The World Supports Ukraine’s Freedom

March 12, 2014

Statement of G-7 Leaders on Ukraine

We, the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States, the President of the European Council and the President of the European Commission, call on the Russian Federation to cease all efforts to change the status of Crimea contrary to Ukrainian law and in violation of international law.  We call on the Russian Federation to immediately halt actions supporting a referendum on the territory of Crimea regarding its status, in direct violation of the Constitution of Ukraine.

Any such referendum would have no legal effect.  Given the lack of adequate preparation and the intimidating presence of Russian troops, it would also be a deeply flawed process which would have no moral force.  For all these reasons, we would not recognize the outcome.

Russian annexation of Crimea would be a clear violation of the United Nations Charter; Russia’s commitments under the Helsinki Final Act; its obligations to Ukraine under its 1997 Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership; the Russia-Ukraine 1997 basing agreement; and its commitments in the Budapest Memorandum of 1994.  In addition to its impact on the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, the annexation of Crimea could have grave implications for the legal order that protects the unity and sovereignty of all states.  Should the Russian Federation take such a step, we will take further action, individually and collectively.

We call on the Russian Federation to de-escalate the conflict in Crimea and other parts of Ukraine immediately, withdraw its forces back to their pre-crisis numbers and garrisons, begin direct discussions with the Government of Ukraine, and avail itself of international mediation and observation offers to address any legitimate concerns it may have.  We, the leaders of the G-7, urge Russia to join us in working together through diplomatic processes to resolve the current crisis and support progress for a sovereign independent, inclusive and united Ukraine.  We also remind the Russian Federation of our decision to suspend participation in any activities related to preparation of a G-8 Sochi meeting  until it changes course and the environment comes back to where the G-8 is able to have a meaningful discussion.

Situation in Ukraine

Ukraine Crisis

A chronology of events taken by the United States and the other members of the G-7

A chronology of events taken by NATO


#UnitedForUkraine

Vice President Biden to Travel to Poland and Lithuania

Vice President Biden travels to Poland and Lithuania next week, March 17-19th, to meet with regional partners to discuss events in Ukraine and other regional issues. In Warsaw and Vilnius, the Vice President will meet with the Polish President Komorowski and Prime Minister Tusk and Estonian President Ilves, Latvian President Bērziņš, and Lithuanian President Grybauskaitė.

During his meetings, the Vice President will consult on steps to support Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and affirm our collective defense commitments under the North Atlantic Treaty and our enduring support for all of our allies and partners in Europe.

VP Biden Warsaw

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45 Responses to The World Supports Ukraine’s Freedom

  1. CR says:

    WH

    Sunday, March 16, 2014

    All Times Eastern

    President Obama receives the presidential daily briefing

    President Obama meets with his National Security Team discussed the situation in Ukraine

    7:00 AM
    8:00 AM
    9:00 AM
    10:00 AM
    11:00 AM
    12:00 PM
    1:00 PM
    2:00 PM
    3:00 PM
    4:00 PM
    5:00 PM
    6:00 PM
    7:00 PM
    8:00 PM
    9:00 PM
    10:00 PM

  2. CR says:

    March 12, 2014

    Statement of G-7 Leaders on Ukraine

    We, the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States, the President of the European Council and the President of the European Commission, call on the Russian Federation to cease all efforts to change the status of Crimea contrary to Ukrainian law and in violation of international law.  We call on the Russian Federation to immediately halt actions supporting a referendum on the territory of Crimea regarding its status, in direct violation of the Constitution of Ukraine.

    Any such referendum would have no legal effect.  Given the lack of adequate preparation and the intimidating presence of Russian troops, it would also be a deeply flawed process which would have no moral force.  For all these reasons, we would not recognize the outcome.

    Russian annexation of Crimea would be a clear violation of the United Nations Charter; Russia’s commitments under the Helsinki Final Act; its obligations to Ukraine under its 1997 Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership; the Russia-Ukraine 1997 basing agreement; and its commitments in the Budapest Memorandum of 1994.  In addition to its impact on the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, the annexation of Crimea could have grave implications for the legal order that protects the unity and sovereignty of all states.  Should the Russian Federation take such a step, we will take further action, individually and collectively.

    We call on the Russian Federation to de-escalate the conflict in Crimea and other parts of Ukraine immediately, withdraw its forces back to their pre-crisis numbers and garrisons, begin direct discussions with the Government of Ukraine, and avail itself of international mediation and observation offers to address any legitimate concerns it may have.  We, the leaders of the G-7, urge Russia to join us in working together through diplomatic processes to resolve the current crisis and support progress for a sovereign independent, inclusive and united Ukraine.  We also remind the Russian Federation of our decision to suspend participation in any activities related to preparation of a G-8 Sochi meeting  until it changes course and the environment comes back to where the G-8 is able to have a meaningful discussion.

  3. CR says:

    Sunday talk show tip sheet\

    3/15/14 10:59 AM EDT By TAL KOPAN – POLITICO

    “Meet the Press” on NBC
    • White House Senior Adviser Dan Pfeiffer
    • Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.)
    • Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.)
    • Former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs

    “Face the Nation” on CBS
    • Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), chairman, House Intelligence Committee
    • Former National Security Adviser Tom Donilon

    “This Week” on ABC
    • Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.)
    • Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.)
    • Microsoft founder Bill Gates

    “Fox News Sunday” on Fox
    • Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), chairman, Senate Foreign Relations Committee
    • Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), ranking member, Senate Foreign Relations Committee
    • Rep. Mike McCaul (R-Texas), chairman, House Homeland Security Committee
    • Republican strategist Karl Rove

    “State of the Union” on CNN
    • Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)
    • Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus

    “Political Capital” on Bloomberg TV
    • Former White House Senior Adviser David Plouffe
    • Former Sen. John Sununu (R-N.H.)

    “Newsmakers” on C-SPAN
    • Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.)

    “Al Punto” on Univision
    • Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.)
    • Cecilia Muñoz, director, White House Domestic Policy Council

  4. Kat 4 Obama says:

    Good and HOPEful Saturday night, CR and all friends!

    >^..^<

    So glad PBO is in the White House using diplomacy and economic sanctions in response to the Ukraine crisis.

  5. CR says:

    Ukraine crisis: Crimea holds secession referendum

    16 March 2014 bbc

    Crimea is voting on whether to rejoin Russia or stay with Ukraine but with more autonomy.

    The referendum has been condemned as “illegal” by Kiev and the West but is backed by Moscow.

    Since the fall of Ukraine’s pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych, Russian troops have in effect taken control of the majority ethnic-Russian region.

    Voters are expected to support leaving Ukraine, but Crimean Tatars are boycotting the poll.

    There are reports of a high turnout at polling stations visited by the BBC in the capital, Simferopol, and mainly Tartar Bakhchisaray. But all Tartars spoken to by the BBC in Bakhchisaray said they would not vote.

    Election official Mykhaylo Malyshev said there had been a “record-breaking turnout” of 44.27%, after six hours of voting.

    Voting across Crimea started at 08:00 local time and will close at 20:00 (18:00 GMT).

    • CR says:

      Obama: US, EU Prepared to Penalize Russia for Crimea Ballot

      March 16, 2014 VOA News

      U.S. President Barack Obama told his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, Sunday that Washington and its “European partners are prepared to impose additional costs” on Moscow for backing a secession referendum in Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula.

      A White House statement called Sunday’s referendum illegal and said it violates Ukraine’s constitution. It also said the vote will “never be recognized by the United States and the international community.”

      News of the phone call came as Crimean election authorities said 95 percent of voters cast ballots supporting secession and a move to join Russia. The data was announced late Sunday with half of the referendum ballots counted. Voter turnout was placed at between 75 and 80 percent.

      Crimea’s pro-Moscow leader, Sergei Aksyonov, announced that his government will formally apply on Monday to join the Russian Federation.

      In Kyiv, Ukraine’s interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk – speaking at an emergency cabinet meeting – called the Moscow-backed Crimea vote “a circus spectacle” directed at gunpoint by Russia.

      An earlier White House statement said no decision should be made about the future of Ukraine without the Ukrainian national government.

      It also said the presidential elections planned for May 25 will provide a legitimate opportunity for all Ukrainians to make their voices heard on the future of their country.

      Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Sunday agreed to push for Ukrainian constitutional reforms for power sharing and decentralization as a solution to the crisis.

      For more: http://www.voanews.com/content/voting-under-way-in-crimea-referendum-to-join-russia/1872380.html

    • CR says:

      March 16, 2014

      Statement by the Press Secretary on Ukraine

      The United States has steadfastly supported the independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of Ukraine since it declared its independence in 1991, and we reject the “referendum” that took place today in the Crimean region of Ukraine. This referendum is contrary to Ukraine’s constitution, and the international community will not recognize the results of a poll administered under threats of violence and intimidation from a Russian military intervention that violates international law.

      No decisions should be made about the future of Ukraine without the Ukrainian government. Moreover, this vote was not necessary. The Ukrainian government has made clear its willingness to discuss increased autonomy for Crimea, and the presidential elections planned for May 25 provide a legitimate opportunity for all Ukrainians to make their voices heard on the future of their country.

      In addition, Ukraine, the United States, the EU, the OSCE, the UN, and others have called for Russia to allow international monitors into the Crimean peninsula to ensure that the rights of ethnic Russians in Ukraine are being upheld. Russia has spurned those calls as well as outreach from the Ukrainian government and instead has escalated its military intervention into Crimea and initiated threatening military exercises on Ukraine’s eastern border.

      Russia’s actions are dangerous and destabilizing. The UN Security Council recognized this in a vote yesterday that only Russia opposed. As the United States and our allies have made clear, military intervention and violation of international law will bring increasing costs for Russia – not only due to measures imposed by the United States and our allies but also as a direct result of Russia’s own destabilizing actions.

      In this century, we are long past the days when the international community will stand quietly by while one country forcibly seizes the territory of another. We call on all members of the international community to continue to condemn such actions, to take concrete steps to impose costs, and to stand together in support of the Ukrainian people and Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.

    • CR says:

      Russia Facing Escalating Sanctions as EU Foreign Ministers Meet

      Mar 16, 2014 4:00 PM PT By Indira A.R. Lakshmanan and Ian Wishart – bloomberg

      European and U.S. officials will probably hold their most punitive sanctions on Russia in reserve as they wait for President Vladimir Putin to show his hand on whether he plans to push his forces deeper into Ukraine.

      EU foreign ministers due to meet in Brussels today are set to impose travel bans and asset freezes on some Russian officials as Putin’s government prepares to annex Crimea after today’s referendum on secession from Ukraine. The “additional and far-reaching consequences” that were floated by the bloc on March 6 will be held back until EU leaders meet later this week in a bid to corral Putin’s ambitions in eastern Ukraine.

      Juan Zarate, a former White House and U.S. Treasury Department sanctions official and the author of “Treasury’s War: The Unleashing of a New Era of Financial Warfare,” said in an interview that he expects the Obama administration and the EU to begin a “calibrated, escalatory financial campaign that demonstrates there are real costs in the short-term, but allows for diplomatic and financial off-ramps if there’s a breakthrough.”

      The most significant diplomatic standoff between Russia and the west since the Cold War has rattled world markets as investors fret that an escalation of the crisis might isolate Russia from the global economy. That could disrupt global gas flows, damage the investments of companies from Siemens AG (SIE) to Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) and staunch the flow of money from Russian firms and oligarchs into western economies.

      “Western governments have the power to put the Russian state into bankruptcy, and broad-based sanctions would have an enormously strong effect on Russia’s economy,” Fredrik Erixon, director of the European Centre for International Political Economy in Brussels, said by phone. “But I don’t think the west is even close to thinking on these terms. Sanctions can lead to unpredictable political consequences.”

      For more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-03-16/russia-facing-escalating-sanctions-as-eu-foreign-ministers-meet.html

    • CR says:

      US, EU Impose Sanctions Over Crimea Vote

      March 17, 2014 VOA News

      President Barack Obama has moved to impose sanctions against Russian and Ukrainian officials the U.S. has singled out in conjunction with Sunday’s Moscow-backed Crimea referendum on the peninsula’s secession from Ukraine.

      Obama’s executive order applies to 11 Russian and Ukrainian officials, including two top advisers to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, in addition to ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. All will be subject to asset freezes.

      In announcing the move, Obama said that the policies and actions of the Russian Federation have been found to “undermine democratic processes and institutions in Ukraine; threaten its peace, security, stability, sovereignty, and territorial integrity; and contribute to the misappropriation of its assets, and thereby constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.”

      Reacting to the measures, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who is on U.S. sanctions list, said they won’t affect those without assets abroad.

      EU measures

      Separately, European Union foreign ministers have agreed to impose sanctions including travel bans and asset freezes on 21 officals from Russia and Ukraine, Lithuania’s foreign minister said on Monday.

      After a meeting lasting around three hours, the EU’s 28 foreign ministers quickly reached agreement on the list of those to be sanctioned for their part in Russia’s seizure of Crimea and Sunday’s referendum to secede from Ukraine and join Russia.

      The EU Foreign Affairs Council just agreed on sanctions – travel restrictions & assets freezes against 21 officials from Ukraine & Russia, Linan Linkevicius wrote in a message on Twitter.

  6. CR says:

    WH

    Monday, March 17, 2014

    All Times Eastern

    President Obama receives the presidential daily briefing

    President Obama welcomes Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to the White House

    7:00 AM
    8:00 AM
    9:00 AM
    10:00 AM
    10:45 AM
    President Obama Makes a Statement on Ukraine

    11:00 AM
    President Obama meets with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to the White House
    Oval Office

    11:00 AM
    11:40 AM
    President Obama holds a working lunch with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas
    The Cabinet Room

    12:00 PM
    Dr. Jill Biden delivers remarks at the 15th anniversary celebration of Dress for Success Lackawanna
    Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

    1:00 PM
    White House Press Secretary Jay Carney briefs the press

    2:00 PM
    2:50 PM
    President Obama departs the White House en route Bethesda, Maryland
    South Lawn

    3:00 PM
    3:05 PM
    President Obama arrives Bethesda, Maryland

    3:15 PM
    President Obama visits the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center
    Bethesda, Maryland

    4:00 PM
    5:00 PM
    President Obama departs Bethesda, Maryland en route the White House

    5:15 PM
    President Obama arrives at the White House
    South Lawn

    6:00 PM
    6:30 PM
    Vice President Biden delivers remarks at the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick Greater Pittston 100th Anniversary
    Woodlands Resort, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

    7:00 PM
    8:00 PM
    9:00 PM
    10:00 PM

    Vice President Biden travels to Poland

  7. CR says:

    February 27, 2014

    Statement by the Press Secretary on the Visit of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas

    The President will welcome Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to the White House on Monday, March 17. The President looks forward to reviewing with President Abbas the progress in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. They will also discuss our continuing effort to work cooperatively to strengthen the institutions that can support the establishment of a Palestinian state.

  8. CR says:

    Biden comes to NE Pa. for St. Patrick’s Day event

    Mar 17, 2014 4:44 AM PDT wtrf

    WILKES-BARRE, Pa. (AP) – Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden will be in northeastern Pennsylvania for St. Patrick’s Day events.

    The vice president speaks Monday evening at the 100th anniversary celebration of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick Greater Pittston 100th Anniversary at Woodlands Resort.

    A number of political figures have spoken at the annual banquet over the decades, including President Harry Truman and Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy.

    Biden is a Scranton native who has been to the region five times since taking office.

    Dr. Jill Biden is scheduled to speak shortly before noon to the 15th anniversary celebration of Dress for Success Lackawanna.

    On Monday evening, she attends a reception for the Society of Irish Women’s 16th annual St. Patrick’s Day Dinner.

  9. CR says:

    shamrock

    Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

    .

  10. CR says:

    Navy SEALs Seize Tanker Seeking to Ship Illicit Libya Oil

    Mar 17, 2014 5:44 AM PT By Maher Chmaytelli – Bloomberg

    Bloomberg’s Elliott Gotkine reports on U.S. forces boarding and taking control of an oil tanker in a Libyan port on Bloomberg Television’s “The Pulse.”

    U.S. Navy SEALs boarded a tanker carrying oil from a port controlled by rebels in eastern Libya, thwarting the group’s first attempt to sell crude independently of the central government.

    Navy SEAL commandos seized the tanker southeast of the Mediterranean island of Cyprus at 10 p.m. Washington time yesterday, or early this morning local time, the U.S. Defense Department said in an e-mailed statement. The Morning Glory, which left the rebel-held Libyan port of Es Sider on March 11 after loading crude, will be re-routed “soon,” with U.S. sailors on board, to a port under the Libyan government’s control, the Defense Department said.

    “It’s definitely a setback for the rebels,” Theodore Karasik, director of research at the Dubai-based Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis, said today by telephone. “It shows the government has the backing of the international community, and it makes it more difficult for the rebels to become autonomous by selling oil.”

    For more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-03-17/u-s-navy-seizes-tanker-foiling-libya-rebel-attempt-to-sell-oil.html

  11. CR says:

    Manufacturing Production in U.S. Rises by Most in Six Months

    Mar 17, 2014 6:36 AM PT By Lorraine Woellert – bloomberg

    Factory production in the U.S. rose in February by the most in six months, indicating the industry started to recover from severe winter weather.

    The 0.8 percent gain at manufacturers followed a revised 0.9 percent slump in the prior month that was the biggest since May 2009, figures from the Federal Reserve in Washington showed today. The median forecast called for a 0.3 percent advance. Total industrial production rose 0.6 percent, more than projected.

    The advance shows output began to pick up after snowstorms in the eastern U.S. prevented some factories from receiving parts and materials in January. Stronger demand from consumers and companies would help bolster manufacturers, which are faced with a build-up in inventories.

    “Once the weather effects have rolled off, underlying demand is better than expected,” said Gennadiy Goldberg, a strategist at TD Securities USA LLC in New York, whose forecast for a 0.5 percent increase in factory output was among the highest in the Bloomberg survey. “The market got a little too pessimistic.”

    Another report today showed factories in the New York region kept expanding in March. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s general economic index rose to 5.6 this month from 4.5 in February as new orders picked up.

    For more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-03-17/manufacturing-production-in-u-s-increases-by-most-since-august.html

  12. CR says:

    10:45 AM ET
    President Obama Makes a Statement on Ukraine

    WhiteHouse.gov http://www.whitehouse.gov/live

    CSPAN http://www.c-span.org/video/?318328-101/president-briefs-ukraine

    • CR says:

      March 17, 2014

      Statement by the President on Ukraine

      James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

      10:45 A.M. EDT

      THE PRESIDENT: Good morning, everybody. In recent months, as the citizens of Ukraine have made their voices heard, we have been guided by a fundamental principle — the future of Ukraine must be decided by the people of Ukraine. That means Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity must be respected, and international law must be upheld.

      And so, Russia’s decision to send troops into Crimea has rightly drawn global condemnation. From the start, the United States has mobilized the international community in support of Ukraine to isolate Russia for its actions and to reassure our allies and partners. We saw this international unity again over the weekend, when Russia stood alone in the U.N. Security Council defending its actions in Crimea. And as I told President Putin yesterday, the referendum in Crimea was a clear violation of Ukrainian constitutions and international law, and it will not be recognized by the international community.

      Today, I’m announcing a series of measures that will continue to increase the cost on Russia and on those responsible for what is happening in Ukraine. First, as authorized by the executive order I signed two weeks ago, we are imposing sanctions on specific individuals responsible for undermining the sovereignty, territorial integrity and government of Ukraine. We’re making it clear that there are consequences for their actions.

      Second, I have signed a new executive order that expands the scope of our sanctions. As an initial step, I’m authorizing sanctions on Russian officials — entities operating in the arms sector in Russia and individuals who provide material support to senior officials of the Russian government. And if Russia continues to interfere in Ukraine, we stand ready to impose further sanctions.

      Third, we’re continuing our close consultations with our European partners, who today in Brussels moved ahead with their own sanctions against Russia. Tonight, Vice President Biden departs for Europe, where he will meet with the leaders of our NATO allies — Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. And I’ll be traveling to Europe next week. Our message will be clear. As NATO allies, we have a solemn commitment to our collective defense, and we will uphold this commitment.

      For more: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/03/17/statement-president-ukraine

  13. CR says:

    11:00 AM ET
    President Obama meets with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to the White House
    Oval Office

    CSPAN http://www.c-span.org/video/?318328-101/uspalestine-relations

    • CR says:

      March 17, 2014

      Remarks by President Obama and President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority

      Oval Office

      11:12 A.M. EDT

      PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I want to welcome President Abbas to the Oval Office. It was a year ago this week that I had the opportunity to visit the Palestinian Territories and very much appreciated the hospitality that President Abbas showed when I was there. I had a wonderful time meeting with a wide range of civil society and officials and business leaders in the Palestinian Territories, including young people who were inspiring and I think had great hope for the future.

      Today, we’re going to spend the bulk of our time talking about something that we’ve been working on for a very long time and obviously President Abbas has been working on a long time, and that is how do we achieve a comprehensive peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis.

      And I have to commend President Abbas. He has been somebody who has consistently renounced violence, has consistently sought a diplomatic and peaceful solution that allows for two states, side by side, in peace and security; a state that allows for the dignity and sovereignty of the Palestinian people and a state that allows for Israelis to feel secure and at peace with their neighbors.

      This is obviously an elusive goal, and there’s a reason why it’s taken decades for us to even get to the point where we are now. But we remain convinced that there is an opportunity. And I think everybody understands the outlines of what a peace deal would look like, involving a territorial compromise on both sides based on ‘67 lines with mutually agreed upon swaps, that would ensure that Israel was secure but would also ensure that the Palestinians have a sovereign state in which they can achieve the aspirations that they’ve held for so long.

      Secretary Kerry is here today and has been working diligently with all sides. And as I said to Prime Minister Netanyahu when he was here just a couple of weeks ago, I believe that now is the time for not just the leaders of both sides but also the peoples of both sides to embrace this opportunity for peace. But we’re going to have a lot of details that we’re going to have to discuss. It’s very hard; it’s very challenging. We’re going to have to take some tough political decisions and risks if we’re able to move it forward. And my hope is, is that we can continue to see progress in the coming days and weeks.

      For more: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/03/17/remarks-president-obama-and-president-abbas-palestinian-authority

    • CR says:

      Obama, Kerry Meet Abbas in Push for Peace Talk Progress

      March 18, 2014 VOA News

      U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry plans to continue pushing forward peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians in the coming days, after he and President Barack Obama met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

      A senior State Department official said late Monday that Kerry and Abbas held a second meeting to “exchange ideas” and discuss possible paths for the peace talks.

      In the earlier meeting at the White House, Obama urged Abbas to make tough decisions and take risks for peace with Israel.

      “Its very hard, its very challenging. We’re going to have to take some tough political decisions and risks if we’re able to move it forward,” said Obama.

      Abbas said he wants to see Israel carry out the scheduled release of a final group of Palestinian prisoners.

      “Mr. President, we have an agreement with Israel that was brokered by Mr. Kerry concerning the release of the fourth batch of prisoners and we are hopeful that the fourth batch will be released by the 29th of March because this will give a very solid impression about the seriousness of these efforts to achieve peace,” said Abbas.

      Obama also pressed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to go ahead with the scheduled release of a final group of Palestinian prisoners by the end of March.

      He said all parties would have to compromise in order to achieve peace.

      “Its very hard, its very challenging,” Obama said. “We’re gonna have to take some tough political decisions and risks if we’re able to move it forward.”

      The meeting came ahead of an April 29 target date for a framework agreement from the troubled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

      In the West Bank’s main cities Monday, thousands of Palestinians took to the streets to support Abbas’ visit. Demonstrators waved flags and chanted ‘We are with you, president!”

      Some 1,500 people turned out in the West Bank administrative center of Ramallah, and more than 1,000 in the southern city of Hebron.

      For more: http://www.voanews.com/content/obama-abbas-meet-as-deadline-nears/1872780.html

  14. CR says:

    Secretary Jewell to Join Members of Idaho and Oregon Delegations, Gov. Otter for Briefing on 2014 Fire Season Outlook
    President’s Budget Proposal Includes New Framework to Fund Major Wildfires

    03/14/2014 doi.gov

    BOISE – On Monday, March 17, 2014, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell will visit the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) in Boise, Idaho for a briefing on the outlook of the 2014 wildfire season.

    With fire seasons becoming longer and more intense, President Obama’s FY15 budget proposes a new framework for funding fire suppression operations in the Interior Department and the U.S. Forest Service to provide stable funding for fire suppression, while minimizing the adverse impacts of fire transfers on the budgets of other fire and non-fire programs.

    Jewell will be joined by Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter, federal fire officials and members from the Idaho and Oregon delegations who are championing the legislation in the Senate and House to reform federal wildfire policy.

    WHO:
    Sally Jewell, U.S. Secretary of the Interior
    Mike Crapo, U.S. Senator from Idaho
    Jim Risch, U.S. Senator from Idaho
    Ron Wyden, U.S. Senator from Oregon
    Jeff Merkley, U.S. Senator from Oregon
    Mike Simpson, U.S. Representative from Idaho
    Raúl Labrador, U.S. Representative from Idaho
    C.L. “Butch” Otter, Governor of Idaho
    Federal fire officials

    WHAT:
    Briefing on 2014 wildfire season and media availability on federal wildfire funding

    WHEN:
    Monday, March 17, 2014
    11:00 a.m. MT – Media check-in
    11:15 a.m. MT – Briefing begins

    WHERE:
    National Interagency Fire Center
    Jack Wilson HQ Building
    3833 Development Avenue
    Boise, ID

    • CR says:

      President Obama to propose changes to wildfire funding

      Sun Feb 23, 2014 11:17 AM Associated Press

      WASHINGTON – A White House official says President Barack Obama’s upcoming budget will include a proposal to change the way the federal government pays to fight wildfires.

      The proposal is part of the White House’s effort to ramp up its focus on what officials say are the growing effects of climate change. The president will discuss the proposal Monday during a meeting with Western governors from states affected by wildfires and drought.

      The White House has been closely monitoring the severe drought gripping California and sparking fears of widespread wildfires. When Obama traveled to the state earlier this month to meet with officials and local farmers, he drew a connection between the drought and climate change.

      Obama wants the Interior and Agriculture departments, the two agencies tasked with fighting wildfires, to be able to draw funds from a special disaster account when the cost of tackling fires exceeds their annual budget. That’s the same approach the federal government currently takes when responding to hurricanes and tornadoes.

      The official says the new approach was aimed at providing more certainty for agencies fighting fires.

    • CR says:

      Officials to talk wildfire outlook, funding in Boise Monday

      March 16, 2014 at 5:06 PM KTVB.COM

      BOISE — With fire season right around the corner, leaders will gather in Boise Monday to discuss this year’s outlook.

      Monday’s visit to the National Interagency Fire Center includes U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, Governor Butch Otter, Idaho’s congressional delegation, and members of Oregon’s congressional delegation.

      In addition to a briefing on the 2014 wildfire season outlook, the leaders will take a look at legislation to revise fire funding.

      The legislation — called the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act of 2013 — is sponsored by Idaho and Oregon’s congressmen and supported by the Western Governor’s Association.

      Proponents say the bipartisan bill, which has been introduced in the Senate and House, would dramatically reform federal wildfire policy by funding major wildfires the same way as other natural disasters, while freeing up funding to prevent future fires.

  15. CR says:

    3:15 PM ET
    President Obama visits the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center
    Bethesda, Maryland

  16. CR says:

    6:30 PM ET
    Vice President Biden delivers remarks at the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick Greater Pittston 100th Anniversary
    Woodlands Resort, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

  17. CR says:

    8:30 AM ET
    Vice President Biden and the Polish Prime Minister Tusk deliver statements to the press
    Warsaw, Poland

    • CR says:

      March 18, 2014

      Remarks to the Press by Vice President Joe Biden with Prime Minister Donald Tusk of Poland

      Prime Minister’s Chancellery
      Warsaw, Poland

      1:56 P.M. (Local)

      VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: Mr. Prime Minister, these are challenging times. And I’ve known you for a while and the President and I have great respect for you, and we’re absolutely confident that we are up to the challenge. It’s more important today than ever that friends stand with one another and be unequivocal about it. That’s why I’m here in Poland, as a steadfast ally, an ally as — a country — as strong an ally as a country can wish to have, and you are among the best allies America has, Mr. Prime Minister.

      Ukraine — it’s an almost unbelievable set of events that has brought us here. The President asked me to come to Warsaw today to reaffirm the United States’ solemn commitment, solemn NATO commitment, and to consult with Poland’s leaders about the situation in Ukraine.

      The people of Ukraine have shown tremendous courage and they’ve worked very hard to realize their aspirations for a more democratic future, free of oligarchy and corruption; for a Ukraine connected to institutions and markets of Europe, but respectful of Ukraine’s deep cultural and economic ties to its neighbors.

      Unfortunately, Russia’s leaders have responded with a brazen — brazen military incursion, with a purposeful ratcheting up of ethnic tensions inside Ukraine, with a rushed and illegal referendum in Crimea that was, not surprisingly, rejected by virtually the entire world, and now, today, with steps to annex Crimea.

      We join Poland and the international community condemning the continuing assault on Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and the blatant — the blatant violation of international law by Mr. Putin and Russia.

      For more: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/03/18/remarks-press-vice-president-joe-biden-prime-minister-donald-tusk-poland

  18. CR says:

    10:30 AM ET
    Vice President Biden and Polish President Komorowski deliver statements to the press
    The Presidential Palace, Warsaw, Poland

    • CR says:

      March 18, 2014

      Remarks to the Press by Vice President Joe Biden with President Bronislaw Komorowski of Poland

      Presidential Palace
      Warsaw, Poland
      3:47 P.M. (Local)

      VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: Mr. President, thank you very much. Let me begin where you ended. Russia has increased their budget. But I want to remind you, you have an ally whose budget is larger than the next 10 nations in the world combined. So while others may not have stood up to their responsibilities, the United States has more than stood up to its responsibilities. We have a budget larger than the next 10 nations in the world combined, so don’t worry about where we are. Number one.

      Number two, Mr. President, my mother used to have a saying — she’d say, you’re defined by your courage and you are redeemed by your loyalty. Well, I doubt there’s another nation on Earth that would better fit that description than Poland. The Polish coat of arms, the Solidarity flag hanging here over us, the Polish constitution in this room — it strikes me that I don’t think there’s a country in the world that knows better than Poland both the bitter cost of aggression and the sweetness of liberty.

      Today, Mr. President, the people of Ukraine are reaching for that very same right and freedoms that the Poles cherish. They want a government that serves its people and they want the right to free expression, the chance to choose Ukraine’s path and affiliations as a united nation without fear of coercion. That’s their goal, what you’ve accomplished.

      They understand that the verdict of history is absolutely clear: Societies like Poland that embrace these values — openness, freedom, the respect for the rule of law — they are the countries that own and will own the future. Those that bet instead on aggression and fear-mongering are bound to fail. And so we look to our Polish friends who made the journey of freedom within our lifetime to exercise leadership in helping Ukraine follow in your footsteps.

      Today, Mr. President, we spoke about a situation that’s unfolding in Ukraine. We agreed on the need for the United States, Poland and our European friends to stand together in supporting Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders, rejecting Russia’s absolutely illegitimate claims and steps to annex Crimea, and imposing costs on Russia and Mr. Putin for Russian aggression while making it clear there is a better path if they choose to take it, and helping the Ukrainian people and their government as they chart a new future.

      For more: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/03/18/remarks-press-vice-president-joe-biden-president-bronislaw-komorowski-po

  19. CR says:

    12:15 PM ET
    Vice President Biden Holds a Joint Press Statement with Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves
    Warsaw Marriott Hotel, Warsaw, Poland

    WhiteHouse.gov http://www.whitehouse.gov/live

    • CR says:

      March 18, 2014

      Remarks to the Press by Vice President Joe Biden and President Toomas Ilves of Estonia

      Warsaw Marriott Hotel
      Warsaw, Poland

      5:20 P.M. (Local)

      VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: Good afternoon, everyone. Mr. President, I was pleased to have another chance to get together with you and speak with you today, and I appreciate the fact you made the time to see me in the midst of your own state visit to Poland. I appreciate it very much. And I look forward to seeing your fellow Baltic heads of state tomorrow in Vilnius.

      Estonia’s success is, in our view, a living testament to what’s possible — where innovators can breathe free and people can speak their minds, where democratic rights and universal freedoms are protected, and when countries are free to choose their own path.

      The Estonian people, like many of Russia’s neighbors, have a personal stake in what’s happening in Ukraine. Your history reminds us of how vigilant you have to remain. And today, Mr. President, we’ve consulted on a path ahead. We spoke about the steps we’re taking alongside many other nations to support Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity; to help Ukraine stabilize its economy and conduct fair and free democratic elections; and to condemn and reject Russia’s illegal — absolutely illegal conduct in taking steps to annex Crimea. And also, we talked about how to impose costs on Russia for their aggression. There’s no other word for it; it’s aggression.

      And when we speak about costs, we’re talking about more than just sanctions. We’re talking about Russia putting itself on a path that undermines long-term confidence and creates obstacles for its full participation in the global economy. That path they’ve placed themselves on does nothing to help the next generation of Russians compete and succeed in a world that will be led by the most open, innovative and dynamic economies.

      The President and I also discussed our commitments as NATO allies. I came here today and will travel to Vilnius tomorrow to stand with our NATO allies and reconfirm and reaffirm our shared commitment to collective self-defense, to Article 5. I want to make it absolutely clear what it means to the Estonian people and all the people of the Baltics. President Obama and I view Article 5 of the NATO Treaty as an absolutely solemn commitment which we will honor — we will honor.

      For more: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/03/18/remarks-press-vice-president-joe-biden-and-president-toomas-ilves-estoni

  20. CR says:

    Vice President meets with the Lithuanian President Grybauskaitė
    Presidential Palace, Vilnius, Lithuania

  21. CR says:

    Vice President Biden meets with the Latvian President Bērziņš
    Presidential Palace, Vilnius, Lithuania

  22. CR says:

    7:15 AM ET
    Vice President, Lithuanian President Grybauskaitė, Latvian President Bērziņš deliver remarks
    Presidential Palace, Vilnius, Lithuania

    • CR says:

      March 19, 2014

      Remarks to the Press by Vice President Joe Biden, President Dalia Grybauskaite of Lithuania, and President Andris Berzins of Latvia

      Presidential Palace
      Vilnius, Lithuania

      1:20 P.M. (Local)

      PRESIDENT GRYBAUSKAITE: (As interpreted.) Good afternoon. So today we had an important meeting with U.S. Vice President Biden and Latvian President Berzins. With our partners, we discussed the situation in Ukraine and its impact on the security of the Baltic States and Europe as a whole. I see it as a threat not only to Ukraine but also to the entire international community.

      We witnessed the use of brutal force to redraw the map of Europe and to undermine the postwar political architecture established in Europe. We strongly condemn Russian actions on the territory of sovereign Ukraine. We consider Sunday’s referendum and its results illegal. The so-called referendum is a violation of the constitution of Ukraine, international law and the United Nations Charter.

      De facto Russia is carrying out the annexation of Crimea and this is happening very close to the borders of Lithuania. The situation is a direct threat to our regional security. Therefore, we must take all the necessary measures to ensure the security of Europe and the Baltic region.

      And this is what we discussed with Vice President Biden and Latvian President Berzins. And I would like to thank the United States, especially, which immediately responded to the threats and took all necessary actions to ensure regional security, including the reinforcement of NATO-Baltic air policing mission. The United States is a strategic partner of Lithuania and the Baltic countries. It has always firmly supported and continues to support our aspirations to ensure political, military, economic, and energy security in the region.

      For more: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/03/19/remarks-press-vice-president-joe-biden-president-dalia-grybauskaite-lith

  23. CR says:

    *******************
    THIS POST IS NOW CLOSED NBLB

    Come on over to my newest post titled: ”24 Army Veterans Awarded The U.S. Medal of Honor ″

    ********************

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