From: Sahil Kapur [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Tuesday, March 24, 2015 03:25 PM
To: Allen, Jessica; Velz, Peter
Subject: Pool report #3: POTUS/Ghani Q&A
Asked how he justifies keeping U.S. troops in Afghanistan beyond his previously stated drawdown deadline, POTUS stressed that "our transition out of a combat role has not changed" and the 9,800 troops would be there for "a few extra months."
"We want to make sure we're doing everything we can to help Afghan security forces succeed, so we don't have to go back," POTUS said.
He acknowledged the sacrifice that will be made by American forces who now have to stay there longer, but said he and military leaders have decided that it "is well worth it" to help secure Afghanistan.
During his remarks POTUS once mistakenly referred to Ghani as "Karzai," the last name of the former Afghan president.
POTUS, asked about the spying allegations regarding Israel and the Iran nuclear talks, said the White House has briefed Congress and the Israelis about the negotiations.
"If there's an agreement it's going to be a good agreement," POTUS said, promising "significant transparency in the whole process."
POTUS also tackled a question about Israeli PM Netanyahu saying during the election that he wouldn't allow a Palestinian state on his watch.
"I took him at his word that that's what he meant," POTUS said, even though Netanyahu walked that claim back after the election. "There still does not appear to be a prospect of a meaningful framework" that could lead to a secure Palestinian state.
"It's hard to envision how that happens based on the prime minister's statements," he added, saying it would be wrong to "pretend" otherwise.
He said Netanyahu's remarks have compelled him to "evaluate how we manage" Israeli-Palestinian relations, though he stressed that the U.S. will remain dedicated to making sure Israelis are safe.
In a bit of media criticism, POTUS rejected the framing that the dispute is about a personal clash between him and Netanyahu, saying he has a very "business-like" relationship with the Israeli PM. "This can't be reduced to a matter of, let's all hold hands and sing kumbaya."
Asked if he may consider supporting a Palestinian state at the UN, POTUS said, "We're going to do that evaluation."
The press conference and Q&A went on for just under an hour.
Senior Congressional Reporter
Talking Points Memo