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Saturday, March 14, 2015


Press Availability in Sharm el-Sheikh
Press Availability
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt
March 14, 2015

SECRETARY KERRY: Good morning to all. I want to thank President al-Sisi and Foreign Minister Shoukry for their warm welcome here and for the tremendous work that the Egyptian Government has been doing with respect to the conference itself but equally importantly the larger issue of development and the reforms and initiatives that are necessary to really kick development off in Egypt at this point.

The United States, as I’ve said previously – I said last night – is committed to strengthening the partnership with Egypt. And we’ve been working hard at that over the last years. How Egypt develops in the coming years, how it succeeds, and how it recharges its economy will not only affect, obviously, the near 90 million people who are in Egypt, but it will also have a profound impact on the entire region. It is strategically important to this region and to all of us who are looking for stability and for a better standard of living and greater inclusivity and participation by citizens. It is important to make certain that Egypt can move along the road to development and to the full achievement of its democratic aspirations. And that’s something the United States will remain committed to.

So I came here today – came here over this weekend to this conference to reiterate the support of President Obama and the Obama Administration and the people of the United States for Egypt as it undertakes significant reforms and works toward the economic transformation that all the people of Egypt are hoping for.

Over the past few days, I have met with a range of American business leaders in order to discuss the specific concerns that they have raised with my economic team both in Washington as well as here in their visits. And I had a very candid and constructive conversation with President Sisi and Foreign Minister Shoukry about how to will improve the business climate, specific steps that, in some cases, they’ve already made the decision and need implementation and in other cases will still need further legislation.

But all of these things are key to attracting new investment. Everybody knows that money, capital, behaves in fairly predictable ways. And those who make decisions about investment look for certainty. They look for confidence. They look for the knowledge that, if they invest, what they’re investing in will be a transparent and accountable transaction.

The Egypt Economic Development Conference underscores, I think, in the breadth of the numbers of people who were here – the high-level participation says a lot about the deep well of support for Egypt, the shared hopes for Egypt, which are really reflected in that. And also, it underscores the challenges that Egypt faces as it works to meet the democratic aspirations of its people.

We also discussed the importance of respect for human rights and for Egypt’s security and stability, including a free press, a free speech and assembly, and due process under the law. And there is no question that Egypt is stronger when all of its citizens have a say and a stake in its future, and that includes a strong and active and independent civil society.

President Sisi and Foreign Minister Shoukry and I also continued our conversation about the important role that Egypt is playing in the coalition against ISIL and the challenges of extremism, violent religious extremism that is manifested in many ways in the region. We have all been deeply shocked and saddened by the recent terrorism attacks, including of those in Egypt and the grotesque murder of 21 Egyptian Copts in Libya.

The United States supports Egypt’s efforts to combat the threat of terrorism in the Sinai and throughout the country. And these atrocities that we have all witnessed around the world simply cannot be rationalized, they cannot be excused, they must be opposed, and they must be stopped.

Now I also met, as I think many of you know, with President Abbas and King Abdullah and President Sisi in a side meeting to the conference. And particularly at this week’s conference, which underscores the powerful connection between investments in business and investments in peace, we discussed efforts to develop a healthy, sustainable, and private sector-led Palestinian economy, one that could transform the fortunes of the Palestinian people and all of their neighbors in the region.

Before I take your questions, let me also just say a word quickly about the P5+1 talks with Iran. From the beginning, these talks have been tough and they’ve been intense, and they remain so. And we’ve made some progress, but there are still gaps, important gaps, and important choices that need to be made by Iran in order to be able to move forward.

Now I want to be very clear. Nothing in our deliberations is decided until everything is decided. And the purpose of these negotiations is not just to get any deal; it is to get the right deal. President Obama means it when he says, again and again, that Iran will not be permitted to get a nuclear weapon. As you all know, Iran says it doesn’t want a nuclear weapon, and that is a very welcome statement that the Supreme Leader has, in fact, incorporated into a fatwa. And we have great respect – great respect – for the religious importance of a fatwa. And what we are effectively trying to do is translate that into legal language, into everyday language within the framework of a negotiated agreement that everybody can understand, which requires everybody to have certain obligations and ultimately be able to guarantee that Iran’s program, its nuclear program, will be peaceful now and peaceful forever.

Now sanctions alone can’t achieve that. We need a verifiable set of commitments. And we need an agreed-upon plan that obviously provides the access and the opportunity to be able to know what is happening so that you can have confidence that the program is, indeed, peaceful. That’s what we’re negotiating about. And we need to cover every potential pathway – uranium, plutonium, covert – that there might exist towards a weapon, and only an agreement can do that.

So what’s the alternative? In previous years, when U.S. policy was not to talk to Iran and insist at the same time that they could have no nuclear program whatsoever, the number of centrifuges skyrocketed. Every time negotiations have broken down in the past, Iran’s nuclear program has advanced. Only the joint plan, which Iran agreed to and fully implemented, has actually succeeded in freezing Iran’s program for the first time in nearly 10 years, and even rolled it back in some cases. And they agreed to that, because they have an interest in proving that their plan is peaceful.

The comprehensive plan will lock in, with greater specificity and breadth, if we can arrive at it, the ways in which Iran will live up to its international obligations under the NPT for the long term. So we continue to be focused on reaching the right deal, a deal that would protect the world, including the United States and our closest allies and partners, from the threat that a nuclear-armed Iran could pose. We still don’t know whether or not we will get there, and that’s why I will travel to Lausanne in Switzerland tomorrow in order to meet with Foreign Minister Zarif and once again engage in talks to see if we can find a way to get that right deal.

As I have said previously, it may be that Iran simply can’t say yes to the type of deal that the international community is looking for. But we owe it to the future of everybody in the world to try to find out. If we cannot get to a diplomatic agreement, make no mistake, we obviously do have other options. But those options will mean no transparency, they will mean no verifiable set of commitments, and they don’t close off Iran’s potential pathways to a nuclear weapon for nearly as long as a negotiated agreement can, if it’s the right agreement. And so we will return to these talks, recognizing that time is of the essence, the clock is ticking, and important decisions need to be made.

And with that, I would be very happy to answer a few questions.

MS. HARF: Great. Our first question is from Margaret Brennan of CBS. And I think we have mikes coming to you.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, thank you. With the deadline for a deal so close, do you believe that a deal is within reach? And given the recent comments by the Supreme Leader as well as some of U.S. allies, do you think that the GOP letter has undermined the diplomacy and made reaching of an agreement that much harder?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, the deadline is approaching. As you all know, we have set the end of the month as the deadline. And so we will be going into this understanding that time is critical. I can’t tell you whether or not we can get a deal or whether we’re close. And one reason I can’t tell you is because we have heard some comments from the Supreme Leader regarding the letter that was sent by the 47 senators. And until I engage in those conversations, I cannot gauge on a personal level that reaction – though I can tell you from common sense that when the United States Senate sends a letter such as the 47 senators chose to send the other day it is a direct interference in the negotiations of the executive department. It is completely without precedent, and it is almost inevitable that it will raise questions in the minds of the folks with whom we are negotiating as to whether or not they are negotiating with the executive department and the President, which is what the Constitution says, or whether there are 535 members of Congress.

Let me make clear to Iran, to our P5+1 counterparts who are deeply involved in this negotiation, that, from our point of view, this letter – the letter was, in fact, incorrect in its statements about what power they do have. It was incorrect in its assessments of what type of agreement this is. And as far as we are concerned, the Congress has no ability to change an executive agreement per se. So we will approach these negotiations in the same way that we have approached them to date, not affected externally but looking at as this Administration, according to President Obama’s instructions, to get the right deal that will accomplish what we need to for the security interest of the United States, our friends and allies in the region, and for the long-term security of everybody who cares about nonproliferation.

MS. HARF: Great. Our --

SECRETARY KERRY: And with respect --

MS. HARF: Go ahead. Sorry. Go ahead, sir.

SECRETARY KERRY: No, no. That’s it. Thank you.

MS. HARF: Okay. Our next question is from Ronda Abulazin of Al Arabiya. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, welcome. You came here with – okay, can you hear me now? You came to Egypt with a very strong message in support of its – reform its economy, its security. However the United States is still holding part – a big part of its military aid to Egypt, which is very crucial for its fight – Egypt’s fight against terrorism, whether in Sinai or to protect its border. So when will the United States release the military aid? And does it include F16?

My other part of the question, the war against ISIL in Iraq. The scene there looks very – really bizarre. Did the Iraqi prime minister allow the contribution of Iranian Qods brigade and Hizballah without the U.S. knowledge, especially that the U.S. is providing military counsel on the ground and military operation room? Thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you very much. With respect to the aid and assistance, I really expect a decision very soon. We look at this conference as a very important step, mostly because this conference is focused on private sector contributions and private sector engagement in the future of Egypt. We applaud those countries who have put very significant amounts of money on the table in order to help Egypt over the hump, if you will, over these hurdles of the immediate budget crisis. And it’s a very important part of the overall effort to sustain and kick into higher gear Egypt’s economy.

But in the long run, unless Egypt transforms its economy with more private sector investment, creating long-term jobs and opening up new capabilities, you will just keep repeating the cycle of emergency assistance and aid. So we think the most important thing that we can do is help provide access to those companies and help to leverage the relationships that can create jobs for the people of Egypt.

Now we’re already doing that. Last year, before this conference, 160 American businesspeople, representing some 70 companies from the United States, came to Cairo. I think President Sisi spent about two hours with them, and they had long conversations about what Egypt’s needs are. Out of that have come a number of deals, which will create jobs in Egypt. I know General Electric, for instance, signed deals with respect to the Suez and other provision of power – other deals were made.

But in addition to that, we are providing economic assistance in the hundreds of millions of dollars that will be directed to small business enterprises and to new startups, because we want to see a sustainable economy grow in Egypt. Right now, the United States of America is providing over 20 percent of all foreign direct investment in Egypt. It’s a total of about $2.2 billion. And it is the number-two largest foreign direct investor in Egypt. So I hope that will share with the people of Egypt and the government a sense of our commitment to this. And we have top executives who are here, part of this conference, in order to try to grow the private sector entrepreneurial component of job creation in Egypt.

With respect to Iraq and the question of --

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

SECRETARY KERRY: I said the decision – I think we’ll come – that’s what I said, very soon, very soon.

With respect to Iraq, we absolutely have known of Iran’s engagement in the northeastern parts of Iraq and, indeed, we’ve had conversations with Prime Minister Abadi about it. He doesn’t hide it, and we’re not blind to it. We know that Iran has been engaged. We know that General Soleimani has been on the ground. We know that they have an interest. We understand that. And we fully understand some of their engagement with some of the militia. At the same time, they are deeply opposed to Daesh. And while we are not coordinating with Iran – we do not have conversations with Iran about this – we work through the Iraqi Government. We do so with the knowledge that they are also opposed to Daesh and are working for Daesh’s defeat.

Now going forward, I would also note that part of this operation in Tikrit also involves significant participation by Sunni tribes and Sunni participants from the region. And the governor in Salah al-Din province was well aware of what is happening and of this whole-of-government initiative, whole-of-coalition effort, to continue to press the fight against Daesh. And even while the fighting in Tikrit is taking place, there are several other fights taking place nearby which involve significant Sunni participation, U.S. support, and others.

So what we made clear some months ago when we first announced the coalition, lots of countries will make lots of different kinds of contributions, and every country can make some kind of contribution, and all of us are committed to the defeat of Daesh. And the sooner that can happen, the better.

Now the real measure of the Tikrit operation will not be just in the clearing; it will be in how people are treated afterwards. It will be in whether or not there is a inclusivity or whether there is, in fact, a breakdown into a kind of sectarian division. So we’ll watch that carefully. We will work with the Government of Iraq very carefully to do our best to minimize or avoid that. But we are not surprised at all by the participation such as it has been with respect to the Tikrit operation itself.

MS. HARF: Great. Our final question is from Lesley Wroughton, Reuters. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Thank you. Mr. Secretary, do you want to see the Israeli-Palestinian process restarted after next week’s election? With the center left holding a solid lead in the election, does that brighten for you the prospects when it comes to moving forward on the Middle East peace process? When – do you expect that after the politics of the election has passed a new spirit can be brought to this process?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, let me just say that the position of the United States, with respect to the long expressed hopes of Republicans and Democrats alike, of many presidents over the last 50 years or more, has always been for peace. And President Obama remains committed to a two-state solution and remains hopeful that when there – whatever choice the people of Israel make, that there will be an ability to be able to move forward on those efforts.

I’m not going to say anything more whatsoever about any aspect of that because there is an election in, what, three days, three and a half, four days, and I don’t want any comment I make misinterpreted in any way by anybody. And therefore, I will simply reiterate the longstanding commitment of the United States to peace and our hopes that the choice that the people of Israel make will not only meet their needs domestically and their hopes in their country, but obviously meet the hopes for peace, which I think everybody shares.

MS. HARF: Thank you very much.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, all. Thank you very much, everybody. Appreciate it. Thank you.

QUESTION: One question on --

SECRETARY KERRY: Did you have one? One more.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MS. HARF: Okay. Wait, wait. Okay. We can do one more, if Secretary has some time. We’ll do Dalia Ashraf of Al Nahar TV.

SECRETARY KERRY: Dalia? Who’s Dalia?

MS. HARF: Sorry. Dalia.

SECRETARY KERRY: This is Dalia here?

QUESTION: Yes, of course. Egyptians felt yesterday in your speech to the American Chamber of Commerce that you that expressed more U.S. support for Egypt. Can you explain this change?

SECRETARY KERRY: That I did what?

QUESTION: More support, more American support for Egypt. Can you explain this? In your speech yesterday --

SECRETARY KERRY: That I expressed --


SECRETARY KERRY: -- more support for Egypt?


SECRETARY KERRY: Well, we are supportive. I was very clear about our hopes for Egypt to move down the road of the democratic process, to continue to make progress in its internal relationship with the people of Egypt. We’ve always expressed that. But we’ve also expressed the connection of jobs and of economic opportunity to help provide stability and help provide the basis for all the other aspects of civil society to be able to come together. The stronger the economy, the more opportunity there is, the more that young people coming out of university can find a future that they want here, the stronger Egypt will be. And what I expressed yesterday was our commitment to the continued steps to move towards a full democratic process, a respect for rights, a respect for speech, as I mentioned earlier, the full participation of people in the society, at the same time as they are making very serious commitments to the social fabric and the economic opportunities that actually strengthen that social fabric.

So that’s really what I was talking about. It’s the link to those businesses. It’s why what I just said about America being the number-two nation in foreign direct investment in Egypt is so important, because that’s how you build the capacity of the society to embrace all of these other hopes and aspirations that the people have.

MS. HARF: Okay. That really is it, guys. Thank you very much for coming.



Friday, March 13, 2015
Michigan Resident Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy to Violate Customs and Environmental Laws Regarding Export of E-Waste

Michigan resident Lip Bor Ng, also known as Paul Wu, 52, pleaded guilty before Judge Mark A. Goldsmith to a one-count conspiracy information, which charged him with conspiring with others to knowingly submit false and misleading export information to the United States,  to fraudulently and knowingly export electronic waste in violation of United States law and to export hazardous waste without filing a notification of intent to export with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

According to the charges in the information, Ng submitted fraudulent export information to the Automated Export System, an electronic database maintained by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, on two occasions in 2011.  He falsely declared the commodities as plastic and metal scrap, when, in fact, they contained various types of used electronics and computer components, including cathode-ray tube (CRT) monitors.  CRT monitors can be considered hazardous waste under certain conditions and thus their export is regulated by EPA.

Anyone who exports unusable, hazardous CRT monitors must file a notification of intent to export CRT monitors and must also receive permission from the receiving country, in this case, China and Hong Kong, to allow import into that country.  Ng did not file the appropriate notification, or receive permission from China and Hong Kong to export the CRT monitors.

“The more technology we use, the more electronic waste is created that can seriously impact human health and the environment,” said Special Agent in Charge Randall K. Ashe of EPA’s criminal enforcement program in Michigan.  “Many old, worn-out electronics are exported overseas where people risk their health to retrieve the valuable materials left in them.  As a global leader in the manufacture and use of electronics, America has a responsibility to ensure their proper disposal.”

“When potentially hazardous e-waste is not properly disposed of, human lives are put at risk,” said Marlon Miller, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations Detroit. “The investigation confirmed that the defendant repeatedly and illegally exported used cathode ray tubes overseas. Homeland Security Investigations stands with our law enforcement partners, committed and ready, to prevent any company from ignoring U.S. laws involving the export of hazardous e-waste."

Ng faces a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing was set for July 14, 2015.

The case is being investigated by the EPA, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Department of Commerce, and U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

The case is being prosecuted by the Department of Justice, Environmental Crimes Section, Trial Attorney Jennifer Leigh Blackwell, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan, Assistant U.S. Attorney Lynn Dodge, as well as EPA Regional Criminal Enforcement Counsel Dave Taliaferro.

Weekly Address: A Student Aid Bill of Rights



Above:  SECDEF Discusses 'Cyber Force' at USCYBERCOM Troop Event


Remarks by Secretary Carter to U.S. Cyber Command Workforce at Fort Meade, Maryland
Presenter: Secretary of Defense Ash Carter
March 13, 2015

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE ASH CARTER: Thank you all. It's -- first of all, thank you, Admiral Rogers. We count ourselves very lucky to have you in charge here, and we count ourselves very, very lucky to have each and every one of you I see in front of me.

I've been learning some today about getting really updated on the development of CYBERCOM and also NSA, the two magnificent institutions represented here and that you all serve, and that we're so grateful that you serve.

This is, in fact, the first troop event I've done as secretary of defense in the United States. And there's a reason for that. And that is the importance of what you're doing to our department and our country. That should tell you something about how vital the mission is that you all have taken on, how important it is for the security of our country and, for that matter, the security of our economy and our people in their individual lives, because cyber touches all aspects of their lives.

So, if you do nothing else and get nothing else out of this encounter today, I want you to do one thing, which is to go home tonight or make a call or tweet at your family, or do whatever you people do -- (Laughter) -- but in whatever medium you use, please tell them that you were thanked today by the leadership of the department, and through us, the entire country, for what you do.

We don't take it for granted. You're what we wake up for every morning. Your service, your sacrifice, your professionalism and your welfare and that of your families is all we do. That's all we care about. And we're so, so grateful for it.

And with all that's going on in the world, from Iraq to Ukraine to the Asia-Pacific, the domain that you protect, cyberspace, is presenting us with some of the most profound challenges, both from a security perspective and from an economic perspective. The president had a cybersecurity summit a few weeks ago, in which you can see that our national leadership at every level is really seized with the need to get on top of this problem.

So cyber, which is what you do, is a marriage of the best people and the newest technology. And that being the case, and it being the case that there's a high demand for both of those things -- the best people and the newest technology across the country -- means that we, and I know this, we as a government and a department and a military need to be open to that -- those sources of good people and new technology. We need to be open in order to be good in this field.

And that means we need to build bridges to society, bridges that aren't as necessary in other fields of warfare that don't have a civilian or a commercial counterpart to the extent that this field does. So we have to build bridges and rebuild bridges to the rest of our society.

And that means we need to be open. And of course, we can't be open, given what you do, in the traditional sense. But we need to be open to new ideas. We need to be open to people we can't always tell them what we're doing, but we need to be open enough with our government so that it knows what it's doing, so that its officials can in turn turn to our people and say, "I'm sorry I can't tell you everything; you wouldn't want me to tell you everything that is being done to protect you because that would undermine our ability to protect you."

But you should trust that your senior officials and your elected officials and so forth are acting on your behalf. And I think we do have that trust and that people do understand that what you're doing for them is necessary and being done in an appropriate manner.

We need to be open generationally. We need to be open to a new generation because we need the young to be attracted to our mission. We need people who grew up with technology that was not available when I was growing up, and therefore have a sixth sense about it, which I can never have.

And that will be true when even those of you who are now the young people in front of me who are so smugly nodding your head. (Laughter) You, too, will be overcome by new technology at some point. And then also we'll need a new generation.

So our institution in general has to be an open one because we're an open society. But in order to be really good at anything, but especially good at what you do, we need to be open to a younger generation. That's incredibly (inaudible) your leaders know that. I've talked to them about that. And we know that that's the only way we're going to continue to have an elite core of people like the ones who are sitting in front of me right now.

And, you know, I actually think that in that regard, the development of the cyber workforce, which we are working on now, can be a model for other things we do in the department. The freshness of approach, the constant effort to stay up, reinvent, that your field demands is actually something we can use everywhere in the department.

So we're looking to you in a sense as a model and a trailblazer for many other things we need in the department. One of the things that I've said I'm determined to bring to our department is openness to new ideas. That's the only way that we're going to remain what we are today, which is the greatest fighting force the world has ever known. That's the way to do it going forward. And we -- we will.

For -- for the institutions that you join, be they military services or field agencies or new -- new commands, they are trying to figure out how to welcome this new breed of warrior to their ranks. What's the right way to do that? How do you fit in?

I had lunch with some of you earlier today. We were talking about how this skill set and this professional orientation fits into the traditional armed services. And of course, it doesn't fit into the traditional armed services. We have to figure out how to get it to fit in, so that you all have a full opportunity to bring to bear on your careers the expertise that you gained here and the sense of mission that you felt here, and carry it into the future.

I know that's a challenge in front of us. And you all feel it in your individual careers. And I'm determined that we together create that fit, but that comes with doing something new and different and exciting. You're going to be pathfinders, but we'll find the path together.

You are, whether you're civilians, military, contractor, all parts of our -- our workforce. We regard you as on the frontlines in the same way that last week I was in Afghanistan, and we have people on the frontlines there. It is the front line of today's effort to protect our country. And while you may not be at risk in the way that the forces are -- physical risk in the way our -- in Afghanistan, we are requiring from you a comparable level of professionalism, excellence, dedication. And I know you show all that, but we count on it, because you really are on the frontlines.

NSA and CYBERCOM, two -- one around for a long time, another one kind of brand new. A lot of people wonder what's the relationship between the two. And we pretty much have that in our heads. But the honest truth is, it's a work in progress. We're working out that relationship.

My view is that we're doing the right thing in having the leadership of those two organizations be in the same place. And one way of thinking about that is that we just don't have enough good people like you to spread around. And we need to cluster our hits as a country. And that's one of the reasons why we're going to keep these two together, at least for now.

I want you to know that in addition to thinking through how you're organized and so forth, that a big priority of mine is going to be to make sure that you're getting the training and the equipment and the resources you need. This is a very high priority area. And, you know, if you read about sequester, which is a terrible, stupid thing that we are doing to ourselves -- I have nothing good to say about it. But I think that even in the era of sequester, we understand that this mission area is one we cannot afford not to keep investing in.

And that means that that fact, together with our determination to help you chart rewarding, lasting careers in this field, those two things together ought to tell you, also, how much we value what you do.

Let me make one last point, and this is something that you all know, but it's important to remind our fellow citizens and, for that matter, the rest of the world, and that is we are -- we build our cyber mission force, it's the kind of country we are, to defend the openness of cyber space, to keep it free.

We're the ones who stand with those who create and innovate against those who would steal and destroy. That's the kind of country we are, and that's the kind of cyber force we are.

We're going to execute our mission while being as transparent as possible, because that's also who we are. And that's why I wanted my remarks to you to be public, which they are, if you see them being filmed here. That's an unusual thing for you, and I know that some of you can't be seen on television because of the nature of your work. And it's rare that media come into the premises of this organization.

But I wanted not only you to know how important we know what you do is for the country, but everyone else to hear that as well. So what that means, I suppose, is that even if you forget or are too lazy or for some other reason don't tell your family that you were thanked today, they're going to learn anyway.

(Laughter) So I suggest that you beat the media to the punch and, once again, go home, call home, call a friend and say, today I was thanked by the leadership of my department and through them by the country for what I do.

Tell them that. Thank you very much. We'll have some questions?

So, there are two microphones here, which in NSA fashion are only connected by wires to the floor. So, have at it. Any subject at all. Any question or comment.
Q: Mr. Secretary, in a budget-constrained environment, what are your top priorities?

SEC. CARTER: So, the question was, in a budget-constrained environment, what are my top priorities. And that's -- first and foremost, our people. That's got to be number one, because that's what makes our military the greatest in the world. It's people. It's also technology, it's also lots of other things, but it's principally -- it's first and foremost our people, and that's something we need to keep investing in.

Now, I know that that's not the only investment we make, and we do have to have a balanced approach to defense spending, because each of you wants not only to be adequately compensated, but you want to have other people to your left and right, as you do what you do. You want to have the best equipment. And you want to -- and you don't want to go into action without the best training.

So each of us wants to see some balance in how we spend the defense dollar.
But it's not just a matter of money. It's a matter of caring about our people, making sure that the safety and dignity of all of our people is respected, and all those things that we have responsibility for.

So, number one, for me, is people.

And the second thing I would say is we need to be an open institution. Open to the rest of -- because the way we're going to stay excellent is to be the most excellent part of society. And to do that, you have to be pulling from society the very best and the very best people.

And you guys are superb. And this is why people want to hire veterans so much, because you're all so good. That's why you're such good people to hire. And I know that's another problem, and I don't want you being hired away either. (Laughter) And I can't stop you.

But the reason that people want to hire you away is you're so darn good.
Q: Sir, you spoke of military needing to find a way to fit in within their respective branches. What are the possibilities of establishing a cyber branch of service, much like the Army Air Corps became the Air Force?

SEC. CARTER: It's a very good question. And we have asked ourselves that over time. And there may come a time when that makes sense. I think that for now we're trying to build upon our strengths. We're trying to draw from where we already are strong and not to take too many jumps, organizationally, at once.
So, you know, we're trying -- why has cyber come here at Fort Meade? Well, you know, because we didn't want to start all over again somewhere else. Because we didn't feel like we could afford to do that.

And, as I said, maybe there'll come a day when these two things will each be so strong and different, that they won't need to be in the same place. But that's not now.

There was some question initially about why we used so many uniformed people in the first place. Maybe we should be using more civilians or contractors.
We started where we thought we had strength. And I think you have to look at this as the first step in a journey that may, over time, lead to the decision to break out cyber the way that you said the Army Air Corps became the U.S. Air Force, the way Special Operations Command was created, and with a somewhat separate thing, although that still has service parts to it.

And so, we're trying to get the best of both. You know, our armed services give us hundreds of years of proud tradition, a whole system of recruiting, training and so forth. So it's a pretty -- it's not something you walk away from lightly and said, well, I'm going to start all over again.

So, it may come to that, and I think it's an excellent question. It's a very thoughtful question. And we have given some thought to that. And for right now, we're walking before we run.

But it may -- that's one of the futures that cyber might have.

Q: Good afternoon, Mr. Secretary. My question, sir, is in regard to cyber and authorities. Going forward, sir, a vast amount of our work is done with network administrators across the DoDIN [DoD Information Network]. Currently, sir, most of the products we report are recommendations, if you will, sir.

What is your vision, going forward, to make those recommendations more of a requirement for those network administrators?

SEC. CARTER: That's a very insightful question also. It is -- it gets down to a fundamental issue here, and let's be -- let's just put it right out on the table, because that's what you're getting at.

The information networks that it is CYBERCOM's first responsibility to protect are our own DOD networks, because there's no point in my buying all these ships and planes and tanks and everything, and none of them is going to work and our kids aren't going to work, unless there are networks that stitches the whole thing together, enables the whole thing. We've got to -- got to -- got to make our networks secure.

And the protectors don't own the networks. So if you're a cyber mission team and you fall in on a network, you find, well, you know, there's a whole bunch of people who work on this network. They set it up, and they're responding to other needs than security. They're responding to people calling the help desk and driving them crazy with one little problem or another they can't figure out, people who want more, more, more; want faster, this isn't working, I want to add some people.

So they're trying to juggle lots of needs. Many of them are administering networks that are outdated and that have been around for a long time and are a little long in the tooth and so forth.

And so, there's going to be a tension between those who are called upon to protect the networks and those who own and operate the networks. And I understand that. And we think we go into this with our eyes wide open.

But the -- I mean, I'm going to stand -- I can tell you this, I'm going to stand with you on the side of requiring protection, because it's not -- it's not adequate network administration to downplay security. You are laying the warfighter open to risk.

And we can't have that. And I -- you know, you put it this way, if all the network owners and operators were good at protecting themselves, we wouldn't have to, right, have these -- these national mission force protectors.

But it's -- they're not. And it's actually not reasonable for them all to be because that's not their first area of expertise. And we -- so we're counting on this sort of extra proficient group of people to fall in on them and help them.

But there'll always be a little tension when you show up at the door, and they've got a problem. And but you've got to do what you've got to do, because they are no good to us if they're penetrated or vulnerable.

I think that's all I can take for right now.

Let me just, once again, thank you from me very much, and please pass that on.



Right:  Navy Adm. William E. Gortney assumed command of North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command from Army Gen. Charles Jacoby Jr. in a change-of-command ceremony Dec. 5, 2014, at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado. Air Force file photo.  

Northcom Chief Discusses Threats to Homeland
By Cheryl Pellerin
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, March 12, 2015 – The most dangerous threats to the U.S. homeland include transnational criminal networks, homegrown violent extremists and cyberattacks, Navy Adm. William E. Gortney told a Senate panel today.

The commander of U.S. Northern Command and of North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Northcom’s fiscal year 2016 budget request.
Addressing the panel, Gortney began with his assessment of threats in defense of the homeland, from the most likely to the most dangerous.

The likeliest threat, the admiral said, is a transnational criminal network that operates by using what he calls seams between Northcom, U.S. Southern Command and U.S Pacific Command; seams between U.S. interagency partners and the combatant commands; seams between the United States and its partner nations; and seams within those countries themselves.
Closing the Seams

“In those seams,” Gortney told the panel, “people are moving drugs [and] money. As the [committee] chairman said, they're moving product for profit through those seams.”

He added, “We need to close those seams, because … if someone wants to move something that will do great damage to our nation, that is where they will come.”
About homegrown violent extremists, the admiral described an effective and sophisticated social media campaign on the part of extremists, aiming to stir up distrust and incite harm to American citizens.

On the cyber threat, Gortney said his command is responsible for defending known networks and helping lead federal agencies in the aftermath of a cyberattack.

Significant Cyber Threat

“But it's far more significant in that a cyberattack [could] directly affect critical infrastructure that I rely on to defend the nation, and that we rely on for our nation to operate. I see that as a significant threat,” he said.

For example, Gortney said, “a cyberattack in Ottawa would take out the northeast quadrant of our air defense sector. It would effectively be a mission kill. So not only would it affect my ability to do my mission, more importantly we as a nation rely on this same infrastructure to operate -- whether it's banking, rail, aviation, power or movement of water.”

He added, “All these things have critical infrastructure that we must have, and they need to be hardened against an adversary.”

International threats to the homeland include North Korea, China, Russia and Iran, the admiral told the panel.

Ballistic Missile Threat

In written testimony, Gortney said the past year has marked a notable increase in Russian military assertiveness.

“Russian heavy bombers flew more out-of-area patrols in 2014 than in any year since the Cold War. We have also witnessed improved interoperability between Russian long-range aviation and other elements of the Russian military, including air and maritime intelligence collection platforms positioned to monitor NORAD responses,” the admiral said.

Such patrols serve a training function for Russian air crews, but some are clearly intended to underscore Moscow's global reach and communicate displeasure with Western policies, especially those involving Ukraine, he added.

Russia also is progressing toward its goal of deploying long-range,
conventionally armed cruise missiles with increasing stand-off launch distances on its heavy bombers, submarines and surface combatants, Gortney said.

Defending North America

“Should these trends continue,” the admiral said, “over time NORAD will face increased risk in our ability to defend North America against Russian air, maritime and cruise-missile threats.”

Other states that may seek to put North America at risk with ballistic missiles include North Korea and Iran, he said.

“North Korea has successfully test-detonated three nuclear devices,” the admiral said, “and through its space program has demonstrated many of the technologies required for an intercontinental ballistic missile that could target the continental United States.”

North Korean military parades have showcased the new KN08 road-mobile ICBM, he said, adding that when deployed, the system will complicate the U.S. ability to provide warning and defend against an attack.
The Sequestration Effect

“Iran has likewise committed considerable resources to enhancing its ballistic missile capabilities,” Gortney said, “and has already placed another satellite into orbit this year, using a new booster that could serve as a demonstrator for ICBM technologies.”

But Gortney told the panel that the likeliest and most dangerous threat to his ability to protect the homeland is sequestration.

“That’s because of how sequestration affects the … services as they implement the sequestration effect … which leads to a hollow force,” Gortney said, adding that sequestration slows development of the U.S. technological advantage that makes it possible to outpace future threats.

Slowing Missile Defense

Sequestration also would affect missile defense, the admiral said.

The services can generate some flexibility in spending by tapping into readiness funds or delaying delivery of a capability, but the Missile Defense Agency does not have a readiness account they can go to, he explained.

The agency would have to go to new starts, Gortney said, putting on hold the long-range discrimination radar, improvements to the advance kill vehicle and a multi-object kill vehicle -- all part of the U.S. Ballistic Missile Defense System.
Holding up such work would hinder the United States’ ability to outpace the growing proliferation of ballistic missiles, he added.

The Arctic: Growing in Importance

Responding to questions about the Arctic, Gortney, who is assigned as the DoD advocate for Arctic capabilities, said he and his team are working to determine what requirements will help inform DoD operational plans on the future of the Arctic.

Gortney also will make recommendations for all of DoD, not just the services, about necessary investments there, he said.

“The Arctic requires advocacy and partnerships from within and outside the Northcom area of responsibility,” he said in written testimony, “as the region grows in importance to our national security over the next few decades.”


Tuesday, March 10, 2015
Federal Grand Jury in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Returns Indictments in Large Scale Cocaine Distribution Network

The U.S. Attorney's Office of the Northern District of Indiana announced two indictments charging six persons in what is alleged to be the largest cocaine distribution network in the greater Fort Wayne, Indiana, area.

These indictments are the result of an extensive law enforcement investigation led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Fort Wayne Safe Streets Task Force.  In addition to the FBI, the Task Force consists of the Allen County Sheriff’s Department, the Fort Wayne Police Department and the Indiana State Police.

There were five people charged with conspiracy to deliver more than five kilograms of cocaine.

One individual was charged in a separate indictment with possession with intent to deliver over five kilograms.

All defendants are in custody and are being held without bond.  During the course of this extensive investigation, law enforcement executed 17 federal searches in Indiana, Ohio and

Texas.  In addition, the DeKalb County and Johnson County Prosecutor’s offices obtained two state search warrants.  All of these searches resulted in the seizure of more than 100 kilograms of cocaine, over $5.9 million in U.S. currency and numerous firearms and vehicles.

Great assistance was also provided by the McAllen, Texas, and Toledo, Ohio, offices of the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the U.S. Marshals Service – Northern and Southern Districts of Indiana, along with the Auburn Police Department, the Greenwood Police Department, the Kendallville Police Department, the Johnson County Sheriff’s Department, the Indiana Multi-Agency Group Enforcement (IMAGE) representing law enforcement in DeKalb, LaGrange, Noble and Steuben Counties and the Northeast Indiana SWAT.

This case has been assigned to and will be prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony W. Geller of the Northern District of Indiana.

The U.S. Attorney's Office emphasized that an indictment is merely an allegation and that all persons charged are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.

If convicted in court, any specific sentence to be imposed will be determined by the judge after a consideration of federal sentencing statutes and the federal sentencing guidelines.


NATO Prepares for Challenges From East, South
By Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, March 12, 2015 – NATO commanders are putting in place the infrastructure that will allow the alliance to adapt to new threats, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told the press yesterday at the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe in Mons, Belgium.

Stoltenberg spoke alongside Air Force Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, NATO’s supreme allied commander, after NATO commanders briefed the secretary general on progress toward meeting the goals of the Wales Summit.

Both men noted the security environment in Europe has grown complicated and that the alliance must change to deal with these new threats. While the alliance continues the train, advise and equip mission in Afghanistan and the peacekeeping operation in Kosovo, it is changing to confront new issues.

Threats From East, South

“We see threats both from the East with the more aggressive actions of Russia in Ukraine, [and] also from the South with violence and turmoil spreading to the Middle East and North Africa,” Stoltenberg said.

The answer to both challengers is a boost to collective security, he added.
The alliance is more than doubling the size of the NATO Response Force from 13,000 to 30,000 troops.

“We are setting up a new 5,000-strong quick reaction Spearhead Force, with some units ready to move within as little as 48 hours,” Stoltenberg said. “And we are also creating six command-and-control centers in the Baltic states and three other eastern allied states.”

‘Deliberative and Unified’ Changes

Breedlove said those moves are on track. “We’re in full swing moving forward with our assurance and our adaptation measures and these will make our alliance even more ready and responsive in the future,” the general said.

“The United States is sending 3,000 troops and equipment to the Baltic region for training,” Stoltenberg said. “And in the south, we are preparing to hold this autumn our biggest exercise for many years, expected to include over 25,000 troops in this exercise.” NATO also has ships exercising in the Black and Baltic seas, he added.

The measures are defensive, proportionate and in line with international commitments, the secretary general said.

Changing the alliance posture is tough, involved work, Breedlove said. “We are tackling these changes in a deliberative and unified fashion,” he said. “I’ve spent many years serving among our European allies and I’m pleased to say that I’ve never seen a greater degree of cohesion, resolve and determination to ensure that NATO is ready to meet our future challenges, and I’m confident this will continue as we secure our future together.”


March 12, 2015
FACT SHEET: Wind Vision Report Highlights Long Term Benefits of Investing in America's Wind Energy Industry

As a key part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, the wind power industry supports more than 50,000 American jobs and supplies enough energy to power 16 million homes. Building on this momentum, today the Department of Energy released Wind Vision: A New Era for Wind Power in the United States, a highly anticipated analysis of America’s wind energy industry – charting the future of wind power through 2050 and underscoring the economic and environmental benefits that steady growth will make possible.

Today, the United States stands as a global leader in wind energy, ranking first in the world in wind power generation, providing affordable and renewable electricity to American families and businesses nationwide. With utility-scale wind plants installed in 39 states, growth in America’s wind energy industry has boosted the economy, spurring more than $400 million in exports in 2013 and supporting jobs related to development, siting, manufacturing, transportation and other industries. The report shows that with continuing technological advancements, cost reductions, and siting and transmission development, the nation can deploy wind power to economically provide 35% of our nation’s electricity and supply renewable power in all 50 states by 2050.

Since President Obama took office, the electricity we get from wind has increased by three fold. In fact, between 2009 and 2013, wind represented approximately 30% of new electricity generation in the United States. With economically competitive prices in many areas, the U.S. wind energy market currently remains strong as more utilities select wind as a cost-saving option, paving the way to a low-carbon future that protects our air and water and addresses climate change.

Growing the Clean Energy Economy

According to the report, the wind energy industry could support more than 600,000 jobs by 2050, including engineers, construction workers, truck drivers, factory workers, utility operators, maintenance technicians, electricians and other supporting services.

Key Points:

The United States could install up to 11 GW per year in new capacity through 2050, an ambitious but feasible deployment scenario comparable to the wind capacity installed in 2012.

This growth could lead to America operating and maintaining a fleet of more than 400 GW nationwide through 2050, enough to power more than 100 million homes.

The report also indicates that the United States could install a total of 86 GW of offshore wind capacity by 2050, creating clean energy jobs in coastal communities.

U.S. manufacturing supplies the majority of the blades and towers installed at U.S. wind farms.

With more than 500 U.S. manufacturing companies across 43 states, continued investment in America’s wind energy manufacturing sector could boost America’s competitiveness, help launch new businesses across the country, and secure the future of thousands of U.S. manufacturing jobs.

Total investment would reach $70 billion per year by 2050 under this growth path.

Today, average wind energy costs nationally are approaching cost-competitive levels. Backed by stable policies including the production tax credit and the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, costs will continue to drop as the industry scales up and innovates.

Wind is anticipated to provide nearly $280 billion consumer savings by 2050.
Wind generation agreements typically provide 20-year fixed pricing, helping reduce rate shocks caused by volatility in natural gas and coal fuel prices.
Unleashing Climate and Public Health Benefits

Researchers estimate that in 2013, wind energy in the United States reduced direct power-sector carbon dioxide emissions by 115 million metric tons, equivalent to eliminating the emissions of 20 million cars during the year.  They also estimate that wind power generation in 2013 reduced power-sector water consumption by 36.5 billion gallons, or about 116 gallons per person in the United States.

Key Findings:

Wind power could help America combat climate change by avoiding more than 12.3 billion metric tons of carbon pollution cumulatively by 2050, equivalent to avoiding one-third of global annual carbon emissions.

Wind energy could save approximately 260 billion gallons of water by 2050, by side-stepping the water-intensive processes of conventional energy production. At deployment levels examined in the report, the nation’s electric power sector could consume 23% less water.

This growth in wind power could lead to approximately $108 billion in savings in healthcare costs and economic damages.  This estimated saving is made possible through cumulative reductions in air pollutants, including sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and fine particulates that could otherwise cause nearly 22,000 premature deaths from respiratory ailments and other diseases by 2050.
Widely deploying wind turbines, both on land and offshore, for U.S. electricity generation provides a domestic, sustainable and essentially zero-carbon, zero-pollution and zero-water use electricity resource.

Wind energy continues to be one of America’s best choices for low-cost, zero-pollution renewable energy, and in an increasing number of markets, may be the cheapest source of new energy available. Wind power is a key component of the Obama Administration’s all-of-the-above approach to American energy – a strategy that helps reduce climate-changing carbon emissions, enhances our energy security and supports good-paying American jobs.


Developing infrastructure for data sharing around the world
NSF-supported organization coordinates US participation in global data-sharing and infrastructure-building effort

How can we support agricultural productivity around the world? How can we develop public health models that leverage social data, health data and environmental data? What are best practices to ensure the stewardship of research data today and tomorrow?

Solutions to these and other critical challenges are being advanced through the sharing and exchange of research data. To increase data sharing and overcome the critical challenges associated with making data accessible, an international group of leaders in the data community joined together in 2013 to form the Research Data Alliance (RDA).

With support from the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), the European Commission and the Australian government, RDA has grown in just two years from a core group of committed agencies to a community that now comprises more than 2,600 members from more than 90 countries, all dedicated to pragmatically removing the barriers to data sharing and raising awareness of those challenges among regions, disciplines, and professions.

NSF supports U.S. participation in RDA as part of a grant to promote coordination and develop infrastructure for data sharing.

Twice a year, RDA members meet face to face at plenary meetings held in various locations worldwide to coordinate activities and advance their efforts. At these meetings, researchers, policymakers and representatives from funding agencies speak on pressing data issues, and members meet to collaborate on projects through interest and working groups.

RDA holds its 5th Plenary through March 11 in San Diego, hosted by the U.S. members of RDA. The event featured an "Adoption Day", focusing on the use of new RDA-developed products and guidelines in various domains.

"RDA continues to experience tremendous growth in response to global interest," said Bob Chadduck, a program officer at the National Science Foundation. "RDA-developed tools will have a tremendous impact throughout science, and the plenary provides a place where interested communities from around our world get an opportunity to test-drive the tools."

RDA members collaborate to develop, coordinate and adopt data sharing infrastructure, addressing a broad spectrum of challenges. RDA's working and interest groups design and implement specific tools, recommendations or products within a 12 to 18 month time frame, and these products are adopted and used by other organizations and communities within the alliance. Leveraging diverse perspectives, these groups tackle data sharing challenges pertaining to interoperability, stewardship, sustainability, policy and use.

"Impact is a primary focus for RDA," said Fran Berman, chair of RDA/U.S. "In only two years, RDA has begun fulfilling its mission to build the social and technical bridges that enable the open sharing of data. It's exciting to see the start of a pipeline of adopted infrastructure efforts that will accelerate data sharing and data-driven innovation."

A good example of such infrastructure is RDA's Data Type Registries. The registries make it easier to create machine-readable and researcher-accessible data by designing an archive of common data structures that researchers can turn to when deciding how to organize their data. The creation of such a registry will support the accurate use of data to reproduce experiments, confirm findings and interoperate among data sets.

Formed at the first RDA Plenary in early 2013, the Data Type Registries working group has collaborated during the last year to develop and test its new system. The infrastructure products of this group are already being adopted by European Data Infrastructure (EUDAT), the National Institute of Standards and Technology in the U.S., and other groups who are applying it to their own research activities.

Another effort underway, which is still in its early stages, is RDA's Wheat Data Interoperability working group. Comprised of members from the French National Institute for Agricultural Research, the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, and other agriculture-related organizations, the group's objective is to build an integrated wheat information system for the international community of wheat researchers, growers and breeders. With approximately three-quarters of all U.S. grain products made from wheat flour, advancing and sustaining wheat-related science is critical. Finding ways to improve the sharing of data is an important first step.

As RDA enters its second year, its community of data researchers continues to grow. The organization is working closely with countries, communities and agencies to expand the alliance to include new participants. These include partners in Japan, Brazil, Canada and South Africa, and U.S. projects and organizations such as CENDI (Commerce, Energy, NASA, Defense Information Managers Group), the National Data Service, EarthCube and the Sustaining Digital Repositories group.

Throughout its expansion, the alliance's focus will remain on the development of products that promote data sharing and exchange and the establishment of diverse collaborations.

"With its tremendous success in the first two years, its growing reputation as a gathering place for the global research data community and its targeted focus on impact and infrastructure, RDA is capitalizing on its momentum to reach a broader community, and fulfill its goal of research sharing without barriers," Berman said.

-- Aaron Dubrow, NSF
-- Yolanda Meleco, Research Data Alliance
Francine Berman
Beth Plale
Mark Parsons
Laurence Lannom
Related Institutions/Organizations
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Friday, March 13, 2015

West Wing Week: 03/13/2015 or, “The Single Most Powerful Word”


Remarks at the Opening Plenary of the Egypt Economic Development Conference
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt
March 13, 2015

Mr. President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, it’s a privilege to be here with you today, and your majesties, your highnesses, your excellencies, ladies and gentlemen.

Mr. President, in so many ways, it is clear that your initiatives are already affirming the pivotal role Egypt has played in this region for so long.  We’ve heard a number of the speakers refer to it.  And I want to thank you for your partnership and for your obvious readiness to tackle some very tough issues.  There are an extraordinary number of very thoughtful, very experienced leaders, particularly of the corporate sector but also of government here, and they come from all over the world.  I’m particularly pleased that some of the biggest companies in America are also here and that all of you together represent billions of dollars of investment.

So I come here today, Mr. President, with a very simple message:  The American people are committed to the security and political and economic wellbeing of the Egyptian people, and we will work with you – (applause) – we will work with you to absolutely secure the ambitious and important goals, the vision that you have laid out here today.

There is absolutely no question that the emergence of a strong, prosperous, democratic Egypt is critical for the development of a strong and prosperous region.  And Egypt, as a number of speakers have also alluded to, has historically been the region’s most important incubator of ideas.  And this does go back to the earliest days of civilization.  Egypt constitutes one-quarter of the Arab world’s population.  But we also heard one of our distinguished friends from the Emirates, I think, say that Egypt also is a critical part of the Arab world and the Arab world can’t do without Egypt; it’s symbiotic.  How Egypt fares in the coming years and how it restructures its economy will affect not only the country’s nearly 90 million citizens, but it will also affect millions of others throughout the region who aspire to a better future.  That is why we are gathered here:  We all – all of us – have a stake in Egypt’s success, and all of the Middle East needs to see that what Egyptians struggled to achieve in 2011 was the real birth of opportunity and not an illusion.

That is why the United States is committed to supporting Egypt’s economic reforms, and I think that we can already see from what is happening that those are taking hold.  I’m pleased to tell you also that before this conference was conceived, we in the United States shared the sense of the need for this economic transformation.  And so last year, under the auspices of the United States Chamber of Commerce, 160 CEOs, leading business people representing some 70 countries – 70 companies came here to spend time with President al-Sisi and his administration in order to help define the future.  We are already making progress laying down specific projects that will support economic growth, entrepreneurship, and job creation, especially for the agribusiness and tourism sectors.  We’ve committed some 300 million for the Egyptian-American Enterprise Fund and another 250 million for OPIC loans to guarantee to support the development of small and medium-sized businesses.  And just our Qualifying Industrial Zone program has already spurred more than 800 million in Egyptian exports to the United States last year and supported 280,000 Egyptian jobs.  That’s in addition to a billion dollars of loan guarantee, 500 million dollars of recent investment by The Coca-Cola Company, General Electric, others who are deeply committed to this enterprise.

We all know also that there are challenges.  And yet every single one of us are here because through those challenges we see and understand the extraordinary potential.  There is a possibility of innovation, a possibility of attracting investment, a possibility of working together on an agenda of opportunity that literally creates the sustainable economy that President al-Sisi talks about, the open, inclusive, and transparent growth that is critical to attract capital.

So there are about four things that are critical to that, very quickly.  First, Egypt needs to grow sustainably.  And President al-Sisi understands that and he’s already taken important steps on macroeconomic reform.  The United States is very eager to build on this progress by supporting the government’s engagement with international financial institutions, including the IMF; efforts to improve cash management, lower debt, deficits, increase tax revenue, and reduce costly subsidies in a way that protects the poorest citizens.  And as we all know, sustaining and strengthening these reforms will require courage and political will, and it is evident that President al-Sisi has already demonstrated that and is prepared to make those choices.

Secondly, Egypt needs to grow openly and accountably.  President al-Sisi, again, deserves enormous credit for working to improve the basic business climate in Egypt.  He just signed a new investment law, and that will create a one-stop shop for business which eliminates the bureaucracy, reduces the paperwork, streamlines the decision making, and allows capital to take hold and begin to work quickly.  This is a very important step, and I know that it will be followed by the additional work to provide sanctity of contracts, mechanisms for dispute resolution, and protections for intellectual property rights.

Third, Egypt obviously needs to grow inclusively, and President al-Sisi is committed to that.  A central demand of the revolution of 2011 was a more equal distribution of wealth.  And that requires a commitment to empowering young people to fulfill their dreams, to meet their aspirations, and women also in order to promote a free and active and independent civil society.

And finally, Egypt needs to grow transparently.  We all know that foreign investors require assurance of accountability, certainty, assurance that reforms are both comprehensive and long-term.  And immediately after taking office, President Sisi announced anti-corruption initiatives, and we strongly support his government in that effort.  No one is injured more than companies – and by the way, no one country is immune to – any country immune to any of these challenges.  But no one is more injured because of them than the very companies that we’re trying to attract in order to develop in the ways that we want to.

Ultimately, economic growth and political development go hand in hand, and that is how you build the strong society.  Economic growth, widely shared, can help to ease any disagreements that characterize the openness of governance.  And at the same time, the protection of individual rights and impartial administration of justice helps create the conditions for lasting investment and growth that benefits all Egyptians.

So, yes, there are challenges, and many of them have been alluded to by other speakers here.  But the road ahead is absolutely clear and so is the United States determination to support Egypt’s progress in any way that we can.  Let me make one statement about that.  (Applause.)  And that includes, in the effort to stand up and fight against extremists and terrorists, the one thing we know is here at this conference we stand in direct contradiction to the nihilism that they present.  They want to destroy and go back in time.  We want to build and go to the future, and that’s what this conference is about.  (Applause.)  And no political philosophy, no ideology, no politics, and certainly no religion can excuse the grotesque, unbelievable descent into chaos that those extremists are willing to provoke.  Nothing excuses the killing of innocent women, children, villagers, people anywhere – nothing.  (Applause.)

So that’s what makes this – frankly, this conference so important, because this is one of the most important tools in our toolbox to be able to embrace that future.  Out of this conference must come a renewed commitment to fully empower Egypt’s entrepreneurs and innovators as well as provide for greater economic opportunity – not just for some Egyptians, but for all Egyptians.  And I promise you, directly from President Obama and from this Administration, the full commitment of the United States in this journey towards security, shared prosperity, and peace that the Egyptian people both desire and deserve.  Thank you.  (Applause.)



Thursday, March 12, 2015
Two Florida Brothers Plead Guilty to Terrorism Violations and Assault on Two Deputy U.S. Marshals
Younger Sibling Plotted to Attack New York City with a Weapon of Mass Destruction

Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Carlin, U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida, Director Stacia A. Hylton of the U.S. Marshals Service, Special Agent in Charge George L. Piro of the FBI’s Miami Field Office and members of the South Florida Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) announced today that Raees Alam Qazi and his brother, Sheheryar Alam Qazi, pleaded guilty to terrorism violations and to assaulting two Deputy U.S. Marshals while in custody.

During the hearing, the Qazi brothers acknowledged that Raees Alam Qazi, the younger brother, was going to initiate an attack using a weapon of mass destruction in New York City and that he had been financially and emotionally supported by his older brother, Sheheryar Alam Qazi, who encouraged him to launch the attack.

“With today’s guilty pleas, Raees Qazi and his brother Sheheryar Qazi are being held accountable for their roles in a plot to conduct a terrorist attack using a weapon of mass destruction in New York City and their assault on two federal officers during their pretrial detention,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin.  “This case highlights our commitment to pursue any individuals who would seek to conduct an attack on U.S. soil or to injure law enforcement officials who risk their lives to protect us.  I want to thank the many agents, analysts, and prosecutors who are responsible for this successful result.”

“The plot by Raees Qazi to perform a terrorist attack in New York City – and his older brother’s financial support of that plot – was intended to further Al Qa’ida’s message in the United States,” said U.S. Attorney Ferrer.  “The Qazi brothers later attacked federal law enforcement agents.  As today’s guilty pleas demonstrate, we will respond by holding those who plan terrorist acts on American soil accountable.  This case serves as an example of our commitment to protecting civilians from violent jihadi attacks.”

“Any attempt on the life of a law enforcement official is heinous,” said Director Hylton.  “To attempt to murder two Deputy U.S. Marshals while in a federal cellblock is a total disregard for life and the entire judicial process.”

“The Qazi brothers are a great example why the FBI’s number one priority is counterterrorism,” said Special Agent in Charge Piro.  “We remain committed in our steadfast efforts to detect, deter and disrupt every threat to the United States.”

Raees Alam Qazi, 22, and his brother, Sheheryar Alam Qazi, 32, were living in Oakland Park, Florida, in November 2012 when they were arrested and charged with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists and conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction (explosives).  In January 2015, a federal grand jury added additional terrorism charges and five counts of conspiracy, assault and attempted murder relating to an attack on two Deputy U.S. Marshals in April 2014 while the Qazis were in federal custody.

Raees Alam Qazi pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to provide material support and resources to terrorists in preparation for the use of a weapon of mass destruction, one count of attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization and one count of conspiring to assault a federal employee.  Under the terms of the plea agreement, the parties jointly agreed to recommend a 32-year prison sentence for Raees Qazi.

Sherheyar Alam Qazi pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to provide material support and resources to terrorists in preparation for the use of a weapon of mass destruction and one count of conspiring to assault a federal employee.  Under the terms of the plea agreement, the parties jointly agree to recommend a 17-year prison sentence for Sheryheyar.

The sentencing hearing for both brothers is currently set before U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom of the Southern District of Florida on June 5.

Raees Alam Qazi and Sheheryar Alam Qazi face a potential statutory maximum sentence of 35 years and 20 years, respectively.

The brothers are naturalized U.S. citizens from Pakistan.



Right:  U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter and British Defense Secretary Michael C. Fallon brief reporters during a joint news conference at the Pentagon, March 11, 2015. The leaders met beforehand to discuss security and other matters of mutual importance. DoD photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Sean Hurt. 
Carter: U.S., U.K. Maintain Strong Security Ties
By Claudette Roulo
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, March 11, 2015 – The security ties between the United States and the United Kingdom are enduring and exceptional, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said today in a joint news conference with British Defense Secretary Michael C. Fallon.

For 200 years -- since the signing of the Treaty of Ghent, ending the war of 1812 -- service members from the U.S. and the U.K. have flown together, sailed together and fought together, Carter said.

“And our military collaboration in so many different areas -- from Iraq to Afghanistan -- reinforces the fact that our ‘special relationship’ is a cornerstone of both of our nations’ security,” he said.

The news conference was a first for both leaders -- it was Fallon’s first visit to the Pentagon and Carter’s first trip to the briefing room as defense secretary.
During their meeting before the news conference, the two secretaries discussed the “full scope of issues on which the United States and the United Kingdom are leading together around the world,” Carter said.

Multifaceted Partnership

The U.K. is a stalwart member of the global coalition fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, Carter said, noting British contributions in the air and on the ground.

“As we continue to support local forces, the United States is fortunate to have our British allies by our side,” he said.

From the beginning of combat operations in Afghanistan, the U.K. was steadfast in its support, Carter said, and it continues that support as the mission evolves by providing hundreds of troops to train, advise and assist Afghan security forces.
“Their efforts will be critical to making sure that our progress there sticks,” Carter said.

In the Baltics, the U.S. and U.K. are working together to reassure their transatlantic allies and deter further Russian aggression, he said.
Support to Ukraine

“The United States has been clear from the outset of the crisis in Ukraine that we support the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine,” Carter said. “And we’ve been very clear that if Russia continues to flout the commitments it made in the September and February Minsk agreements, the costs to Russia will continue to rise -- including and especially through sanctions in coordination with our European allies and partners.”

The United States will continue to support Ukraine’s right to defend itself, he said. The White House announced today that it plans to provide Kiev with an additional $75 million in nonlethal security assistance and more than 200 Humvees, Carter noted.

“This brings U.S. security assistance to Ukraine to a total of nearly $200 million, with the new funds going towards unmanned aerial vehicles for improved surveillance, a variety of radios and other secure communications equipment, counter-mortar radars, military ambulances, first-aid kits and other medical supplies,” he said.

The additional assistance underscores the reassurance mission, Carter said, noting the impending arrival of troops and equipment from the U.S. Army’s 1st Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division to train with regional allies as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve.

“And since Russia’s aggression began last year, the United Kingdom has also stepped up militarily, contributing to NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission and serving as a framework nation for NATO’s Very-high Readiness Joint Task Force,” he said.

NATO Endures

The NATO mission’s importance is demonstrated by alliance members’ commitment, agreed to last year in Wales, to invest two percent of their gross domestic product in defense, Carter said.

“Seventy years after we declared victory in Europe, our NATO allies -- and indeed the world -- still look to both [the U.S. and UK] as leaders,” he said. “And it’s clear that the threats and challenges we face -- whether they manifest through cyberattacks, ISIL’s foreign fighters, or Russian aircraft flying aggressively close to NATO’s airspace -- all of those will continue to demand our leadership.”

Leadership requires investment in innovation and modernized capabilities, in prudent reforms and in the forces necessary to meet national security obligations, Carter said.

“These are investments that both our nations -- and both our defense institutions -- must not only make, but embrace in the months and years to come,” he said.


Coalition Airstrikes Hit ISIL in Iraq
From a Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve News Release

SOUTHWEST ASIA, March 12, 2015 – U.S. and coalition military forces have continued to attack Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists in Iraq, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported today.
Officials reported details of the latest strikes, which took place between 8 a.m. yesterday and 8 a.m. today, local time, noting that assessments of results are based on initial reports.

No airstrikes were conducted in Syria during the specified timeframe, officials added.

Airstrikes in Iraq

Fighter, attack and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 13 airstrikes in Iraq:
-- Near Asad, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL vehicles.

-- Near Qaim, an airstrike struck an ISIL staging area.

-- Near Fallujah, three airstrikes struck an ISIL large tactical unit, two ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL vehicle.

-- Near Kirkuk, five airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed five ISIL excavators, three ISIL vehicles and an ISIL vehicle bomb.

-- Near Mosul, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed four ISIL armored vehicles.

-- Near Ramadi, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL fighting position.

-- Near Sinjar, an airstrike struck an ISIL large tactical unit and destroyed three ISIL buildings and an ISIL vehicle.

Part of Operation Inherent Resolve

The strikes were conducted as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, the operation to eliminate the ISIL terrorist group and the threat they pose to Iraq, Syria, the region, and the wider international community. The destruction of ISIL targets in Syria and Iraq further limits the terrorist group's ability to project terror and conduct operations, officials said.

Coalition nations conducting airstrikes in Iraq include the United States, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Jordan, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Coalition nations conducting airstrikes in Syria include the United States, Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.


March 11, 2015
Statement by the Press Secretary on Approval of a New IMF Program for Ukraine

We welcome today’s approval by the IMF board of a new four-year $17.5 billion Extended Fund Facility (EFF) for Ukraine.  The EFF, which is underpinned by an ambitious series of economic reforms, underscores both the commitment of the Ukrainian government and central bank to take the steps needed to lay a foundation for robust growth, and the commitment of the international community to provide financing to help stabilize Ukraine’s economy as it implements these reforms.  The United States is working alongside international partners to provide Ukraine with the financial support it needs as it continues to take steps that will transform the Ukrainian economy and strengthen its democracy.



Tuesday, March 10, 2015
McNeil-PPC Inc. Pleads Guilty in Connection with Adulterated Infants' and Children's Over-the-Counter Liquid Drugs

McNeil-PPC Inc. entered a guilty plea in Federal District Court in Philadelphia today to one count of an information charging the company with delivering for introduction into interstate commerce adulterated infants’ and children’s over-the-counter (OTC) liquid medicines, the Department of Justice announced today.  As part of the criminal resolution, McNeil, a wholly owned subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, agreed to pay a criminal fine of $20 million and forfeit $5 million.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer of the Justice Department’s Civil Division and First Assistant U.S. Attorney Louis D. Lappen of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania today announced the filing of a criminal Information against McNeil for delivering for introduction into interstate commerce infants’ and children’s liquid OTC drugs that were adulterated.  According to the criminal charge, the infants’ and children’s liquid medicines were adulterated because they were not manufactured, processed, packed or held in conformance with current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP), in violation of the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FDCA).

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania accepted McNeil’s guilty plea.

In addition to McNeil’s guilty plea, McNeil remains subject to a permanent injunction entered by the U.S. District Court in 2011, requiring the company, among other things, to make remedial measures before reopening its manufacturing facility in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania.

“McNeil’s failure to comply with current good manufacturing practices is seriously troubling,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Mizer.  “The Department of Justice will continue to be aggressive in pursuing and punishing companies such as McNeil that disregard a process designed to assure quality medicines, especially OTC drugs for infants and children.”

“The law requires that drugs be produced under the most rigorous of quality standards,” said First Assistant U.S. Attorney Lappen.  “When companies fail to exercise the vigilance that the law demands, they will held be accountable.  Drug companies should be aware that failing to adhere to good manufacturing practices subjects them to penalties and prosecution.”

According to the information, the OTC liquid drugs manufactured by McNeil at its Fort Washington facility, including Infants’ and Children’s Tylenol and Infants’ and Children’s Motrin, were bottled on four lines of machinery dedicated to liquid formulations.  As alleged in the information, on or about May 1, 2009, McNeil received a complaint from a consumer regarding the presence of “black specks in the liquid on the bottom of the bottle” of Infants’ Tylenol.  According to the information, the foreign material was later identified as including nickel/chromium-rich inclusions, which were not intended ingredients in this OTC liquid drug.  In connection with receiving this consumer complaint, McNeil did not initiate or complete a Corrective Action Preventive Action (CAPA) plan, as alleged in the charging document.

The information alleges numerous other instances in which McNeil found metal particles in bottles of Infants’ Tylenol at its Fort Washington facility but failed to initiate or complete a CAPA.  According to the information, during a 2010 Inspection of McNeil’s Fort Washington facility, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) asked McNeil for a list with all non-conformances for particles and the associated OTC drug batches that had occurred since an FDA inspection in 2009.  As noted in the information, this document revealed 30 batches of OTC liquid drugs, including Infants’ Tylenol, Children’s Tylenol, and Children’s Motrin.  During the 2010 inspection, the FDA asked McNeil for the CAPA plan covering the particles and foreign material found in the Infants’ and Children’s OTC drugs, and a McNeil employee confirmed that McNeil did not have such a CAPA plan.

On or about April 30, 2010, McNeil Consumer Health Care, a division of McNeil, in consultation with the FDA, announced that the company was recalling all lots of certain unexpired Infants’ and Children’s OTC drugs manufactured at McNeil’s Fort Washington facility and distributed in the United States and other countries around the world.  McNeil’s recall included, but was not limited to, Infants’ and Children’s Tylenol and Infants’ and Children’s Motrin.  According to a press release issued by McNeil on April 30, 2010, some of the recalled OTC drugs “may contain tiny particles.”

The FDCA prohibits causing the introduction or delivery for introduction into interstate commerce of any adulterated drug.  Under the law, a drug is adulterated if the methods used in, or the facilities and controls used for, the manufacture, processing, packing, labeling, holding and distribution of drugs and components were not in conformance with cGMP requirements for drugs.  Drugs not manufactured, processed, packed, labeled, held and distributed in conformance with cGMP requirements are adulterated as a matter of federal law, without any showing of actual defect.

“Drug quality – and especially with the medicines we give our children – is of paramount concern to the FDA,” said Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg M.D. of the FDA.  “The FDA expects manufacturers to have systems in place that will quickly discover and correct problems with medical products before they enter the U.S. marketplace.  Today’s guilty plea holds accountable those corporations who risk jeopardizing the public health by not adhering to the high standards set for drug manufacturers.”

Acting Assistant Attorney General Mizer and First Assistant U.S. Attorney Lappen commended the investigative efforts of the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations.  The government is represented in this case by Assistant Director Jeffrey Steger and Trial Attorney Kathryn Drenning of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch and Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Leahy of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, with the assistance of Associate Chief Counsel for Enforcement Laura Pawloski of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of General Counsel’s Food and Drug Division.


Remarks With German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Ben Franklin Room
Washington, DC
March 11, 2015

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, good evening, everybody. It’s a distinct pleasure for me to welcome someone who’s become a really good friend in the course of our diplomatic travels, Frank-Walter Steinmeier of Germany, a man who may spend as many hours as I do in the air, moving around.

We saw each other, literally, just about a week ago in Paris, where we met with our British counterpart, the British foreign secretary, and Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius of France. And there we had a long discussion about a number of issues, most importantly about the Iran negotiations. As everybody knows, this is a P5+1 negotiating process. Our critical partners in this effort are every member – Russia, China, Germany, France, Great Britain – and we are united in our position, all of us, that it is critical to be able to have accountability and certainty with respect to the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program.

We spoke at length in Paris about the areas where we are still witnessing gaps, and we hope very much that over the course of the next days, we can close those gaps. But Germany has been an indispensable partner in this process. The German scientists, German nuclear experts have spent significant time analyzing proposals, helping us to understand options, and have really contributed significantly to our ability to be at a critical moment in these negotiations. And I think we would agree, both of us, that now it is inherent in – it’s really important that Iran make fundamental choices, as we are making fundamental choices, in order to try to prove to the world as effectively as possible that there will be no path to a nuclear weapon and that the world can be certain of the activities that Iran is engaged in.

In many ways – I don’t know if you’ve seen – there’ve been some articles recently that have been written about the indispensable role that Germany is playing in many different areas, and I want to second that. I agree. Germany is Europe’s chief facilitating officer, to quote one of those articles, and German-French leadership has been essential with respect to the effort to try to create a Minsk agreement that has meaning. I personally admire and respect the efforts that Chancellor Merkel made together with President Hollande to take a risk for peace, to take a risk to go to Minsk when nobody knew with certainty what the outcome would be, and to make their best effort to give some diplomatic energy to the effort to bring about peace.

We all have still some outstanding questions regarding that process – all of us, including Germany. We all insist that the withdrawal of heavy weapons needs to take place on both parts, and we all insist that it is critical that Russia cease its support for violations of the integrity of Ukraine and its sovereignty. And it is vital to the ability to be able to guarantee a Europe that is whole and peaceful and free to be able to make certain that this Minsk agreement is, in fact, implemented.

Just today, Frank, we announced an additional round of sanctions with respect to Ukraine on a number of different individuals, on a number of entities, bank, and also on some Yanukovych associates. And so we are all anxious to get to a day when this is de-escalated and when we can see a different prospect for minimizing the possibilities of confrontation.

Finally, let me just say that Germany’s leadership and partnership with respect to Afghanistan has also been critical. As we look at the issue of continued engagement with President Ghani and Afghanistan and the efforts to try to sustain the troop training program that is taking place, Germany is also playing a key role in that. So it is with pleasure that I welcome my counterpart from Germany here. I look forward to reciprocating. We spent a wonderful evening in Berlin, where we had an opportunity to talk into the late hours. I’m afraid it’s already late for our traveling friends – (laughter) – so we’ll have to arrange a different scenario here, but it’s really a pleasure to have you here, Frank. Thank you.

FOREIGN MINISTER STEINMEIER: (Via interpreter.) Thank you, John, for inviting me to Washington. Thank you very much indeed for the time that you are devoting to me at the end of a very long day that you’ve already put behind yourself. I remember our last and latest meeting. We met only at the end of last week in Paris, and I think in the days preceding that weekend, we met at least every week, if not even more often than that, be it in Berlin, Munich, Vienna, Geneva, Brussels, London, or in many other places on this earth. It’s simply necessary in times like these, where we are confronting with a great number of different crises and have to tackle these crises.

But let me also be very clear I have very fond memories of your last visit to Berlin, because we not only had a political exchange, it was also a visit that came about because we celebrated a particular anniversary: the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. And we talked to those people who put their lives at risk in order to bring down the Wall or to climb over the Wall at the time where it was still standing in order to get into the western part of Berlin, and many of them gave their lives in that attempt. We spoke with young people during your visit who haven’t had any experience of the Wall because they were born after the Wall came down. And for me, too, that was a very moving experience, a moving day, the day where you came to Berlin to celebrate with us.

That is a day that reminded us of the great values that both our countries stand up for and for which we are willing to stand up and fight for. I’ve back – I’ve been back in office for roughly a year now, and I’m in a position to look back to, let pass and review the many crises that we’re confronted with, be it Libya or Syria; be it Iraq or African countries, African conflicts. Afghanistan – our job is not quite done yet there. A new mission has begun. All of that illustrates that we need to be in close touch, need to exchange views and coordinate actions, need to talk to each other – not only on occasions like your visit to Berlin or my visit today here in Washington. We’re in regular contact, in touch, be it on the phone or be it directly, trying to coordinate our actions and the next steps.

That is a good thing, and we will keep up that practice, especially with an eye to the two major conflicts in which both our countries are engaged, trying to develop solutions – Ukraine, that is; Iraq, on the other hand – Iran, on the other hand. The negotiations that took place in Minsk on the 12th of February – this Minsk package, as we call it – and I made that point more than once – may not be perfect, but it may – it is probably the only, perhaps even the last possibility, given the process of escalation, to reduce the level of violence, to initiate a process of de-escalation, and to make sure that the number of casualties we’ve seen on a daily basis is being brought down.

Today, we’re at a point where it’s far too early to pat our shoulders and take pride in what we have achieved. Both of us are far from being happy or satisfied with what we have been able to achieve so far. We have to keep up the pressure on the conflict parties. On the way to Washington, I once again used the opportunity to talk to Sergei Lavrov on the phone in order to make it very clear that wherever the ceasefire is violated, both sides have to try to make sure that the daily violations of the ceasefire come to an end, so as to allow us to enter another stage in the process of implementing the Minsk agreements. To begin that is to prepare the ground for a political settlement. First steps have been taken, but much still needs to be done, especially with an eye to the urgently-required economic stabilization of the country. The country is under enormous pressure. The decisions of the IMF can serve as a first step of providing help and assistance here.

Now, as far as Iran is concerned – and John Kerry made the point earlier – we used the opportunity last week in Paris to talk to our European partners, France and Great Britain, and to harmonize a common approach which hopefully will take us into the final round of negotiations in the search for a solution. For more than a decade, that conflict has been with us. I have been involved with – in this process in different positions, in different functions – as the foreign minister during my first stint; now again. Thus, I may be permitted to say that for the very first time in those 10 years, I’m under the impression that negotiations in the last year have been of a serious nature. Progress has been visible. But again, both of us are convinced that not all impediments have been cleared away, and thus everyone is called upon to continue to – Iran is called upon to continue to negotiate in a spirit – in a serious spirit. And we ask and urge Iran to show and express its readiness to enter into a compromise.

This is not a choice between a good or a bad deal. It’s very clear what we want to see. We want to be very clear in that what we want to see is that it is made impossible for Iran to acquire a nuclear bomb. It has to be made clear – unequivocally clear. It has to be something that can be reviewed, and we want to see that achieved on a long-term basis. Thank you very much.

SECRETARY KERRY: I also forgot to mention that we are providing some $75 million to Ukraine immediately in nonlethal military assistance, including vehicles, MRAPs[1], and so forth. And I’m sure one of the things we’ll discuss tonight is what further assistance might or might not be necessary going forward. So also, vielen dank.