Remarks With German Chancellor Angela Merkel Before Their Meeting

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Berlin, Germany
October 22, 2014


Well, ladies and gentlemen, allow me to say that I am delighted to have the Secretary of State John Kerry here for the third time ever since he assumed office. And yesterday I understand the Secretary of State had the opportunity to have a lengthy discussion over dinner with the German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and today too we have our work cut out for us. There are a number of international issues that will be on the agenda of our talks today – indeed, international issues that are on the agenda for all of us in this year 2014. There are many of those tasks, many of those issues, many very demanding issues, and all of these can only be mastered by us if we act together, if we act in close partnership and coordination with our partners and friends in the United States of America.

Let me mention the issues as we see them today. First of all, we want to discuss our fight against Islamic State, countermeasures that are to be taken against this terrorist threat that IS presents to all of us. Secondly, the Iranian nuclear program will be on the agenda; and third, the catastrophe that is Ebola; and fourth, we will also discuss the future of Afghanistan. We have a very short time, that is true, available to us, and as you can see, we have more than enough on our plate to fill this very short time.

So once again, let me say that I’m delighted to have the Secretary of State here, and let me use this opportunity to thank him for the excellent cooperation that we have always enjoyed with our American partners and friends on all of these areas. And let me also mention that I forgot one very important issue, obviously – namely, Ukraine-Russia. There too there is quite a lot on our plate, and so quite a lot of things to discuss. Again, all of these crises we can only tackle, we can only master if we act in concert, if we act together. Only then will be able to bring them, hopefully, towards a solution.

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, thank you, Madam Chancellor. Thank you very, very much for making the time today to be able to meet. I know you’re very busy and I greatly appreciate the chance to sit down with you. President Obama, our administration, the American people have great respect for your leadership, and we appreciate enormously what Germany is doing on every single issue of critical importance today. I’m also mindful that I’m coming here today where I visited the old wall and met with some of your young kids who were asking questions about the future, none of whom had been born during that period of time. They were all post-Cold War.

And so even as we celebrate the fall of the wall and all that it symbolizes, it was very clear to me today, as it is to America, that the story of Germany is not the past – it’s the future, and what you are doing to define that future, leading Germany on so many issues to be a global leader. And I want to thank you, because on Ebola, you are contributing people, expertise, medivac capacity now, money, and Germany is one of the leaders in the effort to deal with this challenge.

On Ukraine, you and your foreign minister have been on the forefront of diplomacy. And your efforts with President Poroshenko, your personal interventions with President Putin, have been critical to helping to define the Minsk Agreement and to put us on a ramp to de-escalate and hopefully move away from conflict.

On ISIL, likewise, you made a very significant decision. Germany has stepped up, changed its own policy, and is helping to cooperate globally in law enforcement, as we’ve seen in the last days, but also to help to be at the forefront of fighting with the foreign fighters issue and ISIL itself.

On Iran, Germany is a critical partner in the P5+1 talks. And Foreign Minister Steinmeier and I talked at length yesterday about how we can hopefully seize this historic moment to be able to reduce that conflict and prove to the world that we can move towards a world without nuclear weapons, ultimately.

On Afghanistan, as you mentioned a few minutes ago, likewise, Germany is a key partner in the ongoing efforts to empower the people of Afghanistan to define their own future and to respect the sovereignty of the country. So all of these things, on every major challenge today, we are partnering. And we now need to obviously deal with economy, with growth. We hope that the Transatlantic Trade Investment Partnership can move forward, because all of our countries can benefit from the economic stimulation and growth that will come from that.

So we have a lot to talk about, as you said, a very little amount of time. But the time I spent last night was well spent, and I appreciate your making time today to have a personal exchange. I bring you President Obama’s great greeting, and again, our respect and gratitude for the strength of our relationship. Thank you.