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Background Briefing on Secretary Kerry's Trip to Berlin

Background Briefing on Secretary Kerry's Trip to Berlin


SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: All right. So this is a background briefing previewing the Secretary’s trip to Berlin, Germany. I’ll just tick through the events. Tonight he’s going to have – be having a bilateral dinner with Foreign Minister Steinmeier and with the delegation on both sides. This will be a working dinner, so we expect they’ll have substantive discussions. I’ll go into those topics in a moment. Tomorrow morning, he is going to do a visit to the Berlin Wall Memorial. The purpose of this trip, actually, to Germany is to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the falling of the Berlin Wall, which as you all know is November 9th. But he’ll be in Asia during that time.

He lived in Germany as a little kid, when he was 11 or 12, so he has a lot of personal memories. So tomorrow he’ll visit the memorial; then he will visit with Foreign Minister Steinmeier with a group of kids who are about his age when he lived here to talk about the meaning of the falling of the wall – the 25th anniversary.

He will also meet with a – let’s see – an escapee who engineered multiple tunnels from West to East Berlin to assist other escapees, and then we’ll do a press conference. He’ll also meet with Chancellor Merkel tomorrow afternoon. During the working dinner this evening and the meeting with Chancellor Merkel tomorrow, we expect it to focus on four major topics: Ukraine, Ebola, ISIL, Iran. They also will – could talk about TTIP as well as Afghanistan. Certainly, there are other topics – Middle East peace and that process could certainly come up.

QUESTION: Sorry. Ukraine, ISIL, Ebola, and what?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: And Iran. As all of you know, Chancellor Merkel just participated in a bunch of meetings with President Putin, with President Poroshenko, with other leaders as part of the Minsk process. So they’ll talk about that and it’s really an opportunity to hear from and listen to her. On Ebola, Germany recently increased their monetary pledges. They’re also working to create their own medevac capacity. I think that’s moving right along. They’ve given 50 million in relief – toward relief efforts. It may be more. That’s our latest number.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: That’s the latest uptick, I would say.


On ISIL, you all are familiar with the steps they’ve taken. They’ve contributed a significant amount of humanitarian assistance as well as they’ve provided arms to the Kurds. They’ve given about 60 million euros to humanitarian assistance, 70 million to security assistance.

And then of course on Iran, given their role in the P5+1 negotiations, Secretary Kerry will give an update and a briefing on his meetings with Foreign Minister Zarif and EU High Representative Ashton, and they’ll talk about the next five weeks, as it relates to that.

Anything else you’d add on the top? Okay.

QUESTION: Can I just clarify one thing? When Kerry as a child lived in Germany, that was pre-Wall.


QUESTION: He never lived there when the Wall was up.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Yes. It was pre, but he lived – I mean, he lived – he was 11 or 12, so it was 19 --

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: It was in the early to mid ‘50s.


SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: And we know it’s not in the Wall era because one of the stories he remembers from a childhood is riding his bicycle across the Brandenburg Gate, which obviously would have been more difficult later.


QUESTION: I just wanted to make sure I --

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Correct. Yes. We didn’t cut 20 years off of his life.

Any questions?

QUESTION: Question. Are you going to be talking also about the Russia-Ukraine energy talks?


SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Yeah. I mean, I would imagine that that will be a subject of conversation, given that it’s the – one of the major outstanding issues that we’re still working to resolve as we seek to de-escalate the crisis. As you know, the talks are ongoing. They’re in fact meeting today. We’re not going to get into any of the sort of substantive issues, because that wouldn’t be helpful to the negotiators on the ground, but that will certainly be a topic of discussion.



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