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Libyan Newswire
  • Locust plague in Madagascar halted, but at great risk of resurgence

    Photo: ©FAO/Jean-Marie Legrand

    Locust spraying during control operations

    2 October 2014, Rome – A locust plague that spread across Madagascar threatening the main staple food crops and pasture in the country has been successfully contained, however, progress is under threat due to a gap in funding, FAO said today.

    At the beginning of the plague in April 2012 the highly destructive Malagasy Migratory Locust ravaged crops and pastures on its way from the southwest of the country toward the North. By April 2014, it had spread towards the country’s largest rice crop areas in the northwest and threatened the livelihoods of 13 million people.

    Potential for further damage was contained by the first locust control campaign, which is part of a three-year programme jointly executed by FAO and the Government of Madagascar, in close collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

    “The effects of this plague could have been devastating, but thanks to strong efforts by the Government of Madagascar, supported by FAO, we have succeeded in preventing these locusts from migrating even further,” said David Phiri, FAO’s Subregional Coordinator for Southern Africa.  

    Protected crops

    Since locust control actions began in September 2013, large-scale areal operations allowed to survey over 30 million hectares of land and control locust populations on over 1.2 million hectares.

    A total of $28 million has been donated so far by the Governments of Austria, Belgium, France, Italy, Japan, Madagascar through a World Bank loan, Norway and the United States of America as well the European Union and the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund. Donors also include Algeria, Mauritania and Morocco, which donated pesticides.

    Preliminary results of an FAO/WFP assessment mission, conducted between mid-June and mid-July 2014 in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, indicate that the first anti-locust campaign prevented larger damage to crops and pastures and protected the large rice producing regions of the country located in the centre and north.

    This first campaign also provided the opportunity to further strengthen national capacities in locust management.

    “Despite great support and achievements, however, we now face a new challenge due to a gap in funding,” says Phiri.

    More funds needed

    Funds available so far are only sufficient to implement the first part of the second locust control campaign, which started in September 2014. With the onset of the rainy season, from October 2014 onwards, the locust situation will deteriorate as seasonal temperatures and humidity at this time are ideal breeding conditions for the locust. The second and third campaigns are imperative to respectively support the decline of the plague and the return to a situation of recession.

    Additional support of $14.7 million is urgently needed for aerial surveys, control operations, equipment, pesticides, as well as the recruitment of key staff to carry out the second and third campaigns.  

    “Each day is a fight to feed our children and send them to school,” says Hantanirina Florentine, who lives in a village near Sakaraha in central Madagascar. “Our main source of income is our 100 square metre plot of land and my husband’s odd jobs. The locust plague affected our livelihood and made our daily life even harder.  The locust plague needs to be put to an end, so we can have crops and protect our livelihoods.”

    Without added funding, efforts made during the first campaign will be largely lost and the locust plague will expand again. The context was similar in 2010/11 and 2011/12 when the funding for two anti-locust campaigns was not made available and as a result, the current plague developed.

    “An immediate food crisis has been avoided,” says Phiri, “but an economical and humanitarian crisis could still threaten Madagascar if the two next campaigns are not implemented in time.”

    “We are in a position to help – we just need one last push to stop this disaster and prevent future plagues.”

    According to, Roland Ravatomanga, Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development of Madagascar, “The first locust phase was successful thanks to the support of technical and financial partners, but much remains to be done for the second phase in 2014 and 2015. I solemnly appeal to the International Community on behalf of the Government and the Malagasy people for financial and material support to Madagascar. The food and nutrition security of Madagascar depends on it.”  

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  • Mexico catches drug lord in tourist

    Mexico catches drug lord in tourist haunt
    Thu 02 Oct 2014 at 09:25

    NNA – Soldiers captured Wednesday one of Mexico’s most-wanted drug barons, Hector Beltran Leyva, in a restaurant in a colonial town popular with American tourists and retirees.The man…

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  • آسيا بلانتيشن كابيتال ترى اهتماما متناميا بالزراعة المستدامة من قبل المستثمرين المؤسساتيين

    سنغافورة، 1 تشرين الأول/أكتوبر، 2014 / بي آر نيوزواير / ایشیانیٹ باکستان — في مؤتمر تيمبر إنفست أوروبا هذا الأسبوع، تعرض تعرض شركة آسيا بلانتيشن كابيتال Asia Plantation Capital، وهي شركة معروفة بخبرتها في قطاع الزراعة المستدامة، خبرتها في زراعة العود. وكجزء من منتدى الاستثمار البديل الذي تنظمه شركة أرينا، يقوم هذا المؤتمر المتخصص الذي […]

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  • Daily Press Briefings : Daily Press Briefing: October 1, 2014

    2:52 p.m. EDT

    MS. PSAKI: Hello. I have a couple of items for all of you at the top that hopefully will proactively address some of your questions. We regret the decision by the Government of Russia to cancel Russia’s participation in the Future Leaders Exchange, or FLEX program. FLEX brings high school students to the United States to live with American host families, attend high school, and experience community life for an academic year. It was the largest U.S.-Russia cultural exchange program, and over the past 21 years, more than 8,000 Russian students have participated. The public outcry we’ve seen among Russians who either participated in the program or wanted to participate speaks to the powerful and lasting positive impact these kinds of exchanges can have on people’s lives. The FLEX program was vital in building those kinds of bonds between young Russians and Americans that we need in order to overcome challenges in our bilateral relations.

    There were some who were asking for a readout of Deputy Secretary Burns’ meeting with the UN special envoy. Deputy – they had a productive meeting on – obviously, Staffan de Mistura – sorry, that was who you asked for – hosted – they had a productive meeting on future UN engagement to resolve the crisis in Syria. The Deputy Secretary expressed our strong support for Special Envoy de Mistura as he works to achieve a negotiated political solution, which we believe is the best way to address all dimensions of this crisis and to end the conflict sustainably.

    As Secretary Kerry reaffirmed at last week’s Friends of the Syrian People Ministerial, the only way forward is a negotiated political solution based on the Geneva communique that would result in a government capable of serving the interests of all Syrian people.

    While in Washington the special envoy also met with National Security Advisor Susan Rice, U.S. Special Envoy for Syria Daniel Rubinstein and Assistant Secretary Sheba Crocker.

    As you all know, the Secretary also met today with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. They had a productive, in-depth, and wide-ranging discussion. The discussion focused this morning on bilateral issues, including the President’s upcoming visit to China. They discussed that in depth. They also discussed our comprehensive cooperation on climate change and the need to take bold steps to boost clean energy, cut carbon pollution, and help ensure a successful ambitious global climate deal in Paris next year.

    They discussed our cooperation to address international concerns over Iran’s nuclear program and the importance of degrading and destroying ISIL and the danger of foreign terrorist fighters. Both countries agree that the United States and China must coordinate closely and play a leadership role to support the UN-coordinated response to combat the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The Secretary also raised U.S. concerns over the human rights situation in China, and underscored that progress on human rights is important for the overall bilateral relationship.

    As you heard him say publicly before the meeting, they also discussed Hong Kong, and the Secretary expressed our hope that authorities will exercise restraint. He also reiterated our support for universal suffrage and the high level of autonomy provided for in Hong Kong’s basic law and for respect for internationally recognized fundamental freedoms such as freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression that have Hong Kong – have made Hong Kong a success.

    Finally, tomorrow Secretary Kerry will meet with Vietnamese Foreign Minister Minh to discuss a wide range of bilateral and regional issues, including progress on implementing the U.S.-Vietnam comprehensive partnership launched by President Obama and President Sang in July of 2013, expanding bilateral trade and investment, and recent developments in the South China Sea.

    Sorry, I have one more. We congratulate and welcome new NATO Secretary-General Jens – sorry – Stoltenberg, who took up his post today. Secretary-General – the Secretary-General is a proven leader, experienced diplomat, and a committed transatlanticist, and we look forward to working with him to ensure NATO continues to be strong and effective in the face of any and all challenges posed to our common security.

    With that, go ahead.

    QUESTION: Right. Well, let’s start with what happened here today.

    MS. PSAKI: Oh, I’m sorry. Can I add one more thing on China?

    QUESTION: No. (Laughter.)

    MS. PSAKI: They – before you get started – before you all get started – they agreed this morning, actually in advance of today, that they wanted to have more time to talk, so they’ll be meeting again this evening at 6 p.m. and they’ll continue their discussion.

    QUESTION: Who —

    MS. PSAKI: Secretary Kerry and Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

    QUESTION: Oh, okay. Any particular subject? They’re going to be bringing all of them again or —

    MS. PSAKI: We expect – they will likely continue the discussion about the President’s upcoming trip. They’ll spend probably more time on regional issues and when they meet later this evening.

    QUESTION: So it won’t be the whole smorgasbord that we saw – that you just outlined —

    MS. PSAKI: Well, they touched on those.

    QUESTION: All right.

    MS. PSAKI: I – we expect they’ll delve more deeply into some of those issues, yes.

    QUESTION: Okay. You mentioned that we heard the Secretary say —

    MS. PSAKI: Sorry. What?

    QUESTION: I’m sorry, just a small detail. Is it a dinner meeting? Is it just a meeting?

    MS. PSAKI: It’s just a meeting. They did have lunch earlier today. Yes, here.

    QUESTION: At the State Department.

    MS. PSAKI: At 6 p.m., yes. Go ahead.

    QUESTION: And you don’t expect them to talk afterwards?

    MS. PSAKI: I do not know.

    QUESTION: All right. So as you mentioned, the Secretary said publicly that you – that you have high hopes this Hong Kong authorities will exercise restraint, allow people to protest, that you believe in universal suffrage and all this. And the foreign minister’s response in public was basically, yeah, okay, so what, mind your own business. Can you say whether that was pretty much – that was the tone of the – of his response in the private meeting? In other words, did the line “Hong Kong’s affairs are China’s internal affairs” and basically – and “everyone should respect China’s sovereignty” – was that the Chinese line in private in the meeting?

    MS. PSAKI: That was – I’m not going to read out, obviously, what the foreign minister said in a private meeting, but I think those statements publicly have consistently been what they’ve said about the issue.

    QUESTION: Okay. So you don’t believe that there has been – that your message has been received with a willingness to actually do what you would like them to do.

    MS. PSAKI: Well, I’m not going to characterize it that way. Obviously, Matt, we’re continuing to urge dialogue between the authorities and protesters. We believe, as I mentioned in what – the overview I already offered – that human rights issues and resolving those are ones that can help strengthen China, and that certainly is a point the Secretary reiterated during the meeting.

    QUESTION: Okay, well based on their meeting and recognizing that they’re going to meet again tonight, but based on the meeting that just happened, do you think that there are – the chances are good for an improvement in relations, as it relates to the human rights situation, and, as particularly, the situation in Hong Kong?

    MS. PSAKI: Well, we’re – our hope is that authorities will exercise restraint. That was what was expressed and we’ll see what happens from here.

    QUESTION: No, no. You said that he – progress on human rights is important to improving the U.S.-China relationship, but I assume that doing what – that doing what you think is the right thing to do in Hong Kong is also important to improving the relationship. And I’m wondering if after the conversation that they had this afternoon that you believe – you have anything more than hope that the relationship will improve based on those two things.

    MS. PSAKI: Well, I think, to be clear, there were a range of issues that were discussed that we have broad agreement on. Obviously, we’ve made some progress on climate change. We work together on a range of economic issues. They had a great deal of agreement on Iran and the need to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon; on the threat of terrorism. So this is certainly an issue that we raise at every opportunity, but I’m not going to make a prediction. We’re hopeful that, obviously, authorities will exercise restraint on the ground.

    QUESTION: I’ll stop after this. But you just mentioned areas of agreement. There are clearly areas of disagreement.

    MS. PSAKI: Sure there are, of course.

    QUESTION: And on those areas of disagreement, did you get – do you have anything more than hope that the relationship will improve?

    MS. PSAKI: I think there was agreement, one, they’re going to come back and continue the discussion later this evening. The President has an important trip to China later this month. And clearly, there are some steps and actions that are in their hands to take.

    QUESTION: Jen, can I —

    QUESTION: Jen, does Secretary Kerry believe that China should vet Hong Kong’s political candidates?

    MS. PSAKI: I think I have expressed our view pretty consistently on this and that we support universal suffrage and we believe that the people of Hong Kong should have the choice of a range of candidates.

    QUESTION: So they should – so there should be no vetting by Beijing? Is that correct?

    MS. PSAKI: I think that our position has been consistent on this issue.

    QUESTION: Can I ask, do you agree with the —

    QUESTION: But why can’t you address that specific issue? Because you could – your answer doesn’t necessarily preclude the Beijing authorities vetting candidates who wish to run in Hong Kong.

    MS. PSAKI: Well, as I mentioned in my readout, the high level of autonomy that it would be – that we think should be a part of it does speak to that.

    Go ahead, Jo.

    QUESTION: Can I ask whether you agree with the Foreign Minister Wang’s contention that, as Matt mentioned, that Hong Kong affairs and China’s affairs – basically he was telling you guys to butt out.

    MS. PSAKI: Well, I think, to be clear, the United States – and this is one of the things the Secretary said during the meeting – we express universal values we have. We believe human rights and the freedom of expression is something that’s important not just in China but countries around the world. And so that’s why we express those views. It’s not that we are engaged in this effort. I know there have been different reports that are inaccurate pointing to that, but I think we have – we believe we have the right to express our views.

    QUESTION: Can I just ask, there’s reports today that in Taiwan there’ve been demonstrations on the streets in support of the Hong Kong protests. Is United States generally worried that there could be, for want of a word, better word, a kind of contagion of these protests, and we could actually sort of see a kind of destabilization in a pretty fragile relationship which China has with some of its other – with some of the other territories or countries in the region?

    MS. PSAKI: Well, Jo, I know you mentioned Taiwan. I have not heard that concern expressed in terms of a trend or a contagion, as you referred to it. Obviously, we’re – we encouraged in the meeting today authorities to exercise restraint, but we also want to ensure that protesters – we encourage protesters to express their views peacefully at the same time.

    QUESTION: What would be the best outcome for you of this situation for the United States?

    MS. PSAKI: I think in terms of a next step in the process, maybe we could start there. We’re certainly urging dialogue between authorities and protesters. We feel that’s the next appropriate step.

    QUESTION: So that’s your hope for the next step. How do you see this whole thing playing out? I mean, do you expect, let’s say, or anyone expects a Chinese Spring, perhaps, much like we have seen in the Arab world?

    MS. PSAKI: I don’t think that’s what we’re predicting, no, Said. I think, obviously —

    QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

    MS. PSAKI: Let me finish. Respect for universal suffrage in Hong Kong, allowing the people of Hong Kong to be able to express peacefully their views, being able to have a range of candidates and vote through that process – that’s obviously an outcome we would support. But clearly, there are steps in the process, including a dialogue between the protestors and the authorities, that will probably be necessary.

    QUESTION: So you agree with the notion that Hong Kong’s affairs are China’s affairs. Correct?

    MS. PSAKI: I think, Said, we’re expressing our strong view that we express in many parts of the world about the right for people to peacefully protest.

    Go ahead.

    QUESTION: The protestors are threatening to occupy government buildings if the current chief executive does not resign. Is that a helpful position for them to be taking, in the U.S.’s view? Why or why not?

    MS. PSAKI: Well, I think – Roz, as I mentioned, I think our focus is on encouraging both the authorities and the protestors to engage in dialogue.

    QUESTION: So yesterday —

    QUESTION: So would you caution them against making these sorts of threats?

    MS. PSAKI: I’m going to leave it where I just said it.

    Go ahead.

    QUESTION: I’m just wondering if you got a question to the – I mean, an answer to the question I asked yesterday about —

    MS. PSAKI: Sure.

    QUESTION: — whether you think the Chinese are actually reneging on their promises to the Brits that they made in the agreement to – the handover.

    MS. PSAKI: I mean, I think – as I said yesterday, I don’t think that’s an accusation we’re making. Obviously, we think that there are steps that can be taken in order to respect the right of the protestors, and certainly we’re watching closely.

    QUESTION: Well, as it relates to the handover – the agreement, the handover agreement, does the U.S. —

    MS. PSAKI: I’m aware.

    QUESTION: — have a position on whether or not your ally —

    MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything to add and we’re not suggesting that there was a violation of the agreement.

    QUESTION: Do you know – okay. Do you know if the Brits have been in touch with you, or you guys about this? Or is this something that you think is – this specific subject, not the general rights of protestors or whatever, but this specific subject is something that is just a bilateral thing between the UK and China?

    MS. PSAKI: I know that the UK has spoken about this issue themselves. I can check and see if they have been in touch with us about this particular issue.


    QUESTION: Just on the statement you made just now in answer to Roz’s question about having – being able to have a range of candidates. Again, is – those candidates to be able to choose from. Are those candidates candidates that should be put up with – which should be drawn from the whole Hong Kong pool, or should Beijing have the right just to say who the candidates are?

    MS. PSAKI: I think it’s clear that we want the people of Hong Kong to have a broad choice of candidates.

    QUESTION: I want to move on to the meeting.

    MS. PSAKI: Let’s just finish this and then, Said, we can go to you.

    Go ahead.

    QUESTION: Yeah, thanks. Did the, like, regional territorial disputes – South China Sea and East China Sea – come up in the meeting today?

    MS. PSAKI: They did discuss – and sorry, they also discussed – let’s see, I touched on Ebola. They discussed APEC, they discussed North Korea, Afghanistan. Obviously, there were a range of topics that came up as they were having discussions back and forth. They did briefly discuss the South China Sea and those historic disputes as well.

    QUESTION: You said that they’d go back to – they discussed regional topics in their second meeting.

    MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

    QUESTION: Will those include the tensions in the South China and East China Seas, and also North Korea?

    MS. PSAKI: I think they certainly could, and they – what I meant by that, too, is also issues like Iran and the P5+1 negotiations and other kind of broad global issues that they’re involved in.

    QUESTION: Okay, so it’s global, not just regional, as it were.

    MS. PSAKI: It’s both, really. And the truth is they talked about a lot of those issues during – briefly during this meeting as well.

    QUESTION: And is there any particular reason why – I mean, you have had a line regarding how the legitimacy of the Hong Kong chief executive would be enhanced by a – I forget the rest of it exactly, but a fully democratic and open process. Is there any reason the Secretary did not use that language today?

    MS. PSAKI: No. I think that’s something that continues to be our position, and obviously, he was standing there next to the – his Chinese counterpart, so he spoke specifically to their role.

    QUESTION: Did North Korea come up during the discussion, especially —

    MS. PSAKI: Yes.

    QUESTION: Did they talk in particular about North Korea’s detention of the three Americans and the current frustration that Glyn Davies expressed earlier this week about getting nowhere in terms of even a conversation with the North Koreans?

    MS. PSAKI: Well, as some of you noted, they obviously discussed about a dozen topics during this meeting. So they didn’t dive too deeply into too many of them. We will do a readout after the meeting this evening, and we can certainly note if that’s an issue that they discuss more in-depth.

    QUESTION: And along with that, the – any insight the Chinese might have into the condition or whereabouts of North Koreans – North Korea’s leader.

    MS. PSAKI: We will see if there’s more to add on that topic.

    QUESTION: I’m sure there won’t be, but I just want to get it out there.

    MS. PSAKI: Elliot, do you want to finish this issue, or —

    QUESTION: Yeah.

    MS. PSAKI: — can we go – go ahead.

    QUESTION: I did have one more. On the foreign fighter part of what they discussed, what is the U.S. Administration’s stance in terms – given that – China’s history of cracking down and suppressing members of the Uighur community under cover of suppressing terrorism, what is the U.S. asking of China – what kind of restraint are you asking of them, if any, as you also ask them to prevent the flow of foreign fighters to other countries?

    MS. PSAKI: Well, I wouldn’t combine the two. Obviously, we have spoken out about our concerns about the treatment of Uighurs, as you know, and often in response to questions you and others have. What we’re focused on here is this effort – this effort to coordinate and cooperate on defeating ISIL. And that is something where certainly the Chinese will be supportive of. They indicated they’d be supportive of an international effort. They want to cooperate on this effort. That doesn’t change the fact that we have concerns about the treatment of Uighurs.

    QUESTION: Would you not say that the two are linked, though, given that – I mean, there have been concerns raised from those who have been following the UN resolution that was passed last week noting that it does require kind of broad crackdowns on terrorists, and it leaves it up to individual countries to decide what terrorism means.

    MS. PSAKI: Well, let me speak to the UN Security Council resolution. I think it’s an important question. In crafting UNSCR 2178, we were careful to ensure it did not contain any provisions that were incompatible with the U.S. Constitution, particularly far-reaching speech protections in the First Amendment. Although most council members, including European democracies, would have been comfortable with tougher language on fighting internet radicalization, we insisted that the UNSCR not go beyond the extremely broad protections enjoyed under U.S. law. It specifically is not authorized. That behavior is not authorized in the UNSCR. It doesn’t allow for cracking down within your country. It’s specifically targeted on the need to fight terrorism in line with international human rights obligations and efforts that we also have as values to promote social inclusion, empowering local communities, et cetera.

    QUESTION: So you’re saying it’s not a concern that the Chinese authorities would take this as further encouragement to further suppress minority communities?

    MS. PSAKI: Well, certainly, if that were to happen, that would be a concern. But I think we’ve been very clear on what the focus of both the UNSCR is and what our international coalition effort is on.

    QUESTION: So I want to go to a new topic.

    MS. PSAKI: Okay.

    QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

    QUESTION: Can I – one more on —

    MS. PSAKI: Do you have one on China? Sure.

    QUESTION: Yeah. It sounded as though when Kerry was making his remarks that the audio dropped out during the Chinese translation when he started speaking about Hong Kong. Was that a technical issue, or —

    MS. PSAKI: To be honest, we had a lot of technical issues during the meeting, and the translation was going in and out on both sides. The equipment that’s used is U.S. equipment, and obviously, we’re the hosts here. And unfortunately, during the meeting we had some technical difficulties as well. The translators came in and out.

    QUESTION: You should’ve used Chinese equipment. (Laughter.)

    MS. PSAKI: It happens from time to time.

    QUESTION: Or maybe this is Chinese equipment, made in China.

    MS. PSAKI: Matt, you’re —

    QUESTION: I don’t know. Maybe it is.

    MS. PSAKI: Okay. Go ahead. Do you want to —

    QUESTION: Can we go to the meeting between Deputy Secretary Burns and Staffan de Mistura —

    MS. PSAKI: Sure.

    QUESTION: — my former boss?

    MS. PSAKI: Your former boss?

    QUESTION: Yeah.

    MS. PSAKI: Said, I’m learning a little bio. (Laughter.)

    QUESTION: Exactly so. But he’s the – this is the point. I mean, he’s well-versed in the Iraq issue. He spent forty years in Iraq. He brings with him a great deal of experience on how to work out conciliation. Will this usher in sort of the revisiting, perhaps, of a diplomatic process, as we had in Geneva?

    MS. PSAKI: In Syria?

    QUESTION: Yes, in Syria.

    MS. PSAKI: Well, I think, ultimately, Said, that our focus here – and I spoke with General Allen about this too yesterday – is on getting to a point where the opposition has the military and the political credibility to be able to participate in a political dialogue. We don’t see a political negotiation; we don’t see a military conclusion to the events in Syria. I can’t predict for you when we’ll be at that point, but obviously, that’s how we feel this will be concluded.

    QUESTION: So for the time being, there’s absolutely nothing going on on the diplomatic track?

    MS. PSAKI: No. I think, first of all – and I know somebody asked about this yesterday – or two days ago, sorry – about what we’re engaged in. Let me see if I can get you, just while I have the opportunity, a little more of an update on that.

    So earlier this month, U.S. Special Envoy for Syria Daniel Rubinstein was meeting with key allies and partners in a range of countries to coordinate on what more the international community can do to support the moderate Syrian opposition as it fights against both the Assad regime and violent extremists. We also, as you know – he had a range of meetings when he was in – at UNGA last week. The Secretary participated in the Friends of the Syrian People Ministerial. So this is an ongoing engagement and dialogue about how to resolve this politically, but obviously, there’s some immediate challenges happening on the ground that we’re also dealing with at the same time.

    QUESTION: But a year ago, we were all waiting for Geneva II to happen, so there was something on the horizon. Is there nothing on the horizon right now for a – something like this, akin to what happened in Geneva and perhaps in an international conference, maybe at the UN? Something to get the diplomatic, political track going again.

    MS. PSAKI: Well, Said, we’re not going to have a conference just to have a conference, but we’ve had a range of dialogues. Last week there was a meeting the Secretary participated in with a range of important countries. Special – our Special Envoy for Syria Daniel Rubinstein remains very closely engaged on this. He continues to travel around the region, and it certainly – this is related to our international coalition efforts as well. So I’m certain that when General Allen and Ambassador McGurk are traveling, they’ll talk about this as well.

    QUESTION: You know when they’re traveling?

    QUESTION: So on the – on the Syria diplomacy, that’s the diplomacy of diplomacy. On the diplomacy of war, as one might put it, General Allen and Ambassador McGurk are leaving tonight, is it – very soon?

    MS. PSAKI: They’ll be leaving soon.

    QUESTION: And where are they going, and are they going to be trying – I mean, what’s the purpose of their mission? Is it more to cement the coalition as it exists, or are they actually going to actively be trying to broaden it?

    MS. PSAKI: It’s more on the broadening, but they will have more, I expect, in the next 24 hours about the stops on their trip. One of the stops they’ll be making is in Turkey. Clearly, we’re at a pivotal time there. Their other stops we’ll have, I expect, Matt, by tomorrow – by the briefing tomorrow, if not sooner.

    QUESTION: Can you say, even just – I mean, so Turkey – it would be that region. Is there anywhere else they’re going?

    MS. PSAKI: I expect it will be —

    QUESTION: I know you don’t want to say specifics right now, but I mean, are they going to Europe? Are they stopping anywhere in Asia? I don’t know.

    MS. PSAKI: I will wait. We will not be more than 24 hours. I expect it will be countries from a couple different regions. They’ll also be traveling again later in the month, so expect they’ll spend a bit of time on the road.

    Their objective is – we’ve been in this phase of recruiting countries and encouraging countries to be a part of this international coalition. Now it’s really the phase of determining what roles they’ll play and expanding beyond the military role. We already – there are already countries who are engaged and committed to doing more on counterfinancing or foreign fighters, but they want to build on that, and that’s going to be the focus of their trip over the next several days.

    QUESTION: And —

    QUESTION: Can you address Turkey, the one country that you did cite by name?

    MS. PSAKI: Sure.

    QUESTION: Why is it pivotal now, and what is it exactly that you want from the Turks if it’s not military stuff?

    MS. PSAKI: Well, Arshad, I think everybody is aware of the fact that just a few weeks ago their hostages were returned, and that was an important moment, so that’s what I was referring to. President Erdogan spoke publicly earlier this week about their desire to be more engaged in the coalition, and they’ve had – they’ll have a range of votes in their parliament.

    So this is a country, clearly, that has a stake in the outcome here. There are few countries that have felt the ripple effect of the crisis in Syria and Iraq as much as Turkey has. And so as part of the discussion and the essential partnership, I think it’s an important country to visit this – on their first big trip.

    QUESTION: Is it mostly the border control?

    MS. PSAKI: It’s not, actually. I think it’s not just – it’s certainly the influx of foreign fighters or individuals across the border is something that we have been raising and the Secretary raised the last time he was there. But there are also – there’s also a role they can play as it relates to humanitarian issues. As we know they are – they have accepted, I think, tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of refugees. They can play a role in counter-ISIL, de-legitimizing ISIL. They can play a role in a number of areas. Clearly, there’ll be a discussion about countering the flow of foreign fighters, but it will also be about terrorist financing, about certainly what their military engagement will be, as well as the countering their extremist ideology.

    QUESTION: And on the military engagement, would you like to have – is it that you are seeking access to Incirlik – or Incirlik, excuse me, for lethal attacks on Syrian or Iraqi territory?

    MS. PSAKI: Well, the proposal that is – was sent to parliament includes a wide range of options, and I will leave it to General Allen and Ambassador McGurk and our military team to discuss what specific role they’ll play.

    QUESTION: But you said it wasn’t the border though, and so I’m trying to figure out – they’ve been doing a huge amount humanitarian —

    MS. PSAKI: I said – not just that. I said obviously continuing to expand in all those areas as part of the discussion.

    QUESTION: Did you get – were you able to get an answer to the question asked yesterday about the possibility of Turkish troops going in to protect this tomb on Turkish soil?

    MS. PSAKI: It’s – remain – it still is premature, Matt, because —

    QUESTION: I understand that. But would you regard that as a good thing, a bad thing, or would you be indifferent to it?

    MS. PSAKI: I’m just going to wait to see what happens. I mean, obviously, what I was trying to get at by referring to the proposal in parliament is that has a wide range of options. It doesn’t indicate there’s been a conclusion, so there’ll be a discussion about that on the trip.

    QUESTION: As part of the Turkey stop, would you expect that the general and Ambassador McGurk would talk about Turkey’s desire for a no-fly zone, some sort of buffer zone inside Syria?

    MS. PSAKI: Well, that is something, as you know, that Turkey has talked about publicly for some time. It wouldn’t be accurate to say it’s something we’re actively considering. But certainly, there’ll be a conversation about what their needs are and what their asks are as well.

    QUESTION: Just a follow-up on that.

    MS. PSAKI: Sure.

    QUESTION: You talk about legislation is going to come to parliament tomorrow. Have you had a chance to look at this legislation? Are you satisfied with the range of legislation?

    MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any analysis of the legislation. There are a wide range of options. Obviously, I think that is meant to give them flexibility, or that’s what I’ve seen some comments from Turkish leaders on this issue. But there’ll be a discussion not just when General Allen and Ambassador McGurk are there, but also between military counterparts and certainly the Secretary will remain engaged with Turkey as well.

    QUESTION: This Suleiman Shah tomb that earlier discussed, what’s your assessment according to reports that tomb encircled by hundreds of ISIS members. Would you concur?

    MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any assessment at this point in time.

    QUESTION: Do you have any update on the Kobani, which is today being reported that ISIS forces now even advanced two kilometers more to the center of the city?

    MS. PSAKI: Well, I believe – and I think I have it here – that CENTCOM has put out some – and they’ve been doing daily updates on where the strikes have been and what our efforts have been in that regard. I don’t know if you’ve seen those, but some of them have been in that neighborhood. And certainly, we’ll assess what the impact is of those.

    QUESTION: But clearly, it’s not enough since the ISIS forces getting closer to the center of the city, which is half a million population reside in the city.

    MS. PSAKI: Well, one, this is an ongoing effort, one not just the United States but other countries are engaged in. We have seen some success on the ground, but we’re not going to be doing a day-to-day grade for each element. We’ve been putting out – CENTCOM has been putting out pretty transparent information on what their successes are.

    QUESTION: I want to move on.

    MS. PSAKI: Okay.

    QUESTION: The —

    QUESTION: I have one —

    MS. PSAKI: Can we finish Turkey?

    QUESTION: Yep.

    MS. PSAKI: Turkey. Turkey?

    QUESTION: On Syria.

    MS. PSAKI: Okay.

    QUESTION: Yesterday you said, “Over the past couple of years, because of the conflict in Syria and the Syrian regime’s unwillingness – or willingness, I should say, to look the other way, AQI, what became ISIS, reconstituted and it was able to grow in strength again.” And you said that, “The Syrian regime looked the other way and didn’t fight this effort.”

    Given your statements yesterday, is it the Administration’s position that Assad’s regime should be fighting and working to destroy ISIS?

    MS. PSAKI: Well, certainly, I think that they – they have stated and made claims that they have been fighting ISIS or terrorist organizations, and we haven’t seen much evidence of that over the last few years. And they’ve allowed ISIL to grow and given them a safe haven in Syria. So that’s what I was referring to.

    QUESTION: But the U.S. would support Assad fighting ISIS?

    MS. PSAKI: Well, I think we’re – we don’t coordinate with them militarily. We know what their objectives are. I mean, we understand that ISIL is a threat or a concern they have because they’ve made it known publicly, but we’re not coordinating with them. So the point is that they haven’t taken steps over the last couple of years to fight ISIL, which has, in fact, led to the growth of their presence in Syria and the impact they’ve had on the region.

    QUESTION: The U.S. would support them taking those steps?

    MS. PSAKI: I think we’re going to move on. I think I’ve answered the question.

    Go ahead.

    QUESTION: On this point. So the evidence you said that you have not seen any evidence of the regime fighting ISIS, so the evidence shows otherwise. Is that what your evidence is?

    MS. PSAKI: Well, I think when I said they were looking the other way while ISIL continued to grow, that’s – I think that answers the question.

    QUESTION: Jen?

    MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.

    QUESTION: In Kobani, PKK that you consider a terrorist organization, is fighting ISIL now. Who do you support in this fight?

    MS. PSAKI: Well, I think, one, PKK remains a designated terrorist organization by the United States and by the EU. Our position on that hasn’t changed. We certainly – doesn’t mean that we support either side. We are – our effort is to focus on ISIL, focused on organizations that pose a direct threat to the United States.

    QUESTION: And one more question. I forgot.

    MS. PSAKI: Okay, we can come back to you. (Laughter.)

    QUESTION: On Syria, a couple more?

    MS. PSAKI: We all have days like that.

    One more?

    QUESTION: On Syria. Yes.

    MS. PSAKI: Syria.

    QUESTION: Some of the Free Syrian Army battalions, such as Harakat Hazzm, which is backed by the U.S. forces and armed, they have been complaining that they have not been briefed or told about airstrikes at all.

    MS. PSAKI: I’m sorry – oh, the – which – sorry, which group?

    QUESTION: Free Syrian Army battalions, many of them came out and said they have no idea what the U.S. is doing on the ground.

    MS. PSAKI: Well, we engage very closely, as I referenced when I was talking about the efforts of Daniel Rubinstein, with the Syrian opposition. We’re very supportive of their efforts. I think it’s important for everybody to understand that without this effort to degrade and destroy ISIL, we’d be living in the status quo where the opposition was fighting both the regime and fighting ISIL on their own. And now there are a range of countries who are helping and also increasing their support for the opposition through our train-and-equip program, and a range of efforts that we have underway.

    QUESTION: Why was —

    QUESTION: Some of these fighters have also complained that not only have they been cut out of the loop, but that the U.S. and other countries are missing a great opportunity for intelligence as they’re trying to launch these airstrikes on Syrians’ ISIL targets. Is there a response to that complaint?

    MS. PSAKI: In what capacity?

    QUESTION: That because they’ve been on the ground inside Syria fighting against the Syrian military and also trying to deal with ISIL, that they could essentially call in some of these airstrikes and give better intelligence, especially to the U.S. which doesn’t have any eyes on the ground, as it were.

    MS. PSAKI: Well, Roz, I think, one, we’re closely engaged with the SOC and the SOC president as well as a range of military groups – moderate opposition groups, I should say, military moderate opposition groups on the ground. That will continue to be the case. I’m not going to speak to military strategy, but we’re doing this in part because we want to weaken ISIL so we can strengthen the opposition in addition to the threat that we are concerned about pose to Western interests.

    QUESTION: Ilhan’s question was mine, but the main question is: Why don’t you coordinate with the FSA regarding the strikes?

    MS. PSAKI: We’re in close touch —

    QUESTION: Is there any specific problem —

    MS. PSAKI: We’re in close touch with the opposition, with a range of leaders on a range of issues, including our efforts against ISIL.

    QUESTION: And you promised two days ago that you will offer or provide us with a list of people who you are in contact with.

    MS. PSAKI: Well, I think there are a range of officials that we’re in touch with. I mentioned, of course, SOC president. I mentioned that the other day as well. The moderate opposition numbers in the tens of thousands. One group, Harakat Hazzm, has a few thousand fighters. There are dozens of groups similar or smaller-sized; their ranks fluctuate, as many of you know. We are in touch with a range of these groups. And again, I think part of this effort is also with partners in the region to coordinate, as we did last week at the Syria ministerial.

    QUESTION: But there is no one unified command as there was with General Idris.

    MS. PSAKI: There are a range of moderate military groups, and we’re in touch with a range of moderate military groups.

    QUESTION: Do they have – are they – do they have – do they operate under some kind of a unified command structure?

    MS. PSAKI: Well, I mean, the SOC remains the political overarching umbrella, as you know.

    QUESTION: Military-wise, I mean – and I understand you’re not the Pentagon, but are there – is there one person you can go to or a small group of people that you can go to to coordinate the military or humanitarian aid drops that need a military component? Or is it really just little cells or big cells —

    MS. PSAKI: Some are big. But we work with a couple of different groups.

    QUESTION: But there is no – so you’re acknowledging, then, I think, that there isn’t a unified FSA command or a commander, or there’s no command structure for a unified FSA –

    MS. PSAKI: Well, some of these groups work together, but we do work with a couple of different groups.

    Do we have more on Syria?

    QUESTION: I wanted to move on.

    MS. PSAKI: Sure.

    QUESTION: And some of it will have something to do with Syria.

    MS. PSAKI: Okay.

    QUESTION: I know that this is a White House thing, the president’s meeting with Obama, but Secretary Kerry was in there. I don’t expect you to —

    MS. PSAKI: With Netanyahu?

    QUESTION: Not Netanyahu, sorry. Did I – what did I say? I’m sorry.

    MS. PSAKI: You said the president’s meeting with Obama, I think. (Laughter.)

    QUESTION: Right. Well, he does that every day, so that’s not very – the – yeah, the Netanyahu meeting. I’ll leave it to the White House to read out the meeting, but I wanted to know if you got answers to some questions that have been raised over the past couple days about Israeli activity or plans in East Jerusalem, also on the Palestinian draft resolution that’s been floating around at the – in New York today.

    MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. We are deeply concerned by reports that the Israeli Government has moved forward the planning process in the sensitive area of Givat Hamatos in East Jerusalem. This step is contrary to Israel’s stated goal of negotiating a permanent status agreement with the Palestinians, and it would send a very troubling message if they proceed with tenders or construction. This development will only draw condemnation from the international community, distance Israel from even its closest allies; poison the atmosphere not only with the Palestinians, but also with the very Arab governments with which Prime Minister Netanyahu said he wanted to build relations; and call into question Israel’s ultimate commitment to a peaceful negotiated settlement with the Palestinians.

    Let me just do the other answer and then we can get to questions. We are certainly aware of the reports of the Palestinian request. We’ve seen the text and have not had an opportunity to study it yet, so I can’t comment on the specifics. As a rule, we don’t typically predict how we’ll vote on any given issue in advance – don’t typically. I know sometimes we do.

    QUESTION: But you’re going to now?

    MS. PSAKI: I can say, however, that we strongly believe that the preferred course of action is for the parties to reach an agreement on final status issues directly. And that’s something we’ve certainly communicated directly to the Palestinians as well.

    QUESTION: Do you know – and I’ll leave it to the White House to say if the President raised this. But has – do you know if – has the message that you just gave to us publicly been given to the Israelis privately, which “poison the atmosphere,” “will only draw condemnation,” is pretty strong, “calls into question Israel’s commitment.” Do you know – have you told them that privately?

    MS. PSAKI: I would – let’s wait for the readout of the meeting. The Secretary was in that. As you noted, I would – I think it’s safe to assume it has been, but at what level I want to see the readout of the meeting.

    QUESTION: Is it only them moving ahead on these – on this specific project that would only draw condemnation from the world, poison the atmosphere, and call into question their commitment to what they say is their goal? Or is – or have they – or has that already happened?

    MS. PSAKI: Well, it —

    QUESTION: In other words, are you prepared – I realize your language was harsh, but are you prepared to condemn this now, or is it only that you’re going – that you would condemn it if they go forward?

    MS. PSAKI: Well, I think that what we’re referring to is their announcement about moving forward. Obviously, if they reverse their decision, that sends a message. But clearly, our position is the same and what it has been. But continuing to move forward with this is why we have the strong language.

    QUESTION: But how we are now, where we are now in the process, are you saying that the Israeli – are you condemning this? Are you saying that this has poisoned the atmosphere and does call into question Israel’s commitment?

    MS. PSAKI: Well, they —

    QUESTION: Or only – are you saying only if they go ahead with it from this point?

    MS. PSAKI: They have moved forward and they’ve indicated they’re moving forward.

    QUESTION: Okay.

    MS. PSAKI: So – but in some of the – some of what you’re asking is a bit subjective, right? I understand you’re still allowed to ask the question about what will warrant a response from the international community. I mean, I think we’ve seen —

    QUESTION: You’re the one that said it would draw – would only draw condemnation from the international community.

    MS. PSAKI: I understand.

    QUESTION: Are you condemning it?

    MS. PSAKI: Yes. I – as I stated.

    QUESTION: Yes, okay.

    MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.

    QUESTION: So —

    QUESTION: I mean, I just wanted to follow up on this very quickly. The President also said – I know this is also a White House issue – but the President urged the prime minister to change the status quo on the ground, to reach out to the Palestinians. How do you understand this to mean, changing the status quo? He urged them to do that.

    MS. PSAKI: Well, obviously, the status quo now is something that you’re all aware of, as there’s back and forth, there’s threats about going to the UN, there’s building of settlements. In order to change the status quo and have peace in the region, you need a two-state solution, you need to engage in the hard decision making.

    QUESTION: So would that include a show of goodwill on the part of the Israelis to freeze settlement activity and go back sort of unconditionally to the peace talks?

    MS. PSAKI: Said, I understand your desire to get into specifics, but I think everybody knows what the issues are here at play. And the status quo is obviously the current situation that isn’t sustainable.

    QUESTION: In the absence of peace talks that are, whatever, shepherded by the U.S., the Palestinians are moving on the other track. What are you doing to dissuade them from that? But not only dissuade them, say don’t do this or else, but also show that there is something else, an alternative to that?

    MS. PSAKI: Well, I think we’ve made our concerns known to the Palestinians about their desire or their threats or their efforts to go forward unilaterally. Those are conversations that we’ve had directly. And this is about what is in the interests of the Palestinian people and the interests of the Israeli people. It’s not about what is in the interest of the United States. It’s not —

    QUESTION: Israel is preventing the Palestinian Authority from sending the salaries to Gaza. It’s preventing them from even going there to meet in Gaza and so on. Are those issues that you also raise privately with the Israelis?

    MS. PSAKI: There are a range of issues the Palestinians raise themselves. And obviously, we’re there to have a discussion with them.

    QUESTION: Can I just ask on the – are you – is the American Administration warning the Palestinians that if they go ahead with the UN Security Council resolution, this could put at risk some $700 million of annual aid? The Palestinian president is saying that they’re coming under a lot of pressure not to go ahead and that one of the things that’s being held over their heads is the annual aid.

    MS. PSAKI: Well, there certainly are requirements in the law, Jo. But obviously, not knowing exactly what it is, we’d have to look at what it was to determine what the impact would be.

    QUESTION: So those conversations haven’t taken place yet because you haven’t seen the —

    MS. PSAKI: Well, I think we have to see exactly what they’re proposing to determine if they’re – what the impact would be.

    Do we have any more on the peace process? Or – go ahead.

    QUESTION: Yeah, I do.

    MS. PSAKI: Or not —

    QUESTION: But based on your – this is contrary to Israel’s stated goal, you’re condemning it, you say it poisons the atmosphere and calls into question their commitment, what’s the consequence of that? Is there one? Is there any?

    MS. PSAKI: Look, I think, Matt, that it’s not just the United States, it’s the international community who will respond strongly to this kind of continued activity.

    QUESTION: Well, I won’t ask you to speak for other countries, but how does the United States – how is the United States going to respond? Is that what you —

    MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything to lay out for you today, Matt. I think —

    QUESTION: Is your response limited to what you just said?

    MS. PSAKI: My —

    QUESTION: Which is still pretty interesting, considering the president – considering the prime minister of Israel, your closest ally in the Middle East, was just at the White House today and you’re condemning him – his government for doing all this stuff. But is there more – can – is there more to it than that?

    MS. PSAKI: That is what I have to offer today, Matt.

    QUESTION: Can you show us an example or could you point to an example of in the past where actually there were some consequences to these – to similar statements that you made from this podium?

    MS. PSAKI: I will lead you – I’ll leave that to you, Said, to write an excellent story that everybody can read.

    QUESTION: I’m asking you a real question. I’m saying, could you tell the Israelis that if you do this, we will cut off this amount of aid, for instance?

    MS. PSAKI: I’m not —

    QUESTION: Like you do with the Palestinians.

    MS. PSAKI: I appreciate the opportunity. I’m not going to go – go ahead. More on this issue? Let’s —

    QUESTION: On a separate issue.

    QUESTION: No, still on Israel. There has been some – I don’t know about outrage, but indignation in Israel about the issue of civilians – civilian deaths in military conflict, military operations. This building – you and Marie were particularly harsh on civilian casualties in Gaza during the conflict and repeatedly told the Israelis that they had to do more to live up to their own high standards. At one point there was the incident at the school that was – you called disgraceful. And now it emerges that in your own campaign against ISIL, the standard to which the Administration had held it before seems to have been blunted a bit or weakened, watered down.

    MS. PSAKI: Based on what?

    QUESTION: Based on reports that seem to emanate from an on-the-record statement from the White House. One – I guess you could say if you deny those reports, then that’s fine, but go ahead if you’re – was that what you were going to do?

    MS. PSAKI: No. I think, one, the point that we were – we – that I made, that Marie made, that others made is that Israel needs to hold itself to a high standard about preventing civilian casualties and that we’ve had this experience historically. The United States certainly has in other conflicts that we’ve had, but we take all allegations seriously. We’re sharing information with appropriate agencies, and before any mission, every – any precaution is taken. So it is about taking every precaution possible to prevent civilian casualties, and we think – at the time, we felt that there was more that could have been done.

    QUESTION: Okay. But – so are you saying that you’re still holding yourselves to the highest possible standard in the anti-ISIL campaign, and you haven’t watered down your – the policy on doing everything you can to prevent civilian casualties?

    MS. PSAKI: Correct.

    QUESTION: And you think that you’re still living up to that in – and that the Israelis did not live up to theirs?

    MS. PSAKI: Well, we take every allegation seriously, Matt. Obviously, we look into any allegation. I know there have been some that have been out there that we’re continuing to look into. But I think at the time the issue was that there was more that could’ve been done, as we were seeing every day photos and video of schoolchildren and innocent civilians in Gaza. And that was the point we were making, that Israel could hold itself to a higher standard.

    QUESTION: Okay. Well, Israel, as you know, had ground troops in Gaza and were actually in a position to have their own people look into allegations of whether or not they were keeping to their high standard. The President and you and the Pentagon have made a big point of the fact that you’re not – you don’t have and are not going to have any boots on the ground in these areas of Iraq and Syria where these attacks are going on. So can I just ask how it is, exactly, that you’re looking into allegations that you may have unintentionally caused civilian casualties?

    MS. PSAKI: Well, obviously, the U.S. military looks into these allegations. I don’t have anything more to outline for you in terms of how that’s done.

    QUESTION: Well – but would you not agree that having boots on the ground, as the Israelis did in Gaza, would be a good way to investigate and find out?

    MS. PSAKI: Obviously, Matt, there’s a range of ways that they can be looked into. There are organizations out there that are reporting these events as well.

    QUESTION: This is the last one on this.

    MS. PSAKI: Okay.

    QUESTION: You say you would deny or not deny charges that you – that you’re holding – that there’s a double standard here, that you expect Israel to do more than you do to prevent civilian casualties?

    MS. PSAKI: We expect any country – Israel included, a close friend and ally – to hold themselves to the same standard we do.

    Do we have a new topic, or —

    QUESTION: Anything on the Patriots deal with the Saudi Arabia?

    MS. PSAKI: I’m sorry?

    QUESTION: Patriots. Patriots deal with the Saudi Arabia.

    MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything on that. I can check and see if we have more to say.

    QUESTION: News reports said that there is a deal that the State Department agreed on for $1.9 billion.

    MS. PSAKI: I don’t have it in front of me. We will get you something after the briefing.

    QUESTION: Very quickly again.

    MS. PSAKI: Okay.

    QUESTION: I think Abbas said that he needs three weeks at the UN. During this time in the upcoming three weeks to do the – to sort of get support for the proposal, the Palestinian proposal, are there any plans to meet with any Palestinian officials or with him, perhaps by the Secretary or perhaps a deputy secretary?

    MS. PSAKI: I think we just met – Secretary Kerry just met with President Abbas last week.

    QUESTION: I mean since he gave a timed element —

    MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any meetings to preview for you at this point in time.

    QUESTION: Okay. So then dissuading the Palestinians will sort of remain the domain of what you’re saying now, right? From this podium.

    MS. PSAKI: No. We —

    QUESTION: I’m saying there are no —

    MS. PSAKI: Said, we engage with the Palestinians through our CG, through a range of contacts. The Secretary engages in phone calls. There are a range of ways we communicate.

    Go ahead.

    QUESTION: I’m not sure if you addressed this before —

    MS. PSAKI: Sure.

    QUESTION: — but do you agree with Netanyahu’s statement that Hamas is ISIS and ISIS is Hamas?

    MS. PSAKI: I addressed it two days ago, so I’d point you to that.

    Go ahead.

    QUESTION: I wanted to go back to what you said about the Khorasan Group yesterday.

    MS. PSAKI: Okay.

    QUESTION: It wasn’t what we had heard at the Pentagon from Spokesperson John Kirby. Can you kind of describe us – or tell us what’s happening so we can better understand the —

    MS. PSAKI: What’s happening – I think I discussed it pretty in-depth yesterday, but what —

    QUESTION: Well, he actually said yesterday that he considered al-Qaida – core al-Qaida and the Khorasan Group to be “one and the same,” and that is not what you said yesterday.

    MS. PSAKI: I would stand by what I said yesterday.

    Do we have any more on this?

    QUESTION: No, I have a question.

    MS. PSAKI: Okay.

    QUESTION: There are some reports in Greece that the U.S. Government asked them – the Greek Government to arrest some members of the Islamic State, that they traveled to Greece from Bosnia and Albania. Do you confirm this information?

    MS. PSAKI: Well, I know – and let me – broadly speaking, we’ve of course expressed our concern about the flow of foreign figh

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  • Op-Ed – Will Zuma Go Down and Will He Go Alone? [analysis]

    It has become commonplace for analysts to speculate on President Jacob Zuma’s future. Nevertheless, Zuma appears able to get away with anything, as he is doing right now, being exonerated in Parliament from any responsibility for the upgrades at Nkandla. His tenure has always been unstable, even in the earliest […]

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  • USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah to speak at annual Catalyst Conference in Atlanta

    WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Rajiv Shah will travel to Atlanta October 2 to participate in the annual Catalyst Conference where he will talk to the faith community about USAID’s mission to end extreme poverty around the world by 2030 as well as USAID’s response to global crises like the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Administrator Shah will engage in a question and answer session with Catalyst Conference Director Tyler Reagin on the main stage at 10:15 a.m. EDT.

    Faith organizations have long worked to help the vulnerable communities in many places where USAID works around the world. Collaboration with religious leaders as well as faith-based and community organizations has been integral to USAID’s work since the Agency’s founding over 50 years ago.

    For more information about the conference, visit:

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  • Governor General to Present 63 Canadian Honours at the Citadelle of Québec

    October 1, 2014

    OTTAWA—His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada, will preside over two presentation ceremonies of Canadian honours on Friday, October 3, 2014, at the Residence of the Governor General at the Citadelle of Québec.

    During the morning ceremony, at 10 a.m., the Governor General will present the following honours:

    • 22 Decorations for Bravery;
    • 2 Meritorious Service Decorations (Civil Division);
    • 1 first Bar to the Emergency Medical Services Exemplary Service Medal;
    • 1 Fire Services Exemplary Service Medal;
    • 1 Peace Officer Exemplary Service Medal;
    • 2 Governor General’s Northern Medals;
    • 1 Governor General’s Academic Medal;
    • 2 Governor General’s Caring Canadian Awards.

    During the afternoon ceremony, at 2 p.m., he will present 2 Decorations for Bravery and 29 Meritorious Service Decorations (Military Division) to members of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and allied forces whose specific achievements brought honour to the CAF and to Canada.

    A media schedule for the ceremonies, the lists of recipients and their citations are attached. For more information on the Canadian Honours System, please visit our website at


    Media covering the ceremony must contact the Rideau Hall Press Office the day before the event. They will have to show their accreditation at the Citadelle gate, and access the Ballroom through the administration door.

    Media information:

    Marie-Pierre Bélanger
    Rideau Hall Press Office
    613-998-9166 (office)
    613-852-3248 (cell.)

    Ceremonies Schedule

    Members of the media are asked to observe the following schedule:

    Morning ceremony (10 a.m.)

    9:15 a.m.:
    Media arrive at the Citadelle
    10 a.m.:
    Ceremony begins
    The Governor General speaks
    The Governor General presents the honours
    11 a.m.:
    Interviews with recipients

    Afternoon ceremony (2 p.m.)

    1:15 p.m.:
    Media arrive at the Citadelle
    2 p.m.:
    Ceremony begins
    The Governor General speaks
    The Governor General presents the honours
    3 p.m.:
    Interviews with recipients

    Recipients and Citations – Morning Ceremony (10 A.M.)

    Decorations for Bravery

    Master Corporal Shawn Gregory Bretschneider, S.C.
    Sudbury, Ontario and Gander, Newfoundland and Labrador
    Sergeant Janick Joseph Benoit Gilbert, S.C., C.D. (posthumous)
    Baie-Comeau, Quebec
    Master Corporal Marco A. Journeyman, S.C., C.D.
    Montréal, Quebec and Trenton, Ontario
    Master Corporal Maxime Bernard Lahaye-Lemay, S.C.
    Trois-Rivières, Quebec and Trenton, Ontario
    Sergeant Daniel Villeneuve, S.C., M.B., C.D.
    Chicoutimi, Quebec and Gander, Newfoundland and Labrador
    Star of Courage

    On October 27, 2011, search and rescue (SAR) technicians Shawn Bretschneider, Janick Gilbert, Marco Journeyman, Maxime Lahaye-Lemay and Daniel Villeneuve braved severe weather conditions to rescue two hunters stranded on the Arctic Ocean, near Igloolik, Nunavut. A team of three SAR techs parachuted down into seven-metre-high waves, but was soon separated in the huge swells. Five hours later, the second team of two SAR techs was lowered from a helicopter and, struggling in the same harsh conditions, succeeded in locating everyone and hoisting them into a helicopter. Sadly, Sergeant Gilbert did not survive.

    The decoration awarded to the late Sergeant Gilbert will be presented to his wife, Ms. Mélisa Lesquir.

    Julien Allard, M.B.
    Montréal, Quebec
    Medal of Bravery

    On August 9, 2011, Julien Allard rescued a woman who had fallen from a boat into the entrance of a set of locks, in Beauharnois, Quebec. Mr. Allard jumped from a wall more than 30 metres high to reach the panicked victim and bring her to safety. 

    Pascal Bergeron, M.B.
    Knowlton, Quebec
    Jules Groulx-Swennen, M.B.
    Bedford, Quebec
    Raphaëlle Jetté, M.B.
    Saint-Jérôme and Farnham, Quebec
    Medal of Bravery

    On May 14, 2010, Pascal Bergeron, Jules Groulx-Swennen and Raphaëlle Jetté rescued four friends from a possible drowning in Costa Rica. During a senior high school trip, some of the students were caught in the undertow of the Caribbean Sea. Ms. Jetté and Messrs. Bergeron and Groulx-Swennen ran in and fought against the strong current to bring the four panicked girls closer to shore. Others then helped pull the victims to safety on the beach. 

    The decorations awarded to Mr. Groulx-Swennen and Ms. Jetté were presented at a previous ceremony.

    Normand Bourgon, M.B.
    Saint-Polycarpe, Quebec
    Medal of Bravery

    On November 3, 2011, Normand Bourgon rescued an injured man who was trapped in a vehicle on fire in Saint-Polycarpe, Quebec. Despite the intense flames and dense smoke, Mr. Bourgon was able to extricate the victim and bring him to safety. 

    Craig Mitchell Burns, M.B.
    Ashmore, Nova Scotia
    Mason James Van Tassell, M.B.
    Digby and Bear River, Nova Scotia
    Medal of Bravery

    On May 8, 2012, Craig Burns and Mason Van Tassell tried to free three people who were trapped inside their burning cars in Little Brook, Nova Scotia. Following a two-vehicle crash, Messrs. Burns and Van Tassell braved the intense heat and flames in an attempt to retrieve the injured victims. Despite their efforts, two occupants in one of the vehicles did not survive. 

    The decoration awarded to Mr. Burns will be presented to him at a future ceremony.

    Neil Wayne David Coles, M.B.
    Membertou, Nova Scotia
    Medal of Bravery

    On July 15, 2012, Neil Coles rescued a man who was in danger of drowning, at Ben Eoin Beach, Nova Scotia. Despite the distance and the choppy water, Mr. Coles swam out to the distressed victim. As he grabbed the exhausted man to prevent him from sinking, a boater reached their side and towed them to shore.

    Pierre Davignon, M.B.
    Laval, Quebec
    Magalie Dumoulin, M.B.
    Sébastien Frappier, M.B.
    Saint-Stanislas-de-Kostka, Quebec
    Medal of Bravery

    On July 17, 2011, Pierre Davignon, Magalie Dumoulin and Sébastien Frappier rescued four people in danger of drowning after their boat had capsized in Saint-Stanislas-de-Kostka, Quebec. Messrs. Frappier and Davignon and Ms. Dumoulin reached the victims and helped them aboard their motorboat. Despite the heavy winds and two-metre-high waves, the group made it safely back to shore. 

    The decoration awarded to Ms. Dumoulin will be presented to her at a future ceremony.

    Jean-Pierre Désaulniers, M.B.
    Saint-Étienne-des-Grès and Trois-Rivières, Quebec
    Medal of Bravery

    On September 23, 2011, Jean-Pierre Désaulniers rescued an unconscious man from a burning house in Saint-Étienne-des-Grès, Quebec. With the front door blocked by heavy furniture, Mr. Désaulniers entered the house through the living room window. He searched through the thick smoke until he found the victim, and then dragged him to the window, where two other people helped to bring them both out to safety. 

    Jean-Eudes Fraser, M.B.
    Rivière-du-Loup and L’Isle-Verte, Quebec
    Medal of Bravery

    On January 23, 2014, Jean-Eudes Fraser risked his life to come to the aid of his mother who was trapped on the third-floor balcony of a burning seniors’ home, in L’Isle-Verte, Quebec. Mr. Fraser climbed up the balconies in an attempt to rescue her from the flames and the thick, heavy smoke. Unfortunately, she succumbed to smoke inhalation before she could be rescued. 

    Mathieu Groleau, M.B.
    Dolbeau-Mistassini and Joliette, Quebec
    Medal of Bravery

    On August 14, 2012, Mathieu Groleau rescued a girl who was in danger of drowning in the fast-moving Mistassini River, near Dolbeau-Mistassini, Quebec. Mr. Groleau managed to reach the girl who had been carried away by the strong current. He fought against the turbulent waters to bring her closer to a rescue boat, onto which others then helped the pair. 

    Denis Lainé, M.B.
    Wendake and Lac Beauport, Quebec
    Medal of Bravery

    On July 14, 2012, Denis Lainé rescued a man from a fire in Wendake, Quebec. Mr. Lainé was driving his ATV when he noticed flames coming from a cottage. He found a disoriented, injured man and struggled to keep him from re-entering the structure, as propane tanks and live ammunition were exploding nearby. Mr. Lainé then drove the victim to a first aid post, some 30 kilometres away.

    René Martel, M.B.
    Saint-Joseph-de-Sorel, Quebec
    Medal of Bravery

    On May 20, 2012, René Martel rescued three people from a burning house in Saint-Joseph-de-Sorel, Quebec. Mr. Martel quickly entered the house, made his way upstairs, picked up a sleeping four-year-old boy from his bed, and woke up the child’s grandparents in another bedroom. Mr. Martel brought the boy outside before running back through the heat, flames and smoke to lead the disoriented elderly couple to safety. 

    Jean-Paul Muir, M.B., C.D.
    La Bostonnais, Quebec
    Medal of Bravery

    On July 18, 2011, Jean-Paul Muir rescued a young girl trapped in a submerged airplane, in La Bostonnais, Quebec. After seeing the plane crash into the river near his house, Mr. Muir swam to the wreck, in spite of the strong current. He revived the young girl, initiated first aid and remained with her until help arrived. 

    Andrei Odorico, M.B.
    Pointe-Claire, Quebec
    Giancarlo Torino, M.B.
    Pierrefonds, Quebec
    Medal of Bravery

    On November 5, 2011, Andrei Odorico and Giancarlo Torino rescued two people from a burning apartment building in Pointe-Claire, Quebec. Messrs. Odorico and Torino faced intense heat and smoke to reach the victims and bring them safely outside. 

    Master Corporal Jean-François Vaillancourt, M.B.
    L’Ange-Gardien, Quebec
    Medal of Bravery

    On September 23, 2011, in Afghanistan, Master Corporal Jean-François Vaillancourt risked his life when he conducted a radiological screening on an injured woman who was suspected of carrying a concealed improvised explosive device. He alone volunteered for this task and, despite the possibility that it could go off at any time, Master Corporal Vaillancourt was able to neutralize the device. 

    Daryl James Williams, M.B.
    North Hatley, Quebec
    Medal of Bravery

    On June 2, 2012, off-duty volunteer firefighter Daryl Williams rescued a man from a burning building, in Waterville, Quebec. Mr. Williams entered the two-storey apartment building to search for victims but had to exit several times due to the thick, black smoke. He then ran up an exterior staircase to the second level and broke a window to get inside. There he found a man asleep on the couch and successfully led him outside.

    Meritorious Service Decorations (Civil Division)

    Sarah Burke, M.S.C. (posthumous)
    Squamish, British Columbia
    Meritorious Service Cross (Civil Division)

    Sarah Burke was a leading pioneer in women’s freestyle skiing and lobbied tirelessly for years to have women included in all major freestyle ski competitions. A four-time Winter X Games champion in the women’s superpipe skiing event, she was the driving force behind a successful campaign to get women’s ski half-pipe recognized as an Olympic discipline. She died tragically on January 19, 2012, following a training accident, and sadly did not live to see her dream realized when women’s ski half-pipe and ski slopestyle were introduced at the XXII Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, in February 2014. Ms. Burke was a role model to young athletes and continues to inspire women to believe in themselves and to follow their dreams. 

    The decoration awarded to the late Sarah Burke will be presented to her husband, Mr. Rory Bushfield.

    Her Worship Colette Roy Laroche, M.S.C.
    Lac-Mégantic, Quebec
    Meritorious Service Cross (Civil Division)

    Colette Roy Laroche showed remarkable leadership in her role as the town’s mayor after the devastating train derailment that occurred on July 6, 2013, in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec. Always ready to act for the good of her community, in the hours following the unprecedented catastrophe, she coordinated the efforts of emergency services and first responders, led evacuation and housing operations, and provided strong support to victims and all those affected by the disaster. She has worked tirelessly ever since to implement concrete measures to improve emergency response actions; these measures range from prevention to reconstruction after a tragedy. Through her strength of character, her ability to mobilize her fellow citizens, and her determination to rebuild Lac-Mégantic’s downtown and make it a model of sustainable development, she has proven to be an exemplary leader and has redefined the notion of public service.

    Exemplary Service Medals and Bars

    François Lamothe
    Drummondville, Quebec
    First Bar to the Emergency Medical Services Exemplary Service Medal

    The First Bar to the Emergency Medical Services Exemplary Service Medal is presented to Mr. François Lamothe, paramedic and regional supervisor, in recognition of his 30 years of loyal and exemplary service to law enforcement in Canada. 

    Claude Morin
    Sainte-Marie, Quebec
    Fire Services Exemplary Service Medal

    The Fire Services Exemplary Service Medal is presented to Mr. Claude Morin, firefighter with the Fire Service of Ville de Sainte-Marie, in recognition of his 20 years of loyal and exemplary service to law enforcement in Canada.

    Louis Berberi
    Québec, Quebec
    Peace Officer Exemplary Service Medal

    The Peace Officer Exemplary Service Medal is presented to Mr. Louis Berberi, Superintendent at the Canada Border Services Agency, in recognition of his 20 years of loyal and exemplary service to law enforcement in Canada. 

    Governor General’s Northern Medal

    Louis Fortier, O.C., O.Q.
    Québec, Quebec
    Recipient of the 2011 Governor General’s Northern Medal

    Louis Fortier currently holds the Canada Research Chair on the Response of Arctic Marine Ecosystems to Climate Change at Laval University. He has been leading international research programs on the impact of climate change in the Canadian Arctic for many years. His ability to put into words the changing northern reality allows us to better understand the impact of climate change and modernization on the Arctic. He is renowned for his international research endeavours, particularly the Quebec-Océan research centre initiative, which brings together oceanographers based in the province’s universities and government laboratories. ArcticNet, the first Network of Centres of Excellence focused on the Arctic, was created under his leadership; he continues to serve as its scientific director. A great unifier of people, Mr. Fortier extended the use of the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Amundsen, a state-of-the-art research platform, by linking health providers to members of remote coastal communities assessing the health of Inuit residents. By bridging scholars, decision makers, community builders and residents, Mr. Fortier unremittingly works towards understanding and guiding the new Canadian Arctic. 

    Tagak Curley, C.M.
    Rankin Inlet, Nunavut
    Recipient of the 2013 Governor General’s Northern Medal

    An Inuit leader, politician and businessman, Tagak Curley is devoted to the economic and political development of the North. Throughout his career, he took on leadership roles to promote better living conditions for residents of local Inuit communities throughout Nunavut. Over a 30-year period, Mr. Curley also played a key role in the birth of the Nunavut territory as a founding member and first president of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, as a lead negotiator in the Nunavut land claims process, and as president of the Nunavut Construction Company. Mr. Curley is also a champion of Inuit employment and self-government. His drive and determination have raised the national profile of his people and have contributed to the continued economic growth of the region.

    Governor General’s Academic Medal

    Patricia Lamirande
    Québec, Quebec 

    With an average of 91 per cent, Ms. Lamirande is the de Rochebelle secondary school student who achieved the highest average upon graduation, for the school year 2013-2014.

    Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award

    Robert Cantin
    Québec, Quebec 

    Robert Cantin believes in preserving Canada’s heritage. He therefore founded the Association des Familles Cantin d’Amérique du Nord, a genealogical organization that allows people to learn about their family history and culture. As a researcher, he has written a number of pieces that he has provided to the Naval Museum of Québec in order to create a commemorative volume that includes the names of all Canadian sailors who died in service between 1910 and 2010. Robert Cantin also created a radio program that plays big band music for the community.

    Nataly Rae
    Québec, Quebec 

    Nataly Rae is a woman who is passionate about her philanthropic work and about the well-being of others. In addition to her important role with the Fondation communautaire du grand Québec, she has also helped Les Violons du Roy, a cultural and charitable organization. She provides advice to others on how to have a positive impact on the community through philanthropy, and participates in round tables of a number of institutions, including chambers of commerce, service clubs and provincial government departments.

    Recipients and Citations – Afternoon Ceremony (2 P.M.)

    Meritorious Service Cross (Military Division)

    Major-General Dean James Milner, O.M.M., M.S.C., C.D.
    Winnipeg, Manitoba
    Meritorious Service Cross (Military Division)

    Major-General Milner was deployed to Kabul, Afghanistan, as both the commander of the Canadian Contribution to the Training Mission and the commanding general of the NATO Training Mission from May 2013 to March 2014. His character, leadership and strategic vision contributed to the development of an autonomous and sustainable Afghan security force in the aftermath of the coalition force departure, and ensured a successful end to Canada’s mission in Afghanistan.  Major-General Milner was a consummate professional and an exceptional ambassador for Canada.

    This is the second Meritorious Service Cross awarded to Major-General Milner.

    Lieutenant General Daniel P. Bolger, M.S.C. (United States Army)
    Aurora, Illinois, United States of America
    Meritorious Service Cross (Military Division)

    As commander of the NATO Training Mission in Afghanistan from November 2011 to April 2013, Lieutenant General Bolger was a steadfast supporter of Canada’s mission objectives. Leading over 4 000 coalition personnel and 13 000 contractors, he endorsed many Canadian initiatives that significantly enhanced training effectiveness at key Afghan institutions. Lieutenant General Bolger’s leadership and encouragement were critical to the success of the Canadian mission, and strengthened the bond between Canada and the United States of America.

    Warrant Officer Joseph Claude Camille Pelletier, M.S.C., C.D.
    Edmundston, New Brunswick
    Meritorious Service Cross (Military Division)

    Warrant Officer Pelletier demonstrated leadership, professionalism, initiative and dedication during the aftermath of the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12, 2010. He provided life-saving first aid to several local nationals immediately following the earthquake, and subsequently organized the evacuation of over 4 000 Canadian citizens. He also delivered crucial assistance to Canadian embassy staff and to governmental and non-governmental aid specialists coordinating the Canadian relief effort. Warrant Officer Pelletier’s decisive actions helped restore calm in Haiti.

    Decorations for Bravery

    Master Corporal Robert James Featherstone, M.B.
    Greenwood, Nova Scotia and Kingston, Ontario
    Sergeant Norman Ewen Penny, S.C., M.B., C.D.
    St. Peter’s, Nova Scotia and Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador
    Medal of Bravery

    On March 27, 2012, Sergeant Norman Penny and Master Corporal Robert Featherstone rescued three people stranded at sea during a storm, south of Cape Sable Island, Nova Scotia. In spite of the challenging weather conditions, they managed to execute three successful hoist recoveries from a helicopter and retrieve all the victims from their damaged sailboat.

    Meritorious Service Medal (Military Division)

    Lieutenant-Colonel Joseph Christian Guy Leblanc, M.S.M., C.D.
    Joliette, Quebec
    Corporal Clinton Jeffrey Lewis, M.S.M., C.D.
    Hamilton, Ontario
    Warrant Officer Michael David Mar, M.S.M., C.D.
    Truro, Nova Scotia
    Captain Trevor Mark Pellerin, M.S.M., C.D.
    Halifax, Nova Scotia
    Meritorious Service Medal (Military Division) 

    On March 27, 2012, despite gale force winds, 120-metre altitude ceilings, snow squalls, and five- to eight-metre waves, the crew of Rescue 908 was involved in a perilous night mission to recover survivors from the S/V Tabasco II, foundering in the stormy North Atlantic south of Nova Scotia. First Officer Lieutenant-Colonel Leblanc took charge of all flight functions, including aircraft navigation and survivor spotting, allowing his aircraft commander to concentrate on managing crew resources while flying in the abysmal conditions. Aircraft Commander Captain Pellerin placed the helicopter in a 20-metre hover in order for his crew to investigate the life raft, and subsequently moved the aircraft to the sailboat to affect the rescue. Flight Engineer Corporal Lewis, previously injured during hoist operations, identified an unconventional method to keep the helicopter in position over the vessel, which proved instrumental in the safe completion of the mission. As replacement flight engineer following Corporal Lewis’ injury, Warrant Officer Mar immediately stepped in to operate the safe hoist by placing the SAR technicians on board the raft and sailing vessel, and safely recovering five persons, all while battling gale-force winds. The crew of Rescue 908 demonstrated exemplary team work, bringing great honour to themselves and to the Canadian Armed Forces.

    Chief Warrant Officer Daniel Joseph Laurendan Brissette, M.S.M., C.D.
    Petawawa, Ontario
    Meritorious Service Medal (Military Division) 

    From April 2012 to April 2013, Chief Warrant Officer Brissette deployed to the NATO Training Mission in Afghanistan. As sergeant-major of the Deputy Commanding General–Operations organization, he mentored a key network of senior non-commissioned members that provided guidance to over 16 000 personnel dispersed throughout the country. Chief Warrant Officer Brissette established himself as an eminent ambassador for Canada, and set an impressive standard of leadership for all personnel.

    This is the second Meritorious Service Medal awarded to Chief Warrant Officer Brissette.

    Colonel Gordon David Corbould, M.S.M., C.D.
    Balve, Germany
    Meritorious Service Medal (Military Division) 

    Colonel Corbould was deployed to Bagram, Afghanistan, as the deputy commanding general of Coalition Effects and Transitions for the Combined Joint Task Force–101, in Regional Command–East, from February 2013 to February 2014. His leadership and strategic vision engineered the simultaneous reduction and removal of existing equipment and infrastructure at NATO bases across eastern Afghanistan. He adeptly led a large multinational force with energy and professionalism, which brought great credit to the Canadian Armed Forces and to Canada.

    This is the second Meritorious Service Medal awarded to Colonel Corbould.

    Colonel Joseph Albert Paul Pierre St-Cyr, M.S.M., C.D.
    Montréal, Quebec
    Meritorious Service Medal (Military Division) 

    From July 2012 to July 2013, Colonel St-Cyr was posted to the position of chief of staff of the military contingent of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti. His leadership allowed the team at the multinational headquarters to become cohesive; the team proved effective on countless occasions during national disasters and in support of election planning. Colonel St-Cyr’s influence also exceeded his military role and contributed greatly to the progress of several important initiatives.

    This is the second Meritorious Service Medal awarded to Lieutenant-Colonel St-Cyr.

    Brigadier-General Todd Nelson Balfe, M.S.M., C.D.
    Chatham, New Brunswick
    Meritorious Service Medal (Military Division)

    Brigadier-General Balfe was deployed to Kabul, Afghanistan, as the deputy to the Chief of Staff of Communications for the International Security Assistance Force from May 2013 to March 2014. Utilizing detailed media analysis, and optimizing personnel and resources, he greatly improved the information flow to his commanders, which provided them with a more in-depth understanding of Afghan culture. He also initiated the Gender Cross-Functional Assessment Team, which promoted a gender advocacy strategy for the country. With his cultural sensitivity and professional acumen, Brigadier-General Balfe brought great credit to the Canadian Armed Forces and to Canada.

    Chief Petty Officer 1st Class Robert Lee Brown, M.M.M., M.S.M., C.D.
    Sackville, New Brunswick
    Meritorious Service Medal (Military Division) 

    From July 2011 to July 2012, Chief Petty Officer 1st Class Brown rose quickly through several senior appointments within the NATO Training Mission–Afghanistan. He established himself as a strong influence within the Canadian contingent and provided valuable support to Afghan police development. Furthermore, his leadership, composure and strength under fire were critical to mounting an effective response to a large insurgent attack on Kabul. Chief Petty Officer 1st Class Brown’s efforts significantly enhanced the reputation of the Canadian Armed Forces.

    Chief Warrant Officer Martin Joseph Bruno Colbert, M.M.M., M.S.M., C.D.
    Ste-Foy, Quebec
    Meritorious Service Medal (Military Division) 

    From October 2012 to June 2013, Chief Warrant Officer Colbert did an extraordinary job as sergeant-major of the Canadian Contribution to the NATO Training Mission in Afghanistan. Through his leadership, he ensured that over 900 Canadian soldiers remained motivated, disciplined and focused, despite the difficult and complex conditions under which they were working. By providing advice to the command team and by training Canadian and foreign subordinates, Chief Warrant Officer Colbert made a significant contribution to the mission’s success.

    Lieutenant-Colonel John Stanley Fife, M.S.M., C.D.
    Iserlohn, Germany
    Meritorious Service Medal (Military Division) 

    Lieutenant-Colonel Fife was deployed to Kabul, Afghanistan, as commander of the Coalition’s Consolidated Fielding Centre Training Advisory Group from July 2013 to March 2014. His leadership and mentorship significantly contributed to the creation and future sustainment of the Afghan National Army. By applying his valuable training and experience, he facilitated the operational transition between the Forces and the Army while establishing the critical capabilities for its future development. Lieutenant-Colonel Fife’s achievements brought great honour to the Canadian Armed Forces and to Canada. 

    Colonel Paul Timothy Goddard, M.S.M., C.D.
    Winnipeg, Manitoba
    Meritorious Service Medal (Military Division) 

    From July 2010 to April 2013, Colonel Goddard was the main architect of the NATO Flying Training Centre program delivery recovery. This program had been on the brink of collapse, with no hope of delivering the anticipated results. Colonel Goddard guided his staff with exemplary corporate and leadership skills, as well as a firm commitment to the renewal of the program. Their efforts resulted in a 35-per-cent increase in productivity through more efficient training and through the synchronization of ground, simulation and flying elements.

    Lieutenant-Commander Christopher Daniel Holland, M.S.M., C.D.
    Peterborough, Ontario
    Meritorious Service Medal (Military Division) 

    Lieutenant-Commander Holland displayed dedication and selfless effort as the executive officer of Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship Victoria from July 2010 through September 2012. He was challenged with the numerous difficult and high-profile milestones of completing the submarine’s extended docking work period, Tiered Readiness Program, High Readiness Work-ups, and Weapons Certification Program. With expert management and oversight of multiple contractors, and under scrutiny by the national press, Lieutenant-Commander Holland was instrumental in the delivery of a submarine capability for the Canadian Armed Forces.

    Major Mohamed-Ali Laaouan, M.S.M., C.D.
    Montréal, Quebec
    Meritorious Service Medal (Military Division) 

    From July 2011 to April 2012, Major Laaouan did a remarkable job as the officer in charge of the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Halifax during a period of significant changes when the operational rhythm was very fast-paced. He ensured the transfer of tasks from the Maritime Rescue Sub-Centre in Newfoundland and Labrador to his organization while maintaining exceptional search and rescue coverage. Major Laaouan’s leadership and work ethic were essential to the success of this complex undertaking.

    Lieutenant-Colonel Sean Patrick Lewis, M.S.M., C.D.
    Trenton, Ontario
    Meritorious Service Medal (Military Division) 

    As a senior advisor to the Afghan Border Police from June 2012 to July 2013, Lieutenant-Colonel Lewis played an essential role in Canada’s Contribution to the NATO Training Mission. He mentored the police force’s senior commanders and helped them move the nascent organization toward assuming its full security responsibilities. Lieutenant-Colonel Lewis’ leadership and knowledge contributed to enhancing the capabilities of the Afghan Border Police.

    Lieutenant-Colonel Stephen MacDonald, M.S.M., C.D.
    Sydney, Nova Scotia
    Meritorious Service Medal (Military Division) 

    While deployed to the NATO Training Mission in Afghanistan from October 2012 to July 2013, Lieutenant-Colonel MacDonald was the chief of Staff of the Joint Task Force Afghanistan, and the commanding officer of the National Command and Support Element. He was able to maintain situational awareness of over 900 widely dispersed Canadian personnel for whom he ensured the proper employment, protection, equipment and support in order for them to excel at their jobs. Lieutenant-Colonel MacDonald’s leadership and operational vision were integral to Canada’s success in Afghanistan.

    Chief Warrant Officer Gordon William Floyd Morrison, M.M.M., M.S.M., C.D.
    Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario
    Meritorious Service Medal (Military Division) 

    As the command sergeant-major of the Consolidated Fielding Centre in Afghanistan from June 2012 to July 2013, Chief Warrant Officer Morrison used his military knowledge and personnel management abilities to optimize the deployment of 44 new Afghan National Army battalions. His leadership moulded multinational military contingents, and unequivocally contributed to improving the living and working conditions for both Afghan and coalition personnel. From personally mentoring soldiers to coordinating large-scale infrastructure projects, he made several lasting contributions to the Afghan National Army’s development, which brought great credit to the Canadian Armed Forces and to Canada.

    Lieutenant(N) Jocelyn Joseph Nadeau, M.S.M., C.D.
    Sainte-Catherine-de-la-Jacques-Cartier, Quebec
    Meritorious Service Medal (Military Division)

    While posted to Haiti in 2009, Lieutenant(N) Nadeau worked tirelessly to improve the living conditions of the Haitian people and, in particular, to help in the renovation and expansion of a school. Moreover, he ensured the acquisition and delivery of several tons of school supplies. Lieutenant(N) Nadeau’s generous actions, which went beyond his military responsibilities, brought great credit to Canada.

    Major Robin Kent Nickerson, M.S.M., C.D.
    Sydney, Nova Scotia
    Meritorious Service Medal (Military Division) 

    From April to October 2013, Major Nickerson shepherded an unprecedented period of military co-operation between Jordan and Canada. He organized programming from the Canadian Government Global Partnership Program and the Global Peace and Security Fund, and furthered military training co-operation opportunities by coordinating with the United States Central Command forward deployments. Major Nickerson’s dedication and professionalism greatly enhanced Canada’s reputation as a model of excellence in building international partnerships.

    Lieutenant-Colonel James Robert Ostler, M.S.M., C.D.
    Cochrane, Ontario
    Meritorious Service Medal (Military Division) 

    From September 2011 to August 2012, Lieutenant-Colonel Ostler deployed to the West Bank as deputy commander of Canada’s contingent to Palestinian Authority security sector reform. Showing exceptional diplomacy, he worked to rekindle strategic relationships between Canada and the Palestinian Authority, and helped secure significant advances in the professionalization of Palestinian Authority security forces. Lieutenant-Colonel Ostler’s leadership and efforts contributed to reinforcing Canada’s position as a trusted and important collaborator in the Middle East peace process. 

    Lieutenant-Colonel Roch Pelletier, M.S.M., C.D.
    Valcartier, Quebec
    Meritorious Service Medal (Military Division) 

    As deputy commander of the Canadian Contribution to the NATO Training Mission in Afghanistan, from October 2012 to July 2013, Lieutenant-Colonel Pelletier provided leadership to over 900 Canadian soldiers in 30 different locations throughout the country’s three distinct regions. Moreover, he drew up a detailed plan for the withdrawal of personnel, while ensuring that Canadian resources were used to their full potential and that Canada remained at the forefront of the mission. Lieutenant-Colonel Pelletier’s efficiency made an enormous contribution to Canada’s operational success in Afghanistan.

    Captain(N) Ronald Gerald Pumphrey, M.S.M., C.D.
    Bath, New Brunswick
    Meritorious Service Medal (Military Division) 

    Captain(N) Pumphrey deployed to Kabul, Afghanistan, as the deputy commander of the Ministerial Advisory Group for the Afghan Ministry of the Interior from May 2013 to March 2014. He carefully directed a large multinational staff of military and civilian personnel by coordinating senior staff activities, by identifying impeding political sensitivities, and by ensuring that Afghan projects were adequately funded. Captain(N) Pumphrey’s efforts were fundamental in securing a stable future for Afghanistan. 

    Warrant Officer Pasqualino Rizzo, M.S.M., C.D.
    Montréal, Quebec
    Meritorious Service Medal (Military Division) 

    From 2001 to 2013, Warrant Officer Rizzo developed and implemented the Preventing Harassment and Abuse through Successful Education (PHASE) program, demonstrating his leadership and commitment to the Junior Canadian Rangers. He worked tirelessly with other government and non-government partners in his efforts to champion this program. Warrant Officer Rizzo’s dedication and community sensitivity contributed to the delivery of a very successful healthy living program that will impact thousands of northern youth for years to come. 

    Chief Warrant Officer Robert Joseph Thompson, M.S.M., C.D.
    Halifax, Nova Scotia
    Meritorious Service Medal (Military Division) 

    Chief Warrant Officer Thompson deployed to the Kabul Military Training Centre from July 2012 to June 2013, both as the regimental sergeant-major of the Training Advisory Group and the Canadian regimental sergeant-major. He provided skillful advice on national issues while simultaneously mentoring his Afghan counterpart. His leadership and influence were felt throughout the organization as he worked tirelessly to engage Afghan personnel, civilian contractors and all members of the multinational military contingent. His performance brought honour to the Canadian Armed Forces and to Canada.

    Captain(N) Angus Ian Topshee, M.S.M., C.D.
    Ottawa, Ontario
    Meritorious Service Medal (Military Division) 

    Captain Topshee’s performance, as director of operations for the Rim of the Pacific Exercise 2012, was critical to the successful coordination of 40 warships, six submarines, over 200 aircraft and more than 25 000 multinational personnel. His intellect and professionalism proved essential to enhancing interoperability among 22 participating nations and, ultimately, to the exercise’s resounding success. Captain Topshee’s performance in this high-profile position brought great credit to the Canadian Armed Forces. 

    Colonel Peter Joseph Williams, M.S.M., C.D.
    St John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador
    Meritorious Service Medal (Military Division) 

    While deployed to the Kabul Military Training Centre from June 2012 to June 2013, Colonel Williams excelled as both the commanding officer of the Training Advisory Group and as a mentor to the Centre’s Afghan commander. After extensive analysis of the issues surrounding the rapidly decreasing coalition force, he focused his team’s efforts on areas that would effectively move the Kabul Military Training Centre towards autonomy. Colonel Williams’ leadership and ingenuity were integral to the Centre’s operational effectiveness, and brought great credit to the Canadian Armed Forces.

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