At the White House this afternoon, President Obama provided an update on important issues ahead of his attendance at the NATO Summit in the United Kingdom next week.
The President first addressed the "number one thing that most Americans care about" -- our economy. He noted that the economy is growing "at a stronger clip" than predicted and that we have more work to do to continue this momentum:
This morning, we found out that our economy actually grew at a stronger clip in the 2nd quarter than we originally thought. Companies are investing. Consumers are spending. Over the past four and a half years, our businesses have created now nearly 10 million new jobs. So there are reasons to feel good about the direction we’re headed. But as everybody knows, there’s a lot more we should be doing to make sure more Americans benefit from the progress that we've made and I am going to be pushing Congress hard on this when they return next week.
As the U.S. military continues to carry out targeted airstrikes against ISIL in Iraq and to address the humanitarian situation on the ground, the President reiterated his commitment as Commander-in-Chief to "always do what is necessary to protect the American people and defend against evolving threats to our homeland."
"Our military action in Iraq has to be part of a broader, comprehensive strategy to protect our people and to support our partners who are taking the fight to ISIL. And that starts with Iraq’s leaders building on the progress they’ve made so far and forming the inclusive government that will unite their country and strengthen their security forces to confront ISIL."
The President reported that our strikes have cost ISIL terrorists arms and equipment, and Iraqi and Kurdish forces are continuing to push them back. The U.S. will consider a range of options but he made clear that a successful strategy will require working with an inclusive Iraqi government and strong regional partners to meet this threat:
Now ISIL poses an immediate threat to the people of Iraq and the people throughout the region. And that’s why our military action in Iraq has to be part of a broader, comprehensive strategy to protect our people and to support our partners who are taking the fight to ISIL. And that starts with Iraq’s leaders building on the progress they’ve made so far and forming the inclusive government that will unite their country and strengthen their security forces to confront ISIL.
Any successful strategy, though, also needs strong regional partners. I’m encouraged so far that countries in the region -- countries that don’t always agree on many things -- increasingly recognize the primacy of the threat ISIL poses to all of them. And I’ve asked Secretary Kerry to travel to the region to continue to build the coalition that’s needed to meet this threat. As I’ve said, rooting out a cancer like ISIL will not be quick or easy but I’m confident that we can -- and we will -- working closely with our allies and partners.
For our part, I’ve directed Secretary Hagel and our Joint Chiefs of Staff to prepare a range of options. I’ll be meeting with my National Security Council again this evening as we continue to develop that strategy. And I’ve been consulting with Congress and I’ll continue to do so in the days ahead.
After speaking with Chancellor Merkel of Germany today on the situation in Ukraine, the President noted that the evidence is clear: "Russia is responsible for the violence in eastern Ukraine."
The violence is encouraged by Russia. The separatists are trained by Russia. They are armed by Russia. They are funded by Russia. Russia has deliberately and repeatedly violated the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and the new images of Russian forces inside Ukraine make that plain for the world to see. This comes as Ukrainian forces are making progress against the separatists.
As a result of the actions Russia has already taken, and the major sanctions we’ve imposed with our European and international partners, Russia is already more isolated that at any time since the end of the Cold War. Capital is fleeing. Investors are increasingly staying out. Its economy is in decline. And this ongoing Russian incursion into Ukraine will only bring more costs and consequences for Russia.
The President also noted that the NATO-Ukraine Commission will meet next week at the NATO Summit and provide "another opportunity to continue our partnership with Ukraine." "I look forward to reaffirming the unwavering commitment of of the United States to Ukraine and its people when I welcome President Poroshenko to the White House next month," he added.
Watch his full remarks below: