“Our Government sees tremendous potential for growth in collaboration with this regional economic powerhouse and we have been working hard to make this a priority for several years.

“Canada was pleased to serve as an official partner for Vibrant Gujarat 2011.

“And two years later, at Vibrant Gujarat 2013, not only did Canada serve as an official partner, but Minister Jason Kenney travelled all the way to Gujarat to represent Canada at the summit and to address all of its attendees.

“Ladies and gentlemen the bottom line is this: the bottom line is that the friendship between Canada and India is stronger, it is stronger than it has ever been and that is something that we all, in both of our countries, should be very proud of.

“Now ladies and gentlemen you should also know that our Government’s efforts to strengthen Canada-India relations go beyond expanding bilateral trade and investment, for example, through immigration reform.

“Canada’s past has been shaped by the millions who came from elsewhere and Canada’s future will depend on the millions yet to come.

“Yet, for far too long, previous governments, as you know, chose to ignore problems in Canada’s immigration system as if they would just fix themselves.

“Instead, the problems only intensified and the wait times got longer.

“Back then, if you had applied to become a permanent resident from India you could expect to wait five or six years for your application to be processed.

“It was that bad.

“As the immigration backlog grew, so too did the irritation of those patiently waiting their turn.

“Worse still, economic opportunities were denied not just to individuals from India, to immigrants, but to Canada itself.

“When our Government took office, we immediately got to work and tackled those problems head on.

“And I should tell you, ladies and gentlemen, that our Government’s reforms have been working and they have been working well.

“Today, the permanent residency approval rate for applicants from India is more than 85 per cent.

“I should add that these men and women don’t have to wait another four or five or six years for their residency because our Government has reduced processing times for recent applicants down to just one year.

“In 2005, fewer than twenty-five hundred student visas were granted to Indian students.

“Last year, our Government granted more than fourteen thousand such visas.

“More Indian students than ever before are studying at Canadian universities, and because our Government has made it easier for these bright young minds to qualify for permanent residency and to work, we hope these students, many of them, will stay and put their Canadian degrees to use right here in Canada.

“Our Government has also made the CAN+ program in India a permanent feature of our immigration system, meaning that persons who have travelled to Canada or the United States in the recent past can be fast-tracked for a visitor visa.

“Our CAN+ program has a 95 per cent approval rate, making more Indians able to visit Canada as tourists or to do business.

“By the way, did I mention ladies and gentlemen that this newest change to our immigration program was just announced by Chris Alexander last month in New Delhi, during his first trip to India as Canada’s new Minister of Citizenship and Immigration – congratulations!

“Look we all know that immigration enriches this country, and our Government’s ongoing reforms mean that more immigrants will be able to contribute to their maximum of their capacity, and that is good for everyone.  

“Today, India is Canada’s top source country for immigrants.

“And of course, this explains why Canada’s Indo-Canadian community is more than 1.2 million strong and continuing to grow.

“The Indo-Canadian community has a proud and rich history in our country.

“This community – the Indo-Canadian community – is comprised of ordinary people doing extraordinary things in business and in finance, in academia and medicine, in technology and agriculture, to list just a few areas.

“I want to give you just one example.

“Close to ten years ago, Naval Bajaj came to Canada from India with only $600 in his pocket.

“But he had big dreams, and he had energy and ambition.

“And ladies and gentlemen, in Canada, he also had opportunity.

“With hard work and determination, Naval eventually became a business consultant with 7-Eleven Canada and he is also a business owner himself.

“He has led two trade missions for Canada back to his home country.

“And he was the youngest ever elected president of the Indo-Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

“He also happens to be a member of the Canada India Friendship Group Advisory Board.

“Now ladies and gentlemen, I tell you that in my travels across Canada I meet many people like Naval.

“Men and women relentlessly pursuing their goals to build a better, more prosperous life for themselves and their families, and helping this country immensely in the process.

“In fact, I know that this room is full of people just like that.

“In my travels, I have also observed that wherever Indian immigrants settle, wherever they choose to put down roots, to start businesses, to raise families, be it Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal, Toronto or right here in Brampton, not by coincidence, those places thrive.

“I believe this is because Indo-Canadians possess a strong ethic of work and education, and an unwavering commitment to faith and to family.

“And these are the things that underlie not only the Indo-Canadian community’s success, but Canada’s success as a country as well.

“So look, let me just conclude tonight – I know you’re all anxious to get on with the meal – let me just conclude by taking this opportunity to thank each one of you.

“To thank all of you for choosing Canada.

“Thank you for contributing to Canada.

“Thank you for loving Canada.

“Because whether you’ve been here for one, 10 or 50 years, Canada is your country.

“Again, congratulations everyone on this tremendous event, and thanks once more for the invitation.”

Secretary’s Remarks: U.S. Vision for Asia-Pacific Engagement

MR. MORRISON: Well, thank you. Aloha. I want to welcome everyone. And for our online audience, and also for the Secretary, I’d like to describe who is here in our audience. We have the mayor of Honolulu, Mayor Caldwell. We have our senator, Mazie Hirono. We have our former governor, George Ariyoshi, and our other former governor, John Waihee. We have many members of the business and intellectual and public affairs community here in Honolulu. We have members of the diplomatic corps. We have members of our men and women in uniform. We have the members of the board of governors of the East-West Center. We have the staff of the East-West Center. We have friends of the East-West Center. And most importantly, we have future leaders of the Asia Pacific region. And I was just telling the Secretary, I think yesterday we welcomed 130 new participants from the United States and 40 other countries. They’re here on a unique program to prepare them for being future regional and global leaders.

Now, how do you introduce a man who is so well-known for his own leadership and —

SECRETARY KERRY: First thing, you can just tell everybody to sit down.

MR. MORRISON: Oh. (Laughter.) Please sit down, yes. (Laughter.) Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Anyway, as you know, he has served in war and peace. He was a senator for 28 years; 59 million Americans voted for him for president, including 54 percent of the voters of Hawaii. (Laughter and applause.) But as a former senate staff person, I thought the way to really check him out was to see how his confirmation hearing went. Now, the issues were controversial but the nominee was not controversial, and what his former colleagues said about him, Republicans and Democrats, I think give the essence of the man: extremely well prepared, born in a Foreign Service family, served all 28 years on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, four years as the chairman of that committee. He knows the languages – several foreign languages, countries, leaders, and issues. He is a man of incredible moral and intellectual integrity. He brings conviction and compassion to his job and great energy. He has been, I think, on his seventh trip to Asia, coming back and so we want to welcome him back to the United States. We want to welcome him to our most Asia Pacific state, and we want to welcome him to the East-West Center, an institution that’s building community with this vast region which is so systemically important to the future of the United States.

Mr. Secretary of State. (Applause.)

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you. Well, good afternoon, everybody. Aloha. It’s wonderful to be here in Hawaii, and man, I can’t tell you how I wish I was as relaxed as some of you in your beautiful shirts. (Laughter.) Here I am in my – whatever you call it – uniform. Uniform, some would say. But it is such a pleasure to be here. Mr. Mayor, it’s great to be here with you. And Mazie, thank you. It’s wonderful to see you, Senator. I’m very happy to see you. Thanks for being here. And governors, thank you for being here very much.

Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests all, it’s a great, great pleasure for me to be able to be here. And President Morrison, thank you very much for that generous introduction. I appreciate it very much.

Charles was way ahead of the curve, folks, in seeing the trend towards regionalism in the Asia Pacific in the early 1990s. And he was calling for community-building within East Asia well before it became a standard topic of discussion on the think tank circuit. So clearly, and to everyone’s benefit, he’s had an ability to focus on the long game. And that is a talent that he actually shares with one of the founding fathers of this institution, a former colleague, beloved to all of you, who became a great friend to me, and that’s Senator Dan Inouye. During my sort of latter years, I actually moved up to about seventh in seniority or something in the United States Senate, and had I not been appointed to this job, with all of the retirements that are taking place, I don’t know, I might have been third or fourth or something, which is kind of intimidating. But as a result of that, I got to sit beside the great Dan Inouye for four or five years in the Senate. Our desks were beside each other, and we became very good friends. He was one of the early supporters of mine when I decided to run for President in ’04, ’03. But most importantly, Dan Inouye, as all of you know, was a patriot above all who commanded remarkable respect and affection of all of his colleagues. And Hawaii was so wise to keep him in office for so many years.

Having just visited yesterday Guadalcanal, having stood up on what was called Bloody Ridge, Edson’s Ridge, and walked into one of the still remaining bunkers that Marines were dug in on against 3,000-plus Japanese who kept coming at them wave after wave in the evening, it’s – it was a remarkable sense of the battle that turned the war. And no place knows the meaning of all of that better than here in Hawaii.

Yesterday commemorated really one of the great battles of the Second World War, and so it gave me a chance to reflect with special pride and with humility about Dan’s service to our country. He was a hero in the war, against difficult circumstances which we all understand too well. But he became the first Japanese American to serve in the House of Representatives and the United States Senate, against all the odds of what was still a prevailing sense in our country of misunderstanding between people. And he just never let that get in the way. He shared a very personal commitment to strengthening ties between the United States and the Asia Pacific. And that’s why he championed the East-West Center for decades, and I want you to know that President Obama and I strongly support your mission of bringing people together to think creatively about the future of our role in the region and how we overcome the kinds of inherent, visceral differences that sometimes are allowed to get in the way of relationships, and frankly, in the way of common sense.

We remember too well in America that slavery was written into our Constitution long before it was written out of it. And we all know the struggle that it took – excuse me – to write it out. So as we look at the world today – complicated, difficult, tumultuous, volatile – for so many of us who have spent decades working on issues central to the Asia Pacific, there’s actually something particularly exciting about this moment. It’s almost exhilarating when you look at Asia’s transformation. And like Dan Inouye, I have had the privilege, as many of you have here I can see, you’ve lived a lot of that transformation firsthand.

A number of my – (coughing) – excuse me, it’s the virtue of many hours in an airplane. A number of my ancestors from Boston and from Massachusetts were merchants whose ships dropped anchor in Hong Kong as they plied the lonely trade routes to China. My grandfather, actually, was born in Shanghai and was a businessman who had a partnership with a Chinese businessman. So in our family and in Massachusetts, we’ve had a long sense of the possibilities and of this relationship. Today, East Asia is one of the largest, fastest growing, most dynamic regions in the entire world. And when the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations are complete, about 40 percent of global GDP will be linked by a high-standard trade agreement, a trade agreement that creates a race to the top, not a race to the bottom, where people understand the rules of engagement and there’s accountability and transparency, and business and capital know exactly what the rules of the road will be so they’re attracted to invest each in each other’s countries.

After college, I had the privilege of serving in the United States Navy. And I went through Pearl Harbor. I had a remarkable several days here as a young officer on a frigate before we set sail to cross the Pacific. And I drove all over the island everywhere, in places I probably wasn’t supposed to. But I loved it and then spent a second tour in the rivers of Vietnam. And back then, the word Vietnam – just saying Vietnam – carried with it an ominous meaning. It meant war. It meant huge dissent in America, families torn apart. But today, Vietnam, when you say it, has a whole different meaning to most people. It’s now a dynamic country filled with economic opportunity. It’s a market for our businesses and our investors. It’s a classroom for our children. It has one of the largest Fulbright programs in the world. And it’s a partner in tackling regional economic and security challenges.

Such extraordinary transformations have actually become almost the norm in this region. I’ll never forget, 15 years ago, I visited in then Burma – no confusion with Myanmar but now people choose what they want to call it. But I visited with Daw Aung Sung Sui Kyi in the very home in which she was imprisoned for nearly two decades. And this week, I had the privilege of again going back to the very same house – it hadn’t changed, looked the same. She, by the way, 20 years later looks the same. And she is now free to speak her mind as a member of parliament.

It’s remarkable. It doesn’t mean all the president are solved. But these transformations are just some of what makes Asia the most exciting and promising places on the planet.

I am returning, as President Morrison has said, from actually my sixth trip to the Asia Pacific in 18 months as Secretary of State. And later today, I’ll be meeting with our outstanding Commander of United States Forces in the Pacific to review a range of America’s formidable military presence issues. I have returned again and again to this region – I can’t tell you how many times I went, Mazie, as a senator to the region. And we are now – we take our enduring interests there, obviously, very, very seriously.

We know that America’s security and prosperity are closely and increasingly linked to the Asia Pacific. And that’s why President Obama began what is known as the rebalance to Asia in 2009. That’s why he’s asked me to redouble my own efforts in the region over the next two and half years. And that’s why I want to talk to you today about four specific opportunities: creating sustainable economic growth, powering a clean energy revolution, promoting regional cooperation, and empowering people.

Now, these important opportunities can and should be realized through a rules-based regional order, a stable regional order on common rules and norms of behavior that are reinforced by institutions. And that’s what holds the greatest potential for all of us for making progress. We support this approach, frankly, because it encourages cooperative behavior. It fosters regional integration. It ensures that all countries, big and small – and the small part is really important – that they have a say in how we work together on shared challenges. I want you to know that the United States is deeply committed to realizing this vision. President Obama is excited about it. He wants us all to be committed to fostering it and also to understanding why we’re doing it. And frankly, it is this vision that is the underlying reason that so many countries in Asia choose to work with the United States.

You hear some people today talking about the United States retrenching or disengaging. Nothing could be further from the truth. I think we’re more engaged and more active in more countries and more parts of the world than any time in American history. And I can tell you that because just driving over here I was on the phone to people in the Middle East, talking about a ceasefire which is now going to be in place in the next days; talking about the road ahead. Just came back from Afghanistan, where we’re working on the transition to the people of Afghanistan, to their future. We’re engaged with Iran, working on the nuclear program; with the DPRK, with China, and Sudan, and Central Africa. We just had 50-plus African leaders to Washington to talk about the future of American engagement there. We are deeply engaged in a very, very complex world.

But this speech and this moment here at the university and at the center, and the trip that I just made to Asia, are meant to underscore that even as we focus on those crises that I’ve just listed and on conflicts that dominate the headlines on a daily basis and demand our leadership – even as we do that, we will never forget the long-term strategic imperatives for American interests. As Secretary of State, my job isn’t just to respond to crises. It’s also about defining and seizing the long-term opportunities for the United States. And having just traveled to Burma, Australia, and the Solomon Islands, I can tell you that nowhere are those strategic opportunities clearer or more compelling than in the Asia Pacific.

That’s why we are currently negotiating a comprehensive and ambitious Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement that will create thousands of new jobs here in America as well as in other countries, and it will spur this race to the top, not to the bottom. It raises the standards by which we do business. That’s why we’re elevating our engagement in multilateral institutions, from the ASEAN Regional Forum to the East Asia Summit. And that’s why we are revitalizing our security partnerships with our treaty allies: Japan, Australia, South Korea, and the Philippines. And that’s why we are standing up for the human rights and the fundamental freedoms that people in Asia cherish as much as any people in the world.

I have no illusions about the challenges, and nor does President Obama. They are complex in this 21st century, in many ways far more complex than the bipolar, East-West, Soviet Union-versus-West world – the Cold War that many of us grew up in. This is far more complicated. It’s far more, in many ways, like 19th century and 18th century diplomacy, with states asserting their interests in different ways and with more economic players in the planet than we had in the 20th century with power and with a sense of independence. But what I want to emphasize to you all today is there is a way forward. This is not so daunting that it’s indescribable as to what we can do.

So how do we make our shared vision a reality for the region and ensure that Asia contributes to global peace and prosperity? First, we need to turn today’s economic nationalism and fragmentation into tomorrow’s sustainable growth. I say it all the time: Foreign Policy is economic policy, and economic policy is foreign policy. They are one and the same. There’s no denying that particularly in Asia Pacific. Asia Pacific is an engine of global economic growth, but we can’t take that growth for granted.

Because what we face something that is really a common challenge. Across the world, we have seen a staggering growth in youth populations. At the Africa summit it was just underscored to us there are 700 million people under the age of 30. We’ve seen staggering growth in these youth populations. And guess what. In the 21st century, in 2014 when everybody’s running around with a mobile device and everybody’s in touch with everybody every day all the time, all of these people are demanding an opportunity. They’re demanding dignity. And juxtaposed to their hopes, a cadre of extremists, of resisters, of naysayers are waiting to seduce many of those young people into accepting a dead end. And let me tell you, when people don’t have a job, when they can’t get an education, when they can’t aspire to a better future for themselves and for their families, when their voices are silenced by draconian laws or violence and oppression, we have all witnessed the instability that follows.

Now happily, many, if not most governments, in Asia are working to present booming youth populations with an alternative, with a quality education, with skills for the modern world, with jobs that allow them to build a life and a confidence in their countries. That is part of the reason why the young people in Asia are joining the ranks of the middle class, not the ranks of violent extremists. And the fact is that too many countries around the world are struggling to provide those opportunities. There’s a lack of governance, and we ignore the importance of this collective challenge to address the question of failed and failing states in other parts of the world.

In the 21st century, a nation’s interests and the well-being of its people are advanced not just by troops or diplomats, but they’re advanced by entrepreneurs, by chief executives of companies, by the businesses that are good corporate citizens, by the workers that they employ, by the students that they train, and the shared prosperity that they create. That is why we are working with partners across the Asia Pacific to maintain and raise standards as we expand trade and investment by pursuing a comprehensive Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.

Now, the TPP represents really an exciting new chapter in the long history of America’s mutually beneficial trade partnerships with the countries of the Asia Pacific. It is a state-of-the-art, 21st century trade agreement, and it is consistent not just with our shared economic interests, but also with our shared values. It’s about generating growth for our economies and jobs for our people by unleashing a wave of trade, investment, and entrepreneurship. It’s about standing up for our workers, or protecting the environment, and promoting innovation. And it’s about reaching for high standards to guide the growth of this dynamic regional economy. And all of that is just plain good for businesses, it’s good for workers, it’s good for our economies. And that’s why we must get this done.

Now, every time I travel to Asia, I have the privilege of meeting with young entrepreneurs and business leaders. In fact, at the Africa summit the other day we had this wonderful group of young African leaders – all entrepreneurs, all these young kids in their 20s doing extraordinary things. It’s call the Young African Leaders Initiative, which President Obama started.

In Hanoi last December, I launched the Governance for Inclusive Growth Program to support Vietnam’s transition to a market-based economy. I’ve met with entrepreneurs in Seoul and Manila to talk about how we can drive innovation. On Saturday, I discussed with my ASEAN counterparts the framework for creating business opportunities and jobs that we call Expanded Economic Engagement, or E3. And just yesterday, I met with business leaders in Sydney, Australia to explore ways to reduce the barriers to trade and investment.

To broaden the base of support for this strategy, we need to focus not only on rapid growth, but we also need to focus on sustainability. And that means making the best use of regional institutions. President Obama will join APEC economic leaders in Beijing this fall to focus on promoting clean and renewable fuels and supporting small businesses and women’s participation in the economy and expanding educational exchanges. And just a few days ago, I met with ministers from the Lower Mekong Initiative countries to deepen our partnership and help them wrestle with the challenges of food and water and energy security on the Mekong River.

Ultimately, the true measure of our success will not be just whether our economies continue to grow, but how they continue to grow. And that brings me to our second challenge: We need to turn today’s climate crisis into tomorrow’s clean energy revolution. Now, all of this – all of us in this room understand climate change is not a crisis of the future. Climate change is here now. It’s happening, happening all over the world. It’s not a challenge that’s somehow remote and that people can’t grab onto.

But here’s the key: It’s happening at a rate that should be alarming to all of us because everything the scientists predicted – and I’ll tell you a little addendum. Al Gore – I had the privilege of working with Al Gore and Tim Worth and a group of senators – Jack Heinz – back in the 1980s when we held the first hearing on climate change in 1988. That’s when Jim Hansen from NASA came forward and said it’s happening. It’s happening now in 1988. In 1992 we had a forum down in Brazil, Rio, the Earth Summit. George Herbert Walker Bush participated. We came up with a voluntary framework to deal with climate change, but voluntary didn’t work. And for 20 years nothing much happened. Then we went to Kyoto. We went to all these places to try to do something, and here we are in 2014 with a chance next year in 2015 to do it.

And what’s happening is the science is screaming at us. Ask any kid in school. They understand what a greenhouse is, how it works, why we call it the greenhouse effect. They get it. And here’s what – if you accept the science, if you accept that the science is causing climate to change, you have to heed what those same scientists are telling us about how you prevent the inevitable consequences and impacts. You can’t – that’s why President Obama has made climate change a top priority. He’s doing by executive authority what we’re not able to get the Congress to do. And we’re working very hard to implement the Climate Action Plan and lead by example. We’re doubling the fuel efficiency of cars and trucks on America’s roads. We’ve developed new standards that ensure that existing power plants are as clean as possible and as efficient as possible. And we’re committed to reducing greenhouse gases and emissions in the range of about 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.

So we’re heading in the right direction. But make no mistake about it: Our response has to be all hands on deck. By definition, rescuing the planet’s climate is a global challenge that requires a global solution. And nowhere is all of this more evident than in the Asia Pacific. And no two nations can have a greater impact or influence on this debate or this challenge than China and the United States.

During the Strategic and Economic Dialogue last month, Secretary of Treasury Jack Lew and I were in Beijing for two days. And we and China together sent a clear message: The world’s two largest greenhouse gas emitters, the United States and China, are committed to advancing a low-carbon economic growth pattern and significantly reduce our countries’ greenhouse gases. And we’re working together to launch demonstration projects on carbon capture, utilization, and storage. We’re adopting stronger fuel efficiency standards for heavy- and light-duty vehicles. We’re advancing a new initiative on climate change and forests, because we know that the threat of deforestation and its implications of a changing climate are real and they’re grave and they’re growing. And I’ll just say to you this is not an issue on which you can be half pregnant. No such issue. If you accept the science, you have to accept that you have to do these things about it.

Now, the United States and China have a special role to play in reducing emissions and developing a clean energy future. But everybody – every nation – has a stake in getting it right. I just came from the Solomon Islands yesterday, a thousand islands, some of which could be wiped out if we don’t make the right choices. The Pacific Islands across the entire Pacific are vulnerable to climate change. And just yesterday, I saw with my own eyes what sea level rise would do to parts of it: It would be devastating – entire habitats destroyed, entire populations displaced from their homes, in some cases entire cultures wiped out. They just had flash flooding in Guadalcanal – unprecedented amounts of rainfall. And that’s what’s happened with climate change – unprecedented storms, unprecedented typhoons, unprecedented hurricanes, unprecedented droughts, unprecedented fires, major damage, billions and billions of dollars of damage being done that we’re paying for instead of investing those billions of dollars in avoiding this in the first place.

That’s why we are deepening our partnerships with the Pacific Island nations and others to meet immediate threats and long-term development challenges. And we’re working through USAID and other multilateral institutions to increase the resilience of communities. And we’re elevating our engagement through the Pacific Islands Forum. And we’ve signed maritime boundaries, new maritime boundaries with Kiribati and the Federated States of Micronesia in order to promote good governance of the Pacific Ocean and peaceful relations among island nations. And we’re also working on a Pacific Pathway of marine protected areas that includes President Obama’s commitment to explore a protected area of more than a million square miles in size in the U.S. remote Pacific.

We just held a conference on the oceans in Washington the other day with nations all over the world came to it – unbelievably productive. We produced $1.8 billion of commitments to help with fisheries enforcement, anti-pollution, dealing with acidification, and to protect these areas as marine sanctuaries.

The good news is in the end – and this really – it really is good news. Sometimes you have an issue – Mr. Mayor, I know you know this. Governors, you know this. You’re looking at an issue and, man, you scratch your head and you’re not quite sure what the solution is, right? And you work through it. Well, the good news is the biggest challenge of all that we face right now, which is climate change in terms of international global effect, is an opportunity. It’s actually an extraordinary opportunity because it’s not a problem without a solution. The solution to climate change is simple. It’s called energy policy. Energy policy. Make the right choices about how you produce your energy – without emissions, without coal-fired power plants that don’t have carbon capture and storage or aren’t burning clean – then you can begin to produce clean energy.

And the new energy market that we’re looking at is the biggest market the world has ever seen. Think about that for a moment. The wealth that was generated in the 1990s – I don’t know if you know this, but most people think that America got the richest during the 1920s when you had the so-called, even in the late 1800s, robber baron years, and then you had the great names of wealth – Carnegie, Mellon, Frick, Rockefeller, and so forth. And no income tax – wow, gonna make a lot of money.

Guess what. America made more wealth and more money for more people in the 1990s than at any other time in our history. And what it came from, the wealth that was generated then, was the high-tech computer revolution of the 1990s, and guess what. It came from a $1 trillion market with 1 billion users, 1 for 1. The energy market that we’re looking at in the world today is six times bigger, by far more important. It’s a $6 trillion market today with 4 to 5 billion users today, and it will go up to 7 to 9 billion users in the next 30 years. The fastest segment by far of growth in that market is clean energy.

We need to build a grid in America. We need to – we could use solar thermal to produce heat in Massachusetts, in Minnesota, take wind power from our states, sell it somewhere else. We can’t even do that because we don’t have that grid in place.

So I want to emphasize to all of you: We’re not going to find a sustainable energy mix in the 19th century or 20th century solutions. Those are the problems. We need a formula for 21st century that will sustainably power us into the 22nd century. And I believe that, working together, the United States and countries across the Asia Pacific can make this leap. That’s an exciting opportunity and that’s what we’re working on with China today.

The bottom line is we don’t have time to waste. If we’re going to power a clean energy revolution, we have to work together to dampen security competition and rivalry in the Asia Pacific and focus on these other constructive efforts. And so our third challenge is clear: We need to turn maritime conflicts into regional cooperation.

All of us in this room understand that these disputes in the South China Sea and elsewhere, they’re really about more than claims to islands and reefs and rocks and the economic interests that flow from them. They’re about whether might makes right or whether global rules and norms and rule of law and international law will prevail. I want to be absolutely clear: The United States of America takes no position on questions of sovereignty in the South and East China Sea, but we do care about how those questions are resolved. We care about behavior. We firmly oppose the use of intimidation and coercion or force to assert a territorial claim by anyone in the region. And we firmly oppose any suggestion that freedom of navigation and overflight and other lawful uses of the sea and airspace are privileges granted by a big state to a small one. All claimants must work together to solve the claims through peaceful means, big or small. And these principles bind all nations equally, and all nations have a responsibility to uphold them.

Now, I just participated in the ASEAN Regional Forum, and we were encouraged there to – we encouraged the claimants there to defuse these tensions and to create the political space for resolution. We urged the claimants to voluntarily freeze steps that threatened to escalate the disputes and to cause instability. And frankly, I think that’s common sense and I suspect you share that. I’m pleased to say that ASEAN agreed that the time has come to seek consensus on what some of those actions to be avoided might be, based on the commitments that they’ve already made in the 2002 Declaration on Conduct.

Now, we cannot impose solutions on the claimants in the region, and we’re not seeking to do that. But the recent settlement between Indonesia and the Philippines is an example of how these disputes could be resolved through good-faith negotiations. Japan and Taiwan, likewise, showed last year that it’s possible to promote regional stability despite conflicting claims. And we support the Philippines’ taking steps to resolve its maritime dispute with China peacefully, including through the right to pursue arbitration under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. And while we already live by its principles, the United States needs to finish the job and pass that Treaty once and for all.

Now, one thing that I know will contribute to maintaining regional peace and stability is a constructive relationship between the United States and China. President Obama has made it clear that the United States welcomes the rise of a peaceful, prosperous, and stable China – one that plays a responsible role in Asia and the world and supports rules and norms on economic and security issues. The President has been clear, as have I, that we are committed to avoiding the trap of strategic rivalry and intent on forging a relationship in which we can broaden our cooperation on common interests and constructively manage our differences and disagreements.

But make no mistake: This constructive relationship, this “new model” relationship of great powers, is not going to happen simply by talking about it. It’s not going to happen by engaging in a slogan or pursuing a sphere of influence. It will be defined by more and better cooperation on shared challenges. And it will be defined by a mutual embrace of the rules, the norms, and institutions that have served both of our nations and the region so well. I am very pleased that China and the United States are cooperating effectively on the Iran nuclear talks and we’ve increased our dialogue on the DPRK. We’re also cooperating significantly on climate change possibilities, counter-piracy operations, and South Sudan.

So we are busy trying to define a great power relationship by the places where we can find mutual agreement and cooperation. We’ve seen the benefits of partnerships based on common values and common approaches to regional and global security. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and I met with our Australian counterparts in Sydney earlier this week and we reviewed the U.S.-Australian alliance from all sides. And though we live in very different hemispheres, obviously, and at opposite ends of the globe, the United States and Australia are today as close as nations can get. Our time-honored alliance has helped both of our countries to achieve important goals: standing with the people of Ukraine, supporting long-term progress in Afghanistan, promoting shared prosperity in the Asia Pacific, and collaborating on the United Nations Security Council. And we also agreed to expand our trilateral cooperation with Japan, and that will allow us to further modernize the U.S.-Japan alliance as we address a broader array of security challenges. Similarly, with our ally South Korea, our partnership on a growing range of regional and global challenges has brought much greater security to Asia and beyond.

History shows us that countries whose policies respect and reflect universal human rights and fundamental freedoms are likely to be peaceful and prosperous, far more effective at tapping the talents of their people, and far better partners in the long term.

That is why our fourth and final challenge is so important: We need to turn human rights problems into opportunities for human empowerment. Across the region, there are bright spots. But we also see backsliding, such as the setback to democracy in Thailand.

We all know that some countries in the region hold different views on democratic governance and the protection of human rights. But though we may sometimes disagree on these issues with the governments, I don’t think we have any fundamental disagreement with their people.

Given a choice, I don’t think too many young people in China would choose to have less access to uncensored information, rather than more. I don’t think too many people in Vietnam would say: “I’d rather not be allowed to organize and speak out for better working conditions or a healthy environment.” And I can’t imagine that anyone in Asia would watch more than a 130 million people go to the polls in Indonesia to choose a president after a healthy, vigorous, and peaceful debate and then say: “I don’t want that right for myself.” I also think most people would agree that freedom of speech and the press is essential to checking corruption, and it is essential that rule of law is needed to protect innovation and to enable businesses to thrive. That’s why support for these values is both universal and pragmatic.

I visited Indonesia in February, and I saw the promise of a democratic future. The world’s third largest democracy sets a terrific example for the world. And the United States is deeply committed to our comprehensive partnership. Indonesia is not just an expression of different cultures and languages and faiths. By deepening its democracy, and preserving its traditions of tolerance, it can be a model for how Asian values and democratic principles inform and strengthen one another.

In Thailand, a close friend and ally, we’re very disturbed by the setback to democracy and we hope it is a temporary bump in the road. We call on the Thai authorities to lift restrictions on political activity and speech, to return – to restore civilian rule, and return quickly to democracy through free and fair elections.

In Burma last week, I saw firsthand the initial progress the people and the government have made. And I’m proud of the role – and you should be too – that the United States has played for a quarter of a century in encouraging that progress.

But Burma still has a long way to go, and those leading its democratic transformation are only now addressing the deepest challenges: Defining a new role for the military; reforming the constitution and supporting free and fair elections; ending a decades-long civil war; and guaranteeing in law the human rights that Burma’s people have been promised in name. All of this while trying to attract more investment, combating corruption, protecting the country’s forests and other resources. These are the great tests of Burma’s transition. And we intend to try to help, but in the end the leadership will have to make the critical choices.

The United States is going to do everything we can to help the reformers in Burma, especially by supporting nationwide elections next year. And we will keep urging the government – as I did last week – to take steps to ease the humanitarian crisis in Rakhine state, and push back against hate speech and religious violence, implement constitutional reform, and protect freedom of assembly and expression. The government owes it to the people of those – of that movement to do those things.

And so, my friends, in the great tradition of our country, we will continue to promote human rights and democracy in Asia, without arrogance but also without apology.

Elsewhere in Asia, North Korea’s proliferation activities pose a very serious threat to the United States, the region, and the world. And we are taking steps to deter and defend against North Korea’s pursuit of a nuclear-armed ballistic missile capability. But make no mistake: We are also speaking out about the horrific human rights situation. We strongly supported the extraordinary United Nations investigation this year that revealed the utter, grotesque cruelty of North Korea’s system of labor camps and executions. Such deprivation of human dignity just has no place in the 21st century. North Korea’s gulags should be shut down – not tomorrow, not next week, but now. And we will continue to speak out on this topic.

So you’ve heard me for longer than you might have wanted to – (laughter) – describing a pretty ambitious agenda. And you’re right; it’s a big deal. We are super engaged. We are ambitious for this process: completing the TPP negotiations, creating sustainable growth, powering a clean energy revolution, managing regional rivalries by promoting cooperation, and empowering people from all walks of life – that’s how we’re going to realize the promise of the Asia Pacific. And this is a region whose countries can and should come together, because there is much more that unites us than divides us. This is a region that can and should meet danger and difficulty with courage and collaboration. And we are determined to deliver on the strategic and historic opportunities that we can create together.

That’s why, together with our Asian partners, we’re developing modern rules for a changing world – rules that help economies grow strong and fair and just, with protections for the environment, safeguards for the people who have both too often been left behind.

That’s why we’re building a region where Asia’s major cities are no longer clouded with smog and smoke, and where people can depend on safe food and water, and clean oceans, clean air, and shared resources from its rivers and its oceans, and with a sense of responsibility one generation passes on to the next to preserve all of that for the future.

That’s why we’re building a region where countries peacefully resolve their differences over islands, reefs, rocks by finding the common ground on the basis of international law.

And that’s why we’re building a region that protects the universal human rights and fundamental freedoms that make all nations stronger.

There is still a long road ahead. But nothing gives me more hope in the next miles of the journey than the courage of those who have reached a different and more hopeful kind of future. And that is the story that I want to leave you with today.

When I became a senator, getting increasingly more and more involved in the region as a young member of the committee and then later as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Affairs, the first trip I took in 1986 was to the Philippines. Strongman Ferdinand Marcos had called a sham “snap” election to fake everybody to prove how in charge he was, to preserve his grasp on power. President Reagan asked Senator Richard Lugar and me to be part of a delegation to observe those elections.

And I will never forget arriving in Manila and seeing this unbelievable flood of people in the streets all decked out in their canary yellow shirts and banners of pro-democracy protest. Some of us knew at that time there were allegations of fraud. I was sent down initially to Mindanao to observe the morning votes and then came back to Manila, and was sitting in the hotel there when a woman came up to me crying and said, “Senator, you must come with me to the cathedral. There are women there who fear for their lives.”

And I left my dinner and I ran down to the cathedral. I came in to the Sacristi of the cathedral and talked with these 13 women who were crying and huddled together, intimidated for their lives. And I listened to their story about how they were counting the raw tally of the votes that was coming in from all across the nation, but the raw tally of votes they were counting was not showing up on the computer tote board recording the votes. They blew the whistle on a dictator. We held an international press conference right there in the cathedral right in front of the alter, and they spoke out, and that was the signal to Marcos it was over. Their courage and the courage of the Filipino people lit a spark that traveled throughout the world, inspiring not just a freshman senator from Massachusetts, but popular movements from Eastern Europe to Burma.

Now, I think about that moment even today, about the power of people to make their voices felt. I think about how Cory Aquino rose to the presidency atop a wave of people power when few believed that she could. I think about how her husband fought for democracy, even at the cost of his own life. And I think about how, decades later, their son would rise to the presidency in democratic elections. In his inaugural address, President Benigno Aquino said: “My parents sought nothing less, died for nothing less, than democracy and peace. I am blessed by this legacy. I shall carry the torch forward.”

My friends, today we must all summon up some of that courage, we must all carry that torch forward. The cause of democracy and peace, and the prosperity that they bring, can bring our legacy in the Asian Pacific, it can define it. Our commitment to that future, believe me it is strong. Our principles are just. And we are in this for the long haul – clear-eyed about the challenges ahead.

Thank you. (Applause.)

Press Releases: Background Briefing En Route to Sydney, Australia

MODERATOR: So once again, we have the tireless [Senior State Department Official], who will be previewing our trip to Australia and the AUSMIN meetings over the next few days. This will be attributed to a Senior State Department Official. With that, I …

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

Press Releases: Remarks at the Rollout of the 2013 Report on International Religious Freedom

SECRETARY KERRY: Good morning, everybody. How are you?

AUDIENCE: Morning.

SECRETARY KERRY: Is everybody good? So I’m going to make – David, I want you out here with me, if you would. Tom, why don’t you come out here on the other side. Thank you, sir. I’m going to make a statement, and then I need to rush out of here because I have a phone call literally in about 10 minutes. And I’ll leave Tom Malinowski and David here with you. David is a nominee, and therefore not going to be able to say anything at this point in time, but I wanted to have a chance to introduce him to all of you as we release the International Religious Freedom Report, which we believe is a very important statement that underscores a major challenge around the world. It is also a pleasure for me to introduce President Obama’s nominee to serve as our Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom. And he, when confirmed and if confirmed by the United States Senate, is going to lead our efforts to make progress on these issues of religious freedom across the globe, and that is Rabbi David Saperstein.

Before we begin, I just want to say a very few words quickly about the events in Gaza and what is happening and what we’re trying to do. As you all know, I just returned from the Middle East and from Paris, where I had a series of discussions aimed at de-escalating the conflict, ending the rocket and tunnel attacks against Israeli civilians, and easing the suffering of innocent people everywhere – in Gaza, in Israel, in the West Bank. Today, we are continuing to work toward establishing an unconditional humanitarian cease-fire, one that could honor Eid, which begins now, and that will stop the fighting, allow desperately needed food and medicine and other supplies into Gaza, and enable Israel to address the threat which we fully understand and which is real – the threat posed by tunnel attacks – and to be able to do so without having to resort to combat. That is what could come from a cease-fire.

We believe the momentum generated by a humanitarian cease-fire is the best way to be able to begin to negotiate and find out if you can put in place a sustainable cease-fire, one that addresses all of the concerns – the long-term concerns as well; begin to talk about the underlying causes of the conflict in Gaza, though those obviously will not all be resolved in the context of a cease-fire, sustainable cease-fire discussion. But it is important to try to build, to begin, and to move in a process, and that’s what we’re trying to achieve. That is the only way, ultimately, this conflict is going to be resolved.

Hopefully, if we can make some progress, the people in this region, who deserve peace, can take one step towards that elusive goal by stopping the violence which catches innocents on all sides in the crossfire, and begin to try to build a sustainable way forward.

We also believe that any process to resolve the crisis in Gaza in a lasting and meaningful way must lead to the disarmament of Hamas and all terrorist groups. And we will work closely with Israel and regional partners and the international community in support of this goal.

So we continue to have these discussions. Our discussions over there succeeded in putting a 12-hour humanitarian cease-fire in place. Then, as the rollover time for that occurred, regrettably there were misunderstandings about 12 hours versus 24, 4 hours versus 24. And so we’re trying to work hard to see if these issues can be clarified in a way that allow the party – that allow Israel, the Palestinian Authority, the Palestinian factions, the other countries involved, working through the Egyptian initiative, to be able to find a way to silence the weapons long enough to be able to begin to negotiate.

Now, the cause of peace and understanding is what brings us here today. Sixteen years ago, I was very proud to join my colleagues in the United States Congress in passing the International Religious Freedom Act, the law that mandates this annual State Department report in order to shine a light on the obstacles that so many people face as they seek nothing more than the ability to be able to worship as they wish. And the release of this report here today is a demonstration of the abiding commitment of the American people and the entire U.S. Government to the advancement of freedom of religion worldwide.

Freedom of religion is at the core of who we are as Americans. It’s been at the center of our very identify since the pilgrims fled religious persecution and landed in my home state of Massachusetts. And many settled in the city of Salem, which takes its name from the words “salam,” “shalom,” meaning peace.

But we’re reminded that before long, even there – even there in Salem, newly founded in order to get away from religious strife, unfortunately religious persecution arrived on the scene. Women were accused of witchcraft, and some were burned at the stake. Emerging differences between religious leaders in Massachusetts and some congregations were led, as a result of that, to break away and to found new settlements. Rhode Island was founded by people who wandered through the woods leaving Massachusetts and wandered for an entire winter until they broke out on this expanse of water, and they named it Providence, for obvious reasons.

One hundred years after the pilgrims set sail for religious freedom, a Catholic woman was executed on the Boston Common for the crime of praying her rosary. So we approach this issue – I certainly do – very mindful of our past and of how as Americans we have at times had to push and work and struggle to live up fully to the promise of our own founding.

John Winthrop, born in England, but his passionate faith and his disagreements with the Anglican church inspired him to lead a ship full of religious dissidents to come to America to seek freedom of worship. And on the deck of the Arabella, he famously said in a sermon that he delivered before they landed, “For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill, the eyes of all people are upon us.” And they have been ever since then, and they are today.

And though we are obviously far from perfect and we know that, no place has ever welcomed so many different faiths to worship as freely as here in the United States of America. It’s something that we are extraordinarily proud of. But freedom of religion is not an American invention; it’s a universal value. And it’s enshrined in our Constitution and it’s engrained in every human heart. The freedom to profess and practice one’s faith is the birthright of every human being, and that’s what we believe. These rights are properly recognized under international law. The promotion of international religious freedom is a priority for President Obama and it is a priority for me as Secretary of State.

I am making certain, and I will continue to, that religious freedom remains an integral part of our global diplomatic engagement. The release of this report is an important part of those efforts. This report is a clear-eyed objective look at the state of religious freedom around the world, and when necessary, yes, it does directly shine a light in a way that makes some countries – even some of our friends – uncomfortable. But it does so in order to try to make progress.

Today of all days, we acknowledge a basic truth: Religious freedom is human freedom. And that’s why I’m especially proud to be joined today by President Obama’s newly minted nominee as our next Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Rabbi David Saperstein. When it comes to the work of protecting religious freedom, it is safe to say that David Saperstein represents the gold standard. Think about the progress of the last 20 years in elevating this fight, and David has been at the lead every step of the way – serving as the first chair of the U.S. International Religious Freedom Commission, Director of the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism, and as a member of the White House Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

But David’s resume is not just a list of titles or positions. That’s why he pushed for the U.S. Government to engage in partnerships with communities that work across faith lines. That’s why he’s worked to forge deeper partnerships with women of faith networks to advance peace and development. And that’s why he’s worked to engage American Muslim communities and their groups on global Muslim engagement affairs. And that’s why he made it his mission to promote tolerance and mutual understanding in Sudan.

I have witnessed his exceptional skill, his patience, his ability to listen, his sense of humor, and his tenacity as an advocate over the course of my years on Capitol Hill. He is simply one of America’s most compelling and committed voices on religion in public life. And I could not be more grateful for his willingness to now serve on the front lines of our global push to expand religious freedom, and I look forward, I hope, to his rapid confirmation by the United States Senate.

One thing is for sure: Rabbi Saperstein is joining an important effort at a very important time. When countries undermine or attack religious freedom, they not only unjustly threaten the people that they target; they also threaten their country’s own stability. That’s why we, today, add Turkmenistan to the list of Countries of Particular Concern. We have seen reports that people in Turkmenistan are detained, beaten, and tortured because of their religious beliefs. The Government of Turkmenistan has passed religious laws that prohibit people from wearing religious attire in public places or that impose fines for distributing religious literature. And the authorities continue to arrest and imprison Jehovah’s Witnesses who are conscientious objectors to military service.

I want to emphasize: This effort isn’t about naming countries to lists in order to make us feel somehow that we’ve spoken the truth. I want our CPC designations to be grounded in plans, action that help to change the reality on the ground and actually help people. That’s why we are committed to working with governments as partners to help them ensure full respect for the human rights of all of their citizens.

And when 75 percent of the world’s population still lives in countries that don’t respect religious freedoms, let me tell you, we have a long journey ahead of us. We have a long way to go when governments kill, detain, or torture people based on a religious belief.

North Korea stands out again in this year’s report for its absolute and brutal repression of religious activity. Members of religious minorities are ripped from their families and isolated in political prison camps. They’re arrested and beaten, tortured, and killed. And we’ve seen reports that individuals have been arrested for doing nothing more than carrying a Bible.

And North Korea is not alone. Earlier this month, Chinese officials sentenced Christian pastor Zhang Shaojie to 12 years in prison for peaceful advocacy on behalf of his church community. And just last week, I welcomed the release of Meriam Ishag, a mother of two young children who had been imprisoned on charges of apostasy in Sudan. From South Asia to Sahel, governments have silenced members of religious groups with oppressive laws, harsh punishments, and brutal tactics that have no place in the 21st century.

In Iran, U.S. Iranian citizen Pastor Saeed Abedini remains imprisoned. The Iranian authorities sentenced him to eight years behind bars simply because of his religious beliefs. We will continue to call for his release and we will continue to work for it. And make no mistake: We will continue to stand up for religious minority communities under assault and in danger around the world, from Jehovah’s Witnesses to Baha’is to Ahmadi Muslims.

So we have a long way to go to safeguard these rights. We also have a long way to go when governments use national security as an excuse to repress members of minority religious groups.

In Russia, the government has used a succession of ever more punitive laws against what they call extremism to justify crude measures against people of faith. In China, authorities harass Christians. They arrest Tibetan Buddhists simply for possessing the Dalai Lama’s photograph. And they prevent Uighur Muslims from providing religious education to their children or fasting during Ramadan. And in Uzbekistan, the government continues to imprison its citizens, raid religious gatherings, and confiscate and destroy religious literature. These tactics continue to pose an incredible test. But make no mistake: These tactics will fail the test of history.

One of the troubling trends identified in this year’s report is how sectarian violence continues to displace families and devastate communities. Thousands of Rohingya Muslims have been displaced in Burma in the wake of sectarian violence, and tens of thousands more are living in squalid camps without adequate medical care.

In Pakistan, militants killed more than 500 Shia Muslims in sectarian bloodletting and brutally murdered 80 Christians in a single church bombing last year. The Pakistani Government has yet to take adequate steps to bring those responsible to justice.

In Nigeria, Boko Haram has killed more than 1,000 people over the last year alone, and that includes Christian and Muslim religious leaders, individuals who were near – near – churches and mosques, worshipers, and bystanders alike. And we have all seen the savagery and incredible brutality of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – the wholesale slaughter of Shia Muslims, the forced conversions of Christians in Mosul, the rape, executions, and use of women and children as human shields.

All of these acts of barbarism underscore the stakes. Just the other week, ISIL declared that any remaining Christians in Mosul must convert, pay a tax, or be executed on the spot. Around the world, repressive governments and extremist groups have been crystal clear about what they stand against. So we have to be equally clear about what we must stand for. We stand for greater freedom, greater tolerance, greater respect for rights of freedom of expression and freedom of conscience.

With this report, I emphasize we are not arrogantly telling people what to believe. We’re not telling people how they have to live every day. We’re asking for the universal value of tolerance, of the ability of people to have a respect for their own individuality and their own choices. We are asserting a universal principle for tolerance. The Abrahamic faiths – Christianity, Judaism, and Islam – have to find new meaning in the old notion of our shared descent. What really is our common inheritance? What does it mean to be brothers and sisters and to express our beliefs in mutual tolerance and understanding? Answering those questions is our mission today. Edmund Burke once famously said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” This report is the work of good men and women who are doing something profound in the face of bigotry and injustice.

And let me share with, you around the world, some of today’s greatest advocates in this cause are doing their part every day, some of them at great risk and in great danger. They are doing it in order to force light into darkness. In Pakistan, following the militant attacks I just mentioned, members of the Muslim community formed human chains around churches to demonstrate solidarity against senseless sectarian violence. In Egypt, Muslim men stood in front of a Catholic church to protect the congregation from attacks. And in London, an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood watch team helped Muslim leaders protect their mosque and prevent future attacks.

There are many, many, many examples of people standing up for this universal value of tolerance and doing so for themselves at great risk. There are many whose names and communities and watch teams we will never know. But they will not receive prizes; they may not ever receive recognition. Their courage goes unremarked, but that makes it all the more remarkable, because they put their lives on the line in face of beatings and imprisonment and even death, in the near certainty that their sacrifice will be anonymous. Believe me, that’s the definition of courage.

So while serious challenges to religious freedom remain, I know that the power of the human spirit can and will triumph over them. It is not just up to the rabbis, the bishops, and the imams. It’s up to all of us to find the common ground and draw on what must be our common resolve to put our universal commitments into action.

Tom Malinowski will speak further, be prepared to answer any questions, and I’m very grateful to you all for being here for this important report and for allowing me to introduce you to the President’s nominee. Thank you.

Daily Press Briefings : Daily Press Briefing: June 30, 2014

MS. PSAKI: Hi, everyone. Happy Monday. So I just have one item at the top. Secretary Kerry – as the White House announced, Secretary Kerry will be visiting Panama July 1st, which is tomorrow, to attend the inauguration of Panama’s president-elect, Juan Carlos Varela. We congratulate President Varela on his victory and Panama’s history of peaceful democratic transfer of power. We have a growing trade relationship, excellent security cooperation, and share many of the same concerns on regional and multilateral issues. Panama is also an important partner of the United States, and we look forward to continuing our close relationship.

Efficient public administration central to attaining development goals – Ban

23 June 2014 – Marking United Nations Public Service Day, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hailed today the invaluable contributions of public servants and administrators in the international community’s efforts to build a better world for all.

“At a time of complex and interdependent global challenges, effective governance and efficient public administration are central to meeting our development goals. They will also be vital for implementing the post-2015 development agenda,” Mr. Ban said in a message for the Day, observed annually on 23 June.

UN Public Service Day aims to celebrate the value and virtue of public service to the community; highlight the contribution of public service in the development process; recognize the work of public servants; and encourage young people to pursue careers in the public sector.

Since the first awards ceremony in 2003, the Organization has received an increasing number of submissions from all around the world. The 2014 UN Public Service Day Awards Ceremony and Forum opened today in Seoul, Republic of Korea, and will run through 26 June.

Focusing on the theme “Innovating Governance for Sustainable Development and Well-being of the People,” the Forum was organized by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Division for Public Administration and Development Management, in partnership with the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), in collaboration with the Government of the Republic of Korea.

In his message, the UN chief said the 2014 commemoration will recognize 19 public institutions from 14 countries for their outstanding achievements. The winners and finalists come from different regions and different levels of development, but what they have in common is having overcome complex challenges through innovative public service.

“They have revitalized education for the marginalized, enhanced transparency and accountability, supported environmental protection and deployed technology to increase the efficiency of health and water services,” the Secretary-General said, adding that these trail-blazing efforts have resulted in greater equity and inclusion in the delivery of public services in their communities.

Mr. Ban congratulated the institutions for their dedication to excellence, and encouraged “all who work in public service to learn from them and take inspiration from their successes.”

Press Releases: Remarks on the Trafficking in Persons Report 2014

MR. RATHKE: Okay. Thank you, operator. I’m Jeff Rathke, director of the Press Office here at the State Department. And today we’re doing a call with Ambassador Luis CdeBaca, who is Ambassador-At-Large to Combat Trafficking in Persons. So today’s call will be on the record, but it will be embargoed until the end of Secretary Kerry’s rollout event.

So Ambassador CdeBaca has been in this position for a number of years; he doesn’t really need any introduction to most of you. So I will just turn it over to him and ask him to give us introduction to this year’s report, and then we’ll take some questions afterwards. So please, Ambassador.

AMBASSADOR CDEBACA: Thanks, Jeff. Hello, everybody, and welcome. As Jeff said, Secretary Kerry will be unveiling the 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report. This, of course, is a congressionally mandated report that has us look at the governments around the world and what they are doing to combat trafficking in persons – modern slavery – through the lens of what we call the 3P paradigm of prevention, protection, and prosecution. And in fact, I think as you see the embargoed copy of the report that I think many of you have, you’ll notice that each of the narratives of what’s happening in the countries actually are laid out in that fashion so that you can kind of see exactly how it is that we are analyzing the countries, and frankly, what the evidence is for the eventual ranking.

The rankings – the – it’s a four-tiered ranking system, and so – because it was made by us in the United States by our Congress, it has three tiers for its four-tier ranking. Let me explain what that means. We have Tier One, which is a country that’s actually meeting the minimum standards of fighting human trafficking. And those minimum standards are set out in our trafficking law of 2000, but really track the international standards and best practices that we see around the world. A Tier Two country is one that is not meeting those goals but is striving to do so and has results that you can point to to show that it’s doing a decent job, but could definitely improve.

A Tier Two Watch List – and this is how we get four tiers out of a one, two, and three. The Tier Two Watch List is kind of like a C minus or something like that in the American grading system. It’s warning the countries that are on the Watch List that they are in danger of falling to Tier Three. And one of the biggest categories for that is if what the country is doing is simply in the form of promises of future action. Again, we look for results. And if we can’t show the results on the ground, the actual outcomes, et cetera, then that does not bode well when we’re doing the analysis. And then finally Tier Three, which is a country that is not responding sufficiently to its trafficking problem, isn’t taking those affirmative steps forward, and we’re not – excuse me – seeing the progress that we need to see, especially in light of their particular trafficking problem.

So that’s a quick tour through the tier rankings, and I think that a lot of folks are very interested in that, much like horserace coverage of elections. But I want to talk a few of the top lines as well, as far as what are we seeing in the global fight against modern slavery this year. Very quick review of what we’re talking about when we talk about human trafficking, the definition – this is a umbrella term that the United States Government considers to cover all of the activities involved in reducing someone to or holding them in a condition of compelled service. So there’s nothing in there about moving them across international borders. There’s nothing in there that limits it simply to women or girls. There’s nothing in there that limits it to only in other countries. And there’s nothing in there that limits it only to prostitution or the sex industry as opposed to other forms of trafficking.

So each year for every one of these countries, we’re looking at what are they doing for all of the populations that are victimized by trafficking: How are they helping them? Are they prosecuting the perpetrators and bringing them to justice? And are they working to prevent? And when I say “they,” I mean all of the governments that we look at.

And one of those governments is the United States. The United States has been included in the trafficking report since 2010. The State Department began to rank ourselves in that report for two reasons. First of all, I think that there was a sense during the Obama Administration that it was simply a matter of fairness to all of the other countries; if we’re going to hold them to these minimum standards, that we needed to hold ourselves to them as well. But then also the notion of as a diagnostic tool. If these 11 minimum standards that you’re supposed to look at to see whether you’re doing a decent job on fighting trafficking – if those are truly to be a good diagnostic, then we owed it to ourselves to apply that diagnostic and to see where we could be doing better as the United States.

As far as that’s concerned, I want to just make the point that I think many of you may have already heard me or the Secretary say, which is that no country is doing a perfect job on the fight against human trafficking, and that includes the United States. We are all in this together, because we’re seeing people around the world – whether it’s in agriculture or whether it’s in mining, whether it’s in manufacturing, whether it’s in the sex industry, whether it’s as domestic servants – that when you have unscrupulous and cruel bosses and vulnerable people, you have a recipe for human trafficking. And that’s as true here even in the Washington, D.C. area and the suburbs, as it is in countries around the world.

So I’d certainly, although I think that we’ll probably be looking at some of the other countries, I’d certainly recommend to you all the U.S. narrative as well so you can see what the U.S. Government is doing but also what’s happening out in our communities across the United States, whether it’s to Native American girls, whether it’s to vulnerable men and women because of a disability or a drug addiction, or whether it’s to the young men and women, boys, and girls, who fall prey to the blandishments of pimps who offer a better life and opportunity.

Let me take it a little bit more international though. This year, we see of the 188 countries that are on the report, we see some movement up and down. There’s, I think, some real progress stars, I guess, for lack of a better word, some countries out there that have – that we’ve seen some real progress on. For instance, both Chile and Switzerland are moving up to Tier One on the report this year. Switzerland because they took aggressive steps to close some legal loopholes that actually inadvertently made it legal for people to have children in prostitution. Chad has really stepped up on victim identification and demobilization of child soldiers. We’ve seen the first convictions in the Bahamas and Aruba – small countries, small island countries that, frankly, five years ago would’ve said that they didn’t have any human trafficking. But they’ve realized that it’s something that they have to look for. And once they’ve looked for it, they’ve found it and been able to free some of its victims.

We’ve seen the first government-run shelter being opened by the Government of Jordan. The – a new law recently passed in Haiti – the first time now in 215 or so years in which it is now a crime to enslave someone in Haiti, a law much-awaited in South Africa that we hope will be a good tool in that which is very much the destination country for the southern tier countries in Africa. And even a country that has historically not been a leader on human rights issues, Sudan, the enactment of a modern human trafficking law that’s really the culmination of that government’s coming out and wanting to be able to have those modern tools so that they can help their own citizens and others who might be enslaved and exploited.

There are also downgrades, and I think that that’s something that we see every year – countries that are perhaps taking the foot off the gas pedal a little bit or aren’t doing the kind of work that we would see under the law. And I think one of the things that’s, of course, since the 2008 reauthorization that is of particular note under the U.S. law is what we call the auto-downgrade provisions of the law. This came into effect fully last year for the first time. The law in 2008 basically said that countries cannot be on that Tier Two Watch List that I described a minute ago for too many years in a row, because there was a concern, frankly, on the part of Congress that strategic countries and other countries were being given a bit of a pass and not being taken down to Tier Three but holding steady on Tier Two Watch Lists almost, it seemed to Congress I think, interminably.

And so they put a time limitation on that and – by which time a government has to either improve or will be dropped down to Tier Three on the report. There were seven such countries this year that were in that situation no longer eligible for a waiver in the U.S. national interest. And those were Afghanistan, Barbados, Chad, Malaysia, the Maldives, Thailand, and Venezuela. And what we’ve seen is the two – excuse me, three – of those Tier Two Watch Lists auto-downgrade countries were no longer eligible, and we concluded that there hadn’t been the type of sufficient progress to justify an upgrade. And those were Thailand, Malaysia, and Venezuela. And so each of those countries has now been placed on Tier Three in the report.

In the other countries – Afghanistan, Barbados, Chad, and the Maldives – in each of those countries we see fresh activity. We see new commitments to doing work. We see this notion of cases being done in the first place or victims being helped in new ways. And it’s certainly something that is welcome. And frankly, these are countries who may not have, if it weren’t for the pressure of the auto-downgrade and the good work of our men and women out at our embassies in those countries and others to work with them, might not have been able to make that journey.

I want to say two things about sectoral issues that we’ve been identifying that may be news to some. I think that many people may be aware of some of the abuses that we’ve been recognizing in the last few years in the fishing industry. And in fact we’ve seen the fishing sector now – 51 of the narratives in the TIP report this year are identifying abuses in the fishing industry. And that’s both men that are enslaved out on the boats out at sea and folks in the seafood packing huts and things like that.

But we’ve also seen forced labor in mining noted in the narratives of 46 countries and zero prosecutions or convictions around the world. So we’re very much looking for countries to step up on the mining sector, and that’s everything from things that we might call conflict minerals in Africa or conflict diamonds in North Africa, Northwest Africa, or what we see with the gold mining sector, for instance, in Peru and other places.

And sadly, just as we’ve seen in the fishing industry or the logging industry, there are follow-on effects of a subsidiary sex trafficking that happens – basically men who are enslaved in these camps, held in debt bondage through the old company store scheme, they then bring the women in to serve them as well. So whether it’s in Guyana, Peru, or other places like that, you end up seeing sex trafficking related to the mining sector. And we want to commend Senegal for being the only country in the world this last year who actually achieved a conviction of folks for holding girls in sex trafficking in that mining sector.

Lastly, just want to also point out that there is the child soldiers and Child Soldier Prevention Act list, which is part of the trafficking report each year. And this year one of the countries on that was removed, and that is Chad, as I mentioned earlier, who’s, I think, coming at this with a real energy now. And we hope that we’ll continue to see that on their part.

So I think perhaps we should turn it over and do some questions. Jeff, I’ll leave it back to you.

MR. RATHKE: Thanks very much, Ambassador. Operator, could you please inform everyone or remind them how to register – intend to ask a question?

OPERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, if you would like to ask a question, please press * then 1 on your touchtone phone. You will hear a tone indicating you have been placed in a queue, and you may remove yourself from queue at any time by pressing the # key. If you are using a speakerphone, please pick up the handset before pressing the numbers. Once again, if you have a question, please press *1 at this time. And a moment here for the first question.

MR. RATHKE: All right. That’s great. We’re ready to go to the first question then, so could you please call the first question, operator?

OPERATOR: Our first question comes from the line of Dana Hughes at ABC News. Please go ahead.

QUESTION: Hi. Thank you for doing this. I have a question about what role you see governance or the breakdown of governance in these rankings. For example, Thailand’s been downgraded and they had a coup. Chad is really increasing its governance. Do you see a direct correlation?

AMBASSADOR CDEBACA: Well, it’s interesting, because the Thailand narrative and the Thailand ranking is based on everything that happened from April 1st, 2013 through March 31st, 2014. And so the coup that you mentioned didn’t happen within that time period. Obviously, there was some fraying around the edges within the Royal Thai Government, and yet the committed folks within the government who were trying to work on this within their own agencies, the – some folks at the Royal Thai Police and folks in the ministry of health and social development – they continued to go out and try to fight trafficking because it was something that they had that personal commitment to.

What we see that’s, I think, perhaps somewhat relevant to that in the Thailand situation that’s very much part of the – kind of permeates the narrative is the anchor on those good efforts of those good people that public corruption and complicity on the part of government officials then places around those who would try to do better. So I think that that kind of corruption and its effect on governance directly undercuts the good work of the folks who are trying to get everything right.

It’s interesting because I think that what we see is this is a rule of law problem. It’s a human rights problem as well. But there are a number of countries in which the government functions at a very high level that human trafficking victims simply aren’t on the radar. And I think that that’s reflected kind of throughout the report that rule of law only is going to work for trafficking victims if governments affirmatively try to bring it to bear on the plight of these vulnerable communities.

So while some of those kind of looking at instability and looking at general governance issues, there often seems to be some correlation. I think that we’ve also seen a lot of human trafficking in cases that are – in countries that are viewed as being governed well and that do well on indices, whether it’s Freedom House or otherwise.

MR. RATHKE: Okay, thanks. Could we move on to the next question, please?

OPERATOR: Okay, our next question comes from the line of Jo Biddle at AFP. Please go ahead.

QUESTION: Hello, good afternoon. Thank you very much. I wanted to ask you about sanctions. I know that there’s a possibility that downgrades can be accompanied by sanctions if the President so decides. And last year we saw Russia and China both downgraded into Tier Three. Were there any sanctions that were accompanied with that, and do you anticipate that with these new downgrades of Thailand, Malaysia and Venezuela that there could be sanctions forthcoming if they do not get their act together?

And I had a follow-up – a different question as well, but perhaps I’ll just ask that one first.

AMBASSADOR CDEBACA: Of course. The sanctions determination is something that we’ll be turning to at this point. There are not just those three countries that are on Tier Three. In fact, there are 23 countries on Tier Three this year. But I think that what we look at each year is, first of all, we have to see what is it that the sanctions analysis has to look at. And first stop is to actually look at what foreign assistance we have because that’s really what we’re talking about. The sanctions here is whether or not the United States will continue to provide foreign assistance. So the first thing that we always have to look at is what is being provided to those particular governments and then also to look to see to what degree we’re providing aid that goes directly to helping fix the thing that we’re trying to solve. So you certainly wouldn’t want to halt the – any assistance that’s going specifically to increasing the capacity of our partners in those governments to fight human trafficking or to help its victims.

So those are some of the things that we’ll take into account as we work with the White House and as we give our recommendations to the President. At the end of the day, this is his decision. And last year, the three auto-downgrade countries that you mentioned – China, Russia, and Uzbekistan – the President decided that it was in the U.S. national interest and would promote the purposes of the trafficking law to waive sanctions against them as well as several other countries. And those are countries that we, again, are very much wanting to and feel we can engage with in order to move forward.

Last year, full sanctions were applied against Cuba, Iran, and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and partial sanctions were applied against the DR Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Sudan, Syria, and Zimbabwe.

QUESTION: Okay, thank you very much. And I wondered if I could ask about – I had another question. I wondered if I could ask about the situation in the United States. You give the United States a Tier One ranking, but I believe there have been some issues with money, funds running out for shelters for survivors, and there’s also an issue of, particularly in the sex trafficking, with children being treated as criminals rather than being treated as victims and ending up in front of courts or in cells instead of in – or in police cells rather than in shelters. I did note in the report that you say that there’s much more to be done still in the United States. What are you recommending specifically for the United States in terms of improving your own balance sheet?

AMBASSADOR CDEBACA: Yeah. I mean, I think that to the notion of the funding issues, clearly a lot of social service providers, not just in the trafficking arena but others as well, that were depending upon per capita type of reimbursements from the United States Government, didn’t necessarily get those as quickly as they could have last year. We had a number of things, including the near – the government shutdown and the sequester and other things like that.

Our funding stream that HHS – the Department of Health and Human Services – does is actually – it is a per capita reimbursement. It’s not a kind of one-time grant at the beginning of the year that then the nongovernmental can draw down on. And one of the reasons for that is that there are thousands and thousands of service providers across the United States who may encounter a trafficking victim, and it may be that that’s not their fulltime job, so they wouldn’t be writing a grant specifically for that.

My understanding is that those reimbursements were able to continue and that folks have been backfilled for any monies that they spent on behalf of the trafficking victims. But I think it does show that there’s a need for better thought to be put in.

And that was one of the reasons why, on the plus side of the column this year, we announced in January at the White House the first-ever victim services strategy for the United States, which was brought together by the President’s interagency task force to actually look at this action plan. And we’re very proud of the fact that that was brought in with close consultation with survivors of trafficking, so that we could hear what it was that they had been through, what they saw as the shortcomings.

One of the things, frankly, that we’re having to deal with is a bunch of legacy systems. The child protective services systems in all of the states, each grew up independently and they grew up at a time before the Trafficking Victims Protection Act started looking at child prostitutes, for instance, as victims rather than as criminals. So going back to each state now and trying to get it so that they can make it very clear that these are not delinquent children but dependent children under each of the state laws and making sure that the child protective services understands that these are not criminals but victims is unpacking a multi-billion dollar effort across 57 states and territories as well as at the federal level.

So I think that, in looking at that and looking at the problems of the foster care system, et cetera, we’ve started to see not only the Administration but Congress focusing on that. But at the end of the day, all of the money that’s been appropriated for human trafficking work and all of the legislative fixes to some of those programs are just a drop in the bucket compared to the enormous child protective services structures that we need to turn around to recognize the trafficking victims in their midst.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. RATHKE: Okay. Thanks. Next question please.

OPERATOR: Next question comes from the line of Luis Alonso at AP. Please go ahead.

QUESTION: Hi. Good afternoon. Many thanks for doing this. I have two questions as well, if I may. The first one is I couldn’t find a regional summary of the report, so I would like to ask if you could please give – provide us with a comment on the Western Hemisphere, how – what the general trend, how many countries were downgraded – how many countries were downgraded, is it improvement or not compared to last year?

And my second question is, given – related to the unaccompanied minors that are coming through the south border from Central America, is – we all know that the United States has put all those kids into removal proceedings right now. If a big number of them end up being deported and go – sent back to their countries where there is extraordinary violence and many presence of human trafficking, do you foresee that the United States could drop the Tier One position because of this element of the unaccompanied minor who comes into America? Thank you.

AMBASSADOR CDEBACA: Well, let me answer that backwards with the second question first. I think that one of the things that we’re doing is that we are working with the governments in the region to try to improve not only the situation so that families don’t feel that they have to get their children out of harm’s way, whether it’s with gangs or otherwise, but also so that those children can be reunited with their families back home.

The law in question, of the unaccompanied alien minors, is looking to protect them, and which is one of the reasons why the Department of Health and Human Services is involved, unlike with adults who would be interdicted at the border. And in fact, one of the things that is done as part of the unaccounted – unaccompanied alien minor screening is to see whether or not those children were victims of trafficking in that situation. And as with all folks who come before the immigration judges and go through the system, we hope that that kind of screening would be able to help us find the people who need the particular services that trafficking victims so desperately need, and to be able to get them those services.

As far as the hemisphere as a whole, I think that is some movement up, there is some movement down within the hemisphere. Perhaps the most notable downgrade in the hemisphere is not the Venezuelan story from Tier Two Watch List down to Tier Three, but rather the downgrade of Colombia, a country that’s been on Tier One for many consecutive years. I think that what it stands for is the notion that Tier One is not a reprieve, it’s a responsibility, and the responsibility to continue to investigate cases, to continue to seek out good victim care interventions, and to look at all forms of trafficking. The Colombians were focused so much on international sex trafficking of Colombians and transnational cases that cases of Colombians at home and others, whether it was in the mining sector, whether it was in the sex or domestic servants, simply weren’t registering. And as a result, we now see them on Tier Two.

So the movement on the one hand of Chile up to Tier One because of the new law that they passed a few years ago and their very aggressive stance in enforcing that new law unfortunately then is kind of paired with the Colombian situation, where a bit of stagnation cannot keep a country on the highest level.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. RATHKE: Okay. Thanks. Next question, please.

OPERATOR: Our next question comes from the line of (inaudible) at US News and World. Please go ahead.

QUESTION: Hi. Thanks so much for taking the time to speak with us. I was wondering if you could talk a little bit more about Thailand’s downgrade, specifically the government’s shortcomings, considering all the media reports this last year or so discussing their human trafficking problem and why the government has failed to really address it.

AMBASSADOR CDEBACA: Well, as I said earlier – and I want to make it very clear that we know and we have worked with some very good actors in the Thai Government who are kind of on the front lines who are trying very hard to make a difference over there. But the widespread official complicity in human trafficking that continues to hinder their performance against sex trafficking and forced labor, the government as a whole did not demonstrate serious efforts to address that. It made few efforts to address forced labor and debt bondage among the most vulnerable communities – the foreign migrant workers, including in the fishing industry.

And even though we saw this notion of some better data collection and some – an uptick in investigations by the royal Thai police, those didn’t necessarily translate over into completed convictions. You’ll see in the report, for instance, a situation where some Burmese members of a conspiracy were arrested and ended up being sentenced to 30 years in prison for their role in trafficking men in the fish industry, and yet the Thai co-conspirator, who held 14 men in confinement as part of the slavery scheme, he ended up only getting three months as an alien smuggling conviction.

And so we’re looking at each of the cases that we know about. We’re looking at the situations on the ground to see – is this something that the bosses in the brothels and the bosses in the fishing packing sheds and things can simply brush off as business as usual? Is it something that they can bribe their way out of? Or is it something that has real teeth going forward? And we look forward to working with the Thais in the coming year to not only provide that real teeth, but hopefully achieve some real results.

MR. RATHKE: Okay. Thank you. Next question, please.

OPERATOR: All right. Our next question comes from Josh Stilts at Intrafish Media. Please go ahead.

QUESTION: Hi. Thanks again for hosting this. You said earlier that there were some 53 countries that have shown instances of slave labor or human trafficking in the fishing and seafood industries. Beyond Thailand, what other instances are you guys seeing?

AMBASSADOR CDEBACA: I think it’s actually 51. Sorry if —

QUESTION: Fifty-one, sure.

AMBASSADOR CDEBACA: — I misspoke. Well, we’ve seen, as far as a country that’s acting, the Indonesians have actually arrested some folks and there’s prosecutions going there. But there are some very nontraditional places. There – I don’t think a lot of people think of South Africa necessarily in this context, and yet the South Africans suddenly found themselves with a boatload of fishermen with – who had been basically shanghaied from Cambodia. We’ve seen in the Caribbean, in Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica, situations where this has been discovered on the boats; Costa Rica on the west coast, finding Chinese fishermen in these dire straits; African men and African children on boats in the gulf off of the Green Coast and everything kind of ranging down from Liberia all the way down to Nigeria.

And I think that that’s one of the things that the more we look at this, the more we find this in surprising places. There were reports this last year by Stella Maris, the apostolate of the sea, which is the Vatican’s kind of specialized unit of – I call them the sea priests, who go out on the boats to try to mission to the fishermen. And at a conference that the Pope hosted in – earlier this year with those priests, suddenly there were reports coming out from the fishery in Scotland of abuses up there.

So I think it’s something that we’re hearing about. We’re hearing about it on inland fisheries such as Lake Victoria and Lake Volta, but we’re also hearing about it in the Baltics and in, as I said, places as unusual as Scotland or South Africa.

MR. RATHKE: Okay. Thanks. Next question please.

OPERATOR: Our next question comes from Maya Rhodan from the TIME magazine. Please go ahead.

QUESTION: Hi. Thanks again for the call. I have a question about the LGBT community and how – can you just speak to how instances of trafficking that involve LGBT people were factored into any of the rankings or if there are any countries where this is a particular issue or if there’s still more digging around that needs to be done on that?

AMBASSADOR CDEBACA: I’m very glad you raised that. It is something that we’re seeing more of. I think that it’s something that, because it’s been so taboo for a lot of countries to even admit that these communities are part of the social fabric, much less worthy of protection, that in some ways we’re just kind of opening the bidding on this issue. I think a lot of folks are aware of and know of issues of survival sex of the homeless kids who are in many ways trying to put together their own families and their own communities. But I think a lot of folks, whether it’s in the public health arenas or even in the LGBT activist communities, have tended to look at that and not see the pimps and the controllers that sometimes are behind that.

And we’re seeing in a number of countries around the world – I remember last year, when I was in Kenya, for instance, the interplay, the horrible interplay between on the one hand the effects of terrorism in the northeast and even in Somalia, with families trying to get their kids out of that area so that their sons don’t have to be fighters for Shabaab, and then they end up in sex trafficking down on the coast in the tourist zones. And I think it’s one of those things where, because of attitudes against the LGBT community, a lot of folks that were even working or willing to talk about other forms of trafficking were having a very hard time even wanting to admit that those young boys might have been in human trafficking situations.

And this happens in the United States. There was a case, I think it was last year, in the Atlanta area where a man was convicted for human trafficking of a teenaged American kid who, frankly, he lured in because of that kid’s loneliness and seeking to have some meaning as he struggled with his own sexuality.

So it’s something that we’re going to be looking at a lot more carefully. It’s like the fishing issues a few years ago, where we had just started to hear it, and then now that we’re looking for it, we’re seeing it in a lot of different places. I think that we’re going to be seeing more coverage of this in the coming years. And we’ve started having conversations with some of the key players in the United States, like the Human Rights Campaign and others, so that we can bring to bear the folks who are working in the affected communities.

MR. RATHKE: All right. I see – I think we have three questions remaining, so we will go through those, and then we will wrap up from here. So, operator, could you call the next question?

OPERATOR: All right. The next question comes from Jeanine Stewart at Undercurrent News. Please go ahead.

QUESTION: Thank you for having this, first of all. So first off, I’m wondering two things. How much has human – has the human trafficking problem grown in the fishing industry in 2013 over 2012? I’m just curious, is this a growing problem or is this just something that we’ve become more aware of with Thailand in the spotlight over it? And also, how much certainty is there in the investigation? Can you reveal anything about how they were conducted or how sure the State Department is that Thailand’s officials were complicit in some of the human trafficking that occurred? Because I – since I know that the Thai Government has said that’s not true. So how do we weed through the “he said, she said” on that one?

AMBASSADOR CDEBACA: Well, I think that what we’ve seen in – as far as complicity in Thailand is whether – it’s not just in fishing but in a number of different sectors, the very reputable researchers, whether it’s your Human Rights Watches, whether it’s Transparency and some of the other indices looking at corruption as an issue. But specifically, there’s I think been some very good reporting even by the media as opposed to by academic researchers or others as to the involvement of Thai officials. And that’s something that’s reflected in the narrative.

One of the things that’s also reflected in the narrative is then how the parts of the Royal Thai Government have responded to that type of reporting by journalists being charged with criminal defamation —

QUESTION: Mm-hmm.

AMBASSADOR CDEBACA: — journalists and the folks who are willing to reprint articles even being charged. So that notion of not only is there, we think, good and solid reporting by a number of different actors, whether it’s, again, activists, academics, or journalists, but also the work that’s being done increasingly now by the food industry itself. And we very much encourage the seafood industry to start looking at these supply chain issues. We know that they can trace their product from the store shelf all the way back to the particular boat. We’ve seen the bar codes on the tubs, the plastic tubs of shrimp in the packing shed that are required that if there’s a health outbreak, they can take it all the way back to the particular shed, take it all the way back to the particular boat.

So since we know that the shrimp and the fish is traceable in those instances, we think also that what the particular captains and what the labor brokers that are working with them are doing needs to be something that comes under the microscope for the companies and their consumers as well.

MR. RATHKE: Okay, our penultimate question please, operator.

OPERATOR: All right. Our next question comes from Dmitri Zlodorev from ITAR-TASS. Please go ahead.

QUESTION: Hello. My name is Dmitri Zlodorev. I am from ITAR-TASS news wire service of Russia. You placed Russia to the third group, and how you would characterize the U.S.-Russian cooperation in this area? And am I right that right now you are not plan to impose sanctions against Russia? Thank you.

AMBASSADOR CDEBACA: Thank you, Dmitri. We can’t speak to sanctions at this point in time. It’s something that the White House will be looking at for all of the countries on Tier Three, and so I can’t speculate as to what would happen on that. I think we had talked about that a little bit earlier as far as last year was concerned.

But your question as far as what kind of cooperation between the United States and Russia on this, we’ve had a – I think a good dialogue over the years on human trafficking with our Russian counterparts. And we’re looking forward to what we hope will be some efforts in the coming year. We know that the government submitted an anti-trafficking action plan to the National Security Council and at this point has not heard back. We think that that certainly would be a very good step, to have a public and transparent anti-trafficking action plan. And it would be a sign of political will on the part of the Russian Federation.

One thing that I would like to say as far as U.S.-Russian cooperation is that we have been able to continue to work together over the last year to announce a trafficking shelter in St. Petersburg with space contributed by the municipality – so Russian government funding – and support from the United States Embassy in Moscow. Now that shelter is only going to be able to hold and serve eight trafficking victims, and the scope of trafficking in Russia that’s pointed out in the report, with the migrant foreign workers and others, is many, many more than that. But we do feel that it’s a good step and that we hope that working together, the Russian Government and the United States Government and the Red Cross partners will be able to provide a better life to the women who are able to avail themselves of that shelter.

MR. RATHKE: Okay, thank you. Next question, please.

OPERATOR: Our next question comes from Teresa Busa from EFE. Please go ahead.

QUESTION: Thank you very much. I wanted to ask you about the specific case of Venezuela. I wonder if you could comment on that: how bad the situation is and what are the most worrying trends, and how is the U.S.-Venezuela cooperation in this area?

AMBASSADOR CDEBACA: Indeed. Well, thank you for your question. I think that we were – a few years ago, as you know, Venezuela was brought up off of Tier Three in recognition of a number of cases that they were investigating and what looked like a commitment to working jointly between the police and the health service. And unfortunately, this last year we just haven’t really been able to see those same type of efforts. There’s a little bit of awareness raising and tourism training, but unlike most of the countries in the world, there’s not an interagency coordinating council that’s been brought together around the issue. There’s not an action plan or even a draft action plan. There’s no formal mechanism to identify the victims, and there’s no shelters that are designated for trafficking victims. In many ways, it seems that all of the victim care in Venezuela is being done by the nongovernmental organizations or by the international organizations.

And so we call on Venezuela to step up and to be involved in the victim care. And there’s so little public data on law enforcement that it does not appear that there were any reported convictions in 2013, as opposed to in 2012, where at least we were able to identify one person convicted of sex trafficking.

So as with all of these countries, we very much want to continue to be able to work together on this. This is a shared problem. It affects Venezuela, it affects the United States, and it affects the Western Hemisphere. And so we’ll be looking for ways in which we can continue to try to engage with the Venezuelans.

MR. RATHKE: Operator, we would have time for one final question, if there are any in the queue.

OPERATOR: All right. We did have one final question from Matthew Russell Lee at Inner City Press. Please go ahead.

QUESTION: Sure. Thanks a lot, and thanks for taking the question. I was looking at Myanmar – Burma – and also at Sri Lanka. And in both cases, it seems to say – the report seems to say that that government is either, in the case of Burma, directly involved in trafficking in coercion; or in the case of Sri Lanka, suspected of complicity in it. So in those two cases, I wondered as the U.S. sort of re-engages with Myanmar or Burma, how does this issue get raised and how is it going to be resolved? And the same in the case of Sri Lanka where there’s this human rights inquiry. Is this – what can be done in terms of actual government complicity in trafficking?

AMBASSADOR CDEBACA: Well, it’s interesting. Let me start with Burma. We – this is one of the first things that we re-engaged on. I was in Burma within I think about three weeks or a month after Secretary Clinton took her first historic trip there, and when I met with Aung San Suu Kyi, one of the things that was very interesting to me was that she recommended to me that I needed to talk to her jailor. And I asked her, “What do you mean?” And she said, “The guy from the secret police who was assigned to me to be my warden all of these years would bring me articles on human trafficking off of the Internet, and we would talk into the night about how we would work together to help end human trafficking and slavery for our people if things ever changed.” A lot of people forget that she spent her Nobel Prize money while she was in prison. She sent it World Vision, an NGO, to provide food and shelter for about 200 Burmese trafficking victims in Thailand. The first place that she went after she was able to travel was to the shrimp-packing sheds in Thailand where so many Burmese are affected by this crime.

So it was interesting to see not only her, but then eventually what came true is the new head of the anti-trafficking unit – the central body against trafficking in persons for the Burmese Government in the new era – is the very person who she recommended to me that we should work with. He’s written a book on trafficking; he’s gone to other parts of the region. I think there’s a real desire on the part of the Burmese Government to engage and to bring on some of these modern approaches.

And to that end, they even passed a law abolishing the 1907 Villages and Towns Act, which is what gave them the legal ability to enslave their own people. So the notion of giving that up as part of the process of opening up to the outside world. I think that, as with every country, there’s a long way to go, and we’ll continue to work with them. We have an established and formal dialogue with them that was agreed to by both presidents during President Obama’s visit a year and a half ago, and it’s something that I’ve been to Burma for that dialogue and will be, I think, going again in the fall for the second round of that. So we’re – in that situation, I think that we’ve got a formal way to work with them.

Sri Lanka on the other hand, I think that that’s a bit of a work in progress. We don’t see – first of all, we’re not digging out of the years of exclusion from the international community that we had seen with the Burmese Government, but we’ve got this notion of three years in a row the trafficking statute that they have, which is a pretty good one – it prohibits all forms of trafficking, which not every SAARC country, not every country in the region has laws that prevent forced labor as well as sex trafficking – and yet three years in a row without any convictions, no services really for male trafficking victims, sex trafficking victims punished, and the folks who come home from overseas, no real way to screen for or help them the way that other source countries like the Indonesians and the Filipinos have.

So I think that there’s a long way to go, but they have this inter-ministerial structure that they have now adopted, and I think that for us both here in Washington and at the Embassy in Colombo it provides us some interlocutors who we hope that we’ll be able to work with going forward.

QUESTION: Just one follow-up on Burma. Do you see this issue of the Rohingyas, is it – does it make them susceptible to trafficking, this kind of stateless status? And how – do you have more – do you see this – do you see it through the light of trafficking, or is it a separate issue?

AMBASSADOR CDEBACA: Well, I think that we see with any displaced and vulnerable communities that are suffering from social exclusion, and I think that the plight of the Rohingyas has pretty been – has been pretty well documented. That is the type of population in which we often see in this type of situation.

Now, I mean, obviously, we remain concerned about all of the humanitarian issues that are around the Rohingya and other vulnerable ethnic and religious communities. We actually shed some – a little bit of light on this both in the Burma narrative but also, frankly, in the Thai narrative as we’re looking at the exploitation and even alleged sale of Rohingya refugees once they get to their destinations as they’re moving for all these different reasons.

QUESTION: Thanks a lot.

MR. RATHKE: Okay, thank you very much, participants. That’s the end of our question period. Want to thank Ambassador CdeBaca once again and thank you for your questions. A reminder this call is on the record but it is embargoed until the end of the Secretary – Secretary Kerry’s rollout event. Thanks once again, and we’re signing off here.

World Water Council and FAO step up their partnership

Intensified cooperation to strengthen water and food security In Turkey, a farmer adjusts an irrigation sprinkler system. 18 June 2014, Marseille/Rome – The World Water Council (WWC) and the Food…

The World Cup for Social Progress

Ed note. Be sure to tune into the World Cup + Social Good, co-hosted by our friends at the United Nations Foundation this week. 

For those of us anxiously counting down until the start of the World Cup, the coming month promises a flurry of excitement showcasing some of the world’s most talented athletes. Despite political divisions, countries as disparate as Brazil, Croatia, Germany, Korea, Nigeria, Iran, and Russia will all take to the same fields in displays of skill, teamwork, and passion. Football, which has universal appeal, will bring all eyes and ears to one place, and this limited attention span bears some legitimate social messaging potential.

Even to the FIFA, who is responsible for the quadrennial event, the World Cup is not simply a football championship. Because of the game’s unifying nature, FIFA has seized the opportunity to use the World Cup as a platform to address global issues that tear us apart, from racism and poverty to gender inequality and disease.

Using the World Cup as a platform for social progress is not new. FIFA originally took a bold stance against racism in 1961 by expelling apartheid South Africa from the games, only readmitting the nation in 1991 after Nelson Mandela was released from prison. When the games were held there in 2010, Mandela noted that “[Football] is more powerful than governments in breaking down racial barriers. It laughs in the face of all types of discrimination.”

The seeds of racism have long been embedded in the football world, as well. Consequentially, the Buenos Aires Resolution to combat racism in football, passed by FIFA’s Congress in 2001, invited a decade-long campaign using international football superstars as advocates against racism. In the 2002 World Cup held in Japan and South Korea, FIFA introduced “Say No to Racism” banners that covered the fields during pre-game formalities, while anti-discrimination advertisements filled TV spots. These efforts were repeated in 2006 and 2010. And you can be sure to see these banners in Brazil this month.

The anti-discrimination campaign flourished alongside other movements. In 1999, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and FIFA President Sepp Blatter promoted a closer partnership between their two organizations. In 2005, FIFA created the Football for Hope initiative to further the UN Millennium Development Goals by fostering relationships between football organizations and existing development stakeholders to build community centers across the globe.

By building centers with shared spaces and a football field, young people have been encouraged to collaborate with each other and engage with existing NGOs to promote locally relevant social development on the frontiers of HIV/AIDS education, conflict resolution, gender equity, capacity-building and work training, youth leadership, and life skills training. The 2010 World Cup made the creation of 20 of these centers in Africa its priority.

While the use of football as a platform for social progress has evolved over time, the world of football has met its match: global social problems are not going away and might prove to be much tougher opponents than anticipated. But FIFA has yet another opportunity to make a case and promote its social responsibility initiatives in Brazil’s 2014 games.  After all, it’s the same qualities that make watching the World Cup so enthralling – teamwork, leadership, integrity, innovation, heart, blood, sweat, and tears – which will bring us closer to achieving these universal goals.