White House weighs in on rising Turkey and Syria tensions
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses the lawmakers of his Justice and Development Party at the parliament in Ankara. (PHOTO CREDIT: AFP)
June 26th, 2012
01:00 PM ET

White House weighs in on rising Turkey and Syria tensions

(CNN)–White House spokesman Jay Carney Tuesday condemned Syria's shoot down of a Turkish military plane last week calling the action "unacceptable". Speaking with reporters aboard Air Force One as the president traveled to campaign events in Georgia and Florida, Carney commended Turkey for what he called its "measured" response.
Carney said the United States stands by Turkey and its allies and will work with Turkey to hold Syria's Bashar al-Assad regime accountable. The incident, which occurred last Friday when the Turkish Phantom F-4 was shot down as it flew over Syrian waters, raised even more tension between Turkey and Syria, two heavily armed regional powers.
Carney said Syrians have, in his words, paid for Assad's "hubris and lies" and the spokesman again called for the international community to come together to remove the dictator.
But asked about Syria's regional ally Russia which has been resistant to backing Assad's removal, Carney would only say the United States has had "productive" conversations with Russia and admitted the two countries have "differed" on how to handle the growing violence in Syria

Topics: Jay Carney • NATO • Russia • Syria
June 19th, 2012
06:48 PM ET

Obama and Putin work through Syria tensions

CNN's Dan Lothian reports from Mexico on the G-20 summit and President Obama's meeting with President Putin about Syria.

Topics: G-20 • President Obama • Syria • Vladimir Putin
June 18th, 2012
03:51 PM ET

G-20 nations must 'do what's necessary' to boost world economy, Obama says


Los Cabos, Mexico (CNN) - U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday welcomed the results of the Greek election as he prepared to join other world leaders at a summit aimed at boosting a sluggish global economic recovery.

Officially, the G-20 Summit in Los Cabos, Mexico, will largely focus on one of the primary causes of the recovery's lethargy - the threat of a European currency collapse that would roil the already fragile economies of most of the 17 countries that use the euro.

"The world is concerned about the slowing of growth that has taken place," Obama said Monday before the start of the summit, following one-on-one-talks with host President Felipe Calderon of Mexico. " A lot of attention has been centered on Europe. Now is the time, as we've discussed, to make sure that all of us join to do what's necessary to stabilize the world financial system, to avoid protectionism, to ensure that we are working hand-in-hand to both grow the economy and create jobs while taking a responsible approach long term and medium term towards our fiscal structures."

However, the summit was not expected to produce concrete commitments, and European Union President Jose Manuel Barroso made clear Monday that European nations were not there to be lectured on how to proceed.

"This crisis was not originated in Europe. .... This crisis was originated in North America," Barroso said. "And many of our financial sector were contaminated by - how can I put it - unorthodox practice from some sectors of the financial market. But we are not putting the blame on our partners. What we are saying is let's work together when we have a global problem like the one we have today. "


Topics: G-20 • President Obama • Russia • Syria
Briefing Bites: Franklin Graham, Gas Prices and Syrian Militarization
February 21st, 2012
02:48 PM ET

Briefing Bites: Franklin Graham, Gas Prices and Syrian Militarization

At the beginning of Tuesday's briefing, Press Secretary Jay Carney announced that President Obama will address the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s policy conference on Sunday March 4th in Washington D.C. The next day, Obama is scheduled to hold a bilateral meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House.

For much of the rest of the briefing, Carney was asked to respond to comments made on television and on the campaign trail.

Early Tuesday on MSNBC's "Morning Joe", Rev. Franklin Graham questioned the president's commitment to Christianity, saying he "can't say categorically" that the president is not a Muslim.

"Under Islamic law, Sharia law, Islam sees him as a son of Islam," Graham said. "Because his father was a Muslim. Grandfather was a Muslim. That's just the way it works. That's the way they see it. He says he didn't grow up that way and he believes in Jesus Christ. So the Muslim world, Islam sees him as a son of Islam."

Graham also said "Islam has had a pass under Obama," and the president "seems more concerned about them than the Christians that are being murdered in the Muslim countries."

Carney was asked specifically about Graham's comments but passed on the opportunity to take the issue up directly:

I did meet with the president this morning for about 45 minutes and amazingly he didn’t bring this up because he was actually talking about policy issues that he believes are the most important things he can do and he can focus on as president. And that they are the most important things for the vast majority of the American people who are concerned about paying the rent or the mortgage, sending their kids to school, making ends meet. You heard him speak earlier today at the payroll tax cut extension event where he firmly believes that getting an extra forty dollars in every pay check is of vastly greater significance to most Americans than someone’s opinion expressed on cable television about his personal faith which again he has spoken about explicitly as recently as a few weeks ago at the national prayer service.

Earlier Carney was asked about other criticisms of the president's faith made last week by GOP candidate Rick Santorum, and he was a bit more expansive in his response: FULL POST

Topics: Briefing Bites • Faith • Gas prices • Syria
White House defends tone on Syria
February 15th, 2012
04:52 PM ET

White House defends tone on Syria

WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Obama has not publicly condemned Syria in the way that he applied pressure on Egypt and Libya, but the White House dismisses criticism that the U.S. resolve in Syria is any less forceful.

“We continue to work with all friends of the Syrian people to mount pressure on Assad to get him to step aside and allow a peaceful political transition to go forward immediately,’ NSC spokesman Tommy Vietor told CNN.

But that hasn’t happened yet even though the Obama administration seems convinced that the writing is on the wall for President. Bashar Assad.

“It’s clear Assad is on his way out. His single-minded brutality has made the end of his rule of Syria inevitable,” Vietor said.

Regime insiders are already moving assets out of the country, U.S. officials said and some are making plans to send their families abroad too.

The White House approach to “squeeze the regime” relies on imposing what one official described as “all possible sanctions.” The administration is also focused on bolstering the Syrian opposition and working to provide humanitarian assistance to the Syrians.

In the coming days, Vietor said the U.S. would be involved in discussions with allies and partners to “crystallize next steps to halt the slaughter of the Syrian people.”

The so called “Friends of Syria” meeting to ensure the political transition to democracy moves forward is set for February 24th in Tunisia.

Meantime, White House spokesman Jay Carney said President Obama was “very engaged” in this issue.

In his meeting with China’s Vice President Xi Jinping on Tuesday, Mr. Obama expressed disappointment with their veto [along with Russia] of the United Nations Security Council’s resolution on Syria, according to a senior administration official. The two leaders also discussed the need to move to a transition there.

The brutal government crackdown in Syria and almost daily scenes of violence in the streets only bolsters the international case for Assad’s exit.

“The longer he is permitted to deny this political reality, the greater the risk that he will foment chaos that will destabilize the whole region,” Vietor said.

Topics: President Obama • Syria • The News
August 18th, 2011
06:15 PM ET

Gaggle Notes: Martha's Vineyard edition

The president has just landed in Martha's Vineyard for a 10-day vacation with his family. While the president has no public events on his schedule during his time away from Washington, during this afternoon’s flight Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest gaggled with reporters on Air Force One and previewed the president’s week ahead.

On the president’s vacation:

"The President of the United States is the President of the United States wherever he goes. That's the job that he ran for, that's the job the American people expect and it's the job he's doing. You saw that John Brennan is traveling on Air Force One today. He will be providing regular updates to ensure that [the president’s] fully briefed on national security issues."

On criticism that the president is taking a vacation during such tumultuous times for the country:


Topics: Gaggle Notes • President Obama • Syria
April 25th, 2011
07:00 PM ET

U.S. stepping up pressure against Syria with new sanctions

By CNN Senior State Department Producer Elise Labott

Washington (CNN) - The U.S. is preparing new sanctions against members of the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad who are overseeing the violent crackdown against protesters, according to several senior U.S. officials with knowledge of the action.

Dan Lothian's report: Obama mulls next steps in Syria

A new Treasury Department executive order targeting senior officials accused of human rights abuses would involve an asset freeze and travel ban, as well as prohibiting them them from doing business in the United States.

On Monday, National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said the United States is "pursuing a range of possible policy options, including targeted sanctions, to respond to the crackdown and make clear that this behavior is unacceptable."


Topics: President Obama • Syria • The News • Uncategorized