Secretary of State John Kerry: Statement to Press at‎ NATO Ministerial (May 13)

SECRETARY KERRY:  Thank you.  Just very quickly (inaudible).  Let me just say quickly that I’m very appreciative to my colleagues for their courtesy in recognizing that because I have to be back in Washington for the GCC meeting tonight we would speed up some of the topics that we needed to discuss.

And I was privileged to brief all of our NATO colleagues on the meetings held yesterday in Sochi with President Putin and Foreign Minister Lavrov.  I think there was strong agreement among all of the NATO members that this is a critical moment for action by Russia, by the separatists, to live up to the Minsk agreement.  And that it is critical to be able to get the OSCE into areas of conflict, it is important to end the conflict in those areas, particularly Shyrokyne.  They need to try to come to an agreement on a ceasefire.  We need to see the full implementation of Minsk, and I think everybody here is united in the notion that our preference is not to have sanctions, but the sanctions will be there in an effort to try to secure the peace that everybody wants in Ukraine.

There’s unanimity among all of the members here in the urgency of the Minsk agreement being fully implemented, and that means that the reforms, the election process, the working groups, this is an enormous moment of opportunity for the conflict there to find a path of certainty and resolution.  And we hope very, very much that President Putin, Russia, the separatists, will come together to work with the Government of Ukraine in order to fully implement it and make progress.

We also talked today about Syria, about Libya, about terrorism in general, and the responsibility of NATO to be able to come together to work on each of those challenges.  And in addition we talked about the Iran nuclear talks and the unanimity between the P5+1 that we will move into these last six weeks of negotiations with a view to securing the good agreement that we have talked about, in which we will have adequate access, and in which the four pathways to a nuclear weapons will, in fact, be shut down.  We’re very hopeful, everybody here is, that that can be a successful negotiation and bring about a transformation within the region.

Obviously, key to everybody is the question of the GCC meeting that we are having tonight and tomorrow at Camp David, and I think all of the member states feel very strongly that defining a more – a clearer defense arrangement between the GCC and other friendly countries and the United States is going to be critical to helping to push back against the terrorism, as well as some of the other activities that take place in that region that are unsettling to all of those countries.  So we’re very hopeful – I think we had a very – though quick – lengthy exchange and in depth exchange.

One other thing:  The United States stands very firmly behind the Wales commitments, with respect to NATO.   We believe very strongly in NATO’s role, particularly on the southern flank in dealing with Libya, in dealing with some of the problems of migrants.  And I hope that out of this will come a recommitment to the future mission over these next few years of a new headquarters, of a clearer definition of the mutuality of the role, and that countries will move towards the 2 percent financial commitments that reflect the shared responsibility of support for NATO.

So I apologize that I’m not able to take questions.  I have to have another meeting, but I’m very grateful to everybody, and I’m particularly grateful – I want to thank my colleagues for recognizing the need for me to be in Washington for the GCC.  Thank you very much.