Fw: Travel pool report #8: Youth town hall

From: Eilperin, Juliet
Sent: Wednesday, March 23, 2016 4:54 PM
To: Velz, Peter T. EOP/WHO
Subject: Travel pool report #8: Youth town hall

At about 3:40 pm ART, the town hall began in the symphony hall-Sala Sinfonica--of Usina del Arte, an arts and cultural center. Here's some detail on the center, per the White House.

Usina del Arte - Located inside the former Italo-Argentina factory buildings, the stunning concert hall stands next to the Buenos Aires-La Plata motorway.   The complex, designed by Juan Chiogna, was built between 1914 and 1916 by Martignone e Hijos and continued to produce electricity until the early-1990s.

In 2006 the city government bought the building and began the rehabilitation of the space.  Perhaps most notable is the building's majestic symphony concert hall with a capacity of 1,200 seats.

The hall had a crowd of 1000, according to the center's director of communications Karina Befart.

The event was open press, so here are just a few quotes. Please check against the transcript.

Celeste Medina, a young Argentine entrepreneur who has spent time in the United States, introduced Obama and urged collaboration between the two nations. "The best way to make progress is together."

Obama, in shirtsleeves, began by making a joke about drinking the naturally-caffeinated beverage, yerba mate, in the morning before his press conference. (One correction to an earlier pool report: mate is not alcoholic.)

"My team, my staff thought I was very clear headed at the press conference, and thought it must be the mate," he said.

The president also joked that his daughters had been enjoying Buenos Aires, and in past they had met Pope Francis, who's from Argentina. "Now they want to meet Messi, but I could not arrange that," he said, referring to the country's soccer star.

Obama also attempted to speak Spanish, awkwardly, remarking at one point, "Somos un equipo" twice in quick succession. He then added, "I've got to practice my Spanish."

Obama took questions on a range of issues, ranging from ones on sectarian strife to scientific and academic collaboration between Argentina and the U.S.

The president said he remained optimistic about humanity's ability to forge closer ties, noting that it stems from the different ethnic and racial backgrounds of his own family.

"So in my family I have the genetic strains of everybody. And it gives me confidence, confidence that's been reinforced as president, that people are all essentially the same," he said. "But we're also all bound my history, and culture and habits."

"And I don't think it is inevitable that the world comes together in a common culture and a common understanding,"

He spoke of the need to collaborate on curbing the spread of the Zika virus, saying that in an interconnected world these diseases can pose a real threat because there's a scenario where a disease "will sweep the world, and oftentimes it will sweep very rapidly because there's no immunity."

"But we do think we can make progress in this area," he said.

Asked about the prospects for peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, Obama said he was "not hopeful" it would happen during his presidency.

He said he was willing to confess, "this was something I was not able to get done," adding, "It's been 60 years it's not going to happen in the next nine months."

He said the only way peace could be achieved is when both sides recognize "the truth" that "they're going to be living together one way or another."

He noted that both he and Secretary of State John F. Kerry-whom he referred to as "that poor man" had invested a great deal of time in the Mideast peace process, "But ultimately we can't do it for them. "

At 4:53 pm ART, the town hall ended, and the motorcade is preparing to depart.

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