Monday, January 09, 2017

JOHN KERRY - On Syria, Russia, and More

"Kerry:  Syrian conflict is ‘the worst human catastrophe since World War II'" PBS NewsHour 1/6/2017


SUMMARY:  In our most recent interview with a top Obama administration official, Judy Woodruff sits down with Secretary of State John Kerry as the presidential transition nears.  They discuss Secretary Kerry's assessment of the U.S.-Russia relationship, now that intelligence has confirmed hacking; the administration's legacy in Syria and Israel; challenges for his successor, Rex Tillerson and more.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  And now to my interview with Secretary of State John Kerry.

I sat down with him earlier today at the State Department, before the public release of that intelligence report on Russia.

But I began by asking, now that we have confirmation Russia interfered in the election, does that fundamentally change Washington's relationship with Moscow?

Secretary of State John Kerry, thank you very much for talking with us.

JOHN KERRY, Secretary of State:  My pleasure.  Thank you.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  So, now that it has been confirmed that the Russians interfered aggressively in the U.S. election, does this represent a fundamental change in the United States' relationship with Russia?

JOHN KERRY:  Well, that remains to be determined.

It certainly represents a major challenge in that relationship.  It's a hostile act.  It has serious consequences, and we're going to have to work that through.

And I say we.  I mean the United States, the next administration is going to have to approach Russia very clearly understanding what has happened.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  Do you think more needs to be done to retaliate as of now?

JOHN KERRY:  Well, I think that President Obama made it clear that we would retaliate at a time of our choosing and ways of our choosing.

And that means some of them, the public will know about, some of them, they will not know about.  Obviously, with two weeks left, I think that the administration coming in is going to have to make some judgments of its own about what the next steps will be.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  So, it's reported the Russians were celebrating the election of Donald Trump.  Why would they be celebrating?  What do you think?

JOHN KERRY:  I'm not going to speculate.  I really think it's too important.  And I just am not going to speculate.

I think there has been a lot of news articles.  You all have been covering this for some period of time.  People are going to draw their own judgments, but I'm not going to add to that speculation.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  What do you think Vladimir Putin wants?  You have been dealing with him for a long time.  What do you think he's after?

JOHN KERRY:  Well, he's after a lot of things.

There are a lot of motivations.  He obviously has agreed with us on some things and disagreed with us on others.  And we managed to find common ground and work together effectively on the Iran nuclear agreement, where Russia assumed major responsibilities to try to get the agreement done and to make it work.

So I can give you a long list of things where Russia and President Putin have found common ground and worked with the United States.  But, on Ukraine, on the implementation of the Minsk agreement, on Syria, we have obviously not been able to find the same kind of common ground, despite good efforts.

And those are problems that are going to continue into the next administration.  My hope is the next administration will approach Russia strategically, with a clear purpose of trying to find more common ground, but without giving up on fundamental values and principles that are at the core of the United States' foreign policy.

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