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Updated: 7 hours 22 min ago

The White House Announces the 2017-2018 Class of White House Fellows

8 hours 34 min ago

Today, the President’s Commission on White House Fellows announces the appointment of the 2017-2018 class of White House Fellows. The prestigious White House Fellows program provides professionals from diverse backgrounds with an opportunity to engage in public service for one year by serving in various roles in Federal government.

Created in 1964 by President Lyndon B. Johnson, the White House Fellows program was designed “to give the fellows first hand, high-level experience with the workings of the Federal government and to increase their sense of participation in national affairs.” The fellowship was created as a non-partisan program and has maintained this tradition throughout both Republican and Democratic administrations. The mission of the White House Fellows program is to encourage active citizenship and service to the Nation. Throughout the year, fellows actively participate in an education program that expands their knowledge of leadership, policy-making, and contemporary issues. Community service also plays a vital role in the program, as fellows take part in service projects throughout the year.

The highly competitive selection process to become a White House Fellow is based on a record of remarkable professional accomplishment, evidence of leadership skills and the potential for further growth, and a commitment to public service. Selected individuals spend a year working as a full-time, paid fellow to senior White House staff, Cabinet Secretaries and other top-ranking government officials. Additional information about the White House Fellows program is available at https://www.whitehouse.gov/participate/fellows.

The 2017-2018 White House Fellows:

Ryan Bell is from Coppell, Texas and is placed at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Ryan is a Major in the United States Army. As an infantry officer, he led soldiers throughout the Middle East, Asia, and the Pacific, including three combat tours in Iraq and two combat tours in Afghanistan. During Ryan’s most recent assignment in Hawaii, he led 4,200 Soldiers as deputy Commander and Brigade executive officer of the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division. Previously, Ryan served as deputy director for the Combating Terrorism Center and as an assistant professor of economics for the United States Military Academy’s Department of Social Sciences. While in New York, Ryan led the West Point Parachute Team, winning a national championship in 2014, and co-founded the junior board for the Friends of the Children, a non-profit organization in New York City. His awards include the Bronze Star Medal, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, Ranger Tab and the Combat Infantryman Badge. Ryan received a B.S. in management and Asian studies from the United States Air Force Academy, where he graduated with athletic distinction. He earned a M.S. in international relations from Troy University and a M.B.A. from Columbia Business School, where he served as class president.

Joseph Da Silva is from Norwood, Massachusetts and is placed at the U.S. Small Business Administration. Joe is a Major in the United States Army. As an infantry officer, he served in both conventional and special operations units, spending 42 months deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Throughout his career, Joe led and managed organizations that conducted counterinsurgency, counterterrorism, and foreign military training missions. Most notably Joe commanded a company that secured the largest oil refinery in Iraq where his efforts helped build economic capacity and minimize insurgent financing from black market fuel. He last served at the U.S. Army Cyber Command where he helped lead the command’s talent management efforts. Joe also served as an assistant professor of international relations at the United States Military Academy’s Department of Social Sciences, where he ran the department’s annual national security conference, co-edited a compendium on American grand strategy, and served as an active term member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Joe earned a B.S. in American politics from the United States Military Academy, where he was the class president for the class of 2002. He also earned an M.A. with honors from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in international economics and strategic studies.

Rachel Gleischman is from Farmers Branch, Texas and is placed at the U.S. Department of Defense. Rachel was most recently a partner at TNTP, a non-profit organization supporting public school systems. She was responsible for business development and worked directly with districts on a variety of talent management initiatives. Previously, she managed the Arizona Teaching Fellows, a program placing teachers in high-need schools in Phoenix, Yuma, and the Navajo Nation communities in northeast Arizona. She also led the Oakland Practitioner Teacher Program, a special education certification program supporting Oakland Teaching Fellows and Teach for America corps members in the bay area. Prior to joining TNTP, Rachel served as a school administrator in San Francisco, a Teach for America recruitment director in the mid-Atlantic region, and a high school English teacher in Baltimore. She was the founding board chair for CASA Academy, a K-3 public charter school in Phoenix, and currently serves on the board for the Capital Pride Alliance in Washington, D.C. In her free time, she volunteers with the Girl Scouts and the Internal Rescue Committee. Rachel received a B.A. in English literature, Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude, from Texas A&M University and an M.A. in teaching from the Johns Hopkins University.

Cristina Hernandez is from Las Vegas, Nevada and is placed at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. Cristina is a U.S. Army veteran and has served in the national security sector for over fifteen years. Most recently, she served as senior policy advisor to the director of science and technology for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. As a soldier and as a defense contractor, Cristina has led teams, delivered policy recommendations, and deployed innovative technologies to ensure the safety of those protecting our nation. She has served in Iraq and Afghanistan and has trained over 500 military members and intelligence analysts to support various missions all over the world. Cristina is also a Gold Star family member, having lost her brother while he served in the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment in Afghanistan in 2009. While in the Army, Cristina received the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal and she continues to volunteer and serve underprivileged communities today. Cristina was a next generation national security leaders fellow at the Center for a New American Security. She received a B.A. in political science from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and an M.P.A from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government

Shahla Jilani is from Washington D.C. and is placed at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Shahla is a physician who has worked to address the medical needs of underserved populations, most recently at Unity Health Care, a non-profit organization. She completed dual residency training in internal medicine – pediatrics at the OSU Wexner Medical Center/Nationwide Children’s Hospital. As a pediatrician, she cares for underserved children, focusing on socioeconomic determinants impacting their health. As an internist, she cares for homeless populations, bridging gaps between health care access and social determinants of disease. Together, as a dual pediatrician-internist, she specializes in transitioning special needs children from pediatric to adult medical care. Serving as assistant professor at George Washington and A.T. Still University Schools of Medicine/Wright Center, Shahla has taught medical students and physicians in-training at both classroom and clinical levels. Her teaching includes leading health literacy-education classes for lower-income communities, and academic mentorship programs for at-risk, inner-city youth. Similarly, she has led graduate-level medical education-service programs in developing communities in Bolivia, Peru, and Costa Rica. Before medicine, Shahla was a researcher studying tumor angiogenesis, resulting in scholarly publications; and, earning college honors, highest departmental honors, and joint M.A. – B.S. through the UCLA Scholars Program in molecular, cell, developmental biology. She received her M.D. from University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry.

Andy Ku is from Cupertino, California and is placed at the U.S. Department of Labor. Andy served as a director of product marketing at LinkedIn. He led marketing for the business unit that builds products to help people get jobs. He is proud that tens of millions of people use those products every week, with which millions of people get jobs every year. Prior to LinkedIn, he founded an internet company, which built a mobile app to help people find jobs they love by matching them to jobs that fit their strengths, skills, and interests. He also worked at Google, where he established how Google launched its most popular products, such as Google Maps, throughout Europe. His mission to help people discover and live out their vocation extends to community service. He co-founded the Mentoring Group of Silicon Valley, matching senior leaders with young professionals to help guide their careers. He recently served as a mentor and tutor at Year Up, which helps low-income youth gain skills to achieve their career potential. He has also served as a mentor at Lewisham Leaving Care in London, a program to help youths transition from juvenile detention and learn life skills. He received a B.S. in engineering from Stanford University and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.

Jeffrey McLean is from Mequon, Wisconsin and is placed in the White House Office of American Innovation. Jeff is a Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve. As an F/A-18 Super Hornet pilot, he completed three combat deployments on aircraft carriers, including 51 missions supporting Operation Enduring Freedom over Afghanistan. As a Navy Test Pilot, Jeff served as project officer for the revolutionary X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System that made history as both the first unmanned aircraft to land on an aircraft carrier and the first to achieve autonomous aerial refueling. His writing has appeared in several publications and he served as vice chairman of the U.S. Naval Institute editorial board. Jeff previously served as president of the Truman Scholars Association, a next generation national security leader with the Center for a New American Security, and a millennium leadership fellow with the Atlantic Council. A lifelong community leader, he was awarded the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal and Outstanding Young Wisconsinite award for his impact through community service and through humanitarian projects in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Kampala, Uganda. He is a Fulbright and Truman Scholar and received an M.A. from Oxford University, an M.B.A. from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, and a B.S. with honors and distinction from the U.S. Naval Academy.

Crystal Moore is from Meridian, Mississippi and is placed in the White House Office of Public Liaison. Crystal previously served as senior director of business development for Fullbridge, Inc., a venture-backed education technology company. While there, her efforts supported the creation of online and blended-learning programs on college campuses, ensuring over 12,000 students have exposure to career readiness skills. Prior to Fullbridge, Crystal was a consultant for Parthenon-EY, where she advised colleges and universities, national foundations, policy organizations, and private investment firms. Her commitment to the education sector began as a ProInspire fellow at D.C. public schools, and led her to interning for the White House Domestic Policy Council’s education policy team. Crystal has contributed through various organizations over 2,000 hours to mentoring underrepresented minority students and she is a previous participant in the Echoing Green Direct Impact Program. While at Xavier University of Louisiana, Crystal was elected to serve as student body president and was the recipient of the St. Katherine Drexel Award, Xavier’s highest student honor for service and leadership. At Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, she was a merit scholarship recipient. At Fuqua, she concentrated her studies in strategy and social entrepreneurship and studied education policy at the London School of Economics. Crystal graduated cum laude, with a B.S. in finance, from Xavier University of Louisiana. She also received her MBA from Duke University, The Fuqua School of Business.

Matthew Phillips is from Christiansburg, Virginia and is placed in the Office of the Vice President of the United States. Matt is a Lieutenant Commander in the United States Navy. As a nuclear-trained surface warfare officer, he has led hundreds of sailors at sea during four combat deployments. Most recently, he served as a reactor safety inspector and technical lead on the Navy’s nuclear propulsion examining board. As operations officer, he coordinated and executed a counter-narcotic deployment that interdicted over $500 million of cocaine traffic. Ashore, he led midshipmen as a company officer at the United States Naval Academy and taught courses in seamanship & navigation and leadership. His service has been recognized by numerous military decorations, including the Meritorious Service Medal. Following his fellowship, he will command one of the Navy’s most advanced warships. An active volunteer with churches, food banks, and homeless shelters, he and his wife, Amy, have sought to make a difference in their community throughout his naval career. He graduated with honors from the United States Naval Academy, receiving a B.S. in computer science, and participated on the men’s glee club. Selected for the immediate graduate education program, he graduated with honors from the Naval Postgraduate School and received a M.S. in computer science.

Kyle Sheetz is from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and is placed at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Kyle is a surgeon interested in improving the access and quality of surgical services in the United States. He is currently a resident in general surgery at the University of Michigan. Through his work with the Michigan surgical quality collaborative, he is involved in the development and implementation of initiatives that reduce costs and complications for high-risk surgery. As a fellow at the Center for Healthcare Outcomes and Policy, Kyle’s research uses delivery system science to understand which treatments are most effective and how to institute large-scale practice changes. He holds degrees in medicine, clinical research design and biostatistics from the University of Michigan, where he was the recipient of the dean’s award for research excellence. Kyle was a founding member of the academic surgeon development program, which fosters mentorship and career development for students interested in academic medicine. Kyle received a B.S. in biochemistry from Denison University in Granville, Ohio where he met his wife.

Jake Steel is from Garden City, Kansas and is placed in the White House Office of the Domestic Policy Council. Jake was most recently a math teacher in inner Oklahoma City, where he served as the math department chair. His focus on closing the achievement gap through the use of one-to-one technology has increased state test scores by over 30 percentage points, which assisted in the school’s state report card being increased by two letter grades. Jake is a former Teach for America corps member and contributed to the organization on an alumni board. He served for two years as a full-time humanitarian volunteer in Ohio and volunteered as a community choir director and as an instructor for high school and college level seminary courses. After attending Johns Hopkins University, he was honored by the alumni council for the school of education for his commitment and leadership in his community. He studied in Jerusalem, Israel at Brigham Young University’s Jerusalem center, where his academic work focused on ancient and modern near eastern studies and ancient religious texts. Jake earned a B.S. in communications from Brigham Young University, Idaho and an M.S. in education from Johns Hopkins University.

Christopher Stolte is from Aurora, Colorado and is placed at the U.S. Department of the Interior. Chris recently graduated from the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) of government with a master in public administration. Prior to attending HKS, Chris acted as the business advisor to the executive vice president (EVP) of unconventionals for Shell, where he supported the EVP on day-to-day operations and long-term strategic matters. Before taking on the business advisor role, Chris was the completion engineering manager for Shell Appalachia, overseeing engineering activities across multiple appraisal and development areas in Appalachia. He has completed international assignments in Holland and China. Prior to his international assignments, he worked as a completion engineer supporting unconventional gas operations in the Pinedale Anticline and as a production engineer supporting multiple assets in the Gulf of Mexico. Chris has served on the boards of multiple non-profit and for-profit organizations. Most recently, he served on the board of advisors for Sourcewater, a water sharing platform for the energy industry. He holds a B.S. in petroleum engineering from the Colorado School of Mines, an M.B.A. from MIT, and an M.P.A. from Harvard.

Katelyn van Dam is from San Jose, California and is placed at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Katelyn is a Major in the United States Marine Corps Reserve. An attack helicopter pilot by trade, Katelyn conducted combat operations in Helmand Province, Afghanistan and counter-piracy operations in the Horn of Africa and Gulf of Aden. She served over ten years on active duty. In her final active assignment, Katelyn instructed new Marine Corps officers in tactics and leadership as a staff platoon commander at The Basic School in Quantico. She most recently served as a civil affairs officer with 2D Civil Affair Group. In her personal capacity, Katelyn co-founded and served as director of strategy and policy for No Exceptions, a nonpartisan initiative that advocated for the military to fully integrate women into all combat arms specialties. The efforts of No Exceptions contributed to the successful implementation of this Department of Defense policy change in 2016. She is an alumna of the Center for New American Security’s 2014 next generation national security leaders program. Katelyn was selected as the American Red Cross Tiffany Circle distinguished woman warrior of the year in 2015. Katelyn has published articles in JHU SAIS’ Foreign Policy Institute, War on the Rocks, Just Security, Marine Corps Gazette, and US Naval Institute, and was a guest on the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ smart women, smart power podcast and the Diane Rehm Show. She is married to her amazing husband David van Dam, who is also a Marine Corps veteran. She recently completed a master of arts degree in international economics and international relations at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C. Katelyn is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy.

Mathew Zulauf is from Muskegon, Michigan and is placed in the White House Office of the Staff Secretary. Mat is a Major in the United States Air Force and was a B-2 stealth bomber pilot. He served as the 509th Bomb Wing nuclear executive manager where he was responsible for the coordination, planning, and execution of the nuclear missions of the B-2. He deployed to the European and Pacific theaters on strategic assurance and deterrence missions. He has more than 2,000 flight hours including 1,100 hours as an instructor pilot in the B-2 and T-38. Previously, he served as a flight commander responsible for the military training and flight training of student pilots from the U.S. and numerous allied NATO countries. Other prior assignments included executive officer for the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board, aide to the chief of staff, Office of Science and Technology Policy, Executive Office of the President, and intern at NASA’s advanced space propulsion laboratory developing a plasma engine for deep space travel. Major Zulauf received his commission and was a distinguished graduate from the U.S. Air Force Academy where he was the top graduating cadet in physics. He also attended the U.S. Naval Academy on exchange. He received his masters of public policy in international security and economic policy from the University of Maryland.

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Remarks by President Trump and His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan Before Bilateral Meeting

9 hours 17 min ago

Lotte New York Palace Hotel
New York, New York

9:38 A.M. EDT

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, thank you very much. It's a great honor to be with the King of Jordan, who has been our partner and ally for a long time. And I think never has the relationship been better than it is right now.

And we're working together on many problems, and some things that aren't problems that are very, very good. But we're going to make some of the bad ones turn out good.

I just want to thank you for everything you've done, in terms of the refugees and taking care of people that -- who knows what would have happened without you. So I want to thank you and I want to thank everybody involved with you, and you have done an amazing job.

Thank you.

KING ABDULLAH: Mr. President, thank you very much for having us here. And again, we've met several times this year, and I think that just shows the special relationship between our two countries and how closely we work together.

And I'm very grateful for your support to our country in these difficult times and the special bond between our two nations.

But I'd also like to extend our condolences on the victims of the hurricanes, but also how you, the government, the people, the first responders reacted to this crisis. I mean, for us sitting on the outside, looking at how the Americans came together at a difficult time, is really an example to everybody else. And we're very, very grateful for that.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, thank you very much.

KING ABDULLAH: And everything that we're doing to try and solve our problems.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: We have a big one going right now -- I've never seen winds like this -- in Puerto Rico. You take a look at what's happening there, and it's just one after another. But I think we are doing a good job.

I have to say this about the King: He is a very fine gentleman, a very nice man. He's also a great, great fighter. Some people have to understand that, right?

KING ABDULLAH: Well, sir, we're all fighting together. We have --

PRESIDENT TRUMP: We're all fighting together.

KING ABDULLAH: Terrorism is a scourge around the world, but I think Jordan will always stand beside you and your country. And we will overcome.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Good. Thank you so much. Thank you, everybody. Thank you.

END 9:40 A.M. EDT

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Readout of the Vice President's Meeting with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi of Pakistan

9 hours 59 min ago

Vice President Mike Pence met for the first time with Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi in New York today. The Vice President and Prime Minister Abbasi had an important conversation about the President's South Asia strategy that was announced late last month. The Vice President highlighted ways that Pakistan could work with the United States and others to bolster stability and prosperity for all in South Asia. The Vice President reiterated President Trump's belief that "Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with our effort" in the region.

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Statement by Vice President Mike Pence on the Jewish High Holy Days

10 hours 2 min ago

Jews around the world today begin the Ten Days of Repentance, the most reflective period of the Jewish year that begins with Rosh Hashanah and ends on Yom Kippur.

The most important word during this most important period of the Jewish year is “Teshuvah,” or Repentance. Teshuva tells us we can change. It tells us that what we have been until this moment need not limit what we can become from this moment. It says we can be better tomorrow than we were today, and that in the affairs of humankind, nothing is fixed. Of all the manifold gifts bestowed upon us by the Almighty, is there any gift greater than the power He gave us to change?

Today, it is not just the Jewish people who find themselves and their freedoms imperiled. It is all of us. Therefore let us all approach this Jewish New Year with unity, solidarity, and a renewed strength of purpose.

On this Rosh Hashanah, may God bless the Jewish people here and around the world, and may it be His will that good people of all religions, cultures, and nations shall work as one for the sake of freedom, peace, justice, and life.

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Readout of President Donald J. Trump’s Meeting with Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani of Qatar

10 hours 41 min ago

President Donald J. Trump met today with Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani of Qatar at the United Nations General Assembly. The two leaders discussed ways to enhance bilateral cooperation and advance security, stability, and prosperity across the Middle East. The President and the Emir emphasized the benefits of increasing bilateral investments, which create jobs and stimulate growth in both countries. The leaders also discussed the importance of resolving Qatar’s ongoing dispute with its neighbors and restoring unity in the region among partners of the United States in order to promote regional stability and counter the threat of Iran. The President acknowledged Qatar’s progress implementing the United States-Qatar bilateral memorandum of understanding on counterterrorism cooperation and stressed the importance of taking additional steps to follow through on commitments from the Riyadh Summit to cut off funding for terrorists, discredit extremist ideology, and defeat terrorist groups.

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Readout of President Donald J. Trump's Meeting with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Luncheon with World Leaders

10 hours 43 min ago

President Donald J. Trump spoke today with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. President Trump pledged his support for the Secretary-General’s efforts to reform the United Nations, focusing on three pillars: peace and security, development, and management reform.

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Readout of President Donald J. Trump’s Meeting with President of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly Miroslav Lajcak

10 hours 44 min ago

President Donald J. Trump met today with President of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly Miroslav Lajcak. President Trump welcomed Minister Lajcak to his new position as head of the UN General Assembly, underscored the pressing need to reform the UN’s bureaucracy, and pledged his support for those efforts.

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President Donald J. Trump at the United Nations General Assembly: Outlining an America First Foreign Policy

10 hours 47 min ago

“Our foreign policy calls for a direct, robust, and meaningful engagement with the world. It is American leadership based on vital security interests that we share with our allies all across the globe.” – President Donald J. Trump

America First Foreign Policy: Before the United Nations General Assembly, President Donald J. Trump outlined the Administration’s foreign policy of “Principled Realism,” a strategy of acting in America’s national interest and in accordance with our values.

  • America First means America will, put its citizens, its values, and its concerns, first, like all nations should.
    • Strong sovereign nations are key to international peace.
  • President Trump reiterated that he will make foreign policy decisions based on outcomes, not on ideology.
  • America will remain an international leader but will also encourage the nations of the world to do their share.
    • America First does not mean America alone.
    • All countries must contribute in the fight against global terrorism and other shared threats.
    • Nations that care for their citizens likewise have a rational interest in shared cooperation.
  • President Trump said he wants to see a world that is more stable and prosperous, with countries that better maintain their own sovereignty.
  • North Korea and Iran remain key threats to international stability and require international cooperation.

Taking a STRONG STANCE Against North Korean Provocation: President Donald J. Trump is already leading the effort to stop North Korea’s nuclear program.

  • The United States has led the UN Security Council to adopt resolutions in September, August, and June strengthening and expanding sanctions against North Korea, pressuring the country to abandon its nuclear ambitions.
  • The Trump Administration has asked all nations to do more to stop North Korea’s nuclear program.
  • The U.S. military has conducted exercises with allies South Korea and Japan to increase preparedness and readiness.

Curbing Iran’s Destabilizing Activity: President Trump has taken decisive action to confront Iran’s destructive actions.

  • The Trump Administration has repeatedly imposed sanctions against the Iranian regime and individuals associated with that nation’s illegal ballistic missile program.
  • The President has ordered a review of the Iran nuclear deal to examine whether it is in the best interest of the United States and its allies.

Pressuring The Venezuelan Regime: The President has repeatedly stood up and spoken out for the Venezuelan people against tyranny and oppression.

  • The President has sought to resolve the crisis in Venezuela and restore democracy to its people, sanctioning the Maduro regime and its allies.
  • The President is working closely with Latin American leaders to confront Maduro and aid the Venezuelan people.

Defeating ISIS AND FIGHTING TERRORISM: President Donald J. Trump has been working with international partners to defeat ISIS and combat terrorism around the world.

  • The President’s strategy to defeat ISIS has pushed back the terrorist group’s gains and secured key battlefield victories.
    • President Trump has accelerated strikes against ISIS forces in Iraq and Syria.
    • In the first six months of the Trump Administration, ISIS lost one-third of the total territory it has lost since 2014.
    • The U.S.-led coalition against ISIS has fully retaken Mosul, considered to be the last major Iraqi city held by the Islamic State.
  • The President outlined a new Afghanistan strategy to ensure that country cannot be used as a terrorist base to threaten the United States by:
    • Establishing a plan for Afghanistan that is based on conditions on the ground, not an artificial timeline, and
    • Pressing Pakistan for greater cooperation in countering all forms of terrorism and enhancing global and regional stability.
  • The President has authorized an increase in strikes against terrorist groups that threaten the American people, including Al-Shabaab in Somalia, Al-Qaeda’s largest affiliate.

Strengthening Partnerships In The Middle East: The President is restoring relationships with key allies in the Middle East, while countering threats to America’s interests.

  • The President is repairing relationships with Israel, Saudi Arabia, and other key Middle Eastern allies and partners.
  • In April, President Trump authorized missile strikes against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad following its use of chemical weapons against innocent civilians.
  • The Trump Administration has put in place new sanctions against Syrian individuals and entities that have supported the Assad regime’s attacks against its own people and negotiated a ceasefire in southwestern Syria.

Strengthening AND RENEWING THE NATO ALLIANCE: President Trump has successfully pushed NATO countries to increase defense spending while also reaffirming America’s commitment to a free and peaceful Europe.

  • NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the President successfully persuaded NATO allies to increase defense spending consistent with their treaty commitments.
  • The United States is now exporting oil and gas to Central and Eastern European countries, supporting their energy independence.

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WTAS: Praise for President Donald J. Trump’s Address to the UN General Assembly

11 hours 20 min ago

Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu: “In over 30 years in my experience with the UN, I never heard a bolder or more courageous speech. President Trump spoke the truth about the great dangers facing our world and issued a powerful call to confront them in order to ensure the future of humanity.”

Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin: “President Trump forcefully outlined a path forward for sovereign nations across the globe to unite with a purpose and address the threats posed by rogue regimes and reckless leaders.  The President made it clear that the United States will not allow oppressive rulers in Iran or North Korea to hold the world hostage while they perfect their weapons of mass destruction, and that we expect our allies at the U.N. to join our coalition to promote security, prosperity and peace.”

Former U.S. Ambassador to The United Nations John Bolton: “This was the best speech of the Trump presidency in my view. I think he was as clear and direct as it’s possible to be...I think the centerpiece of the speech was the criticism of the behavior of North Korea and Iran. And I think it’s safe to say in the entire history of the United Nations, there has never been a more straightforward criticism of the behavior, the unacceptable behavior of other member states.”

Republican Jewish Coalition Executive Director Matt Brooks: “Today’s speech at the UN was an historic moment for President Trump and the American people. The President’s speech set out a clear, unambiguous vision that America will always work in the best interests of its citizens and will always work with responsible countries around the globe to keep the world safe and secure. There is no greater example of this vision than President Trump’s commitments, reemphasized today, to confront the reckless nuclear aspirations of Iran and North Korea, to oppose the brutal regime of Syria, and to combat radical Islamic terrorism at home and abroad. The President was strong in his condemnation of Iran as a corrupt dictatorship, economically depleted, a destabilizing force in the Middle East, and a chief exporter of violence and terror. And, as he has many times before, the President called the Iran nuclear deal a terribly flawed and ineffective agreement. Today’s speech was a strong affirmation of American leadership on the world stage, something that has been missing during the last eight years. The RJC applauds President Trump.”  

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC): “I was very impressed with President Trump’s strong words against North Korea’s nuclear program in his address before the United Nations General Assembly. President Trump is right to rally the world to deal with a nuclear-armed North Korea. He’s also right to focus on getting a better deal with Iran regarding their nuclear program, and to push the U.N. to reform the way it does business.”

Senator David Perdue (R-GA): “American leadership is needed now, more than ever. The world is more dangerous than any time in my lifetime, and I am glad to see President Trump and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley aggressively taking on these challenges at the United Nations to get better results. President Trump was very clear that improving accountability and effectiveness at the United Nations is a top priority. For too long, the UN's budget process has lacked transparency, and the organization has relied too heavily on U.S. contributions. President Trump sent the message that all sovereign nations must come together in a united effort to counter North Korea's reckless behavior and the growing threats from Iran’s continued support of terrorist groups and human rights abuses.”

Washington Examiner Contributor Tom Rogan: “On Tuesday, addressing the United Nations for the first time as president, President Trump delivered a powerful message… Ultimately, this was a very fine speech; confident and eloquent, but measured and serious. In short, it was a message of American realism, fine-tuned for an era as Trump put it, ‘of both immense promise and great peril.’”

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach: “Today, President Trump delivered a speech of phenomenal moral clarity on foreign policy, one that was unequivocal in its denunciation of evil and those who prey on the weak. Trump, in the strongest terms, denounced the regimes of North Korea, Iran, and Venezuela… Rarely have we seen a leader speak with such strength about good and evil, and the President deserves our immense thanks. As expressed in Trump’s own words: ‘If the righteous many don’t confront the wicked few, then evil will triumph.’ Today, he proved himself a leader among the former.”

Congressman Ron DeSantis (R-FL): “I think it’s a speech that will resonate with Middle America, because I think that you go there, lot of times people will just say platitudes, and it’s almost as if you lost 30, 40 minutes and you could have been doing something else. Well here, he was speaking substantively, he was speaking directly, and I think he signaled really significant changes in American foreign policy.”

TOP TWEETS

Senator Roger Wicker (R-MI): “Powerful speech by @realDonaldTrump today at the #UNGA. America's foreign policy was made crystal clear to friend & foe alike.”

Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA): “At @UN General Assembly, @POTUS asserted the need for strong American leadership, unity w/ allies as we confront challenges to sovereignty.”

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI): “Great message from @POTUS at the UN. American leadership is needed now more than ever. We must stand by our allies and confront our enemies.”

Congressman Trent Franks (R-AZ): “I commend the president for his remarks. On world’s stage, Trump made clear he is breaking from misguided tradition of enabling #NOKO.”

Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL): “I applaud #POTUS calling out #Maduro 4 egregious #humanrights abuses at #UNGA”

Congressman Scott DesJarlais (R-TN): “Heartened to see @POTUS reasserting American values & strength. No more apologizing for our country's greatness & leading role in the world”

Congressman Todd Rokita (R-IN): “Trump’s speech to the #UNGA showed a strong, & clear stance in regards to North Korea, Iran & the threats they pose to the U.S. & the world.”

Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE): “President Trump’s speech to the UN: clear, strong, principled.”

Congressman Jeff Duncan (R-SC): “President Trump’s speech was a strong defense of nationalism over globalism. Projected strength instead of apologizing.”

Congressman Peter King (R-NY): “Masterful speech by @POTUS Trump at UN. Proud of American values. No apologies. No retreat.”

Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-AL): “Good to hear @POTUS outline a clear vision for the role of the United States in the world during his #UNGA speech this morning.”

Congressman Sean Duffy (R-WI): “Great to hear @POTUS @realDonaldTrump taking a clear-eyed stand against communism during this @UN speech.”

Former Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA): “President Trump gave a strong and needed challenge to UN members to live up to its charter and to confront global challenges.”

Categories: News Pit Feeds

Readout of President Donald J. Trump’s Meeting with President Emmanuel Macron of France

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 19:29

President Donald J. Trump met last night in New York with President Emmanuel Macron of France.  They exchanged views on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action for Iran and how to curtail Iran’s destabilizing activities in the region.  They also discussed how to accelerate the destruction of ISIS and help resolve the Syrian civil war in a manner consistent with American and French security interests.  The two presidents discussed how best to protect the environment while promoting economic growth for both countries.  President Trump and President Macron also discussed ways to address North Korea’s dangerous and destabilizing behavior.

Categories: News Pit Feeds

Remarks by President Trump and Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani Before Bilateral Meeting

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 16:44

Lotte New York Palace Hotel
New York, New York

4:06 P.M. EDT
 
PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Well, thank you very much.  It's my great honor to be with the Emir of Qatar.  And we've been friends a long time; people don't realize that.  We know each other for a long time.
 
And we are right now in a situation where we’re trying to solve a problem in the Middle East, and I think we'll get it solved.  I have a very strong feeling that it will be solved pretty quickly.  
 
But we're talking, also, trade and many other things.  And we've had a tremendous relationship for the last short period of time, especially since our meeting in Saudi Arabia, which I think was an epic and very important -- really a very historic meeting.  And now we want to make the most of it by getting things settled.  But we also want to continue trade and many other things.
 
So we look forward to our meetings and our individual meetings, and -- for many years to come.  
 
EMIR AL THANI:  Thank you very much.  Well, Mr. President, thank you very much for seeing me.  I'm very happy to be with you here.  
 
And as you mentioned, the relationship between the United States of America and Qatar is a very strong relationship, a historic relationship.  And since we met in Riyadh, which was, as you said, a very, very important meeting, and we signed those agreements -- we were the first country to respond to this agreement, and we signed this MOU of counterterrorism.  
 
So we really appreciate this relationship, Mr. President.  We have a lot to talk about -- trade, military cooperation, security cooperation.  
 
So thank you very much.  And as you said, Mr. President, we have a problem with our neighbors, and your interference will help a lot.  And I'm sure that, with your interference, hopefully we can find a solution for this problem.  We've always said that we're very open for dialogue, and we'll always be open for dialogue.
 
PRESIDENT TRUMP:  We will get it solved.  Thank you very much everybody.  Thank you.  Thank you.
 
END  
4:08 P.M. EDT  

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Statement from President Donald J. Trump on the 70th Anniversary of the Central Intelligence Agency

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 15:58

Yesterday marked 70 years since the formation of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and as President, I am honored to mark this important anniversary.

Since its formation in the wake of World War II, the CIA has served as the first line of defense in confronting the foreign challenges facing our country.  The CIA’s intelligence has long shaped our foreign policy in steering a safe and steady course for our Nation.

Today, CIA officers help our government confront the full range of threats to our Nation’s security, including from terrorists, rogue states, weapons proliferators, transnational criminal organizations, and malicious cyber actors.  Through it all, they resolutely protect our citizens as well as our friends throughout the world.

I proudly salute the brave men and women of the CIA who serve as America’s silent heroes, quietly strengthening our national security and often putting their lives on the line.  Their sacrifice ensures that America and our allies live in a safer, more prosperous, and free world.

May God bless the United States of America and all the courageous men and women who serve her.

Categories: News Pit Feeds

Statement by President Donald J. Trump on the Jewish High Holy Days

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 15:52

As Jewish families across America and the world come together to mark the beginning of the year 5778 in the Jewish calendar, we join them in this time of reflection on the past year and hope for the year to come.  

The High Holy Days are also an opportunity for us all to remember the extraordinary perseverance of the Jewish people throughout the centuries. They have endured unthinkable persecution, and yet, through it all, they have filled civilization with hope, love, and freedom.

Today we thank God for the ancient faith of the Jewish People and the unbreakable bond between the United States and Israel while wishing a blessed New Year to those preparing to commemorate the upcoming High Holy Days.

Categories: News Pit Feeds

Remarks by President Trump at Luncheon Hosted by the Secretary General of the United Nations

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 13:41

United Nations
New York, New York

1:33 P.M. EDT

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Well, thank you very much, Mr. Secretary General.  I have to say that, as someone born in New York and raised in New York, it is a great honor to have the United Nations in New York, and always has been.

For years I've been a critic, but I've also been somebody that said that the United Nations has tremendous potential.  And under your leadership -- and I've seen what you've done and working with Nikki Haley and all of her friends.  She's made so many friends here, and Rex Tillerson, likewise, has become, really a fixture here.  We're working very hard to solve world problems.

But there is no better forum; there can be no better forum.  And certainly there can be no better location where everybody comes together.  So, I want to congratulate you -- the word is “potential.”  The potential of the United States, in terms of what it has done has been wonderful.  But we can do better, and we're going to.

The potential of the United Nations is unlimited, and I really believe -- I've met your representatives, and I know you well.  You are going to do things that will be epic, and I certainly hope you will.  But I feel very, very confident.  

So I just want to toast everybody in the room.  And let's give this, as a toast, to the potential -- the great, great potential of the United Nations.  Thank you all for being here.  Thank you very much.

(A toast is offered.)  

END  
1:34 P.M. EDT

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Readout of Second Lady Karen Pence’s visit to MercyFirst in New York

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 13:39

Today, Second Lady Karen Pence visited MercyFirst, a non-profit human services agency, in Syosset, New York. 

Upon arrival, Mrs. Pence was greeted by the MercyFirst staff and youth. Following the greeting, the Second Lady viewed an art exhibition titled, “Hope Holds No Borders: Children’s Art of Compassion and Inclusion.” The artwork, created by children who participated in the art therapy program at MercyFirst, was displayed at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City earlier this year. After viewing the artwork, the Second Lady joined an art therapy session with youth and reviewed a case summary to explore how art therapy positively impacted one of the youth who has participated in MercyFirst’s art therapy program.  The visit concluded with the children showing Mrs. Pence the facility, including their meditation labyrinth garden.

“MercyFirst works with children who have been traumatized; grew up without parents; and teenagers who have lost hope for the future,” said Mrs. Pence. “I am encouraged by the stories I heard during today’s visit, which I believe illustrates the positive difference art therapy is making in these children’s lives. I applaud the art therapists at MercyFirst who are undoubtedly playing an important role in the healing of the children.” 

“It is an honor and a pleasure to share with Mrs. Pence the work our youth are doing through art therapy for personal expression, healing, building community and reaching out to others,” said Eileen McGann, Director of the Arts and Creative Therapies. “We are very excited to have Mrs. Pence meet our youth and view work from our art exhibition Hope Holds No Borders: Children’s Art of Compassion and Inclusion at the United Nations.”

Jerry McCaffery, President and CEO of MercyFirst said, "We are honored to have Mrs. Pence come visit our campus and see first-hand the value that art therapy plays in promoting healing with the young people we work with."   

To stay updated on Mrs. Pence’s events, follow her on Twitter at, @SecondLady.

Art Therapy Session Photo credit: Office of the Second Lady SLOTUS Viewing Artwork Photo credit: Office of the Second Lady

 

SLOTUS with the children at MercyFirst Photo credit: Office of the Second Lady

 

About Art Therapy

Second Lady Karen Pence chose one initiative to champion, and it is art therapy. According to the American Art Therapy Association, art therapy is an integrative mental health and human services profession that enriches the lives of individuals, families, and communities through active art-making, creative process, applied psychological theory, and human experience within a psychotherapeutic relationship. Art therapy is facilitated by professional art therapists who are experts in human development, psychological, and counseling theories and techniques.

About MercyFirst

MercyFirst is a non-profit social service agency that serves more than 3,000 children and families each year through programs located in in Brooklyn, Queens, Nassau and Suffolk Counties. Founded in 1894 by the Sisters of Mercy, MercyFirst provides an array of residential and community based programs in NYC and Long Island to children and their families involved in child welfare, mental health and the juvenile justice system. Programs include preventive services, family foster care, community-based group homes and mother-child residences, medical and mental health services, immigrant youth programs, Care Management and specialized residential treatment programs on its campus in Syosset. MercyFirst is accredited through the Council on Accreditation (COA) and is Sanctuary(c) Certified, a trauma-based approach in working with children, youth and families. 

Categories: News Pit Feeds

Readout of the Vice President's Meeting with High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Secretary Policy and Vice President of the European Commission Federica Mogherini

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 11:32

Vice President Mike Pence met today at the United Nations Headquarters in New York with EU High Representative and Vice President Federica Mogherini. The leaders agreed to work together to increase pressure on North Korea to halt its aggressive actions, and the Vice President emphasized the United States' desire to work with allies and partners to end Iran's destabilizing activities. The leaders highlighted the importance of supporting the Euro-Atlantic aspirations of the countries of the Western Balkans and agreed to work in concert to promote a peaceful, prosperous, European future for the people of the region. The Vice President thanked Mogherini for the European Union's partnership in addressing shared challenges, and the leaders looked forward to future cooperation.

Categories: News Pit Feeds

Remarks by President Trump to the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 11:31

United Nations
New York, New York

10:04 A.M. EDT

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Mr. Secretary General, Mr. President, world leaders, and distinguished delegates:  Welcome to New York.  It is a profound honor to stand here in my home city, as a representative of the American people, to address the people of the world. 

As millions of our citizens continue to suffer the effects of the devastating hurricanes that have struck our country, I want to begin by expressing my appreciation to every leader in this room who has offered assistance and aid.  The American people are strong and resilient, and they will emerge from these hardships more determined than ever before.

Fortunately, the United States has done very well since Election Day last November 8th.  The stock market is at an all-time high -- a record.  Unemployment is at its lowest level in 16 years, and because of our regulatory and other reforms, we have more people working in the United States today than ever before.  Companies are moving back, creating job growth the likes of which our country has not seen in a very long time.  And it has just been announced that we will be spending almost $700 billion on our military and defense.  

Our military will soon be the strongest it has ever been.  For more than 70 years, in times of war and peace, the leaders of nations, movements, and religions have stood before this assembly.  Like them, I intend to address some of the very serious threats before us today but also the enormous potential waiting to be unleashed.  

We live in a time of extraordinary opportunity.  Breakthroughs in science, technology, and medicine are curing illnesses and solving problems that prior generations thought impossible to solve.  

But each day also brings news of growing dangers that threaten everything we cherish and value.  Terrorists and extremists have gathered strength and spread to every region of the planet.  Rogue regimes represented in this body not only support terrorists but threaten other nations and their own people with the most destructive weapons known to humanity.  

Authority and authoritarian powers seek to collapse the values, the systems, and alliances that prevented conflict and tilted the world toward freedom since World War II.    

International criminal networks traffic drugs, weapons, people; force dislocation and mass migration; threaten our borders; and new forms of aggression exploit technology to menace our citizens.

To put it simply, we meet at a time of both of immense promise and great peril.  It is entirely up to us whether we lift the world to new heights, or let it fall into a valley of disrepair.

We have it in our power, should we so choose, to lift millions from poverty, to help our citizens realize their dreams, and to ensure that new generations of children are raised free from violence, hatred, and fear.

This institution was founded in the aftermath of two world wars to help shape this better future.  It was based on the vision that diverse nations could cooperate to protect their sovereignty, preserve their security, and promote their prosperity.

It was in the same period, exactly 70 years ago, that the United States developed the Marshall Plan to help restore Europe.  Those three beautiful pillars -- they’re pillars of peace, sovereignty, security, and prosperity.

The Marshall Plan was built on the noble idea that the whole world is safer when nations are strong, independent, and free.  As President Truman said in his message to Congress at that time, “Our support of European recovery is in full accord with our support of the United Nations.  The success of the United Nations depends upon the independent strength of its members.”

To overcome the perils of the present and to achieve the promise of the future, we must begin with the wisdom of the past.  Our success depends on a coalition of strong and independent nations that embrace their sovereignty to promote security, prosperity, and peace for themselves and for the world.

We do not expect diverse countries to share the same cultures, traditions, or even systems of government.  But we do expect all nations to uphold these two core sovereign duties:  to respect the interests of their own people and the rights of every other sovereign nation.  This is the beautiful vision of this institution, and this is foundation for cooperation and success.

Strong, sovereign nations let diverse countries with different values, different cultures, and different dreams not just coexist, but work side by side on the basis of mutual respect.

Strong, sovereign nations let their people take ownership of the future and control their own destiny.  And strong, sovereign nations allow individuals to flourish in the fullness of the life intended by God.

In America, we do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example for everyone to watch.  This week gives our country a special reason to take pride in that example.  We are celebrating the 230th anniversary of our beloved Constitution -- the oldest constitution still in use in the world today.

This timeless document has been the foundation of peace, prosperity, and freedom for the Americans and for countless millions around the globe whose own countries have found inspiration in its respect for human nature, human dignity, and the rule of law. 

The greatest in the United States Constitution is its first three beautiful words.  They are:  “We the people.”

Generations of Americans have sacrificed to maintain the promise of those words, the promise of our country, and of our great history.  In America, the people govern, the people rule, and the people are sovereign.  I was elected not to take power, but to give power to the American people, where it belongs.

In foreign affairs, we are renewing this founding principle of sovereignty.  Our government's first duty is to its people, to our citizens -- to serve their needs, to ensure their safety, to preserve their rights, and to defend their values. 

As President of the United States, I will always put America first, just like you, as the leaders of your countries will always, and should always, put your countries first.  (Applause.) 

All responsible leaders have an obligation to serve their own citizens, and the nation-state remains the best vehicle for elevating the human condition.  

But making a better life for our people also requires us to work together in close harmony and unity to create a more safe and peaceful future for all people.

The United States will forever be a great friend to the world, and especially to its allies.  But we can no longer be taken advantage of, or enter into a one-sided deal where the United States gets nothing in return.  As long as I hold this office, I will defend America’s interests above all else.

But in fulfilling our obligations to our own nations, we also realize that it’s in everyone’s interest to seek a future where all nations can be sovereign, prosperous, and secure.

America does more than speak for the values expressed in the United Nations Charter.  Our citizens have paid the ultimate price to defend our freedom and the freedom of many nations represented in this great hall.  America's devotion is measured on the battlefields where our young men and women have fought and sacrificed alongside of our allies, from the beaches of Europe to the deserts of the Middle East to the jungles of Asia. 

It is an eternal credit to the American character that even after we and our allies emerged victorious from the bloodiest war in history, we did not seek territorial expansion, or attempt to oppose and impose our way of life on others.  Instead, we helped build institutions such as this one to defend the sovereignty, security, and prosperity for all.

For the diverse nations of the world, this is our hope.  We want harmony and friendship, not conflict and strife.  We are guided by outcomes, not ideology.  We have a policy of principled realism, rooted in shared goals, interests, and values.

That realism forces us to confront a question facing every leader and nation in this room.  It is a question we cannot escape or avoid.  We will slide down the path of complacency, numb to the challenges, threats, and even wars that we face.  Or do we have enough strength and pride to confront those dangers today, so that our citizens can enjoy peace and prosperity tomorrow?

If we desire to lift up our citizens, if we aspire to the approval of history, then we must fulfill our sovereign duties to the people we faithfully represent.  We must protect our nations, their interests, and their futures.  We must reject threats to sovereignty, from the Ukraine to the South China Sea.  We must uphold respect for law, respect for borders, and respect for culture, and the peaceful engagement these allow.  And just as the founders of this body intended, we must work together and confront together those who threaten us with chaos, turmoil, and terror.

The scourge of our planet today is a small group of rogue regimes that violate every principle on which the United Nations is based.  They respect neither their own citizens nor the sovereign rights of their countries. 

If the righteous many do not confront the wicked few, then evil will triumph.  When decent people and nations become bystanders to history, the forces of destruction only gather power and strength. 

No one has shown more contempt for other nations and for the wellbeing of their own people than the depraved regime in North Korea.  It is responsible for the starvation deaths of millions of North Koreans, and for the imprisonment, torture, killing, and oppression of countless more. 

We were all witness to the regime's deadly abuse when an innocent American college student, Otto Warmbier, was returned to America only to die a few days later.  We saw it in the assassination of the dictator's brother using banned nerve agents in an international airport.  We know it kidnapped a sweet 13-year-old Japanese girl from a beach in her own country to enslave her as a language tutor for North Korea's spies.

If this is not twisted enough, now North Korea's reckless pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles threatens the entire world with unthinkable loss of human life.  

It is an outrage that some nations would not only trade with such a regime, but would arm, supply, and financially support a country that imperils the world with nuclear conflict.  No nation on earth has an interest in seeing this band of criminals arm itself with nuclear weapons and missiles.

The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.  Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.  The United States is ready, willing and able, but hopefully this will not be necessary.  That’s what the United Nations is all about; that’s what the United Nations is for.  Let’s see how they do.

It is time for North Korea to realize that the denuclearization is its only acceptable future.  The United Nations Security Council recently held two unanimous 15-0 votes adopting hard-hitting resolutions against North Korea, and I want to thank China and Russia for joining the vote to impose sanctions, along with all of the other members of the Security Council.  Thank you to all involved.

But we must do much more.  It is time for all nations to work together to isolate the Kim regime until it ceases its hostile behavior.
  
We face this decision not only in North Korea.  It is far past time for the nations of the world to confront another reckless regime -- one that speaks openly of mass murder, vowing death to America, destruction to Israel, and ruin for many leaders and nations in this room. 

The Iranian government masks a corrupt dictatorship behind the false guise of a democracy.  It has turned a wealthy country with a rich history and culture into an economically depleted rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed, and chaos.  The longest-suffering victims of Iran's leaders are, in fact, its own people.

Rather than use its resources to improve Iranian lives, its oil profits go to fund Hezbollah and other terrorists that kill innocent Muslims and attack their peaceful Arab and Israeli neighbors.  This wealth, which rightly belongs to Iran's people, also goes to shore up Bashar al-Assad's dictatorship, fuel Yemen's civil war, and undermine peace throughout the entire Middle East. 

We cannot let a murderous regime continue these destabilizing activities while building dangerous missiles, and we cannot abide by an agreement if it provides cover for the eventual construction of a nuclear program.  (Applause.)  The Iran Deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into.  Frankly, that deal is an embarrassment to the United States, and I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it -- believe me.  

It is time for the entire world to join us in demanding that Iran's government end its pursuit of death and destruction.  It is time for the regime to free all Americans and citizens of other nations that they have unjustly detained.  And above all, Iran's government must stop supporting terrorists, begin serving its own people, and respect the sovereign rights of its neighbors.

The entire world understands that the good people of Iran want change, and, other than the vast military power of the United States, that Iran's people are what their leaders fear the most.  This is what causes the regime to restrict Internet access, tear down satellite dishes, shoot unarmed student protestors, and imprison political reformers.

Oppressive regimes cannot endure forever, and the day will come when the Iranian people will face a choice.  Will they continue down the path of poverty, bloodshed, and terror?  Or will the Iranian people return to the nation's proud roots as a center of civilization, culture, and wealth where their people can be happy and prosperous once again?

The Iranian regime's support for terror is in stark contrast to the recent commitments of many of its neighbors to fight terrorism and halt its financing.

In Saudi Arabia early last year, I was greatly honored to address the leaders of more than 50 Arab and Muslim nations.  We agreed that all responsible nations must work together to confront terrorists and the Islamist extremism that inspires them. 

We will stop radical Islamic terrorism because we cannot allow it to tear up our nation, and indeed to tear up the entire world. 

We must deny the terrorists safe haven, transit, funding, and any form of support for their vile and sinister ideology.  We must drive them out of our nations.  It is time to expose and hold responsible those countries who support and finance terror groups like al Qaeda, Hezbollah, the Taliban and others that slaughter innocent people.

The United States and our allies are working together throughout the Middle East to crush the loser terrorists and stop the reemergence of safe havens they use to launch attacks on all of our people. 

Last month, I announced a new strategy for victory in the fight against this evil in Afghanistan.  From now on, our security interests will dictate the length and scope of military operations, not arbitrary benchmarks and timetables set up by politicians. 

I have also totally changed the rules of engagement in our fight against the Taliban and other terrorist groups.  In Syria and Iraq, we have made big gains toward lasting defeat of ISIS.  In fact, our country has achieved more against ISIS in the last eight months than it has in many, many years combined.  
 
We seek the de-escalation of the Syrian conflict, and a political solution that honors the will of the Syrian people.  The actions of the criminal regime of Bashar al-Assad, including the use of chemical weapons against his own citizens -- even innocent children -- shock the conscience of every decent person.  No society can be safe if banned chemical weapons are allowed to spread.  That is why the United States carried out a missile strike on the airbase that launched the attack. 

We appreciate the efforts of United Nations agencies that are providing vital humanitarian assistance in areas liberated from ISIS, and we especially thank Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon for their role in hosting refugees from the Syrian conflict.  

The United States is a compassionate nation and has spent billions and billions of dollars in helping to support this effort.  We seek an approach to refugee resettlement that is designed to help these horribly treated people, and which enables their eventual return to their home countries, to be part of the rebuilding process.

For the cost of resettling one refugee in the United States, we can assist more than 10 in their home region.  Out of the goodness of our hearts, we offer financial assistance to hosting countries in the region, and we support recent agreements of the G20 nations that will seek to host refugees as close to their home countries as possible.  This is the safe, responsible, and humanitarian approach.

For decades, the United States has dealt with migration challenges here in the Western Hemisphere.  We have learned that, over the long term, uncontrolled migration is deeply unfair to both the sending and the receiving countries.

For the sending countries, it reduces domestic pressure to pursue needed political and economic reform, and drains them of the human capital necessary to motivate and implement those reforms.

For the receiving countries, the substantial costs of uncontrolled migration are borne overwhelmingly by low-income citizens whose concerns are often ignored by both media and government.

I want to salute the work of the United Nations in seeking to address the problems that cause people to flee from their homes.  The United Nations and African Union led peacekeeping missions to have invaluable contributions in stabilizing conflicts in Africa.  The United States continues to lead the world in humanitarian assistance, including famine prevention and relief in South Sudan, Somalia, and northern Nigeria and Yemen.  

We have invested in better health and opportunity all over the world through programs like PEPFAR, which funds AIDS relief; the President's Malaria Initiative; the Global Health Security Agenda; the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery; and the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative, part of our commitment to empowering women all across the globe.

We also thank -- (applause) -- we also thank the Secretary General for recognizing that the United Nations must reform if it is to be an effective partner in confronting threats to sovereignty, security, and prosperity.  Too often the focus of this organization has not been on results, but on bureaucracy and process.

In some cases, states that seek to subvert this institution's noble aims have hijacked the very systems that are supposed to advance them.  For example, it is a massive source of embarrassment to the United Nations that some governments with egregious human rights records sit on the U.N. Human Rights Council. 

The United States is one out of 193 countries in the United Nations, and yet we pay 22 percent of the entire budget and more.  In fact, we pay far more than anybody realizes.  The United States bears an unfair cost burden, but, to be fair, if it could actually accomplish all of its stated goals, especially the goal of peace, this investment would easily be well worth it.

Major portions of the world are in conflict and some, in fact, are going to hell.  But the powerful people in this room, under the guidance and auspices of the United Nations, can solve many of these vicious and complex problems.

The American people hope that one day soon the United Nations can be a much more accountable and effective advocate for human dignity and freedom around the world.  In the meantime, we believe that no nation should have to bear a disproportionate share of the burden, militarily or financially.  Nations of the world must take a greater role in promoting secure and prosperous societies in their own regions. 

That is why in the Western Hemisphere, the United States has stood against the corrupt and destabilizing regime in Cuba and embraced the enduring dream of the Cuban people to live in freedom.  My administration recently announced that we will not lift sanctions on the Cuban government until it makes fundamental reforms.

We have also imposed tough, calibrated sanctions on the socialist Maduro regime in Venezuela, which has brought a once thriving nation to the brink of total collapse.

The socialist dictatorship of Nicolas Maduro has inflicted terrible pain and suffering on the good people of that country.  This corrupt regime destroyed a prosperous nation by imposing a failed ideology that has produced poverty and misery everywhere it has been tried.  To make matters worse, Maduro has defied his own people, stealing power from their elected representatives to preserve his disastrous rule.
  
The Venezuelan people are starving and their country is collapsing.  Their democratic institutions are being destroyed.  This situation is completely unacceptable and we cannot stand by and watch.

As a responsible neighbor and friend, we and all others have a goal.  That goal is to help them regain their freedom, recover their country, and restore their democracy.  I would like to thank leaders in this room for condemning the regime and providing vital support to the Venezuelan people.

The United States has taken important steps to hold the regime accountable.  We are prepared to take further action if the government of Venezuela persists on its path to impose authoritarian rule on the Venezuelan people.
  
We are fortunate to have incredibly strong and healthy trade relationships with many of the Latin American countries gathered here today.  Our economic bond forms a critical foundation for advancing peace and prosperity for all of our people and all of our neighbors.

I ask every country represented here today to be prepared to do more to address this very real crisis.  We call for the full restoration of democracy and political freedoms in Venezuela. (Applause.) 

The problem in Venezuela is not that socialism has been poorly implemented, but that socialism has been faithfully implemented.  (Applause.)  From the Soviet Union to Cuba to Venezuela, wherever true socialism or communism has been adopted, it has delivered anguish and devastation and failure.  Those who preach the tenets of these discredited ideologies only contribute to the continued suffering of the people who live under these cruel systems. 

America stands with every person living under a brutal regime.  Our respect for sovereignty is also a call for action.  All people deserve a government that cares for their safety, their interests, and their wellbeing, including their prosperity. 

In America, we seek stronger ties of business and trade with all nations of good will, but this trade must be fair and it must be reciprocal.

For too long, the American people were told that mammoth multinational trade deals, unaccountable international tribunals, and powerful global bureaucracies were the best way to promote their success.  But as those promises flowed, millions of jobs vanished and thousands of factories disappeared.  Others gamed the system and broke the rules.  And our great middle class, once the bedrock of American prosperity, was forgotten and left behind, but they are forgotten no more and they will never be forgotten again.  

While America will pursue cooperation and commerce with other nations, we are renewing our commitment to the first duty of every government:  the duty of our citizens.  This bond is the source of America's strength and that of every responsible nation represented here today.

If this organization is to have any hope of successfully confronting the challenges before us, it will depend, as President Truman said some 70 years ago, on the "independent strength of its members."  If we are to embrace the opportunities of the future and overcome the present dangers together, there can be no substitute for strong, sovereign, and independent nations -- nations that are rooted in their histories and invested in their destinies; nations that seek allies to befriend, not enemies to conquer; and most important of all, nations that are home to patriots, to men and women who are willing to sacrifice for their countries, their fellow citizens, and for all that is best in the human spirit.

In remembering the great victory that led to this body's founding, we must never forget that those heroes who fought against evil also fought for the nations that they loved. 

Patriotism led the Poles to die to save Poland, the French to fight for a free France, and the Brits to stand strong for Britain. 

Today, if we do not invest ourselves, our hearts, and our minds in our nations, if we will not build strong families, safe communities, and healthy societies for ourselves, no one can do it for us. 

We cannot wait for someone else, for faraway countries or far-off bureaucrats -- we can't do it.  We must solve our problems, to build our prosperity, to secure our futures, or we will be vulnerable to decay, domination, and defeat.

The true question for the United Nations today, for people all over the world who hope for better lives for themselves and their children, is a basic one:  Are we still patriots?  Do we love our nations enough to protect their sovereignty and to take ownership of their futures?  Do we revere them enough to defend their interests, preserve their cultures, and ensure a peaceful world for their citizens?

One of the greatest American patriots, John Adams, wrote that the American Revolution was "effected before the war commenced.  The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people."

That was the moment when America awoke, when we looked around and understood that we were a nation.  We realized who we were, what we valued, and what we would give our lives to defend.  From its very first moments, the American story is the story of what is possible when people take ownership of their future.

The United States of America has been among the greatest forces for good in the history of the world, and the greatest defenders of sovereignty, security, and prosperity for all. 

Now we are calling for a great reawakening of nations, for the revival of their spirits, their pride, their people, and their patriotism. 

History is asking us whether we are up to the task.  Our answer will be a renewal of will, a rediscovery of resolve, and a rebirth of devotion.  We need to defeat the enemies of humanity and unlock the potential of life itself.

Our hope is a word and -- world of proud, independent nations that embrace their duties, seek friendship, respect others, and make common cause in the greatest shared interest of all:  a future of dignity and peace for the people of this wonderful Earth.

This is the true vision of the United Nations, the ancient wish of every people, and the deepest yearning that lives inside every sacred soul.

So let this be our mission, and let this be our message to the world:  We will fight together, sacrifice together, and stand together for peace, for freedom, for justice, for family, for humanity, and for the almighty God who made us all.  

Thank you.  God bless you.  God bless the nations of the world.  And God bless the United States of America.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)  

END 
10:46 A.M. EDT

Categories: News Pit Feeds

Readout of President Donald J. Trump’s Working Dinner with President Michel Temer of Brazil, President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia, President Juan Carlos Varela of Panama, and Vice President Gabriela Michetti of Argentina

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 07:03

Last night, President Donald J. Trump hosted a working dinner in New York with President Michel Temer of Brazil, President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia, President Juan Carlos Varela of Panama, and Vice President Gabriela Michetti of Argentina.  President Trump thanked the Latin American leaders for their advocacy in support of the Venezuelan people and condemnation of the Maduro dictatorship.  The group discussed the importance of working together to help restore democracy to Venezuela and reaffirmed the principles of the Lima Declaration from August 8, 2017.  The leaders agreed to continue working together to resolve the Venezuelan crisis. They discussed multiple ways to improve security in the Western Hemisphere, advance prosperity, and ensure sovereignty through democracy and rule of law.  This week, foreign ministers from across the region will meet to further build on the ideas discussed at the working dinner.

Categories: News Pit Feeds

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Sarah Sanders and State Department Director of Policy Planning Brian Hook

Mon, 09/18/2017 - 19:37

Hilton Midtown
New York, New York

5:13 P.M. EDT

MS. SANDERS:  This is the quietest I think I've ever seen this group of people.  

The President has had a full day of engagements on his first day of the U.N. General Assembly.  This morning, he spoke by phone with the President of China on the need to keep the pressure on North Korea.

At the U.N., he participated in a meeting and gave remarks on reforming the United Nations as an institution so that it better lives up to the founding ideas.

The President supports the Secretary-General's reform agenda for the United Nations, and was pleased to join nearly 130 countries and support a big, bold reform to eliminate inefficiency.  

The President then spent some of time with his national security team going over tomorrow's address to the General Assembly, which will be his first.  I know you heard from a senior White House official on that earlier, and as a reminder, those comments are embargoed until 9:00 p.m. tonight.  If you didn't get that, let our press team know and we'll make sure we send you the transcript.  

In the afternoon, the President participated in two bilateral meetings, one with the Prime Minister of Israel and the other with the President of France.  We'll have readouts of those meetings shortly.

Tonight he will host a working dinner with key Latin American leaders to discuss the crisis in Venezuela.  And we'll also have a readout of that dinner.

Tomorrow will be another big day, but before we get to tomorrow, I'd like to introduce Brian Hook.  Brian is the Director of Policy at the State Department and Senior Advisor to the Secretary of State.  He participated in today's meetings and engagements and can give you more detail on those.  

The ground rules are that Brian will speak on the record but off camera, and his remarks are embargoed until the conclusion of the briefing.  He'll be happy to take questions from you guys specific to activities ongoing here at the U.N.  If you have questions beyond that scope, the press team is happy to follow up with you after by email or phone.  As you know, we're here and happy to help.

So with that, I'll turn it over to Brian.  Thanks, guys.

Q    It’s embargoed until the end?

MS. SANDERS:  Yes, embargoed until the end.

Q    On the record?

MS. SANDERS:  On the record, but off camera.

Q    Thanks.

MR. HOOK:  Hi there.  Good to be with you.  Why don't I start first with Israel, which was the first of the two meetings that the President had.

The President and Prime Minister Netanyahu had a very good meeting.  They reviewed progress on shared priorities, especially around Iran and Syria.  They also discussed the Middle East peace process. 

The President reaffirmed America's unshakable bond with the Jewish state.  He is committed to Israel's security.  They discussed at length countering Iran's malign influence in the region.  And in Syria, they discussed defeating ISIS, al-Qaeda, and other terrorist groups.  

They discussed the Middle East peace process.  The President believes that peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians is possible.  He is deeply committed to achieving an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.  He and his team have continued deliberations with leaders on both sides on potential steps to reach a comprehensive peace agreement.  His team recently had multiple meetings with leaders in the region, and obviously a good deal of work remains to be done, but discussions remain serious and constructive.

On the France meeting, the three topics that were primarily discussed were Iran, countering Iran's malign activities, especially in Syria; they discussed Hurricane Irma; and they also discussed the Paris Agreement.

President Trump considers President Macron a very, very good friend.  They actually spent the first part of their meeting reminiscing about the President's trip to France and talked at length about the Bastille Day Parade and celebrating America's oldest alliance and discussing, when he was there, commemorating America's entry into World War I.  

With respect to Iran, they both share the same concern and high priority around countering Iran's malign activities in the region.  And one of the things that's common to both the meetings with the French and the Israelis is this deep and abiding concern about Iran's activities in Syria, and broadly -- whether it's in Yemen or Syria, Iraq, Lebanon. 

One of the things they discussed was not allowing the “Lebanization” of Syria, and -- this is in the meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu.  But it was common to both meetings, discussing the kind of work ahead to address Iran's work around ballistic missiles, the nuclear program, and its range of destabilizing activities in the region.

The President of France thanked the President for the relief that the United States provided in the context of Hurricane Irma, and these are two countries who were both hit very hard by the recent hurricanes.  And so they discussed St. Maartens and St. Barts; and as I mentioned, Iran, climate and Paris, and they discussed briefly the Middle East peace process. 

That's the summary of the two meetings, happy to take any questions.

Q    With respect to the parade, it sounds like it’s something the President is thinking about quite a bit.  So I’m wondering -- is the State Department being consulted about it?  And do you have a view on the brandishing of U.S. military power down on Pennsylvania Avenue and how that might affect the world?  
MR. HOOK:  Well, President Trump said to President Macron that it was a very inspiring parade -- the way it was executed, how they did it, the way they presented France’s military history.  He said the spirit of France was brought alive by the parade.

And he, I think, took away a lot of good examples from that.  What will happen in the future -- unclear.  But he was very inspired by it.

Q    Do you think it’s needed?  Does the State Department think it’s needed to have something like that in Washington, D.C.?

MR. HOOK:  Don't have a comment on that, just that the President was very inspired by the parade.

Q    Brian, can you flesh out what you mean by a “Lebanization” of Syria, and the degree to which the post-battlefield discussion about Syria and Iraq occurred in these two meetings?

MR. HOOK:  Iran takes advantage of failed states, and civil wars, and wars generally.  It is the kind of environment that is conducive to activating their proxy network, and they are doing that in Syria.  And it is the policy of the United States to deny them that space in Syria and to do what we can to prevent Iran from establishing any deep roots in Syria.

And so this is a concern identical to -- the Israelis have the same concern.  And so it’s something that we're very focused on.  We are in the process of destroying and defeating ISIS.  And as we're also working toward stabilizing Syria, there will be a period then -- post-civil war.  And we are keeping a very close eye on Iranian activities in Syria and working with our partners, as best we can, to deny Iran the space to organize in Syria, whether it’s against us or it’s against the Israelis.

Q    Brian, the U.S. has until the middle of next month to certify the Iran deal.  Should we -- the President said today that we would find out soon his thinking on this.  Is this something we should anticipate in some form to come during the United Nations visit here?  Or what should we be anticipating in terms of any sort of declarative statements about the status of that?

MR. HOOK:  Well, I don't want to preview the President’s speech tomorrow, but Iran is something, as I said, that is a foreign policy -- a national security priority for the United States. 

With respect to the JCPOA, there is an INARA certification coming up on October 15th, and that decision is still under review by the President with the Secretary of State and his national security cabinet.  So I don't want to prejudge that decision.  It’s still another month or so away, but the policy is under review.

But I will say that, on Iran, we are taking a comprehensive approach to the range of Iran activities -- its threat network, its ballistic missile systems, its nuclear program.  And that is something which I think is very much needed after the Iran deal.

I think the Iran deal became a proxy for an Iran policy, and we are trying to take a comprehensive approach and bringing in all of Iran’s activities -- terrorism, nukes, missiles, regional instability -- so that we're not substituting the Iran deal for an Iran policy.

Q    Did President Trump speak with Prime Minister Netanyahu about what he thinks should be the endgame of the peace process?  And did he mention if he supports the principle of a two-state solution?

MR. HOOK:  What we have been -- what the President has been talking about in the context of Middle East peace is trying to avoid bumper stickers and slogans around this.  He does not want to impose a solution.  And what he’s really trying to do is work as a facilitator to find a solution that both sides can accept.  Ambassador Friedman has talked about it in terms of a win-win for both the Israelis and the Palestinians.  

He does want to take a new approach, and when you look at the changes in the Arab world -- and he talked a lot about this on his trip -- his first international trip where he first started in Saudi Arabia and then went on to the Vatican and then Israel -- you do have changes in the Arab world.  And I think specifically there is a growing recognition of the common threat from Iran.  And -- you have a new administration, you have a different mindset in the region, and that, I think, is creating an environment that is more conducive to a peace agreement.

But the President very much believes that this is propitious time and an important time.  You've got an environment broadly that is very conducive to negotiations.  We're taking a new approach.  He’s got a great team who is working on this with Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt and Ambassador Friedman, Dina Powell.  They recently made a trip to the region, and they're meeting with all sides.  And this is a way of trying to facilitate; it’s a facilitation role and not imposing a solution on the outside.  

And so I think today they did have a good discussion about it, and I think they're both pleased with the kind of progress -- this is very early stages, and we shouldn’t expect major breakthroughs right now or detailed proposals quite yet.  But that team that I just described with President is focusing a lot of energy around that.

Yeah.

Q    How much time did the Israeli-Palestinian issue take up of the meeting?  And is the President and Prime Minister Netanyahu on the same page of taking the next step towards relaunching negotiations? 

MR. HOOK:  I didn't keep a stopwatch, in terms of just how long everybody discussed each subject.  As I said, they spent a lot of time talking about Iran and about Syria -- Middle East peace.  

I would say it was an equitable distribution of topics.  I think each was given the time necessary needed to kind of give it full justice.  So, it was a very good discussion.  

But these discussions are so regular, it wasn't a lot of time that had elapsed because the trip that Jared and his team recently made was only a few weeks ago.  And so, we're in regular discussions with the Israelis.

Felicia.

Q    Going back to the meeting with Macron.  You said that you're taking a more regional approach, you're looking more at the totality of Iran’s behavior.  Can you talk about any of the specifics that you discussed at with the French about what they might be willing to do, I guess, on the sidelines of the deal?

MR. HOOK:  What's that last part?  I didn't understand the last part.

Q    Just what agreements are the French willing to make in the context of the JCPOA and that you're looking to strengthen the policy?

MR. HOOK:  The President believes that the JCPOA is deeply flawed, and he did share his views with President Macron about how he believes the deal is flawed.  And they talked about the sunset, the lack of a sunset, and the kind of advantages that this deal -- this one-sided deal -- accrues to Iran.

And so the President was very candid with him about what he thinks of the shortcomings of the JCPOA.  He said that, as I said earlier, he told him that it is under review, and that they are taking a hard look at the October 15th decision, and more broadly how to fix the Iran deal.

But they also did discuss this integrated strategy that I was talking about earlier.  When you look at the support for terrorism, the ballistic missile program, destabilization in the Middle East, and other aggressions -- I mean, France has been on the receiving end of Iran’s aggressive actions.  And so they feel this acutely.

And so I felt like there was a lot of agreement about the areas of focus.  And so I think that was very encouraging.  The discussion was very encouraging about Iran.

Yes.

Q    Can you talk a little bit more about the conversation about the Paris Agreement with President Macron?

MR. HOOK:  On the Paris Agreement, the President talked through that he believes it’s just simply unfair -- that he thought other countries, particularly China, received a better deal than the United States negotiated.  And he talked about the consequence of the Paris Agreement for American workers, American industries, and the American economy.

I think the United States and France do have differing views on the benefits of that agreement to our two countries.  But they did both discuss -- I think there is agreement, the President talked about this, about clean air, clean water, protecting the environment, and promoting economic growth.  The President believes that we can achieve these things.  He does not believe that the Paris Agreement is a framework to achieve those goals around clean energy, protecting the environment, and promoting economic growth.

He did say that he’s very proud of America’s record on clean energy and on being a leader in clean technology.  And he wants to work with France and other countries on technology and policy innovations that balance this need for both protecting the environment and for economic growth.

Q    If I may, was there any discussion about maybe renegotiating the Paris deal?  I know that the President has said he’s open to that if it’s more fair to America’s workers.  Did he lay out any of those parameters?

MR. HOOK:  The President focused repeatedly, in their meeting, on fairness.  And it was a theme that he returned to again and again -- that he thought that it was badly negotiated.  He also thought the Iran deal was badly negotiated.  And so he has inherited the Paris Agreement and the Iran deal.

And he thinks that if you -- I think he is very open to considering a number of different options, as long as they are fair to America’s interests, which include promoting the economy, protecting the environment -- a range of those things.  

And so, as I said, I do think that there is an agreement on the priorities.  He doesn’t think that the Paris Agreement is the best vehicle to achieve the priorities around protecting the environment because it advantages other countries, especially China, more than it helps the United States.  

Q    Going back to the JCPOA, you spoke a bit about what President Trump said, but what did President Macron say about his position on the JCPOA?  Is he open to reopening it?  Is he okay with President Trump decertifying it?  Is he open to supplemental agreements?  I mean, could you please be specific on that front?

MR. HOOK:  That’s a question for President Macron.  I don’t want to speak for him.  His team is best -- I mean, I really don’t want to speak for him.  He was in the meeting and he’s got a team, and I don’t want to misspeak or miscapture.  You really should ask him.  

But they did -- I’m telling you, they had a very good discussion about it.  But I don’t want to explain France’s position on the JCPOA.  They’ve done that publicly.  And so, they had a good discussion about it.

Q    But broadly, though -- you said that they had differing views on climate change, on the Paris Agreement.  Would you say, broadly, they had differing views on the Iran deal?

MR. HOOK:  They actually spent most of their time talking about Iran’s terrorist activities in the Middle East.  Now, they did discuss the Iran deal, but there really is a need for us to take a comprehensive approach to Iran, and he really understood that.

And so, this was not a one-sided discussion about the JCPOA.  It was a very helpful discussion and a very encouraging discussion.  Obviously, France, during the negotiation of the JCPOA, expressed some concerns about the deal.  They still have those concerns.  But it really is beyond just the Iran deal.  

The Iran deal is an arms control political agreement.  And it’s one piece of all of the issues that exist between Iran, the leading sponsor of terrorism in the world, and the rest of the world.  And so, we were very encouraged that there is a convergence of views to take a comprehensive approach to what Iran is doing.

Q    Following up on the climate change discussion, I understand that the President emphasized fairness, but there have been some questions, after Secretary Tillerson’s comments over the weekend and also after the meeting this morning between Gary Cohn and some other ministers about what would be considered fair terms for renegotiation.  Can you outline what those would be and whether the President addressed that specifically?

MR. HOOK:  They did not get into specific terms in this bilateral meeting on what -- there wasn’t a detailed discussion about fairness, in terms of all of the elements of it.  It was more of a discussion around how the President views it, but it was very broadly.  

And he did -- as I said, he emphasized fairness but it was not -- there’s a lot to cover in a bilat, and there’s only a certain amount of time to go through these things.  And so I think a lot of the details will end up being left to Gary and the NEC, which has been leading the interagency process on climate policy.  And that’s something, probably, going to be worked out with Gary and his counterparts.

Q    A question on Syria diplomacy.  The French are pushing this idea of a new contact group.  Did that come up in the discussion between the two Presidents?  What’s the view from the U.S. side of this proposal?  And, I suppose, the sticky bit -- what’s the view about whether Iran could be a member of that contact group?

MR. HOOK:  I’m trying to remember.  On Syria, we have a lot of joint efforts in Syria with the French.  We talked about the ceasefire and the de-escalation zone in southwest Syria.  They talked about ways that our governments can work better together to continue enforcing the ceasefire and making it a success.  

They talked about chemical weapons.  The President discussed how important it was to enforce the international ban against chemical weapons.  And the missiles -- the 59 missiles that were sent into Syria -- was meant to galvanize and sort of re-galvanize global opposition to chemical weapons and the use of chemical weapons.  

And so they did discuss chemical weapons, and talked about the progress that they’re making destroying ISIS in its physical caliphate, preventing its return to liberated areas, and stopping ISIS fighters from returning to conduct attacks.  That was --

Q    But the contact group ideas that the French are floating -- did that come up?

MR. HOOK:  That was discussed very briefly.   

Q    I wanted to step back for a second, more generally, and ask you if you could help many of us understand a little bit about how the President is viewing his time here generally and his speech tomorrow, from a broad sense.  

In terms of -- we heard earlier today that the administration and the President is not interested in nation-building, not interested in using the military to promote democracy, not interested in telling other people how to live or what kind of governments they want to have.  Does the President see his time here as promoting the United States just for -- to try to prove the U.S. position in the world?  Or does he see his time here and his speech as a way to reaffirm the U.S. as something to -- as sort of a symbol of democracy and human rights and freedom around the world, as something other countries should strive for? 

MR. HOOK:  I don’t want to get ahead of the President’s speech tomorrow, and so I won’t.  This will be his first address to the U.N. General Assembly.  The President has been working very well with the U.N. Security Council.  We’ve used it in a number of different ways, especially, most recently, with North Korea.  

And the U.N. Security Council resolutions -- we often don’t get everything we want.  They’re often diluted by members of the P5, but they are a force-multiplier to bring a global approach to global threats.

And so I would just say that, so far in this administration, the President has worked well with the U.N. Security Council to try to leverage it for the purposes that the U.N. Charter created, which is to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.  And I think the President will, like most presidents, be talking about the ideals of the U.N. and its charter, and how we have worked with the U.N. Security Council to be addressing threats to international peace and security.  But beyond that, I’ll let the President speak for himself tomorrow.

Yes, sir.

Q    Thanks very much.  I wanted to ask a broad question about these kind of multilateral agreements.  The President seems to have taken the view that many of the agreements that were created before he came into office were kind of rubbish and he can do a better job.  Why do you think that is?  Why do you think he takes that approach?

MR. HOOK:  In terms of the Iran deal and the Paris deal?

Q    And I’m thinking NAFTA, I’m thinking T-PP, I’m thinking JCPOA --

MR. HOOK:  In my space, in foreign policy, of the areas that you mentioned that I work on, are Iran and -- specifically for me, around the Iran deal and JCPOA.  And so Gary Cohn has been leading on climate.  

I would just say that the President does not believe that these were well-negotiated.  It’s really not a knock on multilateralism.  I think it really is just a matter of negotiating.  Whether it’s a bilateral or a multilateral or a trilateral deal, at the end of the day, the terms are what matters.  

I think he focuses much more on the outcome than he does on the process.  And so, I think he’s fairly agnostic on the process.  In the case of the Iran deal, that was P5+1, and it was a -- he believes that it was a very badly negotiated deal that does not advance America’s national security interests.  And he thinks that -- so it’s under review.

And so I really don’t think it’s anything particular about the process.  It’s more about the outcome.

MS. SANDERS:  We have time for one more question.

Q    I better make it good.  (Laughter.)  This was sort of touched on earlier, but the idea of the framework of Paris not being the right way to move forward, but the idea that there could be some other way to move forward -- I just don’t understand how to process that.  I mean, does that mean that the U.S. is going to get back into a climate deal, it’s just not going to be called the Paris climate deal and are those talks proceeding apace?  

And I’m going to take a stab at a speech question while I’m here.  Did Secretary of State Tillerson have input into this speech -- the writing of the speech, the shaping of the speech, the points that the President was making?  Has he been a full part of the consultative process?  And has the U.N. Ambassador as well?

MR. HOOK:  Yes, he has.  Secretary Tillerson -- yes, he has.

Q    And Haley as well?

MR. HOOK:  I don’t know.

Q    And on the Paris one?

MR. HOOK:  On Paris -- is it the question of what?  I’m still not quite sure what you mean.

Q    Maybe I’m reading too much into what you were saying.  It sounded like you were saying that the U.S. believes in the goals of doing clean energy things that are environmentally sound, they just think that Paris itself is too flawed to be the right framework for it.  So maybe we’ve all been thinking about this the wrong way.  Instead of figuring out whether the U.S. is getting back into Paris, should we be trying to figure out whether there’s going to be something called, you know, “Manhattan 2018” or whatever?

MR. HOOK:  Going back to what I said earlier about the outcome, I think the focus for the President, with respect to climate is getting a fair deal.  He did say to President Macron that he looks forward to continuing discussions with him.  He is, I think, open to a number of different approaches that properly balance protecting the environment, and protecting American workers, and promoting economic growth, and not giving an unfair advantage to other countries while America is disadvantaged.  

And so I think there are obviously many different ways to reach an agreement around that.  And we’ve seen various versions of that, whether it’s around the environment or national security or trade -- any number of things.  But the President is very open to an outcome that achieves fairness in the areas that I mentioned.

Okay, thank you.

END
5:43 P.M. EDT

Categories: News Pit Feeds

Remarks by President Trump, Vice President Pence, Secretary of State Tillerson, and U.N. Ambassador Haley at Working Dinner in Honor of Latin American Leaders

Mon, 09/18/2017 - 19:12

Lotte New York Palace Hotel
New York, New York

6:48 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, thank you very much, everyone.  It's a great honor.  

I had a long conversation with President Xi of China this morning.  We discussed some of the obvious things, and we discussed trade, and we also discussed a place called North Korea.  It was a long call.  It was a very good call.  We have a very, very fine relationship, and let's see what happens.  I think we're making great progress.

And we are going to be going to China during the month of November.  You probably have it in your schedules, and I look very much forward to that.

And I'm thrilled to host this important dinner with leaders of some of the greatest allies in the Western Hemisphere, and that is so true.  

We're here to discuss the growing crisis in Venezuela.  The socialist dictatorship of Nicolás Maduro has inflicted terrible misery and suffering on the good people of that country.  His corrupt regime destroyed a thriving nation by imposing a failed ideology that has produced poverty and despair everywhere it has been tried.

To make matters worse, Maduro has defied his own people, stealing power from their elected representatives to preserve his disastrous rule.  The Venezuelan people are starving, and their country is collapsing.  It was one of the wealthiest countries in the world for a long period of time.  And now the people are starving and the country is collapsing.  Who would think that's possible?

Their democratic institutions are being destroyed.  The situation is completely unacceptable.  As responsible neighbors and friends of the Venezuelan people, our goal must be to help them regain their freedom, recover their country, and restore their democracy.  

I'd like to thank the leaders in this room.  We have some great leaders in this room, and I want to thank them for condemning the regime and providing the vital support to the Venezuelan people.  Most of the media, the press, a lot of other leaders have no idea the tremendous job that the people, without exception, in this room are doing as leaders of their country in helping the people of Venezuela.  

And I can tell you, we really appreciate it.  And the world really appreciates it.  So thank you all very much.  We appreciate that so much.

The United States has taken important steps to hold the regime accountable.  We are prepared to take further action if the government of Venezuela persists on the path to imposing authoritarian rule on the Venezuelan people.

We're fortunate to have incredibly strong and healthy trade relationships with all of the countries gathered here today.  They're doing very well with the United States.  We want to try and change that a little bit so we can turn the tables just a little bit.  You're doing very well, and I congratulate you all.  
Nikki knows exactly what I'm saying, and Rex knows exactly what I'm saying.  But we have great relationships, and we do great trade.  Our economic bonds form a critical foundation for advancing peace and prosperity for all of our people and all of our neighbors.  

I ask every country represented here to be prepared to do more to address this unbelievably serious crisis.  We call for the full restoration of democracy and political freedoms in Venezuela, and we want it to happen very, very soon.  

So again, I'd like to thank everybody.  We look forward to having dinner with you, and we will talk individually about what ideas you may have concerning Venezuela and other situations that we're also dealing on, including trade.

Mr. Vice President, thank you very much for being here.  Would you like to say a word, Mike?

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, Mr. President.  It was my great honor to represent you and the United States in a trip through Latin America, and it is good to see many of the leaders that extended their hospitality to the United States.  

And I echo your strong affirmation of the partnerships that are represented at this table -- partnerships for prosperity, partnerships for security, and we look forward to continuing to work with all the leaders at this table to promote the mutual prosperity of all of our nations throughout this hemisphere.  And it's an honor to be here, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much, Mike.  And Rex, would you like to say something?  Secretary of State.

SECRETARY TILLERSON:  Mr. President, let me just add, first, my welcome to all of you to the dinner as well with the President.  And these are all very important countries to the United States’ relationship in the Western Hemisphere economically, but also from a security standpoint.  We have many, many shared issues to fight against crime, fight against corruption, narcotics trade, and all of you are very important in the cooperation that we receive in working together toward these shared goals.

So, very pleased to be with all of you tonight.

THE PRESIDENT:  And Nikki Haley, thank you so much for the job you've done over the last long time to just put it together.  We had incredible meetings today with France and with Israel.  The two leaders -- and they're great leaders, and we covered a lot of territory.  And we have a lot of agreement, I can tell you that.  

So we've done a lot, and we're going to be doing a lot more, I understand, for the next four days.  So, Nikki, would you say a few words?

AMBASSADOR HALEY:  We just want to welcome everyone to New York.  I can tell you that in the United Nations, really, your ambassadors are great friends.  And we have started to work really closely together because your region matters, and the partnerships and the friendships need to be solid so we don't wait until crisis hits, but that we are already partnering in every way that we can.

So thank you for taking the time to be here, and enjoy New York.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well thank you, Nikki, and thank you, Rex, and thank you, Mike.  And we appreciate your being here.  Thank you all very much.  Appreciate it.  Thank you.  

END
6:54 P.M. EDT 

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