From: Shear, Michael [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Wednesday, November 18, 2015 10:21 AM
To: Allen, Jessica L. EOP/WHO
Subject: Travel Pool report #5 — arrival at CEO summit & more complete billat transcript
It is 10:21 am local time and the president has begun to speak at the APEC CEO summit.
Here are some more complete notes from the short news conference with POTUS and Presidnet Benigno Aquino III of the Philippines. As always, please check quotes against transcript.
Aquino spoke first. He noted the "historic partnership" between the two countries and said that as a treaty ally with the United States, the Philippines "recognize with the deepest appreciation the significant contributions of the United States to our efforts" on security.
Aquino noted that the two leaders discussed maritime issues, cyber security and freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.
He said the Philippines has a "keen interest" in joining the TPP.
POTUS spoke next, and called the countries "great allies" and said that he wanted to "reaffirm our unwavering commitment to the security and defense of the Philippines. We stand shoulder to shoulder."
On maritime issues, he said that "together we support a rule-based order in the region, which is critical to regional security and the global eonomy."
POTUS also said the two leaders discussed "the urgent challenge of climate change, a threat to which the philippines is especially vulnerable."
The first question, to Aquino, was about defense cooperation with the United States. President Aquino noted that they are eager to implement the defense agreement so that "we will ahave access to the most modern technology that will bring us into higher capability." He said the US wants the pact so that Americans will "have more ability to project its pwer into the region."
On the defense agreement, POTUS said that "we're confident that its going to get done and we're going to be able to implement effectively the provisions, and the ideas."
The second question to POTUS (by the great Kathleen Hennessey of the AP) prompted several long answers.
On trade, he very quickly said that there isnt a modern trade deal that hasn't seen opposition but that he is confident it will get done.
"We get it done. I'm confident that we're going to get it done."
On ISIL / Putin, POTUS said that in the wake of the Paris attacks "have
in light of what happened in paris...pres. "President Hollande wants to step up and be more involved in the work that we are doign."
POTUS said "I welocme the fact that they are now going to step up some of the strikes" and added that "We are actualy helping facilitate them doing so."
On Moscow, POTUS said that "I've also welcomed Moscow going after ISIL. The problem has been in their initial military incursion into Syria, they have been more focused on propping up President Assad."
POTUS added that "I've had repeated disucssions, first in New York at the UNGA, and more recently in Turkey" with Putin.
"If in fact he shifts his focus and the focus of his mliitary, to what is the principle threat, which is ISIL, then that is what we want to see."
POTUS noted that it appears that in the wake of the Russian airliner bombing, it may be that Putin changes his focus and shifts the attacks to ISIL.
"If that reorientation continunes, we'll be in discussions with Moscow and Mr. Putin to see if that happens."
POTUS said that the diplomacy and the military campaigns must be seen as one thing.
"For the last several weeks, Russia has been a constructive partner in Vienna in trying to create a political transition."
But he added: "There is obviously a catch, which is Moscow is still interested in keeping Assad in power."
But he added: "Those differences have not prevented us at looking at how could we set up a cease fire.
"We are going to wait and see whether Russia does end up paying more attention to ISIL targets. If it does so, that's something we welcome. "
On REFUGEES, Mr. Obama clearly wanted to say a lot about it.
He did not mention any politician, Republican or Democrat, by name in any of his remarks. But it was clear that he was repeatedly referring to many of the comments back home by various politicians.
POTUS said; "We are not well served when in response to a terrorist attack we descend into fear and panic. We don’t make good decisions if it’s based on hysteria or an exaggeration of risks. The refugee debate is an example of us not being well served by some of the commentary taking place by officials back home and in the media."
He noted that it takes a long time for refugees to be allowd into the United States.
"Under current law, it takes anywhere from on average 18 to 24 months to clear a refugee to come into the United Sates. They are subjected to the most rigorous process conceivable. The intelligence community vets fully who they are."
POTUS noted that there is "an entire apparatus of all our law enforcement agencies"devoted to screening the refugees, including the "center we use for counter terrorism."
"It is so cumbersome that it's very difficult to show the kind of compassion we need to these folks suffering under the bombings of Assad and the attacks of ISIL. They are victims of this terror. If there are concrete, actual ideas to to expand the extraordinary screening process in place, we’re open to hearing actual ideas, but that’s not what’s been going on this debate."
POTUS was particularly critical of people who suggested that certain refugees should not be admitted.
"When candidates say we should not admit 3-year-old orphans, that’s political posturing. When individuals say we should have religious tests, and only Christians, proven Christians, should be allowed, that’s offensive and contrary to American values."
More POTUS comments on this:
"I cannot think of a more potent recruitment tool for ISIL than some of the rhetoric coming out of here in the course of this debate. ISIL seeks to exploit the idea that there's war between Islam and the West, and when you start seeing individuals in position of responsibility suggesting Christians are more worthy of protection than Muslims are in a war-torn land that feeds the ISIL narrative. It’s counter productive. And it needs to stop. And I would add these are the same folks who suggested they’re so tough that just talk to Putin or staring down ISIL (will work) .. but they're scared of widows and orphans coming into the United States of America as part of our tradition of compassion. First they were worried the press was too tough on them in the debates, now they're worried about 3-year old orphans. That doesn’t sound very tough to me"
"They’ve been playing on fear to score political points or to advance their campaigns and it’s irresponsible. It needs to stop because the world is watching. I was proud attacks in Boston take place and we did not resort t o fear and panic. Boston Strong. People went to the ball game that same week, and sang the national anthem. And went back to the stores and went back to the streets. That’s how you defeat ISIL, ot by trying to divide the country or suggest our tradition of compassion should start now"
POTUS also referred to the lack of action in Congress on a new AUMF for the ISIL campaign.
"I’ve been waiting a year and a half or more for legislation that would authorized the military activities we’re carrying out in Syria as we speak. Now suddenly they are able to rush in in a day or two to solve the threat of widows and orphans and others fleeing war-torn lands and that's their most constructive contribution to effort against ISIL. That’ doesn’t sound right to me, and I suspect it doesn't sound right to the American people."
Michael D. Shear
White House Correspondent
The New York Times