From: Eilperin, Juliet
Sent: Wednesday, March 23, 2016 1:56 PM
To: Velz, Peter T. EOP/WHO
Subject: Travel pool report #5: press conference
At 12:58 pm ART, the two leaders walked to their respective podiums. The press conference took place in an elegant setting, including a marble bust and gilded angels on the wall behind the two leaders. There were a couple of large, faded tapestries in gold frames on the wall. Two military guards, in elaborate uniforms and gleaming black leather boots.
Since it was carried on the White House website, I will only include a few quotes. As always, please check quotes against the transcript.
Both leaders were vey complimentary of each other. Macri said Obama's work was "very inspiring for most leaders. You emerged proposing major changes, and you proved they were possible." He also thanked Obama for agreeing to start to declassify US military and intelligence records satin back to he period of Argentina's "Dirty War," saying, "We all need, and are entitled, to know what the truth is."
Obama said he was "impressed" with his Argentine counterpart. "And I can tell you, President Macri is a man in a hurry." He said the country was assuming "its traditional role, in the region and around the world." And he offered US assistance on issues ranging from clean energy to battling the Zika virus.
Asked about the attacks in Brussels yesterday, Obama said he was determined to destroy the Islamic State, also known as ISIL and described it as "my top priority."
"I've got a lot of things on my plate, but my top priority is to defeat ISIL and eliminate the scourge of this barbaric terrorism that's been taking place all around the world."
"So there's no more important item on my agenda than going after them and defeating them," he said. "The issue is how do we do it in an intelligent way."
Obama also decried the proposal by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex) to heighten surveillance of majority-Muslim neighborhoods. He called it "wrong, and un-American," as well as "counterproductive."
"I just left a country that engages in that kind of surveillance which, by the way, the father of Senator Cruz escaped, to America, the land of the free," he said, referring to Cuba.
Macri declined to say what he expected would come out of the declassified documents at one point, and he praised Obama's outreach to Cuba.
"Doors have opened and tools have be given to those who will be able to choose again," he said, referring to Cubans.
On a lighter note, Obama also said he drank one of Argentina's trademark alcoholic offerings, "mate," which he read about when he was reading Argentinian literature in college. "And it was good, so I might take some home with me," adding that while there may be some export-import issues. "On Air Force One, I can usually do what I want."
The two leaders replied to a question from a Buenos Aires resident via Facebook "What was your dream when you were elected, and were you able to realize it?"
Obama said he wrote a list of what he wanted to get accomplished and he keeps it in his desk. "I won't say that I've gotten 100 percent done, but we've gotten a lot done."
Macri, for his part, said "I'm only just starting," but added he I deeply believe in our people."
Macri said he hoped to "heal the wounds of the past.. That is what we are betting on, building a future of peace."
The press conference ended at 1:52 pm ART.