SECRETARY KERRY: I’m going to say, if I may – if I could have everybody’s attention just for a minute.
FOREIGN MINISTER TSHIBANDA: I’m going to speak in French.
(Via interpreter) Mr. Secretary of State, on behalf of the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo, on behalf of the head of state and on my own personal behalf, I would like to welcome you to our country. We are very happy you have found time to come to meet us, and that is extra proof of the interest that you are showing towards the D.R.C. I do believe that during the brief time that you will spend here with us, we’ll have time to update on the various issues of interest to us both bilaterally and regionally.
SECRETARY KERRY: (In French.)
And I’m going to speak in English because I want to make a few comments regarding some other issues. But let me say what a pleasure it is for me to be in the Democratic Republic of Congo. I have wanted to be here for some period of time. As many people know, our special envoy, Senator Russ Feingold, has been here nine visits now working very hard to advance the peace process and the stability of the region. We’re very proud of the work that he has been doing and we’re very, very pleased with the leadership of President Kabila, of the accords that have been reached, and of the progress towards disarmament and reintegration and demobilization. These are critical, critical issues.
We’ll talk about those more and I will have a chance to meet with the press here so I can answer a few questions and talk about the issues here. But I would like to comment on another issue of great importance to all of us, which is what is happening in Ukraine.
Obviously, we were very pleased that the seven OSCE inspectors were released today. It’s a step. But there are many other steps that have to be taken in order to be able to de-escalate the situation. And I talked this afternoon on my way here with Foreign Minister Lavrov. We discussed those additional steps that need to be taken. And in addition to that, we also talked about the meeting between President Obama and Chancellor Merkel. And I reiterated to him their conclusion that it is important for Russia to withdraw support from the separatists and to assist in removing people from the buildings and beginning to de-escalate the situation.
The President has made clear and the chancellor has made clear that if those supported by Russia continue to interfere with the election, regrettably, there will have to be additional sanctions, including the possibility of – or the reality of sector sanctions. But Foreign Minister Lavrov and I did talk about how to proceed and perhaps how to find a way forward here. We both will be in touch with President Burkhalter of Switzerland and talk about the ability of the OSCE to play a larger role in perhaps facilitating the de-escalation. We will both advance ideas about how to do that, without any promises of what those possibilities may produce.
In the end, we reaffirmed our support for the OSCE. I made clear that it is important to implement the constitutional process and that we need to have some kind of dialogue that is taking place between the Government of Ukraine, people in the east, and those interested stakeholders in the region.
We also discussed the ongoing removal of chemical weapons from Syria. And in that regard, I press that we must see the last removal of the 8 percent remaining in a site near Damascus. We agreed that we would work on certain things to try to see if it is possible to accelerate that process with an understanding that the Government of Syria cannot delay. The regime must move immediately to prepare those remaining chemical weapons for removal, and that we need to meet that removal as fast as possible.
So that is where we stand with respect to both Syria and Ukraine, and we’ll keep you up to date as any developments occur.
QUESTION: So the release of the monitors (inaudible) Ukrainian side?
SECRETARY KERRY: No.
Thank you all very much.
Oh, I forgot, the other issue, and that is the level of violence. The United States condemns the violence that has been taking place by any side, and that includes the violence of anyone who lit a fire and caused the death of those 38 people or more in the building in Odessa. All of this violence is absolutely unacceptable, and Russia, the United States, Ukrainians, Europeans, the OSCE – all of us bear responsibility to do everything in our power to reduce the capacity of militants and extremists who are armed to be carrying out these terrorist and violent activities. They must end, and everybody with any influence on any party has an obligation to try to bring an end to this violence.
Thank you all.