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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  October 31, 2013 11:00pm-1:01am EDT

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information we share with the opcw. that we are trying to get them as much information as we can to expand the sites that are reviewed. talk to me a little bit about what we share to them -- with them and how we follow-up with the information we give them about the insufficiency of the inventory. >> i think we share information appropriately with the opcw. it is a cooperative process. let me start here, which is to say that we have received only on monday of this week the comprehensive declaration by syria of its holdings. it is over 700 pages. it is quite detailed. we are assessing him now and there will be a time at which we will have an assessment of the gaps in that document, good conference is -- if rent is
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between what is clear and what we know that we can -- differences between what is clear but we know that we can discuss in a closed session. on the site, we have the tools to reconcile any gaps, any discrepancies. part of it may have a simple explanation. for example, opcw in its statement yesterday refers to 23 sites, but also refers to 41 facilities. and covering differences in definition between sites and facilities is part of the answer. i don't want to speculate on what the rest of the answer is, only to emphasize we have the tools, the resources to resolve those differences, and we will. >> one brief additional, if i may. does the united states have confidence in the opcw in their technical capacity, their independence, and their object id? >> in their technical capacity
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and objectivity, absolutely. they have done a wonderful job in a difficult environment so far and we salute the organizations and the inspectors of many different nationalities who have done that job. >> great, thank you. >> thank you all for being here. i'm sorry missed a portion of the hearing. i had another right around the corner. ambassador, i know you spent some time already talking about the infighting that is currently happening within the rebel group. we had a lot of conversation here about our reauthorization, about the influence of extremist groups within that coalition, some of which as it turns out had come from people that were partially on the payroll of some of those opposition groups. i know you have touched on this a bit, but having just come from
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a conference in africa in which we were seeing some pretty unbelievable numbers of foreign fighters coming in from europe and some pretty fierce competition amongst rebel groups to recruit those foreign fighters, even more dangerous and extreme then gelato mistrust than jabaat al misra itself, can you talk about the fighters being killed between these extremist forces. we have these groups and their competitors bringing in foreign fighters. one of the benefits is that we can track it pretty well because they spend so much time touting their success on twitter and elsewhere that we have a pretty good idea of who is going where, but it suggests that the fractures within the opposition are not just about mainstream
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versus extremist groups. >> senator, you are absolutely right. there were actually two al qaeda groups in syria. there was the one we designated as a foreign terrorist organization affiliated with al qaeda in iraq last year. and now in the last seven months, the islamist state has appeared with a separate entity with more foreign fighters than the first had. misra has more syrian, but is connected to al qaeda and the al qaeda leadership. this second group has direct ties out of iraq. they are fighting each other in some places in northern syria,
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and also in the northeastern city of raka. just to make the battlefield more complicated, there are tactical alliances between the free syrian army and the misra against the islamic state. and he gets more complicated because your kurdish militias fighting alongside arab secular glitches. it becomes quite hodgepodge. in the last month, we have started to see some efforts by non--al qaeda groups to reunite and re-centralize. i don't know where it is going, but it was there two months ago. in fact, in my next trip out to the region, that is a question i will be looking at in some detail.
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>> it is his desire on behalf of a lot of evil on this committee to have -- it is the desire on behalf of a lot of people on this committee to weigh in to help the non-a stream if -- non- extremist elements when the opposition. how does the extremist wing of the opposition either help or hinder our efforts or other's efforts to win the battle within the opposition for who sits at the negotiating table ultimately? >> in my last trip out to the region, i had a number of meetings with groups in north and northwestern syria. i can tell you, these were the real commanders. we met them in turkey. they were happy to get tactical level help wherever they could
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get it. they were very upfront about that. if they had a misra units fighting on the street from then, they were happy to take that help. we do not want people that we support to be, in turn, in bed with that group. this the columns the challenge for us in terms of directing our assistance. >> thank you. petal -- thishis panel. youould like to engage .urther in another setting our thanks to all of you. let me call up ambassador hall
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for our next panel. as we call them up, let me say that i want to apologize for my need to go to the senate floor. i have a new colleague who is about to be sworn in. i need to be there for that event. i have read your testimony. i appreciate your insight. i have several questions i'm going to submit to the record. and may call you if you'll be so gracious to engage. we may do, we have outstanding witnesses as to listen to their testimony and then adjourn the meeting and asked questions in writing. is that acceptable? -- ith that,
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[no audio] >> thank you to panel two. it is a gift of us. i am sorry there is so much turmoil. that is why many members are going. the written testimony is superb. half --lcome ambassador hoff. of foreignnt relations, i would like you to begin with opening statements. then we'll see how we are in time when you finish those
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statements determine whether we might ask questions. kaine, thank you for your invitation. i'm delighted you think i can -- to yourto or deliberations. it is truly a problem. you have my full statement. i will compress things. the first point i would like to make if i may is that the chemical weapons framework ateement recently arrived the united nations security council is most definitely a good thing. we have news this morning that syria has been the deadline for the destruction of the production facilities. much work lies ahead. and assad regime that is deprived of these materials is a
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good thing for 23 million syrians. problem at its root is not an arms control problem. chemicals are the tip of a very deep and deadly iceberg. one that will surely, if left unattended, kill all attempts to create a political path to a negotiated settlement to this problem. it is a deliberate systematic policy and practice of the assad regime. they are targeting civilians artillery. rockets and aircraft and missiles. murder, mayhem, terror. consider the words of the independent international commission of inquiry reporting
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to the human rights council after the atrocities of august 21. government and pro-government forces have continued to conduct widespread attacks on the civilian population. murder, torture, rape. they have laid siege to neighborhoods and subjected them to indiscriminate shelling. government forces have committed gross violations of human rights. there has been hostagetaking, murder, execution without due process. this independent investigation did not give a free pass to jihadist. the commission clearly
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identified i think the obama administration understands that the chemical agreement itself, as good as it is, always seeks to soft the tent, the visible part of this iceberg. they want to move syria in the direction of political transition. they want to move to something that is actually civilized.
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our first course is rapidly becoming somalia. the assad regime is consolidating itself in western syria. terrorists, some affiliated with al qaeda, have been planting themselves in the east. the administration is trying to jumpstart a diplomatic process. it will preempt this worst of all worlds and area. yet the obstacles are very daunting. if it develops this way, a solution would be to replace the assad regime with a governing body that would exercise full executive power in area for a. of time -- the word of time -- period of time. this would be negotiated on the
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basis of mutual and sent. anyone participating in the exercise of full executive power would have to be accepted by both sides. the regime, however, has made it clear in public statements that the person, the position, the prerogative of bashar al-assad is not up for discussion. the syrian national coalition, which would lead an opposition delegation, is undecided whether or not to attend. mr. chairman, in the interest of time, let me stick to my bottom line. we should not avert our gaze from the humanitarian catastrophe. we are victimizing millions of syrians and harming their neighbors full top -- neighbors. mr. assad seems to of concluded
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that he can do anything he likes provided he does it without chemicals will talk -- without chemicals. his principal ally seem not to be disturbed by his military concentration on civilian populations. if, as i regrettably suspect, political transition will not be on the table in any meaningful way anytime soon, then our diplomatic effort, all of it, has to focus on persuading tehran and moscow to get their client out of the business of war crimes and crimes against humanity. if we want there to be a civilized alternative to this access of codependency, the assad regime and it's allies, we will have to be more serious
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about overseeing the process of who gets what. inside syria from external sources. >> thank you, ambassador. >> i will do my best to be brief. the start of any effort to make sense out of the we are doing in syria is to have a serious middle east strategy. we do not have it. i just talk to the leaders of the nations in the area and you will see that they are confused and dismayed. their willingness to help us on
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syria, to follow our lead on syria, will depend in good part on all getting our act together. especially in terms of dealing with iran, iraq, arab-israeli negotiations. these things fit together in the real world. as far syria itself is concerned, we do have no strategy. i think all of you touched on that point very well. we started out wanting to get rid of assad. we did not take any effort, either militarily or diplomatically to get rid of him. we drew red lines and then we did not do anything about them. we walked away from them. now we're in a position where it seems we are just going to let this worker gone. there will be terrible consequences.
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you know full well the horrors of the. what i would like to do is get you to think about another possibility. one that can some promise in some shape or form. that is this. i don't think we can supply enough arms to the good rebels, the sunni moderate rebels, the secular rebels, for them to prevail. even if we added to that some kind of american bombing presence which our military does not want and which would be very costly indeed, and we do not know how effective it would be, even then i do not think there be a military solution. the russians, the iranians, and others would support assad regime.
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we will have a stalemate. it will be a more horrific level for the people of the region. what i would do is this. i would focus on two things. one, what is the real threat to the united states? we must focus hard and relentlessly on that issue. the answer is, the jihad ease -- jihad ease -- jihadis. they are the real enemy to us, to the russians who fear the sunni, al qaeda radicals. they are the enemies to irradiance, the iraqi regime. -- the iranians, the iraqi regime, and to the sunnis who are seeking to overthrow them. they're the worst thing that
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could happen -- a takeover by the islamist extremists. that provide the basis over time for us to cajole and push both the regime and are sunni moderate friends into some sort of operating alliance. or some sort of cooperation against the jihad ease -- jihadists. there is a real basis for it. i agree with all of you who feel that thought must go. it is very important. but people need to be protected. you will not be cooperation from tehran or from russia or any these other countries unless you do protect people. focusing on the real threat allows us to focus on military
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aid and our diplomacy. if we do not try to do something like that, the only result we will see if more fighting and killing. more horrific suffering. for the syrian people and their neighbors. thank you. >> thank you. let's check with the staff on the boat. starting right now, it will be a 15 minute vote. i want to ask a couple of questions. we will depart and we will leave the record open for questions by committee members until 5:00 tomorrow. the statement that the ambassador made earlier was that at the current time, we had the ability to deliver a knockout punch. i would like each of your opinions about that event. senator, i think the ambassador
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was exactly correct. at this way, -- at this point, you do not have a civil war in the sense of much going on in terms of units firing and maneuvering. this so-called civil war looks nothing like, pardon the expression, marching on richmond. >> that is sensitive where i come from. [laughter] >> what we are really seeing is the primary aspects of the so- called combat. it is regime standoff weaponry, alltel arena, aircraft, rockets, missiles. they are pounding residential areas. they either cannot take your ground forces or have chosen not to take. you really do not have much in the way of a fluid situation.
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>> if the chemical weapons were in existence and could be used, that would be a knockout punch. at least the removal of the chemical weapons took a knockout punch away from the assad regime. >> i think senator, the chemicals were running organ subset -- important subset of the terror aspect here. we have to keep in mind the chemical weapons, as they are, accountin in the end are a tiny fraction of the deaths and injuries. >> the idea you put on the table about organizing in civil, what with that idea -- extend that idea to how we should be positioning if that were cold. how should we position our efforts with respect to the restart of series geneva
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discussions to mark >> i do not think there'll be a serious restart of geneva discussions. >> this is a strategy that assumes that the geneva discussions will be a professional at best. they will be window dressing. >> i do. you have to begin to betray -- portraying the sunni moderates that we want to support and others who are being killed, they would be slaughtered to. we need to come up with a kind of solution for them. that will take place, a federal system. then senator joe biden and i will remember the federal system for iraq is the only way to prevent national slaughter there. you have to let each of these communities basically run their own affairs. within the united states.
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we solve their own problem, which needed a federal solution. we need to put that forward to them. we need to explain that is the only way for them to escape the continuing stalemate and horror of the war. >> let me see if the senator has questions. >> if you could expand a little bit more on iran and russia and what you would propose that we do in order to extract the kind of actions that you believe are necessary to us to bring us thought to the table. >> good to see you. i talked to the russians and the iranians about this. i think they're quite sympathetic to the idea. they have not agreed to by any means. it suits their interests. they want to do something in the
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end that protects them and their allies. they are not foolish. they see down the line that assad is not going to be able to stay in power. they want enough protection for them. this presents somewhat of an answer for them. we need to have this over. we need to talk to them of that strategy in mind. you cannot say, hey, let's have a geneva conference. it will not work. >> if i may, the administration officials did not want us to specifically call out saudi arabia and other nations full we just want to call them the gulf states. do either of you feel comfortable talking about that individual states by name in terms of what we should be asking from them in terms of reducing the amount of support that is going to radical groups?
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>> absolutely. >> can you name the countries? but saudi arabia and qatar mainly. there are other places as well. those are the countries who look to us for general protection in the region. i am not aware that we have really leaned on them. we should. mr. master? -- >> mr. ambassador? >> this is not a silver bullet. it is not a panacea. it will be hard to do. i believe the united states has to insert itself as the overall supervisor of who gets what in terms of x journal military
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assistance, going into opposition groups in syria. in order for us to do that effectively, my sense is, and i realized their reservations about this, we have to have some skin in the game. i know there are departments and agencies of the united states government that have spent a lot of time identifying elements inside of syria that we want to support. i believe that we have, from the saudi's and the qataris, agreement in principle. the problem is, we need to be out there, in charge of what is happening. >> can we be in charge of we are not providing an increase in lethal weaponry? >> i do not think we can all stop -- we can. we need to scale this up and become serious.
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>> i do not want to mess up your 30 year perfect voting record as a member of congress. [laughter] >> so far, i'm perfect. if we did dramatically increase our military, what would the response be from the saudi's, from the iranians, the russians, qatar and others? why does that give us a leadership role with them? why doesn't it did lead to an escalation rather than a reconciliation? >> i think the practical problem we face right now, senator, is that people who are syrian , people who are
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dedicated to the idea of a nonsectarian government of arezenship in the future the ones finding themselves aseezed out of the picture private money from the gulf, plus what ambassador for described as activities inside syria, are funding al qaeda- related groups and other jihadists. they are flush with money. they are flush with weapons. the regime, on the other side, is being supplied lavishly by both russia and iran. middle,e people in the the people who actually stand for the kinds of principles that i think everybody in this room would be comfortable with who are not getting what they need. >> chairman, could i just have a minute? >i will just take a minute. onisagree with my friend this. i don't think the answer is to put a lot more arms in there, although we should be putting some more arms in their. i think the way we can lead,
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take care of our interests is to have a strategy that makes sense to the countries in the area so that they will go along with it. they are not going to go along simply because we are providing more arms. it won't work. >> thank you both. the record will stay open for additional questions for these tomorrow.until 5:00 we appreciate your testimony. thank you for your patience today. >> congressman mel watt nomination to head the federal housing finance agency failed a press drove out today -- a procedural vote in the senate today. it fell four votes short. white house spokesman jay carney reacted to the setback at his daily briefing. well, i believe senator reed, the majority leader, has taken a step to allow for another vote.
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believe that mel watt is enormously qualified with 20 years on the house financial services and judiciary committees, a proven track record of fighting to rein in deceptive mortgage lenders, protect consumers from abusive practices, and expand affordable housing. throughout his career, he has worked tirelessly to expand economic opportunity for the middle-class and those striving to get into the middle class. he has a history of bringing together consumer advocates and industry leaders to enact commonsense reforms in this space to promote economic growth. it is enormously disappointing that republicans would of auster this nomination highly qualified nominee. that those senators will reconsider that vote and mr. watt will be confirmed in the future. whyor more about
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congressman watts nomination stalled in the summit, we spoke with a capitol hill reporter. nihilist w joining us from capitol hill. he covers congress for "cq world call -- roll call." what happened on the senate floor today? >> what happened this afternoon was that there were two of president obama's nominations, both congressman mel watt to head up the federal housing finance regulator, as well as a federal appeals court judge for the district of columbia circuit , who both faced being blocked by the senate thanks to a republican-led filibuster of each nominee. each nominee failed to get the 60 votes required to advance with just a couple of republicans in each case voting yes on the motion to limit debate. >> tell us about mel watt
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nomination. he is a former member of congress, a well-known figure on capitol hill. how much support did it have when the president made the nomination and going into today's procedural vote? >> there was a lot of support locally for congressman watt who now at least will still be in the house, i believe, at least for the foreseeable future. he had support back home, certainly support on the left, but richard burr, north carolina's republican senator, also backed the nomination of his home state colleague. but there was considerable concern among many republicans that he did not have the requisite qualifications in their view for the job. that was despite the fact that
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mr. watt has served much of his on thein the house financial services committee, where he is one of the senior democrats on that panel. >> your blog updated story at has the headline "biden open to filibuster changes." what is possible here? what are senate majority leader harry reid's options? term, whatmmediate senator reid told myself and a couple of other reporters just after the vote is that he is going to call up two other d.c. circuit nominees for votes. there have been three vacant seats on that court currently. there are nominees that have now advanced through did -- through the judiciary committee for all three of the seats. it sounds like senator reid is going to force cloture votes
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presumably on all three of the , and then, assuming that the republican objection remains over what they are --ling court packing although in the traditional sense, that is certainly not what it is, because there are vacant seats -- in any case, it looks like he is going to force votes on all of them. if everything goes the way that , this istoday went going to continue, and then we will have a nomination standoff, full-scale, with the threat of the so-called nuclear option to change the rules with a simple majority vote. hehow likely is it that would go that route to change the rules? >> there has been great reluctance on the part of senator reid at the end of the
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day to go down that road. we have been close to it a couple of times in recent years in the senate. we have seen a number of last- ditch efforts to get around it, which thus far has been successful. over the summer, we had the meeting of the senators by themselves in the old senate chamber that ultimately helped lead to an agreement. it is tough to see at this juncture what the next deal looks like. right before the first of the two votes today, a little bit before that -- it came before senator cory booker was sworn into the senate -- senator john mccain, who had been a party of the old gang of 14, got out of the judicial nomination standoff back when george w. bush was president and said that this was an extraordinary circumstance, which was always the exception that senators who signed onto
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the dock -- the gang of 14 deal allowed themselves. what the next see deal might look like. >> our viewers can follow you on twitter and read his reporting at thanks for joining us to read -- us. >> the super airport out in chantilly, virginia was being built. president eisenhower immediately announced that the airport would be named dulles airport. for a while, kennedy did not want to name it after a crusty old cold warrior, but there was pushed back from others. finally the decision was made to name it after dulles. you can still see the film clip of kennedy opening the airport with eisenhower there and allen dulles there. he pulls back the curtain. behind the curtain is this giant bust of john foster dulles. that bust stands in the middle of this big airport. i went to see it while i was writing this book. i couldn't find it. i started asking the security
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guards, where is the bust of dulles? nobody had ever even heard of it. it was a long process. finally, thanks to the washington airport authority, i was able to discover that the bus had been taken away from its place in the middle of the airport, and it is now in a closed conference room opposite baggage claim number three. i find this a wonderful metaphor for how the dulles brothers who, at one time, exercised earth shattering power, and were able to make and break governments, have now been effectively forgotten and airbrushed out of our history. and allen atfoster cia, the dulles brothers led both overt and covert operations for a good portion of the cold war. find out why the ramifications can still be felt some 60 years later with stephen kinzer sunday night at 8:00 on c-span's "q&a." >> at the u.s. institute of
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peace, iraq he prime minister out maliki talked about his country's progress in security and developing democratic institutions. he addresses concerns by some in congress that he is not doing enough to prevent sectarian violence. is in washington for a meeting with president obama on friday. this is an hour. >> ladies and gentlemen, the prime minister of iraq. please be seated. we apologize for the slight delay. it is secretary hegel's fault. he does have a little hump. for those of you who don't know, the institute, putting it very simply, stops fights around the world, doing so in partnership
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with governmental and nongovernmental organizations both domestic and foreign. we work very closely with the state department, usaid, the defense department, with the government of iraq, and many others. all in order to prevent, mitigate, and resolve violent conflicts. i would like to go ahead and recognize some of the folks who are here today. of course, prime minister maliki, thank you for returning to the institute. excellency bashar zebari, minister of foreign affairs. the minister of defense. mr. off i had, national security advisor. arkin's a beery, both members of the council of representatives.
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so, the ambassador to the united states. also the chief media adviser in the office of the prime minister. the head of the counterterrorism the deputy chief of mission for the embassy of iraq, and the major general who is the military attaché for the embassy at iraq. -- todaying us to say is one of my favorite people in all of the world, former secretary of state and the first woman secretary of state to united states, madeleine albright. i am listing her as part of the u.s. ip team, which includes steve hadley, former national security adviser and a member of professor jeremy rap can and ms. judy ansley, who are also members of our board. dr. kristin lord is with us.
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she is our executive vice president. in addition, i would like to recognize a couple of special state department guests. ambassador beth jones, who is the assistance of terri state for near -- assistant secretary for near east affairs. if you would come forward, i would like to recognize bill taylor, ambassador bill taylor, who is our vice president for the middle east and africa and leads our efforts in support of iraq's success. also, a great asset to the institute, to the united states, into the world. she has done a terrific amount of work where iraq is concerned. she is public the book. a book.shed she is a very important part of the institute and has been leading for years our efforts
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where iraq is concerned. she is going to describe a little bit about the work of the institute in iraq. >> thank you for such a warm welcome. i would like to welcome prime minister al-maliki. we have shared high moments, as well is difficult ones. we worked hard with our partners and government and civil society to overcome the peak of violence in 2006 and 2007. we take pride in the fact that we have always been in iraq and maintain an office in baghdad. even during the most difficult days. the core mission is to strengthen local capacities to prevent and manage conflicts peacefully. we work with iraqi partners to develop tools and institutions necessary to resolve disputes
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through nonviolent means. we have worked with iraqi facilitators and working with youth, women comment and minorities. and working to prevent incitement of violence. and building institutions along iraq. our partnership and civil society has grown stronger over the years. we have many success stories to point to, such as a capacity we have supported, distinguished leaders, and organizations critical to advancing iraq's
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transition to peace and stability. we have mitigated conflicts across a rack -- across iraq. why would with the foundations of civic education and human rights for the institutions of education. u.s. ap is part of the partnerships we we have made. a lot remains to be done in iraq. the road ahead will not the easy. your excellency, we assure you and the iraqi people that as a rock prepares for the 2016 elections, iraq can count on the support of the u.s. institute of peace is a partner on all levels. starting with the communities,
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to local councils, two dialogues. thank you. [applause] >> i would like to ask beth jones to come forward. the format today will be an introduction of the prime minister by ambassador beth jones. then the prime minister will speak. and then sit and take questions. the audience already knows this. if you have questions, perhaps he of written them out, we are not going to have time for a great number of questions, but hopefully the prime minister will find questions interesting. with that, libby turn it over. >> thank you very much. welcome to the delegation. especially welcome, it is great to be here with secretary albright.
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especially for this extraordinary event. i want to thank u.s. ip on his leadership since he took over last year, and the work that u.s. ip has done for so long in iraq. i am honored to introduce nouri al-maliki, prime minister of the republic of iraq. he faces the daunting challenges iraq continues to face. the prime minister will be meeting with president obama and vice president biden to strengthen ties between our nations. they will discuss how we can help iraq confront these challenges and discuss ways to enhance cooperation between our countries under the strategic framework agreement. this is an important time. two years have passed since u.s. troops left left iraq. we must never forget those who
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lost their lives in the struggle for a free iraq. iraq is blessed with resources, and is set to hold national elections next year. it has improved relations with its neighbors, particularly kuwait and jordan. as they have work to bring itself into the region, we have seen 17 arab countries open up embassies in baghdad. we see opportunities for american business. major corporations are now invested in iraq. the united states on iraq side a train in investment treaty freedom -- framework agreement. in recent years, thousands of
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iraqi students and scholars of come to the united states to research and study in a variety of fields. this number increases significantly each year. iraq faces formidable challenges. we share concerns over the increasing number of terrorist attacks and claimed 6000 innocent victims this year. including deplorable attacks on schools, religious sites, marketplaces, weddings, and funerals. most of these attacks have been conducted by al qaeda affiliates. this affiliate has a base of operation in syria. it's later is subject to sanctions, and is designated a global terrorist under u.s. law. we continue to discuss security with the iraqi government, although this is only one aspect of our cooperation. political and economic tools
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must also be used to drain the recruiting pool of all extremist groups. we therefore welcome the prime minister's commitment to holding national parliament treat -- parliamentary elections. the strategic agreement gives the united states a unique role in fostering democratic development. we will work with the united nations and iraqi leaders to ensure that all technical requirements to ensure freedom and elections are in place. i want to assure you that if iraq faces these challenges, it will have a committed partner in the united states. our relationship was rooted in respect and interest, as enshrined in the strategic framework agreement, are permanent and enduring roadmap. i thank you for this opportunity and ask you to help me welcome
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prime minister nouri al-maliki. [applause] >> in the name of god, may the >> in the name of god, may the blessing of god be upon you. i want to express my gratitude and esteemed to former congressman mr. jim marshall for his speech. i also want to give my thanks to
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ambassador beth jones for her warm words, and i want to extend to the u.s. ip my greetings and gratitude for their words. -- because of the development of the mechanism and the new techniques used by terrorists who undermine interests and institutions in all countries. we are here in a strategic important institute. i want to thank you for allowing me to be here. i want to discuss the relationship between iraq and
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the united states. we cooperated with our partners, and fight terrorist. this allows us to win over terrorist in iraq. all of the people of iraq were victims of the terrorist attacks led by al qaeda and the remnants of the regime in iraq. we are starting a new round of reconstruction after defeating al qaeda, who at some point stop stopped explosive in our resources.
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at some point, life came back to iraq. the economy started recovering. the construction developed. the security and economic level, and the political level, despite a diss balance we witnessed. we were able to defeat al qaeda, and this brought life and union back to the rack. why do we see what we are seeing today? why did we see the massacres? a genocide of iraqis. some believe that one component is fighting another component. this is not true. all of the iraqi people, the
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sunnis and shiites, are all killed. it is relating to the morale of al qaeda, who work to reach the goal by shedding the blood of iraqis and spreading terror. the cooperation between our forces in the united states of america, why is terrorism back in the region? what are the main reasons why terrorism isn't moving in iraq? it is a vision of the reality been impacted by the region.
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after the arab spring, which we support because they targeted dictatorships, no single regime can remain acceptable loss governing in such a wrong way for so many years. hence the revolutions, necessary to rebuild these countries and
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the people and societies on a sound basis, because they were misgoverned for many years. regretfully, they were able to get rid of the dictatorships, but not able to fill the void in the right way. a vacuum was created and al qaeda and others were able to exploit it and gain ground. they benefited from the fall of the state structure. now, we are seeing the region that allows terrorism to the back. it benefited some of the vacuum. you know perfectly well it is happening in libya and tunisia, and lebanon, and other countries that may have the same problem that all the countries are facing.
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al qaeda is clearly far by all countries and societies. we want an international war against terror. if we had tools to wage war, we would have a war against those who are killing people, calling for bloodshed, for ignorance, and do not want logic to govern our daily lives. we are calling all countries to international conferences, and by counterterrorism, i don't mean fighting terrorism only in iraq. terrorism is worldwide. terrorism is not anymore a local production. but it international production.
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this is why we want [indiscernible] it is coming back because of the political situation. we have two political tracks. the political track and the regime in charge of some countries of the region. if we do not have political regimes based on freedom, on democracy, regimes to listen to the will of the people, and to go back to the constitution, iraq at some point in not have a constitution but a single leader who spoke for the constitution. now we have a constitution and a constitutional democratic institution. we have separation of powers.
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and independent executive power. independent do just repower. and other independent powers, such as high commission from elections. we do not knock democratic institutions. but democratic exercise needs maturity and learning, and training. we have to en route the legacy of the corrupted regime is used. we need ongoing training and development. thank god we were able to have five rounds of elections. the last one a few days ago in order to listen to the will of the people. this is how local government and the federal governments were formed.
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the next element [indiscernible] we will not be postponing the elections. they will be held according to the legislations. we are facing terror. this is costing us money, effort, and lives. we are building democratic institutions and infrastructure, developing services. had we not faced terror, we would have moved forward more than we did in building the iraqi states. nonetheless, we moved forward. iraq is one of the main countries in developing and
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rebuilding exports and so on. without terrorism, we leap forward in providing to our people. the situation in the middle east has given a new chance for terrorists, who came back to rack on the situation started in syria. terrorist organizations found another chance to develop, to be armed. the terrorists found a second fence. we support the syrian people and what it wants, what it aims for. a democratic regime based on the will of the people. we do not want the syrian people to lose freedom, democracy. we are warning, and we are fearing, and we are worrying of
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the potential success of terrorist organizations in syria. if they win, we in the world should do everything to prevent this. in any country, in libya or other countries. all of our efforts should aim at preventing the success of al qaeda and other organizations because they would have a platform, a safe haven, and environment, and more capabilities. it will be harder for them to fix the problems that they will be causing. facing terror is not only about
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military force. of coarse, military force is important. security forces are at the forefront of this. the developing of capabilities. destroying all this is necessary, but not enough. we need a sound structure. this allows for al qaeda terrorist to develop. we are working on containing al qaeda any rack by enhancing
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social peace and finding constitutional solutions to problems. of course we have problems in iraq. it is a new democracy. democracies are still facing problems. these problems are under control through the constitution. we may get angry, but eventually we reach a solution that is constitutional and that is adaptable. this is what you always see. you will hear voices, angry, differences. eventually we reach an agreement. internally, as we are preparing to fight terror at the military level, getting weapons, buying intelligence area did we are working on having harmony.
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you may ask who are you kidding? some of the ones killing iraqis are coming from other countries. they are also iraqis or assisting them. i cannot say iraqis, sunnis, shiites, none are ignorant and can be supportive of al qaeda. these exists, but we have terror is coming from abroad. this is why the situation is deteriorating. the situation as a whole is good. there is no problem between sunnis and shiites. the shiites -- who is killing them? it is al qaeda killing all of the iraqis.
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sectarian banners and propagation of division. with the will of god we will remain united. we defeated al qaeda previously. today, once again, the sons of iraqi are with us. people again are seeing the situation is deteriorating because a qaeda and its organizations are back. those supporting it are back. it is leading to more unity. we will defeat the terrorists. we came to washington to consolidate the partnership and cooperation which removed forward -- and the cooperation in which we move forward.
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we support the idea of moderation. we have meetings with other countries that are also seeking moderation in the region against extremism.
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we'll have other meetings. in each meeting, more countries are joining because they want to be moderated. we want to mobilize to face difficulties we are facing. iraq is very close to syria. the relations between the countries are stored. the american role in iraq, it starts in iraq. it ends anywhere in the region where we can find strongholds of terrorists. we are creating a strategy, new one based on the development.
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we have a new strategy based on mobilizing the security forces and the people, the sons of iraq, and enhancing intelligence expertise. we are talking with americans and telling them that we need to benefit from their experience, from training for those who are defeating al qaeda in a technical way. iraq needs the benefit of training. the weapons necessary for counterterrorism, which has specific needs, it is not about artillery.
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it is specific weaponry. aside from the political forces, we need intelligence information that will help us to target the strongholds and groups of terrorists. we're not saying the world should support says. of course we should, we are part of it. if iraq is not well treated, it will be disastrous for the whole world. this applies to syria as well. the international community, it is their responsibility as well. terrorism carries weapons, ideas, everywhere. they carry ideas instead of
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flowers. we want to carry flowers, to expand them at the international level, to enhance cooperation. we have a request. it is only about iraq. it is about the country suffering from terrorism. many wars, internal crises in the region are proxy wars for regional countries. the most dangerous of these are the wars that are waged under sectarian banners. people are free to choose their
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religion. no one has the right, no one can force a belief on people. if someone wants to force what they believe on people, to force people to eat and drink, to think in the way they see fit, and according to their own ignorance. this is dangerous. this has its own school, its own institute. hence, the problem is increasing. the problem is huge and increasing. request theright to whole world, which is suffering from terror, to support us and support all the countries and the people who are suffering from al qaeda and from terrorists in order to defeat them and allow for people and
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countries to live in peace. iraq is witnessing an economic recovery despite everything you hear about terror attacks and threats. this is not having an impact on companies coming in working in iraq on investment and reconstruction and rebuilding. contain the to potential disasters that we would have suffered should the security forces have not faced al qaeda. in iraq issuffering due to those people wearing bomb belts and entering cafés or funerals and other gatherings and blowing themselves up. this is what is leading to the huge casualties. otherwise, they cannot control
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one single inch of the iraqi territory. this is why they are using those ignorant belt bombs and and target gatherings, killing as many people as possible. thatlan and our strategy we are still discussing in iraq is to adopt a new policy, a strategy that on the one hand mobilizes the people of iraq and on the other hand security forces, the fact that terrorists are arrested. we also need a scientific study on intelligence. intelligence is the best prevention against terror, even better than weapons. i do not want to be lengthy. let me say that the relations
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between us and the united states is something we are proud of. we came here in order to consolidate the strategic framework. we must at all levels consolidate the strategies. in education, economy, construction, energy, and every other possible dimension between our two countries. consolidate them and bring our opinions closer together and lead it into a genuine partnership. the middle east is facing it again. we shed blood together. we need to reach all of the goals we have set in an
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agreement signed. thank you very much. [applause] >> that was a very in oppressive and passionate and informative and frank -- that was a very impressive and passionate and informative and frank. as i was listening, it prompted a lot of memories. as a member of congress, i have
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visited iraq -- can we turn the mic up a little bit? i have visited iraq 15 or 20 times during my tenure. earlier when i was a much younger man, i fought in vietnam. i spent time studying the problems of terrorism and counterterrorism efforts. it comes back to the populace. the populace in a given area is a post to that -- opposed to the terrorist, to those who do harm, they are pretty good at being able to see where the problem is and get in touch with authorities and let them know. that with authorities can deal
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with the issue. i was listening to your remarks. in iraq, with assistance from the united states, the armed services are in a position to deal with terrorists once they know who they are and where they are. are you getting the support you need from the populace to identify the terrorists? if not, could you describe why you do not think you're getting the right kind of support? what could be done? >> i said regardless of the people and the direct attribution with the security forces of al qaeda, the population is supporting the
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security forces. they are determining who that terrorist are and informing us. al qaeda did something that helped us mobilize the people. very few iraqis have interest in being part of al qaeda. iraq you people are suffering from al qaeda. this is giving us a new chance in mobilizing -- the iraqi people are suffering from al qaeda. this is giving us a new chance in mobilizing. many of our operations against al qaeda and fighting them are the reason of information and cool operation and intelligence a cooperation from the iraqi people. all of the iraqis are supporting the security forces.
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the iraqis are discerning at this point because there are you ready -- their priorities are -- they are fighting al qaeda. >> there are several good questions that have been asked by the audience. what do consider to be your key achievement being in two terms now in iraq? what do consider failures? what did not work well? >> well, it is a question that is not easy to answer quickly. i cannot say that i be last anything. the iraqi institution, the parliament, the cooperation between them, everything
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achieved because iraq was about to collapse. people were not able to move out of the north and the south. some of the regions were controlled by the terrorists. there were many talk about dividing iraq in internal strife. we had a miller shows -- we had militias who are in -- abducting people. we had on a daily basis, 25 car bombs and beheadings of people and unknown corpses. everything was about to. our main achievement was to reunite the iraqis and to start
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again based on our being iraqis and not based on our sectarian allegiances. some of the people still believe in their concessions, but we are not taking -- talking sunnis and shiites. this is our main achievement. the second-best achievement is befitting -- al aeada wanted to make iraq into the islamic state of iraq, but it failed. people resisted and got stronger. we would have defeated them have a situation not deteriorated in syria.
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sectarian developed. also, on the achievement level, universities are back. students came by the thousands to specialize. they came back. these all our achievements because when we came to power, iraq was a complete disaster. war, weapons, destruction, everywhere. we stop the deterioration. we stood again on our feet. iraq was able to integrate its iraq environment. under the previous regime and
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following the follow, we do not have one single [indiscernible] iraq was isolated regionally and internationally. 17 countries have embassies in iraq. we have good relations with them with exception of a few. we are working on these. we found our role again. we adopted the policy of non- interference in other countries affairs. we are looking for common interest. we do not want to use force against others. we are looking for cooperation between us and other countries. this is the best thing we can achieve. one thing we are still suffering from is lack of infrastructure
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and schools and housing for the poor. despite the fact that we progressed a lot. also one thing to mention in iraq, we were able to build security forces, army, police, and so on, with weapons that can defend the iraqi sovereignty. talk about a state that wants to protect itself and to open up and engage other countries. an army for our defense. defending iraq and its sovereignty and not targeting any entries.
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-- any countries. >> as someone who used to be a politician, i should know better than to assess a question. -- to ask such a question. [laughter] if the answer is no, look of the done about that? -- what could be done about that? >> the answer is, yes. to the exception of those who do not want to work in the interest of iraq and those who have specific agendas. all of the iraqis say yes. we have a common ground, a common vision based on the institutions we have built. if you want to ask me why you have problems, i would say democracy needs lots of time and solutions. we have a heavy legacy.
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moving from central government [indiscernible] into a democracy is not something easy. national identity -- all of this needs time. none of the iraqis want a single party or needs a country without a constitution. the problem is a solution to the many problems that we face in moving. -- moving to a democracy. this needs time. >> is there any present coordination between iraq and syria on security? especially preventing the flow of fighters? >> no.
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none between the iraqi and syrian government. we decided to be neutral. we want to support the interest of the syrian people. we do not support the regime or the opposition. we do not want to support the opposition or the regime with weapons. we want a peaceful solution to a crisis. any bilateral relations don't exist between the two regimes. we're are trying to talk about solutions. we give initiatives about solutions to all friendly countries.
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at this point, for although source suffering, we believe the world believes the political solution is only possible way to the syrian crisis that is having a brew percussion on both. -- repercussion on all. >> do you think the ongoing relations between iraq and iran comes at the expense of larger or better relations with arab countries, especially in egypt? this was not my question. [laughter] >> the audience has a right to ask any questions. i want to quell the fears of all of your respectful audience here and outside. iraq is seeking friendship. we want to have open doors to all countries in the world. we do not want to have conflict with iran or saudi arabia or
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syria, not any single country anywhere. this is our policy. when we have friendly relations with any country, we do understand that it should not be at the expense of the interest of other countries. i want to say candidly and frankly not from an isolationist point of view, but i want to say that we need to make sure that the iraqi interest comes first. our interest is to open up to everyone and have note difference -- have no conflict with any country. we will work on differences and find solutions. we used to have problems with some countries.
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we're are moving forward into solving these problems as happened between us and our neighboring turkey and some countries of the iraq gulf state and some problems with kuwait. so, our relation with iran and any other countries is important, but it will never come at the expense of iran or the expense of our friendship with other countries. you would see that the iraqis think independently and not according to the interest of any others. we have a partnership an agreement with the united states. this is something some other countries are not like. this is what matters. be believed to have a strong relation within the united states. agree,rs do not
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it is their problem. they cannot impose anything on the iraqis. if they want our friends -- to be our friends -- they do not impose on us to be enemies of others. >> how do you respond to critics this is not coming from me, but a question from someone else -- say you are consolidating power and this has adversely affected iraq's democratic assess. -- process. >> the constitution and ruling in iraq -- let me know when it is an unconstitutional way. -- when i act in an unconstitutional way. if i act in a way that is not acceptable to some of our
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partners, this is something else. as long as i am committing to respecting the constitution and as long as i use my prerogative in a constitutional way, there should not be a problem. if i act in an unconstitutionally, please let me know and tell me to go back to the constitution. sometimes there are disagreements with some partners. we need to be wise. we need to go back to the constitution to work out differences. i never stepped from the constitution. one of the american leaders or officials when talking with some of our partners told them, this is your constitution. you wrote it. the constitution gives these prerogatives to the commander in chief of armed forces and he does not have a deputy. if you do not like this, change the constitution.
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you cannot ask someone and hold him accountable for something the constitution allows. >> i'm kind of glad you are the one who are answering these questions and not me. here is another one. senior leaders have faced charges for a party. at the same time, many of the same leaders who have faced charges have been very successful. what does that say or mean for the country that they have this sort of populist court? that is somebody else's question. glad you're answering it and not me. >> yes, of course. everyone has the right to be a candidate according to the constitution. if they are elected, so be it. some of the candidates are being elected, but not all those who
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are members of the party still have the mentality. in the security forces, we have officers in the huge majority were officers are of the army. they force everyone to be part of the party. if some people are supported by the people and can when according to the constitution, they are welcome. if the constitution does not allow them to be candidates, they will not be. if their candidacy -- let me say at any rate, iraq is still a party regime. anyone who is not in that certain party were excluded or someone was killed. so, no, it's some of those
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people are candidates, they can people areome of those candidates, they can if get -- but none of them was a candidate. we know that party, at a certain level, had a certain right. and a commission for the election. it has to approve the candidacy. otherwise, we have no problem with a candidate. >> could you elaborate on the means used by the iraqi government in the efforts it will make to ensure that iraq's christian minorities have a future in iraq and are not forced to flee the country were be faced with terrorist threats and blatant discrimination. >> well, terrorism is of a
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single component, including a minority. they use a ideology. al qaeda uses the same ideology. even more so against christians. they kill everyone, including christians. christians are part of our history, of our country. they are good, peaceful citizens. they are committed to supporting peace. al qaeda has another perspective. al qaeda feels they should kill all those who do not think alike. many of them were victims. this is the case of all of the iraqi people. they targeted churches and mosques and sunnis and shiites mosque. it was in those places that they
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killed christian leaders. because a number of the christians is limited, it seemed that they were targeted. we supported them strongly, we provided them with protection, to all of the christian political leaders and holy places. when i met the pope, i asked him to ask them to remain in iraq and tell european countries not to encourage iraqis who are christian to leave iraq. they are fighting al qaeda. i told him i do not want to see a middle east that is void of christians or muslims. christian in the east and muslims in the west is necessary for cooperation and the coexistence of the dual
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religions. we are supporting them. we respect them and love them. they are respectable. we cannot deny that they were targeted, as all people who are targeted. >> a question -- from the tour de force we saw today, i think i might know the answer to this -- have you decided to seek another term as prime minister next year? if so, what are your plans for the election? [laughter] >> well, i did not know what would justify this question. i have been asked every single
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day that this is something that is up to the iraqi. people. they will decide. of course, it is a difficult job. it is harmful. the interest of the iraq comes first. the decision comes with the iraq he people. -- iraqi people. i will act responsibly as did all of my partners in the previous two governments. it is up to the will of the people. if they are looking for change, i welcome that and i am part of it. >> prime minister, iraq success is success in the middle east and that is success for the world and success for the united states.
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we want to be as helpful as he possibly can to iraq so it can be the success we know it can be. thank you for coming and thank you for your willingness to respond to difficult questions. thank you to the audience for their patience and for your attendance and for some good questions. i think the meeting is adjourned. if you will wait for the official party to leave, we would appreciate it. thank you all. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2013] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] >> coming up on c-span, it treasury secretary lew discusses business investment -- coming up on c-span, treasury secretary lew.
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and business investment in the u.s. span, talks about promoting it peaceful use of nuclear power. you can watch a live beginning at 11:30 a.m. eastern. >> this is a tough time for nsa. everybody says, what are you doing? why are you doing it? we say, it together is much more important for this country that we defend this nation and take the beatings and it is to give up a program that would result in this nation being attacked. we would rather be here in front of you today and telling you why we defended these programs then
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having give them up and having nations attacked and people killed. >> intelligence officials defend a houseprogram at hearing. saturday at 10 a.m. eastern. span 2, your calls and comments for a best-selling kelley.kitty that is at noon on book tv "in depth." and remembering john f. kennedy. hisevents surrounding assassination. sunday at 3 p.m. eastern. >> what is the most important issue congress should consider in 2014? that is a question for middle and high school students in the c-span student cam video competition.
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.t shows various points of view you have a chance to win the grand prize of $5,000. this year we have doubled the number of winners. entries might best must be in. if you need where information go >> this part of the business investment summit involves discussion from ceos. treasury secretary lew. this is two hours. [applause] thank you, penny, for the
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introduction. settleted states cannot for the status quo. that is why president obama has fueling america's competitiveness the cornerstone of economic policy. our economy is the largest in the world. we need to make it even stronger by improving worker training and education of up rating our mission structure and driving inner station -- innovation. is, there are additional things we can add and do to make america even stronger as a magnet for investment. he for talking about what makes our economy such an attack to place to invest and what we plan to do to make it even more attractive, i want to start by saying a few words about the world economy.
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there brought broad evidence of recovery across the global landscape. economic conditions, in advanced economies, have improved. there is also no doubt that global demand is not where it needs to be. too many countries and unemployment levels are unexpectedly high, especially at among young people. as i said before, leaders around the world should make strengthening demand and creating jobs a priority to economic growth that is robust, sustainable, and balanced. seemsg at europe, it recession is slowly fading and steps are taken to restore financial stability. this is good news is that europe is integral to the global economy. nevertheless, growth remains weak. it is critical that surplus companies contribute more to demand. europe must also press forward on other measures to address high unemployment and have a strong banking union. after years of economic weakness
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and inflation, japan appears to be turning an economic warner. economic growth has improved and policymakers have demonstrated commitment to that transition. this requires a careful balance of fiscal policy and advancing reforms that increases the mystic demand. economic growth across many merging market economies remains positive, but has slowed somewhat. the slowdown is primarily because post-crisis stimulus has waned. the demand for exports has fallen. credit conditions have tightened. while these head winds will put pressure on some emerging economies going forward, most emerging markets have strengthened their institutions and frameworks over the past decade and this will help increase their ability to adjust to the shifts in capital flows. in china, the world's second largest economy, policymakers have also made substantial commitments to reform. growth there continues to remain relatively robust but there's a question of thousand to sustain -- of how to sustain
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robust rates of growth over the medium turn as the chinese economy rebalances toward domestic consumption and away from domestic investments and exports. at the same time, china needs to increase the flexibility of its exchange rate regime and permit more access to capital and more open access to markets. the success of this transation matters to the united states, to asian countries and the global economy. china is currently conducting a series of high-level meetings designed to reform their agenda and we look forward to see how that evolves in the coming weeks. as we meet this morning, there really has never been another time when the world economy has been so interconnected. it's clear that what happens across the global economic landscape matters to us here at home. our prosperity grows when other countries succeed. economic challenges abroad reduce economic activity here in the united states. and we have a stake in each other's future. we need the world to sustain greater growth and the world continues to need the united
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states to be the backbone of a stable global economy. now when you look at the united states, while we still have work to do to speed up growth and create more jobs, we have been making significant progress. and one of the reasons we have been making progress is because the core of our economy is resilient. to fully appreciate that resilience, it's important to remember how much things have changed since the dark days of 2008. five years ago, our economy was hit by a devastating financial crisis that helped trigger the worst recession since the great depression. our banks were on the bridge, -- brink, our housing market was in trouble and our auto industry was sliding toward the abyss. in fact, in the months before president obama was sworn into office, we were shedding roughly 800,000 jobs a month and our economy was shrinking at an .3% annual rate. -- 8.3% annual rate. there was real concern that the united states economy would not bounce back. but it did, thanks to the tenacity of the american people,
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the determination of the private sector, and the bold, decisive actions taken across government. right away the president moved to pull our economy out of the recession. he worked to put out the financial fires, stabilize the automakers and jump start growth. in addition he pursued policies to fuel our economy into the future that meant investing in education and infrastructure, fixing a health care system that was broken, creating new rules so our financial system works better for consumers and investors, and locking in lower taxes for 98% of all americans. and lowering baferiers so entrepreneurs and -- barriers so entrepreneurs and businesses can innovate, grow, and hire. because of these measures we're moving in the right direction. the positive signs are real. since 2009 our economy has been expanding. over the past 43 months, private employers have added 7.6 million jobs. in fact, businesses have added
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more than two million jobs over the last year alone. and the end of this year, and the beginning of next year, show signs of further progress. the auto industry is growing again, manufacturing has increased. the global market has improved. american companies liked ford and apple are starting to move operations back to the united states. we sell more products made in america to the rest of the world than ever before. the cost of health care is growing at the slowest rate in years. and our deficits are half of what they were when the president took office. so we have seen the united states economy make a turn around. our economy is actually recovered faster than any other advanced economy. just as it's becoming more expensive and more difficult to do business in other parts of the world, our economy is becoming more competitive and more attractive. business leaders from around the world tell me all the time that there's no other place where they would rather do business. on my very first trip as treasury secretary, i visited a plant in georgia and saw firsthand american workers producing electronic equipment to be added to construction machinery for export to china.
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the plant is owned and operated by siemens, the german company, and it's one of 130 facilities they run throughout the united states. they've invested more than $125 million bel in the united states -- billion in the united states over the past decade and invests about $1 billion every year in research here. when asked about it, they said, america produces better than anyone. the heart of our ability to produce better than anyone is our people. our entrepreneurs are the most determined and innovative. at the same time, we're the largest single market in the world. we have a deep infrastructure that connect this is vast market through pipelines and roads and bridges. our universities attract the best and brightest minds from around the globe.
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on top of that, we're experiencing an energy revolution in america. the united states is less dependent on foreign oil than at any time in more than two decades. we produce more oil at home than we have in nearly 25 years and more natural gas than any time in history. this transformation is driving down energy costs for consumers and businesses. our increase in energy production is not limited to oil and gas. energy and renewable resources like wind and solar doubled in the president's first term and we will continue to make investments in these cutting edge technologies. so our economy has made progress and that progress has made the united states an even better place to invest. but i want to underscore for everyone here that we are not satisfied with the current pace of job creation and economic growth. we know that there are things that we can do to invest in american skills, american innovation, and american infrastructure. so that the united states
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remains the most attractive place around the globe to do business. taking action in these areas is good for growth and it's good for job creation. while the process create unnecessary anxiety, congress proved it can still do what is needed when it came together on a bipartisan basis just two weeks ago to reopen our government and raise the statutory debt limit. it's now time for congress to make a pro-growth, pro-jobs agenda the focal point. this will strengthen our economy at home and further cement the united states as the best place to invest, hire, and grow businesses. let me point to the key areas we we can make a difference going forward. first as democrats and republicans meet to produce a budget, they have an opportunity to forge an agreement focused on restoring our long-term fiscal health while making targeted investments to grow our economy. they should use this occasion to replace the corrosive, across the board cuts known as sequestration with fair and balanced deficit reduction
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policies. it's crucial that we close wasteful tax loopholes, eliminate costs where it makes sense and use some of the resources we free up to invest in a few key areas like manufacturing, infrastructure and education. second, congress should finish comprehensive immigration reform and send a bill to the president for his signature. the senate has already passed bipartisan legislation and it's awaiting passage in the house of representatives. this immigration legislation would strengthen our borders, chart a path to earned citizenship and increase economic growth by more than $1 trillion. it drives growth by attracting highly skilled scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs to our country. it will bring greater investment in the united states from beyond our shores, create new job opportunities, ignite new consumer demand and spark business activity. it would do all of this while increasing payroll tax revenue that would reduce our deficit and put social security and medicare in a more stable footing. another bipartisan bill that can strengthen our economy is the farm bill. bipartisan legislation that's passed the senate is designed to
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protect america's farmers, ranchers and provide a safety net for america's most vulnerable children. the farm bill conferees have an opportunity to work together to develop a bipartisan package to promote economic growth and job creation while ensure that needy children are well-nourished. over the years, democrats and republicans have come together to foster economic growth, job creation and investment. we can see that bipartisan progress as we work together to reform how we tax businesses while upgrading our infrastructure to meet the economic needs of the future. let me be clear. the president is committed to business tax reform. this will help create and retain good jobs in the united states. the fact is, the united states now has one of the highest statutory corporate tax rates in the world. but as high as that rate is, it only raises about an average amount of revenue as a share of gdp compared to other
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advanced economies. our code is also full of special interest tax breaks and loopholes while hurting others that are investing in the united states. we can do better. and we can do this by broadening the tax base and lowering tax rates in a way that doesn't add a dime to the federal deficit. the president put forward the details of his tax reform and pleadmead clear his commitment -- and has made clear his commitment to business tax reform paired with an infrastructure package paid for with one-time revenue. we have a real opportunity ahead to seize the tax reform and establish a simpler, fairer and more competitive tax reform in the yeats. -- years. they share much in common with the approach the president has put forward. there's no reason we can't start with the substantial policy areas we agree on and come together to find common ground. in addition to reforming our tax system, we must finish the work of creating new trade agreements that are free and fair.