SECRETARY KERRY: Well, good afternoon, everybody. I am very pleased, as always, to welcome my very good friend and colleague in these endeavors, the EU High Representative Cathy Ashton back here to Washington. I'm also personally happy to be back in Washington -- (laughter) -- after a trip through Africa that has left us with a very long to-do list, which we're already working on.
Lady Ashton and I just covered a lot of ground, but since we're in agreement on so much of it, we were able to cover it quite quickly. We discussed, most importantly, our shared strategy of using the tools of diplomacy in order to reduce the conflicts that are threatening Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and other parts of the world, but particularly there.
Let me begin with Ukraine. In the weeks since Lady Ashton and I met in Geneva, along with the Ukrainian foreign minister and the Russian foreign minister, we have been, it is fair to say, nothing less than disappointed to see Russia to fail to live up to the very plain and simple, easy-to-interpret commitments that were made in Geneva. And I'll reiterate: The agreement that we made in Geneva, it really isn't vague and it's not open to some loose interpretation. It was simple, it was specific, and it outlined concrete steps that all of the parties had to take. Ukraine's government, literally before the ink was dry, started to implement on that agreement. And they have held up their end of the bargain.
Ukraine has shown remarkable restraint. Almost immediately coming out of that meeting in Geneva, they ordered a cessation of any kind of counterterrorism activity, any effort to remove people from buildings based on the notion that both sides were going to work to bring people out of those buildings. And the fact is that they have been committed in Kyiv to trying to move their country forward through nonviolence, through constitutional reform, through dialogue, and by reaching out to the disaffected parts of Ukraine.
We also are very concerned about efforts of pro-Russian separatists in Donetsk, in Luhansk to organize, frankly, a contrived, bogus independence referendum on May 11th. We flatly reject this illegal effort to further divide Ukraine, and its pursuit will create even more problems in the effort to try to de-escalate the situation. This is really the Crimea playbook all over again, and no civilized nation is going to recognize the results of such a bogus effort.
As President Obama has made clear, if Russian elements continue to sabotage the democratic process and prevent Ukraine from holding a free and fair election 19 days from now on the 25th, then we stand ready to implement additional sanctions. And the "we" is Europe and the United States together. I know the European Union is strong in its commitment to do this, and I think the high representative will address meetings that are shortly going to be held next week in furtherance of our common goals here.
We are not going to sit idly by while Russian elements fan the flames of instability, instead of fulfilling the commitments that we made. Look, we came together, and we came together in a real spirit of trying to de-escalate. And we weren't playing a game. We laid down some very specific steps that could be taken, and immediately, the Government of Ukraine, in good faith, undertook to implement those steps, including removing barricades from the Maidan in Kyiv, removing people from buildings, as well as reaching out to make clear to the people of Ukraine how decentralization could take place to give more power to those people in places that were disaffected. Regrettably, that was not met with reciprocity, and reciprocity is one of the things that we discussed very clearly in Geneva.
I must add also that it's very hard to reconcile that Russia is now making the argument that Ukraine ought to reduce -- not have an election or postpone an election because of the violence that's taking place, but Russia is full, whole-hog behind having an election in Syria where there is far worse violence. Reconcile that one for us, please.
So the choice is really Russia's. The United States, the EU, and our allies have made our choice very, very clear: We are going to stand together united not just in support of Ukraine, but united in support of de-escalating; united in support of a peaceful, diplomatic solution; united in recognition that, yes, there are historic and cultural and other ties between Russia and Ukraine, but the way to assert them is at the diplomatic negotiating table, not at the end of a gun. And we believe that we will also stand together in the effort to try to de-escalate this situation.
Next week, I will meet in London with our European counterparts in order to discuss what the appropriate next steps will be.
I also want to underscore that Lady Ashton and I applaud the commitment and the courage of the monitors of the OSCE. We're deeply appreciative of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, who have put themselves in harm's way, not on one side or the other, but on the side of a peaceful resolution, on the side of de-escalation. And they have tried to enforce compliance of the Russian-backed forces to ensure that there is a fair and reasonable approach to defining the future for all of the people of Ukraine.
We believe that the OSCE can now play an enhanced role, and right now there are efforts taking place. I talked yesterday with the OSCE chairman, President Burkhalter of Switzerland, and he is tomorrow going to be traveling to meet with President Putin. Today there were meetings. I talked yesterday also with the foreign minister of Germany, Frank Steinmeier. He today met with Foreign Minister Lavrov in Vienna, and there are further discussions taking place. I will talk with him in an hour or two from now. So there's a lot of energy being expended to try to see if we can find a reasonable way forward here. And we support the efforts very much of this kind of diplomacy to help the Ukrainians restore law and order and improve the environment for free and fair elections on May 25th.
And before I invite our honored guest to offer her thoughts here, I just want to briefly mention a couple of other topics that we discussed very quickly this afternoon: South Sudan, Nigeria, and Iran.
First on South Sudan, the cessation of hostilities agreement that was signed in January by the South Sudanese Government and the opposition has obviously not been upheld. And the recent attacks by the South Sudanese Government and the anti-government forces, both of them, are absolutely unacceptable, and the United States condemns them in the strongest terms.
I talked this morning with Prime Minister Hailemariam of Ethiopia, and he has been directly in touch with Riek Machar, who tells him that he will come to a meeting though they're working on the precise date and hope to have something to announce shortly. He has also talked to President Kiir, and President Kiir has, in fact, committed absolutely to be there and to come. And we're very hopeful that that can be the beginning of a dialogue, and we will have participants there to assist in that process.
As President Obama has made clear, however, we will hold accountable those who have stood in the way of a peace plan. And I've said as much directly to President Kiir and to former Vice President Riek Machar when I was there this past weekend. So today, the United States will announce sanctions on two individuals responsible for violating the cessation of hostilities agreement, individuals responsible for perpetrating unthinkable violence against civilians. The first is the commander of the South Sudanese Government's Presidential Guard Forces Marial Chanuong, and he has led violent attacks against civilians in Juba. And that will -- further details will be announced later regarding that. The second, Peter Gadet, who led anti-government forces in the April 17th attack on Bentiu that left more than 200 civilians dead.
And we will do our utmost to prevent South Sudan from plunging back into the violence and despair that tore that country apart for so long. We will continue to stand with the people of South Sudan who call for peace and who recognize that the only way to resolve this conflict is through a political dialogue.
Secondly, on Nigeria: Today I spoke with President Goodluck Jonathan on behalf of President Obama and offered -- on behalf of President Obama offered America's support for Nigeria in their response to this crisis. Our embassy in Abuja is prepared to form a coordination cell that could provide expertise on intelligence, investigations, and hostage negotiations, and to help facilitate information-sharing and victim assistance. And President -- the President was -- President Goodluck Jonathan was very happy to receive this offer and ready to move on it immediately, and we are immediately engaging in order to implement this. We remain deeply concerned about the welfare of these young girls, and we want to provide whatever assistance is possible in order to help for their safe return to their families.
And finally, Lady Ashton and I discussed -- I think you see the breadth of the things that we're talking about. You get a sense of the tremendous cooperation between the EU and the United States, and particularly between Cathy Ashton and myself, for which we are very, very grateful. And we are extremely grateful for her stewardship of the important negotiations that are taking place with Iran on the nuclear program, on a comprehensive -- on the search for a comprehensive solution to the challenge of that program.
We -- Lady Ashton and our political directors will meet again in Vienna next week. And as we try to seize this diplomatic moment and make our allies and ourselves safer, Iran obviously has to make some very tough decisions. We remain firm in our goals. They don't vary. Iran must not obtain a nuclear weapon, and it must ensure it has a peaceful nuclear program. And as I've said many times, we continue to believe that no deal is better than a bad deal.
Let me close by extending to Lady Ashton early greetings for Europe Day, which falls this Friday. It's a holiday that recalls and renews the EU's vision for a united, peaceful, stable, and democratic Europe, and the United States will stand side by side with Europe as it strives to live up to that vision and to those high ideals. Lady Ashton, thanks for being with us.
HIGH REPRESENTATIVE ASHTON: Thank you. Thank you very much, Secretary Kerry, or John, as I would prefer. Thank you for your good wishes for Europe Day. I held a reception in New York last night, and it was my great pleasure to be able to see the Empire State Building lit up in the colors of the European Union of blue and yellow. It is a recognition of this incredibly important transatlantic partnership that every nation of the European Union values so highly, and for which I thank you, your predecessors, and all of your colleagues for the work that has gone on to develop it to the point where I think we are very much joined up in our thinking.
As you've said, we've talked about a range of issues. We talk a lot in between these meetings, so we cover a huge number of current concerns. And I will just pick up on the back of some of this news. You've said two or three of them, of which Ukraine is inevitably the highest on our agenda, and the latest news of the great concern that we have from the illegal actions by armed separatist groups is, of course, at the foremost of our attention. We want to see Russia join in in the call to see an immediate end to these actions, and that is very much, as you've said, in line with the discussions we had in Geneva, where we talked practically for seven hours. We talked about what this meant. There was no vagueness. There was absolute clarity in what we were trying to do -- to try and find ways to begin the de-escalation. And we will continue, as the European Union, to engage fully in seeking a political solution and to stay fully behind what we said in Geneva and to find ways that we can see the implementation done by everyone.
We know, too, that Ukraine has the right to defend its territorial integrity. We understand the international obligations that it has, and we work closely with them. And as you have indicated, they have done a lot from the beginning of leaving Geneva at the end of that day to try and implement what was agreed.
I pay tribute, like you, to the OSCE, and I join the chief monitor of the special mission, who's called upon all sides to exercise maximum restraint, to avoid bloodshed, and to solve differences peacefully. You all know that on the 28th of April we took the decision to extend the number of people subject to targeted sanctions for actions that undermine Ukraine's territorial integrity, sovereignty, and independence. Any further steps that destabilize the situation in Ukraine would lead to additional and far-reaching consequences for our relations in a broad range of areas.
Like you, too, we are focused on the elections and the importance of free and fair presidential elections. This is a really important step in the stabilization of Ukraine. It's about democracy. It's an opportunity, too, for there to be a legitimate and broad debate on the future of Ukraine and to engage with people who do want to talk about how that future should be -- peacefully working together, and to take this opportunity to be able to do that. We, of course, will continue as well with our assistance package, which, as you know, will bring in overall support of about 11 billion euros over time.
I want, as well, to mention the terrible escalation of violence in South Sudan and to pay tribute to your visit. I already know from our special representatives in the region and from people from the countries concerned that your visit was extremely timely and your efforts were very well recognized. So may I pay tribute to you for that, as well as many, many other things.
I'm worried that this country is on the brink of what could be a civil war, ethnically motivated. And the prospects of famine and the humanitarian disaster -- they're really looming large now, so we need to work together. We need to work to ensure that the leaders in South Sudan really do take the action that you've identified they need to. And when the meeting takes place on Friday, they really have got to now try and put aside personal differences and try and change the atmosphere and to try and prevent any further offenses and to respect the cessation of hostilities.
We're actively considering the targeted sanctions that you've described. As you know, the Foreign Affairs Council, we're meeting on Monday, and that's the forum where I am president to try and look at all of these issues and see how we go forward. So we need to work very closely in good cooperation with you and with others and to make sure that we put as much energy as possible into trying to prevent what, as I said, could be a disaster.
Like you, our thoughts are with the parents of the Nigerian girls and with the girls themselves. These are the future of the country. They are teachers, dancers, politicians. They are scientists; they are mothers. They are women in the making, who have a right to play their full part in their society. And what has happened to them is devastating for all of us, and we must do, like you, everything possible to try and reunite them with their families and to prevent this ever, ever happening again.
But I want to end, if I might, by also reiterating my full support for everything that you have done in the Middle East. Your efforts are not, by any means, over yet. I know that. And I know that this has been a difficult time. But I do think that you have made tremendous progress and the European Union stands absolutely beside you as you continue your efforts and remains committed to supporting you in every way possible.
My final thought is on Iran. We will, of course, next week try and take this process forward. And we're all interested in making sure that if we can get an agreement it's the best agreement.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, Cathy.
HIGH REPRESENTATIVE ASHTON: We always hug. There's always a hug. (Laughter.)
MS. PSAKI: The first question will be from Andrea Mitchell of NBC News.
QUESTION: Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary, Lady Ashton. On Nigeria first, why has it taken so long to mobilize an American effort? We understand that President Jonathan today said he is welcoming the help, that there was no invitation before this, and if you understand that to mean that you can now act. But it will take a while to organize this cell in the Embassy. Why, given our extraordinary abilities with surveillance, with detection, did not the United States act sooner with other allies? It's understood that some of these girls may have been taken across borders. There is an international issue. They are listed as a terror organization, Boko Haram, on the State Department list. It seems inconceivable to people around the world that we could not act sooner where lives are at stake. And how long now will it take to act?
And if I could ask you about Benghazi, because this is our first opportunity, sir. First of all, your response to Chairman Issa's committee's subpoena for you to appear, we understand that on May 21st, the date that you were ordered to appear, that you are supposed to be traveling, previously scheduled, in Mexico. Will you now organize another day to appear? How do you feel about being subpoenaed rather than being invited, as would have been the normal protocol? And what is your response to the committee's charge that the State Department, under your watch as well, has dragged its feet on being forthcoming with all of the demands for documents?
And if I could ask Lady Ashton, finally, given the conversations between President Obama and Chancellor Merkel last week, can the international community really wait to see whether the sectoral sanctions should be imposed? It does seem as though Vladimir Putin and his supporters, these separatists, are not changing their policy and are not responding even to the damage that has been done, whatever it has been, to their economies.
Thank you all so very much.
SECRETARY KERRY: The last question --
QUESTION: Well, you can --
HIGH REPRESENTATIVE ASHTON: He'll answer it as well.
SECRETARY KERRY: No, no, no. I want her to answer it. I thought it was for her.
QUESTION: Yes, for both, but --
SECRETARY KERRY: So -- well, give me the last question again of the four questions I got on here.
QUESTION: Sorry. The last question is: Why wait to impose tougher sanctions given that Vladimir Putin has shown no sign of desisting despite the sanctions that have already been imposed? But I think first --
SECRETARY KERRY: Well --
QUESTION: -- Nigeria and Benghazi.
SECRETARY KERRY: All right, sure. Well, let me speak to Nigeria. First of all, we have been in touch from day one, and our Embassy has been engaged and we have been engaged. But the government had its own set of strategies, if you will, in the beginning. And you can offer and talk, but you can't do if a government has its own sense of how it's proceeding. I think now the complications that have arisen have convinced everybody that there needs to be a greater effort, and it will begin immediately. I mean literally immediately. We are in touch, our Embassy is in touch. We've been talking with AFRICOM, we've been talking with the various entities, and I think you're going to see a very, very rapid response.
QUESTION: We have satellites, though, surveillance?
SECRETARY KERRY: I understand. Yeah, we do, but it depends where they are and what they're looking at on any given day. And so there are options, and I can assure you -- I think the White House will have more to say about what we are going to be doing, and I'll let them speak for that. But the simple answer is we're going to do everything in our power to able to be helpful. And I'm going to see the President in a little while this afternoon. I think the President may or may not have something to say about this in the near term.
And let's just -- the important thing is that we have put everything on the table. We're going to send a team, and it'll be a combined team ready to work. But you have to have a host country that's ready to receive and work with you in any situation, and we're prepared to work.
On the issue of Benghazi, I served 29 years in the United States Senate, 28-plus. And I was chairman of a major committee, and I don't think I ever issued a subpoena to somebody that I hadn't first invited to come and speak. I think this sort of speaks for itself, frankly.
We have had more than, I think, 50 briefings. There have been in the double digits of hearings. We've delivered over 25,000 documents. And the fact is that documents require a legal process to go through for examination of executive privilege or other kinds of -- classified or other kinds of things that may or may not be in them. That's just not -- it doesn't happen automatically. But I've guaranteed that we would cooperate in every single way. We have, and I will, and the Department will. That's our obligation. And of course, we will. But I think everybody needs to take a hard look at -- and sort of measure what's been already put out there versus where this effort is going. And you see a very partisan response on the Hill with respect to it.
I also think there's an issue of the requisite body figuring out who has jurisdiction over this, from what I understand. There are still some questions as to who is going to do what. So we'll respond, because we have absolutely nothing to hide whatsoever, and I look forward to complying, whatever responsibilities we have.
QUESTION: Do you intend to --
SECRETARY KERRY: With respect to -- I'll comply with whatever responsibilities we have. And with respect to the question of tougher sanctions and sanctions, what we are doing is having a major impact. Nobody should doubt that. The bonds in Russia are already just above junk bonds in categorization, and they've had to postpone a number of sales of bonds. The economy is already on the downward decline. The IMF has already declared that it's in recession. Their growth was going to be about 1.3 percent; it's now prospected to be perhaps .1 or 2 percent, minimal, and we have only yet begun, if we have to. And I think there's no question. But it is important for the United States and Europe to try to move together in this. We believe that. And so that requires a certain element of preparation, coordination. You have to do the right paperwork, the right examination. You have to pull your teams together. And we are proceeding, I think, in a very effective and authoritative way.
We've made it very clear -- President Obama and Chancellor Merkel had a meeting the other day. And they said clearly that if there are interference or continued interference, if there is continued interference with respect to the election and election process, there will be more sanctions that this time will start to bite into the sectors of the economy. And those become even more compelling than what has been put on the table to this point.
But obviously, when you're trying to keep a door open to be able to find some kind of a diplomatic solution, when the other party says they're willing to come to the table and actually engage in that discussion, it seems to me reasonable to try to do that. And I think most people in most places want a responsible government, not to escalate to the point of creating an inevitable confrontation, but rather to find out if there's a way to be able to find that diplomatic solution. That's what diplomacy is about. There's no question about our ability, when we want to, to be able to put sanctions in place that are even more biting than what we have today. But you have to ask yourself if the price has been (inaudible) ahead of time, whether or not that invites something further that you don't want to have happen.
So there's a delicate mix here, and I think President Obama has calibrated this extremely effectively. It's having a biting effect, and we will continue to proceed in unity with our European allies to do what we think has the greatest impact and the most effect.
HIGH REPRESENTATIVE ASHTON: I mean, I have nothing much more to add, except to say that from the perspective of what the European Union is doing, it is this desire to see a way to find a method of de-escalation. And that was what Geneva was about. It's why we put on hold measures that we were considering, because that's, as you said, is what you do. When we saw that we were not getting the results from Geneva, we pressed the start button again and we've continued with those measures. And we're looking at all of the possibilities. It's a mix of things that you want to do to try and create the circumstances that will lead to the most important thing, which is stopping the violence, for people to stop occupying the buildings, and to get the kind of discussion, debate, and democratic approach that will lead Ukraine into its future. And so you have to consider all of the ways in which that can be done.
I will be bringing together the 28 foreign ministers on Monday. They will be discussing all of the elements of that approach, working very closely with our colleagues in the United States, in order to see how we can best do that. And it's why countries like Germany, like others, obviously, engaging and talking as well as looking at what we might do as a coordinated effort, and I really hope that we're successful in that.
MS. PSAKI: The next question will be from Gero Schliess from Deutsche Welle, and I'm sure I butchered that, but go ahead.
QUESTION: Gero Schliess, Gero Schliess, thank you. First part also on Ukraine: Some people have the impression that for the U.S. sanctions -- or, let's say, punishment or isolation of Mr. Putin is the most important goal. And I have a perception that Europe seems to be reluctant to pursue this policy. And my question to both of you is: We have (inaudible) that Putin is a problem, but in what respect could he be also part of a solution? And today, did you discuss the option of a neutral Ukraine that would possibly satisfy Putin and might be acceptable for the Western countries?
And the second part of my question goes -- is about Syria. As Syrian delegation of -- Syrian opposition is in D.C. to talk to the Secretary of State, Mr. Kerry, your Administration has granted the U.S. offices of Syrian National Coalition diplomatic status. Does this signal that the U.S. are getting more actively involved in the civil war, including providing the rebels with heavy weaponry?
And to you, Lady Ashton, would the European Union also grant diplomatic status to the Syrian National Coalition?
HIGH REPRESENTATIVE ASHTON: Should I start?
SECRETARY KERRY: Go ahead, please.
HIGH REPRESENTATIVE ASHTON: On Ukraine, it's for the people of Ukraine to decide what Ukraine is and will be, and they will consider very carefully where they sit in the world. I've said whenever I visited Ukraine, when I met with the then-President Yanukovych and in more recent times, that it's not about a competition between Europe and Russia for a nation, that Ukraine will want strong and good economic links with Russia. And we recognize that that's important. This is never and never should be about this idea of a competition.
For us, it's always about trying to find now the way forward, as I've already indicated, to find the formula that's going to help to de-escalate the situation, to talk with everybody and to keep all the doors open while being very clear that the situation cannot continue as it is.
On Syria, I'll answer very briefly, the European Union of itself does not do diplomatic relations with anyone. It's individual member states who do that.
QUESTION: And may I ask, how far could Putin be part of a solution concerning the Ukraine crisis?
HIGH REPRESENTATIVE ASHTON: Well, President Putin is president of Russia, and Russia is playing a role at the moment. So the question for Russia is: If you take what I've just said about the fact that Ukraine as a nation needs to have a good relationship with all of its neighbors, then you need to start looking at how, from Russia's perspective, they're going to define that. And defining that for me is about strong economic links. Yes, there are strong historical links, and yes, there needs to be a way in which they can be peacefully co-existing side by side. And I hope that President Putin might consider that that is the way forward.
SECRETARY KERRY: With respect to your question on President Putin, there's no observer of Russia, there is no one engaged in diplomacy today who doesn't understand that President Putin is calling the shots in Russia, that a very narrow group of people around him are advising him in one way or the other. But President Putin is almost exclusively, if not exclusively calling the shots.
There is no specific effort by the United States of America to somehow single him out other than to respond to the fact that in his name, Russia has deployed its forces, engaged in direct activities involved first in Crimea, now in east and south of Ukraine, in ways that are destabilizing that country, and still has 40,000-plus or so troops lined up on the border in a place that it didn't have them before they began to move into Crimea.
Now, what we are trying to do is not targeted on him because we have some personal thing or something about him. It's because he's making decisions that are adversely affecting the region and the rights of the people of Ukraine to choose their future and to have their sovereignty respected. We have only one interest in this. That is the stability and respect for Ukraine, its integrity and its sovereignty, and the opportunity of the people of Ukraine to choose their future. That's our interest. And we are not seeking alignment; we're not seeking anything except this universal value that is respected around the world for the right of people to not be bludgeoned at the butt of a gun, or with military invasion, to be told what to do.
Now, we believe that it's appropriate for us to respond in response to the legitimate demands of a government that was voted on even by the former supporters of President Yanukovych, who deserted the country of his own free will, and made a decision not to live up to the agreement that he signed back in February. And the parliament, with his own party's support, voted him out and provided for an interim government and called for elections. Now, what could be more sensible than to allow this country under siege to be able to have an election where they give legitimacy to a new government by having all of the people be able to vote? That's all people are looking for here. It seems to me that it shouldn't be so complicated for Russia to be able to engage in that process.
And we respect that Russia has a long historical connection to Ukraine, and that Kyiv is the home -- the birthplace of Russian religion, and that wars of liberation have been fought on that territory. And we understand the connection and the strong feelings about protection of people who -- Russian-speaking and so forth. We're not -- nobody's arguing against that, though. The fact is that the interim government of Ukraine is prepared to respect the Russian language, prepared to respect the greater autonomy for people in that region, to give them -- frankly, the people -- the Government of Ukraine has offered to give the people in south and east Ukraine more power over their own lives on an everyday basis than Russia gives any individual state or province in Russia. That's a fact.
And so the answer is that what we think is important here is that the rights of the people be respected. And Lady Ashton's correct: They have to choose their future. But they have said they are not seeking alignment. They've said they're not looking for NATO membership. And NATO and those of us who are members have said we're prepared to respect the choice of the interim government and whatever future government of Ukraine there is.
Final comment: We have said again and again to the Russians -- and I hope they hear it again today -- we are not seeking for a Ukraine that belongs to some other part of the world, but only -- we want one that just belongs to Ukraine. And we're not seeking one that is a pawn between East and West. We'd like Ukraine to be a bridge between East and West. And we certainly agree with President Putin's vision that we could have an economic arrangement that goes from Vladivostok to Lisbon that involves everybody in a major market where everybody benefits.
So there's more to talk about than unfortunately some of the heated rhetoric has given people a sense of. And our hope is that -- that's why we pursue these discussions, is to see if we can't find a way to make those interests meet the moment and find a way forward that de-escalates this confrontation.
MS. PSAKI: Thanks, everyone.
SECRETARY KERRY: Oh, and Syria. I didn't answer Syria. On Syria, we have not recognized the SOC. We've given them diplomatic status to be able to come here, but because we have previously said that they are the legitimate representative. But we have not moved to create a diplomatic -- to recognize them or create a diplomatic situation. But we're hopeful that, again, there also, we can find a way forward that deals with this extraordinary violence that is literally destroying the country of Syria. And our hope is that we could have a reasonable way forward to do that. Thank you. Thank you all.