Today’s topics: NATO / ISIL / Egypt Air crash / POTUS /
Meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers in Brussels, Belgium.
19 May 2016 Press availability at NATO Headquarters
SECRETARY KERRY: “Good afternoon, everybody. I’m personally very pleased to be back in Brussels, which I have come to understand, as many people in the world have, is a city of remarkable strength and resilience. And I’m very, very grateful to Secretary-General Stoltenberg and my NATO colleagues for the productive discussions that we’ve been able to have thus far today to lay the groundwork for the alliance summit in Warsaw this July…No matter what crisis demands our attention at this moment – and obviously there are many – we are never taking our eye off of the larger picture, which is what NATO and this meeting is really all about. Nearly 70 years ago, NATO was formed in order to ensure the collective defense of like-minded countries. And after today’s meetings, I can confirm to you extraordinary unity. The alliance morale and sense of purpose is very strong, perhaps as strong as it’s ever been. And the tragic bombings of two months ago in this great capital city simply reinforced the determination of all the partner countries to maintain vigilance within and beyond the borders of each of our nations and to prepare for the possibility of danger in any form, including terrorism, cyber attacks, and hybrid warfare.
Now, we all know that readiness does not just magically appear because you say we’ve got to be ready. It comes from investing in the right capabilities and in getting ahead of the challenges so that adversaries understand, fully and clearly, that they will never defeat or divide us. And that is why we are enhancing our forward presence in the east of Europe. It is why we are projecting stability in the south. And it is why we are deepening our cooperation with the European Union and the counter-Daesh coalition.
I just reported in my comments to our colleagues a few minutes ago that not since last May – that is a year now – has Daesh moved into territory, taken over a community, and held that community for a period of time. And we believe that we are making progress with – over 90 percent of the citizens of Tikrit have returned to Tikrit, which was liberated. And now people are working similarly in Ramadi and in other areas.”
The Department of State has announced the designation of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s (ISIL’s) branch in Libya (ISIL-Libya) as a Foreign Terrorist Organization under section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Today, the Department is also simultaneously designating ISIL-Libya, along with the ISIL branches in Yemen and Saudi Arabia, as Specially Designated Global Terrorists under Section 1(b) of Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, which imposes sanctions and penalties on foreign persons that have committed, or pose a serious risk of committing, acts of terrorism that threaten the security of U.S. nationals or the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States.
Egypt Air crash
The United States offers our deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of the passengers and crew of EgyptAir Flight 804, as well as to the countries affected by this tragedy, first and foremost Egypt and France. At this time we do not yet know definitively what caused the disappearance of Flight 804. The United States stands ready to provide our full support and resources to the Governments of Egypt and France as they investigate this incident.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you so much. Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you, everybody. Please have a seat. Welcome to the White House. Today, I have the privilege to present our nation’s highest honor for scientific and technological achievement –- the National Medals of Science, and the National Medals of Technology and Innovation. The amount of brainpower in this room right now is astonishing. (Laughter.) But when you talk to these brilliant men and women, it’s clear the honor has not yet gone to their heads. They still put their lab coats [on] one arm at a time. (Laughter.) Joining us to celebrate these achievements are members of Congress; Secretary of Energy Ernie Moniz — a pretty good scientist himself — my Science Advisor, John Holdren; the Director of the National Science Foundation, France Còrdova; the Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Michelle Lee; and Jim Rathmann from the National Medals of Science and Technology Foundation. I want to thank them for all the work that they do each year to help us organize and honor the scientists and innovators in this great nation of ours.
Now, we are engaging in a lot of science and tinkering here at the White House. We’ve got Astronomy Night. We got Hack-a-thons. We got Code-a-thons. We have Science Fairs, Maker Faires. It is fun. I love this stuff. I get to test out some of the cool stuff that ends up here in the White House. At this year’s Science Fair, one nine-year-old, named Jacob Leggette, turned the tables on me and suggested that we needed to start a kids’ advisory group — (laughter) — so that young people can help us understand what’s interesting to them when it comes to STEM education, which I thought was a pretty good idea. (Laughter.)
So, today, I can announce that we are launching a “Kid Science Advisors” campaign for young scientists and innovators to send in their suggestions for what we should be doing to support science and technology, and inspire the next generation of scientists and innovators. So those young people out there who are listening, go to our website — we’re going to be looking for some advisors, some advice. (Laughter.)