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Foreign Leaders Contradict Obama Administration Testimony To Rubio Regarding Iran, Colombia
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and chairman of the Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights and Global Women’s Issues, today issued the following statement regarding evidence contradicting Obama Administration officials’ testimony in Senate hearings regarding the United States’ Arab allies’ support for the Iran deal and discussions about the release of Colombian narco-terrorist Simón Trinidad:
“Once again, the Obama Administration says one thing about their negotiations while foreign leaders say something completely different. The most recent examples regarding discussions of Simón Trinidad’s potential release and King Salman’s support of the Iran nuclear negotiations show once again that the Obama Administration isn’t telling the American people what is really being discussed at these talks.”
In March, Rubio told Secretary of State John Kerry the negotiations with Iran had impacted our trust level with Sunni allies in the region, to which Kerry responded that Rubio was “flat wrong,” and that all Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) allies had articulated their support. Earlier this week, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman pulled out of a summit being hosted by President Obama tomorrow, signaling the Arab states aren’t on board with negotiations and would continue to act on their own to thwart Iran.
In a subcommittee hearing earlier this month, John D. Feeley, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, told Rubio the Colombians had not asked for Trinidad to be released, but in an interview with BBC HARDtalk, Sergio Jaramillo, Colombia’s High Commissioner for Peace, said Trinidad has been discussed with U.S. officials “at different and highest levels.”
Transcripts of both exchanges are available below.
Hearing on the President’s Request for Authorization to Use Force Against ISIS: Military and Diplomatic Efforts
Senate Foreign Relations Committee
March 11, 2015
Senator Marco Rubio: “Well and I wanted to touch on that point because General Dempsey a moment ago outlined the need to have a broad coalition that I imagined involves these Sunni countries, for example the Jordanians, the Saudis, the UAE and others. These are also countries by the way that are deeply concerned about Iran and they feel – isn’t it right that they feel that we’ve kept them in the dark about our negotiations with Iran? In essence the way we’ve proceeded with our negotiations in Iran have impacted our trust level with these critical allies in this coalition.”
Secretary John Kerry: “Senator that actually is flat wrong also. Flat wrong.”
Rubio: “They said so publicly.”
Kerry: “It’s flat wrong. I just came back from a meeting in the Gulf in Riyadh, I met with King Salman who completely supported what we’re doing. I met with all of the GCC members, they all sat around the table, and they all articulated their support for what we’re doing and they believe we are better off trying to prevent them from getting a bomb diplomatically first, providing, of course, that it actually prevents them from getting that bomb. That’s the test of this, and a whole bunch of people are trying to give this a grade before the test has even been taken.”
Rubio: “So you’re saying here today that our allies in the region, our Sunni allies, the Saudis, the UAE, the Egyptians, and others are perfectly comfortable with where the negotiations stand at this moment?”
Kerry: “No, I didn’t say that. I did not say that. They’re not perfectly comfortable, they’re nervous, they’re apprehensive, of course they are. They want to make sure that in fact, just as members of Congress want to make sure that the deal that is struck, if one can be struck now, will in fact prevent them from getting a weapon.”
Rubio: “Have you shared with them the details of where it stands right now?”
Kerry: “We shared considerable details with them, absolutely.”
Rubio: “And are they apprehensive about that? Or are they comfortable with what you shared with them?”
Kerry: “They’re comfortable with that we shared with them and Saud al-Faisal, the senior Foreign Minister in the world I might add, publically sat with me at a press conference in which he articulated their support for what we’re doing.”
Hearing on Review of Resources, Priorities and Programs in the FY 2016 State Department Budget Request
Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights and Global Women’s Issues
May 5, 2015
Senator Marco Rubio: “I wanted to first touch on Columbia and the negations going on with the FARC. Has the Santos administration asked for Simón Trinidad’s release or temporary release for the purposes of our participating in the peace negations?”
John D. Feeley: “Mr. Chairman, the Colombians have not asked us to release Simón Trinidad.”
Rubio: “Are you prepared today on behalf of the administration to state that the release of Mr. Trinidad from U.S. custody as a part of any future deal between Colombia and the FARC is off the table?”
Feeley: “Senator, as you well know, Mr. Trinidad is incarcerated in the United States for very serious crimes, and I have to be honest I cannot make final decisions that will be made by my superiors. What I will tell you is that our extradition relationship with Colombia is one of the most fruitful. I was privileged to participate in the beginning of it before they had extradition of Columbian nationals, and President Santos and his negotiating team know what an incredibly serious tool this is and the priority that we make keeping our extradition relationship strong with Colombia.”
Rubio: “But you can’t say that as of this moment you are not aware of any efforts to either release or temporarily release Mr. Trinidad?”
Feeley: “What I can tell you sir is I am not aware of any effort.”