Press Releases: Under Secretary Gottemoeller Travels to the Philippines, Vietnam, Australia and New Zealand

Rose Gottemoeller, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, will travel to Manila, Quang Tri province, Hanoi, Canberra, Sydney, and Wellington for meetings with counterparts from February 27–March 9.

From February 27–March 1, Under Secretary Gottemoeller will visit the Philippines, meeting in Manila with senior Department of Foreign Affairs and Department of National Defense officials to discuss regional security, bilateral security cooperation, maritime security, and the upcoming Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference (NPT RevCon). On February 28, the Under Secretary will visit Subic Naval Station and tour the Philippines Navy Frigate BRP 15 Gregorio del Pilar.

On March 1–2, Under Secretary Gottemoeller will travel to Quang Tri Province in Vietnam to observe U.S.-funded efforts to survey and clear Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) of war. She will also meet with provincial level authorities and non-governmental organizations.

On March 3, the Under Secretary will travel to Hanoi to discuss the U.S.-Vietnam bilateral relationship during the 20th anniversary of normalized relations, as well as regional security, security cooperation, maritime security, and the upcoming NPT RevCon with her Vietnamese counterparts.

From March 4–5, Under Secretary Gottemoeller will meet with counterparts from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Department of Defence to discuss U.S.-Australia defense cooperation, regional security, and other international security topics in Canberra. On March 5, she will also deliver the Robert O’Neill Lecture at the Australian National University. The title of the remarks is “Stemming the Nuclear Tide: The Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty at 45.”

On March 6, Under Secretary Gottemoeller will deliver remarks at the University of Sydney on “The Role of the United States in Asia-Pacific Security.”

On March 9, Under Secretary Gottemoeller will meet with Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Ministry of Defence officials to discuss international security issues in Wellington, New Zealand. The Under Secretary will speak with area students about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education and she will also deliver remarks on the NPT RevCon at the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs (NZIIA).

For updates, follow Under Secretary Rose Gottemoeller on Twitter: @Gottemoeller.

For more information on the Office of the Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security, visit

Winners Announced In WFP-EU Photo Competition, Shining Spotlight On The Central Role Of The ‘Family Meal’

‘Khauchi Papa, a special meal in the highlands of Laos’ is the first winner of the Family Meal photo competition selected by Jamie Oliver. Photographer: Ari Vitikainen.

BRUSSELS – The winners of a photo competition judged by chef and campaigner Jamie Oliver, which was launched to raise awareness of the importance of ‘the family meal’ and its role in achieving Zero Hunger, were announced today by Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), Ertharin Cousin and European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides.

Speaking at the European Parliament, where she also opened a WFP-EU photo exhibition titled: The Family Meal – What brings us together?, Cousin praised the photographers for highlighting the importance of food and nutrition in everyday life and the role families play in achieving Zero Hunger.

“These photographs inspire because they demonstrate the simple yet powerful role provided by sitting together and eating as a family in every country and all cultures around the world. Not everyone in the world can share this opportunity – 805 million people don’t have enough nutritious food to live a healthy and productive life. For this reason WFP and our partners are working together with the EU to end hunger and chronic malnutrition around the globe,” Cousin said.

The exhibition and the competition are part of a campaign launched last year by WFP and funded by the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO). The aim is to raise awareness among Europe’s citizens about the food assistance WFP and the EU provide to vulnerable families around the world and to highlight the fact that hunger can be eliminated in our lifetime.
The competition’s three winners are Ari Vitikainen, for “Khauchi Papa, a special meal in the highlands of Laos”, Breech Asher Harani’s “Candlelight Supper” from the Philippines, and Darine Ndihokubwayo, whose picture of street children in Burundi enjoying a Sunday meal received 175 online votes. The winners can be viewed at

“I congratulate the three winners of the photo competition,” said Commissioner Stylianides. “The winning contributions raise awareness of the everyday reality of mothers and fathers in humanitarian crises, struggling to provide food for their families. While they have temporarily lost the ability to provide enough food to remain healthy and enable their children to grow to their full potential, the EU-WFP partnership has been able to help them.”  

In a statement made after he judged the competition, chef and campaigner Jamie Oliver said: “Ari’s colourful shot from Laos is a fantastic example of how important and fun it can be to prepare and share a meal with your loved ones.  A family meal might seem like one of the most basic things in the world, but it’s easy to forget that this isn’t a given, and there are many people that struggle to do this. It’s a big issue, and I hope this competition will help to raise awareness of that.”

Photographer Chris Terry, who was commissioned by WFP to take the photos for the exhibition at the parliament, said: “Breech’s candle-lit image of the family eating during a power outage has a lovely intimacy and warmth.  It draws the viewer in, emphasising the human need to gather around light, and company, when sharing a meal.”

The winner of the public vote, Darine Ndihokubwayo, sent in her response: “This nomination will go to all the orphan children in Burundi, who are not lucky enough to have a family to share their daily meal with.”

The three finalists will be featured in the WFP-EU family meal exhibition travelling throughout European countries until November 2015.

To discover more about the family meal project visit:

View the winning photos along with a small sample of great images submitted for the competition.

#                              #                                 #

WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, delivering food assistance in emergencies and working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience. Each year, WFP assists some 80 million people in around 75 countries.

Follow us on Twitter @wfp_media and @wfp_europe

For more information please contact (email address:
Evin Joyce, WFP/Brussels, Tel. +32 2 550 16 20, Mob. +32 4 965 074 32
Beatrix Senoner, WFP/Brussels, Tel. +32 2 500 09 17, Mob. +32 4 857 187 57

Winners of family meal photo competition announced by Jamie Oliver

A huge thanks to everyone who has joined the photo contest that WFP has launched together with celebrity chef and campaigner Jamie Oliver! We received photos from 32 countries all over the world, highlighting what the family meal means to you and your loved ones. 

The selection process was certainly not easy, but after much deliberation the competition judges Jamie Oliver and photographer Chris Terry chose Ari’s family photo from Laos and Breech’s picture from the Philippines. For the public vote, Darine’s picture showing street children in Burundi enjoying their Sunday meal received 175 votes.
We set you a challenge, and you certainly delivered!

The Winning Photos

The first two photos were selected by Jamie Oliver. The third photo was selected by the public.


Other Great Photos

Although these photos weren’t selected as winners, they are great photos of family meals from around the world.


Ministers Nicholson and Fast Announce New Appointments to APEC Business Advisory Council

February 20, 2015 – Ottawa, Ontario – Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada

The Honourable Rob Nicholson, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade, today announced the appointments of Suzanne M. Benoît and Deborah Close, as well as the reappointment of Philip Leong, as Canada’s representatives to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Business Advisory Council (ABAC).

They will play a key role in representing the interests of the Canadian business community to business and political leaders throughout the Asia-Pacific region. ABAC provides a crucial interface between Canadian business leaders and their counterparts in the Asia-Pacific region, enabling dialogue on issues related to trade and economic cooperation.

Canada’s active and growing trade and investment ties in the Asia-Pacific region will be well served by having these three representatives as our members on the council. The Government of Canada is committed to deepening our trading relationship with the APEC countries as part of our efforts to create jobs and prosperity for Canadian workers and their families.

Quick Facts

  • ABAC reports annually on private sector recommendations to leaders. The 2014 report, released in June, highlights the importance of commitment to the “Bogor Goals” of free and open trade by 2020 to ensure that APEC growth and prosperity ambitions are met.
  • ABAC is the sole non-governmental entity that has an official role in the APEC Economic Leaders’ Summit through a formal dialogue.
  • Collectively in 2013, APEC economies generated 57.4 percent of world gross domestic product and made up 39.9 percent of the world’s population. In 2014, APEC also made up 84.1 percent of Canada’s merchandise trade, and included four of Canada’s top five trading partners: the United States, China, Mexico and Japan.
  • APEC economies contributed 58.1 percent of all foreign direct investment into Canada in 2013, and 51.9 percent of Canada’s foreign direct investment was directed to those economies in the same year.


“I welcome the appointments of Suzanne Benoît and Deborah Close and the reappointment of Philip Leong. With the Philippines as this year’s APEC chair, Canada looks forward to building an inclusive economic environment across the Asia-Pacific that will have tangible effects on the lives of all our peoples.”

– Rob Nicholson, Minister of Foreign Affairs

“Our government knows the importance of reaching beyond our borders for economic opportunities, creating jobs and prosperity for all Canadians. The APEC Business Advisory Council is a strategic tool to promote and deepen Canada’s trade interests in the Asia-Pacific region, and I look forward to working with our representatives in helping Canadian businesses expand and succeed in these high-growth markets.”

– Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade

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Background Conference Call by Senior Administration Officials Previewing the White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release

February 16, 2015

Via Telephone

2:04 P.M. EST

MR. PRICE:  Thanks so much, everyone, for joining this background call. This is Ned Price from the National Security Council. As the CVE Summit approaches we wanted to offer to you a preview of what to expect over the next several days.  To do so, we have four speakers on today’s call.  A bit about ground rules.  This call will be on background.  You can attribute what you hear to senior administration officials.  We will offer some opening remarks — a couple of our senior administration officials will — at which point we’ll turn it over to your questions. 
And just a reminder, this call is on background with senior administration officials, and there’s no embargo. 
With that, I will turn it over to senior administration official number one.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Hi, everyone.  Thank you so much for taking part in today’s preview call.  We have been hard at work putting together a very full and exciting upcoming three days of a summit on CVE.  And I know many of you are going to be covering the Summit, so we are happy to give you a sense of what to expect and where we’re going.  I’ll try to keep these remarks brief so that we can go to questions quickly.
Before we dig into the agenda itself, I want to give you a few minutes on why we’re holding the summit.  Countering violent extremism, or what we call CVE, is something that the administration has prioritized for quite some time.  We think it is one incredibly important element of our counterterrorism and national security toolkit.  Obviously the summit took on added attention in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks, but the issue of CVE is one in which we’ve invested for quite some time.
In fact, as you approach the summit, if you’re looking for more background on what we’re doing here as the federal government, I suggest that you read out National Strategy, which was issued back in 2011, called, Empowering Local Partners to Prevent Violent Extremism in the United States. If you give that a read, you’ll see that our CVE efforts are premised on the central goal of preventing violent extremism and the extremists themselves and their supporters from inspiring, radicalizing, financing or recruiting individuals or groups in the United States from committing acts of violence.
Our approach empowers communities to push back against violent extremists.  Really at the core of our approach is that the government does not have all the answers in combatting violent extremism.  It is, at its core, a bottom-up approach.  It puts communities with civic leaders, with religious authorities, with community power brokers, teachers, health providers, et cetera, in the driver’s seat.  They know their citizens best.  They are the first line of defense to prevent or counter radicalizing forces that can ultimately lead to violence.  And so our approach is to really embrace and empower what local communities can do.  So we’ve been working with our federal partners and our local partners to put in place this approach over the past couple of years.
This past fall, you saw the President issue a call to action at the General Assembly at the United Nations for all countries to do more to address violent extremism.  Out of that session came the U.N. Security Council Resolution 2178, which requires all states to take concrete steps to address the foreign terrorist fighter challenge, and in this context, encourages them to develop more community-oriented approaches to countering violent extremism.  We believe if you look at the whole life cycle of persons who radicalize and fight that you can’t ignore CVE, that CVE needs to be an important piece of the equation.   
So with that backdrop, let me give you a few minutes on the first two days of the Summit, and then I’m going to turn it over to one of my colleagues to talk about the final day.
Day one of the Summit is starting tomorrow.  It’s focused primarily on our domestic CVE program.  You might know, last year, the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, together with some of our other federal partners, launched CVE pilot programs in three cities — Boston, the Twin Cities, and the Greater Los Angeles Metro Area.  Representatives from those three programs will be here to speak about their best practices, to talk about what’s working, what’s not working, and to share ideas with one another and with some of their international counterparts. 
The Vice President is going to take part in a moderated discussion, and that will start out our day, and will give people sort of a frame of reference from his work in the Senate and around the world. 
On Wednesday, the agenda is going to focus on our domestic efforts.  Each of the cities will have an opportunity to do a presentation on what they’ve learned to date.  But it’s going to be much broader.  We’re going to be looking to voices from the private sector to voices from cities around the world, from NGOs and others who will all kind of bring a piece of the solution to the table. 
Wednesday’s agenda is really the comprehensive “whole of nation” approach that we’re applying to the challenge.  Again, this is not about government, especially the federal government. The federal government doesn’t have all the answers.  This is about building a comprehensive network to fight back against violent extremism.  And we are explicitly recognizing the role that civil society plays, the private sector plays, and that families, et cetera, can play in countering violent extremism.
During Wednesday’s agenda, we will have remarks by the President; by the Secretary of Homeland Security; by Lisa Monaco, the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, in addition to the presentations from the three cities, from around the world, and from some private sector partners.
So now I’m going to turn it over to one of my colleagues who will offer details on the final day, which will take place at the State Department and will include a broad range of government and civil society actors from around the world.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Thanks.  The 19th is a different focus in the sense that it is from the ministerial level.  And one of the interesting elements of this day is the individual participating delegations have chosen, in some cases, to provide foreign ministers; in other cases, to provide interior ministers and other officials.  And so it’s an interesting gathering of participants from delegations.
The meeting itself is going to include over 60 countries’ representatives, as well as the High Representative and Vice President of the European Union, the U.N. Secretary-General, and senior officials from regional organizations and other multinational bodies, as well as representatives from the private sector from civil society.
So it’s a very full day with three ways of broadening the approach to countering violent extremism.  I think one is the multi-stakeholder component that I just referred to in terms of the range of participants.  Two is the very broad scope of activities to look at some of the mainstream tools in foreign policy including development and bringing that wider repertoire of tools to address ways of countering of existing violent extremist sets but also looking ahead to prevent — and it’s that that third element, the proactive affirmative preventive lens that we’ll be broadening and exploring in the course of the day.
The agenda itself will begins with Secretary of State Kerry outlining the action agenda and moderating the third section which is about getting senior-level perspective on the changing threats of violent extremism, which comes in many forms.  President Obama will be delivering remarks at 10:30 a.m., and that will be followed by a panel that focuses on economic opportunities to include expanding professional training for youth, as well as how the private sector can be engaged in a wealth of activities related to countering and preventing violent extremism.
The third session focuses on weakening the legitimacy and the resonance of the brand of violent extremism.  So that will include a panel on strategic communications, social media.  It will include a discussion of how non-violent religious issues and education can be elevated as a matter of international and local-level concern.  And it will look at best practices with regard to rehabilitating and reintegrating violent extremists.
The final panel will focus on secure and resilient communities, and it will, in particular, begin by looking at the role of civil society, particularly youth and women preventing violent extremism.  It will look at community-police relations and community-security force relations as a critical element of prevention.  And it will finally broaden that conversation to address social, economic and political marginalization, including the effects of integration of minority communities. 
The event will close with remarks by National Security Advisor Ambassador Susan Rice.  And so the overall focus of this meeting is building on President Obama’s call to action at the 2014 General Assembly session, moving out a seven-month action plan with a very specific set of both regional and local summits and specific schematic lines of work that will continue over the next seven months until a second meeting at the margins of the 2016 UNGA in which leaders will come together to reflect on their progress to date and make commitments going forward.
So it’s a very full and very ambitious agenda to expand and deepen our global coalition to counter and prevent violent extremism.  And I should just add parenthetically, there will be a shorter subset ministerial-level meeting on the 18th to look more specifically at the foreign terrorist fighter element.  But the 19th will also be followed by a separate and independently led series of seminars by private sector actors, specifically civil society organizations, who will be holding open events to look at some of the particular stream of effort that we are hoping will also be joined by governments within that seven months, for example, analysis that will deepen and localize our understanding of violent extremism drivers, or how moderate, mainstream religious voices can be amplified.
So it is a very rich agenda that complements very much the first day featuring civil society and local activities with the more ministerial-level focus session.  And hopefully it will tie together. Thank you.
Q    Thank you very much.  While you’ve been planning the Summit and are looking forward to an action plan that will be then revisited at the U.N. in September, what we’ve seen just today is the execution of Coptic Christians in Libya coming on the heels of what happened in Copenhagen.  And you’ve got the Egyptian Foreign Minister flying here today — he’ll be participating.  The Jordanians participating after their pilot was burned alive.  Isn’t there a more urgent action plan that’s needed against the terrorists in IS, or ISIS, or ISIL, right now for these countries?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  So, to be clear, countering violent extremism is only one element of all of the different tools that we’re bringing against terrorists, and specifically groups like ISIL.  Part of the event that that was referred to in these three days is a focus on how do we share information, how do we make sure that all governments know those who may cause harm, what action can we take.  So this particular piece on countering violent extremism is lifting up a part that hasn’t received a lot of attention, where we think there’s a lot more room for government to act and for civil society to play a role. But again, this is one piece of a much broader strategy.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  And if I can just add — the counter-Daesh movement is extremely well organized and underway.  And, of course, there is only ongoing urgency as we see horrific acts of terrorism committed in different contexts around the globe.  But that is very much underway.  And what we’re talking about in terms of the activities for this Summit is a complement to, not a replacement of, existing efforts to counter ISIL.
Q    Hi, thanks very much.  One clarification.  Is it correct that the President will be speaking twice during the Summit, on Wednesday and Thursday?  And secondly, do you expect to unveil any new policies in the next three days?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  So it is accurate that the President will be speaking twice.  On the first day — he’ll be speaking on Wednesday to the group that’s convened here at the White House, and that’s going to be a combination of state and local folks, as well as some private industry folks, some foundation folks — sort of the group of people that we think either can be called to act or are already acting.
He will then be giving remarks at the ministerial.  And the ministerial is really focused, as was discussed earlier, on the role of government in enabling the CVE effort, and particularly enabling civil society to act.  So these are very different audiences but important elements of the solution.
In terms of policies moving forward, we do expect that there will be a number of things that will be rolled out over the course of the three days.  And so, stay tuned.
Q    Hey, guys.  Thanks very much for doing the call.  I appreciate it.  Sort of piggybacking on what Andrea had asked, given everything that’s going on in the world right now that seems to be connected to violent extremism, are there ways in which you think the efforts that you’re making here would have helped to prevent or to deal with the situations in Denmark, in Egypt, the Jordanian pilot and Paris, and all of that?  Connect the dots between if we do these things better that we’re going to be talking about over these three days, then will we see less of this?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  So, ultimately, we hope that the answer is yes.  But I think we need to be realistic that this is a long-term investment; that this is a comprehensive effort that we’re undertaking to get people to be educated about the problems, to be aware about the issues, to figure out what role they can play.  And so, ultimately, we hope to get to a place where we just have much greater resilience and greater action across communities.  But that is not something we’re going to see tomorrow.  That’s an investment that needs to be made on many different levels.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  And just to add to that briefly, I think when one is able to identify vulnerable communities and those who are vulnerable to recruitment and specific radicalization, or even to align with the terrorists’ goals, you are going to be having an impact on the kinds of activities that we’ve seen.  And so there is — a direct relationship is not necessarily an immediate relationship.  But ultimately, there’s a huge element that revolves around individual and communal motivation that has to be addressed through a comprehensive approach and one that involves a host of both affirmative and inclusive activities, as well as the full complement of law enforcement and prevention activities that we’ve been honing over the years.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  And if I could add — it’s worth noting that both tomorrow and Wednesday are going to be focused — although not exclusively — but they’re going to be primarily focused on our domestic efforts, which have been going on for several years now.  And this is really a moment to rededicate ourselves to efforts that really reach out to communities, and build that confidence that they need to have so that they feel comfortable working with authorities, both to prevent radicalization and also, when necessary, to intervene. 
And I’ll give you one example that I think is fairly well-known, but I think goes directly to the question, which, in the Minneapolis area, something like 20 Somali-Americans actually traveled, really radicalized by al-Shabaab.  And there’s a very strong effort that’s been going on for years, led by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and DHS, to really reach out to that community to try to blunt the recruitment efforts that are going on there.
Q    Hey, thanks very much for the call.  I was just curious about a couple of things.  One is, I just wondered if there’s going to be a cyber component to this week in that ISIS seems to be very effective in spreading its message.  There’s the videos of the beheadings, and so forth.  And I’m just curious if the administration is looking at ways to try to disrupt that or disable their capabilities of spreading their message through social media. 
And then the second thing is, just curious — you just mentioned the Somalis in Minneapolis.  It doesn’t seem as if the U.S. has the same kind of problem that we’re seeing in Denmark and in Paris with radicalized Islamist extremists.  And I’m just curious if that’s something that you’re seeing as well, that’s it’s really more of a problem that’s acute in Western Europe.  Thanks a lot.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I can start with the first prong of that question.  Our session is looking at strategic communications, including social media, is where issues of cyber will be addressed.  And there, as you know, are ongoing processes within the United States government on a bilateral and multilateral basis to discuss these issues as well.  But we’ll be incorporating that into session three on the 19th. 
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  And to be clear, the social media piece is one that we all recognize as being a key component.  The White House summit on the 18th, where we have the range of community actors, there will be presentations by some of the social media partners on what works, what doesn’t work, and to basically teach them how our community groups can better use social media. 
One of our key outcomes is to make sure that those who have something to say to counter the narrative of folks like ISIL is that they know how to do so strategically, smartly, and in a sophisticated way.  And we don’t see that as a role for government to play, but this is where government can convene players and empower them to more effectively communicate their message.
Just really quickly on the question of extremism in the United States.  Certainly there is — and we remain particularly concerned about the possibility of groups like ISIL recruiting Americans to fight.  But, at the same time, the message at the White House and the agenda itself is not entirely focused on ISIL itself.  ISIL is the near-term threat that we all are focused on, but we also recognize in the United States there has been violent extremists that come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and so the agenda for all three days is going to show a wide array of speakers and participants from all backgrounds who combat radicalization, violent extremism and terrorism in its many forms. 
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Finally, I would just throw in that part of building community resilience is making sure that the communities that are being targeted by some of the social media effort are even aware of what’s going on.  You have a generational divide sometimes where you have younger people who are very facile with social media, but their parents and community leaders may not be.  So something that’s going on all around the country — in the three pilot programs that got mentioned earlier, but also in other cities, really, nationwide — is a really strong effort to get out there and just educate communities on the way that social media works and how young people in particular may be accessing messaging from literally all around the world.
Q    Hi, thanks for having this call.  I’ve got one logistical question and then two sort of context questions.  The first logistical question is, could you explain the difference between day one and day two, in which you’re focusing on domestic CVE programs?  And then the context question are two — one is, you’ve been using the term “vulnerable community,” and there are those who say using that term stigmatizes Muslims.  How do you respond to that?  And the second question I have has to do with the fact that it’s spearheaded by DOJ, and how do you get around having the same problem that they had in the U.K. with the Prevent and Channel Programme, in which outreach might bleed into intelligence-gathering?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  A couple of things.  One is, just on logistics, day one is all domestic-focused — that is to bring the partners who have been key to our efforts in the pilot cities around the table to get them to identify what has been working as they’ve been working through their pilot program, and what’s not working; to lay out some best practices that can be shared with governments across the United States, as well as with governments around the world.  And so day one is going to have a lot of just roll up your sleeves and do hard work and share the information.
Day two is much more public-facing.  And day two is going to have our community leaders from the three cities, as well as community leaders from around the world, and then pulling in presentations by some of the social media folks, by some foundation folks, by those from academics.  So it’s much broader in its focus.
And then, day three, as we said, is focused on government action around the world.
In terms of the phrase “vulnerable community,” I think one is that we want to be clear that the evidence doesn’t show that there’s any particular community, there’s no profile that we can point to say this person is from this community, is going to be radicalized to violence.  And I think you probably know that as much as anyone.  So what we’re really looking to is how do we find those who are susceptible to recruitment to violence.  And I think it would be wrong for us to say that there is any one stereotype that’s going to fit here, and I think that we make a mistake as a government if we focus on stereotypes. 
And so what we’re trying to do here is to bring some evidence to the table and allow people to make a more informed decision about how they engage, and prevent and intervene before someone is radicalized to violence.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I would also add, while Justice plays a key role in working with DHS and others on this program, it’s not only a Justice program.  It’s really an effort to help communities devise strategies to better understand this phenomenon and ask communities to address this.  So it’s not Justice, but it’s a whole-of-government approach.
Q    My phone call was delayed, so I missed the first part of the conversation.  I would appreciate it if you could repeat the agenda for the first two days. 
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  We’ll have a transcript of this call after the fact, so I’d refer you to that.  Do you have any additional questions?
Q    Yes, it’s one question.  If you can repeat the agenda for the first two days.  That’s it.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  We’ll release a transcript of this call after the fact.
Q    This comes at a time when there’s wrangling on Capitol Hill about DHS funding, and we have the President speaking twice, as well as the Secretary of the Department.  Is this something that will come up at the summit?  Is this a platform that you’ll use to make the case about DHS funding but not on the agenda?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  The short answer is no.  This is a non-partisan issue where we think there is a good opportunity for Democrats and Republicans alike to bring their work to the table.  But DHS is an important player and has been a strong partner in these efforts both in countering violent extremism but also in the foreign terrorist fighter information-sharing realm.  And so having a fully funded DHS is absolutely integral to protecting the United States.
Q    Couple questions on the social media component.  You said this is going to be a panel of strategic communications and social media.  Can you tell us who will be participating in that, and which social media firms will be making the presentations on the next day?  And then, also, if you could just address the issue of the role of social media firms in policing their networks, and whether there are more aggressive steps that they can be taking to curb some of these incitements that appear on them?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Sure.  I can tell you session three, the goal there is to highlight the effective techniques and strategies to counter violent extremism, and the violent extremist narrative, including online spaces, and how to effectively and rapidly scale up effective models and assess their effectiveness.  So the speakers there will include the Home Secretary of the U.K.; the Minister of States and Foreign Affairs from the UAE; an entrepreneur and graphic artist from Jordan.  And there will be interventions from the Deputy Prime Minister of Defense of Kuwait, as well as the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bahrain, and a religious scholar from Syria.  The two firms that will have interventions that are represented are the executive editor of Rappler in the Philippines and Google Ideas in the U.S. 
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  So on the White House, we have a number of other — in addition to Google Ideas, we’ll have some other major social media partners.  But I think the key here is that our goal, our objective here is to enable private communities, community leaders to provide counter-speech to more sophisticatedly present their message.  And so the focus is not on the government policing the speech.  The focus is on bringing communities into the dialogue, empowering them to engage with the social media companies in what we think will be very productive and exciting ways.
Q    Fighting terrorism is also one component in fighting the ideas that make it attractive to young people and (inaudible) to join an organization like ISIS or al Qaeda.  And I’m just wondering what you hope to get from the Arab foreign ministers who are speaking in this summit, especially that they are really seen in the eyes of many of the young people in the Middle East that they don’t represent a kind of legitimate government.  So how does this one work?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I think one of the issues that we will be discussing as a group of government representatives concerned about violent extremism across the globe is the role of socioeconomic exclusion but also political inclusion of youth in general.  And so I think that these questions will be very much part of the last session that we touch on, on the 19th. 
Q    Is there a more — a fuller list of all the foreign countries who will be participating?   And is there an agenda somewhere for the summit online?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  We do have that information.  I am struggling to recall exactly what our plan is on releasing it.  Is there anyone who can help me with that?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Yes.  I expect we’ll have more information over the course of the week.  If I recall, on Thursday we’ll have more information on the ministerial participants.  And then I expect tomorrow we’ll have more information on the White House agenda. 
Q    I wanted to ask whether we can report that there are any policies that the President will, or the administration will roll out as part of this three-day summit, whether this will be some executive orders or any legislation?  Whether there’s going to be partnerships with the countries that may be announced?  And finally, since it’s three days, whether we should look for other events on the sidelines that maybe aren’t part of the official agenda but that are involved in organizing that would be going on anyway?  Thanks. 
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  So as I said earlier, there are a number of deliverables that we intend to roll out over the next few days.  But the number-one takeaway here is that this is not just a couple of days to talk about the issue.  We think that it’s obviously good to start with conversation, but really we want to move to action.  And so what we’re doing is building up and highlighting a lot of the action that’s ongoing, with the hope that it gets multiplied and that we see a development of a full body of work, particularly as we get towards the anniversary of the U.N. General Assembly.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  And if I could just add, there will be planning to release the communique coming out of the Summit, the ministerial-level meeting level on the 19th, that will outline both the concerns and the main topics that were discussed by the multi-stakeholder conversation there, but also a series of commitments by governments and others for work in at least about eight areas moving forward that will be accompanied  not only through regional summits that are developed specifically for that work agenda, but also will be incorporated into ongoing efforts that happen at a variety of those regional and international contexts that will be adapting their work stream to accommodate the goals coming out of this ministerial and leading to UNGA in September.
Q    How are you planning on turning the ministerial into something more than a lot of foreign and interior ministers patting themselves on the back about how they succeeded in reducing violent extremism in their respective countries?  And just a second part of that, given the involvement of 60 nations and the diverse array of extremist ideologies that crop up throughout those areas, how do you expect to produce a coherent takeaway?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I think the best way to answer that question is to describe at least the ministerial portion as a catalyst rather than an end in itself.  I think that the President — his statements at the last General Assembly were a call to action.  This is essentially a check-in on how we understand the issues and an opportunity to identify best practices and what we see as the major challenges and opportunities by bringing a broader array of stakeholders into that conversation, particularly as we’ve made (inaudible) civil society but also private sector, foundations, academia and others, and to together collectively outline a series of essentially work goals that we have as a community of concern about violent extremism. 
And so it is the flow of work that is catalyzed by the ministerial in the Summit that is what is most important.  And so I think the real work and the exciting opportunities to learn from one another will continue well beyond this event.  And hopefully, we’ll be able to assess and see our progress in September on the margins of UNGA, and then have a sense of really what this, as a catalyst activity, has been able to motivate.
Q    My understanding is that you are expecting a lot of regional summits after this summit.  Can you give some idea of what kind of work goals as you define it —
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Yes, we will be expecting a series of regional summits to flow from the discussion and then be captured in the communiqué that would be released at the end of the event.  It would be premature to speak to those at this point.  But I can tell you that the kind of work stream that envision being very important coming out of the conversations would predictably link somewhat to the agenda that we laid out earlier in terms of everything from how to better analyze the kinds of interventions that are effective vis-à-vis youth and empowering women, the kinds of local understanding of factors that contribute to extremism and making that be a more cohesive and in-depth research agenda to inform efforts.
The broad range all the way from messaging to economic empowerment — those are the kind of areas that I suspect we will see as the specific work streams identified from the ministerial session.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  And to add to that, we’ll expect the regional summits around the United States as well.  But the bottom line, the reason why the regional summits are so important is the recognition that this not a one-size-fits-all policy, and that if we’re just going to push out one model from that top, that it won’t be effective.  What we’re really looking for is communities to take the lessons to heart and to build ways that prevent and intervene before individuals radicalize violence. And the only way to do that is to take it right down to the grassroots and make it applicable to the communities that are affected directly.
Q    I just wanted to go back to the domestic programs.  I know that there is some kind of infrastructure in place in the Minneapolis area because of their Somali population and they have programs that they feel have been affected.  But why Boston and LA?  And is anything there up and running yet?  And sort of what is the expectation for these programs in terms of a timeline?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Well, in each of the cities, the three cities were chosen because, frankly, of the strength of the existing community outreach programs and the desire to sort of push them forward as examples for the rest of the country really do extend beyond community policing, but also reaching out for social service providers.  Those programs are actually up and running.  What I think we’re going to be doing both tomorrow and Wednesday is having those three pilots, which have made so much progress, sort of present what they’ve discovered and lessons learned.  So that’s where we stand on that set of issues.
I think the idea is to try to bring the same local approach to the cities all across the country, and really focus on making sure that we’re empowering the community to deal with these issues, regardless of what particular community you’re talking about.
Q    I’m just wondering, in light of the current events that Andrea Mitchell and others mentioned during this call, almost all of those involves Muslim extremism.  And I get that the phrase for this three-day event is “violent extremism.”  Might some critics think that you’re avoiding the world “Muslim” as though extremists in the Islamic communities are the focus — or are they not the focus?  That’s my question. 
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Thanks for that question.  I think obviously we want to be taking into account the current concerns that different countries are facing.  But as I think will be clear from the variety of presentations and case studies that are mentioned — to include some of the media that we have organized to help catalyze the discussion that features some of the longer-running terrorist threats that people sometimes forget about in the current context, such as the FARC in Colombia, which is now in negotiations, but has been a designated terrorist organization for some time, responsible for countless acts of violence.
I think we will see through the complexity of the discussion that violent extremism is a broader trend, and that everyone will be approaching it through their own lens of their immediate concerns, but there are lessons to be learned across all forms of efforts to counter different types of violent extremism.  And again, as was just mentioned, the interventions themselves must be specific and localized even if they happen to be falling under the same umbrella category.  So I think we’ll see in the context of the meeting itself the diversity that reflects the reality of recent history.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Let’s be clear.  We recognize that violent extremism spans many decades and has taken many forms.  But we all agree that the individuals who perpetuated — who perpetrated the terrorist attacks in Paris and elsewhere are calling themselves Muslims and their warped  interpretation of Islam is what motivated them to commit these acts.  They’re not making any secret of that, and neither are we.
But we are very, very clear that we do not believe that they are representing Islam.  There is absolutely no justification for these attacks in any religion, and that’s the view of the vast majority of Muslims who have suffered huge casualties from the likes of folks like ISIL or al Qaeda.  So you can call them what you want.  We’re calling them terrorists.  And the President is absolutely resolved to confront this threat.  He’s made it clear that we’re at war with terrorist groups and he’s taken scores of high-level terrorists off the battlefield.
So we are not treating these people as part of a religion.  We’re treating them as terrorists.  We call them our enemies and we’ll be treating them as such.
Q    Just a question about the ministerial part.  Was there a point at which you wanted this to be a heads-of-state meeting, or at least for there be part of that to be a heads-of-state meeting?  And you also mentioned that some governments, some countries will only be sending senior officials.  Which are some of the countries where you would have expected a higher level delegation — an interior minister or a foreign minister — and they’re only sending senior officials?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Well, we should say that, first of all, the choices of how to send representatives were made by individual delegations.  And this is not intended to be heads of state, this is intended to be at the ministerial level, for the precise reason that different countries assign different degrees or different types of responsibilities to different ministers, and we wanted to make it possible both for the appropriate person to come, in cases in which there were both interior and foreign ministers to be appropriate to involve, allow for that opportunity. 
So the level is as intended and the participation is individual determined.  And we’re really gratified by the level of interest that invitees have shown, and we’re looking forward to a very engaged and productive session.
2:48 P.M. EST

Plastic in the Oceans

A new study shows that each year, 8.8 million tons of plastic ends up in oceans. This is much higher than previous estimates. “And if the biggest polluters, mostly developing Asian countries, don’t clean up how they throw stuff away, Jambeck projects that by 2025 the total accumulated plastic trash in the oceans will reach around 170 million tons. That’s based on population trends and continued waste management disposal problems, although there may be some early signs of change, she said. More than half of the plastic waste that flows into the oceans comes from just five countries: China, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam and Sri Lanka. The only industrialized western country on the list of top 20 plastic polluters is the United States at No. 20. The U.S. and Europe are not mismanaging their collected waste, so the plastic trash coming from those countries is due to litter, researchers said.” (AP

Aid for child labor? “Children as young as eight are working 15-hour days making bricks that have been used in major international development projects in Nepal…A Guardian investigation has revealed that “blood bricks”, tainted by human rights abuses such as child labour, have also been used in other major construction projects in Nepal, including a multimillion pound upgrade of Tribhuvan international airport funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), a new Marriott hotel and a project to improve Kathmandu’s domestic air terminal.” (Guardian

Slogan of the Day: “Let us turn ours into a country of mushrooms!”  The Story: North Korea unveiled Thursday an exclamation mark peppered list of 310 new political slogans covering every conceivable topic, from the glories of the ruling Kim dynasty and mushroom cultivation to the importance of dependable wives and “offensive” sports. (AFP

Quote of the Day: “Come on, Monrovia, you got this.” Context:  Buzzfeed writer Jina Moore referring to Montserrado county’s lingering new ebola cases when most of Liberia has been declared ebola-free.

Nigeria/Boko Haram

A suspected local leader of Nigeria’s Boko Haram Islamist group was arrested and several weapons including rocket launchers seized from his home in the town of Diffa in southern Niger on Thursday, security sources said. (Reuters

A suspected female suicide bomber blew herself up in a market in the town of Biu in Nigeria’s northeast Borno state on Thursday, witnesses and a community leader said. (Reuters

Thousands of civilians fled their homes in the southeastern Niger town of Diffa this week, officials said on Thursday, following waves of cross-border raids and suicide bombings by Nigerian militant group Boko Haram. (Reuters

Security forces in Niger have killed 260 Boko Haram militants since the group began cross-border attacks on Niger’s southeastern Diffa region on Feb. 6, a spokesman for the armed forces said on Thursday. (Reuters


Zambia’s chief prosecutor was arrested on Thursday over corruption accusations, police said, in the first high profile case since new President Edgar Lungu was elected promising to end graft. (Reuters

South Sudanese security forces have arrested a leading journalist for reportedly trying to cover a protest amid warnings of a growing press crackdown, colleagues and rights groups said Thursday. (AFP

International donors wishing to help Guinea fight Ebola should use their money to strengthen the West African country’s health system and help it tackle future epidemics instead of building more Ebola treatment centres, a government official said. (Reuters

Education chiefs apologised on Thursday for wrongly announcing a postponement of the reopening of Ebola-hit Liberia’s schools, blaming the mix-up on “problems at the ministry”. (AFP

Red Cross teams in Ebola-hit Guinea have been attacked on average 10 times a month over the past year, the charity said on Thursday, warning that the violence was hampering efforts to contain the disease. (Reuters

Democratic Republic of Congo’s election commission has set Nov. 27, 2016 for presidential and legislative elections, an official said in the capital on Thursday. (Reuters

Burundian troops executed at least 47 surrendered rebels last month, part of a “broader pattern” of violence coming ahead of key elections, Human Rights Watch said Thursday, claims rejected by government. (AFP

The United Nations and its partners have allocated $9.2 million in emergency funding to save lives and bring help to people in three districts hardest hit by floods in southern Malawi. (Reuters

Security guards entered South Africa’s parliament on Thursday to remove opposition lawmakers who disrupted an annual address by President Jacob Zuma to demand that he answer questions about a spending scandal. (AP


The UN Security Council on Thursday unanimously adopted a resolution aimed at choking off millions of dollars in earnings from oil smuggling, antiquities trafficking and ransom payments to the Islamic State group. (AFP

Ukraine is set to receive about $40 billion in funding over the next four years, nearly half of which will come from the International Monetary Fund, IMF chief Christine Lagarde said in Brussels as talks on the Ukraine conflict resumed in Minsk. (Reuters

An Egyptian judge on Thursday ordered the release on bail of a pair of Al-Jazeera English journalists being retried on terror-related charges, bringing cheers from their families who have sought to get them out of detention for more than a year and are hoping for a resolution in the case. (AP

The European Union must establish a full search-and-rescue operation in the Mediterranean following the death this week of hundreds of migrants who were trying to reach Italy, the U.N. refugee chief said on Thursday. (Reuters

The United Nations warned on Thursday that Yemen is “collapsing before our eyes”, on the brink of civil war and prime for Al Qaeda militants to grow stronger in the country as talks on a political settlement continue. (Reuters

A Syrian opposition leader called Thursday on world leaders to take “immediate action” to end government attacks on rebel-held suburbs of Damascus, amid reports that some 150 people have been killed in government airstrikes in the past 10 days. (AP


Sri Lanka’s new government that won a surprise election victory last month called for a postponement in the publication of a U.N. investigation into allegations of war crimes committed during the island nation’s civil war. (AP

A new law that enables Myanmar to hold a referendum on amending the constitution is unlikely to bring changes that would allow opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to become president after this year’s general election, a ruling party MP said on Thursday. (Reuters

Muslim rebels in the Philippines promised the government on Thursday they would help track down a wanted militant in a bid to save a peace process thrown into doubt by a clash in which 44 policemen were killed. (Reuters

Officials in Iran say methamphetamine production and abuse of hard drugs are skyrocketing in the country despite potentially lethal criminal penalties for users if they are caught. (AP

The Americas

Friends and foes of Venezuela’s socialist government braved pouring rain Thursday to stage dueling marches on the anniversary of the protest movement that wracked the country last year. (AP

As Carnival begins in Rio de Janeiro, the city is bracing for possible water shortages as a severe drought that has dried up reservoirs in Brazil’s southeast hits the country’s top tourist destination. (TRF

About 3,000 people from Brazil’s Homeless Workers Movement, which invades open lands and buildings in cities across the continent-sized nation, pitched their shelters a few days ago on six large tracts in and around the capital of Brasilia. (AP

..and the rest

The UK is spending billions of pounds on aid to fragile states but the program has been ramped up too quickly, without proper scrutiny, and is not yet making a real difference, a government watchdog has warned. (Guardian


Why South Sudan’s children are fighting again (IRIN

Analysis: Obama’s successor could inherit Mideast conflict (AP

‘Africa rising’ narrative takes a hit as foreign investors scale back investment (GlobalPost

Who pays? Who cuts emissions? 5 issues for UN climate deal (AP

Embedding with Aid Agencies: Editorial Integrity and Security Risks (Frontline Club London

With shift to local aid, corruption a rising challenge (Devex

The government wants ‘payment by results’ for aid – but they can’t have their cake and eat it too (The Guardian

Adapting development: Why it matters and 3 ways to do it (Devex