3:30 P.M., EDT
NEW YORK FOREIGN PRESS CENTER, 799 UNITED NATIONS PLAZA, 10TH FLOOR
MODERATOR: All right. Good afternoon, everyone, and thank you for waiting and thank you for joining us at the New York Foreign Press Center, and thank you to all those in Washington at our sister Foreign Press Center in D.C.
Today, we have Acting Assistant Secretary Mike Hammer here to speak with us about the range of activities over the last week here at the UN, and on the margins of the General Assembly meetings. Mike Hammer is the Acting Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, and in discussing the range of activities, will talk about the importance of partnerships, the power of partnerships, that both President Obama and Secretary Clinton have been focused on since the start of this Administration to further U.S. interests around the world and to ensure that we meet global challenges together with our international partners.
So, without further ado, Mike Hammer.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HAMMER: Thank you very much Ben, and Alyson Grunder, who I believe you’ve probably all met, the new director here at the Foreign Press Center. It is, again, a real pleasure to be back here in New York for another UN General Assembly. We thought it would be important to do a little recap of the last seven days, and I give you a lot of credit for continuing to show up at all the briefings we’ve been putting together for you that show the scope and range of U.S. diplomacy and engagement around the world.
From the outset of this Administration, President Obama and Secretary Clinton have been working tirelessly to advance America’s leadership, to renew it, and to make sure that we’re working, as has been noted, with our international partners to address the common challenges that we face as a global community.
You have seen over the past seven days the Secretary engaged in a wide range of meetings, as well as then when the President was here, in the meetings with him. In total, the President had 12 bilateral meetings in which the Secretary participated. She then had an additional 22 bilateral meetings. And I recall on Friday, our last meeting was with the Foreign Minister of Mexico Patricia Espinosa late into the afternoon after a full day, and this morning, the Secretary started early with the Prime Minister of Lebanon Mikati, this in his role as the president of the UN Security Council.
And so we’ve had a very active week. We’ve tried to bring to you a – number of briefings, as I alluded to before – I think this will be your ninth one – that have covered a wide range of topics – from the food security and women in agriculture, to the role of the United States, and the State Department in particular, in U.S. economic policy and engagement, global health, and non-communicable diseases.
We’ve talked a little bit about the Open Government Partnership that was launched by President Obama with the Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff following on the heels of the ministerial that Secretary Clinton held in July with her counterpart, Foreign Minister Patriota. We’ve talked about the renewal and strengthening of our engagement in Asia. We’ve talked about the New Silk Road, our effort to cope with the challenge that is Afghanistan by bringing in greater regional cooperation, trying to create economic opportunity in that region. We’ve had the launch of the Global Counterterrorism Forum, which is important in bringing together 30 countries who have agreed to cooperate internationally in the effort to stem terrorism, and we had Bob Blake come here and talk about South and Central Asia.
I want to hit on the key – on some key themes that you’ve seen that have been important for the Secretary as we’ve been advancing American foreign policy and American interests around the globe in the last two and a half years. You may recall she started the week with the Women in Agriculture event. This is particularly important as it’s a core belief of the Secretary that the greater the role for women in their communities, in government, in the economy, the better it is for us and for future generations.
She has made a point of hosting high-level discussions on Feed the Future, the U.S. Global Hunger and Food Security Initiative, with a focus on women because they have a critical role in agricultural-led economic growth. And you may recall that about two weeks ago in San Francisco on September 16th, she gave a speech on the importance of women, particularly focused on APEC countries but that brought out some very remarkable statistics, one of which I recall here today – the Boston Consulting Group survey concluded that globally, women will control about $15 trillion – that’s $15 trillion in spending – by the year 2014. And by 2028, the Boston Consulting Group says women will be responsible for about two-thirds of consumer spending worldwide. That’s quite remarkable. So the Secretary’s point is that unlocking the potential of women by narrowing the gender gap could lead, for example, in some APEC countries, to a rise in 14 percent of per capita GDP, which is just a tremendous amount by year 2020.
So it’s important that we not lose sight that we’re doing – and what the Secretary’s doing in terms of promotion of the rights of women and girls and is a key core interest because it also looks to improving the economic situations around the globe.
We had the President hosting the high-level meeting on Libya which allowed us to take note of the incredible work that was done by the international community to address a very challenging and potentially tragic situation with Muammar Qadhafi threatening his own people, and we know now that the outcome through UN-led Security Council resolutions and the work of NATO and our air partners has brought about a new Libya, one in which there’s now true potential for the Libyan people to express and live up the aspirations that they desire after 40 years of tyranny.
The Open Government Partnership is important because it’s something that’s key to the Obama Administration in its efforts to promote transparency, not only domestically but internationally, and we’ve very pleased with the work that’s being done there. You may recall that President Obama raised this first discussion when we were in India, and that’s been something that he’s followed through on. And as I mentioned, there were a couple other initiatives – the Global Counterterrorism Forum – as well as the New Silk Road ministerial that was held.
So we could carry on for a while. I’m sure you’re probably fairly exhausted in terms of all the briefings that have come at you, but I wanted to give you one last opportunity before I return back to Washington to address some of the issues that may be foremost on your mind. And I know we have a number of your colleagues also in Washington, at the Foreign Press Center there, and I’ll be happy to take some questions from them.
So with that, let me just turn it over to your questions.
Yeah. Go ahead.
QUESTION: Paolo Mastrolilli of the Italian newspaper La Stampa. Have you had any feedback concerning the Quartet proposal on peace talks in the Middle East, and today about the discussion in the Security Council concerning the Palestinian request?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HAMMER: Right. As you know, the Security Council began meeting this afternoon roughly around 3 o’clock for pretty much a procedural meeting. I do not have any readout, since we are just coming on the heels of that meeting. I’m not even sure if it’s concluded yet.
But basically, as you noted, the Quartet statement did provide both sides with a path out of the current impasse and back to negotiations. We have been very clear in terms of the U.S. position that we believe that genuine peace can only be achieved between Israelis and Palestinians themselves through direct negotiations. There have been certain reactions, public reactions, we’ve seen by some Israeli officials as well as some Palestinians, but we’re still working officially to get their reactions.
But our efforts are very much focused on trying to get both parties back to the table, as it is an American goal and determination to work with both parties to realize their common objective and our common objective, which is two states living side by side in peace and security, and then the only way really to do that is through negotiations.
Yes. Go ahead.
QUESTION: Gulveda Lama of Haberturk. I was wondering about Libya. We know that the Libyan people are now looking for democracy and they have a lot of – former Libyan Government had a lot of assets in foreign countries, particularly in the United States. What is the position of the U.S. in terms of releasing those – some of those assets to the use of the newly formed government in Libya?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HAMMER: Right. No, I appreciate the question. We have, in fact, as you probably know, have released some significant amount of assets, but this is a process that needs to be done carefully in order to ensure that the money then when it returns to Libya, in fact is used for the benefit of the Libyan people. It really is the Libyan people’s money. And so we continue to work through that and understand that the TNC has come forward with additional requests for potential lifting of some economic sanctions to facilitate their economic recovery and to be able to provide better opportunities for the Libyan people. At the same time, we notice that the TNC has requested that NATO continue its operations in protection of civilians.
So we’ll continue to work through this. It is, I think, in the interests of the international community that the money is returned to Libya, but in such a way that – as to ensure that it is used for the purposes and the benefit of the Libyan people. And of course, we’ll be working through that in the coming days and weeks to try to facilitate it and to ensure, again, that as the TNC looks to creating a better future for the Libyan people, that it’s an inclusive and democratic process that allows people to express themselves and therefore also allow them use the resources in a way that is most beneficial.
Maybe you can go – oh, Tejinder is over in Washington. Perhaps he wants to ask a question.
QUESTION: Yes. Nice to be doing this, Mr. Hammer. Remember you – I had interviewed you before President Obama went to India, and there was this air of a great honeymoon period. Is that honeymoon period over? Because President Obama had 12 bilateral meetings, but the 13th did not materialize, with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
And the second question is: You mentioned terrorism forum. Do you think the U.S. can make Pakistan attack Haqqani Network? Because they have issued a statement that they are not going to touch Haqqani Network.
And the last one, on Open Government initiative. Is India on board? If not, why? And what is the U.S. reaction?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HAMMER: Thanks, Tejinder. I remember that interview quite well, and I still share in the – sort of the moment of excitement in furthering that U.S.-India bilateral relationship, and I would argue that we continue to very much look to our partnership with India to continue to develop even deeper ties. And as you know, President Obama has the utmost respect and admiration for Prime Minister Singh, and they continue to have frequent exchanges in making sure that we continue the momentum that’s been generated.
And the very wonderful part about the evolution of the India-America partnership is that it really began with President Clinton and has continued on through the administration of President Bush, and now accelerated under President Obama. So I would say that we continue to have excellent cooperation with our Indian counterparts on a full range of issues, and we try to engage them as much as possible because we believe that India is an important partner, certainly it is the world’s largest democracy, it is one that can contribute greatly to addressing the world challenges that we face today as a global community.
With regards to the Haqqani Network, I think we’ve been very clear over the past week in terms of our concerns and our efforts to encourage the Pakistani Government to take action against the Haqqanis. We will continue to press them to do that.
We recognize that Pakistan itself has made some incredible sacrifices in fighting extremist militants, but this is one area where we need to see more. It is critical for the good of Pakistan and obviously for the interests of the United States that more efforts are undertaken to go after the Haqqani Network. And it’s an issue that Secretary Clinton has raised and that others have raised as well in the recent days, because it is something that is of utmost importance to us.
With regards to your last question, with regards to the Open Government Partnership, we are certainly in discussions with India. We – as we – as I alluded to during President Obama’s visit to India, it was something that we discussed quite plentifully – the need for increased transparency. And it’s something that I’m sure we’ll continue to have discussions on.
And I’m not up on the latest in terms of whether India has decided to join this partnership, but we certainly have every intention to continue to add new members. In fact, I can tell you that last Friday when Secretary Clinton met with President Chinchilla of Costa Rica and expressed to her our desire that Costa Rica join, it was received very positively. So we might be expecting Costa Rica to join. So again, this is an open partnership. It should be very inclusive and hoping that other countries will come and join this.
Thank you, Tejinder. Are there any other questions here? Yes.
QUESTION: Maurizio Molinari for La Stampa. Mike, I saw several press reports this morning regarding the emerging – an emerging military opposition in Syria. It was an article in The Washington Post about the Free Syrian Army. The Administration has stated on several occasion the support for nonviolent protestors in Syria. I was wondering if you can confirm the existence of a military opposition to Asad and if there is a position of the Administration on that.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HAMMER: Right. I mean, first I would point out that the Syrian Government has been brutally oppressing and repressing activists and people throughout Syria. And we are rather concerned about these reports and have obviously called for a stop to the brutality and repression, and we’ve asked for President Bashir Asad to step down.
We are aware of these reports, and the opposition, we must remark that they have been – most members of the opposition – have been exhibiting extraordinary restraint in the face of the brutality of the regime and they have been demanding their own rights through peaceful and unarmed demonstrations. However, the longer the regime continues to repress, kill, and jail peaceful marchers and activists, the more likely it is that peaceful protests will perhaps become violent themselves.
We as the international community continue to demand that the Syrian Government, which bears the primary responsibility for the ongoing violence, stop the shooting and arrests of peaceful marchers and allow for a peaceful transition to go forward. And as you know, we’ve also been working here at the Security Council to try to pass a strong resolution that would include sanctions against the Syrian regime.
So we’ll continue our efforts. Our Ambassador Ford in Damascus, who’s continued to reach out to the opposition, to speak with all and every member that he’s able to, to assist them as they confront a very difficult and challenging and brutal regime, and we’ll see in the coming days where this takes us.
You have – maybe go back to Washington and then we’ll come to you.
QUESTION: Thanks for doing this, Mike. Can you hear me?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HAMMER: I can very well. I can even see you.
QUESTION: Okay, great. Thanks. So I wanted to ask you about the – all the attention that was brought to the Palestinian issue because of the Security Council resolution. Wouldn’t you say that more good than bad has come of it, in the sense that it’s cast a spotlight on this issue? And do you think that it’s going to be enough of a crisis to create urgency for the two sides to return to talks?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HAMMER: Well, I appreciate the question. As you know, from the very first days in office, President Obama engaged on the critical matter of trying to advance peace between Israel and the Palestinians. And Secretary Clinton has been working diligently and tirelessly to try to bring about a restart to these negotiations.
The discussions, obviously, that have taken place over the course of the last week have been focused, as one would naturally have here at the UN, and with so many world leaders here, on trying to figure out a way to try to get the parties back to the negotiating table. We know there’s a trust deficit that needs to be overcome. We fully understand the complexities and challenges that the parties face themselves.
But the only way forward, really, is through direct talks, and we’ve been making this very clear. We’ve had countless discussions with regional partners, with others. You saw the Quartet statement, I think, produced a very good opportunity here for us to put this on the path forward that would make the most sense for the parties themselves.
We all have and share a common objective of having two states living side by side in peace and security. And the question is: How can we get there? Are the leaders of each country willing to take the personal political risks to achieve peace? And we’re going to be very much working in the coming days to try to bring that about.
So we do feel that it is important to keep international attention on this issue. And we, for our part, have never stopped paying attention. We have constantly been working this, perhaps not as visibly as in the last few days, but I can assure you that whether it was Senator Mitchell before or now with Ambassador Hale, we have been fully committed to working to try to get this back on track.
QUESTION: Just a short follow-up, Mike. Have there been any private signals sent by the parties that they’re willing to accept the Quartet statement as a basis for the 30-day clock ticking? Because at least publicly, the Palestinians have said that it doesn’t meet their requirements of stopping settlement building and the ’67 borders as a basis. Thanks.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HAMMER: Again, I don’t want to get ahead of what they might themselves be expressing eventually publicly. Clearly, we have been communicating with both parties in terms of our efforts to try to get this process re-launched, working through the Quartet. I think there is great international willingness to assist as this process goes forward. So we are looking to the parties to now take the important step to, in fact, embark on this process. So I don’t want to get ahead of ourselves in terms of the decisions they need to make, but they certainly have an opportunity here that we’re hoping they will seize.
So let me come back here, up to New York.
QUESTION: Hello, Adele Smith from Le Figaro. My question is: How worried are you of – and what actions are you ready to take to prevent a backlash against the Obama Administration in the streets of the Arab world in the light of the U.S. approach on the Palestinian question at the UN, whether it’s at the Security Council or the General Assembly, given the hope that was back in 2009 in the Arab world with Barack Obama and the disappointment there is today?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HAMMER: Well, I think that you talk of the hope that there was, and President Obama gave a speech in Cairo where he was very clear that we will also speak clearly as the United States and that there are different perspectives on this that must be understood by both Arabs and Israelis, and this is an issue in which we have been very clear on and our U.S. position has been explained to the world quite openly. But we are doing – and our position is based on what we believe is the best way forward for both parties, the best way that peace, and a lasting peace can be realized.
I think that also the Arab street can see where the United States has stood through the whole developments of the Arab Awakening this past spring in our positions, whether in regards to Egypt and Tunisia, what we’ve done with Arab partners in Libya. So you need to look at the full picture and need to understand that the United States stands behind the aspirations of the peoples of the Middle East to have their rights, their universal rights protected and enable them to have the opportunity to create a better future for themselves, a more democratic future. And I think when they will look at President Obama’s leadership and what Secretary Clinton has been doing, that they’ll come to appreciate where the United States is coming from and it will be something that, obviously, we need to continue to communicate so that we are well understood.
Let me see if there’s another question here before we go back down to – you had a question, yes. Go ahead.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HAMMER: Okay. No, absolutely. Go ahead. Here.
QUESTION: President -- both President Obama and the Secretary had bilateral meetings with Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan and Davutoglu. There were reports on Turkish media that an agreement in principle was reached between Washington and Ankara about some of the equipment that is used in Iraq to be stationed in (inaudible). Is that true? Is there an agreement that is being reached? And if so, are we going to be receiving the military equipment from northern Iraq starting from December 31st to be stationed in Turkey to be used to combat PKK?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HAMMER: Right. I’m familiar with the reports. It won’t surprise you that I’m not going to go beyond what we’ve said publicly at this point. But that is – and obviously, we have a strong partnership and we stand with Turkey in its fight against the PKK. And we’ve had terrific and very productive meetings both with the President, with Prime Minister Erdogan, and the Secretary, with Foreign Minister Davutoglu, in working to see how we can increase and better our cooperation in this area in particular, but also, we were very appreciative of the decision that Turkey made to base the NATO, sort of, missile defense in Turkey. So we – there’s a broad range of discussions that we have always ongoing with Turkish officials, whether it’s a situation in Syria, concerns about Iran, or the broader concerns that we have relating to the region. But I can’t go any further than what’s been said publicly at this point regarding the equipment that you’re referring to.
Are you ready now, and then we’ll go to Washington.
QUESTION: Thank you. Mr. Hammer, Paul Toohey here, a journalist from News Limited Australia. This might be slightly off topic, but not necessarily. I just wanted to draw on your extensive experience in public affairs dealing with the press, and this is the Foreign Press Center. The Australian Government has last week ordered an inquiry into the print and online media in Australia. Now it’s an independent inquiry. Nevertheless, it may come back. It has the power – the authority to come back, and the government has said it may legislate to control the Australian print and online media. Would that surprise you that a country like Australia, which is quite symbiotic to the U.S., doesn’t have First Amendment rights there, would take such a move?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HAMMER: Well, I must admit, it is a little bit out of left field, to use an American expression, and I’m not familiar with the specifics of the topic that you raise in terms of this potential legislation. I mean, I can clearly speak for the United States in terms of we have, obviously, great respect for First Amendment rights and freedom of the press, and there may be some times some natural tensions that may occur between our press friends and the U.S. Government, but we are committed to, obviously, informing the American people and the world about our policies. So I can’t really specifically address your question other than to state our universal position on respect for press freedoms and freedom of speech.
Let’s go to Washington if we can.
QUESTION: Hi, Mike. This is Dmitry Kirsanvo for ITAR-TASS. I just wanted to ask you to read out the Secretary’s meeting with Georgian Foreign Minister Vashadze that took place earlier today.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HAMMER: Thank you. I’m sorry that, unfortunately, I was not in that meeting. I had another commitment there earlier today, and so we’ll have to somehow get back to you. I think they – we may have just provided a readout to the press that was here. If not, then we can follow up with you and give you the details, but I really don’t have anything for you on it at the moment.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HAMMER: Yes. Go to the back, and then we’ll come to you.
QUESTION: Hi, I’m Cecile Gregoriades with Marianne magazine, a French magazine. Regarding the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, is the U.S. ready to apply pressure on Israel regarding the illegal settlements, which are a major impediment to peace there?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HAMMER: Right. Well, I think our position on settlements has been very well laid out. We will continue to work on this issue and all the other issues, obviously, that pertain to the peace process. Again, what is really critical, and the focus of our efforts, is that the parties themselves must come to the table. The only way forward is for them to, face to face, really have the kinds of discussions that are necessary to address these very difficult topics. And again, the United States is prepared to help in any way that we can to encourage the parties, but ultimately, the choices that have to be made are theirs, and the first choice, really, is to seize this opportunity to reengage in talks.
I see, I have one of my Turkish friends down in Washington who wants to ask a question.
QUESTION: Two quick questions, actually, one, the first on Syria sanctions. The Turkish Government will declare some sanctions on Syria, and the Turkish prime minister stated that the Turkish and American officials are discussing the details of the sanctions. First, what is your expectation from this new sanction, which will be coming from Turkish Government? What is the vital point for you? And secondly, there’s still a tension in the region in Eastern Mediterranean during these drilling activities between Turkey, Israel, and Cyprus and Greece. And some pundits are suggesting that U.S. Government shall deploy Sixth Fleet to the region from Norfolk, et cetera.
What will your – the steps that you will take on this issue? Any plan for the U.S. Government to ease this tension in the region?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HAMMER: Right. Well, I guess you enjoy having – putting your questions both to Mark and Toria down in Washington, now to me here in New York, so there’s no escaping you, but I admire your persistence.
On the sanctions question with regards to Syria, clearly, we’ve had discussions not only with Turkey but a number of other countries, and we are actually in the middle of an effort here at the UN to try to impose further sanctions against the Asad regime to really tighten and make the circumstances more difficult for it so that it will abide by the desires of the international community and end its brutal repression. Can’t really get into the specifics.
Obviously, Turkey needs to see what it might consider to be most effective in terms of implementing sanctions. We, the United States, have undertaken our own unilateral sanctions, but as you’re well aware, our level of investment in Syria is rather minimal, and therefore it’s very important that Syria’s neighbors like Turkey take important steps to increase the pressure, and sanctions obviously is one way to go about that, so we would obviously welcome any measures that the Turkish Government decides to undertake.
With regards to the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean and drilling, as you know, there’s a U.S. company involved. We hope that this is not something that’s going to lead to additional concerns or tensions. They’re perfectly within their rights to do so, and I don’t really have anything further to add. We are obviously in communication with the Turkish Government, expressing our concerns, but trusting that this drilling can go forward, as it is certainly within the rights that the company has to go forward with doing this.
Let me take a question here. I think there were – there was another one? No? Yeah, did you have --
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HAMMER: Okay. We got a lot of Turkish colleagues here today. That’s quite all right. Yes, did you have a follow-up? Yeah.
QUESTION: I have one question (inaudible). Just to be informed, how would such procedure work if, for example, the deal is reached between the Americans and the Turks? Would it be – would it go through the Congress, or is the President himself – has the authority to authorize such a deal and then the transfer will start?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HAMMER: Right. It’s always something that we struggle with, and that’s answering hypotheticals. So it’s hard to talk about a deal that’s not been struck. And so I’m apprehensive, but again, some – you point out that some arrangements don’t have to go to the U.S. Congress, so we need to see what the specific agreement would be, and there – then make the determination whether we need to go through Congress or not, but it’s not an absolute requirement, then, on any military-to-military arrangement that always Congress needs to be involved. But we’ll obviously be looking at the situation given – whenever the discussions come to fruition.
I see there’s another question in Washington.
QUESTION: Hi, Mike. Thank you for doing this. My question is regarding the meeting between Secretary Clinton with her Chinese counterpart. We saw a report that today, Minister Yang protested to Secretary Clinton regarding the arms sales to Taiwan. So can you confirm that, and can you give us more details on it?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HAMMER: Right. I’m not aware of this issue specifically that you’re referring to having come up in that bilateral meeting. However, obviously, Secretary Clinton had a productive, long conversation with Foreign Minister Yang approximately – almost roughly an hour – as part of the regular and constant contact that we have with China based on mutual respect and mutual interest. We have discussed a number of topics. The issue of Taiwan did come up. We have a U.S. strategic interest in maintaining peace and security across the Taiwan Strait. And we’ve explained on numerous occasions that the Taiwan Relations Act provides for a strong rationale for us to provide for the defense of Taiwan.
Beyond that, there were other elements that were discussed, including our appreciation for China’s ongoing efforts with regards to North Korea and the meeting that they had in Beijing to try to advance an effort to get back to the Six-Party Talks, as well as discussions on the global economy, including steps that we both need to be taking to spur economic growth. And these conversations, obviously, will continue as we head on to APEC and the G-20 later in the fall. So, let me turn, see if there are any other final questions here.
Yes. Go ahead.
QUESTION: Thank you, my name is Murayama with Asahi Shimbun. To follow-up North Korea issue, so obviously North and South Korea had a direct talk in Beijing last week, and North Korea is seeking to have a direct negotiation with– direct consultation with the U.S. So what’s your position on that, and if affirmative you would consider to have that, how and where and when it will be?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HAMMER: All right. Well, I think we’ve been very clear with North Korea from the outset of the Administration that it needs to abide by its commitments and responsibilities dating back to the 2006 Joint Statement, and that it must take credible steps towards denuclearization. I don’t want to get ahead of ourselves. We obviously are involved with our Six-Party partners to try to see if there is any opportunity for those talks to resume, but it really lands on the shoulders of the North Koreans to take the necessary steps that will allow us to return to that process.
Let me see. Do we have any final questions?
Great. Well, thank you very much. Before I close, I wanted to just recognize a number of people who have been working extremely hard this past week – they’re the people behind the scenes, people holding the mic like Neda Brown; and of course we have Alyson and her team; and I see next to Alyson we have Karen Newman, who is one of the Franklin Fellows who has been working terrifically hard; and Jonathan Wyett without whose help none of this would happen because he’s the tech guru, if I – I don’t know if that’s his official title; and Melissa Waheibi, who is actually at the Waldorf, helping us over there, but is obviously on the permanent staff here; Mark Thorn – I don’t know; I’m sure he’s around somewhere. Oh yes, he is, holding the other mic. You see it’s a full team effort; Andrew Lewis, who came up from Washington to support; you have Mary Ternus, without whom you wouldn’t be in the building and possibly wouldn’t have been able to participate; and then three of my own staff who have come up from Washington as well, Ariel Howard, who would’ve been with us but she felt a little bit under the weather but has been working terrifically, Yvonne Ribeiro-Yemofio, who has done tremendous work here, and of course my partner in chief, Ben Chang, who’s a true New Yorker at heart it seems whenever we come up he’s with – you’re with me.
So I hope you will continue to have contact with us and that you will continue to use the New York Foreign Press Center and take full advantage of their energetic and terrific staff. Thank you very much.
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