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Kerry Group
12 сентября, 16:00

Forget Campbell Soup, Buy These Food Stocks Instead

Although Campbell Soup's (CPB) dismal Q4 results highlight the tough operating environment in the food industry, here is a look at three stocks that look well-positioned.

19 мая, 21:00

Irish Prime Minister Resigns: ETF in Focus

Enda Kenny resigned as the leader of his party and as Prime Minister of Ireland, over continuous internal party pressure.

21 апреля, 17:08

Грант: Оплачиваемые стажировки в Китае

Зарплата от 400 до 700 долларов в месяцВ течение всего годаКомпания Интеракадем предлагает принять участие в программе оплачиваемых стажировок в Китае, предназначенных для студентов  3-4 курсов, а также для выпускников вузов (19-30 лет). Стажировку можно пройти в любом крупном городе Китая в сфере туризма, финансов, логистики, рекламы, IT, гостиничного бизнеса, медицины и т.п. Знание китайского языка не обязательно, но необходимо уверенное знание английского языка. . Программа дает возможность получить ценный профессиональный опыт работы и пройти оплачиваемую стажировку в Китае от 6 до 12 месяцев! В процессе стажировки необходимо посещение курсов китайского языка, т.к. стажировка организуется под студенческую визу. Подбор стажировки платный - от 350 дол. Подробнее: стоимость и условия предоставления стажировок Программа стажировки состоит их двух этапов: 1-ый этап – изучения китайского языка от 1 до 2 месяцев. Сроки уточняются по приезду в зависимости от набора группы. 2-ой этап – непосредственно работа в китайской компании или отеле сроком  от 6 до 10 месяцев. Стажировка в Пекине предлагается в крупных китайских и международных компаниях, минимальный срок - 6 месяцев. Стажировки обычно предлагаются по следующим позициям: ассистент менеджера продаж, ассистент программиста, ассистент инженера, дизайнера, работа в сервисах обслуживания, менеджмента, стажировки в гуманитарных и технических сферах, журналистика, юриспруденция и т.п. Компании-работодатели: Huawei (IT), Union Pay (банковские платежи, аналог VISA), Kerry Group (недвижимость, логистика, СМИ и др.), Geely (автомобилестроение, владелец Вольво), Bloomberg и др. Подробнее: список новых вакансий в 2017 году.

13 апреля, 08:09

Как Brexit отразится на Ирландии?

При вопросе о выходе Великобритании из ЕС многие забывают об Ирландии, которая активно готовится к новым возможностям и вызовам.

13 апреля, 08:09

Как Brexit отразится на Ирландии?

При вопросе о выходе Великобритании из ЕС многие забывают об Ирландии, которая активно готовится к новым возможностям и вызовам.

17 марта 2016, 20:12

Will This Ireland ETF Bring Luck on St. Patrick's Day?

With St. Patricks Day celebrations and the centennial of the Easter Rising ahead the Ireland ETF is expected to be in focus.

08 января 2016, 22:06

Warm Up to These Europe ETFs This Winter

A strong finish to 2015 and improvement in the recent manufacturing PMI put these Europe ETFs in focus.

29 декабря 2015, 21:55

5 Best Performing Country ETFs of 2015

Most of the international markets are outperforming amid rounds of monetary easing that are stimulating growth in the economy and combating deflationary pressures.

11 декабря 2015, 20:20

Sold! Billionaire Buys Hong Kong's Top English-Language Newspaper

(function(){var src_url="https://spshared.5min.com/Scripts/PlayerSeed.js?playList=519280728&height=&width=100&sid=577&origin=SOLR&videoGroupID=155847&relatedNumOfResults=100&responsive=true&ratio=wide&align=center&relatedMode=2&relatedBottomHeight=60&companionPos=&hasCompanion=false&autoStart=false&colorPallet=%23FFEB00&videoControlDisplayColor=%23191919&shuffle=0&isAP=1&pgType=cmsPlugin&pgTypeId=addToPost-top&onVideoDataLoaded=track5min.DL&onTimeUpdate=track5min.TC&onVideoDataLoaded=HPTrack.Vid.DL&onTimeUpdate=HPTrack.Vid.TC";if (typeof(commercial_video) == "object") {src_url += "&siteSection="+commercial_video.site_and_category;if (commercial_video.package) {src_url += "&sponsorship="+commercial_video.package;}}var script = document.createElement("script");script.src = src_url;script.async = true;var placeholder = document.querySelector(".js-fivemin-script");placeholder.parentElement.replaceChild(script, placeholder);})(); HONG KONG (AP) — Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba said Friday it's buying Hong Kong's leading English-language newspaper, the South China Morning Post, as part of a plan to create a global platform for news about China. Alibaba Group Holdings Ltd., founded by billionaire Jack Ma, said it signed a deal with publisher SCMP Group to buy the Post and the company's other media assets, which include magazines, outdoor advertising and digital media. The newspaper said in a story on its website that the purchase price is not being disclosed. The acquisition gives control of the Asian financial center's most prominent English-language publication to a mainland Chinese company. As news emerged over the past few weeks that the two parties were in talks, there were fears that the newspaper's reporting would be softened under new owners. In a statement, Alibaba Executive Vice Chairman Joe Tsai dismissed worries that the editorial independence would be compromised. "In reporting the news, the SCMP will be objective, accurate and fair," said. The Post has a wide international following for its China coverage, including reporting on the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown and extensive coverage of last year's pro-democracy street protests in Hong Kong. The newspaper has won awards for its coverage of political scandals and human rights in China, topics that are off-limits to mainland media. The Post and other news media in the former British colony have more freedom to report because the city has a mini-constitution that guarantees freedom of the press and other civil liberties not seen on the mainland. However, there's widespread concern that press freedom is shrinking as Beijing, which took control of Hong Kong in 1997, tightens its grip on the city. The 112-year-old Post was once reputed to be the world's most profitable newspaper on a per-reader basis although its fortunes have suffered in line with the wider decline in the traditional newsprint industry as readers shift to online news sites. Its influence has also been overtaken by Chinese dailies since Beijing took control of the city from Britain in 1997, although it still retains an important position among the city's English-speaking elite. "Why is Alibaba buying into traditional media, considered by some a sunset industry? The simple answer is that we don't see it that way," Tsai said as he outlined a lofty vision of marrying Alibaba's experience in technology with the Post's journalism track record to create a China-focused media giant with an international audience.  As part of its goal to broaden its readership, the company plans to stop charging for access to the Post's website, SCMP.com, Tsai said. "Our vision is to expand the SCMP's readership globally through digital distribution and easier access to content," he said. The newspaper's magazine division has a license to publish the local Chinese-language editions of Cosmopolitan and Harper's Bazaar. It also has a stake in the Bangkok Post newspaper. It took its first step into e-commerce in October by buying a majority stake in fashion site MyDress.com. The newspaper's current owner, Malaysian sugar tycoon Robert Kuok, bought it through his Kerry Group from media mogul Rupert Murdoch in 1993. SCMP Group's net profit has declined for the past four years, falling last year to 137 million Hong Kong dollars ($17.7 million) on HK$1.2 billion in revenue, according to its latest annual report. Its stock has been suspended from trading on Hong Kong's stock market since February 2013, when the number of shares freely traded by the public fell below the exchange's minimum requirement. Also on HuffPost: -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Выбор редакции
15 октября 2015, 15:15

Kerry Group announces acquisitions valued at $735 million

This is a Real-time headline. These are breaking news, delivered the minute it happens, delivered ticker-tape style. Visit www.marketwatch.com or the quote page for more information about this breaking news.

18 сентября 2015, 17:55

Matchups to 2015 Rugby World Cup for ETF Fans

The sports passion and excitement of 2015 Rugby World Cup tournament, which kicks off today, will drive many investors to the ETF investing world.

29 июня 2015, 17:10

5 Top Performing Country ETFs of 1H - ETF News And Commentary

We have highlighted the top country in terms of stock market performance in 1H and their best ETFs.

26 июня 2015, 19:35

3 Country ETFs Upgraded to Buy - ETF News And Commentary

These country ETFs underwent a Zacks Rank upgrade recently and received a Buy rating.

Выбор редакции
17 сентября 2013, 21:48

Netanyahu to visit White House on Sept. 30

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Obama will meet at the White House on Sept. 30 to discuss the status of Israeli-Palestinian talks, the White House said Tuesday. Netanyahu's visit will come during a trip to the United States for the United Nations General Assembly, which begins next week. The two last met in March, during Obama's first trip to Israel since taking office. On the same day as their meeting, Vice President Joe Biden will address J Street, a group that describes itself as pro-Israel but that critics say is less than supportive of the Jewish state. (PHOTOS: Obama's Israel trip) Secretary of State John Kerry was briefly in Israel over the weekend and met with Netanyahu on Syria.

13 сентября 2013, 05:58

10 Reasons Why A Diplomatic Solution To The Syria Crisis Is Extremely Unlikely

war is comingMichael Snyder Activist Post Over the past few days, there has been a tremendous wave of optimism that it may be possible for war with Syria to be averted.  Unfortunately, it appears that a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Syria is extremely unlikely.  Assad is certainly willing to give up his chemical weapons, but he wants the U.S. to accept a bunch of concessions that it will never agree to.  And it certainly sounds like the Obama administration has already decided that “diplomacy” is going to fail, and they continue to position military assets for the upcoming conflict with Syria. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey are all going to continue to heavily pressure the Obama administration.  They have invested a huge amount of time and resources into the conflict in Syria, and they desperately want the U.S. military to intervene. Fortunately, overwhelming domestic and global opposition to an attack on Syria has slowed down the march toward war for the moment, but unfortunately that probably will not be enough to stop it completely.  The following are ten reasons why war is almost certainly coming… #1 Assad wants a guarantee that he will not be attacked by the United States or by anyone else before he will give up his chemical weapons. That is extremely unlikely to happen. #2 Assad is not going to agree to any chemical weapons deal unless the U.S. stops giving weapons to al-Qaeda terrorists and other jihadist rebels that are fighting against the Syrian government. That is extremely unlikely to happen. In fact, according to the Washington Post, the U.S. has been ramping up the delivery of weapons to jihadist rebels in Syria… The CIA has begun delivering weapons to rebels in Syria, ending months of delay in lethal aid that had been promised by the Obama administration, according to U.S. officials and Syrian figures. The shipments began streaming into the country over the past two weeks, along with separate deliveries by the State Department of vehicles and other gear — a flow of material that marks a major escalation of the U.S. role in Syria’s civil war. google_ad_client = "pub-1897954795849722"; /* 468x60, created 6/30/10 */ google_ad_slot = "8230781418"; google_ad_width = 468; google_ad_height = 60;  #3 Assad is suggesting that the Israelis should give up their weapons of mass destruction. That is extremely unlikely to happen. #4 The Syrian “rebels” desperately want the U.S. military to intervene in the war in Syria.  In fact, that was the entire reason for the false flag chemical weapon attack in the first place. The “top rebel commander” is now declaring that the Free Syrian Army “categorically rejects the Russian initiative”, and he is calling on the United States to strike the Assad regime immediately. #5 Saudi Arabia desperately wants the U.S. military to intervene in Syria.  The Saudis have spent billions of dollars to support the rebels in Syria, and they have been lobbying very hard for an attack. #6 Qatar desperately wants the U.S. military to intervene in Syria.  Qatar has also spent billions of dollars to support the rebels in Syria, and it has been reported that “Arab countries” have even offered to pay for all of the costs of a U.S. military operation that would remove Assad. #7 Turkey has wanted a war which would remove Assad for a very long time.  And CNN is reporting that Turkey has moved troops to the border with Syria in anticipation of an upcoming attack. #8 Many members of the U.S. Congress want this war.  Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham are virtually foaming at the mouth, and Robert Menendez, the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that he “almost wanted to vomit” after reading Russian President Vladimir Putin’s plea for peace in the New York Times. #9 Obama does not want to look weak, and he seems absolutely obsessed with starting a war with Syria.  For the moment, he has been backed into a corner diplomatically by Russia, but the Obama administration is already laying the groundwork for making it look like “diplomacy has failed”.  According to CNN, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is already talking about the “consequences” that will happen when the Syria deal falls apart… Any agreement reached must be “comprehensive,” “verifiable,” “credible” and “able to be implemented in a timely fashion,” Kerry said, adding that “there ought to be consequences if it doesn’t take place.”#10 There have been reports that U.S. soldiers are now receiving orders to deploy to Syria.  For example, the following is from a recent article by Paul Joseph Watson… Venture capitalist Dan Bubalo claims he was told by a source close to Ft. Hood that US troops have been ordered to deploy to Syria. Writing for conservative columnist Mychal Massie’s website, Bubalo cites a “close and verifiable source” who told him that a friend at Ft. Hood had received news that he was to be sent to Egypt for the next nine months. “This particular soldier said that while he was not really thrilled about the assignment to Egypt, it was better than the soldiers that remained at the military base BECAUSE THEY HAD JUST RECEIVED THEIR DEPLOYMENT ORDERS TO GO TO SYRIA,” writes Bubalo.If you want to read the original report, you can find it right here. For the moment, Obama and Kerry will dance around and make it look like they are considering peace.  They will try to get Congress to authorize a strike “if diplomacy fails”. But they already know that diplomacy is going to fail.  Once they are ready, Obama will declare that the conditions for war set forth in the congressional authorization have been fulfilled and then he will start raining cruise missiles down on Syria. When that happens, will Obama have your support?  The video posted below is one of the funniest that I have seen in a long time…  And when Obama does strike Syria, he will officially be allying the United States with al-Qaeda and other radical jihadist groups. Middle Eastern expert Jonathan Spyer has spent a lot of time on the ground among the Syrian rebels recently.  The following is what he has to say about who they are… “Undoubtedly outside of Syria, and in the Syrian opposition structures, there are civilian political activists and leaders who are opposed to al-Qaida and opposed to Islamism,” Spyer explained to TheDC in an email interview. “There are also civilian activists and structures within the country which are opposed to al-Qaida and Islamism. But when one looks at the armed rebel groups, one finds an obvious vast majority there who are adherents of Islamism of one kind or another — stretching from Muslim Brotherhood-type formations all the way across to groups openly aligned with al-Qaida central and with al-Zawahiri.” “The ‘moderate’ force which we are told about supposedly consists of those rebel brigades aligned with the Supreme Military Command, of Major-General Salim Edriss,” he continued. ”Most of the units aligned with the SMC actually come from a 20-unit strong bloc called the Syrian Islamic Liberation Front. This includes some powerful brigades, such as Liwa al-Islam in the Damascus area, Liwa al Farouq and Liwa al Tawhid. These and the overwhelming majority of the units aligned with the SMC are Islamist formations, who adhere to a Muslim Brotherhood-type outlook.”And as NBC News recently pointed out, a high percentage of these “rebels” have come in from outside Syria… Abu Abdul Rahman, a 22-year-old from Tunisia, sat in a safe house earlier this week in Antakya — a southern Turkey town that’s fast becoming a smugglers transit route. He was waiting for a smuggler to take him across the border to fight in Syria. “Almighty Allah has made Jihad a duty on us. When our Muslim brethren are oppressed, it is a duty to support them wherever they are, because Muslims are not separated by countries,” he said. Abdul Rahman is one of thousands of al-Qaeda volunteers who are flocking to Syria to join what they see as a battle to defend Muslims no one is bothering to help. “This was a dream for me, to wage jihad for Allah’s sake, because this is one of the greatest deeds in Islam, to lift aggression off my brothers, to bleed for Allah and no other,” he said.Is this really who Obama intends for us to become “allies” with? Is he insane? In article after article, I have documented how Obama’s Syrian rebels have been ruthlessly murdering Christians, using chemical weapons and dismembering little girls. Today, I found an account from a Time Magazine reporter that chillingly describes the brutality of these fanatics… I don’t know how old the victim was but he was young. He was forced to his knees. The rebels around him read out his crimes from a sheet of paper. They stood around him. The young man was on his knees on the ground, his hands tied. He seemed frozen. Two rebels whispered something into his ear and the young man replied in an innocent and sad manner, but I couldn’t understand what he said because I don’t speak Arabic. At the moment of execution the rebels grasped his throat. The young man put up a struggle. Three or four rebels pinned him down. The man tried to protect his throat with his hands, which were still tied together. He tried to resist but they were stronger than he was and they cut his throat. They raised his head into the air. People waved their guns and cheered. Everyone was happy that the execution had gone ahead.Should the U.S. military be used to help those jihadist thugs take control of Syria? If Obama gets us into this war, it has the potential to spin totally out of control very rapidly. Let us hope and pray that it does not happen.  Because if we do go to war in Syria, it could ultimately lead us down the road to World War III. This article first appeared here at the American Dream.  Michael Snyder is a writer, speaker and activist who writes and edits his own blogs The American Dream and Economic Collapse Blog. Follow him on Twitter here. 

13 сентября 2013, 01:01

Syria crisis: Kerry cautiously optimistic over chemical weapons surrender

Secretary of state begins Geneva talks with Russian counterpart and says: 'We do believe there is a way to get this done'The US secretary of state, John Kerry, on Thursday expressed cautious optimism that a deal could be reached to guarantee the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons, as he began talks on the issue in Geneva with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov.Appearing alongside Lavrov, shortly after the beginning of two days of negotiations, Kerry acknowledged that expectations were high but said: "We do believe there is a way to get this done."As the talks got under way in Geneva, the United Nations announced that Syrian president Bashar al-Assad had signed a legislative decree making his country party to the chemical weapons convention."In their letter, the Syrian authorities have expressed their commitment to observe the obligations entailed by the convention even before its entry into force for Syria," a UN spokesperson said. "Given recent events, he hopes that the current talks in Geneva will lead to speedy agreement on a way forward which will be endorsed and assisted by the international community."Kerry insisted that the threat of military action against Syria, over a chemical weapons attack in the country on 21 August, remained an option. He also rejected Assad's suggestion that he would have 30 days, under the standard terms of the chemical weapons treaty, to declare his stockpiles.  "We believe there is nothing standard about this process at this moment because of the way the regime has behaved," Kerry said. "And the words of the Syrian regime, in our judgment, are simply not enough."The joint press conference between Kerry and Lavrov marked the start of an uncomfortable alliance between the US and Russia, after the two countries unexpectedly converged around a proposal to disarm Syria of its chemical stockpiles. Delegations of Russian and American technical experts are in the Swiss capital to discuss the mechanics of the disarmament plan, which would involve Syria identifying the locations of its stockpiles and handing over control to the international community. Washington is seeking to shift responsibility for the success of any weapons destruction programme to Moscow. US officials argue that the plans for dealing with Syria's chemical weapons were put forward by Russia, and says its "prestige" is now at stake. "This is not a game. It has to be real," Kerry said in Geneva.Earlier on Thursday, Assad told Russian television Syria would submit documents to the UN for an agreement governing the handover of its chemical arsenal. "Syria is placing its chemical weapons under international control because of Russia. The US threats did not influence the decision," Interfax said, quoting the state-run Rossiya-24 channel's yet-to-be-aired interview.The White House and State Department both indicated on Thursday that the US was treating Assad's promise with scepticism. In Geneva, Kerry said: "It is too early to tell whether these efforts will succeed, but the technical challenges of trying to do this in the context of the civil war are obviously immense. But despite how difficult this is, with the collaboration of our experts, and only with the compliance of the Assad regime, we do believe there is a way to get this done."A senior state department official accompanying the Kerry delegation said the US and Russia both had technical expertise in chemical weapons destruction because of the two-decade process – which is still ongoing – to destroy cold war-era stockpiles. "We also have experience in doing destruction of chemical weapons in the face of a resistant environment," the official said. "That is Iraq in the 1990s. And we have recent and ongoing experience, successful experience, in the case of a cooperative government. That is Libya, which we expect within the next few months will complete the destruction of its stockpiles left over from the previous regime." The senior official spoke on the condition of anonymity, as occurs routinely in US administration briefings. Kerry said Syrian weapons destruction would need to be credible, comprehensive, verifiable and implemented quickly, and added that there would need to be "consequences" for Assad if he did not comply with his obligations. He did not specify whether such consequences would involve the use of force against Syria. However, he also said that the credible threat of military action had forced Syria into conceding that it possessed chemical weapons and agreeing to their destruction, and maintained that the threat of strikes remained. Lavrov said that the securing of Syria's chemical weapons "will make unnecessary any strike against the Syrian Arab Republic".After Kerry spoke, Lavrorv appeared to admonish him for making political comments. "Diplomacy likes silence," Lavrov said. Kerry did not hear the translation and asked for it to be repeated. Lavrov said in English: "It's okay, John." Kerry laughed and replied: "You want me to take your word for it. It's a little early for that."Aside from the jokes, Kerry adopted softer language than has recently been used by the Obama administration, saying only that "force might be necessary" to deter Assad from using his weapons if the diplomatic route failed.The question over whether force could be authorised, in the event that Syria did not comply with chemical weapons actions, is at the centre of negotiations at the UN in New York, where a possible resolution is being drafted. Lavrov added that Russia's position on Syria had been laid out in president Vladimir Putin's op-ed article in the New York Times. "I am convinced that all of you have read this article," Lavrov said.In the article, Putin welcomed the new diplomatic initiative over Syria but condemned a US tendency toward unilateral "brute force" and sharply criticised America's belief in its own "exceptionalism". The article caused consternation in Washington.The Republican senator John McCain said the article was "an insult to the intelligence of every American", while the Democratic chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee, Robert Menendez, said of reading the piece: "I almost wanted to vomit."The US administration chose more diplomatic language. A State Department deputy spokeswoman, Marie Harf, said the time had come for Putin to "put forward actions now, not just words".The White House spokesman Jay Carney said: "The important thing is that both in his op-ed and in his statements and actions, president Putin has invested his credibility in the transfer of Assad's chemical weapons."He added: "[Nevertheless] there's a great irony in the placement of an op-ed like this because it reflects the truly exceptional tradition in this country of freedom of expression – something on the decrease in the last dozen or so years in Russia."Carney said the White House would not tolerate any delay by the Syrian government and would continue to provide military assistance to rebel groups throughout the process.United StatesSyriaChemical weaponsMiddle East and North AfricaUnited NationsUS foreign policyObama administrationJohn KerryRussiaVladimir PutinBashar al-AssadArab and Middle East unrestDan RobertsPaul Lewis theguardian.com © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds     

12 сентября 2013, 22:30

Syria takes UN step to surrender chemical weapons as US keeps up pressure

Secretary of state John Kerry discusses US-Russia talks in Geneva and says: 'This is not a game. It has to be real'Syria took the first formal step towards surrendering its chemical weapons on Thursday, sending the United Nations an application to join the international convention prohibiting the production and use of such arms.The UN secretary general's office confirmed receipt of the letter, hours after the Syrian leader, Bashar al-Assad, had admitted the existence of the arsenal for the first time, and said he was ready to transfer it to international control.At the same time, talks between the US and Russia on how to implement the transfer got under way in Geneva. John Kerry, the US secretary of state, said at a news conference with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, that both sides were serious about the negotiations despite some differences over the plan. But he warned: "This is not a game. It has to be real."With its letter to the UN, Syria was poised to become the the 190th member of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), leaving a small group of nations outside the treaty: Israel, Burma, Angola, Egypt, North Korea and South Sudan. Syrian membership will take effect 30 days after the delivery of the letter. After that Syria would be legally committed to ridding itself of its chemical arsenal.However, in a Russian television interview, Assad also appeared to put conditions on Syria's chemical disarmament, saying the US would have to reciprocate by ceasing military threats against his government and the arming of "terrorists".Assad's comments emphasised the significant diplomatic obstacles facing US and Russian diplomats and chemical weapons experts as they began meetings in Geneva to discuss Moscow's plan to disarm the Syrian government. According to the Russian Kommersant newspaper, the plan would involve four stages: Syria would sign the CWC, then declare its stockpile and production facilities, invite weapons inspectors in, and cooperate with them in drawing up a plan to destroy the stockpile.That arsenal, according to a French intelligence estimate this month, amounts to more than 1,000 tonnes of chemical agents and precursors, including mustard gas as well as sarin and VX nerve agents.Speaking in Geneva, Kerry acknowledged that there would be "immense technical challenges" in implementing the plan. But he told Lavrov: "We are serious, as you are, about engaging in substantive, meaningful negotiations." He repeated Washington's position that there had to be "consequences" if Syria failed to follow through on its commitments and said that US military assets would remain in place.In an op-ed published in the New York Times on Wednesday night, Russian president Vladimir Putin restated Moscow's claim that the chemical attacks in Damascus on 21 August which triggered the current global crisis were the work of rebel forces, but he did not cite evidence.A UN investigation into the attack is expected to produce a report early next week. The Foreign Policy online magazine quoted a senior western official as saying the report, by Swedish scientist Åke Sellström, would include a "wealth" of evidence pointing at the culpability of the Assad regime. American officials said that they would insist on a brisk timetable to ensure the plan did not become a time-buying ploy.While the diplomats talked in Geneva, the US and Russia continued to build up their naval forces in the Mediterranean. Russia has dispatched a "carrier killer" missile cruiser and other ships to the eastern Mediterranean, in its largest naval deployment since Soviet times.The destroyer Smetlivy left a naval base in Sevastopol, Ukraine, on Tuesday, on a mission to the Syrian coast, a military source told the state news agency Interfax on Thursday. The source said the Smetlivy would travel to the Mediterranean with the amphibious assault ship Nikolai Filchenkov, which left Novorossiysk on Monday carrying unidentified supplies for the Damascus government. The missile cruiser Moskva, the flagship of Russia's Black Sea fleet, is also on its way to the Syrian coast to lead the Russian force there. The ship is reportedly known as a "carrier-killer" because it is outfitted with Vulkan missiles, which are designed to destroy large ships.The former Democratic US senator Sam Nunn, who is one of the world's leading arms-control campaigners, said the disarmament process would have a chance of succeeding only if the Syrian army is in charge of the arsenal."We hope that the Syrian army is in control. The US government believes it is. The Russians disagree. If the Russians are right and some of the rebels have control, the nightmare's just started," said Nunn, speaking to The Guardian in Brussels.United StatesSyriaChemical weaponsUnited NationsMiddle East and North AfricaRussiaJohn KerryBashar al-AssadVladimir PutinUS militaryUS foreign policyJulian BorgerAlec LuhnIan Traynor theguardian.com © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds     

12 сентября 2013, 13:32

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney, 9/12/2013

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room 1:56 P.M. EDT MR. CARNEY:  Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.  Thank you for your patience today.  The Cabinet meeting ran a little long, and then, obviously, as I think some of you saw, Secretary Kerry and his counterpart spoke in Geneva.  I wanted to allow you the opportunity to see that before I came out.  Before I take your questions I wanted to make two statements.  First, on Wednesday -- this coming Wednesday, at 10:45 a.m., the President will address business leaders at the quarterly meeting of the Business Roundtable.  The event will take place in D.C. at the Business Roundtable office.  Secondly, if I may, I'd like to point you to a new report that was released today by the Department of Health and Human Services, showing that 6.8 million consumers saved an estimated $1.2 billion on health insurance premiums in 2012 because of the part of the Affordable Care Act called rate review that brings sunlight and scrutiny to insurance premiums.  Now, in every state, insurance companies are required to submit for review and justify any proposed health insurance premium increase of 10 percent or more.  In other words, the days when insurers could post double-digit insurance premium increases without transparency and accountability are over. Now, this is one of many ways that American families are saving under the health law.  For example, the 80/20 rule, which requires insurance companies to spend at least 80 percent of premiums on health care or provide rebates to their customers, saved 77.8 million consumers $3.4 billion up front on premiums last year.  This is separate from and in addition to the savings I mentioned at the top.  Also, insurers that did not meet the 80/20 rule provided 8.5 million Americans with $500 million in rebates, averaging $100 per household. So today’s news is the latest example of how the Affordable Care Act, along with state efforts, continues to bring scrutiny to health insurance rate increases and is saving consumers real money as a result. Now I will take your questions.  Jim. Q    Thanks, Jay.  I wanted to ask you about two issues, one on Syria and the other one on the budget.  On Syria, I wonder what the President’s reaction was to President Putin’s op-ed piece in The New York Times today.  The Speaker called it insulting.  I wonder what the President thought of it. MR. CARNEY:  Well, let me say this.  Both in his op-ed and in the statements and actions that we've seen from President Putin and his foreign minister, it is clear that President Putin has invested his credibility in transferring Assad’s chemical weapons to international control and ultimately destroying them. This is significant.  Russia is Assad’s patron and protector, and the world will note whether Russia can follow through on the commitments that it’s made. As for the editorial, we're not surprised by President Putin’s words.  But the fact is that Russia offers a stark contrast that demonstrates why America is exceptional.  Unlike Russia, the United States stands up for democratic values and human rights in our own country and around the world.  And we believe that our global security is advanced when children cannot be gassed to death by a dictator. It is also worth noting that Russia is isolated and alone in blaming the opposition for the chemical weapons attack on August 21st.  There is no credible reporting -- and we have seen no credible reporting -- that the opposition has used chemical weapons in Syria.  And we have been joined by now 34 countries in declaring that the Assad regime is responsible for the use of chemical weapons on that night.  Even Iran, which is fighting on Assad’s behalf in Syria, has publicly blamed the Assad regime for the August 21 attack. In addition to the intelligence pertaining to the regime’s preparations for the attack and our post-attack observations, it is common sense that the opposition does not have the capabilities to have carried out such a large-scale coordinated rocket and artillery attack from a regime-held neighborhood, targeting opposition neighborhoods.  And I think it’s worth also pointing out that there’s a great irony in the placement of an op-ed like this because it reflects the truly exceptional tradition in this country of freedom of expression, and that is not a tradition shared in Russia, by Russia.  And it is fact freedom of expression has been on the decrease over the past dozen or so years in Russia. Having said that, the point I made at the top is the most important point.  Russia, as we saw just now in Geneva, has put its prestige and credibility on the line in backing this proposal to have Syria, the Assad regime, give up the chemical weapons that until two days ago it claimed it did not have, turn them over to international supervision with the purpose of eventually destroying them.  And we are going to work with the Russians to see if this diplomatic avenue to resolving this problem can bear fruit.  And that is absolutely worthwhile and the right thing to do. Q    As you mentioned, Secretary Kerry just spoke.  These talks that he’s conducting in Geneva are occurring on the same day that there are reports of increased U.S. military assistance to the opposition forces.  Do those two tracks kind of cancel each other out?  Is there a chance that that additional military support actually undermines the diplomatic track that Secretary Kerry is pursuing? MR. CARNEY:  Well, without confirming specific reports, we have said for quite some time -- the President on down has said that we have been stepping up our assistance to the Syrian military opposition; no question.  And in June, the administration announced that following credible evidence that the Assad regime had used chemical weapons against the Syrian people -- this is prior to the massive attack on August 21st -- the President had authorized the expansion of our assistance to the Supreme Military Council in Syria -- that’s the opposition’s military arm. The expansion of assistance has been aimed at strengthening the cohesion of the opposition and the effectiveness of the SMC on the ground, as well as assisting their efforts to defend themselves against a regime that has shown no boundaries in its willingness to kill civilians. So I think it’s an important distinction to make, as we have all along, in the wake of the August 21 attacks and in our response to them, that the issue of Assad’s chemical weapons is distinctly problematic and is separate from -- although it is part of the civil war, it is separate from our policy response to the civil war in Syria.  And that response is built around humanitarian support for the Syrian people; assistance to the opposition, including assistance to the Supreme Military Council; as well as an effort with a broad range of allies and partners, including Russia, to bring about a resolution of that civil war through a political settlement -- because that is the only way to end that war. So these are distinct tracks.  The problem that confronts us by the indiscriminate use of chemical weapons needs to be addressed, and we are addressing that.  The President has spoken clearly about his views on it.  We are exploring this diplomatic avenue, this opportunity that exists potentially to resolve this by removing from Assad’s possession chemical weapons.  But we will continue our policy of supporting the opposition in an effort to bring about a political settlement in the Syrian conflict. Q    On the budget, and I won’t belabor the point because you addressed it a little bit yesterday, but the House leadership is still trying to find a way to get a continuing resolution that funds the government beyond October 1st through the House.  They wanted to do it yesterday and pulled it.  And the Obamacare question aside, I’m wondering does the White House support continuing spending levels at 2013 sequester levels?  I think the number is something at the rate of $986 billion over the year.  Is that a number that the White House is satisfied with and would tell Democrats to accept if that's what the continuing resolution -- MR. CARNEY:  Well, let me step back a little bit and explain our position on this.  First of all -- and this pertains to legislation that we haven’t seen, but is clearly under discussion -- we will not accept anything that delays or defunds Obamacare. Congress needs to pass a budget and not attach politically motivated riders to their funding bills -- part of a persistent effort to refight old battles to overcome the fact that this is a law that was passed by Congress, signed by the President and upheld by the Supreme Court; a law that has already provided enormous benefits and savings to millions and millions of Americans, and that will, when fully implemented, allow for millions of Americans who could not afford insurance in the past to be insured, for millions of Americans who have preexisting conditions to have the security of health insurance that they did not have in the past.  These are significant benefits that are provided by this law passed by Congress, signed by the President, upheld by the Supreme Court. Secondly, we will not accept anything that further cuts the investments we need to grow our economy, create jobs and strengthen the middle class.  We will not, absolutely, accept the Republican budget approach that further slashes these investments in our economy and the American families need. The Republican leadership has said that -- at the very least, setting aside all the policy significance of these decisions, the Republican leadership itself has said that it would be politically damaging to them to allow the government to shut down.  And we agree; they should not do it.  And they should not do it for a host of reasons.  So Congress needs to act on this.  When it comes to how that plays itself out, we want Congress to responsibly fund government.  We have drawn the lines that we’ve drawn, and we will see what they produce. Q    But are current spending levels something that you would accept? MR. CARNEY:  Again, when you're talking about short-term extensions, we would consider a clean CR that prevents a shutdown and allows time for Congress to find a long-term solution to its budget challenges when it comes to avoiding a shutdown, but there are bigger issues that need to be resolved here, as we all know. Q    Today President Assad said that his government will wait for a month after it joins the Chemical Weapons Convention before handing over information or data about its chemical weapons stockpiles.  Is this an acceptable timeline? MR. CARNEY:  Well, I would point you to what Secretary Kerry said about this.  He outranks me.  And we believe that this needs to be done very quickly.  And words don't count when it comes to the Assad regime; actions count.  The Assad regime in the past has committed itself to a U.N. investigation into the use of chemical weapons, and for months and months and months refused to allow inspectors in.  Even in the wake of the appalling August 21st attacks, having said that they would allow inspectors in, they waited five days before they let those inspectors in and then shot up their convoy on the way in.  So, again, action is what matters here.  And delays are not something that we can accept. Q    Secondly, today General Idriss said his opposition forces have not received any military support/weapons support from the United States.  And I know there have been reports that you don't want to confirm to the contrary.  But can you help clear this up?  MR. CARNEY:  So you want me to confirm the counter-contrary? Q    But has the United States sent the support?  Is it on its way? MR. CARNEY:  Here's what I can tell you.  As I mentioned in answer to a previous question, in June the administration announced that following credible evidence that the Assad regime had used chemical weapons against the Syrian people the President had authorized the expansion of our assistance to the Syrian Military Council.  The expansion of assistance has been aimed at strengthening the cohesion of the opposition and the effectiveness of the SMC on the ground, and their efforts to defend themselves against a repressive regime that has shown no boundaries in its willingness to kill civilians. We cannot detail every single type of support that we are providing to the opposition or discuss timelines for delivery.  But it is important to note that both the political and the military opposition are, and will be, receiving this assistance. Q    Does it concern you that he is out here saying we haven't got any? MR. CARNEY:  It's important to note that both the political and the military opposition are, and will be, receiving this assistance.  Jim. Q    You were just saying that you want this done quickly.  Why not set a timeline so you can hold their feet to the fire? MR. CARNEY:  We are in the process of meeting with the Russians in Geneva -- not just Secretary Kerry and Foreign Minister Lavrov, but also substantial teams with a great deal of technical expertise -- to work on this issue.  And I will leave it to them to discuss and explain all of the technical and logistical aspects that would be involved in securing Assad's -- identifying and securing Assad's chemical weapons stockpiles.  The objective there is to have a serious discussion about the mechanics of identifying, verifying, securing and ultimately destroying Assad's chemical weapons.  And concurrently with that process in Geneva, there is a process underway in New York at the United Nations Security Council where we are working very closely with our allies, very close allies, the United Kingdom and France, on this effort and a United Nations Security Council resolution that would be part of it.  Obviously, we're also working with the Russians and the Chinese on that effort. So these teams in New York and Geneva will be better able to talk about how this will work if it is agreed to and what times and durations would be a part of an agreement.  But we're not at an agreement yet.  And, as I said yesterday, we're approaching this with open eyes.  We understand that -- and it's important for everybody to remember where we are now.  Three weeks ago, U.N. inspectors were stymied in Syria; Syria would not admit that it possessed chemical weapons; and we had two years of complete lack of cooperation with Russia on the United Nations Security Council when it came to dealing with Syria.  Even on resolutions and initiatives that contained no element of force, simply holding Assad accountable for what he was doing to his own people -- those efforts, those resolutions were blocked by the Russians and the Chinese. Three weeks later -- three weeks later -- and there’s no question that there have been some curves in the road as we’ve arrived to where we are now.  But three weeks later, United Nations inspectors not only have inspected the sites that were bombed with chemical weapons on August 21st, but they will be releasing a report about that inspection.  Syria, which as recently as three days ago was denying it had chemical weapons, has admitted that it has chemical weapons, has said that it will transfer them to international control and that it is prepared to sign the Chemical Weapons Convention.  And Russia is putting its credibility on the line behind a proposal to place Syria’s chemical weapons under international control.  That’s a lot of distance traveled in a very short period of time, and it’s significant to note that even as we concede upfront that this diplomatic road may or may not prove successful.  But it is absolutely worth exploring. Q    And getting back to President Putin’s op-ed in The New York Times, he says in that op-ed that “we have every reason to believe that opposition forces used chemical weapons.”  How do you negotiate with somebody who doesn’t even agree with you on the facts? MR. CARNEY:  Well, I think there’s an inherent contradiction in the fact that Russia has acknowledged, and I assume prodded Syria into acknowledging, that Assad has these chemical weapon stockpiles; has put forward a proposal that we are glad to see that Syria -- the Assad regime give up its chemical weapons stockpile, that they be played under international control and ultimately destroyed, on the one hand -- and this is all in the wake of the August 21st attacks -- and on the other is making a claim unsupported by any shred of evidence that the opposition could be responsible for those attacks.  There’s not a lot of logic that connects those two assertions.  And as I mentioned earlier -- Q    So that’s an issue that Putin would say that? MR. CARNEY:  Well, it’s not necessarily an issue in securing and disposing of Assad’s chemical weapons stockpile.  It’s an issue of a claim in its relationship to the truth and to the facts, but that’s one for others to resolve.  And I think it goes to sort of the general differences that we’ve had on this matter. But it’s certainly not an obstacle in our view to pursuing this diplomatic avenue. It’s safe to say that if there were evidence to support that assertion, The New York Times would have provided a little more space to include it in that article.  But there is no evidence.  And that’s because there also is no logic to the assertion that the opposition that did not have the capability to do this, did not have the weapons to do it, could not have in any imaginable scenario gone to regime-controlled areas of Damascus to fire rockets into opposition-controlled areas or contested areas.  It defies logic and probability. But having said that, the most important part of this is the fact that Russia has put its credibility on the line in pursuing this with us and others.  And it’s an important objective and we are very pleased to see it, and we are working -- as you saw, Secretary Kerry with his counterpart -- very closely and collaboratively with the Russians to try to see if we can get this done. Q    And very quickly, just to follow up on that -- you and the President and others have said this week, “trust but verify.” The phrase “trust but verify” has been thrown around Washington a lot this week.  Does President Obama trust President Putin? MR. CARNEY:  I think the point of that is that actions speak louder than words, and that we will -- Q    So he doesn’t trust him? MR. CARNEY:  Look, I think that the -- the fact is if we can resolve this without resorting to military force, if we can relieve a dictator of his stockpiles of chemical weapons so that he can never use them against innocent civilians again, then credit will be due to the Russians and to everyone else who participates in that process to make it happen.  We’ll see if it happens. Jon. Q    Jay, just first a quick clarification.  You said that the Iranians have blamed the Syrian government -- MR. CARNEY:  The former President of Iran acknowledged that the Syrian government was responsible for that attack. Q    Okay, so then the current -- the government of Iran has not made that -- okay.  So, first of all, your reaction to the fact that the very rebels that the United States is supporting have issued a statement saying that they categorically reject the Russian initiative.  These are our allies -- MR. CARNEY:  No, I understand that, but it goes to the point that we have been making that there is an ongoing sectarian civil war in Syria.  We have been appalled by, as many of our allies and partners have been, by the wholesale and brutal assault that Assad has waged against his own people.  But the President has made clear that even as we step up assistance to the Syrian people and we step up direct assistance to the opposition’s Military Council, that we are not putting boots on the ground and we are not engaging militarily in an effort to take sides, to try to resolve someone else’s civil war. But when it comes to chemical weapons, which pose a threat to the region and the world, including the United States, and the violation of a century-old prohibition against their use, we absolutely believe that we have to take action. Q    But I’m asking you to directly respond to the rebel groups that the United States is supporting saying that the United States is essentially selling them out by going forward with this Russian proposal.  What is your response to that? MR. CARNEY:  My response to that is that we continue to support the opposition, and we are supporting the opposition in tangible ways through substantial and stepped-up assistance.  But when it comes to how we resolve the disposition of these very dangerous weapons and how we ensure that a dictator does not use them again against innocent civilians, including children, we will pursue a diplomatic course to see if it can bear fruit, to see if it can produce the result that we desire.  In the meantime, as the President has said, we remain ready and our military remains ready to engage in a military strike if necessary. Q    How can you expect the Russians to be operating in good faith on this when even this morning in The New York Times Vladimir Putin is saying it was the rebels that used the chemical weapons? MR. CARNEY:  I just answered this, Jon. Q    Well, not really.  I didn't hear a direct answer to this.  MR. CARNEY:  I said that what Russia has committed itself to and put its credibility and prestige on the line in doing so is the proposition that it supports and will help bring about the removal from Assad’s control of a substantial stockpile of chemical weapons, the transference of that stockpile to international control for the ultimate destruction of that stockpile.  That is a significant piece of business and it would represent a significant accomplishment by the international community and by Russia.  So we will pursue that. We obviously disagree with the wholly unsupported assertion that the opposition could have or did commit this atrocity.  And we have a substantial body of facts to prove our point, and we have more than 30 countries that have already agreed to that proposition.  And we have obviously -- I think there’s not a member of Congress who disagrees with us on the basic facts, which is that the chemical weapons attack occurred and Assad was responsible. Q    But can you explain how, if you have an agreement with Assad to turn over his weapons and that starts to happen with the Russians -- under Russian supervision, do you still support rebel groups that are fighting to overthrow the government that you are working with to turn over their chemical weapons?  How does that work? MR. CARNEY:  We will continue to support the opposition because -- Q    Even as you’re working with the government to turn over their weapons, you're going to support their -- MR. CARNEY:  We are working to secure chemical weapons that need to be secured to prevent a dictator from using them again against his own people, and he has shown himself more than willing to do that. Q    And just one last.  Is it still U.S. policy that Assad must go? MR. CARNEY:  It is still our policy and our view that Syria’s future cannot have Assad in the picture.  It’s inconceivable, given what he has done to his own people.  But this is something that we have said all along needs to be decided in a political settlement.  It is not something that will be decided militarily. Q    If you promise to come back, I defer to my colleagues behind me. MR. CARNEY:  Major Garrett gets some credit there.  Mara. Q    I just have a quick question.  Diplomats always choose their words carefully, and today Kerry said, “should diplomacy fail, force might be necessary.”  Everything that the President has said up until now made it seem like if diplomacy fails, force will be necessary, and that's what he’s trying to get Congress to authorize him to do. MR. CARNEY:  Well, look, you saw a sustained debate here in the United States about the use of force.  You saw the President speak about it on numerous occasions.  I think the formulation Secretary Kerry uses is allowing that -- as we’ve seen in the last few weeks, there are always developments that we can't anticipate.  What he is saying -- and let me be clear -- is that we retain the option of using a military strike in response to Assad’s attack with chemical weapons on his own people -- the murder of more than 1,400 Syrians, including more than 400 children -- because of the profound ramifications of not holding Assad accountable for the use of chemical weapons. In the meantime, we are pursuing this potential diplomatic path to resolving this problem by seeing if we can prevent Assad from using chemical weapons again by relieving him of his chemical weapons without the use of force.  Q    Are you saying it’s a hypothetical that if diplomacy fails, you don't know whether force is going to be necessary or not? MR. CARNEY:  Well, again -- Q    Because he didn't say it hypothetically. MR. CARNEY:  He said “might.”  And I think that that allows for a variety of things that could happen in the next days and weeks with regard to this matter.  I think we have seen even this week that this situation is fairly fluid.  What is clear from what Secretary Kerry said and what I am saying here in the White House and what the President said the other day to the American people is that he believes absent a diplomatic success here that a military option is important to maintain, and that it is the mere pressure, it is the credible threat of military force that has resulted in these rather remarkable changes in position that we've seen this week.  And we need to maintain the pressure.  I think I said April.  Yes. Q    Jay, in reading this op-ed to the American people what were the messages that you got out of this op-ed from Putin?  And also, could you tell us about the message that that hand was in when -- MR. CARNEY:  Sorry? Q    The hand, the picture of the hand in the article -- the op-ed rather from Putin. MR. CARNEY:  I saw it online.  I'm not sure -- Q    I'm talking about the definition of the hand.  In looking up the hand on that article it meant terrorism, and also it was a signal about World War I.  MR. CARNEY:  I'm sorry, I confess, April, I'm not sure what you're referring to, because I just read the text.  And our response is what I said, which is the single most important thing about it is the continued assertion by the President of Russia as well as his foreign minister that Russia believes and will support and pursue this effort to secure Assad's chemical weapons, place them under international supervision with the ultimate goal of seeing them destroyed.  And that is a very important, significant development.  Now, we have to work with the Russians, as well as the United Nations Security Council, to see if we can turn that proposition into reality. Q    Russia is not alone.  China was there saying they do not want to see this to a military strike from the U.S. on Syria. With that, what are the conversations that are taking place now with the United States and China -- as the Russian situation is public, especially as the relationship with China is still complicated as well? MR. CARNEY:  I would say that you're absolutely right that when we have tried to bring this matter before the United Nations Security Council in the past, not just Russia but China have blocked those efforts that have been supported by a broad coalition of nations.  But it is also the case that when it comes to Syria, Russia is certainly Syria's premiere patron and protector.  And so we will engage with both nations.  But I think that Russia is a major player when it comes to Syria, specifically. Q    But can you give us any information on -- MR. CARNEY:  I don't have any specifics on conversations in New York with the Chinese.  I'm sure Ambassador Power or her office might have more on that.  Major, you want me to come back to you? Q    In our conversation yesterday, Jay, you said it was too early for the United States to say whether or not it would require the threat of military force to be an enforcing mechanism at the United Nations.  It's still to be determined.  Secretary of State Kerry, in Geneva, standing next to the Russian foreign minister, added the word "might" to the idea of military action as an enforcing mechanism.  Isn't it now fair to conclude that the threat of military action is becoming less a part of this conversation as the diplomacy moves forward? MR. CARNEY:  Well, we are certainly focusing on the diplomacy right now.  The President made that clear in his address to the nation, that he asked Congress to pause in its deliberations, to postpone a vote on authorization.  But that option -- there are two aspects here.  There's the potential congressional vote on authorization and actions by the United States; then there’s the potential United Nations Security Council resolution and the contents of that.  These are related but distinct enterprises.  The basic position, as the President described in this address to the nation, of the United States is that the military remains in a position to execute a plan around holding Assad accountable for his appalling use of chemical weapons against civilians.  And that remains true today.  Meanwhile, we are obviously focused, as you’ve seen with Secretary Kerry’s activities and the activities in New York at the United Nations, on pursuing this diplomatic option.  I think that is the right thing to do.  It is certainly the responsible thing to explore this avenue and to see if it is possible to resolve this peacefully or diplomatically. Q    Now, you mentioned that you retain the ability to carry out a military strike, but as the Pentagon has noted, maintaining all of the destroyers in the Eastern Med is costly at times, and there are operational decisions that are going to have to be made in a couple, three weeks about rotations for vessels that are due back.  One of them is already two weeks overdue.  Are those factors part of the calculus as to how long this administration will wait to determine whether or not this diplomacy is -- MR. CARNEY:  I haven’t heard that discussed.  I think that the frame is more about testing whether or not there is seriousness here, and whether or not we can devise a plan agreed to by the relevant parties here that can bring about the transfer of those chemical weapon stockpiles to international control.  And I think that a lot depends on that process, and that would include some of what you’re discussing. Q    Can you help us understand the definitions of “seriousness” -- the benchmarks this administration has in mind when it is determining whether or not this process is serious and moving forward? MR. CARNEY:   I think we’ve seen thus far a degree of seriousness about this that we have not seen before, and that is welcomed.  And having said that, actions, concrete actions speak much more loudly than -- Q    (Inaudible.) MR. CARNEY:  Well, I’m not going to negotiate the way forward from here.  That would be counterproductive. Q    You’ll know it when you see it, in other words? MR. CARNEY:  Well, I think those negotiating will know it when they see it.  And I will simply say from here that this, understandably, will take some time, and there should not be an expectation, as I said yesterday, that we’re going to know everything we need to know right away.  But you saw Secretary Kerry and his counterpart in Geneva discuss what they were looking forward to trying to achieve in their meetings.  And we will look for results from those meetings as we move forward and assess the level of seriousness and the commitment here to get this done. Q    Last question.  Your goal is to remove all chemical weapons from Syria, correct? MR. CARNEY:  The goal here, as stated, is to relieve -- is to remove from Assad’s possession chemical weapons that he has maintained.  It has been our assessment -- we’ve gone through this in the past -- that throughout this conflict, because of the disposition of Assad’s chemical weapons stockpiles have been a concern of ours, it has been our assessment that his regime has maintained control of those stockpiles throughout the conflict.  And I think that’s probably where you’re going. Q    We’ve talked to people who are experts in this who spend a good deal of time analyzing not just the chemical weapons question internationally, but in Syria, and they describe our intelligence about all the possible locations as imperfect; that we may not know where everything is and we may not be able to catalogue -- MR. CARNEY:  Again, without not commenting on intelligence matters, I certainly accept that this is a relatively complicated piece of business, A; B, it is still our assessment that Assad’s stockpiles have been in Assad’s control throughout this conflict. So I can only point you to that. Obviously, the Assad regime, if it’s going to be cooperative in this effort, knows better than anyone where those stockpiles are and, in the process of identifying and verifying the chemical weapons, needs to be cooperative. Q    So we, in the end, need to trust this regime? MR. CARNEY:  Well, no, we’re going to verify -- if this process moves forward, we’re not going to only trust, we’re going to verify.  Verification is a key element of that process. Yes, sir. Q    Thank you, Jay.  How would you convince the opposition that rejected this proposal that you still intend to hold Assad accountable for gassing more than 1,000 people? MR. CARNEY:  Our objective -- you’re again conflating two objectives here.  Our objective when it comes to chemical weapons use, whether through military action limited in time and duration and scope -- time and duration being the same thing -- limited in duration and scope, or through a diplomatic success here would be to prevent -- to deter Assad from using those weapons again, or, if the diplomatic initiative succeeds, preventing him from using them again by taking them all away.  So that is separate.  And that’s what we mean and have meant by holding him accountable for the use of those weapons. Second, when it comes to supporting the opposition, we have and will continue to provide assistance to the opposition, both humanitarian assistance to the Syrian people and direct assistance to the opposition, including to the Supreme Military Council. Q    But I quote here General Idriss; he literally accused the United States for -- MR. CARNEY:  I just got this question, and all I can say -- you know the parameters of what I can say here and I will say it again.  It’s important to note that both the political and the military opposition are and will be receiving this assistance. Q    He accused the United States for giving a pass to a criminal just for surrendering the weapon of the crime. MR. CARNEY:  Again, I’ve explained our policy on numerous occasions; so has the President.  We are not sending American troops into Syria to fight somebody else’s civil war.  We are supporting the opposition.  When it comes to the use and abuse of chemical weapons, the indiscriminate use of chemical weapons against civilians, it is incumbent upon the United States and other members of the international community and all the signatories of the Chemical Weapons Convention to hold accountable the regime that used them.  And that’s obviously something we’ve been in engaged in. Q    Last question.  Would you also agree that the United States’ prestige and credibility is also on the line, not only the Russians’, by accepting this proposal? MR. CARNEY:  Well, I would agree that the United States, in part because it is an exceptional nation, is called upon to lead in circumstances like this, often when it's unpopular, often when it's uncomfortable.  And that is what this President and this country has been doing.  And part of that is accepting that when circumstances change, as they did this week, and diplomatic avenues that had been closed reopen, that we explore them, because resolving this peacefully would be a better alternative, even as we approach this with a fair amount of skepticism and with wide-open eyes.  But there's no question that dealing with these issues is important and it's not always easy and it's not always popular either at home or abroad.  Q    To clarify on the whole rebel question, you said earlier about helping the Syrian opposition that one of the things we're doing is helping with cohesion on the ground.  So whose boots are on the ground helping them if we're helping them on the ground? MR. CARNEY:  Ed, we don't have boots on the ground. Q    We don't.  So are we working with Jordanians or others? MR. CARNEY:  For the fourth time in this press conference I'm going to say that what I can say about the assistance we provide is that I cannot detail every single type of support, but that we are providing assistance to the opposition, and that it's important to note that both the political and the military opposition are and will be receiving this assistance.  And that assistance has been stepped up, at the President's direction, in the wake of the initial findings of high confidence by the United States that the Assad regime had used chemical weapons against its own people. Q    On the issue of trust with Putin, he is scheduled to meet I think on Friday with the new Iranian President.  And there are reports that Putin is offering to sell five ground-to-air missile systems to the Iranians and also is offering to build a second reactor at their nuclear plant.  Does this raise any alarm at the White House? MR. CARNEY:  I haven't seen those reports.  Obviously, we continue to be focused on and engaged in the effort to have Iran forsake its nuclear weapons program and we hope that there's an opportunity for progress in that effort.  But it remains the case that Iran has flouted its obligations under a variety of U.N. Security Council resolutions, and we are going to work with our partners to help ensure that Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon. Q    Last one.  Can you react to Republican Senator Bob Corker?  Even though he is a Republican, he has worked with the President on a grand bargain, sat down for dinner with him, as I recall; has said positive things earlier in the Syria debate, and then, yesterday told CNN that he is disappointed in how the President has approached Syria, and at one point said he doesn't think the President is comfortable as Commander-in-Chief.  How do you respond? MR. CARNEY:  I'm not going to respond specifically to any individual who might have been offering an observation.  I would simply say a couple of things.  One, when it comes to our approach to this problem in Syria, the President has been very clear about the need to respond and why it's important that Assad be held accountable.  It is somewhat ironic when some members of Congress are critical -- after having asked for the President to ask Congress for authorization to then be critical of that effort, which as I think everyone here reported, has involved an enormous amount of outreach, an enormous amount of information provided, both classified and unclassified, to members, as well as a very public effort to inform and educate the American people. And then, I would simply say that when it comes to being Commander-in-Chief, I think that the American people, at least in my assessment, appreciate a Commander-in-Chief who takes in new information and doesn't celebrate decisiveness for the sake of decisiveness.  And in this case, the President's objectives are clear.  And he believes that the American people would certainly support the proposition that if there's a diplomatic opportunity here to remove from Assad's control these chemical weapons stockpiles that we ought to pursue it.  And that's what he is doing. Margaret. Q    On domestic politics, does the President or does the White House see the House decision to pull a vote on the funding as sort of raising the specter of a possible government shutdown? Are you concerned that the likelihood of that is growing in the light of the latest? MR. CARNEY:  Well, I would simply say that the leaders in Congress of the Republican Party have made clear that they understand that allowing a shutdown would create an unnecessary headwind to the economy and I think cause political problems for them.  And I assume that the combination of those two incentives would compel them to come up with a solution, so that we can fund the government responsibly, and not engage in these games that inflict unnecessary wounds on our economy right when it's growing and creating jobs and we're continuing to move out of the worst recession since the Great Depression. Q    Is it primarily Boehner who the White House is negotiating with on budget and debt ceiling, or are there some other -- MR. CARNEY:  I don't have a list of engagements.  We're speaking obviously with a number of leaders and members in Congress on this matter.  We're obviously working with our Democratic allies on this matter in both the House and the Senate.  But again, Congress has a few basic responsibilities, and one of them is to fund the government; another is to pay the bills that it's incurred.  And we simply ask that Congress own those responsibilities. Q    What are your thoughts on -- MR. CARNEY:  I'm not going to put a -- Q    Can I do a quick foreign policy one? MR. CARNEY:  Yes. Q    Have you spoken with the President actually about the Putin piece?  And here's what I want to ask.  It just seemed that he hit on so many hot-button things that in theory would get under the President's skin -- not a lot of democracy, but a whole lot of al Qaeda; you're either with us or against us, comparing him to President Bush; there's no exceptionalism.  You've said exceptionalism from the podium like eight times now.  MR. CARNEY:  I think I said it once. Q    No, like six.  Well, I lost count after five.  So does the President think that President Putin was trying to get under his skin?  MR. CARNEY:  The reaction that I gave you is a reaction of the White House from the President on down.  The most important thing about this is that Russia has committed itself and, in doing that, has put its prestige on the line, including the individual prestige of its President, behind this proposition that we can resolve this by having the Syrian regime, the Assad regime give up its chemical weapons stockpile to international control.  And that is important. And we hope that Russia and, through Russia, Syria keeps the commitments that they're making this week.  And we will work very closely with Russia in trying to bring this about.  And if it is achieved, it would be a significant accomplishment for the international community broadly and for Russia.  So we hope that these commitments are kept. Yes, Kirsten. Q    Jay, but this is not the main point. Q    Jay, thanks.  I want to go back -- MR. CARNEY:  You don't think it’s the main point? Q    No, I don't. MR. CARNEY:  Shocked. Q    I want to go back to the interview that Assad gave today.  He said that any agreement would require the United States to stop arming the rebel forces.  I know you won’t get specific about the type of assistance that the U.S. is giving to rebel forces, but would the United States consider at all scaling back that assistance -- MR. CARNEY:  We are and will continue, as I’ve said a number of times here, to support -- to provide assistance to the political and military opposition. Q    Would you consider scaling it back as a part of it? MR. CARNEY:  Again, I’m not going to negotiate this.  But our position is that we are providing assistance to the opposition, both the military and the political opposition. Q    So that won’t change? MR. CARNEY:  And again, conditions and demands placed by someone who a few weeks ago blithely used chemical weapons against innocent children so that we could all watch them die in videos are a little hard to take. Q    And Richard Engle, who is reporting from the region, has reported that thousands of al Qaeda members are joining with rebel forces while these diplomatic talks are going on.  Does that square with your understanding?  And how much does that complicate your efforts to assist -- MR. CARNEY:  Well, I don't have specific numbers to attach to the assertion that we’ve made for some time that there are elements of the opposition that are extremists and are not friendly to the United States.  And that's why we have throughout this process worked to identify the moderate elements of the opposition and to support the moderate elements of the opposition.  But I think Secretary Kerry and others have spoken about this directly. Q    And I guess going back to that, several months ago you said you felt confident that you were able to identify who those moderate elements are.  Are you still confident about that given that there seems to be an uptick in the number of al Qaeda forces who have joined -- MR. CARNEY:  I believe that's the case.  We are very deliberate in the process of identifying moderate elements of the opposition for precisely this reason. Carol. Q    Can you give us a sense of what the President’s message is going to be on Wednesday when he speaks to the Business Roundtable? MR. CARNEY:  I am sure he will discuss at that meeting the efforts that we all need to engage in to help the economy continue to grow and help it grow in a way that makes the middle class more secure -- because we have always been at our strongest economically when the middle class is growing -- when the middle class is secure and expanding.  So I’m sure that economy and economic policies will be the focus of that discussion. Q    Anything on -- MR. CARNEY:  I don't have anything specific for you at this time. Q    Jay, on one point? MR. CARNEY:  Yes, Andrei. Q    Thank you.  The main point I think in Putin’s piece is nobody is above the law.  I personally admire it -- that he is being consistent that nobody is above the law. My question to you is very simple.  Does this principle apply internationally:  Nobody is above the international law as it stands?  Does this apply to the United States? MR. CARNEY:  Andrei, Russia blocked at the United Nations Security Council multiple resolutions to hold Assad accountable that did not even have force attached to them.  True or false? Q    They did it deliberately.  They did it deliberately. MR. CARNEY:  Yes, they did. Q    Because it was the law. MR. CARNEY:  It’s the law to block holding people accountable?  I think that that's a fine position to take, and I understand that that's the position the Russian government has taken, but it is not the position that we think is the right position when it comes to the agreement by 98 percent of the world’s population that chemical weapons ought not to be used and should be prohibited and should be banned.  And to support a regime that uses them against its own people is a terrible thing. Q    Is the United States above the law?  Jay, yes or no?  MR. CARNEY:  That's not even a serious question, Andrei. Christi. Q    Jay, the congressional picnic, can you say why that was canceled?  Q    It is a serious question. Q    And does that say anything about the state of relations between the White House and the -- MR. CARNEY:  It does not.  The picnic was -- decisions had to be made about holding it when we thought that there was going to be an enormous amount of activity on Syria.  What we are doing is offering a change in the way that the holiday parties are constructed so that members of Congress can bring their families to those parties. Q    Could you address the question of the state of relations between the White House and the Hill going into your fall discussions and preparations? MR. CARNEY:  We obviously have divided government.  We have sometimes contentious, sometimes very effective relations with Congress.  We work with Congress to get the business of the American people done.  And whether it’s shutting down the government or engaging in ideological battles like threatening to default over defunding Obamacare, these are not constructive approaches to getting the business of the American people done. But we keep at it.  And we believe the American people want their elected representatives to focus on helping the economy, helping the middle class, and certainly avoiding self-inflicted wounds. Q    So where do you think you are now on that spectrum between constructive and contentious and -- what did you say -- effective? MR. CARNEY:  I think that as has been true ever since I got to Washington under the Clinton administration and the Bush administration, this is a contested business.  And parties hold different positions; individual lawmakers hold different positions.  Congress and the occupant of the Oval Office sometimes are at odds.  And that's out system and you work within the system. Q    Jay, can you say did the White House get a heads-up on this Putin op-ed from the Times before it was published?  And you haven’t -- it hasn’t quite been clear whether the President himself has read it. MR. CARNEY:  I think I’ve given the White House response.  The President reads widely, including The New York Times.  Our response is what I’ve said about it. Q    What about the President’s response? MR. CARNEY:  He’s the head of the White House. Q    And did he get any -- did he or the White House get a heads-up? MR. CARNEY:  I’m not aware of any heads-up, but I’m not -- I didn't talk to everyone about it. Mark. Q    In that op-ed, at the very end, President Putin said that over time there’s been growing trust in his relationship with the President.  A month ago the White House canceled a visit to Moscow on the rationale that there wasn’t much worth talking about with the President on a whole range of issues, not just Syria.  Would President Obama share that characterization? MR. CARNEY:  I think what President Obama would say is that his conversations, even when we have not been able to see eye-to-eye with President Putin, have always been direct and constructive and with each President making his views clear.  And that was the case in St. Petersburg.  And as we’ve noted, one of the topics of the conversation that the two Presidents had in St. Petersburg was the possibility of pursuing a diplomatic initiative to take away from Assad his chemical weapons. Now, it’s certainly the case that this is a conversation that had been engaged in periodically both at the presidential level and the foreign minister level over the last many months without action.  And it was a new and welcome development to see a public initiative to see if this could be achieved, and that is a good thing.  And look, our approach -- and this is why I think I and others have tried to answer questions about the state of the reset this way -- is that the whole point of the reset was to explore opportunities to advance each country’s interest in our conversations with the Russians, even as we acknowledged that we would not agree on everything.  And even during the early period of the so-called reset, there were areas of serious disagreement, including on missile defense, but we were able to accomplish a number of things that were in the interest of the United States and our national security and in the interest of Russia, and I think that’s why Russia pursued the reset. Now, it’s also, as the President said, the case that we had run into a wall in our efforts to reach agreement with the Russians on other areas like Syria, like some other things, some economic things, but even in that circumstance, the fact is on some of these other issues where we have found agreement with the Russians we’ve continued to work with them.  And it’s important to acknowledge that. The relationship is not all hot or all cold; it’s one where we agree on some issues and make progress, and disagree on some others.  And hopefully where we have seen enormous disagreement on Syria, we have now found potentially an avenue of agreement, where success, if it comes -- and we’re certainly a long way from that at this point -- if it comes, that would represent a real breakthrough. Q    Do you think canceling the Moscow stop got his attention? MR. CARNEY:  You’d have to ask the Russians. Last one. Q    I’ve got one question but it has two parts. MR. CARNEY:  That’s fair.  Thanks for the forewarning. Q    The first part being on Syria -- who is in the driver’s seat now, diplomatically -- Russia or the United States? MR. CARNEY:  We’re working directly with Russia.  John Kerry is with his Russian counterpart.  We’re working in New York with all members of the United Nations Security Council, including the other four permanent members, one of which is Russia.  And because Assad and the Syrian regime has been a patron of Russia, protected by Russia, obviously Russia plays a huge role in bringing about this change in Syria’s handling of its chemical weapons, and even its admittance that it has chemical weapons.  And that means -- that is very significant. Moving this forward requires the joint effort of the United States and Russia, and the consensus effort of nations on the United Nations Security Council.  So this is -- it’s not one nation; it’s many.  But there’s no question that the United States and Russia are key players. Q    And then just allow me to play devil’s advocate here.  Has the United States, by accepting Putin’s gambit here, put him in the arguably ironic position of claiming to be the peacemaker in this, which if his op-ed is any indication, would be what he apparently believes? MR. CARNEY:  Here is what I would say -- and we’re a long way from there and I do not, through this briefing or any other, want to convey anything but a sober assessment of the potential for success, because we are understandably skeptical -- but if we were to see a situation unfold where Assad were to give up his chemical weapons, all of them, to international supervision, that would be an enormous accomplishment and it would represent a wholesale change from where Syria and Russia were as recently as three weeks ago.  And I think that would be due significantly to the decisions made by the Russian leadership, but also the decisions made by the United States, by the President to take the approach that he has taken in response to the horrifying use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime on its own people. Thank you all very much. END 2:55 P.M. EDT

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11 сентября 2013, 18:49

First Poland, Now Russia Take Credit For "Obama's Diplomatic Solution"

With Obama's initial punt to Congress backfiring terribly, as there was no way the president's Syrian attack proposal would garner the required majority in the House, the time came for damage control. And the White House, ever expedient, decided to spin the backtracking as Obama's original idea from the offset, and make it seem that a diplomatic "solution" in which the Syrian chemical weapons were contained was the whole point of the intervention. This, of course, ignores some quite blatantly obvious admissions by the White House itself, namely that the ultimate goal was always regime change in Syria: Rice: "Our overarching goal is to end the underlying conflict through a negotiated, political transition in which Assad leaves power" #Syria — White House Live (@WHLive) September 9, 2013 Oops. Nonetheless, stuck in a corner, that was the White House' story, and they are sticking with it. What is ironic, is that almost concurrently with the shift in narrative, others promptly came up demanding credit for the "diplomatic "solution." First Poland: Radek Sikorski, Poland’s foreign minister, first put the idea to John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, and unnamed Russian officials in August. Russia was initially skeptical of his suggestion that Moscow assumed responsibility for Syria’s chemical weapons stocks. A Twitter message from Mr Sikorski revealed he was “pleased that Russia has taken up Poland’s suggestion of her role in dismantling Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal”. He added that he had “proposed the ultimatum” to John Kerry, the US secretary of state, after getting the support of the European People’s Party, a grouping in the European parliament, during a meeting on Saturday. Officials from the grouping said that Mr Sikorski had met Mr Kerry in Vilnius to promote the inspections. Another tweet contained a link to a news story on how Russia was now urging Syria to put its chemical weapons under international control for subsequent destruction, and so avoid a military strike. In a television interview on Tuesday night, the Polish foreign minister said at first that Russia had failed to appreciate the proposal.  “But now they have changed their mind, and that is good because in Syria there are no good solutions,” he added. “I’m pleased we now have a faint path that could help us solve the problem of Syria’s chemical weapon’s arsenal without the use of force.” And now, not surprisingly, Russia jumps at the opportunity to take credit for what it deems its response to a tiny slip uttered by John Kerry on Monday: RUSSIA HAS GIVEN THE UNITED STATES ITS PLAN FOR PLACING SYRIA'S CHEMICAL WEAPONS UNDER INTERNATIONAL CONTROL -INTERFAX CITES SOURCE In other words: what was sure to be a war with potential unpredictable escalation now that the Mediterranean is a parking lot for US and Russian warships, has devolved into a political pissing contest. The good news is that no people will have to die as a result, and no matter how it is spun, Putin is still the winner if only for the time being: after all it is his gas, not Qatar's, that will heat Europe this winter. As for a potential re-escalation? Well, Obama can still push the button. Although with every passing day, the reverse Cuban Missile Crisis, in which it was Russia's turn to call the US bluff this time, seems increasingly less likely.