James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
1:00 P.M. EDT
MR. EARNEST: Good afternoon, everybody. I apologize for the delay in getting started. Mr. Carney --
Q: We're accustomed --
MR. EARNEST: I'm sorry?
Q: We're accustomed to it.
MR. EARNEST: Okay, good. I want to keep you in the rhythm here.
Mr. Carney is taking his son to camp today, so I'll be minding the store. So, Julie, I'll ring you up first.
Q: Thank you. A couple questions on the Mideast peace talks that are starting in Washington tonight. We know that the President apparently is going to be meeting with Secretary Kerry later today to discuss those talks, but does he have any plans to meet with the Israeli and Palestinian negotiators while they're in town?
MR. EARNEST: Julie, I don't have any details about the President's schedule over the next couple of days to read out to you. There's no current plan for that, but I wouldn't preclude anything from getting added in the future.
As you know, the Middle East peace process is something that -- or at least these conversations that are ongoing, or that are slated for this evening, was part of a process that was kicked off by the President's trip to the Middle East earlier this year. Many of you traveled there for that visit. And the President had the opportunity to visit with Prime Minister Netanyahu, President Abbas, and King Hussein of Jordan, where they had some conversations about how it's in the best interest of both the Israeli and Palestinian people to engage in final status negotiations.
Since that time, Secretary Kerry has been traveling frequently to the region. I think every couple of weeks it seems like he's taking a trip out there to talk to the parties and to talk to others in the region who have an important stake in this conflict being resolved.
So we're certainly encouraged that the two parties are coming to Washington and beginning their conversations this evening, but we're also cognizant of the hard work that remains over the next nine months. There are some very serious issues that have to be resolved, and it's not going to be easy. The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step, and we'll take that first step tonight.
Q: Now that this first round of talks is underway, how does the President see his direct role? Is this something where he's going to still continue to sort of seed the frontrunner status for the U.S. to Secretary Kerry and maybe only get involved if these talks continue and get to a real final status moment?
MR. EARNEST: Well, I'll say a couple things about that. The first is this is a process that got kick-started with the President's trip to the Middle East earlier this year. And at the President's direction, Secretary Kerry has been traveling frequently to the region to engage with leaders of both sides and the leaders of countries in the region to talk about this process. So there has been robust involvement from the United States. There is a role for the United States to play in terms of encouraging both sides to come to the table, trying to facilitate conversations, and in some cases even cajoling one side or the other to try to move the process forward.
That's something that Secretary Kerry has been engaged in for quite some time now and has taken up a lot of his time over the last several months. Ambassador Indyk is also going to play a role in this process now moving forward, as was announced earlier today, and the President will continue to be b ...
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