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JENNIFER PSAKI: Happy Tuesday. Hi, Samir. OK. I have two items for all of you at the top. General Allen and Ambassador McGurk are in Amman today, where they met with tribal leaders and sheikhs who have bravely resisted ISIL in Iraq. General Allen and Ambassador McGurk praised their courage and affirmed that those who stand against ISIL will continue to be supported by the international coalition. They also discussed our support for the -- for Prime Minister Abadi's vision of a united Iraq and a united Iraqi National Guard that both empowers local populations to protect their communities and incorporates those forces within the formal national security structure. Tomorrow General Allen and Ambassador McGurk will meet with king of -- the King of Jordan and other Jordanian government officials. They will also travel tomorrow to Cairo and then will be in Ankara October 9th and 10th, and we'll have of course further readouts of their meetings there as the week continues. I'd also like to welcome our visitors in the back who join us today from Serbia as part of our -- hello, everyone -- as part of a professional development program sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. This is a group of senior-level public affairs officers for the recently elected government. And we're happy to have you here, of course. With that, Matt. Q: So I -- sorry, I was distracted for a second; when did you say they were going to Cairo? Tomorrow or today? MS. PSAKI: Tomorrow they'll fly to -- they'll fly -- they'll travel to Cairo tomorrow. Q: OK. So looking ahead to their visit to Ankara, I'm wondering if you can update us on what the diplomacy has been or if there has been any in terms of trying or trying not to get the Kurds -- I mean, the Turks -- involved in the-- in the Kobane situation. MS. PSAKI: Well, Secretary Kerry spoke with Prime Minister Davutoglu last night and again briefly this morning. Obviously, their conversation is -- was broadly about the challenges we're all facing with the threat of ISIL and also certainly the situation in Kobane. As I mentioned, General Allen and Ambassador McGurk will be there later this week, and expect the conversation will continue when they're there. Q: Can you be a little bit more specific about what -- you know, what it was that they talked about as it relates to the situation in Kobane? MS. PSAKI: Well, I think they're certainly -- it's horrific for everyone to watch in real time what's happening in Kobane, and they talked about that. But beyond that, I'm not going to get into other specifics. Certainly about -- let me add a little bit more -- about the role the -- what the United States has been undertaking, what other Arab countries have been undertaking, and certainly discussion about what role Turkey can play. But we're not going to discuss that publicly much further than that. Q: Well, I mean, are you satisfied with the current role that Turkey is playing? MS. PSAKI: I think Turkey is determining what larger role they'll play broadly as a part of the coalition moving forward, and that conversation is ongoing. Q: You would encourage them to play a larger role, what you just said. MS. PSAKI: I think they've indicated their openness to doing that, so there is an active conversation about that. Q: And you would like to see that. MS. PSAKI: Certainly. Q: Did the secretary -- he didn't try to impersonate Vice President Biden, did he, on the phone call? MS. PSAKI: I think you are all familiar with the secretary's long history and relationship -- friendship, I should say -- with the prime minister. Q: Did that subject come up at all? MS. PSAKI: Not that I'm aware of, Matt. Q: No? All right. Q: (Off mic) -- also on Turkey, the Turkish president said bombing was not enough. So therefore, what other -- you know, if Turkey doesn't think the bombing enough, what steps should it be taking then to make sure that then, you know, what it does is more effective? MS. PSAKI: Well, there are a couple of steps that are -- let me just give you an update on the airstrikes. I know my colleague over at the Pentagon is also briefing today who will have more details, certainly, I would expect. We've undertaken multiple airstrikes in the Kobane area, including multiple strikes again last night. One airstrike south of Kobane destroyed three ISIL armed vehicles and damaged another. Another strike southeast of Kobane destroyed an ISIL armed vehicle carrying anti-aircraft artillery. Two airstrikes southeast of Kobane damaged an ISIL tank. Another airstrike south of Kobane destroyed an ISIL unit. So just a brief update on that piece. There are also -- there's also -- on the ground several individual opposition groups have formed de facto coalitions in some of these towns, including those near the Turkish border. And they're working together to push back and hold by to the degree they can ISIL and their efforts that have been underway on the ground. One other piece and then we'll get to your next question. I think as it relates to this -- as I mentioned earlier, it's obviously horrific to watch what's going on on the ground. But it's important for the United States, for us, to also step back and remember our strategic objectives as it relates to our efforts and our engagement in Syria. As you all saw, the president laid out a clear and comprehensive strategy for degrading and ultimately destroying ISIL. Our goal is to deny ISIL a safe haven from which they can stage attacks in Iraq, and possibly plan attacks against U.S. interests. And so our focus is on undertaking -- militarily, I should say -- is undertaking a deliberate, well-thought-out campaign in Syria to disrupt ISIL, specifically their command and control structures, destroy ISIL's critical infrastructure, attack sources of ISIL fuel and financing. And you've seen, militarily, that those are -- that has been the focus of our actions to date. Q: Is Kobane not just an example that there are limits to just doing airstrikes, that perhaps, you know, boots on the ground by the Turks or anyone else is probably necessary in this case? MS. PSAKI: Well, nothing has changed about our view. I just think that's worth repeating in terms of the United States engagement. Obviously we're having a discussion that's ongoing with Turkey about what role they may or may not be willing to play and certainly how that works into the overall coalition effort. Go ahead, Jo, and then we'll go to you. Go ahead. Q: You said that some of the local groups have formed together as a coalition. Are you in touch with them? Are you helping them practically on the ground? MS. PSAKI: Well, we're assisting them by doing the airstrikes that we have undergone over the past several days. Certainly we've seen that that has been useful, not only there but in Iraq and other places where we've done that. Go ahead. Q: Just the previous question, to follow up President Erdogan's remarks. He also stated that there needs to be ground operations and airstrikes would not be enough. So my question is, is there any plan -- besides this 5,000 Syrian opposition -- is there any plan to organize or coordinate ground forces for Syria -- (inaudible). MS. PSAKI: Well, certainly our train and equip program is not the totality of our assistance to the Syrian opposition. We have been providing a range of assistance that, you know, I still can't outline from here. We are working with other partners in the region to also provide different types of assistance and training. And certainly boosting up the opposition and increasing their military capabilities, their military credibility we feel is not only important tactically but also strategically as we look to how we're going to bring an end to this politically. Q: So besides the Syrian opposition you are training and equipping, there is no other work to organize ground troops that -- (inaudible) -- because President Erdogan references that somehow there is some ground forces being organized. MS. PSAKI: Well, the United States, as you know, is not playing that role. We'll have a discussion with other countries about what role they may or may not be willing to play and what would be most effective as it relates to the coalition. Do we have any more on Turkey? Q: Yeah, I have one. MS. PSAKI: Go ahead. Q: President Barzani of Kurdistan has asked -- as news reports have said -- has asked the Turkish president to send Peshmerga to Kobane. Are you aware of this request? MS. PSAKI: I have not seen that specifically. I'm happy to talk to our team about that. I think it's important for everyone to remember that there's still an ongoing fight happening in Iraq, one that we're very engaged in, against ISIL. So I'd have to talk to them about whether tactically that's something we would advocate for. Q: And is there any update regarding the U.S. position toward creating a buffer zone and a no-fly zone in Syria? MS. PSAKI: Nothing has changed. It's still not an active part of our consideration. Q: And what's the U.S. position, or -- in principle towards creating buffer zone and no-fly zone? MS. PSAKI: It's not -- nothing has changed since General Dempsey spoke to it about a week ago. Q: Jen, you said that the president had laid out a clear and comprehensive strategy for dealing with this. Is it not at all distressing to the administration that this clear and comprehensive strategy thus far has seen ISIL make gains rather than driving -- than retreat? MS. PSAKI: Well, in fact, I would disagree with that, Matt -- there have been, certainly, gains made by the Iraqi security forces in Iraq. I can go through some of those for you, if that would be useful. We've said from the beginning, and the president has said from the beginning that this would be an -- would not be overnight, that this would be a long-term effort. And certainly, I outlined -- as I just outlined, there are some strategic objectives that we're focused on. We've gone after refineries. We're going after strategic locations. And let me just tick through these, and then we can go to your next question -- some of our successes we've seen on the ground by the Iraqi security forces. One moment. Sorry. I'll find these. Sorry, I wanted to highlight them because -- Q: OK. Does that mean there aren't any? (Laughter.) MS. PSAKI: That does not at all mean that, Matt. There have been -- the Iraqi security forces have pushed back and regained territory, and I just wanted to list through those. But I'll find them before the end of the briefing. Go ahead. Q: OK. But you say -- clearly, it's -- you know, this isn't going to be an overnight campaign, regardless of whether it's clear and comprehensive or not. But, you know, overnight, Kobane almost fall, and by tomorrow, may be in ISIL's hands. And so, I just don't know how -- is there not any concern at all that you're not doing -- that the clear and comprehensive strategy that the president has laid down is not -- isn't working yet, or do you think that the successes -- MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, I think the reason why I outlined our objectives here and what our -- the deliberate and focused campaign is is to outline and highlight the fact that it's been focused militarily on command and control structures, destroying ISIL's critical infrastructure and attacking sources of ISIL's fuel and financing. And certainly, we're undergoing airstrikes in a range of places, including in the neighborhood. Q: The Turks said a couple of days ago -- various Turkish leaders said that they would not allow Kobane to fall or that they would prevent it from falling. Is that -- is this a strategic goal of the United States in this situation, to keep Kobane out of ISIL's hands? MS. PSAKI: Well, certainly, no one wants to see Kobane fall, but our primary objective here is preventing ISIL from gaining a safe haven, and we're going after those specific structures that I mentioned. Q: So does that mean that the administration believes that the fall -- if Kobane falls, it wouldn't be a disaster? I mean, it would -- you could live with it? MS. PSAKI: Well, I'm certainly not saying that, Matt, but I'm saying that, obviously, our objectives and our focus strategically is on, as I outlined, command and control structures, oil refineries, and that's where we're taking our military action. But we would not have taken the range of military strikes we have taken, including overnight, if we did not want to support and defend the area. Let me just outline now the specific. So one, as we all know, and many of you reported, Kurdish forces, with the support of Sunni tribes, retook the Iraq-Syria border crossing at Rabia last week, which fell to ISIL in June. This is, of course, an encouraging development, as it will make it harder for ISIL to operate across the border. There were also reports last week that Iraqi security forces, working in conjunction with Sunni tribes, have pushed back against ISIL in the town of Duluiyah (sp) -- I don't know how to say that name, but I will have you all pronounce it as you report. Go ahead. Q: I'll take your word for it. But they're also, you know, getting close to Baghdad. MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, nothing is new about their focus on Baghdad -- about their desire to go after Baghdad, and we've seen -- certainly, they have been adjusting their tactics, as has the United States, but we also have been strengthening the resolve of the Iraqi security forces. They have taken additional actions to defend not only that area, but others, as I just outlined. And, you know, we don't feel that the -- their desire to go after Baghdad is particularly new. Q: Well, but presumably, if you're not OK with ISIL taking Kobane, you're not OK with them even approaching -- you wouldn't be OK with them even approaching Baghdad, right? MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, I think that it's clear that we've taken a range of actions in Iraq to push back on and go after -- Q: Right. The administration won't let Baghdad fall or be infiltrated? MS. PSAKI: I think we've been clear we're going to do everything possible to defend. Q: OK. Last one -- and I realize this is probably -- Q: Excuse me, on this one -- why don't you say the same thing on Kobane? MS. PSAKI: I think I just outlined our tactics and our focus and I'll leave it at that. Q: (Inaudible) -- your tactics are -- it doesn't actually say that maintaining control of Kobane is a strategic objective at the moment in this ongoing campaign. MS. PSAKI: I think I'm going to leave it at what I outlined as ourstrategic goals in Syria. Q: So Kobani could be collateral damage. MS. PSAKI: That's not at all what I said. Q: What -- MS. PSAKI: Go ahead. Q: But it's -- but it's what you can infer from what you're saying. You're saying that your strategic goal at the moment is oil refineries and the financing and, you know -- (inaudible) -- it's not this town where 200,000 people have already fled. MS. PSAKI: Well, Jo (ph), I would also remind you, as I did before, that we also have done a range of airstrikes in the neighborhood of Kobani, specifically to push back. But I think it's important also for people to understand what our objectives are. Q: Do you think -- Q: But it does sound, though, as though you're not willing to -- or you're -- that's not the right word. It sounds as though the defense of Kobani is not a super-high priority. Q: Yes. MS. PSAKI: Well, we wouldn't be taking airstrikes -- Q: Right. MS. PSAKI: -- if we didn't want to take action in order to push back on the threat ISIL is posing. Q: But then do you think that Kobani can be -- the issue around Kobani can be resolved without the Turkish getting more involved? Is that -- is that an absolute requirement on this one to have that? MS. PSAKI: I'm just not in a position to give military analysis. Obviously -- Q: Well, I'm thinking more political -- MS. PSAKI: Well, I think -- but we're talking about tactically, militarily whether they can. Obviously we're having a discussion, as is evidenced by the prime minister's discussion with Secretary Kerry and the fact that Ambassador McGurk and General Allen are going there later this week. But certainly we also communicate with them via mil-to-mil channels as well. Q: And just on this rebel coalition, are they operating with support of the U.S. or with the Turks or -- MS. PSAKI: In what capacity? Q: Support as in military support or any other support. I mean, are they -- I mean, they haven't just come together and said, well, we're going to -- you know, we're going to help free Kobani, right? MS. PSAKI: Well, I think they have been forming -- opposition groups have been working together in the neighborhood. I'm not sure what you mean. Are we providing military assistance? Or what particular piece? Q: Yeah. MS. PSAKI: I mean, our position hasn't changed as it relates to who we are and aren't providing military assistance to. I can see if there's more we can convey on that specifically. Q: OK. Q: Yeah, and just -- Q: Did the secretary say to the prime minister that if more needs to be done to try to save Kobani, that it's up to the Turkish government and the military to do it because the president, President Obama, has been adamant that ground forces from the U.S. would not be used in any part of this conflict? MS. PSAKI: I think I will leave it at how I read out the call. And it was a -- more of a discussion about how we can work together and what role they're going to be able to play. Q: But it doesn't -- but it sounds as if, you know, based on the reports coming out of the Turkish media that there's this expectation on the part of the Turkish government that the U.S. ought to be doing more. And I'm wondering how forcefully is the U.S. pushing back against this perception in its diplomatic conversations, not just in what it -- the president is saying to the American public. MS. PSAKI: I'm just not going to read out private diplomatic conversations any further. Go ahead. Q: But without getting into the substance of the call, though, can you -- would it be correct to infer that two phone calls in 12 hours or something, that that implies that there is a sense of urgency here? MS. PSAKI: Certainly, as is the fact that General Allen and Ambassador McGurk are heading there this week as well. Q: And have U.S. officials on -- nonmilitary officials, State Department officials, made the case to the Turks that Kobani is actually on their border, not ours, not the U.S. border, and they pose -- ISIL taking it poses a more immediate threat to Turkey than to the United States? MS. PSAKI: Well, I think there's an understanding. I would point to -- Q: Do they get it? MS. PSAKI: -- their public comments about the threat that has been posed. Q: This is a country that has the second-largest army in NATO, and it's not doing anything. MS. PSAKI: We're in a discussion about what more that can be done -- Q: All right. MS. PSAKI: -- what more can be done, I should say. Q: And then -- and then I realize this is probably better asked at the Pentagon because they have the video and whatever, but when you went through that list -- MS. PSAKI: They have all the toys. (Chuckles.) Q: Yes, wonderful toys. The -- you went through that list of strikes, of what was destroyed, ISIL vehicles, armed vehicles, ISIL tanks. To the best of your knowledge, or do you know, are -- were all of those vehicles and tanks made here? Were they American? MS. PSAKI: I don't have any details on the origin, Matt. I would point you to the -- to them, to the DOD. Q: Is it at all problematic for this building that much of the equipment that you're destroying now is actually American? MS. PSAKI: Well, I think, one, Matt, obviously when -- we know, we understand that battle losses can, do and will occur. And we take into account when we make arms transfers decisions in Iraq and around the world about that and factor that in. Obviously we don't want to see equipment in the hands of terrorist organizations but, you know, we certainly are aware of what happens on the battlefield. Go ahead. Q: You just talked about the Turkish official's comments regarding urgency in Kobani. Just today President Erdogan said that Kobani either has fallen or is about to fall. Is this the remarks you're talking about regarding urgency, the topic of -- MS. PSAKI: I don't have any -- I think there have been a range of comments that have emphasized the recognition of the urgency of the situation. Do we have more on Turkey? Go ahead, Jo. Q: (Off mic) -- going on in Kobani. And yesterday you asked if you could confirm the reports that ISIS had been moving into the town. I mean, now are you in position now from the podium to be able to say what the U.S. assessment of the situation on the ground in Kobani is? MS. PSAKI: I don't have any other military assessment from here. Obviously, as we know, there have been a range of television cameras and journalists who have certainly been broadcasting what's happening, but I don't have any other analysis to share from here. Q: And just to go back again on the question about your engagement with the Kurdish, what is the U.S. engagement with the Kurdish people inside Syria at the moment? MS. PSAKI: Are you talking about a specific group or are you talking about a -- Q: Well, I think generally, and then specifically there was also -- I don't know if you're aware of a report in Foreign Policy today about it. So I wondering if you could give the reaction to that, that there's been secret talks going on between the United States and the PYD, which is actually an ally to the PKK. MS. PSAKI: I don't think that's exactly what it said. It said that we've not engaged -- I mean, that we have engaged through intermediaries. Q: Yes. MS. PSAKI: That's true. We have not engaged directly with the PYD, for reasons that are well-known. We, of course, as you know, broadly speaking, talked to a wide range of officials with in the Syrian opposition throughout Syria of course. But yes, we have spoken in the past through intermediaries. Q: And is the Kurdish -- are the Kurdish groups key, do you think, to the fight both against ISIL and also long term against Assad? MS. PSAKI: Well, I think we've seen -- and you're talking about specifically the Kurdish groups in Syria. Q: Yeah. MS. PSAKI: Look, I think we've seen efforts to push back on the ground the threat from ISIL, and certainly there are certain parts of Syria just as separately there are certain parts of Iraq where there's a broad presence. So certainly we think those efforts are important. Q: So what's happening in Kobani at the moment, does that presuppose that there could be more direct engagement between the United States and the PYD, which has been running Kobani? MS. PSAKI: Our policy hasn't changed in that regard. We continue to engage through intermediaries. Q: Can I just ask you -- MS. PSAKI: Sure. Q: -- on that report, the way it was characterized, secret talks, do you agree with that? I mean, it's been pretty well-known for years that you've been dealing with all sorts of people in Syria, some directly, some through intermediaries. Would you agree with that characterization? MS. PSAKI: I probably wouldn't state it that way. Whether everybody was aware through intermediaries I think is a separate question. Do we have any more on Turkey? Q: Yes, especially -- MS. PSAKI: OK. Q: -- the envoy to Syria and Turkey. Do you have any readout for his meetings? MS. PSAKI: Daniel Rubenstein. Q: Yeah. MS. PSAKI: I don't. I'm happy to get you one after the briefing. Q: OK. And what's the difference for you between Kobani and Baghdad in defending these two places? MS. PSAKI: I think they're different countries and different cities. And obviously, as you know, in Iraq our air strikes provide close air support for Iraqi security forces who are countering ISIL on the ground. We have a long partnership, obviously. The Iraqi government invited us in to play a role here. So they're entirely different circumstances and situations. Q: But in fighting ISIL, it's not the same, do you think? MS. PSAKI: I think I've answered it all I can. Go ahead. Q: I have one Syria, one Turkey. On Turkey, we have seen dozens of protests across Turkey now, mostly in southeast of Turkey, which is Kurdish cities. Do you have any comment on those protests? Or how do you assess those -- MS. PSAKI: We do. I mean, certainly we, of course, as you know, broadly value freedom of expression, freedom of speech. We encourage people to do that peacefully, and certainly encourage authorities to respect protests when they're done peacefully as well. Q: These protests called by PYD leader as well as PKK leaders just for Kobani rather than, you know, in other democratic demands. But these are for Kobani. MS. PSAKI: OK. I don't have anything more toMS. PSAKI: OK. I don't have anything more to add. Q: (Inaudible). OK. One last one on Syria. Last week you were asked about whether after the U.S. strikes into Syria, some of the Syrian opposition groups such as the al-Nusra Front or - (inaudible) - reports are coming out that they are actually uniting with the ISIL groups against the U.S. strikes. So the argument goes U.S. strikes do more damage on the ground rather than weaken -- (inaudible). MS. PSAKI: I think I answered this. I don't think I have anything new to what I said yesterday. Q: So you don't see any evidence that -- MS. PSAKI: I think I answered it yesterday. Go ahead -- (inaudible). Q: (Off mic.) MS. PSAKI: Let's just finish this and then we can go to you. Go ahead, Samir (ph). Q: Do you know if the people of Kobani, the city of Kobani, are they supporters of the Assad regime or opponents? MS. PSAKI: I think, you know, obviously there are a range of -- and I don't have any analysis of that, to be honest. Go ahead. Q: Does the EU's criticism of the independence of Turkish courts in any way complicate the request from Turkey to participate - (off mic) - international coalition? MS. PSAKI: You know, I think for us even Turkey is of course an incredibly important NATO ally. It's -- they're an important counterterrorism partner. There are times when we've spoken out about steps that have been taken regarding freedom of speech or freedom of the media, and the sign of a strong relationship is when you're able to do that. But I'll let the EU speak for themselves. Q: Can I ask one more question? MS. PSAKI: Sure. Q: Is there any concern that by letting Kobani fall, if it were to fall, that the Kurds would not continue to play the role that they are playing within the coalition in fighting ISIS in Iraq and -- MS. PSAKI: Well, I think clearly there are parts of Iraq -- and certainly the work of the efforts that the Peshmerga have been undergoing and they've continued to strengthen over time -- are also for their own -- the survival of Iraq and the survival of their own communities. We're certainly supporting that. But ultimately it's for the Iraqi security forces, working with the Peshmerga and the Kurds, to have a long-term plan and a long-term strategy to keep terrorists at bay. And so it is not that they are fighting back to do a favor to the United States, it's to protect their own interests as well. Do we have any more on this issue, or should we -- OK, go ahead. Q: Is there a role here for Iran to play? Yesterday, Foreign Minister Zarif denounced the role certain countries were playing in Syria, saying it makes things more complicated. Specifically, he addressed the view that extremists and the Assad regime are two problems that would take care of each other. He said that this was an incorrect view that caused complications in Syria. Is there a role here that Iran can play? MS. PSAKI: We've spoken pretty extensively to this issue. The secretary of state has said there is a role for nearly every country to play, so that hasn't changed. Q: What about the general criticism that these airstrikes are somehow helping the Assad regime have its -- well, maintain its grip on power -- something that you've obviously have stated is not your policy. How do you address that view? MS. PSAKI: Well, first, we're undergoing military action and building this coalition because of the threat, if left unchecked, that ISIL could pose to the United States, and we have to worry about and focus on our own interests as well. The second is, ISIL was growing not only in the region but certainly the safe haven was growing -- was gaining strength in Syria, and for several years now the opposition has been fighting ISIL. They haven't -- the regime has not -- has been kind of turning a blind eye to that. So we had to address both what's in the interest of the United States, what's in the interest of the region. And certainly a number of our programs, including the train and equip program and the aid and assistance we're providing to the opposition, can also be used to fight against the Assad regime, and certainly we believe that strengthening the credibility, the military capability of the opposition will help them politically as it comes to working through a conclusion here. Q: Sorry, I have one on Syria unrelated to this. For the last year the administration has held up the agreement that it reached with the Russians on Syria's chemical weapons facilities as a big success. It now emerges that Syria has declared another four chemical weapons facilities. And I'm just wondering, in light of that, was this such a success after all? It certainly did get rid of some or, even one could argue, a lot of the chemical weapons that they had, but it clearly wasn't all. They clearly lied or hid some facilities. So what does that say about the agreement? MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, without this agreement, the great large amounts of chemical weapons that were in many locations across Syria would still be in Syria, and there would be an availability to the regime to use those chemical weapons against their own people. And we have always said that part of this and part of the agreement originally was joining the Chemical Weapons Convention so that it would not just be resolved when we removed all declared chemical weapons (that ?) we have done, but there would be continued checks on what Syria still has or may or may not have still in the country. So I think without this agreement, there would -- all of those chemical weapons that were removed through a cooperative effort by many countries and the international community would still be there, and I don't see how that's a better option. Q: OK. Well, do you have any reaction to the declaration of four additional ones, just on its face? MS. PSAKI: Are you referring to the briefing that happened up at the USUN? Q: Yes, the -- MS. PSAKI: I know that they've spoken to this up there. Obviously the secretary put out a statement just a week or so ago about our ongoing concerns and efforts to look into this and our support for the OPCW -- Q: You've long called -- said that Assad has lost credibility and are -- and has to go, but I'm just wondering, I mean, given this and this latest admission, is there any reason to think that they will negotiate, Assad or his people, in good faith? Because clearly, they weren't -- they didn't join the OPCW in good faith, and they didn't do what they were supposed to do in good faith. MS. PSAKI: Well, this has never been about trust. And certainly, that's why we have to boost up the opposition and empower them and increase their strengths so that they can pose a viable alternative here. Go ahead. Oh -- are we done with this issue? OK. Q: (Off mic.) MS. PSAKI: Sure. Oh, OK, sorry -- can we -- well, if it's a separate issue, let's go to Nicolas in the front and then we'll go to you. Go ahead. Q: Thank you. It's on Ukraine. MS. PSAKI: Mmm hmm. Q: Could you provide a readout of the meeting Assistant Secretary Victoria Nuland had with president Poroshenko? Apparently they had extensive conversation about economic aid and security at the Russian border. MS. PSAKI: Sure. Well, Assistant Secretary Nuland is in Kiev this week from October 6th through 8th to reaffirm the United States' commitment to Ukraine's territorial integrity, a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Eastern Ukraine and ongoing reform efforts, including today's historic votes to move forward new anti-corruption laws. She's already met with President Poroshenko, as you mentioned, Prime Minister Yatsenkyuk and members of various political parties and civil society. Earlier today she gave a speech to students, where she spoke about those Ukrainians who inspired the world during the Maidan protests. She also acknowledged the immense sacrifices of the Ukrainian people, thousands of whom died while fighting for their sovereignty and freedom in eastern Ukraine. She noted that the Ukrainian government has fulfilled its commitments under the September 5th Minsk agreement and called on Russia and Russian-backed separatists to fulfill their own commitments, including by ending the cease-fire violations, restoring Ukrainian control to its side of the international border, withdrawing all foreign forces and equipment and returning all hostages. And certainly, as you said, the economic prosperity of Ukraine and issues like, you know, their access to natural -- to gas and their need to be well-supplied for the winter are certainly issues that we continue to discuss with Ukraine at a variety of levels, not just through Assistant Secretary Nuland but certainly through a variety of experts within the State Department and other bodies in the administration. Go ahead, Jo. Q: (Inaudible) -- coming to any kind of conclusion about how to meet those gas needs? I mean, that is a gaping hole at the moment. And it's already mid-October; it's already getting colder. MS. PSAKI: Well, this has been, obviously, as you know, an ongoing discussion. It's one where our assistant secretary Amos Hochstein has been very involved, a number of officials in the administration have been very involved. We too want to see this resolved and certainly recognize the seasonal changes that are approaching here. I don't have any update for you, unfortunately, Jo, but just something that is a priority and that we're working closely to see how we can assist. Q: It's freezing outside. (Cross talk.) Could I -- MS. PSAKI: You've (lived ?) in Buffalo in your little -- (inaudible). Q: -- could I -- Ukraine? Did the Assistant Secretary Nuland -- I saw some reports, want to know if it's true. Did she tell Poroshenko that the spots that were in the flex program that the Russians suspended would go to Ukrainian students, do you know? MS. PSAKI: I saw the report. I'd have to check on the specifics of the flex program. That's my understanding that we will be, of course, utilizing those spots. But I would have to check on the details. Q: So they weren't -- they weren't Russia specific? They're just spots? MS. PSAKI: Well, they certainly originally were, but -- Q: I know, but they can be moved around without any changes -- MS. PSAKI: That's my understanding, but why don't we check and see kind of what will be done with the spots, if that's useful to you. Go ahead. Q: (Inaudible) -- parents went on British radio this morning and said that the U.S. government hasn't done enough to negotiate their son's release and maybe paying a ransom was appropriate. I wonder what you'd say to them. MS. PSAKI: Well, I would say first that we can't imagine the pain the heartache that Jim Foley's parents have been going through. And that's something I don't think anyone can understand unless they've unfortunately been faced with similar challenges. The United States government was involved, and closely involved, at a range -- from a range of departments working with the family. Our United States policy of not paying ransoms is in place because we think if we did it would further put Westerners at risk. And that's not something -- we don't want to make more Westerners targets. And that's the reason we have that ongoing policy. But the fact is, as you know we underwent a rescue operation, that unfortunately wasn't successful, this summer. And this is -- doing everything we can to see the safe return of individuals who are still being held is a primary focus of not just our department but individuals across the government. Q: And do you try to follow up with those other European countries that apparently do pay ransoms? MS. PSAKI: Do we follow up with them? Q: Well, do you try to persuade them not to? MS. PSAKI: I think our policy is well-known. There are a number of other governments who have a similar policy. Some don't. We certainly explain why our policy is as it is. Go ahead. Q: On Mexcio? Q: Oh, I'm sorry -- (inaudible) -- on Russia. MS. PSAKI: Sure. Russia and then we'll go to Mexico, does that work? OK, go ahead, Jo. Q: It's President Putin's 62nd birthday today. I wondered if you wanted to take the occasion to wish him happy birthday from the podium. But, more seriously, he was given, as one of his presents an art exhibit called "The 12 Labors of Heracles," which shows him with a -- in a toga armed with a sword taking over Crimea. I wondered if there was any U.S. reaction to that. MS. PSAKI: Well, I have not had time to take a look at the art exhibit, Jo. So I don't know that I have much of a comment on that, other than the fact that we continue to believe that that was an illegal intervention and certainly we don't celebrate that here. I will also note on his birthday -- it's also Desmond Tutu's birthday. It's also Yo-yo Ma's birthday. So we celebrate the birth of all born today. (Laughter.) Q: Tutu, Yo-Yo and Putin. MS. PSAKI: Mmm hmm. There's more. I could keep going. Q: Do any -- are any of them -- other ones have repetitive phrases in them, like Yo-Yo and Tutu? (Laughter.) MS. PSAKI: That's true. I didn't even notice that. That's a little alliteration there for you. Go ahead. Q: I just wonder if you have any comments with regards to the recent -- (inaudible) -- the state Guerrero by the police -- state police and what the government is doing about it, trying to cover up some incidents and trying to be quiet in order to stop the criticism to -- over President Enrique Pena Nieto. MS. PSAKI: Well, we have been following reports from Guerrero on the troubling disappearance of up to 43 students, as well as reports over the weekend that authorities in Guerrero were investigating a mass grave near Iguala. Our thoughts and sympathies are with families and friends of those missing. This is a troubling crime that demands a full, transparent investigation. And the perpetrators must be brought to justice. We understand that Mexican authorities have begun an investigation. So we'd certainly refer you to them otherwise, for more information on the investigation. Q: But the office of Senator Patrick Leahy has just told that he asked the State Department to investigate if some of those police members and Mexican military who killed people -- (inaudible) -- were trained by the U.S. under the Merida Initiative and if some arms have been used in those crimes. When are you going to response to Senator Leahy? MS. PSAKI: Did he send us a letter or -- Q: I don't know, his office just said he already asked the State Department to provide this information for him. MS. PSAKI: I'm happy to look into that. If he sent us a letter, we typically reply to that in kind. So why don't I check on that and see. Obviously there's an investigation that Mexican authorities are undergoing at this point in time. Q: And another thing, why the U.S. government get kind of quiet with the massacre in Tlatlaya that occurred in June 30? And it was three months after that when the State Department made a comment. And I used to come every day to this briefing, and I remember when somebody killed someone someone in Mexico, immediately, there was a reaction by the U.S. government. Why, in this case, not? MS. PSAKI: In this particular case, or -- Q: (Inaudible) -- Tlatlaya in the state of Mexico. MS. PSAKI: I'd have to check and see if we put out a statement or made a comment. Oftentimes, it's in response to questions, so we can check on that for you. Q: Lebanon? Do you have anything on the tension between Lebanon and Israel, especially after some military actions today between Hezbollah and Israel? MS. PSAKI: Mhmm. Sure. One moment. I can just do a few more here, because Ambassador Bass is being confirmed, so I just don't want to miss that. Q: So he'll get to Turkey, too. MS. PSAKI: He will soon be in Turkey as well. Lots of people in Turkey. So you are asking, I think, about -- sorry, say your question one more time? Q: The tension on the border between Lebanon and Israel after a military operation made by Hezbollah against Israeli troops. MS. PSAKI: We've certainly seen that. I have some comments on it, I just have to get it to you after the briefing. Go ahead. Q: I have one follow-up on your question and answer. You said -- (inaudible) -- India-Pakistan. You talked about LoC and your concerns. Is the U.S. in touch with either India and Pakistan to calm down the situation along the LoC? MS. PSAKI: We have large embassy presences in both countries, so I'm certain we're in touch, and we encourage ongoing dialogue. But I don't have anything new to read out for you. Q: But not from this building, right? MS. PSAKI: I don't have any new calls to read out from you from the secretary or anyone else at this point, no. Q: I've got three that'll be extremely brief. MS. PSAKI: OK. And then we'll go to you -- Q: One, do you know anything about this explosion in Parchin? MS. PSAKI: I don't know that I have anything new, Matt. But let me see if I have nothing to convey to you. Q: OK. Second, yesterday evening, I think, or early afternoon -- or late afternoon, you put out a statement about the Huang case, and -- MS. PSAKI: We did -- we did. And actually, I meant to flag that at the beginning, because I know we put it out late last night. Q: Yeah, why? What was the occasion for this, and why now, or why is it only now that you're calling on the Qataris to allow them to return to the states? MS. PSAKI: Well, I think, one, this is an issue that we have discussed and we recently discussed with the Qataris, and so, certainly, we just felt it was appropriate to remind people of this particular case. Let me just see if there's anything -- Q: But do you know if there was a specific reason? And I realize the appeal is coming up on the 20th or something. MS. PSAKI: Yeah. The next hearing date is set for October 20th, so that's in -- let's see -- about two weeks. Q: Right. But this has been going on for some time. MS. PSAKI: (Inaudible.) Q: So why is it now, only, that you're telling the Qataris, or at least making it public that you want the Qataris to let them go? MS. PSAKI: I believe we've spoken to this in the past, Matt, but we just wanted to raise awareness for this issue and make sure we highlighted it for people. Q: And nearby, in Bahrain, the case of this rights activist who was arrested for tweets is still going on. I'm wondering what your -- if you have anything new to say about that, and if you know whether there will be any diplomatic presence at these hearings, if that's being allowed. MS. PSAKI: I don't have anything new to offer. I can check and see if we'll have a presence there from our consular office, sure. Let's just do two more here. Go ahead, Michelle (sp), and then we'll go to -- Q: On Ebola, if Thomas Duncan survives, will the U.S. send him back to Liberia to face prosecution? MS. PSAKI: To face prosecution -- Q: For -- the Liberian officials have said that they would prosecute him for getting on the plane and lying about the questionnaire saying that he had Ebola or had been in touch with someone with Ebola. So I'm wondering, would he, in fact, face extradition for that if he ends up surviving? MS. PSAKI: Well, broadly speaking, as you know, we don't talk about extradition. I'm not aware of any plans to do that, no, though. Q: Two very quick ones. One on Burma or Myanmar, depending on who is speaking -- they have decided to free 3,000 prisoners, including former intelligence, military figures. Is it a good thing? Is it a sign of good will before the visit of President Obama in November? MS. PSAKI: Well, we welcome reports that the government of Burma has released a number of prisoners on amnesty -- with amnesty, I should say, today. We don't have all of the details yet on those who have been released. We urge the government to continue to work expeditiously through the political prisoner review committee to release all political prisoners unconditionally and to remove conditions placed on those already released. So, since reform has passed, or began, I should say, approximately 1,300 political prisoners have been freed. While most recognize the political prisoners have been released, an estimated 30 to 40 remain incarcerated, and the presidential -- I should say, the political prisoner review committee was established in 2013 to discuss this, and certainly were encouraging them to continue to move forward. I'll -- Q: One last one, on Haiti. Yesterday you had a reaction about the death of Jean-Claude Duvalier. Since then it seems that the elections, which were already long delayed, will be -- might be postponed again. So is the secretary planning to phone again President Martelly? And if the elections are postponed, who would be to blame? Is it President Martelly or the opposition, which is dragging its feet to implement the electoral reforms? MS. PSAKI: Well, I'm not aware of another call planned. This -- Haiti and the issue of working with -- on this diplomatically falls under our counselor, Tom Shannon. So he'll continue to be certainly engaged in this issue. I'm sure we can keep you abreast if there's any call planned in the future. All right. Thanks, everyone. Q: Thank you.
Archived Unity File