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THE REGULAR STATE DEPARTMENT BRIEFING WITH SPOKESMAN, MARIE HARF MARIE HARF: Hi, everyone. Welcome to the daily press briefing, the last of the week. Q: Yay. MS. HARF: Woo! Yeah, I feel that. Let me just start with a couple of items at the top. You may have all seen this already, but today Secretary Kerry announced the appointment of General John Allen as the special presidential envoy for the global coalition against ISIL. In this role, General Allen will help continue to build, coordinate and sustain a global coalition across multiple lines of efforts to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL. General Allen will report to Secretary Kerry and will -- excuse me, guys, it's a Friday. I'm going to start that sentence over. General Allen will report to Secretary Kerry and will work closely with the Department of Defense to match specific campaign requirements and coalition needs with potential contributors, providing high-level diplomatic support to coordinate a global coalition that delivers tangible results. General Allen will be supported by a deputy senior envoy, Brett McGurk, who will also continue to serve as our deputy assistant secretary for Near Eastern affairs. Q: Can I just ask a technical question about that? MS. HARF: You can. Q: You said his title is special presidential envoy, yet he reports to the secretary of state? Is that -- is that normal? MS. HARF: That's correct. There's some unique staffing title -- like that. Yeah, it's just bureaucratic, Matt. Q: Oh, I know. MS. HARF: OK. Travel update. Secretary Kerry is on travel to Ankara, Turkey, as you know. He had a series of productive meetings with President Erdogon, Prime Minister Davotoglu, and his new counterpart, foreign minister. As we confront the significant challenges in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere, the partnership we share with Turkey is especially critical. Turkey plays a key role in bolstering the security and stability of the entire region, and together we work to pursue these goals together every day. Tomorrow, the secretary travels to Cairo to meet with senior Egyptian officials to discuss bilateral and regional issues of mutual concern. Additionally, as you probably saw, the secretary just announced an additional nearly $500 million in humanitarian aid to help those affected by the war in Syria. This is the largest funding announcement made by the United States in response to the largest appeal the United Nations has ever issued. Two more quick items at the top. This morning, Undersecretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman participated in our Office of the Chief of Protocol's State of the Administration speaker series. In so doing, she briefed the Washington diplomatic corps on critical global issues in advance of the 69th session of the U.N. General Assembly. In her remarks, she addressed our negotiations with Iran on the nuclear issue as well as the challenges posed by ISIL; also, the Ebola virus and current events in, among other places, Iraq, Syria and Ukraine. This is a series we do that provides chief of -- chiefs of mission posted in Washington with an opportunity to interact directly with senior members of the U.S. government and thought this was an important time for all of them to come in advance of UNGA. Last item at the top, and then over to you, Matt. We are saddened to learn of the passing of Reverend Doctor Ian Paisley, a significant figure in the history of Northern Ireland. Dr. Paisley, who later became Lord -- excuse me, Lord Bannside, led by the forces of his convictions during the most turbulent and divisive years of Northern Ireland's past. Over the course of the region's collective effort to build piece, he took the necessary and courageous steps to embrace power-sharing, a move that resulted in renewed stability and hope for Northern Ireland. We send our condolences to his family as they mourn his loss. Matt. Q: OK. Can we start with the secretary and Turkey? Not so much about his visit, which has been covered pretty well, but one thing. He did say something about co-chairing a meeting with the Turks on -- counterterrorism meeting coming up at the -- at the U.N.? MS. HARF: We'll have some more information about that specifically and some unrelated things on Monday for you. Q: Oh, OK, because I was under the impression it was going to be something today. Anyway, on -- MS. HARF: (Inaudible) -- a little bit, but -- Q: OK. But I have a broader question about Turkey and its -- the secretary was engaged with Turkey and Qatar during the whole Gaza crisis -- MS. HARF: He was. Mmm hmm. Q: -- because they had influence with Hamas, correct? MS. HARF: Mmm hmm. Q: And Hamas is a -- MS. HARF: In part. Q: Yeah. Well, they have -- in fact, Turkey and Qatar host senior officials of Hamas, which is a terrorist organization. I'm wondering, simply because you share an anti-ISIS/ISIL goal with the Turks -- and leave the Qataris aside for a moment -- why it is that Turkey should be considered appropriate, an appropriate co-host for a counterterrorism meeting or even a counterterrorism -- a broad counterterrorism effort when even you, by -- with your own actions, suggest that they are -- that they are a supporter of a terrorist organization? MS. HARF: Well, they're -- let's -- the word "supporter" though, I would not use that word when it came -- comes to Turkey and Hamas. Obviously, they have a relationship with Hamas that has been -- played a productive role in terms of cease-fire negotiations. I think a couple things. First, Turkey is a NATO ally. We have a close counterterrorism relationship with them that predated the current situation we're dealing with with ISIS. So that's certainly been something that's been ongoing. And I would also say that ISIS is obviously a specific threat. They know our position on Hamas, but the situation in Gaza, what's going on there is separate from how we work together with countries on fighting ISIS. Q: So there is not two -- there are not distinction -- but are there distinctions -- does the administration make a distinction between a terrorist organization that -- a designated foreign terrorist organization like Hamas and a designated foreign terrorist organization like ISIS? MS. HARF: Well, a distinction in what way? They're different groups. Q: Well -- MS. HARF: They have different goals and different capabilities and different aims. Q: Yeah, but are they -- but if -- but if they're on the same level, if they're both equally as -- let's use the word "bad", why is a supporter or a host of one of them still a counterterrorism partner? MS. HARF: Well, I'm not-- well, I'm not going to equate them. First of all, the level of brutality we've seen from ISIS, you've heard the president and the secretary and everybody speak about it recently, is what has prompted us to undertake a coordinated counterterrorism campaign led by the United States and other partners against ISIS. That's obviously something very different than the situation with Hamas, who, you're right, is a designated foreign terrorist organization, has threatened Israelis, poses a serious threat to Israelis, but for -- to get a cease-fire in place, you need to parties to agree to that. Q: Does the administration -- not -- does the administration believe that Hamas is somehow less bad than ISIS is? MS. HARF: It's not about being less bad, it's about what the threat is, the threat that each group poses, where they pose it, how they pose it, and how you confront it. When it comes to Gaza, we believe that a cease-fire, getting one in place, would be in the best interests of Israel's security who's under threat from Hamas. So it's just the tools you use different places. Q: OK. And do you know if -- do you know if the secretary got any more assurances, publicly or -- well, I would say privately -- about Turkey and its commitment to the coalition? MS. HARF: Well, he addressed this in his press availability. Each country will continue making their own decisions about how they participate. Obviously, there are roles each country can play, but we'll let Turkey speak for themselves. Q: (Off mic) -- follow up on Hamas, question on the characterization or the classification of Hamas. So you don't see Hamas as basically part -- however you want to define it, part of a national liberation that is working towards a certain geography versus ISIS that has apparently no boundaries and no borders and no national goal at the end? You don't see it that way? MS. HARF: Well, I said Hamas as a foreign terrorist organization and designated as such poses a significant threat to Israel. They are also responsible for security in Gaza, which is what we've talked about. So obviously, the brutality that ISIS has posed across Iraq, across Syria, potentially elsewhere in the region and around the world, is just different in nature, looks different, and the tools we use to confront that terrorism will be then different. Not going to get into the business of ranking terrorist organizations. Q: No, I mean, not ranking, but you do recognize that Hamas does not have a global reach, for instance. Does it have a global reach? MS. HARF: I would -- I would agree with you that I would not say that Hamas and ISIS have the same goals -- stated goals about what their -- what their plans are that they've said publicly. But obviously Hamas has caused quite a bit of destruction and death, particularly in Israel. Q: OK, let me just quickly follow-up on this issue, because I want to understand your position on this. Now, are you aware of a threat or any time or any actions, certainly any terrorist actions that Hamas may have committed against the interests of the United States in the United States or elsewhere? MS. HARF: In the history of Hamas? Q: In the history of Hamas. Can you remember -- MS. HARF: I can check, Said. Obviously Hamas is a very serious threat. I want to be clear here. But I don't want to compare them to ISIS, not because what they've done and how they've threatened Israelis isn't just as bad, but it's on a different scale. They have different goals. They have different capabilities. I mean, they just -- it's a completely different situation. Q: Mmm hmm. But you are on record saying that Hamas needs -- knows what it needs to do in order for you to recognize it as a political player in Middle East peace, which is to recognize the state of Israel, to recognize all the protocols that have been signed by the Palestinian Authority, by doing all these things. So Hamas does have some redeeming value, correct, in this case? Or -- MS. HARF: Well, I don't think I'm going to use the term redeeming value, but what I will say is -- Q: OK, I mean, how -- what would you call it? MS. HARF: I am not going to compare them to ISIS. I think the level of brutality that we have seen out of ISIS is something that we have not seen from many other even terrorist groups. So I think we have seen -- what we have seen with the beheadings, with the -- with the rapes, the -- people being forced into slavery. And then, on top of that, the capabilities -- taking over territory, taking over heavy weaponry. That's a combination that we haven't necessarily seen elsewhere and so I don't want to compare them to Hamas in any way. Q: And finally -- and finally, as pertains to Hamas, they just announced that they are open to talks with Israel. Do you think this as a step forward towards the issue that you -- you know, that -- or how can Hamas be recognized as a player in the peace process? MS. HARF: Well, obviously I've seen some of those reports of those comments. When it comes to the peace process, we've always made very clear what Hamas will have to do. And out outlined some of them, right, in addition to recognizing Israel, living by -- you know, agreeing to live by past agreements -- there are a whole host of things, right? Again, Hamas is still a terrorist organization and we consider them as such. We just have to look at what happened during Gaza to see the rockets that they were firing indiscriminately at citizens in Israel to know that. But again, I think we need to be very careful when we talk about and compare different terrorist groups. Each one is a little different. Each one has different capabilities. Each one has different aims. There are tools we use to combat each one that may be different. And lumping them all together doesn't help us fight them, because you're not talking about the threat precisely and therefore aren't talking about how you deal with it precisely. And I think I would encourage people to be very precise when they do talk about these threats. Yes, Michael. Q: I have a similar line of questioning, but a little nuance, so bear with me with these. The president has said he will destroy ISIS, wherever they exist they will find no safe haven. I presume that does not exclude cities such as Raqqah, its primary haven. Is that correct? MS. HARF: He said wherever they exist, no safe haven. Q: OK. Have you seen eyewitness reports on the ground, including from The New York Times, that the civilian populations in Raqqah are dispersing from densely populated residential neighborhoods where ISIS keeps headquarters? MS. HARF: I haven't seen those reports, but what I will say -- and I think this might be your follow up and I'm not sure if it is, so if it's not ask another one -- but we've all been clear, the president's been clear, that when we undertake counterterrorism operations, we take civilian casualties very seriously, go to even length we can to prevent them, even if -- and especially if these terrorists are operating in densely populated areas. We know that's a challenge. Certainly in Iraq, I mean, it's also been a challenge. But we are very careful when we undertake counterterrorism operations. Q: OK, so -- I mean -- sorry, just a couple more. MS. HARF: No, yeah. Q: This was my follow-up question. I'm going to ask it anyway. Does -- the following policy, as you've said it, this building has said it, applied to this current significant counterterrorism effort -- MS. HARF: Always, yeah. Q: Well, the exact words he used was that the suspicion based on intelligence that militants are operating nearby does not justify the killing of civilians. Does it apply? MS. HARF: Well, you're referring to what I said about Gaza. Q: I am, but does it apply to -- MS. HARF: OK, and you're trying to compare two fully different situations. Q: Well, does -- I'll read it again. Does the suspicion that militants are operating nearby a civilian populated area justify the killing of civilians? Does that not apply to this current -- MS. HARF: Well, I just outlined for you how we look at -- how we take into account civilian casualties when we are looking at potential counterterrorism operations targets. Q: Right. MS. HARF: So the president has spoken very clearly to the fact that we take every precaution, hold ourselves to a very high standard, to prevent civilian casualties, and when we look at potential targets for counterterrorism operations are very precise in doing so, exhibit a great level of precision. I think you can look at some of our efforts to see that. So again, I don't want to compare the two in any way. We certainly hold ourselves to a high standard and we have called on the Israelis to hold themselves to a high standard as well. Q: Absolutely. The reason I ask is because when the president says, wherever they exist they will find no safe haven, I'm going to ask you what -- MS. HARF: Right, but that doesn't mean he's not going to take into account the potential of civilians present if there's a counterterrorism target. Q: Right. Well, and I'm going to ask you what Israeli officials ask themselves all the time when it comes to Hamas in Gaza, which is if you're only using airpower, if you have vowed nothing less than the destruction of the group, of the terrorist group, and these civilian populations are safe havens in one respect or another, how are you going to destroy the group? MS. HARF: Well, you can do both. It's not an either/or proposition here, Michael, and I would encourage people to not look at it that way. You can say, we will do everything to destroy this group. If that means waiting until there are fewer civilians in a specific area to take some sort of counterterrorism operation, we've done that before. If it means taking extra precautions to make sure that civilians aren't killed, we've done that before. We will stay with this fight no matter how long it takes, but we do take extraordinary care when it comes to civilian casualties. And you can do both, though. They're not incompatible with one another. You just have to be very precise about what tools you use, when you use them, and how you use them. Q: The Israelis would say that a ground operation, as was displayed in the last Gaza operation, is taking extraordinary care, extra care because it does what air operations cannot. If the president's top generals of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, if the defense secretary say that, we advise a small contingent of ground troops, will the president -- MS. HARF: It's a false comparison. It's a totally -- it's a totally false comparison. Q: OK, separate from the comparison, is it -- MS. HARF: The president has been clear there will not be troops on the ground in combat roles, period. He's been clear about that. That is a fundamental principle of what we're doing here. And I would note that airstrikes, if that's a tool that we end up using -- obviously we've already used it in Iraq -- can be incredibly precise. And I just don't want to compare the situations at all. We hold ourselves to a very high standard. We've asked the Israelis to do the same thing and we've spoken up when we don't think that they have. Q: Just two more from me, just to clarify. If these top generals, if the Joint Chiefs were to request a small contingent, it's not -- it's not on the table for the president regardless of that request or that advice. MS. HARF: I don't want to address a hypothetical. The president has been clear that -- Q: So it hasn't happened yet. It's a hypothetical. MS. HARF: I'm not -- well, you posed it as a hypothetical. Q: OK. MS. HARF: I'm not going to address any sort of how we would talk about something internally. The president has been clear there will be no troops on the ground in combat roles. Q: And the last one for me is, is Israel a member of your coalition against ISIS? MS. HARF: Well, we have seen -- I think -- president, excuse me -- Prime Minister Netanyahu today -- let me pull up the comments he made at Herzliya. What? Oh, I thought it was today. Maybe it was yesterday, sorry -- recent comments. We appreciate the prime minister's statement of support for our policy. Obviously we are working with a number of countries in a variety of ways against the threat ISIL poses to these countries, to the region, and we welcome the prime minister's support. Q: Would you -- would you -- would you ask the Israelis to join this counterterrorism meeting that the secretary is going to cohost with the Turks in New York? MS. HARF: I don't have any more details on that, Matt. We may have more -- (Cross talk.) Q: All right, find out, because in the past -- excuse me -- MS. HARF: Let me check. Q: -- in the past Turkey has objected to Israel's participation in that. And then just one more thing. Given the fact that there have been civilian casualties as a result of U.S. airstrikes, drone strikes, whatever, in the past -- I mean, no one's perfect. I'm not saying -- suggesting that anyone is -- but would you say that the United States needs to do more to -- needs to do more to hold -- to meet the high standards -- MS. HARF: No, I say Israel needs to do more. Q: Yeah, but would you also agree that the United States needs to do more -- MS. HARF: I think -- Q: -- because, in effect, you don't have a perfect record and there are plenty -- there's plenty of evidence that civilians have been killed and -- MS. HARF: I think we go to every length possible, extraordinary lengths, to ensure that we do not put civilians in harm's way, period. I know the standards are incredibly high. The president spoke about it at his NDU speech when he really outlined our counterterrorism operational strategy and they're incredibly high. Q: Does the administration believe that it is living up to its own high standard? MS. HARF: Yes, we do, absolutely. Q: But it does not believe that Israel is. MS. HARF: We have said in this specific conflict we believe they should do more. Q: OK. (Cross talk.) MS. HARF: Let's do ISIS and then we'll go to Turkey. Yes. Q: On ISIS, I was wondering if you had noticed what -- we had noticed that ISIS' activities on Twitter had been curtailed. I don't know if that is the case. Has the U.S. government had any kind of interference in this, or was it -- do you know if it's a decision by Twitter? MS. HARF: I don't. It's a good -- and I know you had asked me this earlier, and some other folks had noticed as well. The answer is, I don't know. Let me check into that after the briefing. Obviously, Twitter makes its own decision about its own policies. The answer is, I just really don't know. Q: You don't know? OK. And then, just yesterday, I asked you about -- on the rebels -- the moderates. Do -- the next step, if you want to, you know, give the rebels more punch, you would -- would the next step be not only training, but arming them? MS. HARF: Training and equipping. That's what the president spoke about in his speech -- the proposal we put before Congress for the Department of Defense to train and equip. We talked about it a little bit yesterday. That's all part of that practice. Q: But what -- under this coalition, is it -- would one assume that only the U.S. is going to be equipping them, or would one also see other countries -- (inaudible) -- MS. HARF: We'll see what other countries would like to contribute. Obviously, we are very specific and careful when we vet the members of the opposition we provide military assistance to. We talked about it a little bit yesterday; the Saudis have agreed to play a part in this effort, so that's a conversation that's ongoing. Q: So the Saudis have only talked -- because I'm just trying to clarify -- the Saudis have only talked about training, but not equipping. MS. HARF: And we're continuing to have the conversation with people. Q: Has anybody else committed to equipping? MS. HARF: The moderate opposition? I can check on that for you. Let me go to the back. Go ahead, Julianna (sp). Q: Thanks. I just want to follow up on the question about Twitter. How effective have the administration's efforts been to combat the ISIS propaganda machine? MS. HARF: Well, I think -- first, I'd say this isn't just an administration effort. Part of what we're doing with this coalition is bringing together countries that, through their own leaders -- their own religious leaders -- respective religious voices, can step up and say that ISIL's message is not Islamic, they do not represent their religion -- really push back on this really hateful rhetoric and hateful ideology. So that's a huge part of the coalition. Here in the United States and in the U.S. government, what we've done is some efforts, including some out of this building, online particularly, to push back on ISIL's rhetoric. I know some of you have seen the work that (CFPC ?) does; they do it in a variety of language, including English, but also Arabic and others, to make clear to the world the level of the barbarity of this group, because part of what we want to do is prevent other people from going to join them. We know that social media and other online fora are ways they have of meeting up and joining and becoming radicalized, so that's just one piece in this anti-radicalization effort. Q: Can you call those efforts a success? MS. HARF: Well, clearly, ISIS has grown in strength. All you have to do is look at the intelligence community's numbers of the assessment of the strength of ISIS today to see that we have a serious challenge on our hands here. But that's, I think, one of the reasons I started with the piece that the coalition will play. We can't do it all ourselves -- nor should we. So there really needs to be a concerted effort for religious leaders, other people in the region -- and they have already, but to continue to speak out and reject this ideology. We will play a small part in that. I'd also note that our counterparts in the rest of the government, particularly DHS and FBI and others, have counter-radicalization programs inside the United States for vulnerable communities to have populations that may look to some of these people overseas, have people who have been radicalized and gone to fight overseas -- we work with them as well. Let me go to Said. Q: Just one more -- ambassadors, both distinguished and served in both Iraq and Syria -- Ryan Crocker and Robert Ford -- they said that the U.S. -- the president must be prepared to go all-in. I mean, I don't know what that means. MS. HARF: I'm not sure exactly what that means either. Q: OK. So exactly what I wanted to ask you: How do you understand this to mean -- to sort of dispose, or put at the disposal of the Pentagon, in this case, all kinds of resources to -- (inaudible) -- MS. HARF: I assure you the Pentagon has many resources they have prepared to take on this fight, some of which they're already using in Iraq. But I would say that this is the reason the president emphasized a broad strategy here that's not just military, and I think maybe that's what they're referring to, although I'm not sure. There will be a robust military component of this, certainly; there already has been in Iraq. But I would also that that's why we are looking at how you cut off the financing, how you cut off foreign fighters, how you cut off all these other things that help lead to the strength of ISIS, and how you push ISIS back out of territory, which is the first step here, really, in Iraq. So this has to be a broad effort, and it has to be more than just the United States. I think that may be what they're referring to; certainly, that's how we're looking at it. Q: Yesterday, the Syrian deputy foreign minister, Faisal Mekdad, said, I think, on (NBC ?) -- he said that they are ready to cooperate with the United States. They are ready to cooperate fully, that no one has had the experience that they have, which probably is true, but that you need to sort of reach out to them. And so he made quite a reasonable sort of, you know, outline on how you could -- (inaudible). MS. HARF: Well, I don't think that anything that the Assad regime does I would describe as reasonable, as they continue to kill their own people. Q: But don't you see that, you know, the involvement of the Syrian regime, whether -- you know, involving their ground forces, for instance, is sort of, you know, have some sort of a juggernaut, you know, along with the U.S. superior air forces could actually diminish or degrade or ISIL's power? MS. HARF: Well, the answer is not the Assad regime. I get asked this every day, and I'm happy to keep answering the question. But the answer to the security challenge is not the Assad regime. They have created the security vacuum. We are not going to be working with them in this fight. They have lost legitimacy to lead, period. So I'm just not sure how much clearer I can be on that. Q: You know, as these strikes become more imminent striking Syria, and if you go back to a question that Matt asked at the beginning of the week, I mean, how would you (guard ?) against, let's say, you know, something going fluke, hitting an area that belongs to the regime or, you know, the regime fighting, shooting back at these airplanes and bringing one down with, you know, maybe a pilot captured and so on? I mean, don't you need some sort of coordination once these operations begin? MS. HARF: No, Said, we do not believe that we do. We will not be coordinating with the Assad regime -- (inaudible). Q: Staying on ISIS? Q: Follow-up? MS. HARF: Wait! Let me -- (inaudible) -- Katherine (ph). Q: Marie, we've seen Assad in power for three-plus years now. What is the U.S. plan? Do you plan to revive the Geneva process now that you're more involved in Syria? How do you see this ending? MS. HARF: Well, nothing that anyone can do or nothing that can happen at this point will ever restore Assad's legitimacy. That is gone. We have said that there needs to be a political process to get a transitional governing body in place, and we've had two rounds, as you mentioned, in Geneva. We will not have a third round until the regime makes clear it will come to the table ready to discuss that kind of transitional governing body. They have refused to do so. So we are unfortunately in a position where we do not have a political process path to move forward on right now. We are committed to it. We know that's the best path forward here, but it requires the regime taking some steps that thus far they have been unwilling to take. Q: When Secretary Kerry came to the State Department, he said he was going to work on changing Assad's calculus and stepping up -- MS. HARF: A lot has happened since then. Q: Right, and stepping up pressure on the Assad regime. One would think that now that the president has said he would not hesitate to take airstrikes inside Syria, would do that. But we still do not see any movement on the political dialogue track. What more can the U.S. do? MS. HARF: Well, the political dialogue track is a tough one. And since the secretary's been here, if you look at the arc of what's happened, a couple significant things have happened in terms of pressuring the Assad regime. One, we have increased our support, including providing military assistance to the vetted moderate opposition. So we continue to ramp that up, and we are asking to do more now with congressional support. Two, we had the secretary broker the agreement that was unanimously confirmed at the U.N. General Assembly last year to remove Syria's declared chemical weapons, taking away an incredibly potent and dangerous tool from Assad. He had to come to the table, feeling under the pressure that he was -- because of the threat of American airstrikes -- to do so. So those are some steps we've taken that have been small but important steps. The political process writ large does remain an incredible challenge. And again, as you heard the president today, his top priority as commander in chief is protecting America and American interests, and right now that means focusing on ISIL. Yes, I will come over here, yeah, and then I'll go to you. Q: Yeah. The story that has been making the rounds since yesterday about the mother and the brother of the beheaded journalist alleging that there was pressure, has -- is there going to be any change in the U.S. policy allowing private citizens to negotiate with the terrorists? MS. HARF: Well, let me -- let me be -- let me very clear here. First, the State Department worked very closely with the Foley family and with Phil Balboni, who was Jim Foley's employer at GlobalPost. There were hours of meetings trying to help. We did everything we could to assist them during this awful time. We reached out diplomatically. We helped open diplomatic doors for the family. We did everything we could to get them back, including when the president ordered a risky special operations mission to rescue them. We worked -- again, some of those -- I know there was some other comments that they made, and I don't know if you're going to ask about them specifically, but I just want to be clear that the secretary, his chief of staff, David Wade, knew the Foleys from the first time Jim had been abducted in Libya. Personally, we're very invested and very involved in this and certainly take our obligations to provide this kind of support to the family very seriously. It's part of our job to help families in these horrible situations understand America's laws about paying ransom to terrorists, of course. That's part of our job, unfortunately, and those laws are not going to change anytime. Obviously, we understand this family asked questions about these laws and we provided those answers, the government did, but, again, we had a very close relationship with the Foleys, worked very closely with them and that, I think, is something the secretary and everyone here takes very seriously. Q: The family is making these statements which are quite, you know, as you -- I don't know -- (inaudible) -- call them, but what is the answer of the U.S. government on that? Like, they're accusing - they were pressurized not to like -- they're as if accusing that if the government had let them go ahead, their son will be alive. Like many Europeans. MS. HARF: Well, a couple points on that. James Foley's employer, Phil Balboni, has spoken publicly and said that there was never a real ransom request on the table from ISIL for James Foley. I'll let him speak for that; obviously, we were never in touch with ISIL. But again, it's part of our job to help the family understand what our laws are about terrorists paying -- or, paying ransom to terrorists, absolutely. But this department would never, and did not ever, intend to, nor do we think we ever did anything that we would consider threatening. Obviously, again, as I said, we had a close relationship with the Foleys, the secretary and others, and we take that very seriously. Again, this is a horrible time for them and we have continued to offer our support. Q: When you say that, you're speaking for this building, only, right? MS. HARF: That's - I mean, that's the only people I can really speak for. Q: -- because, I mean, I think -- I understand. But the allegation was made, I think, against someone at the NSC. MS. HARF: I think there were a couple of allegations in a couple different stories. Q: OK. Well there was one, the brother, saying someone from the State Department - MS. HARF: Mhmm. Q: But you'd -- you deny that there was - that you told the family that they would be prosecuted if they paid? MS. HARF: Well, again, part of the U.S. government writ large's job is explaining - when they have questions about our laws, explaining what those laws are. Q: I understand. There's a difference between -- MS. HARF: Well, let me finish. Can I finish? And you're familiar with the laws. Again, but this department never would, nor would we ever intend to do anything that we could -- would consider threatening. Obviously it's a very delicate situation and a tough topic, but we have to be clear about what our laws are. Q: There's -- right, but do you understand that there is a difference between telling someone what the law is -- the law says X, Y and Z, and then -- the difference between that and saying, if you do X, Y and Z, we're going to come after you, we're going to prosecute you. Right? MS. HARF: The second formulation, I can assure you -- Q: Right? Did not happen? MS. HARF: I can speak for the State Department. Q: At the State Department -- they were not threatened with prosecution? MS. HARF: That is not something - obviously there -- if they have questions about potential consequences from - the laws that are on the books, we answer them factually. So I just want to be clear about that. Q: All right. One of the other things -- one of the other things that Mrs. Foley said was that the State Department had told the family not to speak to other -- media about this, and to stay quiet. Is that -- would you say that that's an accurate -- MS. HARF: Well, writ large -- Q: I'm not sure she was complaining about that, but she said that that's -- MS. HARF: Without getting into specifics about what -- specific things we discussed with the family, obviously, we're not going to get into those. There are often reasons, broadly speaking, in these kind of situations, where not having media attention to it could be helpful to the hostage, either because that's something the captors themselves have said, or an assessment that our experts, working with intelligence experts, FBI experts, everyone else - so their assessments, again, broadly speaking, sometimes that may be what everyone assesses is the best strategy for helping to get someone home. I'm not confirming that here, but again - Q: But that's the assessment, that it would be best for the actual hostage, and not the assessment that it would be best for the government? Really? MS. HARF: Correct. No, correct. Absolutely. Everything we do is driven by what would be best for the hostages, period. Full stop. Absolutely. Q: So you -- and not -- and not what's best -- MS. HARF: And if it makes my job harder, I don't care -- if it helps them. Honestly. Q: Alright. So you are saying that, in some cases -- you don't want to speak specifically about this, you have advised families of people in situations like this, not to go public, not to talk to the media? MS. HARF: In -- it -- in some cases, not specifically, that is the assessment, that it would be most helpful -- Q: Right? In some cases? And you have told them that you think it would be a bad idea for them to speak out -- MS. HARF: Well I'm not going to get into specifics and, again, this isn't just -- Q: I'm not asking about specifics, this is a -- broadly -- MS. HARF: Can I -- can I finish my sentence before you interrupt me? Q: Marie, if you would let me -- you're trying to cut my question off and answer what you think is part of it. OK? MS. HARF: OK. Go ahead, Matt, go ahead. No, go ahead. Q: OK. Have there been instances, and I'm not asking for specifics, in which the State Department has told the families of people in situations like this that they would be -- that their loved one would be better off if they did not speak to anyone about it, if they kept it quiet and did not speak to the media. MS. HARF: Can I go now? Q: Yeah. MS. HARF: Are you done? Q: Yeah. MS. HARF: Well, what I was going to say is that this isn't just the State Department. The interaction with families and the assessment about what is best for the hostage is driven in large part by the FBI, who is in charge of American citizens -- you know, missing investigations of people overseas. The FBI obviously has a role to play. The NSC has a role to play as the coordinator of a lot of this effort. The intelligence community has a role to play. So at times the U.S. government writ large, not just the State Department, in our overall assessment, may have concluded that it would help the hostage to not have media attention paid to their case. That is the only thing that drives any advice the U.S. government gives to these families. Nothing else is taken into account. Q: OK, so you would say that it is an accurate statement to say that the U.S. government -- not just the State Department, the U.S. government writ large -- has in the past told families of people in situations like this that it would be best for their loved one if they stayed silent and didn't say anything about it, correct? MS. HARF: Advised them. Q: Advised. MS. HARF: Again, we can't tell them what to do. Q: No, no, I know. They can ignore it, and it's certainly not a prosecutable offense, right, like it would be to -- like it might be to pay ransom. You understand where -- you may understand where I'm going with this, and that is my longstanding suspicion that the State Department encourages people who can be reached not to sign Privacy Act waivers. MS. HARF: Hold -- I'm actually offended that you brought it up in the hostage conversation. Privacy Act waivers are a bureaucratic process. They're used all over the world. How we advise families of hostages -- Q: Yeah. MS. HARF: -- putting them in even the same category -- Q: Well -- MS. HARF: -- is your longstanding conspiracy theory about what our consular officers do or don't do, I just think is not appropriate in the same sentence. Q: Marie, it doesn't just apply just to hostages. It applies to prisoners, people who you have contact with and people with -- who are being held by people that you have contact with. MS. HARF: I understand that. Q: OK? But if you're saying that Ms. -- well, that in general, writ large, the government has encouraged people to stay silent about the fate of their loved one, it just fuels the suspicion -- mine or anyone else's -- that the -- that the government is trying to -- is trying to hide things or is encouraging people, advising people to stay -- to stay silent. MS. HARF: OK -- Q: And you have the -- you have the suspicion that it may not be, in fact, the best of the -- of the hostage or the person being held prisoner but what the government thinks is best for how it can advance its policy, which, you know, it may be completely legitimate, and fair enough, but that is what -- that is what -- MS. HARF: I don't -- Q: My question is, then -- sorry -- MS. HARF: Well, I think it's a -- I don't even know how to respond to that, Matt. Q: Well, you said you were offended by the question. MS. HARF: I actually am, and let me explain why. Can I explain why? Q: All right. MS. HARF: Now you've had your time; I get my time. Q: Go. MS. HARF: That's how this works. So this government undertook every single opportunity to find and bring home these American citizens that are being held by ISIS. The president ordered an incredibly risky operation that we knew had the potential of getting out, because we believed we had actionable intelligence -- the only time we believed we had that. We reached out to other countries. We opened diplomatic doors. Any advice that this department or other departments give to the families about what they should do in these situations is based solely on what is best for returning their loved one home, period. Any accusation to the contrary is flatly wrong. Q: OK. MS. HARF: The process by which I know you have this constant battle with Privacy Act waivers -- and I think that if you were in situation where one of your loved ones is being held hostage and the U.S. government came to you and said, look, we have all these indications, the captors may have said, we have intelligence that says -- again, these are all hypotheticals -- that if you go public your loved one will be killed, we have an obligation to tell the family that -- Q: Sure. MS. HARF: -- and to warn them of that so they don't inadvertently do something that could put their loved one at risk. That is a wholly separate process. The people that do the hostage family liaison work is wholly separate from who does Privacy Act waivers in our consular sections, in our embassies all over the world. The two do not intermix. The two are not in any way related. So the question I think is baseless and I'm going to move on. Yes. Q: Just a quick -- MS. HARF: No, wait, I'm going to go to him and then you'll get the next one. Q: Thank you. A couple of questions on ISIS and Syria. You just cited in previous questions about the chemical weapon moving from Syria. I don't know if this question was asked to you a couple of days ago. OPCW released new reports -- MS. HARF: It was asked. Q: -- OK -- saying that systematically and repeatedly, chlorine bombs were used in northern Syria. So under these findings, how would you rate -- I do understand these dangerous weapons are taken out of Syria. But if the regime still uses these kind of chemical weapons, what does it mean, really, for U.S.? MS. HARF: Well, we've always said, and the secretary has said, that there's more work to do, that we have removed Syria's declared chemical weapons but there were -- have been suspicions that they didn't declare everything. When it comes to chlorine, chlorine is not required to be declared under the chemical weapons convention unless it's directly related to the CW program. So one of the things they're looking into right now is whether it should have been declared or was later repurposed -- again, that's something the OPCW is looking into right now, but the OPCW's work has continued and will continue. And if we find evidence that there is additional CW, we will work under the U.N. Security Council unanimously approved resolution to get that out as well. So it's an ongoing effort. Q: Do you have suspicions that Assad regime may have hidden some chemical weapons? MS. HARF: We certainly have suspicions about -- and questions, open questions and concerns about their declaration. Q: I have couple more questions. Just an hour ago, Pentagon spokesman Mr. Kirby said, make no mistake -- this is the quote -- we know we are at war with ISIL. Whereas Secretary Kerry yesterday said there is no war with ISIL. I'm -- if you need to clarify whether you are at war with ISIL. MS. HARF: Well, I know there's been a lot of questions about what words we use, but as the president said the other night, this is a very different campaign from the Iraq war, the last time we used that term. It will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil. We'll utilize our air superiority in support for partner forces on the ground. As both the president and Secretary Kerry have said, this will be a steady, relentless counterterrorism campaign to take out ISIL wherever they exist, the kind of campaign that we've gotten pretty good at in recent years. So again, this is not the kind of Iraq war that we had talked about in the recent past. This is not, also, America's war with ISIL. The world is joining us in this fight because of the threat they pose to countries in the region. So we are at war with ISIL in the same way that we are at war with al-Qaida and its affiliates around the world. But again, to be clear about what that looks like, it will be a counterterrorism campaign to take ISIL out using a broad set of tools. Q: The accelerated arming and training program you are talking about, that -- at the Congress, apparently the Congress will adjourn next week, as far as we know, for -- MS. HARF: They have a -- they have a few days left. Q: -- elections. MS. HARF: We'll see if we can get some action there. Q: So if not, then this will postpone -- next (year ?), right? MS. HARF: We're hoping they'll act before they adjourn for recess. And in case -- just a quick congressional update. John Hoover -- you may have seen I tweeted about this -- one of our longest waiting ambassadorial nominees was confirmed either yesterday or the day before by the Senate as our ambassador to Sierra Leone. We've talked about that a lot in this room, particularly so we could get one ambassador confirmed. We have 64 posts still waiting. Q: So if you were to -- or your allies arm and train the moderate Syrian groups, would you oppose them to fight against Assad regime with this newly -- new arms? MS. HARF: Well, our support here is for them in this anti-ISIL campaign, but we've always said that our support (for ?) the moderate opposition in general, including military assistance, has been for them to fight the war they're fighting on a bunch of different fronts: the Assad regime, ISIS, Nusra, other groups. So certainly they continue in the fight against the Assad regime as well. Q: Just yesterday, former ambassador Francis Ricciardone, who just left Turkey last month, he said that -- (inaudible) -- as a U.S. official, former official, Turkey did indeed help al-Qaida -- (inaudible) -- al-Nusra in the past, even though U.S. warned Turkey not to. Is there any way you can expand on this? MS. HARF: I don't have any comments on his comments. He's a former official. And coming back up to you. Q: It's a clarification. Because Foley's brother specifically said that he was directly threatened with possible prosecution for violating anti-terrorism laws by a State Department official. So, you know, you are saying that nothing -- so, you know, it's -- who is lying? MS. HARF: Well, it's -- no, I don't want to say that. This family is going through the worst thing they've probably gone through. And I don't want to in any way criticize how they're responding. I have no idea how any of us would respond. That's why we've worked so closely with them. And again, is it the government's job to answer their questions about what our laws are and what the potential consequences of those laws are? Yes. But I will say that here at the State Department, that we did not and would not ever do anything -- or particularly intend to or do anything we think we would consider threatening. I don't -- you know, I don't want to disagree directly with this family that is going through an incredible pain. Again, we want to be very clear though about the actions we took and how we felt about them. Q: (Inaudible) -- is there anything that could have been said that they could have interpreted as a threat? Q: (Inaudible) -- MS. HARF: You know, I don't want to get -- you guys, I don't want to get further into this. They -- I will let them make clear how they felt, again, not passing judgment on it given what they're going through but making clear how we saw -- how we acted during this. Q: I mean, I don't they or anyone in this room, including me, is saying that the U.S. didn't do what it could to try and -- to try and -- try and get them out. I you're taking offense at the wrong -- or I think you're taking offense at something you shouldn't take offense at. But -- at least as it relates to my question earlier. But the impression left by telling -- maybe not in this case, but telling a family to be -- to -- by giving your advice that they're better off staying silent is -- MS. HARF: I didn't say we -- (inaudible)_. Q: I know. I'm saying -- but you said that it has happened. MS. HARF: In general, if that's our assessment. Q: Right. I -- it just -- that's what I -- that's what I have the issue with, not with anything else. But -- MS. HARF: But what would the alternative be? Would you want us to not give our assessment that speaking out could have harm their loved ones? I just don't understand what -- I think common sense actually should lead most people to believe that if we have information that speaking out about a case could threaten their loved ones, we have an obligation to tell the family that. I'm really actually not sure where the -- where the confusion is. Q: OK. So you would say that in the case of the journalist who was released 10 days -- MS. HARF: Peter Theo Curtis. Q: Right, that that was a -- that that worked. MS. HARF: Well, he's home safely with his family. Q: Right, you would -- right, but -- and you think that that's a direct result of -- MS. HARF: And was held by a different group. Q: I understand. But that was a direct result of people saying silent about it, or a result of -- MS. HARF: I wouldn't say that. Q: OK. MS. HARF: Every case is different. Q: All right. MS. HARF: No, that was a very different situation. Yes. Q: OK. All right. OK. Can I just move on to one thing? If this will be -- this -- MS. HARF: I think there is some other things on ISIS, so -- Q: Yeah. Marie, I wanted to ask a question about the coalition. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization had a summit recently, and they released a statement coming out against airstrikes in Syria, saying the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Syria should be respected. First, would you care to comment on -- MS. HARF: I haven't seen that statement. Q: Are you -- are you -- so the Shanghai Cooperation Organization includes China. Are you disappointed that China has some out against these airstrikes? MS. HARF: I can check specifically on the statement and who signed up to it and what was behind it. Q: OK. If you could also check, unless you know right now, but if you could also check what, if any, efforts the U.S. has made to try to get China to join the coalition -- (inaudible). MS. HARF: I can -- I can check on that. We're obviously not going to specifically outline everything. And as I said a couple times, this will be a topic at the General Assembly, including in the Security Council session that obviously China will be a part of. Q: Sure. Well, the -- yeah, so -- but the reason I was wondering is that, you know, China has made its concerns clear about its citizens radicalizing and going off to join the -- join ISIS. There were pictures that the Iraqi government posted of a Chinese citizen who was captured fighting for ISIS. You guys have said that you would like better counterterrorism cooperation with China, so -- MS. HARF: That's true. And we know that are foreign fighters from over 80 countries that have gone to join this fight. So obviously, I think for any country, certainly there, but there is a reason to be a part of this effort. Q: Yeah. Sure. But at the same time China has not really come out forthrightly and strongly in support of the coalition, so -- MS. HARF: Well, this is an ongoing effort, and we'll continue to have the discussions on a day-by-day basis and continue building support for this effort. Q: I understand. Anyway, I'd appreciate it if you could check on -- (inaudible). MS. HARF: Yeah, I will check on that, though. I will. Q: Just one more question about ISIS, the anti-ISIS coalition. Turkey has been reluctant to join -- (audio break) -- Kerry is now in Turkey. Is he there for that purpose? MS. HARF: Well, he spoke about it publicly in his press availability that just recently concluded, had good conversations on the ground, and each country is evaluating the best way they can play a role, Turkey included. Obviously, they're working through what that might look like right now. Q: Are you satisfied with the role Turkey is playing -- (inaudible) --_ MS. HARF: Well, we're all talking about what more we can all do and what that might look like, and the secretary did have a very good day of meetings there. Q: There's one more question about Turkey. In 2003 I remember Turkey refused to cooperate with the United States in the invasion of Iraq, and shortly afterwards the Bush administration almost cut off ties with Turkey for years. (Audio break) -- the same thing happening now with Turkey being reluctant to help America? MS. HARF: As I said the other day, nothing we are doing in this coalition-building effort will resemble at all in any way what the previous administration did when they undertook the Iraq War and built that coalition. So let's not compare it in any way. We're certainly not. Q: Except for the part that involves airstrikes in Syria. I mean in Iraq. MS. HARF: Yes. Go ahead. Q: This morning former U.S. Ambassador to Syria Ford said the Syrian moderate -- the top priority for Syrian opposition is not fight against ISIS, it's fighting against Assad regime. Do you still have confidence in working with Syria opposition? MS. HARF: Absolutely. We know they have a really tough fight in front of them. They are fighting on multiple fronts. That's why we've requested additional resources from Congress to train and equip the vetted moderate opposition. Matt. Q: No, just -- Q: Yeah. Well, it just has to do with the coalition. MS. HARF: Do a few more -- Q: Yes. Q: It's one more on the coalition, but this is about a country that did sign the Jeddah communique -- MS. HARF: Great. Q: -- Lebanon. This morning your ambassador in Beirut said that this week a bunch of Hellfire missiles were delivered to the Lebanese Armed Forces. MS. HARF: I know we're increasing our support to the LAF. I can check on the specifics for you. Q: OK. I'm just -- in light of that, I'm just wondering where the Hellfire transfers to Israel stand. MS. HARF: Oh. I can check on that too. That was a Hellfire transition. Q: Right. MS. HARF: OK. I'll check on that for you, Matt. Q: Because I'm just wondering -- because, you know, you announced that there was -- they were being extra -- there were delays -- MS. HARF: Yup. Q: -- or, you know, not delays. MS. HARF: Additional steps. Q: There were additional steps that were being taken. MS. HARF: Yes, I'll check. Q: And I think that was about two weeks something like that -- ago. MS. HARF: I mean, I have no idea when that was. Days are all -- Q: I'm just wondering if - - maybe if Israel was allowed to sign this communique, they could get their Hellfires quicker. MS. HARF: Let me check. We provide an unprecedented amount of military support to Israel. Q: I know you do. It's just a question about that. Thank you. MS. HARF: OK. Leslie. Q: North Korea. One of the three detained Americans, Matthew Miller, is going on trial. MS. HARF: Yes. Q: What have you -- what has the U.S. done to try to stop this trial, intervene, anything? MS. HARF: He will face trial on September 14th. We are aware of those reports. We have requested the DPRK immediately release him and the other detained Americans, so they can return home. As we've said, we don't always publicly outline all of the ways we are working to return our citizens home, but we are very focused on this and have called on the DPRK to release him. Q: Is there any steps beforehand to try to stop this trial in any way? MS. HARF: Well, not that I'm aware of, but again, we don't always outline all of those publicly. Q: Do you -- Q: Change topic? Q: -- does the -- does offer to send Ambassador King still stand? MS. HARF: Still stands. Yes. Q: Can we change topics? MS. HARF: We can. Q: (Off mic) -- update on -- (off mic) -- state might have of meeting with the Palestinian leadership? MS. HARF: I don't have any additional travel/meeting updates for you. Q: That's fine. Now there is also a letter that is being signed by the senators from both sides of the aisle and in fact, you know, sort of backed by AIPAC to address the secretary of state to, you know, increase aid to the Palestinian Authority and, you know, speed up whatever -- humanitarian aid -- MS. HARF: I haven't seen that letter. Has it been sent already? Q: No, it's going to be -- MS. HARF: They've circulated it? Q: Well, they say they're going to send it on the 18th, but it's been out. MS. HARF: OK. Well, let me -- Q: (Inaudible) -- you're not aware of it? MS. HARF: -- let me take a look at it and see if we have a comment on it before we proceed. Q: And the ambassador also said that nothing will deter him -- no amount of pressure will deter him from going to international bodies like the United Nations and its multitude of organizations. Do you? MS. HARF: Well, we've expressed our concerns about those -- some of those possible courses of action but don't have more -- Q: And finally, the Israelis are not really adhering to the - - to the letter and the text of the cease-fire agreement because apparently they are shooting at the fishermen within a 6-(inaudible) - - less than 6-mile area. Do you have any comment on that? MS. HARF: Well, we understand the cease-fire's holding. I can check on the fishermen issue again for you. I know we -- I checked on it last week, but let me check on it again. Q: OK. And -- MS. HARF: Your last last question. Q: My last last -- you said that -- I remember in the statement that the secretary issued at the time of the cease-fire said the moment that the cease-fire takes hold, you know, it -- humanitarian aid and goods and so on will start going into Gaza. Apparently they haven't really gone into Gaza as of yet because of apparently the Egyptians and the Israelis are -- still impose very strict closure on that -- MS. HARF: Let me check on this humanitarian situation for you, Said. These are all very good questions. Yes, Michael. Q: Just following up on Said, on -- MS. HARF: You guys are a team today, the two of you. Q: We are a team today. We're always a team. MS. HARF: (Laughs.) Q: On the referral to the ICC, other U.N. bodies, you said you've expressed your concerns. UNGA is right around the corner. Is your -- does your concern include the fact that the appropriations law very explicitly states that funding will be cut by this building if they do so? MS. HARF: I can check on that. Obviously we can express our concerns more broadly about the effect it could have on the -- Q: Right. MS. HARF: -- on the conversation, the cease-fire, on the peace process, on the tone on the ground. I can check on the legal aspects of it. Q: OK. MS. HARF: (Inaudible) - taking a lot of questions today. Monday is going to be a long briefing. Yes, I will check for you, though. I don't know if that's part of why we've expressed concerns. We've expressed concerns about, again, what such action could do to the spirit of the discussions on the ground and the work they're trying to get done there. Q: Right, because just my understanding is the appropriations law stipulates two ways of the PA would sever funding. One is power sharing with Hamas, which is something we obviously discussed extensively during the reconciliation. (Cross talk.) Q: -- which you said is not power sharing and therefore -- MS. HARF: Correct. Q: -- didn't break the law. And the second is explicitly referral to the -- to the -- MS. HARF: Let me check on it. You probably are perfectly right but let me just double-check. Yes, let's do just a couple more and then I have one more item at the end that I want you to stay for. Q: You talked about, in the beginning, Turkey and Hamas, and you said that you cannot -- or you wouldn't qualify Turkey as supporter of Hamas, right? So you don't see Turkey as supporter of Hamas? MS. HARF: Well, we've made clear to Turkey our concerns about Hamas, given that they are a designated foreign terrorist organization. But again, in the process, to get a cease-fire in place you need parties who have influence over the parties you need for the cease-fire. Q: When the U.S. says that wherever ISIS exists you go after it, is it only to Iraq and Syria or -- MS. HARF: Well, I think, by definition, "wherever" probably means wherever. Q: So that means that the U.S. -- and if the U.S. intel show that a couple of cells within the Turkish border and there are the ISIL operatives, you will take them out? MS. HARF: Well, what "going after" means, though, is if clearly there are ISIS cells operating in countries that we are working with on an anti-ISIL effort, then there would be different tools we would use everywhere. Obviously there's a threat from ISIS with Westerners who have passports. There are different tools to fight that threat. So the threat is not always best addressed with military action by the United States. Obviously each country can play a role here if there's a threat inside their own country. Q: And finally, you said that you don't want to comment on the former U.S. ambassador remarks regarding Turkey's helping al-Qaida-related group. Let me ask this way: Do you -- what do you think, whether if Turkey help al-Qaida-related al-Nusra group for the last few years? MS. HARF: I can check and see if we have any analysis on the links between those two. Q: Thank you. Q: I've got two very brief ones on two very different subjects. MS. HARF: OK, bring us home here. Q: One -- but they're brief. MS. HARF: OK. Q: Ukraine, the sanctions that were announced today. MS. HARF: Yes. Q: You may have seen the Russians say that at least some of them violate WTO rules and that they're going to, whatever, file suit or however -- however you do that in the WTO. I presume that you disagree with that. MS. HARF: Again -- Q: Yes? MS. HARF: -- it's interesting that they now suddenly care about international law and are starting to use it as, you know, justification for being upset with us. We would disagree with it, yes, of course. Q: OK, so but -- so just can -- I am looking for you just to say something like, we do not think that these sanctions violate any part of the WTO rules and regulations. MS. HARF: Well, that's -- Q: Can you say that? MS. HARF: Well, if you would like to join our press office and write my lines for me -- (laughter) -- then maybe that's the next step here. Q: No, is that correct? MS. HARF: I will check with our team and see if it is. Q: Just that you can say that and -- MS. HARF: I can check with our team and see if it is. Q: -- and that the people that put the sanctions together didn't add this as a concern. MS. HARF: I can check with our team. Q: All right. And then the second one -- the second one, which is very, very different, which is about the Central African Republic. MS. HARF: Yes. Q: Presume two things on this, both of them very brief. You have seen that report that my organization did about the death toll -- MS. HARF: Yes. Q: -- being significantly higher. Do you have any comment on that? MS. HARF: We can't confirm the specific number. I think that was 5,000. In the absence of U.N. numbers, though, we do take these fatality reports seriously. And these estimations underscore of course what we all know, that the violence needs to stop. Q: OK. And then yesterday the White House, in a letter to Congress -- MS. HARF: Yes. Q: -- said that there were 20 troops -- 20 U.S. soldiers going to Bangui or -- MS. HARF: Yes. Q: Actually I'm not sure it said Bangui, but going to -- MS. HARF: It did. Q: -- the Central African Republic to support the re-opening of the embassy in Bangui. MS. HARF: Correct. Q: Has that embassy re-opened? If it has not yet, any idea when? MS. HARF: So the United States is scheduled to resume operations at our embassy in Bangui, Central African Republic in the near future. As mandated by law, the White House notified Congress yesterday that, as you said, approximately U.S. armed forces personnel have deployed to CAR to support the resumption of these activities. They were deployed along with U.S. diplomatic -- U.S. Department of State diplomatic security personnel for the purpose of protecting our embassy, personnel and property. For security reasons, I don't have additional details to share about the exact timing of when it will be reopening, but again in the near future. Q: All right, and then, again very briefing, on that one, it said in that letter that they would -- that this group of 20 would stay -- I believe it said until the Marine guard -- MS. HARF: Until replaced, yeah. Q: Do you -- by the normal Marine -- MS. HARF: By the -- yeah, mmm hmm. Q: Do you know what -- did that embassy have a Marine contingent before it closed? MS. HARF: Before? Q: Before December 2012? MS. HARF: It closed in 2012. Yeah, I can check on that. I don't know. Q: And if it didn't, do you know -- because there's some kind of bureaucratic thing that you have to go through to get one -- to get a contingent over there. I'm just wondering if that's already been set up or if these 20 guys who were announced yesterday -- or, guys and women maybe -- MS. HARF: Thank you for correcting yourself. Q: If they're going to be there, like, for a longer period? MS. HARF: How long? That's a good question. And I think we'll have more to say about this on Monday. Q: Thank you. Thanks. MS. HARF: And my last item, if there are no more questions -- one more in the back. Last question. Q: Thank you very much. (Inaudible.) This is American-Russian Television. A question about the sanctions, obviously. First of all, could you please comment on the effectiveness -- do you see that sanctions are beginning to work? Do you see -- can you illustrate it somehow? Do you have any data to show that they are working? And the second one is the timing of the sanctions. Why now, when there is a -- you know, some sort of a cease-fire that is holding up? MS. HARF: Yeah, well, on -- let me address your second question first. Due to Russia's escalated direct military intervention and continuing efforts to destabilize Ukraine, Departments of Treasury and Commerce, they did announce they imposed additional sanctions and deepened existing sanctions. We have also said, though, if Russia fully implements the 12 requirements of the September 5th Minsk Agreement, these sanctions can and will be rolled back -- just these latest ones, though. If instead, Russia and the separatists they support continue their aggressive actions, the costs will continue to rise -- so to be very clear about this latest round of sanctions. And, look, sanctions are one of the key reasons that there's even a peace process in place. Today Russia's Central Bank said that sanctions, quote, will have a prolonged effect on the Russian economy and, quote, constrain economic growth in 2013. The ruble is at record lows against the dollar. Capital flight continues and Russia's economy is threatening to tip into recession. Sanctions have an immediate impact, as we've seen, but they also have a long-term impact. And the longer they're in place, the more the Russian people will suffer because of President Putin's decision. So I think that we've been clear what Russia can do to lessen the burden from these sanctions, but so far have not done it. Anything else? Q: Did you just mean to say that the intent of the sanctions is to make the Russian people suffer? Or is that the -- MS. HARF: No, I said that the Russian people have suffered because of President Putin's decision. Q: Gotcha. All right. MS. HARF: That is not the intent of the sanctions. Q: I got you. MS. HARF: You're feisty today. (Laughter.) Q: Well, I'm just trying to find out what's going on. MS. HARF: So in my last item, before everyone leaves, Katherine Shomia (sp), her last day as NBC's State Department producer is today. Katherine (sp) started as an intern at MSNBC while still in college at Penn, and eventually started interning for Andrea Mitchell, who's also here. She graduated -- well, after she graduated from college, she started full time at NBC on the news desk and later worked for nightly news. For the past over three years now, I think, she's been the State Department producer for NBC and part of our State Department family. There should be some photos behind me. She has traveled with and interviewed both Secretary Clinton and Secretary Kerry, always demonstrating a degree of poise and wisdom beyond her age, I would say. In a few hours, she will be hopping a flight to Abu Dhabi to start the next chapter in her life. And I will say, Katherine (sp), we will certainly miss having you around every day -- your grace and wisdom and also, I would say, be a very funny person too, if you get her going, will be very missed. And your reporting will be as well. We are a little family here at the State Department, despite how it looks sometimes -- right, Matt? Q: That's accurate. (Laughter.) MS. HARF: And you have been a key part of it for a long time. So we will miss you. We have some treats, I think, if people want to stay. This is our going-away gift, it's always Georgetown Cupcakes. So Lauren (sp) will come up, we'll have cupcakes and everyone should stay. But I wanted to say in front of everyone how much we will miss you. And I know Andrea will miss you too. (Applause.) Q: Here, here. Q: Thank you. MS. HARF: And Andrea should come up here too. Andrea and Katherine (sp) should both come up here. Q: Nicely said, Marie. MS. HARF: Thank you. Q: Can I just say a few things? MS. HARF: Yes, you can -- yes. Thank you. Q: Just the most incredible moment was after a nine-hour flight from Irbil to Brussels when I landed 15 minutes before our show - MS. HARF: Yes. (Laughs.) Q: Seventeen, I should say. And Catherine (sp) was on the tarmac to escort me with an embassy person into NATO to make air at literally 15 minutes later. So there is nobody who has been more wonderful in every way possible than this person. MS. HARF: And I know we will all miss you very much. Q: Thank you all so much. (Applause.) MS. HARF: OK, so now we'll do - Arshad came for the cupcakes. (Laughter.) So our whole office is here too, so let's all stay and have cupcakes and tell Catherine (sp) how much we'll miss her. And that's the end of the briefing. (Applause, laughter.)
Archived Unity File