Wednesday, June 29, 2016

White House remarks re Istanbul attack, potential Obama-Erdogan mtg next week in Warsaw

White House press secretary Josh Earnest and Senior Adviser Brian Deese gaggled en route. Thanks to co-pooler Jerome Cartillier

Please check against transcript.

The news at the top: President Obama called Turkish President Erdogan from Air Force One. "The president placed that phone call to express his deep condolences on behalf of the American people to the Turkish people for the lives that were lost in yesterday's terror attack at the Istambul airport. In the context of that call, the president will, in addition to expressing his condolences, offer any support that the Turks could benefit from as they conduct this investigation and take steps to further strengthen the security situation in that country."

Then Earnest:

-- Did Turkey indicate that it would need or want U.S. assistance into the investigation?"I don't have any updates at this point. There are obviously previous conversations between US and Turkish officials that have taken place in which that support has also been offered but I don't have any updates at this point."

--Does the U.S. have any information on culpability?"I don't have any an official assessment to share from here. Obviously, we have a range of capabilities to try to learn for ourselves what has happened. Any information that we obtain that could be useful to the Turkish investigation, we will certainly share that information."

--Will the president make a detour to Istanbul during his Europe trip next week?"I don't have any changes to the president's schedule to share at this point. In the context of that travel to Warsaw, the president will obviously have an opportunity to meet with our NATO allies, including Turkey." Earnest says the president will have an opportunity "in some setting" to meet with the Turkish president and he expects that the attacks will be discussed at today's Three Amigo summit as well. "This is something that will certainly be on the minds of all three North American leaders."

--Does this attack reflect anything about Islamic State's strength?"We've made important progress in Iraq and in Syria against ISIL." Says there's been "notable progress" in Iraq recently, pointing to the recapture of Fallujah. "This was obviously a significant gain by Iraqi forces and we obviously were pleased by that progress. But we continue to be concerned by the ability that ISIL has to carry out these kind of terrorist attacks, not just in Iraq and Syria but in other places."

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