FW: In-town print pool report #1

From: Jordan Fabian [mailto:xxx@email.com]
Sent: Thursday, May 21, 2015 1:23 PM
To: Allen, Jessica; Barnes, Desiree N.; Velz, Peter
Subject: In-town print pool report #1

Pool was escorted into the Oval Office at 12:39 p.m. after the meeting between POTUS and Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi. Spray lasted just over 13 minutes.

POTUS, wearing a grey suit fitting for a rainy Washington day, was seated to the left of Essebsi.

President Obama praised Tunisia’s democratic reforms and pledged long-term U.S. economic and security support.

Obama said he intends to designate Tunisia as a major non-NATO U.S. ally.

“It is gratifying to hear of the excellent progress that has been made in Tunisia’s transformation,” Obama said.

The president noted Tunisia is where the Arab Spring began and is the place where we have seen “the most important progress in allowing all parties and all parts of the population, including women and minorities, to be included in the governing process.”

He emphasized to Essebsi “the United States is fully committed to working with Tunisia so that it can continue to build on its success”

Obama said he would expand economic assistance so ordinary Tunisians can feel  the benefits of the change.

He said the two leaders discussed the importance of security, counterterrorism operations and working together to “stabilize Libya so we don’t have a failed state, a power vacuum that ends up affecting the situation in Tunisia.”

“I want the president and the people of Tunisia to know that the United States believes in Tunisia … and will work as a steady partner for years to come,” Obama said.

The president spoke for just over eight minutes, including pauses for translation breaks.

Essebsi, speaking through a translator, said his country is at the midway point of making democratic reforms and said that Obama underscore his faith in Tunisia.

“We need the U.S. and maybe the U.S. needs Tunisia now,” Essebsi said.

The two leaders rose out of their chairs and shook hands.

POTUS ignored a shouted question about whether he will change his strategy to fight ISIS.

As the pool was escorted out at 12:52 p.m., a Tunisian reporter tried to approach the president and ask for a picture, much to the chagrin of Secret Service and press wranglers. She told him it is her birthday.

Your pooler heard POTUS offer a handshake instead, but did not see if one actually took place.


Jordan Fabian | White House Correspondent | The Hill | 1625 K Street, NW Washington, DC 20006 | xxx@email.com | Desk: (202) xxx-xxx-xxxx | Mobile: (202) xxx-xxx-xxxx | Twitter: @Jordanfabian

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