tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN October 23, 2013 6:00am-8:01am EDT
>> you are watching c-span2 with politics and public affairs. weekdays feature live coverage of the u.s. senate. on weeknights watch key public policy events. and every weekend the latest nonfiction authors and books on booktv. you can see past program to get our schedules at our website. you can join in the conversation on social media sites. >> and now to london for prime minister's question time live from the british house of commons.
every wednesday while parliament is in session prime minister david cameron takes questions from members of the house of commons. prior to question him house is wrapping up a business. this is live coverage on c-span2. >> this is not only of the regional government level but in the community level where we see so much of the root causes of the situation. >> border. questions to the prime minister. >> number one, mr. speaker. >> thank you, mr. speaker. i'm sure the whole house will wish to join in -- 14 signal regiment who died in afghanistan. it is clear from the tribute that he was a highly talented and professional soldier. our thoughts are with his family, friends and colleagues at this are difficult time. he has made the ultimate sacrifice and we must never forget him. on a happier note i'm sure the whole house will join me in
celebrating the christening of baby prince george later today. this morning i had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others, and in addition to my duties in this house, i shall have further such meetings later today. >> mr. speaker, go to join my right honorable friend in his tribute to the corporal. our thoughts and prayers are with his family and colleagues. and also in his applaud for the christening of prince george this morning. could ask my honorable friend does he think it is a good time for an apology from those regional branches of the priest federation so produce are honorable friend, right honorable friend? and also from the leader of the opposition. >> let me start by saying, in part -- start by saying by whole house everyone in the house that we should put on record what an incredible job the police do on our behalf every day. i see that at very close and.
the leader of the opposition and i saw that at the police bravery awards last week. as i said last week, the former chief whip give a full explanation of what happened to the police in the meeting said he gave no explanation and so it is now clear reading the report that the police do need to make an apology. as far as the officer is concerned and others are coming to the house of an alto give a full account and a proper apology to the home affairs select committee. it is a take a moment for all of us to consider what we sit at the time and hope the leader of the opposition will do the same thing. >> ed miliband. >> mr. speaker, can i join the prime minister in paying tribute to lance corporal james brian in who died on his second tour of duty in afghanistan. he was a brave, professional soldier and i send our deepest condolences to his family and
friends. i also join the prime minister in celebrating the christening of prince george later today and send best wishes to duke and duchess of cambridge. thank you for prime minister said anyone who wanted to intervene directly in energy market was libbey and a marxist universe. [laughter] can he tell the house how does he feel now that the red peril has claimed john major? >> we are intervening -- [shouting] >> i'm not surprised he wants to quote the last conservative prime minister and also forget the mess that the people in between made of our country. [shouting] >> let me be clear. let me be absolutely clear. i do believe in intervening in the energy market. that is why we are legislating, that is why we are legislating to put customers on the lowest tariffs. now where john major is absolute write is that builds in this
country have reached a completely unacceptable level. we need to take action on that. we need to help people to pay their bills and we also need to help to get bills down. this is where we need a very frank conversation about what it is that is putting builds up. we're prepared to have that conversation. he is employed in cynical ploys and gimmicks. >> ed miliband. >> of course john major was a conservative prime minister the one day majority unlike those prime minister [shouting] -- unlike this prime minister. [shouting] further, trendy i think the prime minister said something rather interesting. he obviously does agree with john major of the energy price increases are unacceptable. if we agree there unacceptable the question is what of it going to get about it.
the former prime minister says given the scale of the profits we should recruit that money. that's a quote from him, that he wants to do it through a windfall tax. i say we need a price freeze. what does the prime minister want to do to recoup that money for the consumer? >> we need to roll back some of the green regulations that have pushed up our build. [shouting] >> yes, yes. we all know who put them in place. we all know the put them in place. [shouting] >> order. the house is very overexcited. i want to hear the answers. let's hear the prime minister. >> first of all, he talks about john major winning election and he's right. he beat a week an incredible labour leader. isn't it rather familiar? john major also said -- john major also said that he's absolutely right. the first thing he said was that
labour's policy was unworkable, and he's absolutely right. what we need to do is recognize that there are -- there are the wholesale prices which are beyond our control. there are the cost of transmission and the grid which are difficult to change. the are the profits of the energy company, and/or the green regulations. it is those last two we need to get to grips with. i can tell the house today that we will be having a proper competition test carried out over the next year to get to the bottom of why this market can be more competitive. i want more companies, better regulation, i want better deals for consumers. but yes, we also need to roll back the green charges that he put in place as energy secretary. [shouting] >> ed miliband. >> mr. speaker, he really is changing his policy every day of the week. it's absolutely -- his energy
secretary was in his place as there's nothing to do with green taxes. 60% of the green taxes were introduced by him. who's the and visit vote blue to go green? it was ham. [shouting] and i'll tell you what -- it was him. it's not standing up to the energy companies. and that's this prime minister all over. >> he talks about the biggest six energy companies. who created the big six energy companies? when labour came to power there were 17 companies in the market now there are six. but mr. speaker, i can help members opposite because i have the briefing, the fact bench legs have been given about the own energy policy. and they might want to listen -- yes. in case they haven't read the briefing they might want to hear it. question seven, what would stop the energy companies just increasing their prices beforehand? absolutely no answer.
question six, question six -- [shouting] >> i think -- no, no. let me share in the briefing with you. how will you stop -- question six, how will you stop companies just increasing their prices once the freeze ends? here we have a great labour answer. here we have a great answer, the public would take a dim view. a dim view. how brave. let's have question nine. this says it all. labour's briefing, this is what it says, ed miliband was energy secretary in the last government. is indeed to blame for writing bills? and we all know the answer, yes, he is. [shouting] >> ed miliband. >> i'll tell him what happened. when i was energy secretary, energy bills went down. since he became prime minister they are up by 300 pounds. now, let's clarify where we are. the prime minister said these
price rises are unacceptable. he says he wants to act. he is the prime minister. heaven help us but he is the prime minister. suggestion that he should implement labour's price freeze. [shouting] there's an energy bill going through the house. we can amend the bill and we can bring in that price freeze right now. two parties working together. let's do it. [shouting] >> mr. speaker, mr. speaker, i think he has been following too much of the guys wearing too many woolly jumpers of it. getting overheated. let's do it. we can bring in this price freeze right now. [shouting] >> he knows perfectly well it is not a price freeze. it is a price con.
he admitted it was a price con the very next day because he cannot control global gas prices. the truth is prices will go before him. he wouldn't keep his promise and prices would go up afterwards. it is a cynical ploy from the energy secretary directed the energy market in the first place. [shouting] >> ed miliband. >> mr. speaker, i'll tell them what is a con. telling people last week that the answer was to switch supplies and that was a broken engine market. what does he take say to someone who took his advice last week to switch from british gas only to discover the end power is raising the price by 10%? >> you can save up to 250 pounds if you switched. but we want a more competitive energy market. he left us a market with just six players. we have already seen seven new energy companies come into that
market, so we need an annual audit of competition to make this market more competitive. something he never did when in office. we need to rollback the costs that have been imposed on people's energy bills, part of which he was responsible for. one of the first acts of his government was to take the 179 pounds that is going to put on energy bill because it is renewable heat initiative. he put bills up. is trying to con the public. we will deliver for hard-working people. >> mr. speaker, john major said what we all know, we have a prime minister who stands up for the energy companies, not hard-working families. many people face a choice this winter between heating and eating. these are the ordinary people of this country who is prime minister will never meet and whose lives they will never understand. [shouting] >> the difference is, john major is a good men. the right honorable gentleman is
acting like a con man. that is what we are seeing. he is promising something he knows he can't deliver. he knows he can't deliver because he never delivered it when he was in office. [shouting] >> mr. andrew stephenson. >> tran one. -- tran one. in the town where i live on -- unemployed is down and small businesses are flourishing. however, traffic congestion is holding back the economic growth of the area. will be prime minister join with me in welcoming the start of a six-week consultation that would address this problem? >> i very much welcome what my audible princess. he's right. the need for building bipartisan and roads in a country, that's why we're spending 3 billion pounds over this parliament a major upgrade. i welcome the consultation on the cole bypass and it comes as he says at the same time is very good news on unemployment where
we have 1 million more people and working -- and work in our country. >> thank you, mr. speaker. on this day 20 years ago the provision of either a brutally murdered innocent man, woman and children. will the prime minister join with me and my right honorable and audible colleagues, ensuring that no one is in a civilized society will ever take innocent victims with guilty murders? >> i joined the honorable gentleman and commemorating that appalling act that took place that day. we all remember that. what i can say to him is that, of course, no one should ever glorified in anyway terrorism or those who take part in terrorism. but what he knows and what i know is that everyone in northern ireland has to try to come together to talk about a shared future and try to leave the past behind. >> rural post offices are finally important but they need
more government workers to survive. they have to continue to face pensions and benefits. [inaudible] will the prime minister encourage all his ministers to give more government work to post office in? >> we all want to see the post office network to survive and in the threat. unlike the last government is on nearly a third of the row post office network close, we've committed that no post office will close in this parliament. so i hear what he says. the current arrangements for collecting pensions and benefits of post offices will remain in place at least until 2015, and the department are discussing the idea of an extension to 20 2017. >> mr. speaker, at 1.5 million people in the uk are addicted to barbiturates.
i know of one individual who has been on these products for over 45 years, total life ruined. they are not drug and its users. they are victims of the system of restriction. will the prime minister advice the department of health to give some guidance to the clinical commission groups to introduce withdrawal programs in line with the advice from the professor of newcastle university who is the expert in this field to get these people back their lives? >> first of all, can i pay tribute to the honorable member who i know has campaigned strongly on this issue over many years and i join him in paying tribute to professor -- professor action. he's right. people have become hooked on repeat prescriptions of tranquilizers. the minister of public health is happy to discuss this issue with him and as he says make sure the relevant guidance can be issued. >> thank you, mr. speaker.
[shouting] >> thank you. i know the trend is very well aware of concerns that many of our people have on rising energy prices. will be there for act to reduce the effect of the unfortunate legacy by cutting the carbon reduction policy along getting the target in relieving the burden on both consumer and business is? >> want my honorable friend makes a good point and that's what i say we have to have an honest discussion about this because the fact is on our energy bills its 112 pounds of green taxes and green regulation, and we need to work out what is necessary to encourage renewable energy. what is necessary to go on winning overseas investment in the uk, but how we can bear down on people's bills. it simply is the policy of the con man to pretend that you can freeze prices, but the proper approach is to look at what's driving up bills and deal with it.
>> order. let me just say i let it go the first time. the word con man is frankly on parliamentary. [shouting] and let me -- order. order. it is -- prime minister is a man of great versatility and the use of language. it is a bit below the level. we believe that there. order. no, no. it's a bit below level. >> mr. speaker, mr. speaker, yesterday the independent state reported the governments failure to close the tax loophole which could be losing the extent of 509 pounds a year. has the prime minister ever been lobbied on this loophole, and will he now pledged to close it immediately? >> to my memory i've never been lobbied on this particular issue. i look at it this morning. the treasury has listened carefully to the our kids and is made the decisions for the
reasons that she knows. >> over 300,000 new businesses have been registered in the united kingdom over the last three years, a record figure. the key priority in supporting these businesses over the difficult years of trading is to make sure that we bear down on regulation. much has been done to the challenge, what more can the government do to support these risktakers at the fiscal time? >> i'm grateful for the question. the news that today as we now have the largest number of companies in our country that has ever existed. over the last three years we now see 400,000 to companies become established. what we have to do is help them in every way we can pick i think the most powerful thing we're doing is cutting the national insurance they will have to pay by 2000 pounds starting next year. that will be a real boost for small businesses. but also the red tape they are
currently dealing with, including at the european council coming up this week where i've organized in the for businesses to explain their proposal for cutting red tape to fellow european leaders from finland, from italy, germany and elsewhere. it's an agenda right across the board help small businesses grow our economy. >> mr. speaker, new research shows his government is trapping low earning on benefits. is benefit cap is hitting vulnerable children. stop paying parents working, and costing the taxpayer. isn't it time for a rethink? >> we know labour are against the benefit cap. labour want unlimited benefits for families. they are no longer the labour party. they are the welfare party and it is very clear from the questions that they ask. we think it's right to cap benefits so no family can earn more out of work families earned in work. the early evidence is showing this is encouraging people to
look for work. fofor a party that lives and hard-working people, that's good news. presumably for the welfare party, that's bad news. >> thank you, mr. speaker. the prime minister will be a winner of the business model, a nonprofit company responsible to its consumers and not to its shareholders. does the prime minister agree that such a company in the energy supply sector would introduce real competition? >> we want more competition in energy sector whether that comes from private businesses, cooperative businesses or as he says charitable enterprises. we want an open energy market. the fact is what we were left was the big six left to us by the party opposite. we were also left -- appointed five of the nine people. the reason the energy market is ruined lies largely at his door. >> thank you, mr. speaker.
[inaudible] approximate seven years to rehouse the 1400 tenants who wished to downsize because they can't afford to pay their tax. with the prime minister advise for -- increasing the house and benefit bill, or should they try and save money by turning up the heating and wearing a jumper of? >> what is there about removing the spare room subsidy is a makes the situation fair between private sector rented accommodation and others. it's that sort of fairness we want to see in our country. the party opposite have opposed every single welfare reduction that we have proposed. 85 billion pounds they would have to by proposing every single thing we've done to help get this country back on track. [shouting] >> the public outlook for construction in my constituency this year --
[shouting] with increased turnover and they very strongly increased -- [inaudible] is neared in the real economies all over the country, not just in my constituency. will the prime minister undertake not to be diverted from the long, hard slog of writing the public finances and reducing the burdens so that plan a 10 continue as to enable businesses in my constituency like all the others and to put our economy right for the long-term? >> i'm very glad you that osborn construction is working in his constituency as it is around the rest of the country. that is worthwhile. cannot pay tribute to them as a constituency indeed standing up for people and businesses, knowing that what they need is what the country needs which is to stand up for hard-working people, more businesses, more jobs, more investment turning our country around. >> thank you, mr. speaker. vending machines allow users to
stake 100 pounds every 20 seconds for up to 13 hours a day. they have transform the local bookies from places where you can have slots on the horses into high street digital casinos. so will the pm consider banning these machines as has recently happened in ireland? >> this is an issue i've been lobbied on, edited think it is worth having a proper look at this issue to see what we can do to make sure that yes, we want to have bookmakers that are not overregulated but on the other hand, a fair approach and a decent approach that presents -- prevents proper gambling. [inaudible]
with the prime minister uses office is to usher the failed preschool application is incorporated in this inquiry? >> very grateful to look at my honorable friends suggestion. obviously, we need to have a proper policy of making sure that proposal for preschools already decoded before they go ahead but it is worth making a point when you look at the preschools in our country, two-thirds have been judged to be good or outstanding which is a higher proportion than schools within the state sector. so i think it is worth not just continuing this policy but putting rocket boosters so we can see many more preschools in our country. >> order. question nine come close question. mr. george howard. >> i discuss with the mayor the prospects for the city in terms of overseas investment and
importance of this international festival. i met with a family and msha i will visit again soon. >> george howard spent i'm grateful to the answer, mr. speaker. will get the prime minister except that support to local government should be related to need? if so, how does he explain that the households in our reasons have lost 40 pounds over the last two years were as the households in his own can century has gained six? >> i will give the gentleman the figures. if you look at spending power part one which is the combination of grandpa's council tax, the spending per dwelling in his area is 3122 pounds, whereas in west oxfordshire its 1872 pounds. now, ma i fully accept the need is much greater their but i would argue that is a relatively fair balance between the two.
>> following decades of under investments and hollow promises from previous governments the coalition early decision to foley fuel is driving -- [inaudible] can urge the prime minister to continue to looking at the powerhouse for economic growth and back the opportunities available to invest in integrated mainline? >> these the right to stand up for norwich and for the economy. the 109 pounds where investing is an important part of that. this is going to be completed in 2014. this will cut congestion on the route between cambridge and norwich. the shadow chacha said something. he wants to go and watch the canaries and we'll get in there a little quicker. [laughter] i am no end in trying to help the shadow chancellor. >> two weeks ago the heads of the security service warned about the extent of islamist
extremism, and this week to individuals have been charged with a series of terrorist offenses. what's the prime minister going to do in january when his legislation, some of those at the home secretary has judged the great threat to our security, released from the provisions of the terrace prevention office? >> we have to play some of the toughest controls within a democratic government that you can possibly have of which obviously they are one partner would also have had repeated meetings of the extremism task force meeting again yesterday setting up a whole series of steps we're going to do counting the extremism that is, blocking sites that are online. while i had the opportunity let me say facebook have reversed the decision they took yesterday to show beheading videos online. we'll take all the steps and many more to keep our country safe. >> mr. speaker, following the guardians reckless handling of the snowden leak, will the prime minister join me in paying tribute to the women and men of
our intelligence services who have no voice, but to do so much to keep this country safe? >> i think my honorable friend is right. it is one of the greatest privileges of this job to work with our intelligence and security services, and to meet some of the people who work for them. is right to say they don't give thanks publicly not because of the jobs that they do but i'm convinced the work they do on half of our country helps to keep us safe, we have seen that again this week with the arrests that have taken place. once again, brilliant policing work, brilliant intelligent work helping to keep our country safe and we cannot praise these people do highly. >> thank you, mr. speaker. the realities of work for millions of people, low pay, short time, zero hours, agency explication were exposed on channel four this week. did the prime minister see it? if not, will he use catch up so he can watch it and then wake up
to realize in britain and? >> everyone in the country wants to see living standards increase, more people in working for people to keep more take-home pay. that is why with cut taxes for the typical working family by 705 pounds. when you look at what will come a place by year. let me make the point about zero hours contracts which is this, the proportion of people in employment on zero hours in 2012 was the same as it was in the year 2000. the number of people employed on zero hours increased by 75% between 2004-2009. that is when that lot were in government. >> mr. speaker, businesses in crawley are creating hundreds of new jobs leading to unemployment falling to 2.7%. does my right honorable friend agree with me that the way to raise living standards is to increase and continue the policies of economic growth rather than this credit policies
of debt from the party opposite? >> my friend is right. what we've seen in the country is business confidence rising, consumer confidence rising, exports increasing, construction and manufacturing are up. we are seeing a good growth in terms of employment. a million more people in work compared to when they came to office but clearly we want to do more to help people by reducing the taxes which is exactly what we are doing. all of this will be put at risk if we give up on reducing the deficit and our responsible economic policy. that is what the opposite party would do. >> does the prime minister think it's fair that a fat, pregnant woman will not have to pay 1200 pounds to take maternity discrimination case to the employment tribunal? >> they do under this government. the one thing we have done is make sure that people earned
those rights into the work for business for two years and i think that's the right approach. >> thank you, mr. speaker. thanks to the chances economic policies, unemployment fell by 10% last month. now at its lowest level since september 2008. many of those jobs were created in small businesses who now have the confidence to invest. will the prime minister commit to supporting those small businesses to help us grow the economy? >> my friend is quite right. unemployment in the west midlands fell by 14,000 this quarter. but my friend doesn't just talk about helping people back into jobs. he set up a jobs club in his constituency which is engagement to bring businesses large and small together with those who want jobs. that's the sort of social action on this side of house we believe in. not just talking about it, but helping. >> prime minister, the possible involvement --
[inaudible] i raised your non-reply on the 19th of june at the prime minister's question time and also raise it again and the debates on the 18th of july. prime minister, i served in this house under for previous prime ministers who replied to members let us. >> order. this question will be heard with courtesy. as i suspect -- as i expect all questions. it's very simple and straightforward. >> i have served under four previous partners who replied to members lives. why won't you? >> well, i will certainly apply to his letter but not let me get in the reply right now. public health response bill is a matter for the department of health. linton crosby job is the destruction of the labour party and he has done a good one. >> order. order. i thank the prime minister and colleagues. we shall come in a moment -- >> here on c. span to relieve the british house of commons now
as they move on to other legislative business. you have been watching prime minister questions time and live wednesdays at 7 a.m. eastern while parliament is in session. you can see this weeks questions and again sunday night at nine eastern and pacific on c-span. for more information go to c-span.org, click on c-span series for prime minister's questions. plus links to international news media and legislatures around the world. you can watch recent videos including programs and with other international issues. >> author an astrophysicist neil degrasse tyson on america's call for scientists and engineers. >> as nasa's future goes, so, too, does that of america. and if nasa is healthy, then you don't need a program to convince people that science and engineering is good to do. because they will see it writ large on the paper. there will be calls for engineers to help us go ice fishing on your robe where
there's an ocean of water that's been liquid for billions of years. we're going to dig through the soil of mars and look for life. that would give me the best but positive look at the national for food today. it's got biology, chemistry, physics, geology, planned to geology, aerospace engineers, mechanical and electrical engineers, all the s.t.e.m. fields. science, technology, engineering and math. represented in the nasa portfolio. a healthy nasa pumps that. a healthy nasa is a flywheel that society caps for innovations. >> over the past 15 years booktv has aired over 40,000 programs about nonfiction books and authors. booktv every weekend on c-span2. >> c-span studentcam video competition what's the most important issue congress should consider in 2014? make a five to seven minute
documentary showing varying points of the commission to include c-span video. the competition is open to all middle and high school students with a grand prize of $5000. this year we have doubled the number of winners. entries are due by january 20, 2014. need more information? visit studentcam.org. >> sector is a john kerry was in london yesterday to discuss city with foreign ministers and the leaders of syrian opposition groups. this meeting is a precursor to a larger summit to be held in geneva next month. secretary kerry spoke to reporters for a half hour. >> good afternoon, everybody. thank you for your patience. it's a great privilege to be back in london and to be here
with all of my fellow ministers who are part of the so-called london 11, which has been the principal support group and organizing entity to assist the syrian opposition. and i want to thank our terrific host, foreign secretary william hague, who ran a very effective, focused meeting this morning, and who has welcomed us with a great and traditional hospitality. we're happy to be here. i also want to thank the joint special representative lakhdar brahimi, who is out in the region now meeting with various parties in preparation for the possibilities of the geneva conference. and we're grateful to him and to his team for their efforts. needless to say, we came here to
london, i think this is the fourth or fifth meeting that i have taken part in as part of the london 11, in order to reaffirm the international community's strong commitment to trying to end the bloodshed in syria, and to try to bring stability to that war-torn country, and to provide sanctuary, and ultimately, an opportunity to return to their country for the millions of refugees and displaced people. when we last met, we spoke with one voice about the need to move towards a transitional government with full executive authority by mutual consent. those are not my words. those are the words of the geneva communiqué of june 2012, known as geneva 1.
and in that communiqué, the united nations and other representative entities in many countries, including russia, signed on to a communiqué which called for a transition government in syria. what we did today was increase our commitment to the convening of the geneva conference for the specific purpose of implementing the geneva 1 communiqué. we agreed to increase today our coordinated assistance to the opposition, including to the syrian opposition coalition, the legitimate representative of the syrian people. and we also committed to do more
to assist the brave people who are on the ground in syria. we also agreed to direct military aid exclusively through the supreme military council from those countries that have chosen to do so or are able to do so, as they fight, that is, the supreme military council fights to curtail the influence of extremists, to isolate the extremists, and to change the balance on the ground. now as these efforts all occur simultaneously, we are convinced, based on the meeting we had here today, that those increased efforts will create their own synergy that will help the opposition to continue to be able to grow stronger. so far, the united states has committed a significant amount of funding to both the humanitarian effort and to the
effort to assist the syrian opposition. we've now totaled shy of $2 billion, a large, the largest proportion of it, i might add, humanitarian assistance. and we are proud that the united states is the largest humanitarian donor in order to try to address the growing humanitarian catastrophe that exists on the ground. president obama recently announced that the united states will provide an additional $339 million in humanitarian assistance on top of the more than billion that we've already put in. but one thing is clear, and one thing really was made even more clear in the meetings that we had this morning. i don't know anybody, including
the russians and others in the region who are not part of this support group, who believe that there is a military solution to this conflict. it is clear that both sides will continue to fight, and to fight, and to fight. and in the end, the greatest victims, the people who suffer the most, are the syrian people themselves, who are being driven from their homes and killed in the most wanton violence, and who are having an increasingly profound impact on surrounding countries that are seeing their lives affected as a consequence of the outflow of refugees. this war will not come to an end on the battlefield, i believe, and i think most people believe. it will come to an end through a negotiated settlement. joint special representative brahimi and the russians and we
have come together and consulted closely in an effort to try to define a path forward for convening the geneva 2 conference as soon as it is practical to do so. and special representative brahimi is making his judgments now. there will be a meeting; you will hear shortly from the syrian opposition. they will be meeting in about a little more than a week's time for their own general assembly to make their own decisions, and subsequently other decisions will be made with respect to this. but we believe that the london 11 that came together today, europeans and arabs, turks, members of this support group, came together and all agreed that it is imperative that we try to get to the negotiating table and try to save the lives
and to save the existence of the state of syria itself. the only alternative to a negotiated settlement is continued, if not increased, killing. we've seen children napalmed. we've seen university students bombed at their desks. we've seen hospitals, which are supposed to take care of people, become the targets. this is a tragedy, and right now it is one of the great tragedies on the face of this planet, and it deserves the focus and attention of all of us to try to bring it to an end. we believe that the path of war will simply lead to the implosion of the state of syria. it will lead to the rise of extremist groups and extremism itself. it will lead to more refugees
spilling over the borders and putting strains on surrounding countries. and it will further destabilize the region and lead ultimately to the disintegration of the syrian state. all of this makes this challenge a global challenge, an international challenge of the greatest proportions. so that's why we're here. that's why we came to london today, to demonstrate our support for the moderate opposition and to create the conditions for settlement that implements the geneva communiqée and brings the bloodshed to an end. our job as the 11 states who form the core group of the friends of syria is to do everything in our power to help the opposition be able to come together with a strong, unified position and a representative body at geneva so that they can negotiate effectively.
the agreement that led to the strong and unprecedented un security council resolution to eliminate syria's chemical weapons, actually the concept first floated right here at this podium in this room, that initiative has become a very important step forward in this overall effort. the organization for the prohibition of chemical weapons is now making progress on the ground, on identifying syria's chemical weapons and destroying its mixing and filling equipment. and everyone here should ask themselves, if it is possible for us to have an agreement which allows people to get on the ground and go into communities and get ahold of chemical weapons, is it really not possible for us to have people on the ground who can go
in and get food and medicine to people who are starving and dying for the lack of it. surely we have the ability to be able to do that, and that is something we are going to focus on increasingly in the days ahead. the united states has also provided armored vehicles to the united nations to support the u.n. and the opcw efforts to verify and destroy syria's chemical weapons, and we're going to continue to explore ways to do more. but i just have to say to all of you, we cannot stop there. removing the chemical weapons does not remove the crisis. and it doesn't remove the humanitarian catastrophe that is unfolding before the world's eyes. it doesn't change the situation for people who are under fire from assad's artillery or his bombs, his airplanes, his scuds.
assad continues to deploy ballistic missiles and other conventional weapons, and he's using his air force to rain down terror on the people of his country. innocent men, women, and children are starving, as i mentioned a moment ago, while the assad regime continues to block humanitarian access. so i think the stakes could not be more clear. the killing of well more than a hundred thousand people, innocent men, women, and children, the destabilization of an entire region, the displacement of millions of people inside of syria, the creating of refugees by the millions outside of syria, and the potential for a beautiful and ancient country to be fully destroyed by sectarian and extremist violence is what is at stake here. and that is why the 11 of us are
committed to pursuing every avenue available to bring this tragic conflict to an end. i want to just end by saying that the geneva communiqué is more than a piece of paper, and it should not be a forgotten level of diplomacy. it is the roadmap that leads to a new future, and it's a future that can end the bloodshed in syria, can respond to the humanitarian catastrophe, and it rids the country of violent extremist groups. that's our goal. what we seek is a unified, pluralistic syria, one that is representative of all of its people's aspirations, one that protects minority and majority alike, all religions, all points of view, all politics, all sectarian affiliations, kurds, christians, druze, ismaili,
alawi, and any other minority group must be protected. so that is our goal. that's what brought us here. we're in the important days of trying to make this conference happen. i believe it can, and we're going to stay at it until it does. on that, i'm happy to answer any questions. >> the first question will be from michael gordon of the new york times. >> sir, one stated purpose of the meeting here today was to bolster the moderate syrian opposition, and indeed the communiqué talks of stepping up support to that opposition, but there are no specifics. can you tell us specifically what concrete support financial, military, or materiel will be given to the opposition as a direct result of today's meeting? and a related question is the communiqué lists a host of confidence-building measures, such as humanitarian corridors or the release of people who have been arbitrarily detained.
are any of these steps to be taken prior to the holding of geneva 2, or are these long-range goals for the culmination of that negotiation? and lastly, have all of the moderate opposition committed to attending a geneva 2? the communiqué makes clear that there's no role for assad in a transitional body, but it may take quite a long time for there to be such a body since it's by mutual consent. indeed, it may never happen. and people like mr. jarba and others have asked for an upfront commitment that assad will go before attending. have all the moderate opposition agreed to attend? and if not, what are you going to do to persuade them to attend? >> well, let me clarify. let me be absolutely clear. the opposition is not saying that assad has to go before this negotiation. that is not what they're saying. that is the formula that this process was stuck in before i went to russia last may and met with president putin and foreign minister lavrov, and it was
agreed that we needed to get to the conference in order to have the discussion and reach mutual agreement. you can't reach mutual consent if you're not talking to anybody. there's no mutuality. there's no potential of consent. so the fact is that you have to go engage in the discussion and then see. what the opposition has said is their condition is that the intent of this is to see that assad goes, which, in fact, is what happens if you implement geneva 1. geneva 1 contemplates a transition government by mutual consent with full executive authority. there isn't anybody in the world who believes that the opposition is going to give consent to assad to be part of that. now, assad also can veto other people.
so the trick here is to find the people who would be acceptable to both sides, who would have the respect of the syrian people, and be able to manage a transition government that allows the people of syria to choose their future. but one thing is guaranteed, there's no way that mutual consent includes bashar al-assad. and the position of the united states has not changed. we believe that he has lost all legitimacy, all capacity to govern the country, and therefore it's hard to imagine any resolution in any other way. now, he obviously has different plans. we understand that. but the russians have said that he accepts geneva 1, and the russians have said that they will make sure that the regime is there and negotiating in good faith. and we accept the russian statements on face value and we expect them to be there and negotiate in good faith.
the opposition has told us in the past that it's their intention to do it, but they have to make up their mind in their new format in about a week when they meet for their assembly, and none of us are going to prejudge or precondition what they will choose to do in that process. >> the next question will be from jonathan rugman from channel 4 news. >> mr. kerry, saudi diplomats are letting it be known that they will limit their dealings with washington in protest at what they see as the lack of action on syria. what has the saudi foreign minister told you about that? is this a serious rift with your saudi allies? and secondly, do you think this conference in geneva will happen next month or not, or are the prospects as gloomy as today's very english weather?
>> i thought it was pretty nice out, actually. it didn't seem all that gloomy. first of all, prince saud al-faisal, who is the foreign minister of the kingdom of saudi arabia, told me yesterday at a meeting that we had in paris two meetings we had, actually and again today that saudi arabia is taking part in, working with, cooperating with us. and saudi arabia today signed onto this communiqué and was part of its formulation and the discussions we had today. so all i can tell you is that saudi arabia and the united states agree on a great deal here going forward. we work closely with saudi arabia on a range of regional, political, and security issues,
including syria, iran, middle east peace, egypt. we're still working with them on those. we know that the saudis were obviously disappointed that the strike didn't take place and have questions about some of the other things that may be happening in the region. it's our obligation to work closely with them, as i am doing. the president asked me to come and have the conversations that we've had. i think they were very, very constructive. and i am convinced we are on the same page as we are proceeding forward, and i look forward to working very closely with our saudi friends and allies. >> will the conference happen in the next month? >> i believe the conference can happen next month. i'm hoping it will happen next month. both foreign minister lavrov and i in our conversations with u.n. officials have expressed our hopes that it can happen next month. but obviously, there are other players, and we're not going to
sit here and we do not have the right to make the decision for other players. they're independent, and they have to exercise their own rights here. the opposition has a series of steps that it's taking. we respect those steps. you'll hear from president jarba. and we respect their process by which they need to decide how to come to the table if they come to the table. but i'm confident that in the end the opposition will decide this is in their best interest. you can win at the negotiating table what it may take a long time and a lot of loss of life, a lot of bloodshed, and potential destruction to win on the battlefield. so i think they see that. i think they see something very positive in that, and our hope is that this conference can begin. it will never be easy. i don't want to suggest to anybody here that just because everybody says yes and you have the conference and you go to the
meeting that this is going to be easy. it's not. but it is far better to be at that table, working diplomatically, laying out a groundwork and a framework, and allowing nations to come to the table and help to work their will as to how we can resolve this crisis. and it would be irresponsible on all of our part simply to let this mayhem and chaos grow at the expense of the syrian people and the region while we do nothing. that is obviously unacceptable. so the best thing to do is try to get to that table, and that's what we're trying to do. >> lara jakes, from ap. >> thanks. i'd like to go back to some of your comments about the saudi issue. how do you square what your takeaway was from prince faisal yesterday to what prince bandar is quoted today saying
describing this rift? it sounds like you don't think that that is a -- going to be a durable shift away or a durable problem and policy issue between saudi and the u.s. but how would you answer specifically some of the issues that the sauds have had with u.s. policy, specifically that the u.s. has -- they would say that the u.s. has done little to back the syrian opposition. they would say that the u.s. picked the wrong horse in egypt when it worked with the muslim brotherhood. and they would -- >> when it did what? >> when they worked with the muslim brotherhood, when the u.s. worked with the muslim brotherhood. and they would say that they fear that washington is cutting a deal with iran that would hurt saudi interests. >> well, i'm very familiar with their concerns. and as i say, i spent a really delightful and very, very constructive several hours yesterday with his highness prince saud al-faisal. and we discussed every single one of these things, and i explained exactly where the
united states is coming from, what we think about each of these issues. and we will continue to consult with our saudi friends, as we always have in the past. and i think prince saud and i left that meeting with a strong agreed-upon sense of what is important to both of us and of how we are going to continue to work together in order to achieve our ends and our goals together. now, i saw the comments that were printed today. they were printed from several days ago, before this conversation took place. ..
we have interests in the region that mandated government to government dealings. but, we understand fully the failures of that government. we understand fully some of the deep-rooted feelings with respect to the brotherhood in that region and i think the united states is perfectly capable of making distinctions between its own philosophical groundings and values the necessity to government