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Sec. John Kerry, “Press Availability in Beijing,” Nov. 8, 2014

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was in Beijing for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting. He spoke and took two questions at the China National Convention Center.
November 8, 2014

SECRETARY KERRY: Good afternoon, everybody. I want to begin by thanking our Chinese hosts for their very, very warm welcome and for the depth and breadth of the discussions that we’ve been able to have at APEC this year. 

This is my ninth trip to Asia and the Asia Pacific in the 21 months since I have served as Secretary of State. And I have returned again and again to this region for one simple reason: The United States is a Pacific nation, and we take our enduring interests here very seriously, our responsibilities likewise. We know that America’s security and prosperity are closely linked to the Asia Pacific, and that is why President Obama began the rebalance to Asia in 2009. It’s why he has asked me to redouble my own efforts in the region over the course of the next two years.

I’ve had a number of very productive bilateral meetings in the course of the last day here on the sidelines of the APEC conference with Foreign Minister Wang Yi of China and other Asia Pacific allies and partners, including Australia, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand. And both the Japanese and Chinese foreign ministers briefed me on the progress that they announced in their bilateral relations, and we, the United States, very much welcomed the reduction in tension between Asia’s two largest economies. I look forward to continuing these discussions and to deepening our partnerships with APEC economies when President Obama arrives on Monday for the APEC Leaders’ meetings here in Beijing. Excuse me. 

To ensure that the partnerships that we talk about here at APEC are able to endure, it is really essential that we reach agreement on the rules of the road. And we need to do so through multilateral institutions where all voices can be heard. APEC is essential to upholding the rules-based system throughout the Asia Pacific. It is the best way to ensure that all of our economies, big and small economies, have a voice. And I am very pleased with the progress that we made this year on the regional economic integration and on strengthening connectivity and infrastructure development. The United States is very committed to working with our APEC partners in order to build stable regional economic order based on rules and norms that are reinforced by institutions. Our goal is to remove barriers to trade and investment so that businesses in all APEC economies can grow and create jobs and compete with other companies and other countries on an equal basis. APEC has and will continue to play a critical role in guaranteeing that. 

Today, we also made important progress with China and other APEC economies on promoting women’s economic empowerment, combating corruption, supporting educational opportunities across borders, and advancing our commitment to clean energy. First, we launched the APEC Women and the Economy Dashboard. The dashboard will be a measure of progress across APEC economies on key issues for women’s economic empowerment. And it will allow us the ability to be able to measure education, leadership positions, opportunities for employment, all the different things that contribute to the ability to increase women’s empowerment in the economy. We also launched a Women’s Entrepreneurship in APEC Network. And that will link women entrepreneurs and business owners to each other and to supply chains all across the region. Frankly, that is good for business, it is good for workers, and it is good for all of our economies.

Second, we deepened our partnership with APEC economies on combating corruption. The principles that we adopted are clear and they are compelling. We are determined to prevent, detect, and effectively prosecute foreign bribery. We’re providing guidance to our businesses on how they could help prevent and detect corruption. And we are enhancing our law enforcement cooperation and we’re promoting the adoption of APEC business codes of ethics for small and medium enterprises. And we believe that this cooperation is a major step forward. Corruption not only creates an unfair playing field, it not only distorts economic relationships, but corruption also steals from the people of every country the belief that the system can work for everybody. So it is important that systems are transparent and accountable, and ultimately, that people at every level have an ability to have confidence that that system is working for everybody with the same set of rules. 

We also made progress in education and clean energy. We launched an APEC scholarship, an internship initiative, to provide more educational opportunities for students in all APEC economies. We committed to doubling the share of renewables in the region’s energy banks by the year 2030. And we reaffirmed our commitment to phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies. I can’t emphasize enough how critical it is for APEC to lead the way in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We at last have an opportunity to put ourselves on the path to a clean energy future, and that is a path that is more essential than ever because of the urgent threat of global climate change. The solution to climate change is good energy policy. And we believe today, we helped in APEC to move APEC economies to a commitment in that direction. 

These efforts complement and reinforce one another. Curtailing corruption makes our marketplace more efficient and more fair. Cutting fossil fuel subsidies creates a cleaner environment and a stronger economy. Enhanced opportunities for women affect and advance the cause of social justice and prosperity. And these are all separate fronts, but actually, all of them support a single, important goal: securing an equitable and sustainable future for all of our countries. 

Finally, we also discussed a broad array of challenges, global challenges – from Daesh or ISIL, from the turmoil of the Middle East, from Ebola, to climate change, to the threat of terrorism in many different places. We all understand that Ebola is a global threat requiring global action, and I particularly want to thank Japan for providing an additional $100 million for treatment, prevention, and broader efforts that will promote stability in the hardest-hit countries. Over the last weeks under President Obama’s leadership, many countries have been coming together in an effort to try to create a greater response on Ebola. Many countries have responded remarkably and they’re contributing healthcare workers, they’re contributing construction materials, medical supplies, doctors, nurses, experts, technicians, laboratories, beds, hospital equipment. Every country has an ability to do something, and we are grateful for those that are, but we need more countries to still do more. 

And I want to emphasize, across the board, as a planet, all of us on this globe are not yet doing enough to be able to curb and eradicate the threat of Ebola. There are hundreds of new cases each week, and the UN has identified $1 billion in urgent needs. In my meetings over the past two days, I urged all of our APEC partners to help to meet that need with specific efforts along the lines that I just described. So we hope the response will grow, and obviously, out of that can come an enormous example of the ability of countries to come together. What we do against Ebola can actually be a model for what we can do against any other future challenge of similar kind. So this is not a one-time lost moment; this is something that can serve all of us to build a long-term infrastructure to deal with the potential of any communicable disease that can move across boundaries and borders at any time.

With that, I would be happy to answer a few questions. 

MS. HARF: Our first question is from Carol Morello of The Washington Post, and there is a microphone for you too, if you’ll just hold on one second. 

QUESTION: Could you provide some more details on your discussions this morning with Mr. Lavrov, specifically about Ukraine and Iran? Did he provide any assurances that Russia is committed to upholding the Minsk agreement, particularly when it comes to sending troops and tanks into Luhansk? And if there is credible evidence to the contrary, how would the U.S. respond? New sanctions or something else? 

On Iran, did he assess what he considers the prospects for a November 24th agreement? And what is your sense, given the correspondence between President Obama and Ayatollah Khamenei, that Iran is prepared to make a deal given they – the fact they still refuse to be transparent regarding current and past use of nuclear materials? 

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, the meeting with Foreign Minister Lavrov was a very in-depth meeting in which we discussed a number of different crises in the following context: Obviously, the United States and Russia have some clear differences and some clear disagreements about certain policies at this point in time. And we discussed, obviously, those disagreements. But we also know that we need to find the places where we can agree and cooperate because it is important for the world to do so. 

With respect to Iran, Russia has been a constructive, engaged, serious partner in the effort to try to find a solution to a problem that is not – that shouldn’t lend itself to other disagreements, but which has enormous impact for everybody and which is strategically important not just to the United States or the P5+1, but to all countries, and which can have a profound impact on nonproliferation for the long term. So Russia has been working as a constructive participant in the P5+1 process. They have made various suggestions that have helped to move the process along. And we are hopeful that over the course of the next weeks, it will be possible to close real gaps that still exist in order to be able to reach an agreement, but I’m not going to stand here and predict at this point in time what the odds of that are. 

I also want to make this very, very clear: No one, to my knowledge, has confirmed or denied whether or not there is a letter or was a letter, and I’m not going to comment on what the President of the United States and a leader of another country may or may not communicate – may or may not communicate privately. I will tell you this, though: No conversation, no agreement, no exchange, nothing has created any kind of a deal or agreement with respect to any of the events that are at stake in the Middle East. There is no linkage whatsoever of the nuclear discussions with any other issue, and I want to make that absolutely clear. The nuclear negotiations are on their own, they are standing separate from anything else, and no discussion has ever taken place about linking one thing to another, one involvement with another, that I am aware of. And I’m confident I am aware of what the President has been doing and saying with respect to this issue. 

The issue of Ukraine we discussed, obviously, at length, but we also discussed Syria, we discussed the Middle East peace process, we discussed other issues of concern. Suffice it to say that we do have some disagreements about some of the facts on the ground with respect to Ukraine. We have agreed to exchange some information between us regarding that. And we have also agreed that this is a dialogue that will continue. But the issue of sanctions or other issues obviously have been made clear, are that the choices Russia makes will decide what happens with respect to sanctions in the long run here. 

And our hope is still that the process of the Minsk agreements can go forward, that they will be implemented, and that it will be possible over time, with their implementation, to see the border sealed, to see the troops withdrawn, and to see stability restored in a way that allows everybody to move down a path of de-escalation. But it really is up to the events over the course of the next weeks to determine whether or not that happens. 

MS. HARF: Great. Our final question is from Hu Ling of Phoenix TV. The mike is coming. 

QUESTION: Thank you, Secretary. I come from Hong Kong, Phoenix TV. My question – 

SECRETARY KERRY: Okay, go ahead. 

QUESTION: Yeah, sorry. My question concern about the China and Japan relationship. You have also mentioned about a little bit in your final (inaudible) speech, and I wonder how you – what’s your comment on the agreement reached by China and Japan, and that they finally made the top leader meeting during the APEC time? And also, do you think it’s come to a release – relief for U.S. and also other Asia country? Thank you. 

SECRETARY KERRY: What was the last part of the question? I’m sorry. 

QUESTION: Sorry, I do wonder, the meeting – the top leader meeting welcomes to relief for U.S. and also other neighboring country in Asia? Thank you. 

SECRETARY KERRY: The top leader meeting in – between – 

QUESTION: Yeah, between China and Japan. 

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, I discussed this new agreement with both Foreign Minister Wang Yi and also with Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan. And both of them explained to me what they believe they have achieved in the four points with respect to the agreement between them. I want to be clear that the United States welcomes this initiative. We think that any steps that the two countries can take to improve the relationship and reduce the tensions is helpful not just to those two countries, but it’s helpful to the region. 

And I think it’s entirely appropriate that that particular discussion took place here at APEC, which frankly is becoming not just a place to discuss economic ideas, but also to reflect on the fact that today, the ability of economics to work requires stability and a peaceful process in place. So I think that security issues are also automatically on the table. So to have this emerge from this meeting, I think, is important. 

Now this agreement is a beginning; it’s not an end. It’s the outline of steps that now need to be taken in order to really define how certain tensions are going to really be resolved. So it will be over time that this will be given a little more meat on the bones. But we absolutely appreciate the initial effort, we think it’s very constructive, and we have hopes that it can lead to a greater definition and to a reduction further of any conflict or tension in the region. 

MS. HARF: Great. Thank you all very much. 

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you all very much. Thank you.