Tag Archives: diplomacy

The President speaks to White House Press Corps, August 1, 2014

The following excerpt is President Obama’s answer to a question from CBS reporter Bill Plante, who asked if the United States and the President have lost influence in the world.

The President:

Apparently people have forgotten that America, as the most powerful country on Earth, still does not control everything around the world. Our diplomatic efforts often take time. They often will see progress & then a step backwards. That’s been true in the Middle East, that’s been true in Europe, that’s been true in Asia. That’s the nature of world affairs. It’s not neat and it’s not smooth.

But if you look at, for example, Ukraine. We have made progress on delivering on what we said we would do. We can’t control how Mr. Putin thinks. But what we can do is say to Mr. Putin, “If you continue on the path of arming separatists with heavy armaments that evidence suggests may have resulted in 300 innocent people on a jet dying, and that violates international law, undermines the territorial & sovereign integrity of Ukraine, then you’re going to face consequences that will hurt your country. There was a lot of skepticism about our ability to coordinate with Europeans for a strong series of sanctions, and each time we have done what we said we would do, including this week when we put in place sanctions that have an impact on key sectors of the Russian economy – their energy, their defense, their financial systems. It hasn’t resolved the problem yet, I spoke to Mr. Putin this morning, and I indicated to him just as we will do what we say we do in terms of sanctions, we’ll also do what we say we do in terms of resolving this issue diplomatically if he takes a different position. If he respects and honors the right of Ukrainians to determine their own destiny, then it’s possible to make sure that Russian interests are addressed that are legitimate and that Ukrainianas are able to make their own decisions, and we can resolve this conflict and end some of the bloodshed.

But the point is though, Bill, if you look at the 20th century and the early part of this century, there are a lot of conflicts that America doesn’t resolve. That’s always been true. That doesn’t mean we stop trying. And it’s not a measure of American influence on any given day or at any given moment, that there are conflicts around the world that are difficult.

Conflict in Northern Ireland raged for a very, very long time until finally something broke where the parties decided that it wasn’t worth killing each other. The Palestinian-Israeli conflict’s been going on even longer than you’ve been reporting. [Laughter among White House Press Corps] I don’t think at any point was there a suggestion somehow that America didn’t have influence just because we weren’t able to finalize an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. You will recall that situations like Kosovo and Bosnia raged on for quite some time, and there was a lot more death and bloodshed than there has been so far in the Ukrainian situation before it ultimately did get resolved.

I recognize with so many different issues popping up around the world sometimes it may seem as if this is an aberration or it’s unusual, but the truth of the matter is that there’s a big world out there and as indispensable as we are to try to lead it, there are still going to be tragedies out there and there are going to be conflicts, and our jobs is to just make sure we continue to project what’s right, what’s just, and that we’re building coalitions of like-minded countries and partners in order to advance not only our core security interests but also the interests of the world as a whole.

[Plante asks, “Do you think you could have done more?”] On which one? [Plante: “On any of them.” Laughter from reporters]

Well look, I think, Bill, the nature of being President is you’re always asking yourself what more can you do. But with respect to, let’s say, the Israeli-Palestinian issue, this Administration invested an enormous amount to try to bring the parties together around a framework for peace and a 2-state solution. John Kerry invested an enormous amount of time. In the end, it’s up to the 2 parties to make a decision. We can lead them to resolve some of the technical issues and to show them a path, but they’ve got to want it.

With respect to Ukraine, I think that we have done everything we can to support the Ukrainian government and to deter Russia from moving further into Ukraine. But short of going to war, there are going to be some constraints in terms of what we can do if President Putin and Russia are ignoring what should be their long-term interest. Right now what we’ve done is impose sufficient costs on Russia that, objectively speaking, they should, President Putin should, want to resolve this diplomatically, get these sanctions lifted, get their economy growing again and have good relations with Ukraine. But sometimes people don’t always act rationally, and they don’t always act based on their medium- or long-term interests. That can’t deter us, though, we’ve just got to stay at it.

President Obama and President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic Of China, 6/8/13

Remarks by President Obama and President Xi Jinping After Bilateral Meeting

“What both President Xi and I recognize is that because of these incredible advances in technology, that the issue of cybersecurity and the need for rules and common approaches to cybersecurity are going to be increasingly important as part of bilateral relationships and multilateral relationships.

In some ways, these are uncharted waters and you don’t have the kinds of protocols that have governed military issues, for example, and arms issues, where nations have a lot of experience in trying to negotiate what’s acceptable and what’s not. And it’s critical, as two of the largest economies and military powers in the world, that China and the United States arrive at a firm understanding of how we work together on these issues.

But I think it’s important, Julie, to get to the second part of your question, to distinguish between the deep concerns we have as a government around theft of intellectual property or hacking into systems that might disrupt those systems — whether it’s our financial systems, our critical infrastructure and so forth — versus some of the issues that have been raised around NSA programs.

When it comes to those cybersecurity issues like hacking or theft, those are not issues that are unique to the U.S.-China relationship. Those are issues that are of international concern. Oftentimes it’s non-state actors who are engaging in these issues as well. And we’re going to have to work very hard to build a system of defenses and protections, both in the private sector and in the public sector, even as we negotiate with other countries around setting up common rules of the road.

And as China continues in its development process and more of its economy is based on research and innovation and entrepreneurship, they’re going to have similar concerns, which is why I believe we can work together on this rather than at cross-purposes.

Now, the NSA program, as I discussed this morning, is a very limited issue, but it does have broad implications for our society because you’ve got a lot of data out there, a lot of communications that are in cyberspace. And how we deal with both identifying potential terrorists or criminals, how the private sector deals with potential theft, and how the federal government, state governments, local governments and the private sector coordinate to keep out some of these malicious forces while still preserving the openness and the incredible power of the Internet and the web and these new telecommunications systems — that’s a complicated and important piece of business. But it’s different from these issues of theft and hacking.”

Full text: http://1.usa.gov/14IZzta

Statement of President Obama and President Xi Jinping of China

The President:

“President Xi just took office in March. Our decision to meet so early, I think, signifies the importance of the U.S.-China relationship. It’s important not only for the prosperity of our two countries and the security of our two countries, but it’s also important for the Asia Pacific region and important for the world.

And the importance of this relationship in some ways is reflected with this somewhat unusual setting that we are hosting the President in. Our thought was that we would have the opportunity for a more extended and more informal conversation in which we were able to share both our visions for our respective countries and how we can forge a new model of cooperation between countries based on mutual interest and mutual respect. I think both of us agree that continuous and candid and constructive conversation and communication is critically important to shaping our relationship for years to come.

And for my part, this will give me an opportunity to reiterate how the United States welcomes the continuing peaceful rise of China as a world power and that, in fact, it is in the United States’ interest that China continues on the path of success, because we believe that a peaceful and stable and prosperous China is not only good for Chinese but also good for the world and for the United States.

Of course, as two of the largest economies in the world, we’re going to have a healthy economic competition, but we also have a whole range of challenges on which we have to cooperate, from a nuclear North Korea — or North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs — to proliferation, to issues like climate change.

And the United States seeks an international economy and international economic order where nations are playing by the same rules, where trade is free and fair, and where the United States and China work together to address issues like cybersecurity and the protection of intellectual property.

In addition to the strategic concerns that we share and the economic challenges that each of our countries face, I will continue to emphasize the importance of human rights. President Xi has spoken of a nation and a people that are committed to continuous self-improvement and progress, and history shows that upholding universal rights are ultimately a key to success and prosperity and justice for all nations.”

Full text: http://bit.ly/199kblc