POLITICS: PennAve

White House sees 'uptick in threat reporting' ahead of Sochi Olympics

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Politics,White House,Olympics,Russia,National Security,PennAve,Meghashyam Mali,Jay Carney,Foreign Policy,Sochi

The White House said Wednesday that there had been an “uptick” in reports of terror threats ahead of the Sochi Winter Olympics and that the U.S. had offered Russia its “full support” on security.

“We have seen an uptick in threat reporting prior to the Olympics, which is, of course, of concern,” said White House press secretary Jay Carney.

“Although it is also not unusual for a major international event,” he added. “And we have offered ... assistance to the Russians — any assistance they might not — that they might need to counter that threat.”

Carney, though, declined to say if Russia had accepted any of the security help offered by the Obama administration.

“We're having ongoing conversations with the Russians about this and have offered any assistance that we can provide,” he said, noting that any security decisions were solely at Russia’s discretion. “They obviously have the lead for security at the Olympics; they are the host nation.”

Carney's comments come amid growing concern about security at the Winter Games following a number of terrorist bombings in Russia by Islamist groups seeking greater autonomy from Moscow.

President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke on Tuesday about a number of issues including measures for a “safe and secure Sochi Olympics, for which the United States has offered its full assistance,” according to the White House.

Putin has increased security in the country, with reports saying that an additional 30,000 troops had been moved to the region hosting the Olympics.

The White House in January said it wanted “closer cooperation” on security with Russia and offered assistance. The Pentagon is also moving two Navy ships to the Black Sea to provide support if needed.

“Russian authorities will be responsible for overall security at the Olympics, and the State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security has the security lead for the United States,” said Carney on Wednesday.

“We will send diplomatic security and FBI agents to liaise with host nation security and law enforcement officials, and that's standard operating procedure for large events like this where thousands of U.S. citizens, athletes from Team USA, American corporate sponsors and members of the U.S. media are present for an extended period of time,” he added.

Congressional lawmakers have also voiced concerns about the safety of American athletes, with House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., saying he was “very concerned” about the security situation.

In an interview Sunday on NBC's “Meet the Press,” Rogers said that there had been a “departure of cooperation that is very concerning” between the U.S. and Russia and urged Moscow to be more straightforward with Washington about security threats and their preparations.

Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, said Sunday that he would not attend the Olympic games and would not allow his family members to either, citing terror fears.

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