Saturday, September 26, 2015

Weekly Address: Dispose of Your Expired and Unwanted Prescription Drugs

In this week's address, on “National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day,” the President spoke about the importance of preventing and treating substance use disorders.

The President Speaks at the Farewell Ceremony for General Dempsey

President Obama delivers remarks at the Armed Forces Farewell Ceremony for General Martin Dempsey.

White House Sets a "Bold, New Course" for HIV/AIDS Prevention and Treatment

Statement by National Security Advisor Susan Rice

We are at a pivotal moment in the global fight against HIV/AIDS. Globally, both new HIV infections and AIDS related deaths are down by more than 40 percent since their peak. This Administration has invested nearly $50 billion through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) to achieve an AIDS-free generation, building on the initiative and $15 billion provided by President Bush. Working with partner countries around the globe, we are now supporting life-saving antiretroviral treatment for 7.7 million men, women, and children worldwide; enabled more than one million babies to be born HIV-free; and tested and counseled more than 14 million pregnant women last year alone.

Today, we are setting a bold, new course by announcing ambitious PEPFAR prevention and treatment targets for 2016 and 2017. 

The United States is committing resources to ensure PEPFAR will by the end of 2017 support 12.9 million people on life-saving anti-retroviral treatment, provide 13 million male circumcisions for HIV prevention, and reduce HIV incidence by 40 percent among adolescent girls and young women within the highest burdened areas of 10 sub-Saharan African countries. 

No greater action is needed right now than empowering adolescent girls and young women to defeat HIV/AIDS.  Every year, 380,000 adolescent girls and young women are infected with HIV—7,300 every week, over 1,000 every day.  This must change.

Today, we are announcing that PEPFAR is now investing nearly half a billion dollars to support an AIDS-free future for adolescent girls and young women.   

This includes strategically aligning $300 million in additional HIV prevention investments with the PEPFAR-led DREAMS partnership, which will ensure that adolescent girls and young women have an opportunity to live Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored, and Safe lives.  This investment builds on $210 million that PEPFAR and private partners committed to DREAMS on World AIDS Day 2014. 

Over the last 15 years, we have seen remarkable results as we have worked together toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals.  PEPFAR’s new targets and investments come at a critical time as we transition from the Millennium Development Goals to meet the challenge before us in the new Sustainable Development Goals: to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030.   

We believe if we all – governments, the private sector, civil society, including faith-based organizations – bring our collective will and energy together we can achieve an AIDS-free generation and bring this epidemic to a halt. 

Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary

Penalties Increased for Forcible Touching on NYC Public Transportation

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced today that he has signed legislation to increase penalties for forcible touching on New York mass transit systems, making such offenses punishable by up to a year behind bars.

"New York has zero tolerance for predators who seek to use crowded buses, subways and trains to commit depraved crimes of opportunity,” Governor Cuomo said. “Those who commit these despicable acts will be caught and, with this new law, will face very real consequences.”

The legislation (S.3203-A / A.4969-B) covers all New York State-operated bus, train and subway systems. This Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine, will cover a broad variety of sexual misconduct, which often happen during rush hour when a victim cannot escape a crowded vessel. These offenses could previously only be charged under a Class B misdemeanor.

Senator Martin Golden said, “These public crimes are revolting, and it is our hope that this bill will go a long way toward preventing them from happening in the future. Public transportation is a valuable resource, especially for those living in New York City, and to see it mistreated and have passengers sexually abused is unacceptable. I thank Governor Cuomo for signing this bill.”

Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas said, “Forcibly touching passengers who use public transportation violates not only the individual but all of us who ride the subway. I thank Governor Cuomo for signing his bill and recognizing that these crimes on public transportation are particularly egregious because riders are essentially captives of their attackers.” 

Source: Press Office, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

Governor Cuomo Delivers Eulogy at Funeral Service for Carey Gabay

This morning, Governor Andrew Cuomo delivered the eulogy at the funeral and celebration of the life of Carey Gabay at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Brooklyn. 

Gabay, 43, was a victim of random gun violence on September 7 and fought for his life until he passed surrounded by loved ones on September 15. 

Gabay was a member of the Governor’s administration for four years, first as Assistant Counsel to the Governor and most recently as First Deputy General Counsel at Empire State Development. Details about the life and legacy of Carey Gabay are available here.

Source: Press Office, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

Friday, September 25, 2015

The President Presents Awards for Ebola Containment Efforts

President Obama delivers remarks at a presentation of awards to Health and Human Services personnel for their contributions to the containment of the Ebola epidemic.

Pope Francis Presented with Special Cross Made from Steel of Twin Towers

 (Click on the images to increase their size.)

Governor Andrew Cuomo today presented Pope Francis with a special cross cut from steel salvaged from the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers.

“It is an extraordinary honor to have Pope Francis in New York State, a man who embodies the values of kind-hearted acceptance, care for others, and undying hope for the future – values that are also embodied in the fabric and people of New York,” said Governor Cuomo. “On behalf of all New Yorkers, I am proud to be hosting His Holiness this week, and I wish him the most enjoyable and peaceful time as he continues to inspire us all to strive for a better world.”

The cross is encased in a wooden box bearing English and Spanish inscriptions of the final lines of Emma Lazarus’ sonnet “The New Colossus,” which is also famously mounted on a plaque inside the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. It reads:

    "Give me your tired, your poor,
    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
    The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
    Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
    I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Accompanying the cross is this note to His Holiness from Governor Cuomo:

    “These simple, yet powerful, words grace the Statue of Liberty and represent New York State’s prayer for the world. Unbowed by the tragedy of September 11, 2001, New York remains a beacon of liberty and hope.

    “On behalf of all New Yorkers, we commemorate the visit to New York by His Holiness Pope Francis, September 24-25, 2015, with this gift of a cross forged from steel salvaged from the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers.”
On Thursday, Governor Cuomo greeted Pope Francis upon his arrival in New York City and attended evening prayer at St. Patrick's Cathedral. This morning, the Governor attended Pope Francis' service at the 9/11 Museum, this afternoon visited an East Harlem School with His Holiness, and this evening will attend his mass at Madison Square Garden tonight.

The events in New York are part of Pope Francis' first-ever trip to the United States.

Source: Press Office, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

Scholarships For Undocumented Students


By Laura Bohorquez and Mayu Takeda

“Being a Latina woman, who is undocumented and unafraid, I had to apply to many scholarships to be able to achieve my educational dreams. After much self-advocacy and community support, I have been able to earn 18 scholarships towards my undergraduate degree at the University of Washington, Bothell. Earning these scholarships has taught me the power of sharing my story of self as a 1.5 generation, undocumented immigrant. My scholarship donors and my community have made an investment into my life as a scholar. Their generous donation and support has allowed me to prioritize my time, by focusing on my studies and giving forward to my community.”

-Alejandra Perez, senior at University of Washington, Bothell

The fight towards education equity continues because it includes advocating across the multiple issues affecting our underrepresented communities.  One of the issues is making sure that all students regardless of their multiple identities is able to go to school if they choose to. However, some of the barriers impeding that this is possible for our undocumented community is the constant rise in tuition, the lack of access to federal financial aid and the varying state laws that prohibit undocumented community members to pay in-state tuition or attend at all. Because of this schools, private entities, and organizations have continued to invest in all students and have helped countless students go to college by supporting scholarship funds.
Below please find scholarships that have an upcoming deadline and that are open to undocumented students. These scholarships are provided by either foundations, organizations, or individual donors who believe that all students should have the opportunity to compete for resources that would make their educational dreams a reality.

Laura Bohorquez is coordinator for the Dream Educational Empowerment Program (DEEP). She can be reached at Mayu Takeda is an advocacy associate at Generation Progress and can be contacted at  

Undergraduate and Graduate Programs
Hit the Books Scholarship (Deadline 09/30/2015)
Scholarships for 2015 (Deadline 10/07/2015)
Single Mother’s Scholarship 2015 (Deadline 12/05/2015)
Scholarships (Deadline 03/31/2016

Undergraduate Programs Only 
National College Match (Deadline 09/28/2015)
Fall 2015 R’DREAM Book Grant (Deadline 10/04/2015)
Fall 2015 R’DREAM Scholarship (Deadline 10/11/2015)
2015 Youth Awards (Deadline 10/15/2015)
C4D Scholarship (Deadline 10/17/2015)  
Youth Volunteer Scholarship Award (Deadline 11/29/2015)
Foundation Scholarship (Deadline 12/04/2015)
Peace Scholarships(Deadline 03/01/2016)   
Leah Levy Memorial Scholarship (Deadline 04/15/2016)

Undergraduate and Vocational/Skills Training Programs
Live Your Dream Awards (Deadline 11/15/2015)

Graduate Programs Only
Boettcher Teacher Residency (Deadline 10/30/2015)
2016 Scholarship (Deadline 11/01/2015)
HACU-HSI Alumni Scholarship (Deadline 01/10/2016) 

Forte Fellows Program (No Deadline)


Source: The Latino Education and Advocacy Days (LEAD) Organization 

President Obama and Chinese President Xi Joint News Conference

President Obama and President Xi of the People’s Republic of China speak to reporters during a joint press conference at the White House. Topics include House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) decision to resign and cybersecurity.

Click here for video.

Source: C-Span

House Speaker Boehner Briefing on His Resignation

House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) speaks to reporters about his decision to step down from the speakership and resign from Congress at the end of October 2015.

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Source: C-Span

White House Arrival Ceremony for Chinese President

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama welcomed President Xi Jinping and Madame Peng Liyuan to the White House for an official State Visit.

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Source: C-Span

FPWA Launches Faith Leaders Anti-Poverty Agenda Series

From Left to Right: Rev. Karim Camara, Jennifer Jones Austin, and Rev. Michael A. Walrond, Jr. (Photo Credit: Josh Scott)

Thursday, September 24, 2015 (New York, NY) – The Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies (FWPA) and its CEO Jennifer Jones Austin, convened leaders in the faith community today for a panel presentation and feedback session designed to determine areas of opportunity on the City and State level for faith communities’ participation in poverty alleviation advocacy and action.

The panel presentation consisted of a briefing by FPWA’s Director of Policy, Emily Miles and featured remarks by Karim Camara, Executive Director of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Faith-Based Community Development Services and Rev. Michael A. Walrond, Jr., Senior Pastor of First Corinthian Baptist Church, and Chair of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Clergy Advisory Council. Jennifer Jones Austin moderated the discussion.

This is the first event in a three-part series that aims to identify key areas of impact for policy change and agree upon a series of issues to develop into policy priorities for the city and state.

“Faith leaders and institutions play a critical role in the development and success of our communities. This series of events are designed to provide faith leaders with the tools and opportunity to positively effect change through policy development and eventual implementation,” said FPWA CEO and Executive Director, Jennifer Jones Austin.

“The faith community is frequently called upon to temporarily help address emerging issues throughout the city, but is often left out of the decision making, policy driven process. The mission of the Mayor’s Clergy Advisory Council is to present a diverse faith community who can help develop solutions and ideas that can help ease some of the pertinent issues affecting our communities,” said Rev. Michael Walrond. Jr., Chair of the Mayor’s Clergy Advisory Council.

“There’s a great need for the faith community to lead and engage in the revival to address poverty. Faith leaders have an irrefutable understanding of their communities and the issues plaguing their neighborhoods. With a deeper understanding of policy issues, there’s tremendous potential for long term success,” said Rev. Karim Camara, Executive Director/Deputy Commissioner of the Governor’s Office of Faith Based Community Development Services.

From Left to Right: Revs Michael A. Walrond, Jr. and Karim Camara listen to Jennifer Jones Austin at Faith Leaders panel (Photo Credit: Josh Scott)

Source: The Federation Of Protestant Welfare Agencies

Public Reaction to Speaker Boehner Resignation

Viewers share comments on House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) announcement that he will resign both his speakership and House seat at the end of October.

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Source: C-Span

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi Weekly Briefing

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) fields questions on a range of issues during her weekly briefing with reporters at the U.S. Capitol. Expected topics include the upcoming debate on a Continuing Resolution to avoid a government shutdown. 

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Source: C-Span

Third Estimate of Gross Domestic Product for the Second Quarter of 2015

 Jason Furman
WASHINGTON, DC – Jason Furman, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, issued the following statement today on the third estimate of gross domestic product for the second quarter of 2015.  

Summary: GDP growth in the second quarter was revised up for a second time, as consumers spent more and businesses invested more than previously estimated.

Real GDP growth in the second quarter was revised up for a second time, as consumers spent more and businesses invested more than previously estimated. This morning’s report confirms that the economy grew at a much faster pace in the second quarter than in the first, with strong personal consumption leading the rebound. Over the first half of 2015, domestic demand remained robust, even as slowing foreign demand and reduced oil-driven drilling investment dragged on growth. Because we face global headwinds, it is essential that we continue to do everything we can to maintain America’s domestic economic momentum—including avoiding a return to fiscal brinksmanship or unnecessary austerity by passing a budget that reverses the sequester and avoids another government shutdown, increasing investments in infrastructure as part of a long-term transportation reauthorization, and other steps to foster long-term growth. 

1. Real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) rose 3.9 percent at an annual rate in the second quarter according to the BEA’s third estimate, well above the first quarter’s 0.6 percent pace. In the second quarter, the increase in GDP growth was led by a faster pace of personal consumption growth than in the first quarter. Structures investment, which declined in the first quarter amid low oil prices, was revised up and grew 6.2 percent at an annual rate. Overall, real GDP has now risen 2.7 percent over the past four quarters. Real Gross Domestic Output (GDO)—an alternative gauge of economic output that is potentially more accurate (though not typically stronger or weaker) over the long term, which BEA calls “the average of GDP and Gross Domestic Income (GDI)”—rose 2.3 percent in the second quarter and has risen 2.5 percent over the past four quarters, indicating a similar trend for growth as GDP albeit with a different quarterly pattern.

(Click on graphs to increase their size.)

2. The 0.2 percentage point upward revision to real second-quarter GDP growth is more than accounted for by improvements in the most stable and persistent components of economic output. Personal consumption growth contributed 0.3 percentage point to the total revision, reflecting upward revisions to various components of services consumption. Fixed investment contributed 0.2 percentage point, reflecting upward revisions to both business fixed investment and residential investment. Together, consumption and fixed investment constitute Private Domestic Final Purchases (PDFP), the largest and most stable component of output (see point 3 for more on PDFP). These revisions were partially offset by small downward revisions to inventory investment and net exports, two especially volatile components that generally provide less information about the path of future growth. 

3. Real private domestic final purchases (PDFP)—the sum of consumption and fixed investment—rose 3.9 percent at an annual rate in the second quarter and is growing at a faster year-over-year pace than overall GDP. Real PDFP—which excludes noisy components like net exports, inventories, and government spending—is generally a more reliable indicator of next-quarter GDP growth than current GDP. PDFP aims to measure signals of future economic growth by eliminating some of the noisy components in GDP. Of course, to the extent that systematic patterns emerge in global growth, for example, the information contained in noisier components like net exports may be valuable—and they should not be ignored.

Because the GDP revision was concentrated in consumption and fixed investment, PDFP was revised up by 0.6 percentage point, considerably more than overall GDP. Over the past four quarters, PDFP grew by 3.5 percent, a faster rate than overall GDP growth. Similar to the relationship between GDP and PDFP, the sum of wages and corporate profits is an especially important component of Gross Domestic Income (GDI), the income-side output measure that is averaged with GDP to produce GDO. While PDFP tends to predict next-quarter GDP especially well, wages and profits tend to predict GDP over the next four quarters well—despite being more volatile than PDFP. Real wages and profits have grown 2.6 percent over the past four quarters, roughly in line with current trends in GDP and GDO.

4. Gross domestic output (GDO)—the average of GDP and GDI—does a better job predicting next quarter’s GDP growth than GDP itself, but PDFP has even more predictive power. The table below shows the results from a series of regressions in which the last four quarters of output growth—according to various measures—are used to predict next quarter’s GDP growth. The analysis uses data from 1984 to 2014. The results show that the growth rate of GDO in each of the last four quarters is a better predictor of GDP than GDP itself—and just as good a predictor as GDI. In addition to the three measures of aggregate output, the table shows the predictive power of PDFP and wages and profits. PDFP has the most power of any of the measures to predict future economic growth.

5. Over the first half of 2015, GDP grew at a slightly lower pace than in the prior two years, as exports and drilling investment grew below the earlier pace but non-drilling business investment grew faster. Two major headwinds weighed on GDP in the first half of the year: a slight decline in exports as we faced slowing demand from abroad and a sharp decline in drilling investment as producers faced lower oil prices. But core components of domestic demand remained resilient. Personal consumption contributed roughly the same amount to growth over the first half of 2015 as it did over 2013 and 2014. Business fixed investment—when excluding the contributions of drilling—has grown at a successively faster pace in each calendar year, led by rising investment in research and development and other intellectual property investment.

As the Administration stresses every quarter, GDP figures can be volatile and are subject to substantial revision. Therefore, it is important not to read too much into any one single report, and it is informative to consider each report in the context of other data that are becoming available.

Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary

Trailblazers in Black History: Maggie L. Walker, Banking Mogul

Today in History: September 25th

Pope Francis Addresses U.N. General Assembly

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Source: C-Span

Interfaith Meeting with Pope Francis at 9/11 Memorial

Pope Francis attends an interfaith meeting at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in New York City.

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Source: C-Span

Women Complain to FDA About Birth Control Device

Women who received a metallic birth control implant are urging health regulators to pull the device from the market, citing problems including severe pain, irregular bleeding and weight gain.

The Essure implant has been sold for more than a decade and is frequently pitched to women as the only non-surgical option for permanent birth control. Manufacturer Bayer estimates 750,000 women have received the device since 2002.

But since 2013, the Food and Drug Administration has received thousands of complaints about the device from women and doctors. While the product's label warns about pelvic pain and bleeding immediately after the procedure, many women say these problems persisted and were so severe they required invasive surgery to remove the device.

The FDA convened a panel of outside experts Thursday to review the device's safety and effectiveness. 

Click here for the full article.

Source: NBC News

Jeb Bush: I'll Offer Black Voters Hope, Not 'Free Stuff'



Jeb Bush suggested on Thursday that he wants to promise African-American voters "hope and aspiration" rather than "free stuff."

Asked by a white man at a South Carolina event how he planned to reach out to the black community, Bush responded: "Our message is one of hope and aspiration. It isn't one of division and get in line and we'll take care of you with free stuff. Our message is one that is uplifting — that says you can achieve earned success."

The comment, which was first highlighted by the Washington Post, is akin to remarks made by Mitt Romney during his 2012 bid for president.

Romney, who won just six percent of the black vote, was criticized for suggesting in 2012 that he would shun voters interested in "more free stuff." That remark came after Romney was booed by the crowd at an N.A.A.C.P. event. 

Click here for the full article.

Source: NBC News 

First Read: 2016 Hopefuls Court Religious Conservatives

By , and

First Read is a morning briefing from Meet the Press and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.

Why today's Values Voter gathering will be fascinating to watch

Today's Values Voter summit in DC, sponsored by the socially conservative Family Research Council, couldn't be coming at a more fascinating time politically -- sandwiched between Pope Francis' address to Congress yesterday and the congressional action against Planned Parenthood that could lead to a government shutdown. Given Francis' admonition against polarization, just how heated will the rhetoric against Planned Parenthood be at the Values Voters gathering, especially from the GOP presidential candidates? And given that no one yesterday was on Cloud Nine more than House Speaker John Boehner (see all of the tears he had to wipe away), does the brewing conservative GOP insurrection against him subside for a few days? Or have things already snapped back? Those are the questions we have this morning before the Values Voter speeches get started this morning. And here's the lineup: Marco Rubio speaks at 9:25 am ET, Ted Cruz at 10:15 am, Rick Santorum at 11:00 am, Donald Trump at 11:40 am, Mike Huckabee at 2:40 pm, Ben Carson 3:00 pm, as well as Bobby Jindal and Rick Perry (who is no longer in the GOP race).  

Pope's U.N. Speech Will Kick Off Busy N.Y. Day

John Boehner Reportedly Resigning From Congress


Republican House Speaker John Boehner is reportedly set to resign from Congress before the end of the year.

Booming Ivory Coast Faces Elections with Confidence

Reuters, 25/09 16:12 CET

By Loucoumane Coulibaly

ABIDJAN (Reuters) – From Abidjan airport’s packed arrivals hall to the hotels and plush villas mushrooming across the city, Ivory Coast is booming, a rare African bright spot as the world’s biggest cocoa producer bounces back from years of turmoil and civil war.

With elections due in a month, many Ivorians had expected a post-conflict growth spurt to pause for breath, but such is the confidence in a smooth vote and second term for incumbent Alassane Ouattara the expected blip has failed to materialise.

The government is predicting growth of 9.6 percent this year, making the former French colony the stand-out performer on a continent being hammered by a slump in commodity prices, capital outflows and tumbling currencies.

Nor do Abidjan’s projections look fanciful.

The International Monetary Fund’s assessment is only marginally less bullish. And the bustle on the streets of the commercial capital attests to the turn-around in the four years since the nation’s second civil war in less than a decade killed 3,000 people.

Click here for the full article.

Source: Euronews

Ukraine Bans Russian Airlines as Part of War Sanctions

Reuters, 25/09 16:06 CET

By Pavel Polityuk

KIEV (Reuters) – Ukraine is banning flights by Russian airlines from Oct. 25 as part of a wave of sanctions against Russia over its support for separatists in the east of the country, the government said on Friday.

Kiev said last week it was imposing restrictions on more than 90 companies or groups, mostly from Russia, and including airlines Transaero <TAER.MM> and Aeroflot <AFLT.MM>, the national flag carrier.

Spelling out the details of the sanctions, Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk told a government meeting: “In accordance with a decision by the Security Council, the government of Ukraine is adopting a decision to ban flights by Russian companies, primarily Aeroflot and Transaero, to Ukraine.”

Click here for the full article.

Source: Euronews 

Residents of Russian-Held Isles Disputed by Japan Await Diplomatic Resolution

Reuters, 25/09 15:29 CET

By Hyun Oh

KUNASHIR, Kurile Islands (Reuters) – Russian residents of an island chain at the center of a dispute between Japan and Russia that has held up a treaty to formally end World War Two hope a diplomatic solution will lure tourists and investment to help refurbish rickety infrastructure.

Ties have been soured since the waning days of the war, when Soviet forces seized the Pacific islands known in Russia as the Southern Kuriles, but which Japan calls the Northern Territories, and forced out 17,000 Japanese residents.

In an effort to improve relations and narrow differences over the dispute, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to hold a summit meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly next Monday.

Click here for the full article.

Source: Euronews

Hammond: Assad Must Go But Might Need to Talk to Him

 British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond

Reuters, 25/09 15:27 CET

PARIS (Reuters) – Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad must go but it might be necessary to talk with him as part of a deal on a transition of power, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said in an interview published by French daily Le Monde on Friday.

Departing from a strict U.S. and Western policy of not talking with Assad, Hammond expressed concerns over Russia’s role in the country, which has been torn apart by four years of civil war.

“Assad must go, he can’t be part of Syria’s future,” Hammond said, according to Le Monde’s French translation of the interview.

He added: “If we reach a deal on a transition authority and Assad is part of it, then it will be necessary to talk with him in his capacity as an actor in this process.”

Click here for the full article. 

Source: Euronews