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White House Press Gaggle Aboard Air Force One

En Route Joint Base Andrews

Published on 24 May 2014

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by Office of the Spokesperson


Aboard Air Force One

Air Force One
Air Force One

Following are excerpts of the May 23 White House press gaggle related to U.S. foreign policy and international engagement. The full transcript of the press gaggle will be available on the White House website.

Office of the Press Secretary
May 23, 2014

Aboard Air Force One
En Route Joint Base Andrews
10:47 A.M. CDT

MR. CARNEY: Happy Friday to you all. Thanks for joining us aboard Air Force One as we return from Chicago to Joint Base Andrews and then to the White House.

I know you’re aware that the President will be making a personnel announcement later today from the White House, announcing that he’s going to nominate current HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan to be his next OMB Director, and Mayor Julian Castro to replace Shaun as HUD Director. He’s excited about both nominations, and you’ll hear from him today about them.

And with that, I’ll take your questions.

Q: Jay, there are some assurances apparently from Russian President Putin that he is going to work with the elected government in Ukraine. And I’m just wondering how confident the President is of those and whether he has or is planning to talk with Mr. Putin before the elections.

MR. CARNEY: I have no new conversations to read out between the President and President Putin, and I’m not aware of any plans for President Obama to reach -- to speak with President Putin in the next several days before the May 25th elections in Ukraine.

We did see the comments by President Putin, and he said a lot of things about Ukraine -- many things that we profoundly disagree with. But we would welcome an indication from Russia that they will accept the results of a free and fair democratic election in Ukraine. We certainly hope that would be the case. And we further urge Russia to use its influence to persuade separatists in eastern Ukraine and elsewhere to vacate buildings they’ve occupied, to lay down their weapons, to cease the activities that they’ve engaged in that have caused violence and instability in those parts of Ukraine, and instead to participate in the democratic process in that country.

Q: Do you believe him?

MR. CARNEY: We’ll have to see whether, in fact, Russia does recognize and then take steps to engage with the Ukrainian government and the victor of the presidential election. Right now we’re focused on Ukraine’s ability to carry out that election freely and fairly. And we appreciate the efforts of the OSCE in assisting Ukraine to help that come about.


Q: There have been reports that the White House has been having meetings with lawmakers about Obama’s foreign policy. Is there anything that you can tell us about that and what the objective is there?

MR. CARNEY: I don’t have any specific meetings to read out, but senior members of the President’s team, including the President himself, regularly engage with leaders and rank-and-file members of both Houses to discuss matters of national security and foreign policy, and that’s certainly the case now.

Q: Any reaction to the fact that Senator Corker seemed to call the meetings “bizarre”?

MR. CARNEY: I don't --

Q: What was so bizarre about the meetings?

MR. CARNEY: I don't know what he’s referring to.

Q: Will the President talk about his foreign policy at his speech at West Point next week?

MR. CARNEY: I think it’s a fair assumption given the setting that national security would be something the President would talk about at West Point. But beyond that I’m not going to preview the President’s remarks.


Q: You mentioned real quickly that President Putin had said a lot of stuff, not just the stuff about intending to honor the outcome of the elections, and that the U.S. disagreed with a lot of it. Is there anything beyond what we already know you disagree with that you want to highlight?

MR. CARNEY: Well, his description of what happened when the previous President left office, vacated his office, and suggesting that the United States and other countries supported a coup, well, that just doesn't square with the facts. We all know what the facts are.

There was an agreement that the President was supposed sign. He had 24 hours to sign it, and instead of signing it, he disappeared and left the city, left the office vacated. And then the democratically elected parliament overwhelmingly -- including the members of his own party -- overwhelmingly voted to support the new government. Those facts are hard to reconcile with the view expressed by President Putin of what happened in Kyiv that led to that transition of power.

And right away, keeping its commitments, the new transitional government called for new presidential elections on May 25, and lo and behold, there will be presidential elections -- free and fair democratic elections on May 25, which is a good thing.


END 11:02 A.M. CDT



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Posted 2014-05-24 10:51:00