"Beyond - The - Mat"
"BEYOND THE MAT" COMES TO THEATERS FRIDAY MARCH 17.
GRAND JURY STAKEOUT
GRAND JURY LOOKING INTO WHITEWATER ISSUES IS SCHEDULED TO MEET. STAKEOUT ARRIVALS AND DEPARTURES JANIS KEARNEY ( SPEICAL ASST TO PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON FOR RECORDS AND RECORDS MANAGER ), MATT FOLEY DEPARTURES. CUTS
SNOW/CAPITOL HILL MATT
MELES COUNTRIES
Entertainment File Affleck Garner
Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner announce they are getting divorced after 10 years of marriage
Daypkg - Gun - Control
President Clinton rallies the gun control troops as Congress resumes the fight over what should be done to protect our children.
GRAND JURY STAKEOUTS
THE GRAND JURY LOOKING INTO WHITEWATER ISSUES IS SCHEDULED TO MEET. STAKEOUT ARRIVALS AND DEPARTURES FROM JOHN MARSHALL PLACE. JANIS KEARNEY DEPARTURE , MATT FOLEY DEPARTURE DESANTIS CAMERA 13:02:04 FOLEY WALKING THROUGH LOT O'SHEA CAMERA 13:03:07 FOLLOWING FOLEY ON STREET 13:03:52 KEARNEY LEAVING SIDE ENTRANCE NORLING CAMERA 13:05:14 KEARNEY EXIT
Entertainment US Ross Mathews
TV personality talks friendship with Gwyneth Paltrow and his obsession with the series 'Scandal'
Rugby: Second test match France/Australia
THAILAND: BRITISH TOURIST MURDER: SUSPECT ARRESTED (2)
TAPE_NUMBER: EF00/0896 IN_TIME: 12:21:06 // 15:03:19 // 20:36:43 LENGTH: 03:26 SOURCES: All ITV Thailand except shots 16-20 = BBC RESTRICTIONS: FEED: VARIOUS (THE ABOVE TIME-CODE IS TIME-OF-DAY) SCRIPT: English/Nat XFA PLEASE NOTE THIS PACKAGE INCLUDES GRAPHIC AND SENSITIVE FOOTAGE Thai police have questioned an Australian man in connection with the murder of a British tourist on Thursday and are looking for another foreigner as part of their investigations. The woman - Kirsty Sara Jones, 24, from Wales - was found strangled to death after being raped in a backpacker's guesthouse in a northern hill resort. The man, Nathan Foley, has been released but has been told he cannot leave the country. Kirsty Jones had checked in at the Aree Guesthouse in the town of Chiang Mai on Monday. On Thursday, her body was discovered, semi-naked, lying on the bed in her room. The police put out an alert after the discovery of Jones' body and were tipped off by another backpacker that the suspect was in a disco. Police say the suspect, Nathan Foley, was born in Sydney and has dual British and Australian nationality. Foley has admitted knowing Miss Jones but denied that they had had a relationship, and is protesting his innocence. The body was found by other guests and the guesthouse owner, who became suspicious at not seeing Jones come out of her room on Thursday morning. The previous night the guests had heard sounds of a struggle from Jones' room and had heard screams but no one had interfered. SOUNDBITE: (Thai) "There are people who are staying next door who heard help me, help me and that time was at one in the morning. So we believe that the incident happened at one o'clock." SUPER CAPTION: Police Lt. General Aram Chanten According to British diplomats Foley turned himself in to the police. They now have several days to question him. Meanwhile, at their family home in Breconpowys, Wales, the parents of the murdered woman spoke of her love of travel and her determination to go on this trip to Thailand. SOUNDBITE: (English) "It was her decision, it was Kirsty's decision to go. She's 23 years old. You can't tell her not to go. She was determined. Wild horses couldn't have stopped her going on this trip." SUPER CAPTION: Glyn and Sue Jones, parents of Kirsty Jones SOUNDBITE: (English) "No, no, we don't want to go to Thailand. We just want Kirsty back here where she'll be safe, where no one will be able to harm her again." SUPER CAPTION: Glyn and Sue Jones, parents of Kirsty Jones SHOTLIST: Chiang Mai, Thailand and Breconpowys, Wales - August 10 & 11 2000 ITV MATERIAL August 11 1. Wide shot of suspect leaving car and walking 2. Wide shot of suspect walking into guesthouse where he and murdered Briton stayed 3. Suspect and police in victim's room 4. Suspect giving card to police 5. Various close ups of policeman collecting evidence in bag 6. Suspect crying 7. Suspect being questioned by police August 10 8. Shot through window of body on bed 9. Close up of feet of murder victim 10. Body being photographed 11. Body being taken out of room 12. Body being placed in vehicle 13. Press outside 14. SOUNDBITE: (Thai) Police Lt. General Aram Chanten August 11 15. Suspect walking from police station with Australian consul Matt Brown BBC MATERIAL August 11 - Breconpowys, Wales 16. Exterior of family farmhouse 17. SOUNDBITE: (English) Parents of Kirsty Jones 18. Cutaway hands 19. SOUNDBITE: (English) Parents of Kirsty Jones 20. Exterior of farmhouse?
"The path of the ancestors"
Australia: South Sea Islanders
STATE DEPARTMENT PRESS BRIEFING
STATE DEPARTMENT REGULAR DAILY PRESS BRIEFING State Department Holds Regular News Briefing LIST OF SPEAKERS HARF: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to the daily briefing. Thank you, Said. I just have one item at the top, and then I will open it up for your questions. As you hear President Obama say today, and Secretary Kerry, in a written statement, just moments ago, I would also like to express our heartfelt and deepest condolences on the tragic loss of James Foley. We extend our deepest sympathy to his family and to all whose lives he touched. As the president said, Jim Foley's life stands in stark contrast to his killers. ISIL has rampaged across cities and villages, killing innocent, unarmed civilians in cowardly acts of violence. Let's be clear that ISIL speaks for no religion. No faith teaches people to massacre innocents. As the president said, when people harm Americans anywhere, we will do what's necessary to see that justice is done. We will be vigilant, and we will be relentless. And the United States will continue to what we must to protect our people. So, with that, Matt, let's open it up to questions. QUESTION: OK, just before we get to the statement from the president and also the secretary, I just want to know, I'm wondering if you have or are able to share any more than the White House, than the NSC, your colleague Caitlin, was able to share about the authentication of the video, if -- if your intel people have been able to figure out the when and the where of when this video was made, that kind of thing. HARF: As the NSC did say, we have -- the intelligence community has completed its authentication of the video. There are a variety of ways we go about doing that, many of which we don't talk about publicly because we'd like to be able to use them if, unfortunately, they're needed in the future. We're looking at all of those issues right now. Our intelligence community is evaluating that to see if there's any information that we can use to either bring to justice those responsible. Or of course, you saw the other American citizen, Mr. Sotloff in the video as well, and we remain very deeply concerned about his safety and whereabouts. QUESTION: Right. OK, does that mean that the jury is still essentially out on determining where and when and who? HARF: I'm not saying that. I'm not -- let's do a couple of points on that. I'm not saying that. I'm just not going to specifically outline what we do or don't know from the video given much of that is used for intelligence purposes. Prime Minister Cameron did speak a few moments ago as well, and he said that we have not identified the individual responsible, but from what we've seen, it looks increasingly likely that it is a British citizen. We agree, of course, with that assessment, are working very closely with the United Kingdom, our partners there, to determine who may have been in the video. QUESTION: So you agree with Prime Minister Cameron's assessment... (CROSSTALK) HARF: ... that it seems increasingly likely that it is a British citizen. QUESTION: Then this is just the person who was on the video, not anyone offscreen... (CROSSTALK) HARF: Correct. And, obviously, the intelligence community is looking to get anything they can to possibly use from this video. QUESTION: Right. Can I ask two brief ones on, both, first, the president's statement and then on the secretary's statement? HARF: You can. QUESTION: One of the -- what seems to be one of the main operative paragraphs of the -- of the president's statement is the one that begins "from governments and people across the Middle East, there has to be a common effort to extract this cancer so that it does not spread. There has to be clear rejection of this kind of nihilistic" -- "this kind of nihilistic ideology." How is that gonna translate in policy terms? What, exactly, is the administration gonna do to make sure that there is from governments and peoples across the Middle East a clear rejection of this kind of thing? HARF: Well, there's a couple things at play here. And that is a key part of the statement, because we have talked to a number of partners who understand how serious a threat ISIL is, not just to Syria and Iraq, but to their countries as well. And countries in the region are very, very concerned about this. We've worked with them on working to cut off financing, working to cut off the flow of foreign fighters, so we can start to deprive ISIL of the oxygen that it's had and has really allowed it to flourish. But we've also been clear, separate and apart from that, that we will, no matter how long it takes, find people responsible for hurting Americans and bring them to justice. That's a key part of what the president said and what the secretary said. I think we've shown very committed to doing that. And that's certainly the case here. QUESTION: The statement suggests that you aren't -- at the moment, at least, the administration is not entirely pleased, happy, satisfied with all of the governments and peoples of the Middle East, that you believe that there are some peoples and governments that could do more or aren't really behind this effort. Is that correct? HARF: I think what today and the last 24 hours really underscores is that we all need to be doing more. QUESTION: All right, well... HARF: And I would caution you from reading too much into that one line about anyone specifically. We have been working closely with our partners in the region on this. QUESTION: So in other words, this does not indicate or herald a new policy initiative to get people onboard on the anti-ISIL... HARF: That's been an ongoing policy initiative. Obviously, what we've seen over the last 24 hours underscores how critical that effort is, but it has been ongoing effort. QUESTION: All right, my last one. From the secretary's standpoint, the line in here, it says that, "We will confront ISIL wherever it tries to spread its despicable hatred." HARF: Yes. QUESTION: Does that include Syria? And if it doesn't, why does he say wherever it tries to... HARF: Well, he meant what he said in his statement. Obviously I'm not going to outline what tactical military or intelligence options are at our disposal to respond here and don't want to get ahead of any discussions in that regard. But we have the ability to hold people accountable for what they've done. We have reserved the right to take action to protect our people, including when our people have been harmed. The principle will guide what we do going forward. The president was very clear that we will continue doing what we're doing in Iraq. Today the U.S. military took an additional 14 strikes around the Mosul dam. So those are all ongoing, conversations about the best way to fight ISIL. QUESTION: So you're saying that it is possible that the U.S. could take action, some kind of action against ISIL either generally or to bring the perpetrators of this murder to justice inside Syria? HARF: I'm not going to specifically rule anything in or out from this podium in terms of policy options. What I will say generically is that the United States reserves the right to hold people accountable when they harm Americans. What that looks like going forward, those conversations will be happening. QUESTION: All right. Well, then it sounds like you're leaving your -- you're now saying that it is possible that there could be some kind -- I don't know, maybe like a bin Laden-type raid... HARF: I'm not ruling anything in or out. QUESTION: ... or something like that... HARF: I'm not ruling anything in or out in terms of policy options. One of my main jobs here is not to rule in or out policy options. But, again, these are principles that guide what this administration has done when other Americans have been harmed, and that will guide what we're looking at going forward. Let's go around the room here, one at a time. Yeah, go ahead, Said, and then we'll go down the row. QUESTION: Of course, first of all, our heart goes out to Mr. James Foley's family. HARF: Thank you. QUESTION: Do you have a figure on the number of journalists that are actually kidnapped by ISIL at the present time in Syria? HARF: Did you say journalists? QUESTION: Yes, there is allegedly some 20 journalists from all over the world... HARF: I don't have a number for you. We are aware of other American citizens, including, as you saw, Mr. Sotloff being held in Syria. I don't have a number beyond that. We also know that ISIL has, as you point out, taken a number of journalists hostage, including many Syrian journalists, who are just trying to shed light on the horrific situation there. So we know it's a constant threat. And it's one that we're very cognizant of. QUESTION: OK. Now, is it true -- is it true that basically you're looking the other way while the sources of financing were going to ISIL in, let's say, a year or a year-and-a-half ago from Kuwait, from Qatar, from Saudi Arabia, from the gulf countries? HARF: Not at all. QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) HARF: We have been very focused on the ISIL threat as it's evolved in Syria, as it's evolved in Iraq over the past weeks and months, as well. It's a threat we've been very focused on. And we have worked with our partners in the region to try, as I said, to deprive it of oxygen that it really needs here. We're doing that in a number of ways, but we have been very focused on it for some time. QUESTION: And hasn't the Syrian regime, like it or not, been on the forefront of the fight against ISIL, I mean, with some bloody fighting? HARF: Not at all. I don't want to in any way put us on the same page as the Syrian regime. It is because the Syrian regime has allowed them to flourish that ISIS or ISIL is what it is today. They are directly responsible for the growth of this terrorist group. So I think we need to be very careful while on the -- with the right hand, the Syrian regime might be bombing them, on the left hand, everything they've done has allowed this group to flourish. So it's fairly disingenuous. QUESTION: OK, I just want to understand "allowed them to flourish." Do you mean facilitated them, gave them weapons, gave the money, gave them transportation? Or were they actually... HARF: They facilitated their movement to Iraq, as we've seen. They've fostered the growth by facilitating the flow of Al Qaida's foreign fighters during the Iraq conflict, which was really the precursor in some ways to what we've seen today. They encouraged violent extremists to transit through Syria to Iraq for the purpose of fighting coalition forces there. This history goes back quite a way, with some of these same guys who were part of that group and now have morphed into something even more, if that's possible, barbaric. QUESTION: OK. And my last question, on Kuwait, there is a focus on Kuwait that a great deal of financing comes from that small country, which you liberated back some 23 years ago, and so on. And, in fact, the Kuwaitis arrested a cleric on Sunday, Shafi al-Ajmi, and they've released them thereafter. He was propagating basically for ISIL. So would you call on the Kuwaitis to re-arrest people like that (inaudible) HARF: I'm not aware of his case. I'm happy to look into it. But we've called on all the countries in the gulf who themselves understand how serious the threat is to crack down on financing, and not just in the gulf, I should say, in the region writ large, to crack down on private citizens trying to finance this group. There is -- you know, if there is anything we've learned about ISIL, and we've learned a number of things, unfortunately, about them over the past weeks and months, is that they will kill Sunni Muslims, they will kill Shia Muslims, they will kill Yazidis, they will imprison and rape women. It doesn't matter where they're from or what religion they belong to. So I think people realize this is a threat to everyone in the region. And we would encourage people to do more accordingly. QUESTION: Jen? HARF: Yes; let's go across the row. We're going to get -- we'll get to everyone. Go ahead -- (CROSSTALK) QUESTION: Just going back to other Americans being held, did you have a number specifically on that? HARF: We're not giving the number. We're aware of other Americans but, for their safety and security, aren't going to be providing details. QUESTION: And was Mr. Foley being held in Iraq, do you think, in the northern province in Syria? HARF: Well, we don't -- we're not going to be giving more details about those kind of issues, Lucas (ph). QUESTION: OK. And then just into the statement yesterday from the NSC (ph) said that generally we are appalled at the brutal murder. Is that all? You're just appalled? HARF: I think you saw the president be very clear what his feelings are on this, as the secretary was as well. QUESTION: The French Foreign Minister Fabius has pressed all countries in the region, including Iran and Arab countries, to join Western states in fighting ISIL in Iraq and Syria. Can we imagine or expect that the West states plus Syria and Iran on the same front, fighting ISIL? (CROSSTALK) HARF: That's a fairly simplistic reading of the situation there on the ground. What we have said is anyone who is willing to help degrade ISIL's capabilities, if that would, in the long term, be a step in the right direction. But when it comes to a country like Syria, for example, the regime there, the Assad regime, by their actions, has allowed this group to flourish. So what we're focused on is building capable partners, particularly in Iraq and along the moderate opposition in Syria -- in Syria that can increasingly go after this group on their own. We have these kind of partnerships around the world, whether it's a place like Yemen, for example, where we really help them build their own capacity to do this, stood by them as we did, but that's really the kind of effort we're focused on. QUESTION: And what about Iran? HARF: Well, I think all countries in the region understand that ISIL's a threat to them, and if they are interested in playing a constructive role in helping to degrade ISIL's capabilities then I'm sure we can have that conversation then. QUESTION: (inaudible) added that the international community bears a heavy responsibility in Syria and he said if two years ago, we had acted to ensure a transition, we would not have had Islamic State. HARF: I think there's... QUESTION: What do you think of that? HARF: ... no one who would rather have had a political transition in Syria a year or so ago than -- other than the Syrian opposition than the people working on Syria in this building and in this government. If it were only that easy. I'm very hesitant about people who say, "If only we did X or Y, everything would be different." It's very complicated. We have consistently supported the Syrian opposition as we have provided them with additional assistance. We have to make sure we're vetting them because there are a number of groups in Syria that we don't want our assistance to fall into the hands of. We've continued that process. We will continue doing even more. But this is quite complicated and we are very committed to putting in place, in the long term, a way we can really degrade ISIL further. QUESTION: Last question for me... HARF: Last question... QUESTION: ... regarding French foreign minister's statement, he said that the French will -- or France will arrange a conference in September on the threat posed by ISIL. Are you aware of this conference? HARF: I hadn't heard of that conference specifically. I think somebody asked me about the other day, the president will be chairing -- let me just pull this up here because we weren't able to talk about this the other day, if I still have it, very quickly (inaudible). The president will be chairing on the -- at the U.N. General Assembly -- hold on. Let me just (inaudible) up here. Yes. The week of September 22nd, he will host a heads-of- government level security council summit to focus on the acute threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters. We will work, through our U.S. mission to the U.N., with partners on a resolution to address the phenomenon, emphasize the need for states to have the tools and mobilize the resources to help prevent it. This will be the first head-of-government level Security Council session since the president hosted one on nonproliferation in 2009. ' Obviously, the threat of terrorists traveling to foreign conflicts is not a new one, but the conflicts in Syria and Iraq have highlighted this threat. We believe there are an estimated 12,000 foreign terrorist fighters that have joined those conflicts. QUESTION: Are you coordinating with the French government? HARF: I am sure we are. I just don't have any specifics for you on that. And I don't have the details behind that proposal. Yes? Michael? QUESTION: You mentioned the 14 strikes from Central Command around Mosul Dam in the last 24 hours. Were those strikes conducted after the video was released or obtained by the U.S. government? HARF: It is my understanding that they were, yes. And I believe they happened today. QUESTION: Right. Is there -- is there a concern -- today as in our time or today as in Iraqi time? HARF: Today Iraqi time. QUESTION: OK. Is there a concern that these air strikes -- I mean, given the threats that were laid out in the video, that were pretty explicit, is there a concern that the continued air strikes around Mosul Dam on ISIL targets will lead directly to the death of... (CROSSTALK) HARF: Well, let me make a few points here. First of all, there is no justification for these kind of barbaric acts, period. None. Second, we don't make concessions to terrorists. The United States government has a longstanding policy that we feel very deeply about that we do not do that. The president was clear we're going to keep doing what we're doing. And I would also note that, as I said earlier, ISIL has been willing to kill and rape and enslave anyone who gets in their way, regardless of what country they're from; regardless of the policies of that country. They've shown themselves very willing to kill Christians and Muslims and Yazidis and people from all across Iraq and Syria. So, again, while highlighting that there is absolutely no justification for this in any way, we have seen them be very willing to kill people: really, anyone who gets in their way. QUESTION: And you call on ISIS, I assume, to release Sotloff even though... HARF: To immediate release Mr. Sotloff. QUESTION: And in terms of the video, was the secretary and the president that were briefed on the video, did they watch the video? HARF: I don't know the answer to that. I am happy to check. I have not watched the video and don't intend to. Yes? QUESTION: This horrific event. What is event is going to trigger any kind of assessment of your policy for the last 18 months when the ISIL spread through rapidly without any real check on it? HARF: Well, I think you've seen us, as ISIS and ISIL now in Iraq has gained in strength, that we have continued to assess our policy and used the tools at our disposal to work to degrade their capabilities. You've seen that with the air strikes that the U.S. military has taken, beginning about a week and a half or two weeks ago, now. They've taken -- I think I have a number here -- 84 total air strikes since August 8th. So, in that vein, we are constantly looking at how we can further degrade their leadership, their financing, their capabilities. We know they are a threat. We have known that for some time. And that's what will be focused on going forward. QUESTION: Would you be able to tell us is there any regret on your part that the U.S. government did not take more robust action in Syria to stop ISIL? HARF: Well, as I said, I think to Michelle's question. I'm hesitant when people say if only we had done X, everything would be different or everything would be fixed. I think we have constantly looked at ways in Syria in a very complicated situation where there are no easy answers, to improve the capabilities of the moderate opposition to fight not only the regime, but also terrorist groups like ISIL and Nusra. So, this is an ongoing process here. We are committed to fighting this in the long term. I can assure you we are putting all the resources of this government: military, diplomatic, intelligence, towards finding Americans who are being held and bringing them home and towards, in the long term, taking out the capabilities of ISIL because we've seen what they can do. As the president said, there's no place for this kind of group in the modern world, and that is what many, many people are working on every single day. QUESTION: So, it's safe to say that you don't have any regrets? That's what we should... HARF: I think I made very clear what my position was. Yes? QUESTION: In regards to clarify something as it relates to Syria. HARF: We can. QUESTION: For the last three years, the policy of the administration has been that all options are on the table except for boots on the ground. HARF: Correct. QUESTION: Is that no longer the case? HARF: That is still the case. QUESTION: Well then, how can you say that -- OK, so I want to make sure that I understand this. HARF: We've always said all options except for boots. And what I was saying in response to your questions was I'm not going to rule in beyond that any specific policy options either in or out. That's not what I'm going to be doing today. What I am saying is we are committed to bringing these people to justice. We are committed at fighting ISIL long term. We are determining the best way to continue our efforts to do that. QUESTION: Right, well you also just said that you would go to no -- to every length possible to find and free -- I think... HARF: Bring home. QUESTION: ... find and bring home. HARF: Yep. QUESTION: ... American... HARF: Who are either being held. QUESTION: ... captives. Or who -- so does that mean you're not ruling out some kind of a rescue operation? HARF: I'm not ruling anything in or out specifically. I don't -- I'm not going to have more specifics to share with you right now on that. But I just want to be very clear that we -- no effort is spared in trying to bring our people home. While we can't always talk about it publicly for obvious security and safety reasons of the remaining people being held, I just want to make very clear that we are taking and will continue taking steps. QUESTION: All right, and also -- and also, just on this. And that presumably applies to Mr. Foley's remains as well, right, to bring him home... HARF: Correct. With us (ph). Yes. Lucas, go ahead. QUESTION: Will the administration be taking a law enforcement approach to bringing Mr. Foley's killers to justice? HARF: Well, there will be, if there's not already, an FBI investigation, given he's an American citizen. But it's broader than that. As I just said, we have intelligence resources. We have diplomatic resources. We have military resources. We will spare no effort to hold accountable those people responsible for his death. QUESTION: And directing you to the president's remarks earlier, the president said one thing we can all agree on is that a group like ISIL has, quote, "no place in the 21st century." HARF: Yeah. QUESTION: Isn't it self-evident that they do have a place? Of course, a nefarious place. HARF: Not anyplace any of us want to live in. QUESTION: Marie, can you confirm whether Mr. Sotloff was actually kidnapped in Libya? HARF: Where? QUESTION: Yes. Was he... HARF: Mr. Sotloff? QUESTION: Sotloff. There were reports that he was actually... HARF: I can check... QUESTION: ... kidnapped in Libya. HARF: I can check, Said. I'm sorry. I don't have that in front of me. Yes. (CROSSTALK) QUESTION: ... military operations in Iraq (inaudible) beyond the two goals you was talking about yesterday? HARF: Well, the president, as you said, outlined two goals. We've talked about those since August 8th now and that's what we're operating under. So I don't have anything further to announce than that or to speculate on, I should say, instead. But we've said we are very committed to protecting our people and we've always said, even before this recent action, that we reserve the right to bring people and hold them accountable when American citizens are harmed. So we're focused on the two goals the president outlined but one of those is protection of American citizens, which speaks directly to what we've seen over the last 24 hours and to the remaining hostages. QUESTION: On this one, Marie, U.S. officials have said minutes ago that military planners are weighing (ph) the possibility of sending more Americans -- forces to Iraq, mainly to provide additional security around Baghdad. Do you have anything... HARF: I hadn't seen those comments. I don't have anything to announce at this point in terms of any additional... (CROSSTALK) QUESTION: You don't know if the State Department has requested additional troops? HARF: I can check. I can check. QUESTION: Talking about 300 soldiers. HARF: I'm happy to check. Yes? QUESTION: Just one -- one more question. According to Iran foreign minister spokesman (inaudible) between Iran and European Union about ISIL has begun. Do you know any... HARF: I think the E.U. and Iran would probably know more than I would about that. Yes, go behind you. QUESTION: OK, can I change the subject, please? HARF: No, I think we have a few more on this. Yes, go back here. QUESTION: I have been saying many times in the past, as far as these terrorists are concerned, mostly they are from the Muslim or Arabic world and operating from there and supported by (inaudible) government (inaudible) in the name of charity. And today, the president is saying that those nations (inaudible) those terrorists, arming them also, but they're -- those nations want you to speak on their behalf and go after those terrorists. My question is, are you also now going go -- after those nations who are supporting them, wherever they are? And also, this is not the first American journalist beheaded by those terrorists. Another was in Pakistan by the ISI and those terrorists operating there, also, Wall Street Journal journalist. HARF: (OFF-MIKE) QUESTION: What I'm asking you, where do we go? Those nations are (inaudible) in the name of (inaudible) those terrorists. HARF: Well, look, the president wasn't intending to -- or meaning to speak for other countries in the quotes that we've read today from what he said. And I think the other countries in the region do understand the threat. And most of the funding, unfortunately for ISIL, has come from kidnapping and ransom and criminal acts. So that's part of what their modus operandi has been, and that's part of the reason we want to deprive them of funds. But we are working with governments in the region, where there -- where we believe there are private citizens funding ISIL, to get them to clamp down even further, to cut off those sources of funding. We need to attack ISIL on a variety of fronts, one of which is the bombs that the Pentagon folks are dropping on them right now, one of them is not letting them have access to resources. So that's something we're very focused on, and we will certainly continue with that effort. QUESTION: One more. HARF: Uh-huh. QUESTION: Trust me, many nations in the name of charity or God or Islam, they give money -- they give -- in the name of charity to many charity groups. But (inaudible) of the funds (inaudible) in the hands of terrorists. And they use that money against innocent people. HARF: Well, we look at any way to cut off funding. I know there are a variety of ways these groups end up with money, and we look at any way we can to really starve them of these resources. And as the president said and as I said at the top of this briefing, ISIL does not operate in the name of any religion. The president was very clear about that, and I think the more we can say that and underscore that point, I think the better. Yes? QUESTION: What has the State Department contact been with the Foley and Sotloff families? We saw President Obama call the Foley family. Has Secretary Kerry reached out to either family? HARF: We have had regular interactions with both of the families since the kidnapping of their loved ones. We have regularly met with the families, both representatives from the State Department, also the FBI, the intelligence community, and the White House. So we have been in constant communication with them. I don't have any details on communications today, but if there are some to share, I am happy to read them out. As you saw in the secretary's statement, as well, he had met James Foley and the Foley family when he was a senator, knew them. The Foleys are from the state right next door to his, and so obviously he's been very focused on this case. QUESTION: And there are also reports that Steven Sotloff's mother is in Washington, D.C., today. Is she meeting with anyone at this... (CROSSTALK) HARF: I don't know. I can check. I'm sorry. I can't confirm that. Let me check on that. Yes, hello. QUESTION: Hi. HARF: Welcome addition to the briefing. QUESTION: Thanks. So a couple of questions. First, I'm really interested in the funding streams. And I know you've been answering the various people's questions about that, but can you give us a little bit more on how the ISIL funding streams differ from what your people are already used to dealing with in terms of Al Qaida and some of the other groups? What are the challenges that make their funding streams different or harder to cut off? Or will you be targeting with sanctions? Or is it's not really a group where you sanction... (CROSSTALK) HARF: Well, we designated them as an FTO, which carries with it -- I don't know if the official term is sanctions, but I think it is -- but which attempts to cut off any possible funding that could come from the United States or any assets they may have here. I don't know, quite frankly, you know, what the extent of their assets is here, but certainly we've taken the steps that we can under our financial system to cut off their funding. I do think that one of the challenges is that much of their funding comes from criminal -- criminal activity, whether it's stealing money from banks, like we've seen in Mosul and elsewhere, whether it's kidnapping for ransom, which is a huge problem, which is, again, another reason the United States does not make concessions to terrorists, because we don't want them to get more funding. So those are not unique challenges, but a little different than some of the other terrorist groups we're seen in terms of financing. We are also concerned about financing from private citizens, from other places in the region. We have worked very hard -- and I don't have more details for you -- but we've worked very hard with partners in the region and countries to really -- because they understand the threat to get them to crack down on this financing. QUESTION: And so are there individuals in these countries who you're aware of who are following the money that you can go after them? Or does their government have to go after that? HARF: I believe the Treasury Department actually may have designated some people individually for their support to ISIL, but let me check on that and see if I can get you some more after this briefing. QUESTION: OK, and then... HARF: We would obviously, if there was -- you know, if there was someone that we could individually sanction, I think we'd certainly be looking at those options. QUESTION: And then clarification. Earlier you referred to 12,000 fighters who had joined -- HARF: Foreign fighters who had -- QUESTION: -- foreign fighters -- HARF: -- who had gone to join Iraq and Syria. QUESTION: -- so it's not necessarily just ISIL? It's -- HARF: Correct. QUESTION: -- group? HARF: Correct, including Nusra and others as well, I'm sure. QUESTION: So foreign fighters and others, mostly from Europe? Is that your understanding? HARF: I don't know the answer to that. I think many are probably from the region, some from South Asia, some from Europe. I can check and see if there's more of a breakdown -- QUESTION: And do you have an idea of how many of those are American? HARF: I believe some officials have spoken to this recently. Let me see if I can get you some numbers on that. QUESTION: OK. And then on the question of this video that was released, is there anyone in this -- in the building or in the administration who is of the view that in some ways this video may be self-defeating for them because they show themselves in many ways -- this is just one example -- to be so brutal that could turn more support against them, that maybe some of those who were supporting them either tacitly or actively might stop doing so? Is there any view of that? HARF: Well, I think not just this video, but what we've seen them do -- I mean, it's not, unfortunately, just limited to this video. We're very focused on it, of course, because it's an American citizen. But if you look at the pictures and the stories coming out of Northern Iraq, coming out of Syria, stories, by the way, that James Foley was there to tell and wanted to bring to the world, their barbarity is really boundless. And all peace-loving Muslims have to do around the world is look at these photos to know they don't represent their religion. I note that the Grand Mufti in Saudi Arabia, that nation's highest religious authority, yesterday said that the Islamic State and Al Qaeda were the enemy number one of Islam and not in any way part of the faith. So I certainly don't want to speak for him. But he was very clear about how at least Muslims in his country should view what ISIL is doing, period. QUESTION: Now I know you said that you said that you had not seen that report that had come out during the briefing about the State Department requesting an additional 300 troops where -- (CROSSTALK) HARF: I haven't seen that, I'm sorry. QUESTION: -- confirmation during the briefing about that? HARF: Unfortunately, we don't have it (INAUDIBLE) we can confirm things during the briefing. But afterwards we'll see -- we're constantly looking at what our security posture looks like. But I'm unaware of specifics of that nature. But again, happy to check after the briefing. QUESTION: I thought the system was sending someone running outside -- (CROSSTALK) HARF: No, have you ever seen someone passing a note up here? I should start doing that. I'm going to send Matt to go find out. (LAUGHTER) QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE)? HARF: Continue on then, yes? QUESTION: Yes, and I just wanted very quickly -- I mean, seeing that most of these ISIL fighters are actually foreign fighters, in terms of Syria and Iraq, they cross borders and the cross border countries that are friendly to you, like Turkey, like Jordan. I mean -- HARF: We are working with those countries and others to cut down on financing but also the flow of foreign fighters -- QUESTION: -- you think these countries were lax in controlling their borders? HARF: I'm not going to say that, Saeed. I'm going to say it's a tough challenge. It really is. And so we're working with them on it; we're working to help improve their capacity to monitor these things as well. Yes? And then I'll go to you, OK? Go ahead. QUESTION: You said there are individual providing the fight for -- HARF: Private citizens. QUESTION: -- right. Can you nominate some of their country, of the -- for which country? HARF: Let me see if there's more specifics to share with you. Let me see. I'm not -- I don't have that in front of me and I think we actually have designated them individuals. But let me check on that and maybe have more details to share later. Yes? QUESTION: On this point, are the -- HARF: OK. QUESTION: -- on this one, the Germany has development minister has accused the Qatar of financing the ISIS, is not saying individuals, as you are saying, but who said -- HARF: Well, as I said, we don't have evidence that governments are supporting this group. I said that over and over and over again in this briefing room, we're constantly looking at ways to cut off financing to them. I don't have many more details on that to share. (CROSSTALK) QUESTION: -- if you don't have evidence that governments are -- what does this president mean when he says "from governments and peoples across the Middle East," -- HARF: -- we all need to work together to fight -- I -- you're reading something into that statement that I don't think is actually there. He was saying that we need -- and I -- QUESTION: Well, I'm reading into this that you're actually going to do something. Are you saying -- (LAUGHTER) QUESTION: -- I mean -- do something to get the -- to get countries that you don't believe are... HARF: No, you're -- you're just linking that to the financing piece. What the president was referring to, and I have it right in front of me here as well, is that all of the countries need to come together to fight ISIL in any way we can. You're linking it to a specific piece and reading into it an accusation that I don't actually think is there. It was a broad statement about the fact that this isn't a U.S. fight against ISIL. This is a fight that every country should feel deeply about and should take on. QUESTION: Well, I guess I'm just wondering why did he feel compelled to say something like this if in fact everything is going along swimmingly or according to -- I mean... HARF: I think we would be the last people to say everything's going along swimmingly. QUESTION: No, no. But if you're already happy with what the people and governments of around the Middle East are doing... HARF: I didn't -- no one... QUESTION: ... to extract the cancer, why would... HARF: To be clear, nobody's happy today about anything related to this. QUESTION: All right. Happy is not the right word. If you're already satisfied or believe that everyone in governments and peoples across the Middle East are already doing everything they can to extract the... HARF: That's also not what I said. QUESTION: No, I'm trying to find out what the president means, and I can't... HARF: I know, but what I said -- his answer was we don't have evidence that governments are financially supporting ISIS. OK. But we need all the governments in the region to work together with us to fight ISIS in any way... QUESTION: OK, but... HARF: ... because clearly it's a threat that's -- that's grown, and clearly -- I think what... QUESTION: I understand this. I'm not trying to be confrontational, I'm just trying to figure out if you need all the governments to work together, do you think that they're not all working together now? HARF: I said clearly there's more we can all do to fight ISIL. QUESTION: All right, so there's no specific country or specific people... HARF: Correct. That was not intended for any specific country. QUESTION: OK. HARF: It was intended -- and I think this is an important point -- I think ISIL wants to make this about the United States and our actions. And I think what the president was trying to say was that this is not about the United States and what we do. This is about countries in the region coming together to fight a shared threat, and this is not about us. And I think that's the point he was trying to make and was not singling out any country or any specific thing with that statement. One at a time, one at a time. Lucas is going to go first. QUESTION: Yesterday you said that the U.S. mission was to dismantle ISIS. HARF: Mm-hmm. QUESTION: And if that's the case, are you going to start targeting ISIS leadership? HARF: Well, as I said, long term, how you deprive a terrorist group of its operational capacity is to degrade its leadership, to degrade its operational capability, and degrade its financing. How we do all of that is a longer term conversation. A lot of that is going to be building the capacity of our partners on the ground, as we've done other places, to go after terrorist groups. QUESTION: And earlier, did you say that the State Department made the request for more increased troops around Baghdad? HARF: I didn't. I said I couldn't confirm those reports. QUESTION: OK. And do you perceive that there's a bigger threat around Baghdad right now? HARF: I think there is -- from ISIL or in general? QUESTION: ISIL. HARF: I think there's a threat from ISIL in many parts of Iraq, and I think that's why, particularly where our people are in Baghdad and Erbil, we're very focused on protecting them. QUESTION: So, that includes Baghdad? HARF: That includes Baghdad. Yes, Said? QUESTION: Marie, very quickly, the president said, and I'm paraphrasing here, he said that the Syrians should have a choice not the regime or the terrorists. HARF: Correct. QUESTION: Does that mean that you or -- there is a need to go after both with the same vigor, the same intensity, the same targeting? HARF: Well, there are different tools for each. But clearly we believe that neither should be in control of what people in Syria do, how they live their lives. Both have shown themselves to be incredibly brutal. Tomorrow is the year anniversary of the Syrian regime's use of chemical weapons against its own people in the suburbs of Damascus. So, I think that neither have shown themself able to have control of anyone in Syria. QUESTION: So, you're not assigning who's more evil than the other in this case, are you? HARF: I think both have shown themselves at times to be incredibly evil, Said. QUESTION: A new subject? QUESTION: No. No no. HARF: Just a few more on this, guys. QUESTION: On financing ISIS. You said that you don't have any evidence that Arab states are funding the ISIS. HARF: The governments. QUESTION: But to what extent are you confident that these governments are not funding ISIS? HARF: I can only tell you what evidence we have or don't have and I don't have anymore details to share on the financing issue. Yes. QUESTION: Do you think those -- that those governments are aware about -- do they know anything about those individual... HARF: I don't want to speak for those governments. We are working with them... QUESTION: Did you... HARF: ... and talking to them. We are talking directly to them about how we can all do more to cut down on the financing for ISIL here. QUESTION: And they've been denying or what? HARF: I'm sorry? QUESTION: They've been denying it or -- or... HARF: I don't have details of those conversations to read out for you. Anymore on this? Elliot. QUESTION: You mentioned the -- the increasing assessment that the perpetrator in the video was British. And sort of following along those lines, we've seen a lot of social media coming out of Europe in support of ISIS. To what extent are you concerned that the -- about the radicalization of Muslims in Europe and their flow into the region and... HARF: I think... QUESTION: ... what are you doing to work with leaders in the region? HARF: Yeah, no, it's a good question. I think we're very concerned about it, not just in Europe but elsewhere. I think the Internet, for all of the good things it brings with it, does bring with it a very quick, instantaneous way for these kind of brutal groups to share their ideology and that's something we're very focused on. We're working with governments -- the United Kingdom, as we've talked about today, very, very closely but others as well -- because we are concerned about Westerners with passports, even possibly Americans who might go to the fight and -- and then, in the worst case, return. So that's something we're very focused on and really working with our partners on it. (OFF-MIKE) HARF: Anything else on this? OK, yes. QUESTION: Well... HARF: Wait, hold on, Matt and then to you. Yeah. QUESTION: Are you aware of the reports (inaudible) also likely to be detained by ISIL in Syria? HARF: Let me check on those reports. I've seen some press reports but let check (inaudible) and see what we can say about that. Yes. QUESTION: I asked this question before and apparently, this department is aware of the reports. The question that I wanted to ask and which I had asked before was is the United States willing to work with Japan on this issue of either finding this man or rescuing this man? HARF: Let me check with our team on those details. I'm sorry, I don't have those for you today. Yes, Matt? QUESTION: I just wanted to follow up on, you mentioned the grand mufti (ph) in Saudi Arabia. But, you know, Saudi Arabia is a country in which beheading is actually the legal form of execution. And they -- it's a country that is -- you -- this department has long criticized for its human rights record. HARF: That is true. I was just highlighting comments made by their chief religious leader. (CROSSTALK) QUESTION: I understand. Right. I understand that. But, do you think that they are able to join this cause that the president is talking about in a -- you know in a -- in a full -- in a full way, if they, at the same time, have similar -- have issues that you -- that you... (CROSSTALK) HARF: They -- to be clear, though, they have been an incredibly close counterterrorism partner. All you have to do is look at the partnership we've had and how -- the success they've really had when they went after Al Qaida in their own country, really degraded its ability to operate there. How they're helping us fight AQAP, for example. How we have information sharing. So they've been a very, very close counterterrorism partner and absolutely will continue to be. Look, when we have concerns with some of their practices we raised those, but that's wholly separate from our counterterrorism cooperation. And I would say, I was bringing up the grand mufti (ph) in response to what, you know, what publics around the world and who people should listen to and think about when they're looking at what ISIL is doing. QUESTION: Can you point to any other Islamic (inaudible) leader in the Gulf or in Turkey... (CROSSTALK) HARF: I'm happy to check. I just noticed his comments... (CROSSTALK) QUESTION: All right. Well, I did too, yesterday, and I was gonna ask about them, but I forgot. QUESTION: But -- and also they probably weren't as relevant yesterday as maybe they are today. HARF: Unfortunately. QUESTION: But -- and in terms of -- in terms of Saudi government, I expect -- I mean, King Abdullah has been speaking very strongly... HARF: Incredibly close counterterrorism -- absolutely. The Saudis are very focused on the threat. QUESTION: OK. And how about the Turks? HARF: Very focused. The Turks are, as well. QUESTION: President-elect Erdogan? HARF: The Turks are very focused on this. As we know, there are a number of Turkish hostages being held right now, as well. So they're certainly focused on the threat that ISIL poses. We're talking to them as a NATO ally and partner about how they can help in the fight, how they can help cut off the foreign fighter flow, help cut off financing. Those are conversations ongoing. QUESTION: And then Qatar, same? HARF: We're having the same conversations. QUESTION: Your new ambassador is having the same conversations? HARF: I don't know. You'd have to ask her. But I don't have any conversations to read out to you. QUESTION: All right. There is a school of thought or a suspicion in places like Russia, in places like Syria, in places like Iran, and also in places like Israel, but for much different reasons than the first three I mentioned... HARF: Interesting group you just lumped together. QUESTION: Well, exactly. That the Saudis, that the Qataris, and that the Turks are not really fully onboard in this fight. Would you -- you would reject that? HARF: Well, look, we're talking to them every day about what more we can all do. We know there's more that needs to be done. We know this is a long-term fight. And we know it's a tough one, so we're having those conversations. Yes, OK. (CROSSTALK) QUESTION: ... follow up on Matt's point... (CROSSTALK) QUESTION: Today, the -- the -- some unnamed diplomat from Saudi Arabia said that during the last meeting, in the GCC meeting, Qatar refused to sign on to the Riyadh agreement, which is, you know, banned or barred all members from supporting terror groups. Are you aware of that? HARF: I don't think I'm going to wade into internal GCC politics. Yes, Michael -- let's go to Michael in the back. I think he has a quick one, and then -- popping in and out of the briefing. QUESTION: Yeah, deadlines are crazy at the moment. HARF: I know. QUESTION: Just on Gaza, obviously, it's flared up. Netanyahu just said that Operation Protective Edge is not over. Do you have a comment on the recent... HARF: Yeah, I'll do that very quickly, and then if we have a couple more, we need to finish on Mr. Foley. We remain very concerned about developments in Gaza, condemn the renewed rocket fire, and as we have said, Israel has the right to defend itself against such attacks. We call for an immediate end to rocket fire and hostilities and a return to cease-fire talks. We hope that the parties can reach an agreement, as we've said, ideally on a sustainable cease-fire, but if not, then agree to an extension. I don't have much more of an update for you than that. Lucas. Let's go to Lucas. Let's go to Lucas, and then we'll go to Gaza. Let's finish (inaudible) QUESTION: The president and CEO of the Associated Press has called... HARF: Oh, uh-oh. Matt, are you listening? QUESTION: I am listening, yes. QUESTION: ... has called Mr. Foley's death a war crime. Do you -- what's your response to that? QUESTION: He called a crime of war. (CROSSTALK) HARF: Oh, it's a collaboration. I think you heard the president and the secretary speak very, very strongly about what has happened here. I'll let those words speak for themselves, and I don't have much more analysis of what words other people are using about it. QUESTION: Would you be in favor of an international court adjudicating this murder? HARF: I don't have any analysis to do on that hypothetical. What I have said is that the United States takes very seriously its responsibility to hold those terrorists accountable who do these kind of things to Americans. QUESTION: Is this like an Abu Khattala situation, where you want him brought back to the United States... HARF: Well, look, no matter how long it takes, I don't have anything to say about what that might look like. But if you look at Osama bin Laden, if you look at Anwar Awlaki, if you look at Abu Khattala, no matter how long it takes, we put resources behind finding and bringing to justice people who kill Americans. QUESTION: So are you saying there's going to be increased airstrikes, increased... (CROSSTALK) HARF: I'm not saying that. I'm saying we are looking at how we can do that. QUESTION: Can we go to Gaza? HARF: Any more on this? No? Let's go to Gaza. QUESTION: OK. Yesterday, the Israelis basically said that they are entitled to go after the families of the leaders of Hamas, as well as the leaders of Hamas. Do you agree with that premise? HARF: I didn't see those comments. We have said they need to be careful and take more care when we're talking about civilian casualties. We have said that. QUESTION: (inaudible) you are aware that in pursuit of a Hamas leader they bombed -- they killed his wife and his 2-year-old daughter, correct? HARF: I'm aware of those reports, and we have consistently stated our concern for civilian casualties and civilian lives. QUESTION: OK. And also today, Prime Minister Netanyahu just a little while ago, he said that Hamas and ISIS were one in the same. Do you agree with that premise? HARF: Well, I think by definition they are two different groups. They have different leadership. And I'm not going to compare them in that way. I'll let him speak for himself, but I'm not going to use that comparison. QUESTION: Do you agree with that... HARF: They're both designated terrorist organizations. QUESTION: OK, they're both... HARF: So let's be clear about that. They're both foreign terrorist organizations designated under United States law. But I'm not going to do any more comparison of them. Obviously, they're quite different in some ways. QUESTION: Are you aware of incidents that Hamas conducted outside the Gaza or in confronting Israel? HARF: Throughout its entire history? QUESTION: Yes. HARF: I can check with our folks and see if I have any more historical analysis. QUESTION: OK. Are you alarmed at the number of civilian casualties that are growing, you know, disproportionately... HARF: We're... QUESTION: ... as compared to the fighters? I'm not talking about the Israeli side. HARF: We're certainly concerned about civilian casualties. QUESTION: I'm talking about the Palestinian side... (CROSSTALK) HARF: We're certainly concerned about civilian casualties, yes. QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) (CROSSTALK) HARF: On Gaza? Uh-huh, go ahead. QUESTION: No, no, go. QUESTION: Al-Hayat newspaper reported today that Qatar threatened to expel, Khaled Mashaal, Hamas leader, from Doha if he agreed to Cairo truce draft. And Al-Hayat added that Hamas ask the Egyptians to bring Qatar to the negotiations, and they refused. Do you have any comment on these reports? HARF: I haven't seen those reports, so I can't confirm them one way or the other. As I said the other day, we're engaging with everyone who has close links with the participants. That includes Qatar. QUESTION: If true, what do you think about... HARF: Well, any statement that starts "if true," comma, I'm probably not going to answer, because it's a hypothetical. QUESTION: Do you think that Qatar is playing or can play a positive role in achieving the cease-fire or the agreement between the two parties? HARF: Well, the secretary and our senior leadership have been closely engaged with the P.A., with the Israelis, with the Egyptians and other regional players, but have also dealt with Qatar and Turkey who have real influence with Hamas. And we need countries that have leverage over the leaders of Hamas, who can help put a cease-fire in place. As I've said, it is not possible to have a cease-fire with only one (inaudible). QUESTION: But it looks like they threatened (inaudible). HARF: I'll look into those specific comments. I haven't seen those. QUESTION: Are you -- can you give us an update, if you have one, on the contacts -- those contacts that you just mentioned? HARF: The secretary? QUESTION: Well, if he's had any or if Frank has or if any -- you know... HARF: Today, the secretary's spoke with the Israeli prime minister, the Israeli foreign minister, the Turkish foreign minister and the Qatari foreign minister. I don't have any details... QUESTION: Well, that's a very interesting... HARF: ... of those conversations to read out. QUESTION: ... triple play there. So, Israel, Qatar and Turkey? HARF: And he's talked to a wide range -- you know, a couple days ago, the Emiratis, the Saudis, the Palestinians. He's... QUESTION: OK, but today... HARF: As you know, the secretary speaks frequently to a lot of different people. QUESTION: Yes. Often for extended period of time. HARF: Sometimes not. QUESTION: But I'm just talking -- let's just talk about today's calls, to those four people in three countries, is that correct? HARF: That is true. And (inaudible)... QUESTION: Israel... HARF: Turkey... QUESTION: ... Turkey and Qatar. HARF: Yes. QUESTION: Woujld it be safe to assume that the subject of their conversation was Gaza and Hamas? HARF: It was. QUESTION: And it wasn't Foley or anything else... HARF: I don't have full readouts of the calls. I'm sorry for that. I know the primary discussion was about Gaza. (CROSSTALK) HARF: I'm sure there was likely some limited discussion, condolences on Mr. Foley. QUESTION: OK. But even if you can't provide a full readout, can you say whether the secretary got the sense that there's any reason for optimism at all... HARF: In Gaza? QUESTION: Well, for just a cease-fire or for another rolling, extendable truce? Or is it really just complete disaster... HARF: Well... QUESTION: ... that it doesn't really look like there's a -- an end to... HARF: I think the secretary, in most cases, believes there is always -- there are mostly always a diplomatic path forward here. That's certainly the case here. We are very concerned about the latest developments, but he believes we can get back to -- to a extension of the temporary ceasefire, but he believes that ultimately, we can get to a sustainable ceasefire. Nobody thinks that will be easy. Certainly hasn't been yet. But he's very focused on that goal. QUESTION: OK. He has said in the past as well as have others, although I think that today may have been one of the first times that Prime Minister Netanyahu said it, is that out of this mess that is the situation in Gaza and the rockets going into southern Israel, there is the possibility that one could get back to some kind of peace talks. Is that -- and not anytime soon, but eventually. Is that still something the secretary believes is possible? HARF: That is something the secretary still believes. QUESTION: All right. And then away from the peace process, I understand that there is an update, that the privacy act waiver has been signed in the... HARF: Your favorite topic. I was waiting to see if you would ask me about this. QUESTION: Yes. So what's the situation, are you satisfied? Go ahead. HARF: Let me go. QUESTION: Yeah. HARF: We can confirm that Mohammed Abu Khdeir, a U.S. citizen, was arrested on July 28th. The U.S. consulate general in Jerusalem is providing consular assistance. The consular official visited him on August 14th. The consulate is also in contact with Mr. Khdeir's family and his lawyer. We are concerned that U.S. consulate general in Jerusalem was not notified of his arrest by the government of Israel. We are also concerned about the fact that members of the Khdeir family appear to be singled out for arrest by the Israeli authority. QUESTION: Do you know -- so how did you find out about this if you weren't notified? HARF: I think -- well, as soon as we have learned of his arrest -- we learned of it from his family. QUESTION: OK. HARF: And as soon as we learned of it, we contacted Israeli authorities to schedule a consular visit. QUESTION: OK. And you got one? HARF: We did. I just said August 14th. QUESTION: So does that mean that he was held without you knowing about it from July 28th, until August, roughly August 14th? HARF: I think it was probably before August 14th, but it was for some time and is not OK. QUESTION: Is not OK. HARF: Correct, we are concerned that we were not notified of his arrest by the government of Israel. QUESTION: And then on the second -- on the -- have they informed you of whatever charges he might face, or is it -- is it simply because he appears to be related... HARF: I'm not sure on that. QUESTION: ... to the family. HARF: I'm not sure on that. QUESTION: So, you're -- the second part of your statement on him, which was, "we are concerned that the family is being singled out," does his arrest fall into that area of concern or is... HARF: That's my understanding. Or if it's subsequently? QUESTION: Well, I'm just curious. Is your concern about this one guy, Mohammed's arrest, simply because you weren't notified by the Israelis of his arrest, as they should have notified you, or is it also because you're worried that it's part of this broader... HARF: Both. It's both. QUESTION: ... singling out of this... HARF: Correct. QUESTION: ... OK. And do you have any -- have the Israelis explained to you why this family seems to be... HARF: Not to my understanding. The conversation is ongoing. QUESTION: OK. And is the conversation on an unrelated case, same related matter, the 15 year old, the... HARF: Yes. QUESTION: What's the status of that? HARF: Nothing new. He is currently still being held. The U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv is providing him consular assistance. A consular official visited him on August 7th and attended his hearing on August 14th, and are in frequent contact with his family and his lawyer, but no new updates. QUESTION: OK, so you're concerned that you've expressed to the -- you're continuing to express those concerns about... HARF: We are. QUESTION: And then one more thing on this Mohammed Abu Khdeir, do you know where he -- is he a resident in the United States or was just there visiting or... HARF: I do not know that. QUESTION: ... was he just visiting? HARF: Let me check with our team. QUESTION: Marie, looking at a question on the UNHRC, which I (INAUDIBLE) thank you. I got a response -- HARF: Oh, good. QUESTION: -- that you don't believe that such (INAUDIBLE) can contribute to the shared goal. But you also say moreover that this mechanism risks damaging the reputation of the Human Rights Council and that (INAUDIBLE). Why (INAUDIBLE) in this case would damage its reputation? HARF: Well, we believe that much of that's what -- much of what's been done in these kind of efforts has been biased and one- sided and do damage reputation because they're not seen as a neutral party here, as they should be. QUESTION: Is it -- she there be some sort of a forum -- perhaps not the UNHRC but something else that can have an impartial commission to go and talk to both sides and see if there -- in fact there was, you know, war crimes committed by either side? HARF: -- I don't want to -- I, you know, make a blanket statement about hypotheticals. But what who we think need to investigate is the Israeli government. We have called on them to do so and will continue having that conversation. QUESTION: And are you satisfied that the Israeli government sort of investigated itself in the past with -- (CROSSTALK) HARF: Well, I don't have judgment on the facts -- QUESTION: -- that you would want to -- HARF: -- I don't have judgment on the (INAUDIBLE). What I can say is today we will continue to raise (INAUDIBLE). (CROSSTALK) HARF: Let's go to Pakistan. Yes? QUESTION: Yes. And I have seen your comments yesterday. Do you have any updates on this rapidly deteriorating situation? HARF: I don't have any -- I don't have any additional comments from yesterday. QUESTION: And then on the India-Pakistan border, there is -- you know, the cease-fire has been violated by the -- by Pakistan and is there, you know, a few years of escalation in those hostilities. Do you have anything on that? HARF: Not anything new, as we've said. We want both countries, both India and Pakistan, to take steps to improve their bilateral relationship. Just don't have any more announcements for you -- (CROSSTALK) QUESTION: One last one. HARF: Yes? QUESTION: Are you keeping an eye on the nuclear weapons in Pakistan? Are they in safe hands? HARF: I would -- I would venture to guess that we always care about that issue. One more on Pakistan then you're next. (CROSSTALK) HARF: Oh, go ahead and then you can -- yes? QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) between India and Pakistan, if secretary had any time to speak either of the foreign ministers of India or Pakistan? HARF: I don't think he's spoken to them recently. We've been engaged with both countries from our embassies on the ground. QUESTION: And as far as Pakistan's situation is concerned, it's a grave situation, military's all over Islamabad and in Pakistan. My question is do you compare Pakistan today, what recently happened in Iraq change of prime minister (ph) it could happen in Pakistan, change of prime minister (ph) or even maybe Maliki might take over Pakistan. HARF: Well, I think maybe caution you from using terms like "grave" (ph). Obviously we're following what's happening on the ground. Nawaz Sharif was elected and is prime minister. There is a government that was elected in place. So while we've recalled (sic) on all sides to refrain from violence, we are monitoring the situation. But we will continue working with the Pakistanis and, again, I would caution you from assuming sort of where this goes from here. We think there's a path forward here that's peaceful. We know there's a lot of space for political dialogue but it has to remain peaceful. QUESTION: One more quickly, what... What -- (INAUDIBLE) saying and others in the country, including hundreds of thousands or millions of people in Pakistan, they are not happy with the (INAUDIBLE) saying that both elections by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif were fraud and fake and they were not (INAUDIBLE) he should step down. That's what I'm asking -- (CROSSTALK) HARF: He's the prime minister. Period. QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE). HARF: I in no way am calling on that. QUESTION: Is the United States support regime change in Pakistan? HARF: We support the constitutional and the electoral process in Pakistan, which produced the prime minister as Nawaz Sharif. That a process they followed, an election they had and we are focused on working with Pakistan. And we do not support any extra-constitutional changes to that democratic system or people attempting to impose them. Do a few more. QUESTION: Two quick Turkey-related questions. HARF: Two quick Turkey ones, yes. QUESTION: One is the follow-up from yesterday whether the U.S. finds Turkish -- recent Turkish elections as fair, free and transparent. HARF: We did note that the OSCE-monitoring mission said the candidates were generally able to campaign freely and the freedoms of association and assembly were respected. Also noted that the official position, the use of that by the prime minister, gave him a distinct advantage over the other candidates and we do agree with the OSCE's preliminary report and in general, the elections were generally free and fair. QUESTION: And... HARF: One follow-up. QUESTION: One more. Turkish state agency, AA's reporter was detained yesterday in Missouri, Ferguson and according to his account, he was also beaten by the local police, I believe, and there are pictures of that. Do you have any comment on... HARF: I certainly don't speak for the local police in Ferguson. What we've said is that freedom of expression is an incredibly important principle that we adhere to here in the United States. When we feel that there are challenges to that anywhere, we speak up about it. But I don't have any details on his case specifically. I'd refer you to the local authority. QUESTION: Yeah, (inaudible) question, he is one of my colleagues. He said he was threatened -- of course, by the video footage over there as well -- he was threatened by -- with his life with profane language by an officer. Do you know... HARF: I'd refer you to the local authorities to -- to speak for their own actions. QUESTION: Yeah, but, you know, (inaudible) -- there -- there are dozens of, you know, journalists facing the same threat. The question is this, from this podium, as representing the United States, you have been critical to other countries, including my own country, Turkey, for the detainment of journalists. And, well, isn't some kind of hypocrisy to, you know, decline or to remain silent against U.S. forces using violence... HARF: I don't think -- I don't think -- I think the president and the attorney general have been anything but silent on what's happening in Ferguson. I think the attorney general is there today. So while it's not appropriate for me to comment on a domestic issue, this government has spoken very clearly about what's happening in Ferguson. I would wholly disagree with your notion that there's any hypocrisy, that somehow these are in any way comparable. I would -- as I said yesterday -- put our record here in the United States of when there are problems, when we have to course correct and fix things, we do so transparently and honestly and openly, and I would call on other countries, including Turkey, to do the same thing. And when they don't, we will continue speaking about it. QUESTION: Will you remind us how many journalists have been imprisoned in Turkey over the course of the last two years... (CROSSTALK) HARF: I don't have a number in front of me, but... QUESTION: It's more than one, right? HARF: It's certainly more than one. QUESTION: So more than a dozen? HARF: And I would also say we've gone through over the past several years banning Twitter, banning YouTube, cracking down on freedom of press and association in a way we have spoken out very strongly against. QUESTION: So you would -- so you would say that Turkey, a protest or a complaint from the Turkish government about the mistreatment by local police in Missouri of one reporter is -- is something far different in scale than the rather large-scale, almost wholesale crackdown on freedom of expression and freedom of speech that you have criticized in Turkey? HARF: Absolutely. They are in no way comparable, period. I think I was clear about that yesterday. Again, people are free to express their opinions. I am also free to say when I don't agree with them. QUESTION: Yeah, but you don't -- you say that it's a domestic issue. And that's why... HARF: By definition, yes. It's happening in the United States. QUESTION: But the case is over other countries, particularly -- particularly in Turkey. You know, I'm not comparing Turkey with Syria, with Iraq, with Afghanistan, with any other countries here. HARF: Well, you're comparing it with what we do here in the United States, and I don't think there's a comparison. I don't think it's appropriate to make one. I think they're separate issues. When we have issues here, the president and other domestic officials will speak out very clearly, and we talk about it -- all you have to do is look at cable news over the past few days to see how open our dialogue is about what's happening in this country. I would put that record of openness up against any other country in the world, period. QUESTION: Yeah, but Turkish -- Turkish public opinion and world, you know, public opinion even expects, you know, some kind of reaction to this from the State Department, as well. HARF: I think I just gave you a fairly strong reaction. QUESTION: You're representing the United States. Yeah, that's -- for attorney general, attorney general does not represent the state. The state is represented from here. HARF: The attorney general certainly represents the United States of America. QUESTION: Particularly... HARF: And as does -- as does the president, who has spoken about Ferguson on a number of occasions. Period. QUESTION: But, really, at the end of the day, it is a local security... HARF: Absolutely. This is a local issue that, you know, is not my place to make further comments about. QUESTION: Now, if a foreign journalist, you know, who's credentialed by the State Department, if he is arrested or something, does the State Department in this case intervene? HARF: That's a good question, Said, and I don't know the answer. So let me -- let me check on that. It's an important one. I do not know. QUESTION: Just one more -- speaking of press freedom in Turkey, since the Prime Minister Erdogan became elected president-elect, now almost half a dozen journalists also got fired, including the reporter of The Economist, Amberin Zaman, who was condemned by Prime Minister Erdogan personally (inaudible) do you have any comment on (inaudible) HARF: Well, we've said in general we are concerned about the space for freedom of expression in Turkey. I've said that consistently. I'd also note there is some interesting commentary about yours truly in the Turkish press, which I am constantly surprised by. So, you know, there's a lot out there. We believe in freedom of expression, and we are concerned about the space for it in Turkey. QUESTION: Really? Do tell. HARF: Go on Twitter. It's all on there. QUESTION: Are you concerned that these issues, press freedom issues since prominent journalists and reporters have been fired within a week that the Prime Minister Erdogan... HARF: Well, I don't have any comment on that -- I just -- I'm not aware of those specific cases. In general, again, we are concerned about the space there for freedom of expression. QUESTION: And as long as we're on press freedom and foreign countries... HARF: I would love to guess where you're going right now with this. QUESTION: Where do you think I'm going? HARF: I have no clue. QUESTION: Afghanistan. HARF: Oh, OK. (LAUGHTER) What gives you -- I could guess. OK, yes, thank you. QUESTION: Afghanistan. HARF: New York Times reporter. QUESTION: Yes. HARF: Yes. QUESTION: Things seem to have gone a little bit further than they had gone yesterday. HARF: Yes, we condemn the government of Afghanistan's decision to expel a journalist from the New York Times. This is a significant step backward for the freedom of expression in Afghanistan that may well be unprecedented there. We urge the government of Afghanistan to reverse this decision. As I just said many times, freedom of expression and a free press are vital to the workings of a strong, democratic society in the best interest of the Afghan people. QUESTION: All right. All that is very well and good, and I understand it. HARF: But? QUESTION: But here's the thing. In contrast to Turkey and the exchange that you just had, where this is a local or state police operation going on... HARF: In Ferguson? QUESTION: Yeah. In contrast to this, this is the Afghan national government, the attorney general, doing -- doing this. You're condemning it. How do you square that with the administration's prosecution of American reporters for violating... HARF: Well, they're totally different things. QUESTION: Well... HARF: This reporter in Afghanistan, Matthew Rosenberg (ph), to my knowledge and maybe I'm wrong here, but there was nothing in his articles that violated the law. We prosecute anybody, period, as the attorney general could speak to, when they violate United States law. QUESTION: One of the reasons why he's being expelled, though, is because he refused to name his sources. HARF: Well, there is -- we believe there is nothing in this article that justifies this action the Afghan government has taken. QUESTION: And, yet, there is everything in what James Reisen (ph) wrote to... HARF: I'm not gonna comment on specific cases here. QUESTION: Well, OK. So, in the several cases that are going on in the United States right now, you don't see a problem condemning the Afghans for doing essentially... HARF: I don't. QUESTION: ... the same thing. (CROSSTALK) HARF: I would... QUESTION: I know you're gonna disagree, but a lot of people wouldn't... HARF: So we're going to agree to disagree. QUESTION: A lot of people would not disagree. A lot of people think that, in many ways, what's happening to Matt Rosenberg (ph) is very similar to what's happened to... (CROSSTALK) QUESTION: ... journalists in the United States. HARF: I can't disagree more strongly, Matt. And I can just tell you that there are ongoing legal actions being taken. I'll let the Department of Justice speak to those. When U.S. laws are broken, we enforce them. QUESTION: OK. HARF: This appears to be banning a reporter from a country for a story they don't like. QUESTION: Right. So you don't -- you don't -- you do not believe that he or his article broke any Afghan law. HARF: I'm not an expert on Afghan law, so who knows what the actual -- you know, who knows the specifics here or what they'll say. But we believe there was nothing in this article that could justify this action. QUESTION: Sorry, what is the difference between, you know, banning somebody to covering some stories in a country and breaking somebody's camera and detaining him... HARF: I don't think anyone in this country would say that journalists should not be allowed to freely do their job in the United States. I'm not... QUESTION: That's what happened yesterday. HARF: But, you need to take a step back here and take a little more nuanced and smart look at what's happening in Ferguson. I know sometimes that's challenging, but let's all try today. (CROSSTALK) HARF: Wait. I'm not done yet. QUESTION: Yes. HARF: So, what I was going to say was that when we see cases in the United States where journalists are prevented from doing their jobs, when we look at Ferguson, the president of the United States has spoken out against that and said journalists should be able to do their jobs. Senior administration officials that deal with the domestic situation here in the United States have spoken out and said that journalists should not just get arrested for being able to do their jobs. So, when problems occur, when things don't go correctly, we say so openly, transparently, and we course-correct. And that is what we do here when things happen. This is wholly different. QUESTION: Yeah, but despite... QUESTION: Why didn't you just say that in response to this question the first time? Say, "OK, that's your colleague..." HARF: Because I was waiting for the... (CROSSTALK) QUESTION: "... your colleague got beaten up yesterday and -- and..." HARF: Well, I actually don't know the specifics of his colleague. QUESTION: Well, whatever, but it sounds as though... (CROSSTALK) QUESTION: ... well, it sounds as if -- it sounds credible, so if -- you just say "if this happened to your colleague, then we think it's a bad thing?" HARF: Because I'm not going to comment on what happens in the United States from the State Department podium. I really don't think that's appropriate. I just don't. QUESTION: OK. You leave that to the attorney general and to the president, is that correct? HARF: I will leave that to people that deal with the domestic situation in the United States. Last one. QUESTION: Yeah, OK. Turkish foreign minister released a statement concerning this case and said that this is unacceptable. Now, I think the State Department is, you know, addressee of this statement, right? HARF: People are free to say whatever they would like. I am making clear what happens in the United States when we have issues like this that arise, and how we address them, which has been a drastic difference than other countries, and again, which I would put up against any other country's ability to look at what happens in their country and self-correct, and I don't think I have much more on this topic. Let's move on. What else? In the back. QUESTION: North Korea. HARF: Mm-hmm. QUESTION: North Korea said some bad -- bad, insulting things about Secretary Kerry. Spokesman for the country's defense commission said, "Kerry closely resembles a wolf in appearance with a hideous slanted jaw, hollow eyes, and grey hair." What's your response to that? HARF: I don't think I have any response to those kinds of insults. Yes? QUESTION: I've been called worse things by better people. (LAUGHTER) HARF: I have no response. Not going to dignify it with a response. Wait, I'm going here. QUESTION: Sorry. HARF: It's OK. QUESTION: I have two separate Russia-related questions. HARF: OK. QUESTION: The one is about freedom of the press, I guess. In Ukraine. HARF: Mm-hmm. QUESTION: You were asked yesterday about the case of Russian photographer Andrei Stannen (ph), and... HARF: Yes, and I have a little information on -- I didn't have it yesterday. QUESTION: He was the one missing in Ukraine on assignment. HARF: Mm-hmm. QUESTION: And it happened August the 5th, I think. HARF: Mm-hmm. QUESTION: If my memory doesn't fail. The Ukrainian authorities said last week that he was detained by the local security services. They later backtracked and they said simply that "We are looking for him." The (inaudible) created a certain stir, and caused condemnations from Reporters Without Borders, Committee to Protect Journalists and a number of other press associations. You were completely silent on that one. HARF: Well I just didn't have an answer yesterday, and I got it for you today, which is the beauty of this daily briefing process. QUESTION: Thank you so much. I would like to hear that. HARF: We are -- we have seen the OSCE particularly have called for the immediate release of him. He went missing in eastern Ukraine on August 5th. We are unable to confirm his current whereabouts or the facts surrounding his disappearance. We do call on all parties to ensure the safety of journalists working in the region but can't confirm more specifics about where he's -- he's located. QUESTION: Do you know if you are raising this issue with your contacts for the Ukrainian counterparts? HARF: I can check on that. QUESTION: OK. And the other thing is completely separate. The INF Treaty. HARF: Yes. QUESTION: You -- in light of the compliance report, the State Department compliance report and your conclusions about Russia and the INF, you proposed an immediate high level talks, consultations to discuss those... HARF: Mm-hmm. Correct. QUESTION: ... concerns and conclusions of yours. Are you suggesting something specific to the Russians? Have you set a time and date for those proposed talks? And is (inaudible) Miller (ph) meeting -- working group one of those possible channels to discuss... HARF: So we have -- to be clear, before we announced the non- compliance, we also -- the violation, we had also spoken directly to the Russian government then. But we have notified Russia of our determination and are prepared to discuss this in a senior level bilateral dialogue immediately with the aim of assuring the United States that Russia will come back into compliance with its treaty obligations. We don't have a schedule to announce or what that might look like at this point. We have proposed it and are waiting to get details worked out on that. Matt, did you have another topic? QUESTION: Well, related, I wanted to ask you about Ukraine and -- and to see if you could clear up what appears to be this confusion over the attack or alleged attack on the IDP convoy... HARF: I don't have anything new on that. We still can't confirm the details around it. (OFF-MIKE) QUESTION: Go ahead. QUESTION: ... that another fighter was shot down, a Ukrainian fighter? HARF: In the last 24 hours? I -- I don't have that in front of me. It wouldn't surprise me but let me check. QUESTION: (inaudible) three the other day. HARF: Yeah, (inaudible) four over the weekend so let me check on that. QUESTION: Marie, yesterday, you said that... HARF: And then I'll (inaudible). Go ahead. QUESTION: Sorry. Yeah. HARF: It's OK. QUESTION: You said that the Putin-Poroshenko meeting that is coming up, you have nothing to do with that. You don't know much about it. Do you know anymore... HARF: No, there's nothing new today on that. Let me check and see if there's... QUESTION: Do you think that it's still going to be held or... HARF: I'd refer you to them. I don't have independent confirmation. QUESTION: Last one, back to Syria... (CROSSTALK) HARF: Wait, let's stay on this and then... (CROSSTALK) HARF: Wait, wait. One here and then up to Matt. (OFF-MIKE) QUESTION: The humanitarian convoy of -- of Russia, which was sitting at the border for the last several days finally is moving on, I think. Anything on that? HARF: Well, we do understand that the ICRC continues to work through necessary security guarantees, and a timeline for aid delivery is still being negotiated among all the parties. There has been agreement on certain issues related to government of Ukraine inspections of the vehicles and their contents, as well as the transfer of the aid to the ICRC. If there's nothing to hide in them, I don't know why this should all be a problem, so we'll watch that going forward. Did you have another one... QUESTION: Well, if there's nothing to hide with them, you mean... HARF: They need to be inspected. They need to go through this protocol and... QUESTION: OK. And then... HARF: Not much new on this. QUESTION: OK. Well, then I expect there probably isn't much new on this, but MH17, still nothing? HARF: I actually asked about this the other day. I got something for you on this one. (Inaudible) Security Council this week, an initial report on the investigation is expected by the end of August. The investigative work continues in The Hague. Prosecutors with jurisdiction, including the Dutch, are moving forward. It's still halted on the ground, but they're doing things like look at the evidence they did collect, look at the black box. That work is ongoing in The Hague. QUESTION: So we should not expect to hear anything until the end of the month in terms of... HARF: Well, that's when the U.N. Security Council said that initial report from that investigation. If we have more details to share -- but we are letting the investigation run its course here. QUESTION: Right. Are you also contributing information, evidence, whatever to the -- to the international investigation? HARF: I can check. I'm not sure how much we would have, except in the way of intelligence, but let me check. (CROSSTALK) QUESTION: ... Dutch-led investigation? HARF: Correct, yes. QUESTION: You're not sure what you would have, except for intelligence? HARF: Additionally that we would have, that we haven't already discussed with them in terms of the intelligence and the case we've outlined in here. QUESTION: OK. Well... (CROSSTALK) HARF: But you asked if we're still sharing. And I just don't know if there's any new information. I can check. QUESTION: Well, so does that mean that we're -- you guys are done in terms of releasing what you -- what... (CROSSTALK) HARF: No, I didn't say that. QUESTION: Oh, OK. I'm asking. HARF: I'm always pushing the intelligence community to release more. QUESTION: OK. But have you -- have you -- are you able to say if you have shared more than what you have shared publicly with the Dutch-led investigation? HARF: Let me check. Let me check on that. QUESTION: Back to Syria. Does it remain the stated policy of this administration that Assad must go? HARF: Yes. QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) since we're on a freedom of expression/journalism kick today, I was wondering if you are aware... HARF: Which is an appropriate way maybe to honor journalists who are working in really tough places, many of which are very dangerous. QUESTION: This isn't quite as serious as other cases, but in Seoul, the bureau chief of Japan's Sankei Shimbun has been put on a travel ban and he's been called in for questioning by the prosecutor's office a number of times over a column he wrote, which there are claims that defamed President Park. HARF: I hadn't seen that. Let me check on that case, and we'll get you a response. QUESTION: Great, thank you. HARF: Anything else, guys? QUESTION: Thank you. HARF: Great. Thank you. List of Speakers MARIE HARF, STATE DEPARTMENT DEPUTY SPOKESWOMAN
STATE DEPARTMENT DAILY BRIEFING
STATE DEPARTMENT REGULAR DAILY PRESS BRIEFING State Department Briefing with Spokesperson Jen Psaki Subject: Regular Press Briefing Location: Briefing Room, The State Department, Washington, D.C. Time: 2:00 pm EDT, Date: Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014 JEN PSAKI: Good afternoon, everyone. Q: Hello. MS. PSAKI: Thank you all for the understanding of the later briefing time. James had a birthday yesterday. So we'll start with that -- belated, but -- Q: Very kind of you. MS. PSAKI: If you note for us, we'll recognize all of your birthdays for the transcripts, without the age unless you ask. (Laughter.) Q: I don't know why he would be embarrassed about 27. MS. PSAKI: It's true. You look great for 27. Q: Back at you. MS. PSAKI: Thank you. (Laughter.) I have one items for all of you at the top. It is not only ISIL targeting innocent civilians in Syria. As the -- it is also the regime. As the international community works to counter the threat of ISIL, the regime is targeting communities that are also confronting the danger of ISIL and other extremist groups. We condemn in the strongest terms of the Syria regime's indiscriminate bombing of a densely populated neighborhood in Damascus. According to eyewitness reporting, hundreds of rockets have struck the neighborhood of Jobar over the past six days. This de facto carpet bombing has utterly destroyed entire city blocks of a neighborhood that has already been targeted by the regime before. We call on the Syrian regime and their patrons to immediately stop the indiscriminate shelling of Jobar and countless other towns across Syria. We have been clear that those responsible for such atrocities must be held accountable. Go ahead, Matt. Q: I've got two very brief one. MS. PSAKI: OK. Q: Just the one -- the second one goes into what you were just talking about though. They both have to do with the secretary's remarks at the -- you know, the Diplomacy Center. One, I just want to make sure, there are seven former living secretaries of state, right? Not six? MS. PSAKI: That is correct. Q: OK, so -- MS. PSAKI: And they are all invited. Obviously two were unable to attend. Q: OK. I just wanted to make sure of that -- that nothing had happened to one of the other two overnight or whatever. And secondly, the secretary in his comments paid tribute to former Secretary Baker and his diplomacy in the lead-up to the first Gulf War. He said that it was the gold standard of modern coalition building and one that he would be personally using as he -- in the coming days as he goes around the Middle East trying to build a coalition against ISIL. That struck me as interesting because, of course, one of the main accomplishments of that coalition in -- back in the first Gulf War was that Syria was on board in it. I presume that that particular element of the secretary's use of Secretary Baker's gold standard is not -- is not part of it. Is that -- is that -- is that correct? Syria -- there's no way that Syria can be part of your coalition against ISIL. MS. PSAKI: Nor is that what the United States is pursuing. But let me just give you a little context of the secretary's remarks. The secretary, before he became secretary -- or when he was named secretary, I should say, spoke a great deal -- he reached out to all of the secretaries. He looks at their records, their accomplishments and how they went about diplomacy and thinks history has a big role to play in how you pursue things moving forward. And I think certainly today was an appropriate day to recognize, he also tweeted quite a few times about different accomplishments of different secretaries and their role and reputations -- Q: I just -- I just wanted -- I just wanted to make sure I understand, that by calling the -- Baker's coalition building the gold standard of it and saying he's going to follow it does not indicate that he's going to be trying to get Syria, this current Assad regime as opposed to the father's regime, on board. MS. PSAKI: That is a correct assumption, yes. Q: OK. MS. PSAKI: However, building a coalition, the United States is obviously not going to go it alone in the fight against ISIL. That is what he is sticking to. Q: All right. I will yield. MS. PSAKI: OK. Ladies? Q: (Off mic.) MS. PSAKI: Hmm? Sure. Q: The coalition? MS. PSAKI: OK, go ahead, Lalit (sp). Q: Which are the countries that you are approaching to be part of the coalition? MS. PSAKI: Well, Lalit (sp), it is not limited by geography. There are a range of countries that the secretary is reaching out to, that administration officials are reaching out to. There are already a number of countries that may not be in the Arab world or aren't in Europe who are already contributing resources and offering assistance to fight ISIL and to address the humanitarian situation Iraq. So it's a broad range of countries. Just yesterday he spoke with his Australian counterparts, his Emirati counterparts, Jordanian counterpart, Qatari. He spoke with Prime Minister Netanyahu, which I know I mentioned yesterday. He spoke with the Saudi ambassador a well as the Italian foreign minister. So these calls will continue, as will our travel, which is an important part of diplomacy as well. Q: Have you asked India also to be part of the coalition of -- MS. PSAKI: Well, I think, Lalit (sp), that as we engage in this effort, which we're just in the beginning of building this coalition, that's certainly reaching out to a range of countries that have a desire to be a part of this coalition is certainly something that the secretary and others in the administration will be doing. Q: Thank you. Q: (Off mic) -- what kind of resources and assets you might be asking them to contribute. MS. PSAKI: Well, I think this is not as much a demand or a "we ask you to do X." It is a determination of what resources and assets that any country has. And every country has different capabilities, so it's a discussion back and forth. I think what we saw with Iraqis over the past several weeks is a good example because there are countries that were able to participate or assist in areas like humanitarian aid drops, which require a range of assets that every country may not have. Australia, France, the U.K., all were assisting in that. There are counties that made decisions to provide arms to the Kurds. So moving forward -- but there are also countries that may not have those capabilities or may not choose to go that route. And so there are a range of ways that countries can contribute to the coalition. Q: You're not talking about putting people on the ground, though, in that sense. MS. PSAKI: We are not talking about that, as you know. Obviously every country makes their own decision, but the focus of our discussion now is about using the resources and the capabilities that a range of countries have to coordinate as we take on the threat of ISIL. Q: And to touch on Matt's questioning yesterday about Syria, what is it that the United States is hoping that the coalition could actually do in Syria, given that ISIL doesn't respect the border between Syria and Iraq? MS. PSAKI: Well, I think the president and the administration have also been clear that we're not going to be limited by geography. Obviously there are a range of decisions and discussions that are ongoing -- or decisions that are ongoing in that -- in the administration, I should say, and decisions that still need to be made. But I'm not going to get into specifics other than to convey that there are a range of ways to take on the threat. There are certainly military steps that can be taken. There are also financial targeting. There is also efforts to fund engagements that we may be participating in. There also is humanitarian assistance. And so a discussions about all of these issues is what -- Q: But you're not just focusing on Iraq. You're also looking at the situation in Syria. MS. PSAKI: We're looking at the threat of ISIL as it relates to the global community, certainly the region, but obviously there are a range of countries that are concerned about this but don't even live in the region. Q: Are you finding that any of the countries that the United States is approaching is seeking any reciprocal gestures or measures by the United States? MS. PSAKI: No. I think, James, that I would point you to the public comments made by a number of the countries that the secretary even spoke with just yesterday. The threat of ISIL, what we're seeing in terms of their capabilities, their growth is of concern not just to the United States but to Italy, to Germany, to Australia, to Saudi Arabia, and I think that these discussions are about how we can best coordinate to address it. Q: Can you say as a matter of policy that the United States is unwilling to pay any other country to join this coalition? MS. PSAKI: I'm not even sure if you're -- what you're referring to, James. So that's not what the discussions are about. Q: Could I ask a -- going back to the video, the beheading of -- MS. PSAKI: Yes. Q: -- Mr. Sotloff. Is there anything more? MS. PSAKI: Yes, I have a little bit more. Q: You do? Can you give us what more you have on that, as long as it goes beyond what the White House said, what the United States said this morning? I mean, well, you can repeat that if you want. MS. PSAKI: Sure. I will repeat what I know, and obviously, there have been a range of remarks made by different people today, so we did learn about the video when it was made public; I know that was a question that was asked yesterday. They may have already confirmed that. We have already determined - while the intelligence committee is - a community is analyzing the video to learn as much as we can about what happened, where it happened, when it happened and who was involved, we've already determined that the videos were not shot at the same time, with the video of Mr. Sotloff being filmed after the Foley video. Obviously, this video was just made public yesterday, so there are additional questions, I'm certain, that we're still looking into that I don't think I'm going to have more to say. Go ahead. Q: Can you say how it is that you - that the intel community ascertained that this latest video was filmed at a different time than the Foley one? And does that mean, also, that the images of Mr. Sotloff that were in the first video - was that - were those taken at a separate time as well? MS. PSAKI: I can't go into more detail. I can just confirm for you, as you already know, that before we make a public statement, we certainly do our due diligence in ascertaining it's accurate. Obviously, that's why I made that comment. But - Q: OK. So the answer is, you don't know or you can't say, or that determination hasn't been made yet? MS. PSAKI: Well, ask your second question again. Q: Well, I'm curious to know if the - you've determined, or you just said that the intel community has determined that the videos were shot at - this latest one that came out yesterday was shot at a different time than the Jim Foley video, is that correct? MS. PSAKI: Yes - yes. Q: The bit of the Foley video that showed Mr. Sotloff - was that contemporaneous with the more recent one, or was that all - do you think that that was - Q: Are there two videos or three videos, is what he's asking, in essence. MS. PSAKI: Well, OK, just so I understand what you're asking - and I'll see if I can answer this - are you asking whether the video that showed him in the video - that was at the same time as the - Q: I'm asking - the Foley video had Foley and Sotloff in it. MS. PSAKI: Yes. Q: That was all shot at the same time, you believe, or was the Sotloff part of that video shot at a separate time? MS. PSAKI: I would have to double check on that; I just want to be extra careful. Q: OK - but - so what you're saying now is that the video that appeared yesterday was shot at a different time - you're not prepared to say sooner or later than the - MS. PSAKI: I said after. Q: Oh, you said after? OK. And does that - does that mean anything to you in terms of whether Mr. Sotloff was alive after the Foley video? MS. PSAKI: I'm just - I don't have any more analysis at this point in time. I expect we'll have more as each - as the intel community announces. (Cross talk.) Q: Just to clarify Matt's question for one moment - MS. PSAKI: Said, one moment. Let's go one at a time. Go ahead, James. Q: Just to clarify Matt's question, Mr. Sotloff appeared in two videos. And I think Matt's question was aimed at finding out whether those two appearances of Mr. Sotloff were shot at different times, or whether one video taping session with Mr. Sotloff was used in two separate videos. Does that make sense? MS. PSAKI: But you're talking about the first two videos, not - you're talking - Q: You have two videos, in each of which, Mr. Sotloff can be seen. The question I think Matt was posing was whether those two appearances from Mr. Sotloff were recorded in the same session or reflect two different recorded sessions. MS. PSAKI: I understand - I understand. I just have to check with our intel community and see if there's more we can say in that specific regard. Q: And are you - are you able to say whether or not the two videos appear to have been shot in the same place? MS. PSAKI: I don't have any more - I think - when I said that, obviously, there's a lot we're looking at - where it happened, when it happened, those are some of the questions - (inaudible) - Q: You don't know in terms of location? Because I think the secretary alluded to Syria - like, the location where these videos were filmed was in Syria. So you don't have - you don't know whether it was actually Syria or Iraq or elsewhere - (inaudible) - MS. PSAKI: Well, we certainly know where he was kidnapped, and we know a lot of details, Said. But again, this video just came out yesterday; I don't want to guess, as you know. Did you have a question on the video, or can we finish that? Go ahead, Jo. Q: I have one more, actually. Yesterday, I asked a question about the Briton - the British who was shown in the second video about Mr. Sotloff. Have you had any contact - again, I asked yesterday - with Britain about that? Do you know about his condition? MS. PSAKI: We certainly remain in touch with the UK about any of these issues. I am not going to have more specifics to read out for you. I would point you to them for any more questions about one of their citizens. Q: When you say "all of these issues," that would include not just the hostage but also but also the guy who's doing the killing, correct? MS. PSAKI: Oh, sure. Of course. Of course. I think Jo was asking specifically about the importance of the individual -- yeah. Q: Yeah, I know, but I wanted to make sure -- (off mic). Q: Do you happen to know whether the U.S. intelligence community has access to video from these particular recording sessions involving Misters Foley and Sotloff more extensive than what has been released or posted online? MS. PSAKI: Not that I'm aware of, James. Q: I have one more, I'm sorry, on -- MS. PSAKI: Mmm hmm. Go ahead. Q: -- the guy who's supposedly a British guy who does the killing. Do you believe in both videos it is the same person? MS. PSAKI: We just don't have any more to offer at this point in time. Q: As far as the location of these videos and of these hostages and of these terrorist groups, do anybody like Syrian government or -- and in groups, do they know the location where they are? MS. PSAKI: You'd have to ask the Syrian government that question. Q: I mean -- MS. PSAKI: Go ahead. Q: Thank you. On global coalition against ISIL, on Turkey, as we all know, 49 diplomats are still being held captive by ISIL. How do you deal with that? I mean, how do you find Turkish government willingly to join this coalition while their 49 diplomats are being held captive? MS. PSAKI: Well, certainly we remain in touch with the Turkish government. They have -- they certainly share our concern, and I would point you to them about the threat of ISIL. Obviously, every country has different capabilities and different interests in terms of what they will or won't provide. There is a range of factors for that. I'm not going to speak on their behalf, so I'd certainly point you to them. Q: How is dealing with the Turkish government in terms of this coalition goes? Because we haven't heard anything, any supporting statements from the Turkish leadership so far on this issue. MS. PSAKI: Turkey remains an important ally and one we work closely on addressing counterterrorism. Nothing has changed in that regard. And obviously, if they have announcements to make about what type of capabilities or interests they -- or supports they may or may not be offering, we'll leave that to them. Yes. Q: (Off mic) -- secretary staid the gold standard. I mean, you know, that coalition I remember, half a million soldiers were deployed to Saudi Arabia. He doesn't mean anything like this -- he does not mean that, you know, all these countries would send in all of these troops and -- (inaudible) -- deployed in, like, in Turkey or Jordan and so on and then move forward? He doesn't mean that, does he? MS. PSAKI: Look, I think the secretary was not announcing a military strategy for approaching the threat of ISIL. The secretary was referring to the hard work of diplomacy that several of his predecessors undertook. Obviously, every situation is different; a coalition, the capabilities and what will be required is certainly different now than it would have been 20 years ago. Q: (Let me ?) move more broadly to the U.S. approach to ISIS and the president's comments this morning. In just the one appearance in Estonia, the president iterated three times the mission against ISIS, and in all three iterations, it seems strikingly different. At one time he spoke about wanting to destroy and degrade ISIS. At another point he spoke about wanting to roll them back. And at still another point he talked about wanting to shrink its sphere of influence to the point where it would be a manageable problem. Am I correct in identifying those three iterations as markedly different from each other? MS. PSAKI: Well, I think it's important for everybody, including people at home who watch Fox, to look at the context of the remarks that the -- that the president made. Certainly our objective here is to degrade and destroy ISIL. And I think the president also said that that's going to require an ongoing effort, that what we want to see if preventing this group from destroying or being an ongoing threat to the region. Q: But how can reducing something to the point where it is a manageable problem be consistent with destroying it? MS. PSAKI: Well, I'd have to look at the full context, James, but I think it's understandable that the White House press corps and others who are asking questions asked in many different ways. And obviously, there are many questions to be discussed and answered on this particular issue. But I think there is no country that has done more than the United States to help Iraq build a coalition to take on -- begin to take on the threat there, to build an international coalition. I think the president's actions are the most important factor for people to look at. Q: I wasn't asking you about what was escaping the lips of the White House press corps in Estonia. I was asking about the pronouncements of the president of the United States. And I think you would agree that it is very important, especially in a situation like this, that the president speak with clarity so that the American people at home and people around the world, not least of all the members of ISIS, understand him. So when he speaks about making something a manageable problem, but also speaks about destroying something, can you understand why people might be confused about that and regard it as mixed messaging? MS. PSAKI: Well, James, with all due respect, I know there sometimes is a desire to twist words or take things out of context, but I think there should be no question that the president desires to degrade and destroy ISIS. He has taken action to do that. I think actions are an important factor, not just a word game of what you think it means. He has been clear he wants to build an international coalition. That's not going to be overnight. We need capabilities from many countries. And I think his actions tell you what you need to know about his commitment to doing this. Q: You -- speaking just back to the coalition for a second, you mentioned the secretary's calls yesterday, Australia, UAE, Jordan, Qatar, Netanyahu, Saudi ambassador, Italian foreign minister. So is it safe to assume that these countries represented here will be -- are prime candidates for the -- for coalition membership? MS. PSAKI: I think that these countries are all countries that have a concern about the threat that we face from ISIL, but I'm not going to speak on their behalf. Many of them have already taken steps in Iraq. Q: Right. And then I just want to go back to one thing. In the conversation with Prime Minister Netanyahu, which I'm sure we will get back to later on, did the question of Mr. Sotloff's citizenship come up? MS. PSAKI: I -- let me see what I have on the call, Matt. Q: And even if it didn't, I have a question or two about his Israeli citizenship. MS. PSAKI: Sure. Well, as you know, the secretary spoke with Prime Minister Netanyahu just yesterday, last evening. They discussed issues, of course, related to the Palestinians, including Gaza, as well as ISIS and other regional issues. I'd have to check and see if that level of specificity came up. Q: In terms of his citizenship, do you know, was the U.S. aware pretty much after he went missing that he was an Israeli -- that he had Israeli citizenship, and was this, you know, an extra concern of yours about -- was this an extra -- something else that made you concerned about his safety and that would perhaps, in addition to what you -- your concerns about -- (inaudible)? MS. PSAKI: I know we were aware at some point in time. I don't have a timeline on exactly when we were made aware. I can see if there's more to convey on that. In terms of our level of concern, I think our level of concern was certainly already at a very high point, so -- Q: No, obviously. But I mean, this is another circumstance -- MS. PSAKI: Certainly. Q: -- an extenuating circumstance that may have increased your -- I don't know. Maybe it didn't, maybe it did. That's what I'm asking. MS. PSAKI: I'd have to check with our team and see if raised the bar further than it already was. Q: Can we stay on the Netanyahu-Kerry call? MS. PSAKI: Sure, go ahead. Q: The secretary certainly raised his concern about (this appropriation ?) of land, correct, for a new settlement? MS. PSAKI: Yes, he did. Q: OK. Now, are you aware that today the Israelis are now further settlement building in East Jerusalem for 2,220 units? MS. PSAKI: Well, I think in our statement just yesterday we -- Q: I'm talking about today. MS. PSAKI: Let me finish. We talked about concerns about upcoming settlements announcements that had been reported, so we had addressed that in some capacity. Now certainly I haven't looked at those specific details, nor have I talked with our team about them. But I think we've been clear about our concern about these type of actions. Obviously different places are slightly different, but that hasn't changed. Q: Will the secretary feel snubbed, I mean, considering that he brought the topic with the Israeli prime minister last night and today they announced another settlement building plans? MS. PSAKI: Well, Said, I don't think we expect that when we raise concerns there's always going to be immediate change. What we do have a responsibility to do is raise concerns when we have them, to express the United States' view that we don't recognize the legitimacy of settlements. We think it's unproductive to moving forward towards a two-state solution. And those are all concerns that are worthy of expressing. Q: OK, now you are -- you know, you expressed concern and so on, but -- and you said that they don't have immediate results and so on, but in your recent memory, have the Israelis rolled back any settlement plans as a result of your expression of displeasure? MS. PSAKI: There certainly have been times, and obviously there were times when announcements weren't made as well. But I'm not going to do a history lesson with you here, Said. Q: Is the secretary getting assurance from -- (inaudible) -- that they were going to stop, or? MS. PSAKI: I just don't have any more to readout from the call. I would point you to them if they would choose to say more. Q: Can you tell us a little bit about the tone of the call? The Israeli press, notably Haaretz, is saying that the secretary was highly critical of the decision. It sounds like that is more than just concerned. It sounds like he actually stepped up the tone. MS. PSAKI: I'm just not going to characterize it further. Q: And what about the -- Q: Concerning the administration's view of these recent moves, does the secretary regard them as the kind of moves that he has previously warned the Israeli government would be the kind of moves that would result potentially in boycotts and other adverse measures against the Israeli government? MS. PSAKI: I think you're familiar with not just what has been said in the past, but -- by the secretary, but what others have said outside of the administration. Q: In other words, he warned about this prospect previously if Israel didn't change its course. Now they have announced new moves. Is this the kind of thing the secretary had in mind when he issued that warning? MS. PSAKI: I'm just not going to address that further. Go ahead, Leslie. Q: I was going to ask about the meeting, and -- I guess it's this afternoon, with Erakat (sp), with the Palestinian negotiations. MS. PSAKI: Sure. Q: And there are reports out of the region today that he's going to bring a plan to the secretary. Have you -- have they reviewed that plan? I mean, does he know about it? Have they discussed it? What time is the meeting? MS. PSAKI: They don't have -- I believe they're meeting this afternoon. I don't have an exact time for you. It may have been our public schedule. Q: (Off mic.) MS. PSAKI: But -- I'm sorry, Said? Q: (Off mic.) MS. PSAKI: OK, good. Q: I didn't see it. MS. PSAKI: But the focus of the meeting will certainly be on hearing their proposals and, I'm sure, asking some tough questions. We don't have all the details about what they intend to produce or what their plans are. So certainly that will be part of the discussion. They'll also, of course, discuss the negotiations that the Egyptians will convene in Cairo pertaining to Gaza. And so that will be a part of the discussion as well. Q: All right, I want to go back to your description of what you said -- what you said a little while ago about when you raise concerns you don't necessarily expect immediate change. Do you expect change at all? MS. PSAKI: Of course we expect and would like to see change. We ask for decisions to be reversed. But I also think there is a role to -- that we need to play as a government in conveying our concerns when we have them. And that's part of what we do as well. Q: Right, but getting back to what Said was saying, I mean, have you -- in a situation like this, where an announcement has been made, and you come out and say we think this announcement has been reversed -- you know, when do -- so when you expect it? If it's not going to be immediate that they're going to reverse it, when is it exactly that you expect they're going to -- MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, our strong preference would have been that they didn't announce it to begin with, as you know. And that -- (inaudible) -- decisions to begin with. Q: I don't know that you -- you mean, before it was announced you guys -- you guys went to the Israelis and said, hey, it would be a really bad idea if you did this. Don't do that. MS. PSAKI: I think there's no secret about our position and our view on the -- (inaudible) -- of settlements. Q: No, but I mean, specific -- but specific -- MS. PSAKI: That's not what I was saying. I think -- let's -- I think we all know what the United States' position is on settlements. I would not be a surprise to any Israeli government about what our view would be. So my point is that it's not -- that's not a new -- I don't think our concern about this was -- Q: Well, OK, but what might be a surprise to the Israeli government is if you did something about it other than just say you're opposed to it and you should change your mind. I mean, is there -- so if you don't see results or a reversal in the immediate term, or the intermediate term, or even the long term, what happens? MS. PSAKI: Matt, I'm not here to project that. I think it's -- we have an important relationship with Israel. Q: I'm not doubting that. MS. PSAKI: We certainly express our concerns when we have them. There are a range of countries that have expressed their concerns about these type of activities. Obviously we feel it's not just in the United States' interest, it's in Israel's interest to take steps that would be conductive to being able at some point to move towards a two-state solution. And this makes it challenging for the other side. Q: OK. I have a related question. This has to do with Gaza and fishing rights. Are you aware of reports that the Israelis are prohibiting Palestinian fishermen from going out as far as they are -- should be allowed to under the cease-fire agreement? I think -- I believe it's like six miles offshore? MS. PSAKI: I was not aware that that was an issue. I know, obviously, the fishing rights was a part of the agreement, but -- Q: Right, so you're not aware that that's being infringed -- that that is being infringed upon? MS. PSAKI: I had not seen that that had been infringed. Q: OK. MS. PSAKI: I can certainly check on that. Q: Perhaps -- yeah. Q: Can I just -- (inaudible). Q: No, go. Q: Is yours about fishing? Q: No. It's about Israel though. (Laughter.) Q: OK. MS. PSAKI: (Inaudible) -- fishing question. Q: I wanted to find out -- yeah, I just want to make clear, did you -- was the recent announcement of the settlements by the Israelis, did that come as a surprise to you or did you -- were you are of it before and then you warned the Israelis, don't do that? MS. PSAKI:. Well, there were a range of reports in Israeli press. I don't have any other information on whether -- when we knew -- (Cross talk.) MS. PSAKI: -- but there were a range of reports that were happening for days. Q: I wanted to ask, on the -- on the call, did the -- did the prime minister mention to the secretary that Israel is sending a delegation here, I believe next week, to talk about Iran? I guess it's all feeding up towards the (UNHRC ?) sessions that are going to happen later on this month, but they've announced out of Jerusalem this morning that's what they're planning to do is -- was that one of the issues that was raised in the conversation? MS. PSAKI: Not that I'm aware of. I can see if there was more, Jo, about that particular issue that they discussed. Q: Another West Bank question. MS. PSAKI: Sure. Q: The Israelis have been using a really heavy hand in the West Bank lately, arresting legislators. You know, it doesn't matter what political color what political party they belong to. Some of them could be communists or Hamas-affiliated -- but also they are killing more people, you know, at checkpoints, at -- you know, on the roads. Today they bombed a dairy in Hebron unnecessarily, and so on. Are you concerned that these things may add sort of the -- they add fuel to the fire so to speak? MS. PSAKI: Well, Said, I'm not sure that everything you said is accurate so let me check on that and see if there's more we want to offer from here. Q: Well, I can assure you that there was a dairy that was bombed today. MS. PSAKI: When we have concerns we express them, and if we decide to do that we will do that. Go ahead. Q: Can we go back to Syria to finish Syria questions? MS. PSAKI: Sure. Q: Syrian opposition forces in north of Syria and east of Syria have offered targeting information on ISIL positions. What has been the U.S. response to this information? MS. PSAKI: I'm not aware of the report you're referring to or where it appears. You can send it to us, Said. Q: This is by the Syrian FSA spokesman in Washington. They said that they offered this. Let me ask you this way: Is there any active collaboration between the FSA forces and the U.S. against ISIL right now in northern Syria or east Syria? MS. PSAKI: Well, certainly we remain closely engaged with the members of the Free Syrian Army, and obviously we're continuing to provide a range of assistance. And the threat of ISIL and the concern that we have about that is shared but that's not the focus of our efforts at this point in time. Q: Again on Syria, Washington Post over the weekend reported that U.S. State Department denied a visa for 12 Syria refugee women who were supposed to come here. These are Syrian women who were supposed to come Washington for a play in Georgetown University and the State Department rejected these women's applications. MS. PSAKI: They were applying for refugee status -- Q: No. MS. PSAKI: -- or they were applying for visas? Q: For visa as an entertainer to come Washington and -- MS. PSAKI: To enter to be in the play. Q: Yes. MS. PSAKI: I'm not familiar with the circumstances. We can see if there's more we can share on that specifically. Go ahead in the back. Q: And one more on Syria. MS. PSAKI: OK. Q: Last one. In the first 10 months of fiscal year of 2014, it looks like the U.S. admitted a grand total of 63 Syrian refugees while about 3.5 million refugees in countries in the Middle East. It looks like U.S. only accepted 63. Do you think something is wrong with this picture? MS. PSAKI: Well, I think we should provide you with a little more information on how the refugee process works, not just in the United States but through the U.N. There are certainly asks that are made to countries to make room for or begin a process. That's something that's relatively new and it's been ongoing. We've indicated our openness here, so why don't we get you a little more information on that and we can talk about it a little bit more? Go ahead. Q: In terms of U.S. coalition building, is there a certain time frame that the U.S. has in mind in which it would like to see enough partners on board to proceed to the next step in terms of Iraq and Syria? MS. PSAKI: Well, I wouldn't equate it as being until we have a coalition of X number of partners there won't be additional action. Obviously we've already taken steps in Iraq, and there are a range of counties that have taken steps. This is a process that will be ongoing. As the president said, this is not a challenge that can be addressed overnight. And so certainly we'll have an ongoing discussion about the capabilities and capacities of different countries in this regard. And, you know, that's one that we're obviously spending a great deal of time focused on over the coming weeks. So we'll see where we end at the end of that period of time. Q: Jen, what about Iran's role? Will you accept Iran to participate in the global coalition? MS. PSAKI: They're not a country -- that's a country that, as we noted in the past, you know, they can play a role by encouraging inclusivity and encouraging all the different political sects to work together in Iraq. But beyond that, no, we're not working with Iran on this regard. Q: I'm trying to drill down a little bit on this coalition thing. But I won't take long, I promise. MS. PSAKI: OK. Q: Of the three most recent coalitions that the U.S. has put together -- the Gulf War coalition is the first one; the post-9/11 coalition, the war on terrorism; and then the coalition of the willing for the second Iraq war -- they were all kind of formalized. There was a list put together by people in this building, at the White House and at the Pentagon. You -- it was a -- is this that same kind of thing? Or is it more of an informal collection of countries that are not going to be identified as a coalition of the willing or a coalition of whatever it is that one decides -- (inaudible)? MS. PSAKI: Well, I think we have to see, Matt. I mean, there are countries that -- Q: Well, what's the idea? What's the president -- what is it the president and the secretary want? Do they want that kind of a coalition where you're either signed up, on board, you've checked off the list? Or is it more just a kind of a loose -- (inaudible) -- MS. PSAKI: I don't think a requirement is that a country signs a document. I think there -- Q: You know what I mean. I mean, is it -- is it going to be some kind of grand formal coalition, or is it just kind of a loose association of people -- of like-minded countries? MS. PSAKI: It's really more of the latter, Matt. But obviously, we're at a stage in this where we are, you know, just beginning the discussions about what roles individual countries can play. Q: All right. But you said that -- you said that there is no geographic limit to this, but you ruled out two countries so far as participating, I think -- Syria and Iran. MS. PSAKI: So it's not limited by geography. It doesn't mean that every country in the world -- Q: Unless your geography is Syria or Iran. MS. PSAKI: Well, what I was conveying, which I think I explained in context, was that there are countries in Asia and other parts of the world that are not next to Syria that will play a role. Q: Fair enough. What about Russia? Q: (Off mic) -- Q: Are they -- no, I'm serious. I mean, is -- are Russia -- I mean, the Russians have been allied with President Assad, who you say is not welcome to join. Are they worthy of admission or worthy of consideration for admission? Or should they not even bother to apply, don't write the essay, don't have to -- MS. PSAKI: That's not how we're looking at this, Matt. I think obviously, if countries want to play a constructive role in this fight against ISIL, that that's a discussion we're happy to have. But I think there are a range of countries that have been more constructive in this regard. Q: (Inaudible) -- ultimate goal, is it the destruction of ISIL, is that the ultimate goal? Or is it wider than that, to -- ensuring stability in Iraq and ensuring stability in Syria? What's the ultimate goal of the coalition? MS. PSAKI: Well, it's both. I mean, you want to end the threat that -- from ISIL that is the region it's facing. Obviously, destroying and degrading ISIL would be -- would result in that. But certainly, that's part of an effort to strengthen countries in the region as well. Now, there are steps that countries in the region have to take on their own, even as we're encouraging them -- Iraq and others that are forming a government or taking more productive steps to be more cohesive and united. Q: So the initial -- the initial line would he to try to deal with the threat of ISIL or ISIS -- (inaudible) -- call themselves now -- and then more broadly work towards political stability? Is that -- in both those countries? MS. PSAKI: No, no. It's -- this is -- I think political processes in some countries like Iraq are important to take on this threat of ISIL. Obviously, there are efforts that the United States undergoes and a range of countries undergoes, you know, every day to help promote stability in the region. But certainly ISIL is posing a threat. This is a coalition to address the threat of ISIL. There are a range of causes of that, and there are a range of steps countries can take to address it. Depends on where we're talking about. Q: Jen, a stated position of the GCC countries and Jordan and all these countries and Turkey is really to fight ISIL. Why not formalize it? Why not have, you know, a coalition similar to that that took place in 1990 and '91 -- (inaudible)? MS. PSAKI: Said, I think we think this is the best approach at this point in time, so that's why we're pursuing it. Q: One more? MS. PSAKI: Mmm hmm. Q: Madam, as far as this coalition concerned, this mission will continue to the United Nations next -- I mean, later this month. And second, as far as this group is concerned, many people are asking that -- is this part of -- or with a new name or part of al-Qaida, or, who are really behind this group? I mean, is there new name and in the future, then, we will have another group, maybe going after this group now? So what is the future, people are asking? (Laughter.) MS. PSAKI: Well, that's a big question. Q: What is the future? MS. PSAKI: Well, just briefly, the history is that, of course, al-Qaida and ISIL are no longer affiliated. They were once affiliated. So obviously, we're concerned about the growth of groups like ISIL. There are other terrorist organizations - al-Shabab and others around the world that we are also concerned about. So taking on the threat that we face is not just limited to ISIL, but certainly, given the events of the last several months, it's a primary area of focus. Q: And you will take this to the United Nations later this month as far as building coalition and getting - (inaudible) - MS. PSAKI: Well, I think - I don't want to predetermine what that process will be or what the final outcome will be. Obviously, there will be a meeting that the president chairs on foreign fighters at the U.N. General Assembly meeting, so I'm certain this will be a topic of discussion, but we've got a few weeks till we get there. Go ahead. Q: (Inaudible) - Ukraine and Russia, please? MS. PSAKI: Sure. Yep. Q: So the president was quite tough on Russia in his speech - his various appearances today in Estonia. And I just want to make sure - does that - was he fully aware of, and had he been briefed on - and I realize you don't speak for the White House - but there appears to be some progress towards a cease-fire agreement between the Ukrainians and the Russians after this conversation that Putin and Poroshenko had. Do you know - I mean, have you just - has the administration and the president dismissed that apparent progress, or was it really not settled yet by the time he made his strong comments? MS. PSAKI: Well, just over the course - I think you may have seen President Poroshenko's comments about these reports of an agreed cease-fire, where he indicated that it was a discussion. Our view is that if President Putin is prepared to stop financing, arming and training separatists and remove Russian troops from Ukraine, those are objectives, of course, not only would we support, but certainly, the Ukrainians would support. And President Putin's plan certainly does not do that. So as of now, I think there is a great deal more work to be done, and President Putin has had a lot of words, but not backed them with actions, and that's essentially what we feel needs to happen from here. Q: OK. So you think that his seven-point plan is not worth pursuing. Or it is worth pursuing but - what is it that - MS. PSAKI: You know, I think I would, of course, point to President Poroshenko and his comments, but there were issues - core issues that were not addressed, including what to do about the Russian engagement in this - in this incursion, and I think that's obviously a big factor here. Q: OK. So I just want to make sure that I understand - the administration's position is that this - whatever it is - whatever resulted from this conversation is not - does not go nearly far enough from the Russian side? MS. PSAKI: Well, I think, outside of the United States - one, as I understand it, the Kremlin and Russian-backed separatists have already backed away from it, and President Poroshenko has spoken publicly to it. So it's not for us to determine, but there are several issues, of course, including the arming and training of separatists and the assistance and financing that Russia is providing would need to be addressed. And there have been several plans put forward by President Poroshenko as well; that can certainly be the basis of a discussion. Q: (Inaudible) - tide President Putin over through NATO? I mean, has he bought himself some time here a day before NATO - MS. PSAKI: As I understand it, Leslie, the Kremlin and the Russian-backed separatists are already backing away, and President Poroshenko has spoken to it as well. So the discussion at NATO - and I think, you know, the president had some pretty strong words about NATO and what NATO should do to support Ukraine and support the people of Ukraine in that discussion, and the ongoing coordination efforts around additional consequences hasn't changed and hasn't been changed by the events of the last 24 hours. Q: And then, to deal with Russia - I mean, you saw the French have decided they will delay the delivery of the Mistral. Do you think that was a good decision? MS. PSAKI: We do think that was a wise decision. Q: (Inaudible) - anything more to say about that? MS. PSAKI: Well, I'd certainly point you to them for more details. I know they gave, sort of, an outline of why they did it and for what reasons, and I'd point you to that, but we certainly support their decision. Q: OK. So just - it was a wise decision that you support, and that's all? You don't want to say any more about the fact that you had to drag them, kicking and screaming, to get to this point? MS. PSAKI: I think I'll leave it at that, Matt. Q: There are - you know, there are some military exercises that will take place in Western Ukraine - (inaudible) - can you speak to that? MS. PSAKI: Sure. Checking about the EUCOM exercises. This month EUCOM will be participating with Ukraine in two annual preplanned exercises. Both are designed to improve interoperability while promoting regional stability and security, strengthening international military partnering and fostering trust. There's one in the middle of September and certainly the -- and then there's one later in September. You know, we of course have done these exercises before, so this is -- this is a continuation of that. Q: So Russia should not take this as in any way a threat to it? MS. PSAKI: No, they're annual. They're preplanned, and I think there was awareness of them in advance. Q: But considering, you know, what has transpired in the last year since these exercises were held -- MS. PSAKI: They're not being held in response to current events. So no, they should not. Q: It's with Ukraine. It's U.S. and Ukrainian -- or NATO, U.S. -- obviously U.S., if it -- it's NATO and -- or is it U.S.? MS. PSAKI: It's the United States and -- they're hosted by the United States and Ukraine. I'm not aware of a NATO component. Q: In Ukraine. And -- but do you see what the -- if it's about interoperability and -- do you see why the Russians might be suspicious of something like that? MS. PSAKI: Well -- Q: I mean, Ukraine is not a member of NATO. MS. PSAKI: Correct, but Ukraine is a -- Q: It's not as if the U.S. and -- the U. S. -- I mean, is it for Ukraine sending troops to join an ISAF-type expedition outside of Ukraine? MS. PSAKI: Well, I think, Matt, one, this is, again, preplanned and annual exercises. Q: Oh, fair enough -- MS. PSAKI: And we certainly understand the context, but I don't think -- I can't change Russians' views, but that, I think, is important context about why we're -- why these are taking place and why we're continuing to participate in them. Wouldn't it be odd if we canceled them? That would be strange. Q: Well, they were -- weren't they delayed from earlier this year? MS. PSAKI: I don't have the exact timeline, but I think, again, that these are exercises (that are important ?). Q: But you think the conditions right now in Ukraine -- I don't know exactly where in the country these are going to be, but conditions in southeast Ukraine, which are not good right now, are -- MS. PSAKI: They're taking place, I can tell you -- Q: But the condition of the country in general -- Ukraine, that is -- is OK enough for this -- these exercises to go on? MS. PSAKI: Well, they're taking -- Q: The Ukrainian military, in other words, isn't needed -- MS. PSAKI: They're taking place in northwestern Ukraine. Q: OK. MS. PSAKI: It's going to involve -- let's see -- approximately 200 U.S. soldiers -- oh, there are -- and in total there are 1,300 -- let's see. Let me check on the NATO component of it for you. (Inaudible.) Q: (Inaudible.) But you're not concerned that Ukrainian troops might be needed elsewhere. MS. PSAKI: I think exercises are an important part of our cooperation with many countries, including Ukraine. OK. Can do a few more here. Go ahead. Q: Jen, yesterday you have confirmed independently the presence of Russian troops in Ukraine. Today President Obama -- I quote -- told that Russian forces have moved into Ukraine (with tents?), with weapons, and this is not subject to dispute. Has something changed in -- MS. PSAKI: We've said that many times before, and I actually said yesterday that we've said it many times before. So it's been -- consistently we've said that for a couple of weeks now. Q: So you think it is effective? What's your -- you think that the Russian presence in Ukraine is a fact, military presence? MS. PSAKI: Is -- I'm sorry. I'm not understanding your question. Is a fact -- Q: That it's a fact, yeah. MS. PSAKI: We've -- well, we've stated that for some time now, yeah. Q: Quick on Turkey? MS. PSAKI: On Turkey and then we'll go to Jo. Go ahead. Q: Who do you accept in Turkey as the main interlocutor, as a chief executive in Turkey? MS. PSAKI: I'm not sure what the -- what the -- Q: (Off mic.) MS. PSAKI: -- what the genesis of your question is. I think we all know who's elected there and who the secretary speaks to, but -- Q: No, but this is this a very serious question, actually. The former U.S. official -- (inaudible) -- wrote a piece yesterday and -- arguing that U.S.-based -- doesn't know who's talking Turkey since this is the first time ever elected president there, also the prime minister, who U.S. used to talk to as a main -- MS. PSAKI: Well, the secretary speaks with Foreign Minister Davutoglu, who is his counterpart. Obviously the prime minister -- Prime Minister Erdogan, now President Erdogan, certainly the appropriate counterparts will speak to. I don't think there's a mystery, in our view. Q: So President Obama, when he calls Turkey, he calls -- he's supposed to call President Erdogan or Prime Minister Davutoglu? MS. PSAKI: I would point you to the White House on that question. Q: I wanted to ask you: Do you have any more information about the operation in Somalia yesterday, whether you had managed to ascertain whether the al-Shabab senior figure had been killed or not? MS. PSAKI: I unfortunately don't have any additional details. Obviously this was DOD-led, so I expect any additional details would come from there first. I think I confirmed yesterday, but for those of you who weren't here, that U.S. military forces conducted an operation in Somalia over the weekend against the al-Shabab network. But in terms of other specifics, we don't have that at this point in time. Q: (Off mic.) MS. PSAKI: Go ahead. Q: Yeah, on the issue of three American detainees in North Korea, what if North Korea -- (inaudible) -- talk to the United States to using these three -- (inaudible) -- then will the United States accept the North Koreans' request or -- MS. PSAKI: Well, I think, one, the safety and security of American citizens, including certainly those who were detained overseas, is at utmost priority to the United States and to Secretary Kerry. This is an issue that is certainly on the forefront of our minds. We have offered in the past to send Ambassador Bob King there. A trip was canceled twice. We're going to leave no stone unturned in this case, and we certainly have means of communicating, but I don't have any other additional updates for you. Q: Thank you. Q: (Off mic) -- the three gentlemen were put on the TV because perhaps North Korea is willing to deal now and maybe they want somebody with a higher profile, unfortunately, than Ambassador King, would the United States be willing to try and get somebody, as in the past, President Clinton or President Carter or Governor Richardson to go? MS. PSAKI: Well, I know we saw their comments, Jo. And I think as I mentioned, we're going to leave no stone unturned, of course, in this case. But we're not going to outline all of our efforts publicly, so we'll work both privately. And obviously our objective here is to see the safe return home of these individuals who are detained in North Korea. Q: (Off mic) -- former President Clinton or former President Bush want to come back -- (inaudible). MS. PSAKI: I think Jo just asked the same question, which was a good question but I don't have anything more to offer to you. Q: OK. Q: (Off mic.) MS. PSAKI: I can just do a couple more here. So let me get to -- OK, go ahead, Said. Q: (Off mic) -- quick thing. Will there be a readout on the meeting between Eric Erekat and the secretary of state? MS. PSAKI: We don't typically do readouts of those types of meetings. Q: You don't? OK. MS. PSAKI: I will see if there's anything more we can offer to you, Said. I certainly understand the interest. Go ahead, Lalit. Q: On Afghanistan, are you worried that Dr. Abdullah Abdullah and -- (inaudible) -- have not been able to reach an agreement on a unity government? The counting is still going on. MS. PSAKI: Well, I think, one, we continue to expect both candidates will abide by the August 8th joint declaration that reaffirmed their commitment to a unified Afghanistan. We believe the electoral process can be completed soon. Obviously a discussion about, you know, our shared commitment to Afghanistan will certainly be a part of what takes place at NATO when the president is there tomorrow. Q: But there is no call by secretary to these Afghan leaders -- (off mic)? MS. PSAKI: He engages with them regularly. I don't have anything to read out for you. I can see if there's more we can offer on that front. Q: Have -- Q: The last time he engaged with them in person, they both promised him that they were going to get this done by the time the NATO summit opens. I believe the summit opens tomorrow. Is that correct? MS. PSAKI: Mmm hmm. Q: Is it still your understanding that they are going to have a president-elect, at least, to send to the NATO -- to the NATO -- send to the NATO summit? MS. PSAKI: Well, at this point, Matt, it is our expectation that Afghanistan will be represented by the minister of defense. Obviously there's an ongoing process that is taking place. It's continuing. I think the preference of everybody would have been to see the process concluded, but we hope -- (audio break). Q: Well, is that a disappointment? Because, I mean, essentially, these guys reneged on their pledge to the secretary and to the people of Afghanistan. MS. PSAKI: I would disagree with that. Q: Oh? MS. PSAKI: I think this has been an ongoing process. The -- both camps have continued to meet with each other and with U.N. officials. It's ongoing. We knew it wouldn't be easy. The -- Afghanistan will be represented at NATO, and obviously we are hopeful it will conclude soon. I can just do about two more here, so let me do one more, Lalit, and then we'll do the two in the back. Q: When last year the elections were held in Pakistan, both the president and the secretary had -- (inaudible) -- people of Pakistan for the -- (inaudible) -- elections, which was considered as free and fair at that point of time. Do you still consider the elections free and fair, or you go by what Imran Khan is saying, it was rigged? MS. PSAKI: Nothing has changed in our view. You know how closely we're watching the situation. As I understand in Pakistan, things -- the protests have died down and things have calmed a bit in the streets. I also want to make clear that our embassy is fully open there in Islamabad. I know there was some confusion about that yesterday. Q: Small -- MS. PSAKI: I'm sorry -- (inaudible) -- I have to just to two more because I have to -- I have to run. Go ahead. Q: Do you have any initial feedback from Linda Thomas-Greenfield's trip to Nigeria and her meeting -- her ministerial meeting to address Boko Haram? MS. PSAKI: Not at this point. As you mentioned and I think some of you may be aware -- we announced it, I believe -- that she has been in Nigeria for the past couple of days, and certainly addressing the threat of Boko Haram is a part of those discussions. We can see if there is more of a readout to offer. Sometimes we deal with time changes and things of that sort. OK. Last one. Go ahead. Q: I just wanted to follow up on the question I asked yesterday -- MS. PSAKI: Sure. Q: -- about the prime minister, Prime Minister Abe changing his Cabinet. MS. PSAKI: Sure. Q: (Inaudible) -- came out today, so I just wanted to follow up with you. MS. PSAKI: Sure. Yes. We welcome the announcement of the new Japanese Cabinet. We fully expect that our close cooperation with the government of Japan across the board a broad -- on a brange (pH) -- a broad range, excuse me, of regional and global issues will continue to deepen. And we certainly believe that strong and constructive relations between our country and Japan but also among countries in the region is important to peace and stability. Q: Thank you, Jen. MS. PSAKI: Thanks, everyone. I'm sorry, I have to go to a meeting. I apologize. (END)
Rugby: Test match France/Australia
STATE DEPARTMENT BRIEFING WITH MARIE HARF
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.)
Rugby: Test match France/Australia
STATE DEPARTMENT BRIEFING
MR. MCCORMACK: Good afternoon, everybody. I don't have anything to start off with, so we can get right into your questions. Yes. QUESTION: So the emergency will be lifted on the 16th of December? MR. MCCORMACK: Right. I've seen the press reports about that. It's a positive and significant step. We look forward to the elections taking place in early January. I believe the day has been set by President Musharraf. This announcement, combined with the fact that President Musharraf has taken off the uniform and is now sworn in as President of Pakistan as a civilian, are all positive steps that will help get Pakistan back on the pathway to democratic and constitutional rule. Now, it's going to be very important that once you have the state of emergency actually lifted that during that run-up to the election, which will be several weeks now if those date -- all -- both of those dates hold, will be one in which the candidates and all those who want to peacefully participate in the Pakistani political process are able to do so, that they have access to free and independent media, that free and independent media be able to operate, that there are provisions made for election observers so that they can move freely throughout the country to observe the election -- all the types of things that we would expect in any election taking place anywhere around the globe. But today's announcements are a positive and significant step forward, but there are still steps left in order to get Pakistan back firmly on that road to constitutional, democratic rule. QUESTION: So was this key then? Was this a watershed that he finally seems to be fulfilling his promises and responding to all the international pressure? MR. MCCORMACK: Well, you can talk to the Pakistani Government and President Musharraf about his reasons for doing this. I'll leave him to explain those. It is in the best interest of the Pakistani people. It's in the best interest of Pakistan and Pakistan's future. So I'm sure that those were the motivations that were foremost in his mind. Of course, the international community has been calling for these measures and inasmuch as he has committed to taking these steps it is a positive -- positive movement. We would ask that -- and counsel him to follow through on his promises. In the past, President Musharraf has followed through and done what he said he would do. QUESTION: And you don't regard his own position as President as in any way tainted given the manner in which he was elected by the outgoing assemblies and his -- MR. MCCORMACK: He is President of Pakistan -- QUESTION: And there's a second part of the question. MR. MCCORMACK: Okay, I understand where you were going with it, but go ahead. QUESTION: And given his second -- you know, and given his decision to dismiss significant numbers of the Supreme Court and replace them prior to their ruling on his election. MR. MCCORMACK: Look, we are where we are, and we have spoken out with our views about the steps that President Musharraf has taken in the past with respect to suspending the constitution as well as implementing a state of emergency. But we are where we are. And it is important that President Musharraf get Pakistan back on the road to constitutional rule and democratic governance, a pathway that he really himself had put Pakistan on since 2001. So it is really a call for him to really renew the kind of efforts that he had made prior to the imposition of the state of emergency. And ultimately, it will be the Pakistani people who decide who lead them, who elect members of parliament and who will determine how Pakistan comes through this political transition. QUESTION: (Inaudible) that you want him to lift the state of emergency well in advance of the elections, which is supposed to take place in January. Do you believe that the three weeks, though, that there will be between lifting the state of emergency and the elections is enough time for them to be considered free and fair? MR. MCCORMACK: Well, you know, I'll leave that to experts. Obviously, the more time you have prior to an election where people can freely move about, the -- be released from incarceration, have access to media, have the media up and running; the longer lead time you have before the election, the better. So there's probably a sliding scale of what is -- what are the optimal outcomes here. I think just roughly speaking, that it is -- if there is a concerted effort and a dedicated effort and a dedication to making sure that elections are free, fair, and transparent that you can, in fact, have those kinds of elections. But you're going to -- they're going to need to work at it and they're going to make sure that they follow through faithfully with those commitments, making sure that people are able to freely express themselves, that people want -- who want to participate in the political process in a peaceful manner are able to do so, that the media is able to operate, that people can access that media, that you have election observers in there. So those are all the variety of different conditions and actions that one would expect that -- in any election that would take place around the globe, but it would be particularly important now, given where Pakistan has been over the past month, that Pakistani authorities ensure that those proper conditions are created. I mean, all the more -- you know, forget about the views of the international community and what it thinks about these elections; more importantly, those things are important for the Pakistani people so that they can have faith that those elections are free, fair, and transparent. Yeah. QUESTION: Can you tell us what contact there has been, if any, from senior officials in Washington to President Musharraf or to General Kayani in the last couple days or -- MR. MCCORMACK: Nothing recent, nothing recent. QUESTION: -- any phone calls? MR. MCCORMACK: At least nothing from the Secretary. QUESTION: And Assistant Secretary Boucher or -- MR. MCCORMACK: No, nothing -- not that I'm aware of. QUESTION: Deputy Secretary Negroponte? MR. MCCORMACK: Well, he's on travel at the moment and I'm not aware that Richard has made any phone calls. QUESTION: Okay. MR. MCCORMACK: Yes, sir. QUESTION: Rodney Livingston, SPNN.NET television here in Washington. This is more of a vision question. Number one, is the Annapolis -- has that determination been made for it to succeed and they're going to work on the details? MR. MCCORMACK: Okay, hold on, hold on, hold on. We'll get to you. QUESTION: Okay. MR. MCCORMACK: But do you guys have any more Pakistan questions? (No response.) Okay. Sorry to interrupt. QUESTION: That's okay. Focusing on the vision in Annapolis -- MR. MCCORMACK: Right, right. QUESTION: -- has the determination been made already for it to work and the details will be worked out in December? Has that determination been set that it's going to work? Let's say you're going to buy a house -- even though it's more complicated than that, we're going to buy it, but the details -- MR. MCCORMACK: Right. QUESTION: And then the second part of that is, is there -- and this is more of a vision question for the Secretary. MR. MCCORMACK: Right. QUESTION: Is it enough to go around? And that's more of a vision question. MR. MCCORMACK: Okay. Well, to sort of pick up on the house analogy, I think it's more a matter now of the Israelis and the Palestinians needing to build the house. So I don't think anybody has bought anything other than the fact that they have committed to a process and they have committed to a process and negotiations with certain parameters, meaning that all the issues are on the table between them, they know what needs to be resolved, they know where they want to get, they have the support of the international community, they're going to have the support certainly of the United States in getting to that end point. But it's going to have to be those two parties that make the hard compromises, do the hard deals. It's not going to be easy. The grade of the slope hasn't gotten any shallower; it's going to be tough going. But we are committed to helping them do what they need to do in order to achieve the two-state solution. QUESTION: What is your current understanding -- has it changed since yesterday -- of this idea for a conference in -- the next conference being in Russia? MR. MCCORMACK: No. I've seen a lot of comments about it. What happened coming at Annapolis was Foreign Minister Lavrov made a gracious offer to host a future international conference in Moscow. It's not something that had been considered during the Quartet meeting prior to the Annapolis conference. I expect that it's going to be a topic of -- QUESTION: You mean the one just literally the day before, Monday? MR. MCCORMACK: Yes. QUESTION: That meeting? MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, there was a topic of conversation there about how do you follow on Annapolis, what are the next steps beyond the parties getting together and negotiating. QUESTION: And he made the offer there at Annapolis or -- MR. MCCORMACK: I don't know if it's the first time he made -- he's made that offer, but they did discuss it there. And it was something he said during the -- one of the plenary sessions. I can't remember exactly which one. It was prior to his leaving. He left right after lunch. So he made the offer. Everybody thinks it's an idea that is worth discussing how one might follow up in a larger forum to the Annapolis conference. I think any agreement to that idea -- I don't think any of the parties are quite there yet. I think we're at the point of discussing it. It's an interesting concept. But the point of Annapolis isn't to just have another conference. The point of Annapolis is to launch those final status negotiations so the two parties can make some progress. Now, if there's a way to further manifest the international support that you saw in Annapolis for that -- for the bilateral -- for the negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians, I think that's something that people will look at and look at very closely. QUESTION: Well, is this something that will be discussed by the Quartet again when they meet through the Paris -- MR. MCCORMACK: Yes, in Paris. Yes, it is. It will be on the agenda. QUESTION: Will it -- and on the agenda in terms of like agreeing to have it, or do you need to have -- MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I think it would be premature -- QUESTION: Still, even then? MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah. Look, you will only be three weeks removed from Annapolis and only four days removed from the parties having sat down for the first time to actually structure the negotiations. So it's an idea that will be discussed. And again, the underpinning thought is how does the international community, once again, manifest its support for the ongoing process of negotiation. And there is an idea of, you know, how can -- how can you use perhaps another international gathering of again focusing the attention of the parties in their efforts. QUESTION: Well, is it your understanding then that his suggestion is not about the -- would it be like a sequel to Annapolis with the same things on the agenda? MR. MCCORMACK: I think -- QUESTION: Or is he -- or is the way that he's presenting it that it would focus on the other tracks? MR. MCCORMACK: No, I think that any discussion -- and this is really very premature, but any discussion of what is on the agenda would follow from a decision to have another conference. QUESTION: Is the Russian offer premature? MR. MCCORMACK: No, we don't think it's premature. It's not premature to start thinking about what next steps -- how this unfolds over the course of a year. I mean, we already have a time horizon of 12 months, 12 to 14 months, so it is not unreasonable to start thinking about how the time -- how the time within that 12 months might break down. Do you -- what sort of other gatherings, what sort of other mechanisms might you use in order to get to the point everybody wants to get to? So it's not -- QUESTION: Well -- MR. MCCORMACK: No, I don't think it's premature to start talking about, well, what are the mechanisms, what are the other meetings perhaps that we might need to hold in order to get there. But you know, again, the focus of -- the whole point of Annapolis wasn't to have another international meeting. It's to get the parties together to negotiate. That's where the focus is. That's where our focus is going to be. I know it's where the focus of the Israelis and the Palestinians is going to be. Once you have that focus, the question then becomes, well, how do you support that process, how do you move it forward, how do you perhaps -- if there are any openings, how do you support the idea of moving forward on the front of a comprehensive peace. Now, those are all -- the answers to all those questions are going to be -- are going to come as a result of hard work and actions that the parties engage in between now and whenever we might get together again. QUESTION: Do you see any openings in particular? I'm thinking with Syria. MR. MCCORMACK: You know, I talked a little bit about this yesterday. And really, that is going to be up to the Syrians and the Israelis to see whether or not they -- if there's anything there, if they see an opening that they believe that they can exploit. We have -- whenever this question has come up over the past year, we've said that it's up to those two parties to see if there's anything there, whether or not there's anything that they want to explore. Of course, we're supportive of the idea of a comprehensive peace and a political horizon, if you will, for the Israeli Government with other Arab states. That was the whole point of that third plenary session that we had at Annapolis. The answer to that question, though, is going to be determined by what the two parties think is there, whether or not there's anything to exploit. I will say that in our view, it is not a substitute for the Israeli-Palestinian track and I don't think the -- certainly, the Israeli Government doesn't see it as such either. QUESTION: Are there any byproducts of bringing the Syrians here? Are they more cooperative on other issues such as Lebanon? Suleiman, it looks like, will be the new president. What about the border with Iraq? Are they cooperating more or are you -- is the relationship improving in other ways? MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we'll see -- we'll see what sort of Syrian behavior we see going forward. We made an offer. We invited Syria to the conference as an individual state, issued the invitation to them bilaterally. They accepted. And like I said yesterday, taken as a whole, the comments from the Syrian delegate were added to the conversation. They were constructive. As for the Lebanese election, the Lebanese will decide who their next president is going to be. We've made it clear and it's important to us as well as the rest of the world that there not be any outside interference in that choice. It has to be a Lebanese choice for themselves. We have called upon the Syrian Government to change their behavior in a variety of different ways. I don't think, at this point, I can offer you a definitive assessment, but the fact that they did come to the conference, the fact that they did participate in such a way that added to the conversation indicates to me that they understand that there is another pathway that they can choose to take, a more constructive pathway in which -- on which they play a positive role on a variety of different fronts in the region. We'll see if they ultimately choose to go down that pathway. I think it's too early to say which way -- which path they're going to choose now. QUESTION: (Inaudible) on this. Are you confident that the Lebanese people are going to be -- or at least through their representatives, that they are going to be the ones who are going to decide who the next president is? MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, certainly -- QUESTION: It certainly hasn't always been the -- MR. MCCORMACK: No, I understand that. We'll see how the process unfolds. It is unfolding now according to their constitution. And it has been our strong encouragement, as well as the strong encouragement of other key international actors, that they -- the Lebanese people choose -- or Lebanese representatives, political representatives, choose who will be the next Lebanese president. QUESTION: All right. And then just a technical point; you said that Syria was invited to the conference as a sovereign nation on its own. MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, yeah. QUESTION: But in fact, that was not the line going into this pre-conference. MR. MCCORMACK: No, we were -- QUESTION: It was that they were being invited -- MR. MCCORMACK: They were part of -- QUESTION: -- because they're part of the follow-up committee. MR. MCCORMACK: They were part of the Arab Follow-up Committee. QUESTION: Are you saying that if they were not a member of the Arab Follow-up Committee, they would not have gotten an invitation? MR. MCCORMACK: That's the history. I don't rewrite the history. But the fact is those invitations were delivered to each individual state. And each individual state showed up there and had its own flag with its own nameplate sitting there. They came as sovereign -- they came as sovereign states. And I get your point; I mean, it was in the context of the Arab League Follow-up Committee, yes. But I say that to draw a distinction between the -- what unfolded in Annapolis, where every state was sitting there as a full participant in their own right as a sovereign state, just to draw a distinction with past efforts. For example, Madrid; Saudi Arabia was there as an observer in connection with the OIC and it was understood that Saudi Arabia was there in that context. At Annapolis, they were there as Saudi Arabia and they were invited as an individual sovereign state. That was the only point that I was making. No, I take your point (inaudible) that they were invited in the context of the Arab League Follow-up Committee. QUESTION: Well, would they have been invited if they hadn't been a member of the committee? MR. MCCORMACK: Matt, you know, we can't go back and rewrite history. That's the way this unfolded. QUESTION: Oh, I'm not asking you to rewrite it. I'm just asking, you know, would -- MR. MCCORMACK: I can't possibly answer that question. They were invited the way that they were invited. QUESTION: Can I just follow up on that? MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah. QUESTION: I know you said that the Secretary didn't meet with any of the members of the Syrian delegation. Did any other U.S. officials meet with them and were any other issues other than the Israeli-Palestinian issues discussed with them? MR. MCCORMACK: I'm not aware. I'm not aware of any other contacts. But I wasn't keeping tabs on David Welch and the other members of our delegation the whole time. I'm not aware -- QUESTION: It was Foley who met with the Syrian delegation. MR. MCCORMACK: Jim Foley? QUESTION: Oh, sorry. Jim Foley met -- MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, he traveled there specifically to break some logjams that existed with respect to the visas and he was successful in those efforts. QUESTION: But while they were in Annapolis or in the country at all, were there any other -- MR. MCCORMACK: I'm not aware of any. Kirit. QUESTION: On refugees, these convoys that are going from Syria, is this an example of a really substantial increase in people going back and what are you attributing to this -- that to? MR. MCCORMACK: This is -- did Jim talk about this during his briefing? QUESTION: Yes. But there were a couple of things he couldn't provide answers on, so. MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I'm -- you know, I have to admit and it's a confession, I didn't read the transcript. I do know that -- I've seen the news reports about Iraqis traveling back into Baghdad, back into Iraq. That's very positive. That's exactly what the Iraqi Government would like to see and that's exactly what the states in the region would like to see. That said, if there are people with a legitimate fear of persecution that have a legitimate shot at being refugees, they need to be accorded all the rights that they should be granted under the international conventions. And their humanitarian needs should be provided for. We are doing our part, the Iraqi Government is doing their part in that regard, as are other states in the region. So there are some initial hopeful signs that you're starting to see people come back into some of the areas that had been really subject to very, very difficult and brutal security conditions. So that's an indication that there is some improvement on the ground in Iraq. I know our commanders on the ground have talked about that, but they're not making any predictions about how long that can -- that would last in the absence of the continuing efforts by not only our forces, but by Iraqi forces. QUESTION: And do you -- sorry, do you regard the welfare of the people that have returned now in the hands of the Iraqi Government or will the U.S. be helping them with that? Will there be more funding or special programs? MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I'm not aware of any particular special programs for people who have made the decision to return. I think that's an individual decision -- they're going back to their homes, going back to their own neighborhoods. QUESTION: That's not the question, though, Sean. The suggestion was raised that some of these people, not all but some of them, may be being pushed in the direction of going back out by, you know, the Syrian Government, the Iraqi Government or their own personal circumstances -- running out of money, visa questions, that kind of thing. MR. MCCORMACK: You know, Matt, again, I -- you know, I didn't listen on the briefing, so I -- you know, I'm at a disadvantage here. I -- look, if there are people who -- there are people that have a legitimate right and a legitimate case regarding refugee status, I mean, absolutely, there are international obligations there. And not only that, we believe that there is an international obligation that neighboring states have to help out and provide humanitarian relief to people who are fleeing violence. And we're doing our part to make sure that they receive that relief and there have been some generous contributions from others in the region. In terms of people being pushed back into Iraq, I mean, certainly it's something we have a problem with. People, if they want to, if they choose of their own volition to return back to their own houses, their neighborhoods or back to their own country because they have made a definite assessment about the situation on the ground and they feel as though that they can go back there, that's very positive. But again, that has to be an individual decision, not coerced by some other authority. Now, of course, you run into individual circumstances where people have to make hard decisions about whether or not they have the means to continue in one place, as opposed to going back to another. That I think falls in the category of people have to make their own decisions. QUESTION: Just a follow-up. MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah. QUESTION: UNHCR put out a statement earlier this week that was pretty critical -- it was expressing concern about the returning Iraq refugees, namely, that they weren't returning because of security improving in Iraq, but because their situations had deteriorated in other countries. And you had mentioned that you believe that this more due to the security situation. So are you disputing UNHCR's standpoint? MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I haven't read the report, Kirit. I'm just saying -- I'm only going -- right up front I stated based on a variety of different news reports that I've seen about people flowing back, I'm sure that for each person that decides to return there's going to be an individual circumstance or a different story. I don't know what the aggregate looks like. I don't know what the trends -- I don't know what the trends look like. I mean, certainly, the United States can't be accused of in any way ignoring the humanitarian needs of these people. Sometimes we have been not as nimble in delivering on our desire to help these people out in a humanitarian way or to help out people with visas or resettlement, those sorts of things. But certainly, an intention has always been there, and I think now our capabilities are catching up with our intentions to the extent that the Secretary is starting to get more comfortable with where we are. But as for this report, I haven't seen it. I can't comment on it. QUESTION: Can I ask one more thing? MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah. QUESTION: Ambassador Foley said that he was frustrated with what was happening with the 25 million that you've given to the Iraqi Government to help these people and give to host countries. Can you clarify what's going on with that? MR. MCCORMACK: No, I can't. Like I said, you know, (inaudible) I have not -- I didn't see the briefing, didn't see the transcript. QUESTION: Are you satisfied with -- I mean, that's a huge amount of money. Are you satisfied with -- MR. MCCORMACK: The 25 million? I understand the Iraqis have delivered it. It's just a question of whether or not they've delivered to the right location. I think that was the question. But they have actually gotten from the point of saying they're going to deliver the 25 million to actually having delivered it. Now it's a question of is it sitting in the right bank account or with the right person. Yeah. QUESTION: (Inaudible) Iraq. Do you have any comment on the claims by Beijing that the cancellation of the visit to Hong Kong was not a misunderstanding and linking it to the Dalai Lama? MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, I know. Yeah, I saw that. I know Dana addressed that over at the White House and I wouldn't really have much more to add than what she did, that we're seeking clarification of that -- that statement. QUESTION: Do you know why the Foreign Minister -- or why the White House would say that the Foreign Minister claims it's a misunderstanding and then the next day the Foreign Ministry would say it's not -- MR. MCCORMACK: Because I would assume that the White House said that because that's what they heard, and that if there was any reports to the contrary coming out of the Chinese Foreign Ministry that they're seeking clarification about those subsequent comments that have come in out of -- come out of the Foreign Ministry. And I understand -- I know that the White House is handling that. QUESTION: What about the linking of it with the award to the Dalai Lama? That would seem to be indicative that they're still holding a grudge. MR. MCCORMACK: Like I said, we're seeking clarification on the subsequent statements that they've made in public. QUESTION: (Inaudible) spill over into other U.S.-China relations? MR. MCCORMACK: Look, the U.S.-China relationship is a broad, mature, deep relationship that is constantly evolving, changing, and in some ways getting better and in some way -- in some areas we have differences. But it is fundamentally a relationship between two important world powers, so where we have bumps in the road we work through them. We deal with each other in a straightforward manner. Where we have questions, we raise them. We're not afraid to raise them. As Dana indicated just this morning, we're going to seek clarification. QUESTION: Have there been any other bumps that we haven't heard about? (Laughter.) MR. MCCORMACK: Well, none that I'm going to tell you about. (Laughter.) QUESTION: Sean, the White House is seeking clarification on this? MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, yeah. QUESTION: From whom? MR. MCCORMACK: It's a White House meeting. QUESTION: In other words, is the President -- MR. MCCORMACK: The meeting in question was a meeting between the Foreign Minister and the President. I think it's appropriate that the White House follow up on it. Yeah. QUESTION: Well, where are they seeking clarification from? Why isn't it the Embassy in Beijing that's doing this? MR. MCCORMACK: I don't -- why wouldn't it? QUESTION: Well, I don't know. Is the First Lady going to be seeking the clarification? Who is seeking it? Is it the President? MR. MCCORMACK: No -- QUESTION: Is he calling up the Chinese President to say -- MR. MCCORMACK: That's silly. QUESTION: No -- MR. MCCORMACK: That's silly, Matt. QUESTION: Sean, I mean, the diplomatic discourse of this country is generally done between, you know -- MR. MCCORMACK: Not in absolute -- no, Matt. QUESTION: So -- MR. MCCORMACK: No, that's incorrect. The White House actually engages in quite a bit of diplomacy. The President does quite a bit himself. You have his National Security Advisor who does quite a bit himself. You have his Deputy National Security Advisor who does quite a bit himself. You have the Vice President who does quite a bit of it himself. So there's actually -- yes, we are the body responsible for foreign policy making, and I would say probably a large portion of the diplomatic discourse emanates from the State Department and is received by the State Department. But it is not correct to say that we have the -- we have exclusive rights to that domain. QUESTION: Well, then have they told you who exactly is -- who is being -- who is the White House seeking the clarification from? From the Embassy here? From the Foreign Ministry? MR. MCCORMACK: Talk to our friends at the White House about that. It's their deal. QUESTION: Could this be a translation problem? I mean, is there a transcript of -- MR. MCCORMACK: I think, again, any further follow-up is going to come from my pals at the White House. Yeah. QUESTION: When Assistant Secretary Hill travel to Pyongyang next week, do you expect any way he will meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il at this time? MR. MCCORMACK: I don't believe so. I don't think that's on the schedule. I don't know if they have any surprises in store for him, but I think it's anticipated he'll meet with -- the bulk of his meetings will be with his interlocutor Kim Gye Gwan. QUESTION: (Inaudible) with President message, special envoy for the President? MR. MCCORMACK: What's that? QUESTION: He bring the President Bush's message -- special envoy for President? MR. MCCORMACK: Well, if he has any messages, those will be for the North Koreans. I'm not going to share them with you. QUESTION: Thank you. MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, Kirit. QUESTION: <http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2007/nov/96030.htm> Do you have anything more to say about this case of case in Slovakia of this highly enriched uranium, apparently, that was smuggled or attempted to be sold? DOE is referring all comments to the State Department. MR. MCCORMACK: How convenient. (Laughter.) Well, you know, I guess what comes around goes around. I'm going to have to get back to you with an answer. QUESTION: Okay, just curious looking into the circumstances of this and whether you had the confirmation of the grade of the -- MR. MCCORMACK: We'll get you an answer. Yeah. QUESTION: Back to Israel for a second. Olmert said that he's not going to be freezing settlement construction in the main settlements, the so-called consensus blocks. And I'm wondering if that's acceptable to the United States. MR. MCCORMACK: You know, he's made certain promises. He's made them -- made public commitments. He's made private commitments to us. Those are consonant. There are obligations under the Roadmap and Prime Minister Olmert has made implementation, full implementation, of the Roadmap one of his goals. He's committed to that. And there are certain steps along the way; this is an iterative process. So I'm not going to comment on the state of the process at this time point. They've made certain commitments. The Israeli side has certain commitments. I expect that they will follow through on those, as will the Palestinians. QUESTION: So maybe you can clarify -- QUESTION: (Inaudible.) QUESTION: I'm sorry, I just wanted to follow up on that for a second. MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah. QUESTION: So maybe you can just clarify what the standard is in general that you're expecting Israel to meet. Because it sounded like and it's been interpreted by some people that Bush is actually saying something different; he's talking about not expanding settlements, as opposed to the Roadmap which talks about no settlement growth and natural growth included in the freeze. So you do you see a difference there? MR. MCCORMACK: Again, I'm not going to get into interpretations at this point. This is going to be an iterative process that plays out over time. And the end result, we hope, is going to be a final agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians. They will define what the contents of that agreement are. And the other outcome of the process is that the Roadmap will be fully implemented. And along the way there are going to be a number of different steps. I'm not going to try to analyze where we are any further beyond what the President has said, the Secretary has said in public, along with President Abbas and Prime Minister Olmert. QUESTION: Sean, if the standard is indeed the language that is in the Roadmap, which the former questioner alluded to, which is a freeze on all settlement activity, including so-called natural growth. MR. MCCORMACK: And Prime Minister Olmert said that Israel intends to fully implement the roadmap. QUESTION: I just got this. Just in. (Laughter.) QUESTION: (Inaudible.) MR. MCCORMACK: (Inaudible). What's that? QUESTION: Usama bin Laden has urged Europeans to end their involvement in Afghanistan and reiterated his responsibility for the September 11th attacks. That's what we just heard from Al Jazeera TV. MR. MCCORMACK: I haven't seen -- I haven't seen the comments, but it's hardly news that he has claimed responsibility for the September 11th -- QUESTION: But if he urges Europeans to leave Afghanistan, could that -- I mean, they're trying to undermine the coalition, I presume, but you -- MR. MCCORMACK: Well, it's not -- again, not a new tactic. But I think the -- I think our NATO allies understand quite clearly what is at stake in Afghanistan as well as elsewhere around the world in fighting the war on terror. Afghanistan has made great strides since the era of the Taliban. There are -- just one example is that there are tens of thousands of young Afghan children who are alive today just because of the kinds of medical care and vaccination care that has been provided by the international community who wouldn't have been alive today otherwise. That's just one example. But it's going to require a lot of -- a lot more work. You know, Afghanistan started from a pretty low place in terms of development, so there's a lot more work to be done. A lot has been done. A lot more work needs to be done. And it's going to require a sustained commitment over a period of time. And we have seen that kind of commitment from our European allies. We have seen that -- certainly have seen that commitment from the United States as well as others around the globe. And I see no diminution in that level of commitment. Yeah. QUESTION: Do you have any travel announcements for the Secretary, by any chance, anytime soon? MR. MCCORMACK: I think we're going to put one -- we're going to put one out after the briefing here talking about her travel to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia as well as Brussels, Belgium for the NATO Foreign Ministers meeting. QUESTION: Do you have any more details on her trip to Addis, why she's going and -- MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I'll just go ahead and read it now. In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the Secretary will attend a meeting with leaders from the African Great Lakes states -- Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda -- to discuss issues of regional peace and security. That is on December 5th. Secretary Rice will also engage in consultations on current developments in Somalia and on implementation of Sudan's Comprehensive Peace Agreement with cabinet ministers from East African countries as well as senior representatives of the African Union and the United Nations. She will also hold bilateral meetings with the Government of Ethiopia. Secretary Rice will travel to Brussels on December 6th to attend foreign ministerial sessions on December 7th among NATO's 26 Allies. This includes a meeting of the North Atlantic Council, which is likely to discuss Afghanistan, Kosovo, the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty regime, and the upcoming NATO Summit in Bucharest. She will participate in a meeting of the 26 Allies with NATO's seven Mediterranean Dialogue partners -- those are Algeria, Egypt, Mauritania, Morocco, Israel, Jordan, and Tunisia -- and a session of the NATO-Russia Council. There will also be a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission. She will also take part in a transatlantic dinner bringing together EU and NATO foreign ministers. We'll have that -- post that announcement for you after the briefing. QUESTION: Okay. QUESTION: Go ahead. QUESTION: In terms of the Great Lakes, are you going with any specific suggestions as to how this can be resolved and trying to get the tripartite plus Burundi group to do a little more to resolve this? MR. MCCORMACK: We'll try to get you a little bit more in the days ahead about any specific ideas we might have for that. QUESTION: Do you have anything you could share with us now, though? MR. MCCORMACK: If I did, I would. QUESTION: Sean, just -- can I ask one question about -- MR. MCCORMACK: Yes. QUESTION: The NATO schedule seems awfully full. Is that over one day? MR. MCCORMACK: 6th and 7th, yeah. QUESTION: Two days, okay. MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah. QUESTION: Do you have any information about -- there's apparently several foreigners who have been arrested in Vietnam on terrorism charges, including a couple Americans. This happened overnight. Do you know anything about this? MR. MCCORMACK: Not until right now. QUESTION: Any queries about it with the Vietnamese? QUESTION: Does she still intend -- does the Secretary still intend to visit the Democratic Republic of the Congo? MR. MCCORMACK: At some point, I expect she will. It was on a previously scheduled trip that we had to cancel because of demands elsewhere in the Middle East, but I fully expect that she would -- that she certainly wants to go there and she's told that to President Kabila the last time she met with him, so I would expect that she probably will travel there at some point in the future. QUESTION: Thank you.
STATE DEPARTMENT BRIEFING
MR. MCCORMACK: Good afternoon, everybody. I don't have anything to start off with, so we can get right into your questions. Yes. QUESTION: So the emergency will be lifted on the 16th of December? MR. MCCORMACK: Right. I've seen the press reports about that. It's a positive and significant step. We look forward to the elections taking place in early January. I believe the day has been set by President Musharraf. This announcement, combined with the fact that President Musharraf has taken off the uniform and is now sworn in as President of Pakistan as a civilian, are all positive steps that will help get Pakistan back on the pathway to democratic and constitutional rule. Now, it's going to be very important that once you have the state of emergency actually lifted that during that run-up to the election, which will be several weeks now if those date -- all -- both of those dates hold, will be one in which the candidates and all those who want to peacefully participate in the Pakistani political process are able to do so, that they have access to free and independent media, that free and independent media be able to operate, that there are provisions made for election observers so that they can move freely throughout the country to observe the election -- all the types of things that we would expect in any election taking place anywhere around the globe. But today's announcements are a positive and significant step forward, but there are still steps left in order to get Pakistan back firmly on that road to constitutional, democratic rule. QUESTION: So was this key then? Was this a watershed that he finally seems to be fulfilling his promises and responding to all the international pressure? MR. MCCORMACK: Well, you can talk to the Pakistani Government and President Musharraf about his reasons for doing this. I'll leave him to explain those. It is in the best interest of the Pakistani people. It's in the best interest of Pakistan and Pakistan's future. So I'm sure that those were the motivations that were foremost in his mind. Of course, the international community has been calling for these measures and inasmuch as he has committed to taking these steps it is a positive -- positive movement. We would ask that -- and counsel him to follow through on his promises. In the past, President Musharraf has followed through and done what he said he would do. QUESTION: And you don't regard his own position as President as in any way tainted given the manner in which he was elected by the outgoing assemblies and his -- MR. MCCORMACK: He is President of Pakistan -- QUESTION: And there's a second part of the question. MR. MCCORMACK: Okay, I understand where you were going with it, but go ahead. QUESTION: And given his second -- you know, and given his decision to dismiss significant numbers of the Supreme Court and replace them prior to their ruling on his election. MR. MCCORMACK: Look, we are where we are, and we have spoken out with our views about the steps that President Musharraf has taken in the past with respect to suspending the constitution as well as implementing a state of emergency. But we are where we are. And it is important that President Musharraf get Pakistan back on the road to constitutional rule and democratic governance, a pathway that he really himself had put Pakistan on since 2001. So it is really a call for him to really renew the kind of efforts that he had made prior to the imposition of the state of emergency. And ultimately, it will be the Pakistani people who decide who lead them, who elect members of parliament and who will determine how Pakistan comes through this political transition. QUESTION: (Inaudible) that you want him to lift the state of emergency well in advance of the elections, which is supposed to take place in January. Do you believe that the three weeks, though, that there will be between lifting the state of emergency and the elections is enough time for them to be considered free and fair? MR. MCCORMACK: Well, you know, I'll leave that to experts. Obviously, the more time you have prior to an election where people can freely move about, the -- be released from incarceration, have access to media, have the media up and running; the longer lead time you have before the election, the better. So there's probably a sliding scale of what is -- what are the optimal outcomes here. I think just roughly speaking, that it is -- if there is a concerted effort and a dedicated effort and a dedication to making sure that elections are free, fair, and transparent that you can, in fact, have those kinds of elections. But you're going to -- they're going to need to work at it and they're going to make sure that they follow through faithfully with those commitments, making sure that people are able to freely express themselves, that people want -- who want to participate in the political process in a peaceful manner are able to do so, that the media is able to operate, that people can access that media, that you have election observers in there. So those are all the variety of different conditions and actions that one would expect that -- in any election that would take place around the globe, but it would be particularly important now, given where Pakistan has been over the past month, that Pakistani authorities ensure that those proper conditions are created. I mean, all the more -- you know, forget about the views of the international community and what it thinks about these elections; more importantly, those things are important for the Pakistani people so that they can have faith that those elections are free, fair, and transparent. Yeah. QUESTION: Can you tell us what contact there has been, if any, from senior officials in Washington to President Musharraf or to General Kayani in the last couple days or -- MR. MCCORMACK: Nothing recent, nothing recent. QUESTION: -- any phone calls? MR. MCCORMACK: At least nothing from the Secretary. QUESTION: And Assistant Secretary Boucher or -- MR. MCCORMACK: No, nothing -- not that I'm aware of. QUESTION: Deputy Secretary Negroponte? MR. MCCORMACK: Well, he's on travel at the moment and I'm not aware that Richard has made any phone calls. QUESTION: Okay. MR. MCCORMACK: Yes, sir. QUESTION: Rodney Livingston, SPNN.NET television here in Washington. This is more of a vision question. Number one, is the Annapolis -- has that determination been made for it to succeed and they're going to work on the details? MR. MCCORMACK: Okay, hold on, hold on, hold on. We'll get to you. QUESTION: Okay. MR. MCCORMACK: But do you guys have any more Pakistan questions? (No response.) Okay. Sorry to interrupt. QUESTION: That's okay. Focusing on the vision in Annapolis -- MR. MCCORMACK: Right, right. QUESTION: -- has the determination been made already for it to work and the details will be worked out in December? Has that determination been set that it's going to work? Let's say you're going to buy a house -- even though it's more complicated than that, we're going to buy it, but the details -- MR. MCCORMACK: Right. QUESTION: And then the second part of that is, is there -- and this is more of a vision question for the Secretary. MR. MCCORMACK: Right. QUESTION: Is it enough to go around? And that's more of a vision question. MR. MCCORMACK: Okay. Well, to sort of pick up on the house analogy, I think it's more a matter now of the Israelis and the Palestinians needing to build the house. So I don't think anybody has bought anything other than the fact that they have committed to a process and they have committed to a process and negotiations with certain parameters, meaning that all the issues are on the table between them, they know what needs to be resolved, they know where they want to get, they have the support of the international community, they're going to have the support certainly of the United States in getting to that end point. But it's going to have to be those two parties that make the hard compromises, do the hard deals. It's not going to be easy. The grade of the slope hasn't gotten any shallower; it's going to be tough going. But we are committed to helping them do what they need to do in order to achieve the two-state solution. QUESTION: What is your current understanding -- has it changed since yesterday -- of this idea for a conference in -- the next conference being in Russia? MR. MCCORMACK: No. I've seen a lot of comments about it. What happened coming at Annapolis was Foreign Minister Lavrov made a gracious offer to host a future international conference in Moscow. It's not something that had been considered during the Quartet meeting prior to the Annapolis conference. I expect that it's going to be a topic of -- QUESTION: You mean the one just literally the day before, Monday? MR. MCCORMACK: Yes. QUESTION: That meeting? MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, there was a topic of conversation there about how do you follow on Annapolis, what are the next steps beyond the parties getting together and negotiating. QUESTION: And he made the offer there at Annapolis or -- MR. MCCORMACK: I don't know if it's the first time he made -- he's made that offer, but they did discuss it there. And it was something he said during the -- one of the plenary sessions. I can't remember exactly which one. It was prior to his leaving. He left right after lunch. So he made the offer. Everybody thinks it's an idea that is worth discussing how one might follow up in a larger forum to the Annapolis conference. I think any agreement to that idea -- I don't think any of the parties are quite there yet. I think we're at the point of discussing it. It's an interesting concept. But the point of Annapolis isn't to just have another conference. The point of Annapolis is to launch those final status negotiations so the two parties can make some progress. Now, if there's a way to further manifest the international support that you saw in Annapolis for that -- for the bilateral -- for the negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians, I think that's something that people will look at and look at very closely. QUESTION: Well, is this something that will be discussed by the Quartet again when they meet through the Paris -- MR. MCCORMACK: Yes, in Paris. Yes, it is. It will be on the agenda. QUESTION: Will it -- and on the agenda in terms of like agreeing to have it, or do you need to have -- MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I think it would be premature -- QUESTION: Still, even then? MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah. Look, you will only be three weeks removed from Annapolis and only four days removed from the parties having sat down for the first time to actually structure the negotiations. So it's an idea that will be discussed. And again, the underpinning thought is how does the international community, once again, manifest its support for the ongoing process of negotiation. And there is an idea of, you know, how can -- how can you use perhaps another international gathering of again focusing the attention of the parties in their efforts. QUESTION: Well, is it your understanding then that his suggestion is not about the -- would it be like a sequel to Annapolis with the same things on the agenda? MR. MCCORMACK: I think -- QUESTION: Or is he -- or is the way that he's presenting it that it would focus on the other tracks? MR. MCCORMACK: No, I think that any discussion -- and this is really very premature, but any discussion of what is on the agenda would follow from a decision to have another conference. QUESTION: Is the Russian offer premature? MR. MCCORMACK: No, we don't think it's premature. It's not premature to start thinking about what next steps -- how this unfolds over the course of a year. I mean, we already have a time horizon of 12 months, 12 to 14 months, so it is not unreasonable to start thinking about how the time -- how the time within that 12 months might break down. Do you -- what sort of other gatherings, what sort of other mechanisms might you use in order to get to the point everybody wants to get to? So it's not -- QUESTION: Well -- MR. MCCORMACK: No, I don't think it's premature to start talking about, well, what are the mechanisms, what are the other meetings perhaps that we might need to hold in order to get there. But you know, again, the focus of -- the whole point of Annapolis wasn't to have another international meeting. It's to get the parties together to negotiate. That's where the focus is. That's where our focus is going to be. I know it's where the focus of the Israelis and the Palestinians is going to be. Once you have that focus, the question then becomes, well, how do you support that process, how do you move it forward, how do you perhaps -- if there are any openings, how do you support the idea of moving forward on the front of a comprehensive peace. Now, those are all -- the answers to all those questions are going to be -- are going to come as a result of hard work and actions that the parties engage in between now and whenever we might get together again. QUESTION: Do you see any openings in particular? I'm thinking with Syria. MR. MCCORMACK: You know, I talked a little bit about this yesterday. And really, that is going to be up to the Syrians and the Israelis to see whether or not they -- if there's anything there, if they see an opening that they believe that they can exploit. We have -- whenever this question has come up over the past year, we've said that it's up to those two parties to see if there's anything there, whether or not there's anything that they want to explore. Of course, we're supportive of the idea of a comprehensive peace and a political horizon, if you will, for the Israeli Government with other Arab states. That was the whole point of that third plenary session that we had at Annapolis. The answer to that question, though, is going to be determined by what the two parties think is there, whether or not there's anything to exploit. I will say that in our view, it is not a substitute for the Israeli-Palestinian track and I don't think the -- certainly, the Israeli Government doesn't see it as such either. QUESTION: Are there any byproducts of bringing the Syrians here? Are they more cooperative on other issues such as Lebanon? Suleiman, it looks like, will be the new president. What about the border with Iraq? Are they cooperating more or are you -- is the relationship improving in other ways? MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we'll see -- we'll see what sort of Syrian behavior we see going forward. We made an offer. We invited Syria to the conference as an individual state, issued the invitation to them bilaterally. They accepted. And like I said yesterday, taken as a whole, the comments from the Syrian delegate were added to the conversation. They were constructive. As for the Lebanese election, the Lebanese will decide who their next president is going to be. We've made it clear and it's important to us as well as the rest of the world that there not be any outside interference in that choice. It has to be a Lebanese choice for themselves. We have called upon the Syrian Government to change their behavior in a variety of different ways. I don't think, at this point, I can offer you a definitive assessment, but the fact that they did come to the conference, the fact that they did participate in such a way that added to the conversation indicates to me that they understand that there is another pathway that they can choose to take, a more constructive pathway in which -- on which they play a positive role on a variety of different fronts in the region. We'll see if they ultimately choose to go down that pathway. I think it's too early to say which way -- which path they're going to choose now. QUESTION: (Inaudible) on this. Are you confident that the Lebanese people are going to be -- or at least through their representatives, that they are going to be the ones who are going to decide who the next president is? MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, certainly -- QUESTION: It certainly hasn't always been the -- MR. MCCORMACK: No, I understand that. We'll see how the process unfolds. It is unfolding now according to their constitution. And it has been our strong encouragement, as well as the strong encouragement of other key international actors, that they -- the Lebanese people choose -- or Lebanese representatives, political representatives, choose who will be the next Lebanese president. QUESTION: All right. And then just a technical point; you said that Syria was invited to the conference as a sovereign nation on its own. MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, yeah. QUESTION: But in fact, that was not the line going into this pre-conference. MR. MCCORMACK: No, we were -- QUESTION: It was that they were being invited -- MR. MCCORMACK: They were part of -- QUESTION: -- because they're part of the follow-up committee. MR. MCCORMACK: They were part of the Arab Follow-up Committee. QUESTION: Are you saying that if they were not a member of the Arab Follow-up Committee, they would not have gotten an invitation? MR. MCCORMACK: That's the history. I don't rewrite the history. But the fact is those invitations were delivered to each individual state. And each individual state showed up there and had its own flag with its own nameplate sitting there. They came as sovereign -- they came as sovereign states. And I get your point; I mean, it was in the context of the Arab League Follow-up Committee, yes. But I say that to draw a distinction between the -- what unfolded in Annapolis, where every state was sitting there as a full participant in their own right as a sovereign state, just to draw a distinction with past efforts. For example, Madrid; Saudi Arabia was there as an observer in connection with the OIC and it was understood that Saudi Arabia was there in that context. At Annapolis, they were there as Saudi Arabia and they were invited as an individual sovereign state. That was the only point that I was making. No, I take your point (inaudible) that they were invited in the context of the Arab League Follow-up Committee. QUESTION: Well, would they have been invited if they hadn't been a member of the committee? MR. MCCORMACK: Matt, you know, we can't go back and rewrite history. That's the way this unfolded. QUESTION: Oh, I'm not asking you to rewrite it. I'm just asking, you know, would -- MR. MCCORMACK: I can't possibly answer that question. They were invited the way that they were invited. QUESTION: Can I just follow up on that? MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah. QUESTION: I know you said that the Secretary didn't meet with any of the members of the Syrian delegation. Did any other U.S. officials meet with them and were any other issues other than the Israeli-Palestinian issues discussed with them? MR. MCCORMACK: I'm not aware. I'm not aware of any other contacts. But I wasn't keeping tabs on David Welch and the other members of our delegation the whole time. I'm not aware -- QUESTION: It was Foley who met with the Syrian delegation. MR. MCCORMACK: Jim Foley? QUESTION: Oh, sorry. Jim Foley met -- MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, he traveled there specifically to break some logjams that existed with respect to the visas and he was successful in those efforts. QUESTION: But while they were in Annapolis or in the country at all, were there any other -- MR. MCCORMACK: I'm not aware of any. Kirit. QUESTION: On refugees, these convoys that are going from Syria, is this an example of a really substantial increase in people going back and what are you attributing to this -- that to? MR. MCCORMACK: This is -- did Jim talk about this during his briefing? QUESTION: Yes. But there were a couple of things he couldn't provide answers on, so. MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I'm -- you know, I have to admit and it's a confession, I didn't read the transcript. I do know that -- I've seen the news reports about Iraqis traveling back into Baghdad, back into Iraq. That's very positive. That's exactly what the Iraqi Government would like to see and that's exactly what the states in the region would like to see. That said, if there are people with a legitimate fear of persecution that have a legitimate shot at being refugees, they need to be accorded all the rights that they should be granted under the international conventions. And their humanitarian needs should be provided for. We are doing our part, the Iraqi Government is doing their part in that regard, as are other states in the region. So there are some initial hopeful signs that you're starting to see people come back into some of the areas that had been really subject to very, very difficult and brutal security conditions. So that's an indication that there is some improvement on the ground in Iraq. I know our commanders on the ground have talked about that, but they're not making any predictions about how long that can -- that would last in the absence of the continuing efforts by not only our forces, but by Iraqi forces. QUESTION: And do you -- sorry, do you regard the welfare of the people that have returned now in the hands of the Iraqi Government or will the U.S. be helping them with that? Will there be more funding or special programs? MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I'm not aware of any particular special programs for people who have made the decision to return. I think that's an individual decision -- they're going back to their homes, going back to their own neighborhoods. QUESTION: That's not the question, though, Sean. The suggestion was raised that some of these people, not all but some of them, may be being pushed in the direction of going back out by, you know, the Syrian Government, the Iraqi Government or their own personal circumstances -- running out of money, visa questions, that kind of thing. MR. MCCORMACK: You know, Matt, again, I -- you know, I didn't listen on the briefing, so I -- you know, I'm at a disadvantage here. I -- look, if there are people who -- there are people that have a legitimate right and a legitimate case regarding refugee status, I mean, absolutely, there are international obligations there. And not only that, we believe that there is an international obligation that neighboring states have to help out and provide humanitarian relief to people who are fleeing violence. And we're doing our part to make sure that they receive that relief and there have been some generous contributions from others in the region. In terms of people being pushed back into Iraq, I mean, certainly it's something we have a problem with. People, if they want to, if they choose of their own volition to return back to their own houses, their neighborhoods or back to their own country because they have made a definite assessment about the situation on the ground and they feel as though that they can go back there, that's very positive. But again, that has to be an individual decision, not coerced by some other authority. Now, of course, you run into individual circumstances where people have to make hard decisions about whether or not they have the means to continue in one place, as opposed to going back to another. That I think falls in the category of people have to make their own decisions. QUESTION: Just a follow-up. MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah. QUESTION: UNHCR put out a statement earlier this week that was pretty critical -- it was expressing concern about the returning Iraq refugees, namely, that they weren't returning because of security improving in Iraq, but because their situations had deteriorated in other countries. And you had mentioned that you believe that this more due to the security situation. So are you disputing UNHCR's standpoint? MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I haven't read the report, Kirit. I'm just saying -- I'm only going -- right up front I stated based on a variety of different news reports that I've seen about people flowing back, I'm sure that for each person that decides to return there's going to be an individual circumstance or a different story. I don't know what the aggregate looks like. I don't know what the trends -- I don't know what the trends look like. I mean, certainly, the United States can't be accused of in any way ignoring the humanitarian needs of these people. Sometimes we have been not as nimble in delivering on our desire to help these people out in a humanitarian way or to help out people with visas or resettlement, those sorts of things. But certainly, an intention has always been there, and I think now our capabilities are catching up with our intentions to the extent that the Secretary is starting to get more comfortable with where we are. But as for this report, I haven't seen it. I can't comment on it. QUESTION: Can I ask one more thing? MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah. QUESTION: Ambassador Foley said that he was frustrated with what was happening with the 25 million that you've given to the Iraqi Government to help these people and give to host countries. Can you clarify what's going on with that? MR. MCCORMACK: No, I can't. Like I said, you know, (inaudible) I have not -- I didn't see the briefing, didn't see the transcript. QUESTION: Are you satisfied with -- I mean, that's a huge amount of money. Are you satisfied with -- MR. MCCORMACK: The 25 million? I understand the Iraqis have delivered it. It's just a question of whether or not they've delivered to the right location. I think that was the question. But they have actually gotten from the point of saying they're going to deliver the 25 million to actually having delivered it. Now it's a question of is it sitting in the right bank account or with the right person. Yeah. QUESTION: (Inaudible) Iraq. Do you have any comment on the claims by Beijing that the cancellation of the visit to Hong Kong was not a misunderstanding and linking it to the Dalai Lama? MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, I know. Yeah, I saw that. I know Dana addressed that over at the White House and I wouldn't really have much more to add than what she did, that we're seeking clarification of that -- that statement. QUESTION: Do you know why the Foreign Minister -- or why the White House would say that the Foreign Minister claims it's a misunderstanding and then the next day the Foreign Ministry would say it's not -- MR. MCCORMACK: Because I would assume that the White House said that because that's what they heard, and that if there was any reports to the contrary coming out of the Chinese Foreign Ministry that they're seeking clarification about those subsequent comments that have come in out of -- come out of the Foreign Ministry. And I understand -- I know that the White House is handling that. QUESTION: What about the linking of it with the award to the Dalai Lama? That would seem to be indicative that they're still holding a grudge. MR. MCCORMACK: Like I said, we're seeking clarification on the subsequent statements that they've made in public. QUESTION: (Inaudible) spill over into other U.S.-China relations? MR. MCCORMACK: Look, the U.S.-China relationship is a broad, mature, deep relationship that is constantly evolving, changing, and in some ways getting better and in some way -- in some areas we have differences. But it is fundamentally a relationship between two important world powers, so where we have bumps in the road we work through them. We deal with each other in a straightforward manner. Where we have questions, we raise them. We're not afraid to raise them. As Dana indicated just this morning, we're going to seek clarification. QUESTION: Have there been any other bumps that we haven't heard about? (Laughter.) MR. MCCORMACK: Well, none that I'm going to tell you about. (Laughter.) QUESTION: Sean, the White House is seeking clarification on this? MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, yeah. QUESTION: From whom? MR. MCCORMACK: It's a White House meeting. QUESTION: In other words, is the President -- MR. MCCORMACK: The meeting in question was a meeting between the Foreign Minister and the President. I think it's appropriate that the White House follow up on it. Yeah. QUESTION: Well, where are they seeking clarification from? Why isn't it the Embassy in Beijing that's doing this? MR. MCCORMACK: I don't -- why wouldn't it? QUESTION: Well, I don't know. Is the First Lady going to be seeking the clarification? Who is seeking it? Is it the President? MR. MCCORMACK: No -- QUESTION: Is he calling up the Chinese President to say -- MR. MCCORMACK: That's silly. QUESTION: No -- MR. MCCORMACK: That's silly, Matt. QUESTION: Sean, I mean, the diplomatic discourse of this country is generally done between, you know -- MR. MCCORMACK: Not in absolute -- no, Matt. QUESTION: So -- MR. MCCORMACK: No, that's incorrect. The White House actually engages in quite a bit of diplomacy. The President does quite a bit himself. You have his National Security Advisor who does quite a bit himself. You have his Deputy National Security Advisor who does quite a bit himself. You have the Vice President who does quite a bit of it himself. So there's actually -- yes, we are the body responsible for foreign policy making, and I would say probably a large portion of the diplomatic discourse emanates from the State Department and is received by the State Department. But it is not correct to say that we have the -- we have exclusive rights to that domain. QUESTION: Well, then have they told you who exactly is -- who is being -- who is the White House seeking the clarification from? From the Embassy here? From the Foreign Ministry? MR. MCCORMACK: Talk to our friends at the White House about that. It's their deal. QUESTION: Could this be a translation problem? I mean, is there a transcript of -- MR. MCCORMACK: I think, again, any further follow-up is going to come from my pals at the White House. Yeah. QUESTION: When Assistant Secretary Hill travel to Pyongyang next week, do you expect any way he will meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il at this time? MR. MCCORMACK: I don't believe so. I don't think that's on the schedule. I don't know if they have any surprises in store for him, but I think it's anticipated he'll meet with -- the bulk of his meetings will be with his interlocutor Kim Gye Gwan. QUESTION: (Inaudible) with President message, special envoy for the President? MR. MCCORMACK: What's that? QUESTION: He bring the President Bush's message -- special envoy for President? MR. MCCORMACK: Well, if he has any messages, those will be for the North Koreans. I'm not going to share them with you. QUESTION: Thank you. MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, Kirit. QUESTION: <http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2007/nov/96030.htm> Do you have anything more to say about this case of case in Slovakia of this highly enriched uranium, apparently, that was smuggled or attempted to be sold? DOE is referring all comments to the State Department. MR. MCCORMACK: How convenient. (Laughter.) Well, you know, I guess what comes around goes around. I'm going to have to get back to you with an answer. QUESTION: Okay, just curious looking into the circumstances of this and whether you had the confirmation of the grade of the -- MR. MCCORMACK: We'll get you an answer. Yeah. QUESTION: Back to Israel for a second. Olmert said that he's not going to be freezing settlement construction in the main settlements, the so-called consensus blocks. And I'm wondering if that's acceptable to the United States. MR. MCCORMACK: You know, he's made certain promises. He's made them -- made public commitments. He's made private commitments to us. Those are consonant. There are obligations under the Roadmap and Prime Minister Olmert has made implementation, full implementation, of the Roadmap one of his goals. He's committed to that. And there are certain steps along the way; this is an iterative process. So I'm not going to comment on the state of the process at this time point. They've made certain commitments. The Israeli side has certain commitments. I expect that they will follow through on those, as will the Palestinians. QUESTION: So maybe you can clarify -- QUESTION: (Inaudible.) QUESTION: I'm sorry, I just wanted to follow up on that for a second. MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah. QUESTION: So maybe you can just clarify what the standard is in general that you're expecting Israel to meet. Because it sounded like and it's been interpreted by some people that Bush is actually saying something different; he's talking about not expanding settlements, as opposed to the Roadmap which talks about no settlement growth and natural growth included in the freeze. So you do you see a difference there? MR. MCCORMACK: Again, I'm not going to get into interpretations at this point. This is going to be an iterative process that plays out over time. And the end result, we hope, is going to be a final agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians. They will define what the contents of that agreement are. And the other outcome of the process is that the Roadmap will be fully implemented. And along the way there are going to be a number of different steps. I'm not going to try to analyze where we are any further beyond what the President has said, the Secretary has said in public, along with President Abbas and Prime Minister Olmert. QUESTION: Sean, if the standard is indeed the language that is in the Roadmap, which the former questioner alluded to, which is a freeze on all settlement activity, including so-called natural growth. MR. MCCORMACK: And Prime Minister Olmert said that Israel intends to fully implement the roadmap. QUESTION: I just got this. Just in. (Laughter.) QUESTION: (Inaudible.) MR. MCCORMACK: (Inaudible). What's that? QUESTION: Usama bin Laden has urged Europeans to end their involvement in Afghanistan and reiterated his responsibility for the September 11th attacks. That's what we just heard from Al Jazeera TV. MR. MCCORMACK: I haven't seen -- I haven't seen the comments, but it's hardly news that he has claimed responsibility for the September 11th -- QUESTION: But if he urges Europeans to leave Afghanistan, could that -- I mean, they're trying to undermine the coalition, I presume, but you -- MR. MCCORMACK: Well, it's not -- again, not a new tactic. But I think the -- I think our NATO allies understand quite clearly what is at stake in Afghanistan as well as elsewhere around the world in fighting the war on terror. Afghanistan has made great strides since the era of the Taliban. There are -- just one example is that there are tens of thousands of young Afghan children who are alive today just because of the kinds of medical care and vaccination care that has been provided by the international community who wouldn't have been alive today otherwise. That's just one example. But it's going to require a lot of -- a lot more work. You know, Afghanistan started from a pretty low place in terms of development, so there's a lot more work to be done. A lot has been done. A lot more work needs to be done. And it's going to require a sustained commitment over a period of time. And we have seen that kind of commitment from our European allies. We have seen that -- certainly have seen that commitment from the United States as well as others around the globe. And I see no diminution in that level of commitment. Yeah. QUESTION: Do you have any travel announcements for the Secretary, by any chance, anytime soon? MR. MCCORMACK: I think we're going to put one -- we're going to put one out after the briefing here talking about her travel to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia as well as Brussels, Belgium for the NATO Foreign Ministers meeting. QUESTION: Do you have any more details on her trip to Addis, why she's going and -- MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I'll just go ahead and read it now. In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the Secretary will attend a meeting with leaders from the African Great Lakes states -- Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda -- to discuss issues of regional peace and security. That is on December 5th. Secretary Rice will also engage in consultations on current developments in Somalia and on implementation of Sudan's Comprehensive Peace Agreement with cabinet ministers from East African countries as well as senior representatives of the African Union and the United Nations. She will also hold bilateral meetings with the Government of Ethiopia. Secretary Rice will travel to Brussels on December 6th to attend foreign ministerial sessions on December 7th among NATO's 26 Allies. This includes a meeting of the North Atlantic Council, which is likely to discuss Afghanistan, Kosovo, the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty regime, and the upcoming NATO Summit in Bucharest. She will participate in a meeting of the 26 Allies with NATO's seven Mediterranean Dialogue partners -- those are Algeria, Egypt, Mauritania, Morocco, Israel, Jordan, and Tunisia -- and a session of the NATO-Russia Council. There will also be a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission. She will also take part in a transatlantic dinner bringing together EU and NATO foreign ministers. We'll have that -- post that announcement for you after the briefing. QUESTION: Okay. QUESTION: Go ahead. QUESTION: In terms of the Great Lakes, are you going with any specific suggestions as to how this can be resolved and trying to get the tripartite plus Burundi group to do a little more to resolve this? MR. MCCORMACK: We'll try to get you a little bit more in the days ahead about any specific ideas we might have for that. QUESTION: Do you have anything you could share with us now, though? MR. MCCORMACK: If I did, I would. QUESTION: Sean, just -- can I ask one question about -- MR. MCCORMACK: Yes. QUESTION: The NATO schedule seems awfully full. Is that over one day? MR. MCCORMACK: 6th and 7th, yeah. QUESTION: Two days, okay. MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah. QUESTION: Do you have any information about -- there's apparently several foreigners who have been arrested in Vietnam on terrorism charges, including a couple Americans. This happened overnight. Do you know anything about this? MR. MCCORMACK: Not until right now. QUESTION: Any queries about it with the Vietnamese? QUESTION: Does she still intend -- does the Secretary still intend to visit the Democratic Republic of the Congo? MR. MCCORMACK: At some point, I expect she will. It was on a previously scheduled trip that we had to cancel because of demands elsewhere in the Middle East, but I fully expect that she would -- that she certainly wants to go there and she's told that to President Kabila the last time she met with him, so I would expect that she probably will travel there at some point in the future. QUESTION: Thank you.
STATE DEPARTMENT BRIEFING
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.
State Department Briefing
The regular State Department Briefing with Sean McCormack. MR. MCCORMACK: Good afternoon, everybody. I don't have any opening statements to start with, so we can get right into your questions; whoever wants to start. Great, good, I'm out of here. (Laughter.) QUESTION: Sean, anything on the -- MR. MCCORMACK: Somebody here? QUESTION: Do you have any readout on the six-party talks? QUESTION: He was already starting. MR. MCCORMACK: That's right. We'll get you next. QUESTION: The six-party talks. QUESTION: (Inaudible.) MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, I know, really -- rap people in the knuckles with the ruler. QUESTION: Anything, sir, on the statement on the six-party talks? (Laughter.) MR. MCCORMACK: Stole your thunder. (Laughter.) Here's where we stand. Chris Hill briefed Secretary Rice about it yesterday up in New York at the Waldorf. They had breakfast over at the White House, including with the President, I think a couple of others, White House can fill you in on that, so they briefed the President up on this. We have conveyed to the Chinese Government our approval for the draft statement that all the parties had when they went back to their capitals. We studied it, talked about it, examined it, gave our approval to the Chinese. I can't tell you what the status is of all the other countries, whether or not they have had -- done their review and given a response to the Chinese. So in terms of the when and if they issue the statement and the contents of the statement, let me take a deep breath and we'll wait for the Chinese to issue the statement. QUESTION: Just a -- I mean, a very general -- what the statement is all about. Is it in relation to the timing in which -- MR. MCCORMACK: It addresses those issues that we were talking about, the second -- implementing the second half of the February 13th agreement, very basically three components: disablement of the Yongbyon facility, a declaration by the North Koreans of their nuclear program and then what in return the other five parties would do for North Korea. That's very generally it. QUESTION: So were there any changes that you sought or you just approved -- you just signed off on the whole thing as was brought back? MR. MCCORMACK: I believe that we in the negotiating sessions that Chris had back in Beijing were happy with the outcome and that was verified by the fact that Chris was able to brief senior officials back here in Washington and they gave their approval to it. QUESTION: So no changes, not even a comma? Everything is -- MR. MCCORMACK: Oh, you know, Matt, I don't know. I mean, did they, you know, correct the grammar? You know, perhaps. QUESTION: Well, I don't know because these things -- a lot of them hinge on punctuation, the intent -- MR. MCCORMACK: You know, it is absolutely true that the Secretary is a stickler for grammar -- QUESTION: It's not just -- MR. MCCORMACK: -- and I don't know if she got out her Strunk and White and went through the statement. She may very well have. But, look, it was approved. I can't tell you whether or not -- whether or not there were any changes in it. QUESTION: Can you just give us anything about why the envoys had to come back to the capitals to decide on something? MR. MCCORMACK: It's a significant document. And very oftentimes, you have a long document, a detailed document and there's a lot of negotiation that went into it. Sometimes some of the capitals want to have an option to, in a considered way, take a look what it is the envoys have produced. Yes. QUESTION: Sean, when you say -- sorry -- that you don't know when the Chinese might release it or what they're going to do, was it not the understanding when they wrapped up things the other day on Sunday that they in turn, in 48 hours, there will be a decision, yes or no; because if it's a yes then it will be released. MR. MCCORMACK: Nicholas, I can't tell you the status of when people are getting back to the Chinese, you know. I don't think anybody's going to call the whole thing off if somebody gets back to the Chinese at hour 50 or hour 60. It's not the way it's going to work. So breathe in with me, take a deep breath, and we'll just wait for the document to come out and then at that point you can take a look and see exactly what it says. And that's -- I'm preempting all the other questions on what's in it. QUESTION: You don't expect Chris to go back in the next week? MR. MCCORMACK: I don't know. He's up in New York right now doing -- performing his duties as the Assistant Secretary for East Asian Pacific Affairs as opposed to the Assistant Secretary for the Six-Party Talks. So he'll be back down here tomorrow night in time for -- in time to watch the Red Sox get their -- gain their first victory in the playoffs. QUESTION: Is that really a title? It's not? MR. MCCORMACK: It's an attempt at humor, Matt. (Laughter.) QUESTION: Oh, okay. A brave -- MR. MCCORMACK: To make a point, yes. Others laughed, by the way. QUESTION: Just one more, Sean. The North Koreans keep saying, including Kim Gye Gwan today, that the statement will contain a timeline for their being taken off the terrorist list. The Japanese came out and said it's not true. So which is it, yes or no? MR. MCCORMACK: My advice to you, take a deep breath and you can -- QUESTION: I'm out of breath. MR. MCCORMACK: -- and do your breathing exercises from the diaphragm. And then when the document comes out, you can see exactly what it says. How about that? Rosen. QUESTION: Forgive the long windup but I want to establish the predicate with some facts here. MR. MCCORMACK: Okay. (Laughter.) QUESTION: And apologies to Tom. MR. MCCORMACK: I would never want to deny you the opportunity for a little air time here and to establish the (inaudible). QUESTION: At the daily press briefing on September 26th -- MR. MCCORMACK: Uh-huh. QUESTION: -- the Deputy Spokesman was asked if the U.S. sanctions that were imposed on the Government of North Korea and on a Pyongyang-based company, citing proliferation of missile technology, should give rise to any concern about the Administration's stated intention to remove North Korea from the Department's list of nations that sponsor terrorism. The Deputy Spokesman told the questioner, "You've got a bit of apples and oranges issue here." But then went on to say in the very same answer that the bottom line is that for North Korea to be removed from the terror list it has to address the questions that are out there, those questions for us principally through the six-party talks are about denuclearization. But the Deputy Spokesman added, denuclearization by definition includes dealing with WMD proliferation concerns as well. My question to you is: Why should a question about missile proliferation and the potential de-listing of North Korea from that terrorism list be described as apples and oranges? MR. MCCORMACK: (Laughter.) James, I'll let you and Tom talk about this over lunch or dinner. I didn't -- I have to confess, I'll confess to all up here. QUESTION: Do you (inaudible) as apples and oranges? MR. MCCORMACK: James, I didn't read the transcript. So I'll -- I'm sure if you take a look at the entire exchange, that it's quite clear from what Tom said to everybody else here what it is that he meant, so -- QUESTION: Well, maybe you can go about it this way, you know, is missile proliferation necessarily WMD proliferation? MR. MCCORMACK: Look, we're concerned about the -- QUESTION: Yes, but our -- MR. MCCORMACK: -- proliferation threat from North Korea in all its regards. QUESTION: But are missiles in themselves -- just in themselves, not with anything attached to them, that might explode or whatever -- are those regarded as WMD? I don't know. MR. MCCORMACK: Technically not. They're not. No. But very oftentimes, it's the threat of the combined -- QUESTION: I know. I understand. I -- MR. MCCORMACK: -- (inaudible) WMD married up with the missiles. QUESTION: If you have someone who's getting -- I just want to understand this. If someone is -- some entity is being penalized for missile proliferation, it doesn't necessarily fall under the WMD category. MR. MCCORMACK: It depends on the facts. I mean, they could be designated for both things at the same time. It would really depend on the specific circumstances. But strictly speaking, you have missiles, that is separate from WMD, but we usually -- talk about them in the same breath. QUESTION: And so these sanctions that were signed on the 18th and that appeared in the Federal Register. One final question, one follow-up. There are, as you know, those who have long expressed concern that the Bush Administration is pushing to negotiate a deal with a country that has a demonstrably poor record of faithful adherence to nuclear accords. MR. MCCORMACK: Right. QUESTION: And now these individuals can point to a State Department finding as recent as September 18th that North Korea is, while we have been negotiating with it, actively engaging in dangerous and illegal WMD proliferation. Why then should anyone believe that negotiating with the North Koreans at the present time is a smart thing to do? MR. MCCORMACK: Well, look, James there are people who don't think that we should negotiate with North Korea at all; that we should have no contact with them; that we shouldn't even try to have them negotiate away their nuclear weapons program. We don't agree with those people. John Bolton is a proponent of that point of view. I wouldn't mischaracterize his views, but I think that's safe to say that's his point of view. We don't agree. We don't agree with that. We have learned the lessons of our experiences with the North Koreans over time, over the decades here, and we think that we have now the best possible opportunity to try to have a denuclearized Korean Peninsula and have a changed relationship, therefore, a changed behavior on the part of the North Korean Government, vis-à-vis the rest of the world. We think that that's -- we think that that is an opportunity worth taking. And we have designed the negotiations such that we go step by step. Good faith actions met, in turn, by good faith. And that has been the underpinning for all of these negotiations. Now we are seeing the North Koreans shut down the Yongbyon facility. That's positive, but that is not breaking new ground in terms of North Korean behavior. You can go back in history and thet've done that before. Disabling the Yongbyon facility and a full declaration of North Korea's nuclear program, that's new, that's path breaking. And we'll see between now and the end of the year if they can achieve that. And if the North Koreans meet the conditions that have been laid out for them by the other six parties, then they are going to receive some benefits for that change of behavior. But it's only in reaction to that change of behavior. And it's also important to note that in the six-party talks, whenever North Korea makes a promise, makes a pledge, it's making that pledge not just to the United States, it's making it to the other four members of those six-party talks. And safe to say that those other countries -- notably China -- have much more leverage with North Korea than the United States does. So they're making that promise and that pledge to those countries with whom they have the most to lose. So we think that the structure of these negotiations, whereby you have real leverage to try to get North Korea to change its behavior is the right way to go. We'll see if it bears results. It warrants some initial results. We'll see if we actually start to break some new ground in terms of changed North Korean behavior. But we couldn't disagree more that it's not worth taking that opportunity because the risks of doing nothing are far too great. QUESTION: To extend my air time on BNET, what does it -- what does it say about the faith of the North Koreans, good or bad, as we're in this negotiation right now, that as recently as September 18 you have this finding by the State and Treasury Departments? MR. MCCORMACK: You know, James, we will see, as the negotiations proceed and as North Korea makes progress or not in keeping its pledges. And then we'll be able to make those judgments. QUESTION: Hasn't a determination been made by State and Treasury on the 18th of September? MR. MCCORMACK: James, what you're talking about are lagging indicators. And what we're doing is taking a look forward. Whenever you have a designation it's, by definition, looking backwards. And it is something -- a lagging indicator, if you will. And we'll see going forward what kind of changed behavior we have. This is not going to happen overnight. The North Koreans are not going to have a pristine record by the end of December, from our point of view or the point of view of any of our other colleagues in the six-party talks. Nobody -- everybody's going into this with their eyes wide open in terms of the history of North Korean behavior. These are hard, tough negotiations. And I can assure you that the President and Secretary Rice, every step along the way, are designing the negotiations and what it is that we would provide North Korea with an eye towards the fact that they need to perform on what it is that they have said they would do. QUESTION: Last question with your and Elise's forbearance, if I might. You mentioned John Bolton as the proponent of a view that there should be no negotiation with North Korea right now. MR. MCCORMACK: Right. QUESTION: To you knowledge is there anybody inside the Bush Administration who also is a proponent of that view? MR. MCCORMACK: I don't know. You know, you have sources within the Bush Administration, do a poll yourself. QUESTION: You don't know if there's anyone in the Administration that holds that view? MR. MCCORMACK: You know what, the voices that I listen to -- the President and Secretary Rice, and they are fully behind the six-party mechanism. I don't know what other noise there may be in the system. But for my money, those are the voices that matter. Yeah. QUESTION: Can we move to a different topic. MR. MCCORMACK: Mm-hmm. QUESTION: Pakistan's President Musharraf has announced that a new general will replace him once he takes off his uniform. MR. MCCORMACK: Mm-hmm. QUESTION: I wonder, what are your comments on that, considering President Musharraf has been considered a long-term ally of the U.S. and will it in your view affect the relationship of the two countries, especially in the context of the war on terror? MR. MCCORMACK: Not that I'm aware. You can check with other military officers who have had some long-term interaction with the general, what they think of him. I can't offer any particular opinion. I'm sure that he's somebody that our military would be able to work closely with. As for the decision of who fills what post, that's going to be up to the Pakistani Government and ultimately the Pakistani people to decide within the context of their laws and their constitution and their political system. QUESTION: But the very fact that this indicates a willingness on part of Musharraf to take off his uniform and replace himself with another military leader heading the army, how do you view that? MR. MCCORMACK: This is -- this gets to the larger question about the transition that is ongoing within Pakistani politics. And we have said repeatedly and I'll repeat it again today, what we're looking for is a modern moderate democratic Pakistan. We're not in the habit of choosing who will lead Pakistan. That is going to be up to the Pakistani people. We're not in the habit of choosing candidates or favoring political parties. That is for the Pakistani people to decide. What we would like to see, and I think what the rest of the world would like to see, is that the elections that are coming up that will have an effect on a lot of these questions that you're -- the answers to a lot of the questions that you're asking right now -- is that these elections take place in a transparent, free and fair way and at the end of the day that the voice of the Pakistani people will have spoken. We will work with whomever the Pakistani people choose to lead them. They are, as you said, a good friend in the fight against terror. They have a lot at stake. We have a lot at stake. They have a lot at stake. The future course of Pakistan is at stake in this and future elections. But it's going to be up to the Pakistani people to decide within the context of their laws, their constitution and their political system. QUESTION: But are you looking at it as a positive development or progress toward democracy? MR. MCCORMACK: Again, you know, you're going to try to get me to jump into the Pakistani politics and I'm going to resist at every turn. Yeah. QUESTION: Can I get jump into whatever details you can disclose about the incident in Vienna yesterday and -- MR. MCCORMACK: Oh, that's right. QUESTION: -- whether or not there (inaudible) yesterday? MR. MCCORMACK: Charlie, I apologize. I was supposed to get that for you. We'll post something for you. QUESTION: How about (inaudible) on Pakistan about whether the Secretary is -- MR. MCCORMACK: She did. I had some folks research that. She met -- apparently met him once about a year ago in November 2006 here. QUESTION: In Washington? MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, here in Washington. QUESTION: And then another question -- I don't know if you were able -- on the Iraqi refugee admissions. MR. MCCORMACK: We have some -- QUESTION: I know you have the numbers, but -- MR. MCCORMACK: We have the general numbers. QUESTION: And the look forward? MR. MCCORMACK: The look forward -- the very -- the best description I've gotten as to why this is -- why we've seen a significant increase over the past couple months of people coming into the United States, refugees admitted, is that a lot of the groundwork that had been done earlier is actually starting to bear fruit. That you had people into the -- in the pipeline being fed in through the bureaucratic processes and they emerged from that pipeline. QUESTION: Right. But you expected -- I mean, we were told about ten days ago or something -- MR. MCCORMACK: Mm-hmm. QUESTION: That you were shooting for 12,000 of this -- of fiscal '08, that -- which means 1,000 a month. Now, last month, September was 880-something. MR. MCCORMACK: Right. They were -- QUESTION: Do you know -- MR. MCCORMACK: Well, you can go back and check the -- QUESTION: (inaudible) processed. MR. MCCORMACK: You can go back and check the briefing, Matt. QUESTION: No, no, I just want to know -- but it was a thousand a month they were talking about actually getting here to the United States. MR. MCCORMACK: Right. QUESTION: And last month, was a jump of 880 something or other, and I'm just wondering if you -- are you going to get to the 1,000 this month? MR. MCCORMACK: Oh, I see. In October? QUESTION: Right. Exactly. And -- MR. MCCORMACK: Look, we're going to -- I can't tell you, Matt. I can't make promises. What I can tell you is what the folks that do this for a living tell me and that is that they think they are starting to make some progress in terms of keeping this pipeline going. We'll see. Part of Jim Foley's job in all of this is to make sure that it does keep going. We're going to try to meet our obligations as best we can. I'm not going to lay out a specific number for you. The folks -- we'll see if the folks who do this on a daily basis have any particular numbers that they would like to provide you. Yes. Elise. QUESTION: On Russia, could you say anything about President Putin's announcement that he's going to run for parliament? The insinuation is that he wants to become prime minister and hold on to power beyond his term? MR. MCCORMACK: Right. Look, you know, the -- what we would expect is that any actions by Russian politicians conform to Russian law. President Putin has said in public that he does not have an interest in running for another term as President. As to future political participation in some other form, whether it's as prime minister or a member of parliament, ultimately, nobody can dictate those decisions to President Putin or to the Russian people. They are going to have to make those choices for themselves. Obviously, President Putin and the people around him are people who care deeply about Russia and Russia's future. And from our point of view, a more positive Russian future is one that is based in increasing political reform, political freedoms, as well as economic reforms. And so -- and making any of those calculations, they're going to have to decide for themselves whether or not, and how they participate in Russia's political system and its effect on that positive future, but they're going to have to decide for themselves. QUESTION: Well, but do you see this as an attempt to circumvent the kind of Russian laws that -- about not running for another term, because -- MR. MCCORMACK: I'm not going to try to impute any -- QUESTION: -- well, let me just -- can I just -- MR. MCCORMACK: -- but I'm not going to try to impute any particular motivation to President Putin. You can -- QUESTION: Well, there's some speculation that he's working to change -- MR. MCCORMACK: Right. QUESTION: -- the rules of the -- in Russia so that the prime minister, a lot of power has actually shifted to the Prime Minister. MR. MCCORMACK: You know, exactly what you said -- speculation. Look, there is a -- one thing for certain that is happening, is that there is a lot of (inaudible) within the Russian political system. There is a lot of activity. And we'll see what that activity and that (inaudible) leads to. I cannot predict for you. I'm not going to play junior -- Russian political scientist up here for you. There are plenty of other people that can do that. QUESTION: Like the Secretary? MR. MCCORMACK: (Laughter.) I don't think you're going to catch her in that either. Yeah. QUESTION: A follow-up. But Sean, you know, you've got some speculation in this case in terms of Russia, but this has happened before, as recently as the last decade, someone who's name was Slobodan Milosevic. When he couldn't be the President of Yugoslavia, he became President of Serbia and you know what he did. So I mean, the point of having an embassy there is to anticipate what's happening in the political life of the country, right? So just waiting and see what happens doesn't sound to me like something that the embassy -- MR. MCCORMACK: Well, you know, that -- you know, to logically play out what you've just laid out, in terms of the role of the embassy, then the role of the embassy is then to do something about that. Well, no, that's not the way the world works. It's a sovereign country. You know, we're not in the business of picking the leaders or the MPs of other countries. Certainly, our people in the Embassy can -- they can do analysis of political situation -- QUESTION: Well, that's (inaudible). MR. MCCORMACK: -- and feed it back -- and feed it back to Washington. But you know, in terms of what you're talking about, the next step of going ahead and picking the President of Russia or picking the prime minister of Russia or the MPs. No, that's not what we do. QUESTION: Well, to go back to what I was suggesting -- I wasn't suggesting -- MR. MCCORMACK: Well, but you logically play out -- QUESTION: No, because you said you don't want to analyze any -- that it's too early to analyze it. And I was asking is it -- MR. MCCORMACK: No. I said I'm not going to play junior political -- QUESTION: Okay. Well, just to -- MR. MCCORMACK: -- Russian political analyst for you. Look, I'm sure there are many other people who are more than willing to play junior and senior political analyst about the goings on in Russia. That is something that gets fed in internally. And I'm sure that people are taking a look at that. I'm not going to perform that function for you up here. QUESTION: But the State Department has expressed concern about the viability of rule of law in Russia right now. MR. MCCORMACK: Sure. Yeah. QUESTION: And so what we're wondering is if the Department believes that developments like this comport with the advancement of rule of law? MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah. You know, you want to play political pundit. You want -- QUESTION: I'm just asking a question. MR. MCCORMACK: Well -- and I'm giving you an answer. No, you're inviting me to play political pundit about the effect of some hypothetical outcome on the rule of law or Russia's democracy. I'm not going to do that. We'll deal with facts. We'll deal with facts as they are before us. Right now you have the fact that President Putin has apparently decided to run on the top of the -- his party's list for members of parliament. As I understand it, that can lead to many different things and many different possible outcomes. I'm not going to try to speculate on what those outcomes are. Our focus is on the health of Russian democracy, the direction of Russian democracy, the health of rule of law in Russia, the health of economic reform in Russia. We will make our assessments about those things and the effects of the political outcomes on those things when we have facts. We don't have those facts right now. Yeah. QUESTION: Can I just follow this up? Russian (inaudible) statement about the situation in Georgia and Russian MPs criticized Georgia and the U.S. Governments. So do you have anything to say about this statement? MR. MCCORMACK: They've criticized us about -- QUESTION: Georgian Government criticized the U.S. Government because of supporting Georgian Government on this statement. MR. MCCORMACK: I don't -- I'm not going to respond to every utterance of member of parliaments from around the world. Look, we have a good relationship with Russia. We have a good relationship with Georgia. Occasionally, Russia and Georgia develop tensions between them over various issues. We like to see Russia and Georgia work those out via political means, via any other means. But we have good relations with both of those countries. I don't think it's a mutually exclusive thing. QUESTION: Sean. MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, Samir. QUESTION: Do you have a readout on the Secretary's meeting with Iraqi President today? MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah. There was a -- it was a follow-up to President Bush's meeting with President Talabani. They talked about a number of different things, talked about political developments in Iraq. They talked about the progress of political reconciliation in Iraq, part of that was a discussion of the hydrocarbons law. That was very generally it. QUESTION: And what's your understanding of how that's going? MR. MCCORMACK: The hydrocarbon law, still a work in progress; a lot of moving parts to it. The Secretary encouraged him to continue to make progress on all the various moving parts involved with the -- QUESTION: Are they making progress? MR. MCCORMACK: What's that? QUESTION: Are they making progress in your estimation? MR. MCCORMACK: Look, we'll see. The ultimate test of that is, do they pass all the necessary pieces to it. QUESTION: All right, but the ultimate test for a lot of things is the actual end result. MR. MCCORMACK: Right. QUESTION: But that doesn't stop you from talking about progress. MR. MCCORMACK: You know, Matt, I'm not going to -- QUESTION: Well, I mean, you just signed off on this thing with the North Koreans today. That's progress, right? Why can't you -- MR. MCCORMACK: That's for you to assess, Matt. I'll leave that to you. QUESTION: Do you think (inaudible)? MR. MCCORMACK: It's all in your hands. QUESTION: Okay. QUESTION: Sean, did you talk in any detail about the Blackwater incident or the joint Iraqi-U.S. investigation or Pat Kennedy's -- MR. MCCORMACK: Not in the discussion here at the State Department. Yes, sir. QUESTION: A question on Colombia. MR. MCCORMACK: Mm-hmm. QUESTION: Hugo Chavez will visit France in November to discuss the fate of hostages of the FARC, including Ingrid Betancourt. What initiatives is the U.S. taking to release its three U.S. hostages there? MR. MCCORMACK: Well, obviously, it's something that occupies people in this building on a daily basis. We want to see those people released right now, unharmed and returned to their families. As for any discussion of what the United States is -- might do or -- involving these individuals, that's not something that I'm going to get into. I'm not going to say anything that might in any way jeopardize their health or the possibility of their being released. QUESTION: Could you restate the U.S. policy regarding American hostages? MR. MCCORMACK: You can go back and look at it in the transcripts. Yeah. QUESTION: On Burma<http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2007/oct/93175.htm>, Sean. There were reports yesterday out of Rangoon, questioning whether the UN envoy actually met with the leader of the junta today. There are reports that he actually did meet with him. What's your understanding about the meetings? MR. MCCORMACK: Our understanding, though I have to caution we don't have the full readout from special envoy Gambari, is that he did meet with Than Shwe and he met with Aung San Suu Kyi twice. We're going to -- he -- Mr. Gambari, I think, is going to be back here in New York -- up here in New York -- up in New York Thursday, and we're going to look for a readout and a report from him to the Security Council as soon as possible after that, whether that's Thursday or Friday, I can't tell you. QUESTION: Do you know if he had any interaction with any of the (inaudible) people at the embassy? MR. MCCORMACK: I don't know. QUESTION: Thank you. QUESTION: House Foreign Affairs has said they're going to markup and vote on the Armenian genocide resolution next week. Is the Administration still opposing that? MR. MCCORMACK: I can't -- I'm not sure if we put out a statement of the Administration position on it or not. But we have been working very closely with the Hill on that issue. As you know, it's -- every time one of these comes up it's a very sensitive issue. And we are conveying to members of Congress individually and in groups our views on it. I think that's about all I'm going to say about it. QUESTION: Thank you.
State Department Briefing
The regular State Department Briefing with Sean McCormack. MR. MCCORMACK: Good afternoon, everybody. I don't have any opening statements to start with, so we can get right into your questions; whoever wants to start. Great, good, I'm out of here. (Laughter.) QUESTION: Sean, anything on the -- MR. MCCORMACK: Somebody here? QUESTION: Do you have any readout on the six-party talks? QUESTION: He was already starting. MR. MCCORMACK: That's right. We'll get you next. QUESTION: The six-party talks. QUESTION: (Inaudible.) MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, I know, really -- rap people in the knuckles with the ruler. QUESTION: Anything, sir, on the statement on the six-party talks? (Laughter.) MR. MCCORMACK: Stole your thunder. (Laughter.) Here's where we stand. Chris Hill briefed Secretary Rice about it yesterday up in New York at the Waldorf. They had breakfast over at the White House, including with the President, I think a couple of others, White House can fill you in on that, so they briefed the President up on this. We have conveyed to the Chinese Government our approval for the draft statement that all the parties had when they went back to their capitals. We studied it, talked about it, examined it, gave our approval to the Chinese. I can't tell you what the status is of all the other countries, whether or not they have had -- done their review and given a response to the Chinese. So in terms of the when and if they issue the statement and the contents of the statement, let me take a deep breath and we'll wait for the Chinese to issue the statement. QUESTION: Just a -- I mean, a very general -- what the statement is all about. Is it in relation to the timing in which -- MR. MCCORMACK: It addresses those issues that we were talking about, the second -- implementing the second half of the February 13th agreement, very basically three components: disablement of the Yongbyon facility, a declaration by the North Koreans of their nuclear program and then what in return the other five parties would do for North Korea. That's very generally it. QUESTION: So were there any changes that you sought or you just approved -- you just signed off on the whole thing as was brought back? MR. MCCORMACK: I believe that we in the negotiating sessions that Chris had back in Beijing were happy with the outcome and that was verified by the fact that Chris was able to brief senior officials back here in Washington and they gave their approval to it. QUESTION: So no changes, not even a comma? Everything is -- MR. MCCORMACK: Oh, you know, Matt, I don't know. I mean, did they, you know, correct the grammar? You know, perhaps. QUESTION: Well, I don't know because these things -- a lot of them hinge on punctuation, the intent -- MR. MCCORMACK: You know, it is absolutely true that the Secretary is a stickler for grammar -- QUESTION: It's not just -- MR. MCCORMACK: -- and I don't know if she got out her Strunk and White and went through the statement. She may very well have. But, look, it was approved. I can't tell you whether or not -- whether or not there were any changes in it. QUESTION: Can you just give us anything about why the envoys had to come back to the capitals to decide on something? MR. MCCORMACK: It's a significant document. And very oftentimes, you have a long document, a detailed document and there's a lot of negotiation that went into it. Sometimes some of the capitals want to have an option to, in a considered way, take a look what it is the envoys have produced. Yes. QUESTION: Sean, when you say -- sorry -- that you don't know when the Chinese might release it or what they're going to do, was it not the understanding when they wrapped up things the other day on Sunday that they in turn, in 48 hours, there will be a decision, yes or no; because if it's a yes then it will be released. MR. MCCORMACK: Nicholas, I can't tell you the status of when people are getting back to the Chinese, you know. I don't think anybody's going to call the whole thing off if somebody gets back to the Chinese at hour 50 or hour 60. It's not the way it's going to work. So breathe in with me, take a deep breath, and we'll just wait for the document to come out and then at that point you can take a look and see exactly what it says. And that's -- I'm preempting all the other questions on what's in it. QUESTION: You don't expect Chris to go back in the next week? MR. MCCORMACK: I don't know. He's up in New York right now doing -- performing his duties as the Assistant Secretary for East Asian Pacific Affairs as opposed to the Assistant Secretary for the Six-Party Talks. So he'll be back down here tomorrow night in time for -- in time to watch the Red Sox get their -- gain their first victory in the playoffs. QUESTION: Is that really a title? It's not? MR. MCCORMACK: It's an attempt at humor, Matt. (Laughter.) QUESTION: Oh, okay. A brave -- MR. MCCORMACK: To make a point, yes. Others laughed, by the way. QUESTION: Just one more, Sean. The North Koreans keep saying, including Kim Gye Gwan today, that the statement will contain a timeline for their being taken off the terrorist list. The Japanese came out and said it's not true. So which is it, yes or no? MR. MCCORMACK: My advice to you, take a deep breath and you can -- QUESTION: I'm out of breath. MR. MCCORMACK: -- and do your breathing exercises from the diaphragm. And then when the document comes out, you can see exactly what it says. How about that? Rosen. QUESTION: Forgive the long windup but I want to establish the predicate with some facts here. MR. MCCORMACK: Okay. (Laughter.) QUESTION: And apologies to Tom. MR. MCCORMACK: I would never want to deny you the opportunity for a little air time here and to establish the (inaudible). QUESTION: At the daily press briefing on September 26th -- MR. MCCORMACK: Uh-huh. QUESTION: -- the Deputy Spokesman was asked if the U.S. sanctions that were imposed on the Government of North Korea and on a Pyongyang-based company, citing proliferation of missile technology, should give rise to any concern about the Administration's stated intention to remove North Korea from the Department's list of nations that sponsor terrorism. The Deputy Spokesman told the questioner, "You've got a bit of apples and oranges issue here." But then went on to say in the very same answer that the bottom line is that for North Korea to be removed from the terror list it has to address the questions that are out there, those questions for us principally through the six-party talks are about denuclearization. But the Deputy Spokesman added, denuclearization by definition includes dealing with WMD proliferation concerns as well. My question to you is: Why should a question about missile proliferation and the potential de-listing of North Korea from that terrorism list be described as apples and oranges? MR. MCCORMACK: (Laughter.) James, I'll let you and Tom talk about this over lunch or dinner. I didn't -- I have to confess, I'll confess to all up here. QUESTION: Do you (inaudible) as apples and oranges? MR. MCCORMACK: James, I didn't read the transcript. So I'll -- I'm sure if you take a look at the entire exchange, that it's quite clear from what Tom said to everybody else here what it is that he meant, so -- QUESTION: Well, maybe you can go about it this way, you know, is missile proliferation necessarily WMD proliferation? MR. MCCORMACK: Look, we're concerned about the -- QUESTION: Yes, but our -- MR. MCCORMACK: -- proliferation threat from North Korea in all its regards. QUESTION: But are missiles in themselves -- just in themselves, not with anything attached to them, that might explode or whatever -- are those regarded as WMD? I don't know. MR. MCCORMACK: Technically not. They're not. No. But very oftentimes, it's the threat of the combined -- QUESTION: I know. I understand. I -- MR. MCCORMACK: -- (inaudible) WMD married up with the missiles. QUESTION: If you have someone who's getting -- I just want to understand this. If someone is -- some entity is being penalized for missile proliferation, it doesn't necessarily fall under the WMD category. MR. MCCORMACK: It depends on the facts. I mean, they could be designated for both things at the same time. It would really depend on the specific circumstances. But strictly speaking, you have missiles, that is separate from WMD, but we usually -- talk about them in the same breath. QUESTION: And so these sanctions that were signed on the 18th and that appeared in the Federal Register. One final question, one follow-up. There are, as you know, those who have long expressed concern that the Bush Administration is pushing to negotiate a deal with a country that has a demonstrably poor record of faithful adherence to nuclear accords. MR. MCCORMACK: Right. QUESTION: And now these individuals can point to a State Department finding as recent as September 18th that North Korea is, while we have been negotiating with it, actively engaging in dangerous and illegal WMD proliferation. Why then should anyone believe that negotiating with the North Koreans at the present time is a smart thing to do? MR. MCCORMACK: Well, look, James there are people who don't think that we should negotiate with North Korea at all; that we should have no contact with them; that we shouldn't even try to have them negotiate away their nuclear weapons program. We don't agree with those people. John Bolton is a proponent of that point of view. I wouldn't mischaracterize his views, but I think that's safe to say that's his point of view. We don't agree. We don't agree with that. We have learned the lessons of our experiences with the North Koreans over time, over the decades here, and we think that we have now the best possible opportunity to try to have a denuclearized Korean Peninsula and have a changed relationship, therefore, a changed behavior on the part of the North Korean Government, vis-a-vis the rest of the world. We think that that's -- we think that that is an opportunity worth taking. And we have designed the negotiations such that we go step by step. Good faith actions met, in turn, by good faith. And that has been the underpinning for all of these negotiations. Now we are seeing the North Koreans shut down the Yongbyon facility. That's positive, but that is not breaking new ground in terms of North Korean behavior. You can go back in history and thet've done that before. Disabling the Yongbyon facility and a full declaration of North Korea's nuclear program, that's new, that's path breaking. And we'll see between now and the end of the year if they can achieve that. And if the North Koreans meet the conditions that have been laid out for them by the other six parties, then they are going to receive some benefits for that change of behavior. But it's only in reaction to that change of behavior. And it's also important to note that in the six-party talks, whenever North Korea makes a promise, makes a pledge, it's making that pledge not just to the United States, it's making it to the other four members of those six-party talks. And safe to say that those other countries -- notably China -- have much more leverage with North Korea than the United States does. So they're making that promise and that pledge to those countries with whom they have the most to lose. So we think that the structure of these negotiations, whereby you have real leverage to try to get North Korea to change its behavior is the right way to go. We'll see if it bears results. It warrants some initial results. We'll see if we actually start to break some new ground in terms of changed North Korean behavior. But we couldn't disagree more that it's not worth taking that opportunity because the risks of doing nothing are far too great. QUESTION: To extend my air time on BNET, what does it -- what does it say about the faith of the North Koreans, good or bad, as we're in this negotiation right now, that as recently as September 18 you have this finding by the State and Treasury Departments? MR. MCCORMACK: You know, James, we will see, as the negotiations proceed and as North Korea makes progress or not in keeping its pledges. And then we'll be able to make those judgments. QUESTION: Hasn't a determination been made by State and Treasury on the 18th of September? MR. MCCORMACK: James, what you're talking about are lagging indicators. And what we're doing is taking a look forward. Whenever you have a designation it's, by definition, looking backwards. And it is something -- a lagging indicator, if you will. And we'll see going forward what kind of changed behavior we have. This is not going to happen overnight. The North Koreans are not going to have a pristine record by the end of December, from our point of view or the point of view of any of our other colleagues in the six-party talks. Nobody -- everybody's going into this with their eyes wide open in terms of the history of North Korean behavior. These are hard, tough negotiations. And I can assure you that the President and Secretary Rice, every step along the way, are designing the negotiations and what it is that we would provide North Korea with an eye towards the fact that they need to perform on what it is that they have said they would do. QUESTION: Last question with your and Elise's forbearance, if I might. You mentioned John Bolton as the proponent of a view that there should be no negotiation with North Korea right now. MR. MCCORMACK: Right. QUESTION: To you knowledge is there anybody inside the Bush Administration who also is a proponent of that view? MR. MCCORMACK: I don't know. You know, you have sources within the Bush Administration, do a poll yourself. QUESTION: You don't know if there's anyone in the Administration that holds that view? MR. MCCORMACK: You know what, the voices that I listen to -- the President and Secretary Rice, and they are fully behind the six-party mechanism. I don't know what other noise there may be in the system. But for my money, those are the voices that matter. Yeah. QUESTION: Can we move to a different topic. MR. MCCORMACK: Mm-hmm. QUESTION: Pakistan's President Musharraf has announced that a new general will replace him once he takes off his uniform. MR. MCCORMACK: Mm-hmm. QUESTION: I wonder, what are your comments on that, considering President Musharraf has been considered a long-term ally of the U.S. and will it in your view affect the relationship of the two countries, especially in the context of the war on terror? MR. MCCORMACK: Not that I'm aware. You can check with other military officers who have had some long-term interaction with the general, what they think of him. I can't offer any particular opinion. I'm sure that he's somebody that our military would be able to work closely with. As for the decision of who fills what post, that's going to be up to the Pakistani Government and ultimately the Pakistani people to decide within the context of their laws and their constitution and their political system. QUESTION: But the very fact that this indicates a willingness on part of Musharraf to take off his uniform and replace himself with another military leader heading the army, how do you view that? MR. MCCORMACK: This is -- this gets to the larger question about the transition that is ongoing within Pakistani politics. And we have said repeatedly and I'll repeat it again today, what we're looking for is a modern moderate democratic Pakistan. We're not in the habit of choosing who will lead Pakistan. That is going to be up to the Pakistani people. We're not in the habit of choosing candidates or favoring political parties. That is for the Pakistani people to decide. What we would like to see, and I think what the rest of the world would like to see, is that the elections that are coming up that will have an effect on a lot of these questions that you're -- the answers to a lot of the questions that you're asking right now -- is that these elections take place in a transparent, free and fair way and at the end of the day that the voice of the Pakistani people will have spoken. We will work with whomever the Pakistani people choose to lead them. They are, as you said, a good friend in the fight against terror. They have a lot at stake. We have a lot at stake. They have a lot at stake. The future course of Pakistan is at stake in this and future elections. But it's going to be up to the Pakistani people to decide within the context of their laws, their constitution and their political system. QUESTION: But are you looking at it as a positive development or progress toward democracy? MR. MCCORMACK: Again, you know, you're going to try to get me to jump into the Pakistani politics and I'm going to resist at every turn. Yeah. QUESTION: Can I get jump into whatever details you can disclose about the incident in Vienna yesterday and -- MR. MCCORMACK: Oh, that's right. QUESTION: -- whether or not there (inaudible) yesterday? MR. MCCORMACK: Charlie, I apologize. I was supposed to get that for you. We'll post something for you. QUESTION: How about (inaudible) on Pakistan about whether the Secretary is -- MR. MCCORMACK: She did. I had some folks research that. She met -- apparently met him once about a year ago in November 2006 here. QUESTION: In Washington? MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, here in Washington. QUESTION: And then another question -- I don't know if you were able -- on the Iraqi refugee admissions. MR. MCCORMACK: We have some -- QUESTION: I know you have the numbers, but -- MR. MCCORMACK: We have the general numbers. QUESTION: And the look forward? MR. MCCORMACK: The look forward -- the very -- the best description I've gotten as to why this is -- why we've seen a significant increase over the past couple months of people coming into the United States, refugees admitted, is that a lot of the groundwork that had been done earlier is actually starting to bear fruit. That you had people into the -- in the pipeline being fed in through the bureaucratic processes and they emerged from that pipeline. QUESTION: Right. But you expected -- I mean, we were told about ten days ago or something -- MR. MCCORMACK: Mm-hmm. QUESTION: That you were shooting for 12,000 of this -- of fiscal '08, that -- which means 1,000 a month. Now, last month, September was 880-something. MR. MCCORMACK: Right. They were -- QUESTION: Do you know -- MR. MCCORMACK: Well, you can go back and check the -- QUESTION: (inaudible) processed. MR. MCCORMACK: You can go back and check the briefing, Matt. QUESTION: No, no, I just want to know -- but it was a thousand a month they were talking about actually getting here to the United States. MR. MCCORMACK: Right. QUESTION: And last month, was a jump of 880 something or other, and I'm just wondering if you -- are you going to get to the 1,000 this month? MR. MCCORMACK: Oh, I see. In October? QUESTION: Right. Exactly. And -- MR. MCCORMACK: Look, we're going to -- I can't tell you, Matt. I can't make promises. What I can tell you is what the folks that do this for a living tell me and that is that they think they are starting to make some progress in terms of keeping this pipeline going. We'll see. Part of Jim Foley's job in all of this is to make sure that it does keep going. We're going to try to meet our obligations as best we can. I'm not going to lay out a specific number for you. The folks -- we'll see if the folks who do this on a daily basis have any particular numbers that they would like to provide you. Yes. Elise. QUESTION: On Russia, could you say anything about President Putin's announcement that he's going to run for parliament? The insinuation is that he wants to become prime minister and hold on to power beyond his term? MR. MCCORMACK: Right. Look, you know, the -- what we would expect is that any actions by Russian politicians conform to Russian law. President Putin has said in public that he does not have an interest in running for another term as President. As to future political participation in some other form, whether it's as prime minister or a member of parliament, ultimately, nobody can dictate those decisions to President Putin or to the Russian people. They are going to have to make those choices for themselves. Obviously, President Putin and the people around him are people who care deeply about Russia and Russia's future. And from our point of view, a more positive Russian future is one that is based in increasing political reform, political freedoms, as well as economic reforms. And so -- and making any of those calculations, they're going to have to decide for themselves whether or not, and how they participate in Russia's political system and its effect on that positive future, but they're going to have to decide for themselves. QUESTION: Well, but do you see this as an attempt to circumvent the kind of Russian laws that -- about not running for another term, because -- MR. MCCORMACK: I'm not going to try to impute any -- QUESTION: -- well, let me just -- can I just -- MR. MCCORMACK: -- but I'm not going to try to impute any particular motivation to President Putin. You can -- QUESTION: Well, there's some speculation that he's working to change -- MR. MCCORMACK: Right. QUESTION: -- the rules of the -- in Russia so that the prime minister, a lot of power has actually shifted to the Prime Minister. MR. MCCORMACK: You know, exactly what you said -- speculation. Look, there is a -- one thing for certain that is happening, is that there is a lot of (inaudible) within the Russian political system. There is a lot of activity. And we'll see what that activity and that (inaudible) leads to. I cannot predict for you. I'm not going to play junior -- Russian political scientist up here for you. There are plenty of other people that can do that. QUESTION: Like the Secretary? MR. MCCORMACK: (Laughter.) I don't think you're going to catch her in that either. Yeah. QUESTION: A follow-up. But Sean, you know, you've got some speculation in this case in terms of Russia, but this has happened before, as recently as the last decade, someone who's name was Slobodan Milosevic. When he couldn't be the President of Yugoslavia, he became President of Serbia and you know what he did. So I mean, the point of having an embassy there is to anticipate what's happening in the political life of the country, right? So just waiting and see what happens doesn't sound to me like something that the embassy -- MR. MCCORMACK: Well, you know, that -- you know, to logically play out what you've just laid out, in terms of the role of the embassy, then the role of the embassy is then to do something about that. Well, no, that's not the way the world works. It's a sovereign country. You know, we're not in the business of picking the leaders or the MPs of other countries. Certainly, our people in the Embassy can -- they can do analysis of political situation -- QUESTION: Well, that's (inaudible). MR. MCCORMACK: -- and feed it back -- and feed it back to Washington. But you know, in terms of what you're talking about, the next step of going ahead and picking the President of Russia or picking the prime minister of Russia or the MPs. No, that's not what we do. QUESTION: Well, to go back to what I was suggesting -- I wasn't suggesting -- MR. MCCORMACK: Well, but you logically play out -- QUESTION: No, because you said you don't want to analyze any -- that it's too early to analyze it. And I was asking is it -- MR. MCCORMACK: No. I said I'm not going to play junior political -- QUESTION: Okay. Well, just to -- MR. MCCORMACK: -- Russian political analyst for you. Look, I'm sure there are many other people who are more than willing to play junior and senior political analyst about the goings on in Russia. That is something that gets fed in internally. And I'm sure that people are taking a look at that. I'm not going to perform that function for you up here. QUESTION: But the State Department has expressed concern about the viability of rule of law in Russia right now. MR. MCCORMACK: Sure. Yeah. QUESTION: And so what we're wondering is if the Department believes that developments like this comport with the advancement of rule of law? MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah. You know, you want to play political pundit. You want -- QUESTION: I'm just asking a question. MR. MCCORMACK: Well -- and I'm giving you an answer. No, you're inviting me to play political pundit about the effect of some hypothetical outcome on the rule of law or Russia's democracy. I'm not going to do that. We'll deal with facts. We'll deal with facts as they are before us. Right now you have the fact that President Putin has apparently decided to run on the top of the -- his party's list for members of parliament. As I understand it, that can lead to many different things and many different possible outcomes. I'm not going to try to speculate on what those outcomes are. Our focus is on the health of Russian democracy, the direction of Russian democracy, the health of rule of law in Russia, the health of economic reform in Russia. We will make our assessments about those things and the effects of the political outcomes on those things when we have facts. We don't have those facts right now. Yeah. QUESTION: Can I just follow this up? Russian (inaudible) statement about the situation in Georgia and Russian MPs criticized Georgia and the U.S. Governments. So do you have anything to say about this statement? MR. MCCORMACK: They've criticized us about -- QUESTION: Georgian Government criticized the U.S. Government because of supporting Georgian Government on this statement. MR. MCCORMACK: I don't -- I'm not going to respond to every utterance of member of parliaments from around the world. Look, we have a good relationship with Russia. We have a good relationship with Georgia. Occasionally, Russia and Georgia develop tensions between them over various issues. We like to see Russia and Georgia work those out via political means, via any other means. But we have good relations with both of those countries. I don't think it's a mutually exclusive thing. QUESTION: Sean. MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, Samir. QUESTION: Do you have a readout on the Secretary's meeting with Iraqi President today? MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah. There was a -- it was a follow-up to President Bush's meeting with President Talabani. They talked about a number of different things, talked about political developments in Iraq. They talked about the progress of political reconciliation in Iraq, part of that was a discussion of the hydrocarbons law. That was very generally it. QUESTION: And what's your understanding of how that's going? MR. MCCORMACK: The hydrocarbon law, still a work in progress; a lot of moving parts to it. The Secretary encouraged him to continue to make progress on all the various moving parts involved with the -- QUESTION: Are they making progress? MR. MCCORMACK: What's that? QUESTION: Are they making progress in your estimation? MR. MCCORMACK: Look, we'll see. The ultimate test of that is, do they pass all the necessary pieces to it. QUESTION: All right, but the ultimate test for a lot of things is the actual end result. MR. MCCORMACK: Right. QUESTION: But that doesn't stop you from talking about progress. MR. MCCORMACK: You know, Matt, I'm not going to -- QUESTION: Well, I mean, you just signed off on this thing with the North Koreans today. That's progress, right? Why can't you -- MR. MCCORMACK: That's for you to assess, Matt. I'll leave that to you. QUESTION: Do you think (inaudible)? MR. MCCORMACK: It's all in your hands. QUESTION: Okay. QUESTION: Sean, did you talk in any detail about the Blackwater incident or the joint Iraqi-U.S. investigation or Pat Kennedy's -- MR. MCCORMACK: Not in the discussion here at the State Department. Yes, sir. QUESTION: A question on Colombia. MR. MCCORMACK: Mm-hmm. QUESTION: Hugo Chavez will visit France in November to discuss the fate of hostages of the FARC, including Ingrid Betancourt. What initiatives is the U.S. taking to release its three U.S. hostages there? MR. MCCORMACK: Well, obviously, it's something that occupies people in this building on a daily basis. We want to see those people released right now, unharmed and returned to their families. As for any discussion of what the United States is -- might do or -- involving these individuals, that's not something that I'm going to get into. I'm not going to say anything that might in any way jeopardize their health or the possibility of their being released. QUESTION: Could you restate the U.S. policy regarding American hostages? MR. MCCORMACK: You can go back and look at it in the transcripts. Yeah. QUESTION: On Burma<http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2007/oct/93175.htm>, Sean. There were reports yesterday out of Rangoon, questioning whether the UN envoy actually met with the leader of the junta today. There are reports that he actually did meet with him. What's your understanding about the meetings? MR. MCCORMACK: Our understanding, though I have to caution we don't have the full readout from special envoy Gambari, is that he did meet with Than Shwe and he met with Aung San Suu Kyi twice. We're going to -- he -- Mr. Gambari, I think, is going to be back here in New York -- up here in New York -- up in New York Thursday, and we're going to look for a readout and a report from him to the Security Council as soon as possible after that, whether that's Thursday or Friday, I can't tell you. QUESTION: Do you know if he had any interaction with any of the (inaudible) people at the embassy? MR. MCCORMACK: I don't know. QUESTION: Thank you. QUESTION: House Foreign Affairs has said they're going to markup and vote on the Armenian genocide resolution next week. Is the Administration still opposing that? MR. MCCORMACK: I can't -- I'm not sure if we put out a statement of the Administration position on it or not. But we have been working very closely with the Hill on that issue. As you know, it's -- every time one of these comes up it's a very sensitive issue. And we are conveying to members of Congress individually and in groups our views on it. I think that's about all I'm going to say about it. QUESTION: Thank you.
STATE DEPARTMENT BRIEFING
STATE DEPARTMENT REGULAR DAILY PRESS BRIEFING VICTORIA NULAND: They've left me some Halloween candy under here. (Laughter.) Maybe if you guys are good we will share. Q: (Off mic.) MS. NULAND: Thank you. Happy Friday. We had a very interesting trip to Algeria and the Balkans. It's good to see all of you. Ladies all in blue today. I have nothing at the top. Let's go to what's on your minds. Jill. Q: I -- Toria, can I begin with something that may not be at the top of your agenda, but it is a question about the elections. There are international observers -- MS. NULAND: Whose elections? Q: Well, the -- I think there are -- happening all over the world, but specifically here -- MS. NULAND: Are they? Q: There are international election monitors in two states are being threatened with -- in one case in Iowa, apparently with arrest if they try to go to polling places. And in Texas they've also had kind of a similar threat, that they should not show up at polling places. Has the State Department been in touch with the OSCE and other organizations? And is there any advice? How are you dealing with the states on this? MS. NULAND: Well, we did, as you may remember, talk about this at some length last week -- Q: Great length. MS. NULAND: Great length, yeah. Matt -- Q: Yeah, but there's another one. MS. NULAND: Matt was quite interested himself. The OSCE team has a duty to comply with U.S. law. They know that. We have reminded them of that. Our understanding from them is that they fully plan to comply with all U.S. laws. With regard to those states where there have been questions, we have worked with them to facilitate direct contact with state authorities so that they can work out what terms would be acceptable. I think you know how much we, as a country, value OSCE observation. As you know, we deploy American observers to places like Russia, Ukraine, countries across the Euro-Atlantic area to observe elections ourselves. And the OSCE has observed elections of the U.S. since 2002, including successfully in Texas in 2008. And we think we have an excellent system to display to the world. So we look forward to hosting the OSCE here this time. They are already operating in some 40 states. Q: And does the State Department actually, you know, physically go out with them or anything, or are they just on their own? MS. NULAND: No, we don't. We don't, no. Q: Can we go to Syria? Q: (Off mic) -- any other foreign observers will be coming -- (off mic)? MS. NULAND: I didn't check on that today. When we talked about this last week, our understanding was that IFES was going to field some study tours -- they weren't observers per se; they were studying the administration of elections -- and that a number of embassies and other foreign governments were asking to observe in particular states, and they were working directly with state authorities. But I didn't have any other formal organizations besides the OSCE that had requested to come observe. Q: (Inaudible.) MS. NULAND: IFES, the International -- I will get it for -- Elections Systems, something -- we'll get it for you, apologies. Q: Can we go to Syria? Q: What part of the law, American law, were they not complying with, the OSCE? You said they had a duty to comply with the law, which suggests that they weren't complying with some part of the law. MS. NULAND: I think this speaks to -- there were some questions in Texas that came up publicly, and came up in conversation of State. The question was state laws, and they have been reassuring to us, and they have been reassuring to state authorities, and that's the expectation from here. Please. Q: Can we go to Syria? MS. NULAND: Yeah. Q: Turkey today -- it's been reported that Turkey today is getting sent two -- or actually did request the deployment of Patriot missiles -- MS. NULAND: Of? Q: The Patriot missile, along its borders with Syria to guard against any Syrian attacks or incursions. Does that usher in the beginning of a no-fly zone in your estimate? MS. NULAND: I haven't seen what you are seeing, Said, so I can't speak to it specifically. I think you know that we have in a NATO context already had an Article 4 consultation with Turkey on its security. And we have made clear that we stand ready to support our ally in other ways if necessary. With regard to a no-fly zone, I think you know where we've been. We continue to look at this proposal, to talk to neighbors and allies about it, but we haven't made any decisions. Q: OK, would, in your judgement, the deployment of the Patriot missiles along the border accelerate the -- you know, the sort of tensions that are ongoing between Syria and Turkey or is it likely to mitigate that? MS. NULAND: Well, again, I'm not going to get into hypothetical situations, but just to state the fact here, Patriot missile systems are defensive systems. They're not missile batteries; they're defenses against incoming missiles. Q: And finally, on the Doha conference next week, could you confirm that both Mr. Hassan Abdul Azim and Mr. Hijab are on the list -- the former primer minister of Syria -- are on the list to lead the opposition? Is that something that you are or you may be proposing? MS. NULAND: I'm not in a position to confirm any of the invited guests to Doha because the Qataris, not we, are the hosts. But as we have been talking for some time and as the secretary talked about on Tuesday or Wednesday -- I guess it was Wednesday, when we were on the road -- you know, our hope is that Doha will produce a broader, more representative structure for the opposition that reflects the diversity ethnically, geographically; that reflects the many groups that have sprung up in Syria over the last year. So that's what we are encouraging, but it is up to the Syrians to pick their leadership. Q: The SNC isn't very happy with you -- the Americans having put forward a recommended list of names or recommendations. They're accusing the United States actually of undermining the revolution now. What would your comment be to that? MS. NULAND: Well, as you know, we have been supportive of the SNC's efforts for more than a year now, but we have also been very clear, privately and publicly, with the SNC throughout the period that we've been working with them that we thought they needed to broaden their representation, as the secretary has said, ethnically, geographically, to reflect these local coordination councils, to reflect the leadership that is emerging within the opposition in Syria. And we've been encouraging them to do that. So our view remains that the SNC can, should participate in Doha, but we want to see, because Syrians want to see, a broader representation. So this is not a matter of the U.S. dictating; this is a matter of the U.S. and other friends of Syria supporting the voices from inside Syria who are saying that the SNC has not over the past year used this time to really broaden itself, to reach out inside, and that the leadership needs to reflect what's happening in Syria. It needs to reflect all of the colors and voices of Syria. Q: So are we going to see a situation where the SNC's actually effectively sidelined now from ongoing discussions about a future government in Syria? MS. NULAND: Well, our understanding is that representatives of the SNC will be invited to Doha and that they will be part of this conversation. So I think it's really up to the Syrians how much of a role in this future structure the SNC as SNC has or whether they become part of a larger and changed structure. And that's really something the Syrians are going to have to decide. Q: Do you have any idea -- ideas about what or are you aware of anyone else having ideas about what the structure should look like in terms of -- not in terms of specific numbers but in terms of numbers of people? You know, is it a council followed by -- is it -- what is it? What is this structure? MS. NULAND: Well, again, I think we don't want to get ahead of the meeting that's going to happen in Doha next week, particularly because, as we've repeated again and again, these are Syrian decisions to make. But the conversation among Syrians that we've been party to has talked about a relatively broad council with a smaller leading board of some kind, similar to what's been done in other transitioning states. But I think we have to just see what emerges from the conversations in Doha. Let me also just say that Assistant Secretary Beth Jones is now going to be leading the U.S. observer delegation. Ambassador Robert Ford will also be part of that, as well Ambassador Bill Taylor. Q: (Off mic) -- the delegations. He's been so involved with the opposition. MS. NULAND: Well, he's obviously going to be a key interlocutor with all of his Syrian counterparts. I think we decided that given how big this meeting is becoming, that Assistant Secretary Jones should also go and represent. And there's going to be enough people to talk to for everybody. And there is going to be enough people to talk to for everybody. Q: I'm still confused just about the structure because, I mean, what -- it seems to me that it's such an amorphous goal out there, and I don't believe it is amorphous, but it's amorphous what you're describing to us is a recipe for creating another SNC with all the same problems that -- so what is this executive board or Politburo or whatever you're going to call -- what -- I mean, how many people are -- how many people should be on that thing, recognizing that it's a Syrian decision -- but clearly, you have -- you all have ideas because you're sharing your ideas about specifically who should be on it. MS. NULAND: Again, I'm not going to get into prescriptions here. Our conversations with the Syrians have not been prescriptive. We have simply been sharing -- Q: So what is your suggestion then? MS. NULAND: Again, we're not going to be suggestive here in public. We're going to talk to the Syrians. But the concern that we have is that in its formal structure, that this body be as representative as possible of the many voices and places and leadership structures emerging in Syria, but that it also be able to effective. And in that regard, I would say that in our conversations with the Syrians, particularly those who are coming from inside Syria, they have articulated two key goals, which we fully support. The first goal is an internal goal for Syria itself, that this new, enhanced structure be able to give more political cohesion, that it'd be able to connect the various political groups inside Syria and to give assurances, particularly to minority populations, that their rights, that their voice will be respected. It can do that by having a broader membership, by reaching out more broadly. But it can also be effective there by -- in encouraging more defections, encouraging people to break with the regime because they will see that they have a future in a more democratic and open Syria, and as we've also said on the internal side, that it really enhance and deepen the conversation among the opposition about how they would see the transition moving forward. The second goal is the external goal. And here we've talked about the difficulties that we've had vetting groups inside Syria, ensuring that we are working with the right people. So we are hopeful that if this leadership structure can emerge in a new and enhanced way, it'll be an organization that the international community can work with to better direct assistance -- humanitarian assistance, nonlethal assistance, any other kinds of assistance -- where it can be most helpful to the opposition as a whole. The second is the goal of having a real representative address for countries that remain to be convinced that a transition is in the best interests of Syria. So, for example, we often hear from the Russians, we hear from the Chinese, we don't know who's going to come next. We're more concerned about that than we are about what Assad is up to. So again, a more cohesive, unified, reflective group that can do advocacy with those countries that remain to be convinced that change is necessary, that they've got a better plan for Syria. Q: Well, given the problems that you had with the SNC and the frustration that you had with them, which is a less broad, right, group than what you're hoping for out of here, it seems like a recipe for more gridlock to me. I mean, if you -- the broader and the more -- the broader the group and the more interests and people you have in it, the less likely it is to be able to come to any kind of cohesion, isn't it? MS. NULAND: Well, you're making an arithmetic argument. I think our concern is that part of the problem that the SNC has had has been establishing its legitimacy as speaking for those inside Syria. So we want to see more voices coming from inside Syria, more voices representing more of the constituencies inside Syria, so rather than fighting among themselves about what they represent, to have folks who are actually representative. Q: Toria, the secretary said that we want more representation of those who are on the front line fighting. Does she mean the militant groups that are fighting on the front lines, or does she mean that -- the Syrian public who's out there demonstrating against Bashar al- Assad? MS. NULAND: Well, I think, as I -- as I said here in outlining the goals, the first goal is to unite the political opposition and to bring more of the different groups around Syria into the political opposition and to have them be comfortable and feel like they have a home in the new Syria. So we're talking about making sure that the group represents not only the Sunni population but the Alawis, the Druze, the Christians, the Kurds, any other minority groups, women, et cetera, so for that to be reflected in who is part of this group, as well as the geographic balance inside Syria. But also, we have a number of new structures that have emerged over this year of difficulty in Syria. We have the local coordinating councils; we have the revolutionary councils; we have the armed groups. And they need to do better talking to each other, coordinating with each other locally and across the country. So you know, our hope is the same hope that Syrians tell us that they have, which is that this new, improved structure will help them to be coordinated with each other. Q: You said that -- to help facilitate nonlethal aid, right? Just now, nonlethal -- humanitarian and nonlethal aid. MS. NULAND: To help facilitate humanitarian aid, nonlethal aid. That's what we are -- Q: On the other hand, when you say those fighting on the front lines, that does not really clearly preclude armament, for instance, does it? MS. NULAND: Our position on this hasn't changed, Said. And as we've said all the way along, we are working with states that have made choices other than ours. And one of our main concerns has been ensuring -- whether it's humanitarian, whether it's nonlethal, whether it's what states other than the United States are giving -- that it is getting to those who seek the same kind of Syria that we seek -- a democratic, pluralist, united Syria -- and that we are protecting against extremists hijacking this revolution, either in political terms or in military terms. So again, this is the one the goals we seek and the Syrian seek in working on a new leadership structure in Doha. Q: (Inaudible) -- Syria? MS. NULAND: Yeah. Please, Samir. Q: The -- there are reports today quoting members of the SNC criticizing this new approach, saying it's going to lead to more division among the opposition and they will -- they will not accept any alternative to their -- (inaudible). MS. NULAND: Well, I think if they don't participate in a broader structure they risk making themselves irrelevant. So we would hope that they would participate actively in Doha and be part of the solution to our representative structure. Q: But then there will be division. MS. NULAND: Again, you know, I've spoke to Matt's sort of arithmetic that more makes harder. Our concern is that we have a relatively narrow slice of the Syrian conversation fighting with themselves rather than a broad representative group that -- Q: Fighting with themselves. (Laughter.) MS. NULAND: Anyway. Q: I mean, come on. You know, is there any evidence that the -- that the broader group is going to get together and work together any more than the SNC did -- MS. NULAND: Well, I would simply say -- Q: -- just because some of them happened to be in the -- on the ground, and being -- you know, and being shelled every day? MS. NULAND: I would simply say that if you look at transitional efforts, the first transitional government in Libya, they were very careful to be broadly representative geographically, broadly representative in terms of background. And that ensured that they were able to have a conversation about the needs of the entire country. In Yemen, it was a similar situation where we worked hard to try to reflect -- the Yemenis worked hard with the international community to try to reflect all the constituencies in Yemen. From our own democratic experience, when you have a representative group that reflects, in the American case, all the states, you have a better chance of being coherent in terms of the national policy. Q: Really? So in terms of the United States, you would think that right now, that the Congress is working just superbly, that, no -- MS. NULAND: It's better than all the alternatives, Matt. (Laughs.) Q: -- no gridlock at all, no problems there? MS. NULAND: What do they say? Democracy's really difficult, but everything else is worse? (Scattered laughter.) Q: (Inaudible) -- Yemen didn't come out of -- (inaudible) -- with some kind of government in exile somehow? MS. NULAND: Again, I'm not going to put labels on this. The goal from our perspective is to support Syrians in having a broader, more effective, more representative grouping lead this opposition. Q: I wondered if you had any comment about whether you'd seen the video that's circulating of Syrian rebels executing Syrian soldiers, which some of the rights -- international rights communities, say could amount to war crimes? MS. NULAND: Well, thank you for that, Jo. We have obviously seen this video. We condemn human -- let me start again. We condemn human rights violations by any party in Syria. There is no justification for that kind of behavior ever. Anyone committing atrocities should be held to account. I would note that the Free Syrian Army themselves back in August put forward a code of conduct, which reflects rules of war, international codes. And they have routinely called on their fighters to adhere to that. And we would echo that sentiment here. Please. Q: Benghazi? MS. NULAND: Yes. Wendell (sp), I knew you came for a reason. (Laughter.) Q: Please, have mercy. (Laughter.) We're reporting on a cable -- MS. NULAND: I will if you will, how about that? (Chuckles.) Q: Alrightey. We're reporting on a cable that indicates security concerns in mid-August for weekly reviews. What's your reaction to this? MS. NULAND: Again, Wendell (sp), I don't have anything broadly new to say on this other than you know how seriously we take the Accountability Review Board process that the secretary has stood up. We want them to look at all of these questions that are out there, all of the documents that are out there and give us their best advice about what happened and what we can learn from it. Q: And given the -- just the few days between now and the election, would you expect the review board to report before Tuesday? MS. NULAND: No, we said when it stood up that we expected its work would take somewhere between 60 and 65 days based on past precedents. That takes us into December based on when they started. And we need to make sure that it is a complete and thorough review rather than it be pitched to some artificial deadline. Q: Do you consider Republican calls for a response before Tuesday to be politically motivated? MS. NULAND: Well, you know, we don't talk about politics here, so I'm not going to speak to what one side or the other in this exciting American time has to say about this. Q: (Inaudible) -- Q: (Inaudible) -- MS. NULAND: I appreciate the opportunity, though. (Chuckles.) Q: You know, that is my charge. Tunisia's agreed to allow U.S. questioning of a suspect in custody in the Benghazi tragedy. Republicans are saying that's only because of pressure from Senator Lindsey Graham, but of course the -- Deputy Secretary Burns met with the Tunisian foreign minister yesterday. Did yesterday's meeting precipitate the decision to allow the U.S. to question this suspect? MS. NULAND: Wendell, I'm going to frustrate you on this one as well and say that from this podium, I'm not going to be speaking about any aspect of the requirement to bring to justice those who were responsible for the Benghazi attack. I'm not going to speak about our conversations with other governments. I'm not going to speak about what we're learning or who we may be pursuing along with the Libyans. Q: What did the deputy secretary talk with the Tunisian foreign minister about yesterday? MS. NULAND: My understanding is that the meeting is today, in fact, that it wasn't -- it wasn't yesterday. Q: Did I get that wrong? Sorry. MS. NULAND: Might have been -- might have been this morning. The expectation is that he's going to talk about the full complement of issues that we have. We obviously are working hard with them to deepen and broaden their democratic institutions. As you know, we are supporting economic reform. And we have provided, as the secretary said -- announced when we were in Tunisia not too long ago, budget stabilization support with the support of the Congress. We've obviously been having an ongoing conversation about the need to remain vigilant in support for the security around our embassy, and that conversation continues. But there are a full range of things that we're talking to the Tunisians about, including security sector reform. Q: Thank you. MS. NULAND: Yeah. Q: There's another report about security in Benghazi and -- well, about the immediate aftermath of the attack and whether or not a FEST team should go. I noticed that your colleague -- at least one of them has spoken about this on the record. I am wondering if you can tell us why the decision was made not to ask for one of these teams to go. MS. NULAND: Again, I am going to leave it to the ARB to do a full review of what went on before, during and after. I'm not going to get into any of the details from the podium. Q: So as soon as you stand down, you'll go on the record and say something? MS. NULAND: I'm not planning on speaking on this issue at all. Q: Well, then, can you explain why Philippe is quoted in this story -- a State Department official? MS. NULAND: I'm not going to -- again -- Q: You've seen -- you've seen what he had to say? MS. NULAND: I actually didn't see on this particular matter. But I will now refer you to him for anything he wants to say on -- Q: You know, I think that since it is a television network that is -- that is reporting this, that they would -- they and all the rest of us would love to have something on camera. MS. NULAND: I'm sure that the television network will appreciate you advocating for them, but -- Q: I -- well, I hope they do. MS. NULAND: Yeah? Q: And I just -- I think it's ridiculous for someone -- an official in this department to speak on the record about something and you not be able to -- and you not be able to speak about it from the podium. Just because you're not on camera doesn't mean -- you know, it -- MS. NULAND: Well, again, I didn't -- again, I didn't see what he said this morning. So I will -- Q: Well, can you explain to us why, then, since he has spoken about it on the record and is quoted in this story as talking about it -- can you take that and come back to us on camera and give us a similar explanation as to why a FEST team wasn't thought to be necessary? MS. NULAND: I will speak to him and figure out what it is he said, and we will go from there. Q: (Off mic.) MS. NULAND: Excellent. Q: India? MS. NULAND: Yeah. Q: Wait, wait, wait. I got -- these documents that Foreign Policy wrote about yesterday, also from Benghazi, have prompted a letter to the secretary from Congressman Issa. She's gotten that, I assume? MS. NULAND: She's gotten the letter. We are reviewing it, and we expect to respond shortly. Q: Can you -- can you tell us whether anyone -- to your knowledge, anyone other than the FBI team that went to the consulate, any other U.S. officials have been to the site since then? MS. NULAND: I don't have the answer to that, Matt. I -- Q: Can you explain how six weeks afterwards, there would still be documents lying around? It seems like -- maybe that's a question best directed to the FBI, but the -- you basically -- the State Department has basically abandoned this site, correct? MS. NULAND: Again, I'm not going to speak to any aspect of Benghazi -- Q: No one has gone back, and no one is there right now? MS. NULAND: I frankly just don't have the -- all of the facts on that here. We will come back to you afterwards if we have anything to add on that. Goyal. Q: Thank you, madam. Did secretary had any time to call the new foreign minister of India, Mr. Salman Khurshid? And also, if he has been invited to the U.S.? MS. NULAND: Again, I think she expects to be in contact with him. As of this morning, I don't think that she has connected with him yet, but I think she does expect to be in contact with him, as she always is with new colleagues. And I'm sure we'll have a chance to talk with him and begin working well with him. Q: (Off mic.) MS. NULAND: Yeah. Q: Not India, but in the region. The U.S. -- MS. NULAND: I can't hear you, Levy (ph). Q: On Indian Ocean? MS. NULAND: Yes. Q: The U.S. today was inducted as a dialogue partner in the 20- nation Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation. In this capacity, what role U.S. wants to play, and why U.S. was interested in becoming a dialogue partner with the -- (off mic)? MS. NULAND: Well, first, let me say that we welcome the news that we have been included as a dialogue partner in the IOR-ARC. These kinds of regional and multilateral institutions play a vital role in addressing the shared challenges that we have and building a more prosperous and peaceful region. As you know, that part of the world is extremely strategically important. We are glad to see the states around the Indian Ocean working together. And we welcome the opportunity to be part of that conversation in a dialogue capacity. Q: And what do you have to say that there was Iranian opposition to your induction in this group and despite that you were inducted as a dialogue partner? MS. NULAND: Well, I think it speaks to the fact that other states in the region very much welcome having us as a dialogue partner. Q: Thank you. Q: (Inaudible.) MS. NULAND: Yeah. Q: Toria, today marks the 95th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration which promised a Jewish homeland -- or, I mean, a homeland for the Jewish people in Palestine. And it clearly states: Clearly understood that no -- nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine. We all know that the Palestinians have -- for 60-some-off years -- have suffered a great deal -- you know, languished in refugee camps and so on. What have you done -- what has the American government done to really alleviate the Palestinian suffering and to ensure that what is stated in the basis of the formation of the state of Israel, to rectify the situation? MS. NULAND: Well, Said, as you know, we have across many administrations -- Democratic and Republican -- for decades now supported and promoted the cause of peace and dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians. I don't think I need to recount that history, for you of all people, here. I would also note that since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority, we have supported that authority financially every year. And we continue to advocate for that with the Congress and believe that it is important for the Palestinian Authority to be able to provide well for its people, and we'll continue to do that as well. Q: President Abbas, apparently marking the occasion yesterday, said very clearly that when he says "Palestine," we mean land occupied in 1967, that he does not expect to ever go back to Safed, his hometown, in essence giving up on the right to return. Does that help accelerate the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians, in your view? MS. NULAND: Again, Said, I didn't see the specific comments that he made, but I think we've been pretty clear here about what we are seeking, which is a negotiated solution between Israelis and Palestinians that is lasting and sustainable and results in two states that can live next to each other. Q: And lastly, he also said that the -- on the 15th or thereabouts this month, they will go to the United Nations pursuing an observer status, a state as an observer status with the United Nations. Do you have any comment on that? MS. NULAND: Our comment is no different than the comment that we've been making for more than a year. Action in the United Nations, efforts to move this forward in the United Nations are not going to bring the Palestinian people any closer to a state. Only negotiations can do that. And we are concerned about, you know, creating new tensions and making it harder. Q: Is there any update on the talks with Congress on the Palestinian or Egyptian aid? MS. NULAND: Those conversations continue. We've had staff delegations up, and we've been making phone calls to advocate for our budget requests for both of those. But as you know, the Congress has been out pending the election, so we're only able to work with staff at the moment. Q: OK. I -- Q: And did you -- and did you -- (off mic) -- Ambassador Hale activities? MS. NULAND: He has been in phone contact with his various counterparts, but he hasn't made any travel plans. I'm expecting that he will probably travel later in the month, but I don't have anything to announce at the moment. Q: Next door in Jordan, are you aware of a report that the Jordanians are going to release the guy who was convicted of killing Laurence Foley back in 2002? And if you are aware of this, do you have any comments on it? MS. NULAND: I hadn't seen that, Matt. If we have anything to comment, I will give it back to you. Scott. Q: Going back to the -- MS. NULAND: Scott. Scott. Scott. And then we'll come back. Q: Armenia-Azerbaijan. MS. NULAND: Sorry. Still in -- (inaudible)? Q: I just wanted to ask a quick follow-up on the issue of the U.N. If they go to the U.N., then, you know, there is a law -- there is a U.S. law that calls for the closure of the PLO mission in Washington. In terms of time, what are the steps, what are the procedures to close the office here if that happens? MS. NULAND: Again, I'm not going to get into hypothetical situations that haven't arisen as of yet. Our goal is to continue to make clear that taking those steps will not be productive. But the law is pretty clear. If you need a separate briefing on it, we can get you that. Scott, back to -- Q: Azerbaijan is threatening military action against any commercial flights into Nagorno-Karabakh, specifically into the apparently newly renovated airport at Stepanakert. I know that the secretary spoke about that when we were there sometime this year in both countries. Is that -- the United States involved in this latest trouble, (central ?) trouble? MS. NULAND: Well, we -- as we always do with these kinds of issues, the United States urges the parties to find a diplomatic solution to issues relating to the operation of the airport in keeping with the relevant international agreements, customary international law and the current practice between Armenia and Azerbaijan with respect to civilian air travel. The OSCE Minsk Group issued a statement on this. There was one on April 14th, 2011. There was another one just this past July 2012, which represented the views of the United States, France and Russia in calling for a diplomatic solution. So I would urge you to take a look at that. We also, in those statements, reiterated that the operation of this airport should not be used to support any claim of change in the status of Nagorno-Karabakh. Please. Q: On Senkaku? MS. NULAND: Mmm hmm. Q: A report to Secretary Clinton by former officials, including Deputy Secretary Steinberg, warned of military danger if there is no -- if -- unless there's more communication between Japan and China. I wonder if you have anything on that. MS. NULAND: Well, I'm not going to get into private reports or advice offered by these former officials to the secretary. We're going to keep that confidential. As you know, we did have last week a group of very well-respected friends of both China and Japan make a visit and go on a listening tour, if you will. And they have given some comments back to the secretary, but I'm not going to get into the details here. Q: Is there any more indication that there will be more communication between China and Japan directly regarding this dispute? MS. NULAND: You mean American communication with China and Japan? Q: No, the communication -- Ms. NULAND: Between them? Q: -- between China and Japan regarding Senkaku dispute. MS. NULAND: Well, we would certainly hope so. As you know, we are advocating dialogue as the best way forward, but I would refer you to those governments. Q: Does the United States expect a heated tone, or rather a cooldown after China's 18th Party Congress? MS. NULAND: Again, our goal is to encourage both countries to talk to each other about this and to work through it. I'm not going to get into their internal politics one way or the another. Q: I'm sorry, one final question. I'm confused so please help me. On one hand, the United States said that it's not going to be a mediator. On the other side, we see this shadow diplomacy between China and -- I mean, American officials, current officials and former officials travel and talking to both the Chinese and Japanese separately. So isn't that a mediator or at least facilitating communication? MS. NULAND: We are not seeking to mediate -- not officially, not unofficially. We are seeking to encourage both governments, Japan and China, to talk to each other. Q: Do you really think that it takes a team of experts, of former officials, to recommend that China and Japan talk to resolve this problem? MS. NULAND: Again, I would -- Q: How helpful is a recommendation from a blue-ribbon panel of experts that tensions could rise if they don't start talking more seriously? Does that really contribute anything to the conversation or to the policy? Does the secretary appreciate this kind of, what would seem to be rather obvious, advice? MS. NULAND: Again, you're drawing assumptions about what was in the report, which I haven't confirmed here. They were encouraged by the -- Q: Well, so the report's impact might have suggested that it would be good for China and Japan to go to war? MS. NULAND: I'm not going to get into the details of this at all. Goyal. Q: Stay on Japan for a minute? MS. NULAND: Yeah. Q: Do you have anything to add to Ambassador Roos' comments about the alleged break in and assault of the U.S. servicemen in Okinawa? MS. NULAND: I do not. I think Ambassador Roos obviously spoke for all of us in being gravely concerned about this most recent event, and committing that we will obviously cooperate fully with Japanese law enforcement. Please. Q: Bangladesh. MS. NULAND: Mmm hmm. Q: Last week -- (inaudible) -- who is a human rights advocate and also film maker in Bangladesh, he was at the Bangladesh embassy and showed his documentary about the crimes against humanity committed against his country and -- (inaudible) -- his family and 3 million Bangladeshis during the freedom struggle in 1971. What his film was, a documentary on rise of militancy, terrorism in Pakistan and the future of -- MS. NULAND: In Pakistan or in Bangladesh? Q: In Pakistan. And what documentary said also, the future of Pakistan secular democracy and jihad -- open borders. What -- MS. NULAND: Is there a question in here, Goyal? Q: What I'm asking you is that he also came to the State Department, met State Department officials about this documentary and also upcoming trials against crimes against humanities. So what his film -- really, two questions. One, about this trial, crimes against humanity. And second, the future of secular democracy in Pakistan. Any light you can put on? MS. NULAND: I really am not aware of conversations we may have had with the filmmaker. I think you know very well where we are on issues of democracy, human rights, countering terror in Pakistan. We've been very clear about that. Lalit. Q: On Sri Lanka -- (off mic) -- the statement issued earlier, what is the real concern about impeachment move against the Sri Lankan chief justice by the government there? MS. NULAND: Well, as you said, Lalit, we issued a statement earlier that we are concerned about interference with the judiciary. Beyond that, I think it's probably not productive to go. But these are -- what we are saying publicly in that statement is not any different than what we've been saying to the Sri Lankan government for some time. Q: Shouldn't this seen -- should be seen as something as interfering in the internal affairs of Sri Lanka, because 170 elected member of parliaments have (signed ?) the resolution for impeachment against him? MS. NULAND: Again, we speak out around the world when we are concerned that judicial processes are not being allowed to be conducted impartially, and we will do so wherever we see that, as we have in Sri Lanka this time. Q: (Off mic.) Q: And speaking of that, can we go to Bahrain? MS. NULAND: Mmm hmm. Q: There -- earlier this week, there was a pretty blunt comment from Mark about the ban on demonstrations. And he said that there were discussions ongoing with the -- with the Bahrainis about this. So I'm just wondering if it -- those have yielded any satisfactory -- or results that you find satisfactory. MS. NULAND: I don't have an update on those. Q: All right. MS. NULAND: Why don't I get you something for Monday, Matt. Q: Another thing about Bahrain is there's been some questions raised about an American guy who's serving as a -- an adviser to the Bahraini Ministry of Interior, a guy named -- a former police officer named John Timoni (ph) or Timoney. Do you know anything about that and what -- if he has any relationship with the U.S. government? MS. NULAND: I don't have anything on that. Let us take it and see what we've got, Matt. OK -- (inaudible). Q: Cuba? MS. NULAND: Yep. Q: Today the Cuban authorities are accusing the United States of supplying the Cuban opposition with means to access the Internet. And they say that diplomats are promoting, advising, instructing, training, financing, supplying -- (inaudible) -- and technology. I just wondered if you had any comment on that. MS. NULAND: We are absolutely guilty of those charges. The U.S. interests section in Havana does regularly offer free courses in using the Internet to Cubans who want to sign up. We also have computers available for Cubans to use. Obviously this wouldn't be necessary if the Cuban government didn't restrict access to the Internet and prevent its own citizens from getting technology training. So we -- you know where -- how we feel about this. We support freedom of access to information around the world. Q: So why is it -- this could maybe have an impact on the Alan Gross case? MS. NULAND: We have been very clear about our support for freedom, human rights, dignity and change in Cuba for decades now. We've also been very clear that Alan Gross is guilty of nothing and he should be released. Please. Q: Syria? The Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, plans to visit Gaza and Hamas, this coming at the heels of the visit of the emir of Qatar. Does that help the situation, considering that Hamas still stands on your list of terrorist groups? MS. NULAND: You know where we've been on this. We are clear publicly and privately with our allies and partners. We oppose engagement with Hamas. We think Hamas remains a destabilizing force in Gaza, in the region. Visits of this kind are not conducive to advancing the cause of peace and security in the region. Instead, we urge all parties to play a constructive role in bringing the parties together. That said, if there are legitimate interests in providing humanitarian support to Gaza, there are established means and ways to do that, and we encourage anybody wanting to do that to use established channels. Q: But as a major ally, would you call him to dissuade him from going? MS. NULAND: I'm sure that we'll be having conversations to try to get a better understanding of what's intended here. Q: I'm sorry, did -- I don't remember the -- you coming out with that strong a statement when the emir -- when the emir went there. MS. NULAND: I think our statement was in line with that. I think there is a concern now that we have more and more of this, and it's not helpful. Q: But you didn't say that that was unhelpful. MS. NULAND: I did. I most certainly did. Jill? Q: Just a clarification, on the Cuban thing, you said that the U.S., you know, is guilty as charged teaching people the Internet, or teaching the people the Internet, how to use the Internet, in order to subvert the government? MS. NULAND: Teaching people how to use the Internet, period, and allowing them access to computers with Internet. That is the only thing that we are responsible for, as we do in our missions all around the world, our American corners around the world. Q: Sorry, I just thought that you said -- you said that you did say that the emir's visit was unhelpful? MS. NULAND: I believe I did. I certainly gave a statement at the time. Q: OK, maybe I missed it. MS. NULAND: Yeah, I think you were out. Q: (Inaudible) -- also sent a delegation last week to -- (inaudible). MS. NULAND: I mean, our view on all of these is the same. Q: Can I please go back to Sri Lanka quickly? According to the press report and also Sri Lankan ambassador in Washington, he said that his country is now progressing on many fronts, including human rights, and economically and also basic rights for the citizens of Sri Lanka. My question is that if they get changed between U.S. and Sri Lankan relations as far as opening first investment and other fronts which were (banned ?) in the past? MS. NULAND: The comment that we made this morning was not with regard to broader relations with Sri Lanka, which may remain on track. It had to do with our concerns about a effort to impeach the chief justice about other assaults on the independence of the judiciary. Jill. Q: Just (one other point ?) on elections. Q: Thank you. Q: Do you know yet -- MS. NULAND: On our elections? Q: Our elections -- (scattered laughter) -- the United States elections. Do you know where the secretary will be for the election, and how she will vote? I presume she's -- MS. NULAND: How she will vote? You'd like me to tell you that? (Laughter.) Q: OK, technically, technically. Technically, how she will cast her ballot. MS. NULAND: I think we'll speak to that after she -- after she does it, but probably not before. Please. Q: One on Burma. MS. NULAND: Yeah. Q: (Off mic) -- yesterday the World Bank approved -- MS. NULAND: I'll let her know, though, Jill, that you were asking how she was going to vote. (Inaudible) -- that was a tough one for you to design. Yes. Q: Yesterday the World Bank board of governors approved interim strategy on Burma. And they also approved 80 million (dollars) financial assistance to Burma. Do you have to say anything on that? MS. NULAND: Well, I think you know that, as part of our step-by- step support for the reforms that Burma is making, we sought relief from legislation in the U.S. Congress that made it difficult for us to support IMF and World Bank lending. So we are very pleased to see this go forward now. Thank you very much. Q: I'm sorry -- (inaudible) -- MS. NULAND: I think we're -- I think we're finished for today. Thank you. (C) 2012 Federal News Service END
STATE DEPARTMENT REGULAR BRIEFING WITH JEN PSAKI
State Department Briefing with Press Secretary Jen Psaki Subject: Daily Press Briefing Location: Briefing Room, the State Department, Washington D.C. JENNIFER PSAKI: I still have the boot, but not much longer. I just have one item for all of you at the top on the de facto elections in Abkhazia. The United States does not recognize the legitimacy of the so-called presidential election on August 24th and will not acknowledge their outcome. Our position on Abkhazia and South Ossetia remain clear: These regions are integral parts of Georgia. We once again urge Russia to fulfill all of its obligations under the 2008 cease-fire agreement, including withdrawal of its forces to pre-conflict positions, reversal of its recognition of the Georgian regions as independent states, and provision of free access for humanitarian assistance to these regions. We renew our full support for the Geneva international discussions as a means to achieving concrete progress on security and humanitarian issues that continue to impact the communities on the ground in Georgia. And with that -- I don't think we've met before. Q: (Off mic) -- I'm Ken Delaney (sp), I'm the intel writer for the AP. I'm here for Matt, so -- MS. PSAKI: All right. Welcome, Ken (sp). Q: Thanks a lot. Can you confirm the New York Times report (that ?) there were two airstrikes in the last week by Libya and the UAE -- I'm sorry, in Libya, by the U.S. -- UAE with help from Egypt? MS. PSAKI: Well, Ken (sp), I'm not in a position to provide any additional information on these strikes. I'd certainly refer you to the governments of Libya, Egypt and the UAE. We certainly -- the position from the State Department is that we continue to encourage support for Libya's elected political institutions as well as steps they can take towards stability, and we remain supportive of a cease-fire, as you know. But again, I've seen those reports; I'm not in a position to offer any confirmation or any details. Q: When you said that -- you said "these strikes." Are you acknowledging the strikes are taking -- did -- MS. PSAKI: I was referring to the reports in the question that you asked. Q: OK. Q: (Off mic.) Q: OK. Sure. MS. PSAKI: Go ahead. On this question? Q: Yeah, on the same issue. MS. PSAKI: We can go back and forth. Go ahead, Said. Q: On the same issue. Egypt just denied that they did any, or they bombed Libya. Can you at least confirm that there was bombing and that bombing may have been done by these forces? MS. PSAKI: I just don't have any information to offer you. Q: If these strikes were carried out, in fact, by Egypt and UAE, would Washington be disappointed that they had taken this route? MS. PSAKI: I think, Roz (sp), I'm not going to go down that rabbit hole with you. Do we have more on this specific -- Q: (No, but ?) it's a legitimate question, Jen, because the question of whether a government which has had its issues in being stood up in recent times is suddenly now dealing with outside military strikes, whether in support of its efforts to stay constituted or not, certainly that does raise security concerns for this government. MS. PSAKI: Well, Roz (sp), I think we've consistently said, and I just repeated it, that Libya's challenges are political and violence will not resolve them. Our focus is on the political process there. We believe outside interference exacerbates current division and undermines Libya's democratic transition, and that's why our focus remains on urging all factions to come together to peacefully resolve the current crisis. (Inaudible) -- Q: You said -- you say that you've seen these reports of these apparent airstrikes. Do you know whether anyone at the ambassadorial level or anyone from Near East Affairs here or the secretary himself has spoken to anyone in either Egypt or the UAE about these reports and whether the U.S. has any concerns about them? MS. PSAKI: Well, we speak with our counterparts in those countries all the time. I mean, the secretary spoke with Foreign Minister Shukri, I believe, just yesterday. But I don't have anything to read out for you in terms of discussions. Go ahead, Ali (sp). Q: It would stand to reason that this did not come up in their conversation, the question of airstrikes and whether or not Egypt played a role in them. MS. PSAKI: I just don't have anything more to read out for you from their call. Q: And in the same article, it seemed that what was stressed, as Roz (sp) mentioned, was the lack of conversations, intelligence-sharing, between the U.S. and the UAE and Egypt. So could you characterize where the nature of conversations, of intelligence-sharing with not only Egypt but the UAE, because it really seemed in this article like the U.S. got blindsided by these strikes. MS. PSAKI: Well, all I can say, Ali (sp), is that we have close working relationships with all of those countries you mentioned. We share a range of information. I'm not going to characterize it further. Go ahead, Said. Q: Yeah, can we go to the release of Theo Curtis? MS. PSAKI: Sure. OK. Q: OK. So, I -- could you update us on that and could you tell us about the role that Qatar may have played in this? MS. PSAKI: Well, a number of these details have been out there, but let me just -- I know we haven't had a briefing since then, so let me just pick through for you what I can here. As you all have seen in reporting and many of you have reported, Mr. Curtis was handed over to U.N. peacekeepers in the Golan Heights at 6:40 p.m. local time on August 24th, which, as you all know, was yesterday. The United Nations facilitated the handover. After receiving a medical checkup, Mr. Curtis was handed over to U.S. government personnel who then brought him to Tel Aviv. We don't have details to share at this point about the timing of his return to the United States. As has been also noted, but worth repeating, he'll undergo further medical evaluation. From preliminary reports, he appears to be in good health. I think it's important to note, of course, that he was held captive by a terrorist organization for many months. Q: (Off mic) -- Q: OK. So is he -- is he still in Tel -- MS. PSAKI: So, Said, go ahead. Q: Is he in Tel Aviv, that's what you said? MS. PSAKI: There hasn't been a change in his location. Q: OK. And could you tell us, on the role of Qatar, any? MS. PSAKI: Well, I think it's important to note that the U.S. government has, over the past two years, reached out to over two dozen countries, including Qatar, for help from anyone who many have tools, influence or leverage who can assist in securing the release of American citizens, including Curtis, held hostage in Syria. A range of senior U.S. government officials, including from the State Department, were in touch with partners in the region and specifically with the Qataris about working for the release of American citizens held in Syria. I think all of you have probably seen the statement from the family that they issued yesterday. We understand his release follows a direct request from the Curtis family itself to the government of Qatar for its assistance. And beyond that, I don't know that I can detail much more from you from here, but go ahead. Q: So was any benefit (conferred ?) by the U.S. or any other party to the kidnappers or their allies as part of the negotiations for -- (inaudible) -- MS. PSAKI: Well, as you know, we don't make concessions to terrorist organizations, including paying ransom. We also don't support any third party paying ransom. Did not do so in this case. We're unequivocal in our opposition to paying ransom to terrorists, so (with that?) -- don't know if I could be more clear than that, but go ahead. Q: Well, are you aware of any benefit being conferred by another party, though? MS. PSAKI: I don't have -- you know, I think it's important to note that the family has addressed this issue in their own statement, in their public comments, and made clear that their understanding, this was a humanitarian release. We also have not been told by the Qataris or any other party that there was anything more than that. Q: What is the intelligence value -- Q: Jen, did the U.S. ask specifically Qatar not to pay any ransom? MS. PSAKI: Well, I think, Nicholas (sp), it's important to note that our public and private position has been very consistent on this and has been repeated many, many times. And not just our position -- we've also been very engaged in policymaking on this front with -- through the U.N. Security Council, through international organizations, and our believe continues to be that the paying of ransom puts U.S. citizens at risk. Q: Jen, do you know what was different this time? I mean, he was held for almost two years. Why did this intervention make a difference? Was there excessive pressure from the U.S. in the wake of Jim Foley? Was there something specific that triggered this? MS. PSAKI: Well, I think it's understandable that I'm not going to speculate on motivations and will let -- (inaudible) -- speak for itself in that regard. It's, you know, a case where obviously this is a situation we've been working on for some time now. As you know, he's been captive for -- he had been captive for two years. We've been working with -- we'd reached out to nearly two dozen countries from the State Department alone, and obviously there are a number of agencies who've been very involved in this, so unfortunately I can't shed light for you from the podium on specifically what took place here. Q: Well, the statement came from Secretary Kerry yesterday announcing this. Was he directly involved in reaching out to the Qataris in recent days or to any of the other two dozen countries you're mentioning? MS. PSAKI: The secretary has been engaged. As was noted in his statement as well, Mr. Curtis has a strong connection to Massachusetts. The secretary has been engaged in this, as have a number of other senior U.S. officials. Q: But he hasn't in the past week directly implored for help from the Qataris, the secretary. MS. PSAKI: I just don't have more of that that I can read out for you. If that changes, I'm happy to make that available. But I think it's safe to say that the secretary has been personally involved in this, yes. Q: Do you know whether -- Q: Just one more thing on the ransom issue. MS. PSAKI: Sure, go ahead. Q: You said the Qataris didn't tell the U.S. that they paid a ransom, but the U.S. has ways of gathering information outside of what people tell them. I mean, presumably the intelligence community would know if a ransom was paid. So does the U.S. paid if a benefit was conferred or a ransom was paid? MS. PSAKI: I just don't have anything more to add on this particular topic. Go ahead, Roz. Q: In terms of -- in terms of the intelligence benefit, do you know whether he is undergoing extensive interviews by U.S. intelligence in order to get a better sense of what Jabhat al-Nusra is doing inside Syria -- especially given that they had been fighting alongside the Free Syrian Army, despite the U.S.'s extreme misgivings about this organization? MS. PSAKI: Well, Roz, I certainly understand your question, I just -- I'm not going to be able to lay out any further detail on the discussions going on with him at this point in time. Go ahead. Q: Jen, being as he was held by Jabhat al-Nusra, how do you feel this might impact, let's say, those who are held by ISIS -- I mean, this kind of deal? MS. PSAKI: Well -- Q: Are you concerned that it actually may imperil American hostages that are being held by ISIS at the present time? MS. PSAKI: I would not state that. I think, Said, it's important to note here that he's the only -- we're not aware of other Americans being held by al-Nusra. Obviously, they're different organizations and I think that's important for everybody to note. Al-Nusra is still a designated terrorist organization with close ties to al-Qaida. That hasn't changed. We have -- their members have committed many horrific acts of violence against many people and our concerns remain. But again, it's a different organization so I would caution anyone from drawing conclusions about what it may or may not mean. Q: I asked Marie last week on the number of hostages that may be held. Do you have any idea the number of hostages and how many Americans are being held hostage? MS. PSAKI: That's just not something that we outline publicly. Anne (sp). Q: Yeah, I'm just slightly confused on the ransom question. The United States did tell Qatar that it -- that it was the U.S. preference not to pay ransom, correct? MS. PSAKI: That has long been our position and long been stated to Qatar, yes. Q: But in this specific transaction, it was the U.S. telling Qatar, great, go talk to them, do what you can, no ransom. Is that -- is that correct? MS. PSAKI: That has been consistently out position, publicly and privately, yes. Q: Syria? Today the Syrian foreign minister Muallem gave a press briefing and said that Syrian government is open to work with the countries, such as the U.S., Britain, Saudis, against ISIS. Do you have any response to that? MS. PSAKI: Well, I think -- I would say, first, that, you know, we obviously have taken the threat of ISIL very seriously, as evidenced by the president's actions and the actions of the United States over the last several weeks. But while the Syrian regime may now be bombing ISIL and taking other steps with the right hand, it's helping ISIL's recruiting with the left hand by refusing to deal with the Syrian people's legitimate grievances or to accept any willingness or openness for a real political solution. So I think Marie spoke to this a little bit last week, but in our view there are multiple challenges and issues on the ground in Syria. And certainly just because the Syrian regime may be taking on ISIL or speaking publicly about that, and certainly the United States is, it certainly doesn't mean we're on the same side of the coin here. Q: Does the United States have permission to act unilaterally? One of the things that the Syrian foreign minister said is that outside of coordination with his country -- quote: Anything outside of this is considered aggression. Will the United States act unilaterally to strike inside Syria? MS. PSAKI: Well, I'm not going to get ahead of, obviously, the president's decision making, Lucas, but I think when American lives are at stake, when we're talking about defending our own interests, we're not looking for the approval of the Syrian regime. Q: On this subject, could you step back and describe the nature of the threat from ISIL to the United States directly? And I ask because there seem to be different views within the U.S. government on this question. There's a joint FBI/DHS bulletin recently that said there's no evidence of a threat to the homeland, and I've heard intelligence officials say -- talk about threats to the homeland through West -- you know, ISIL fighters with Western passports. Where does the State Department come down on the threat to the U.S., to Europe? MS. PSAKI: Sure. Well, one, I think ISIL has -- itself has said they want to attack the homeland. We take those threats very seriously, and we monitor closely, of course, whether or not ISIL will seek to develop plots aimed at the West beyond the geographic area they've been operating in Iraq and Syria. So we're doing that right now, and of course that's ongoing. And we're actively consulting with counterparts around the world, as you would certainly expect. But there's also been a range of comments made outside of the administration as well, and I think our view is that of particular concern now is the fact that many Westerners and some Americans have gone to Syria or Iraq to fight with ISIL. We're concerned about the fact that someone with a Western or a U.S. passport might return home and attempt acts of terrorism there. And obviously that's something that's been a big topic of discussion with the U.K. and other countries as well. But the bottom line is we need to base our analysis on the facts as they are, and some of the analysis out there appears to not actually be based on information but more in conjecture, which isn't helpful either. So our view is, we need to continue to assess and monitor closely what their capabilities are. We certainly take their threats seriously, but also, you know, conjecture and -- is not helpful to the cause either. Go ahead, Margaret. Q: Jen, follow on that. For the, you know, few Americans who the intelligence community assesses may have joined ISIL and -- or have gone to fight in Syria, has this building revoked their passports? MS. PSAKI: I don't have any -- it's a good question, Margaret. I'm happy to take it and see if there's more information we can share. Q: Yeah, or if it's being considered? MS. PSAKI: Sure. And I think it's important. You know, I think this has been out there, but the president's going to be chairing also a meeting at the U.N. Security Council on foreign fighters and the shared concern we have with many of our counterparts around the world where a range of issues will be discussed. I'm happy to take that and see if there's more we can share. Go ahead. Q: And just following on that, I mean, so does ISIL pose the kind of credible threat to the U.S. homeland, say, that AQAP does? I wasn't clear from your answer whether you -- the State Department believes that. MS. PSAKI: Well, I -- we don't like to do rankings of terrorist organizations, as you may know. I know there have been comments made about 9/11-style attacks. To date, we've not seen them focus on that kind of planning. That doesn't mean we're not going to be very mindful that they could quickly aim to pivot to attacks against Western targets outside of the region. And that's certainly something that we're monitoring very, very closely. Q: Jen? Q: As a follow on Margaret's question, when you asked about the passport status, can you spell out for us what the criteria are? Does that equate losing one's citizenship? You know, if you can parse out the legalities of what it means to lose your passport for us, that would be really helpful. MS. PSAKI: I will see if there's anything more that we can share. I think you all are aware of the fact that obviously we work on this closely with many of our counterparts. There are a limited number, certainly, of U.S. citizens that we would be looking at. Q: Jen -- (off mic). MS. PSAKI: Go -- sorry, on the -- (laughs) -- why don't we go to you, and then we'll go to Said next, and then we'll go to Scott. Go ahead. Q: Secretary Hagel last week said that, you know, confronting ISIS would be through a regional coalition. Any steps already underway to establish such a coalition, and on what basis such a coalition would be -- would coalesce? MS. PSAKI: Well, the president also spoke to this, as well as Secretary Hagel, and I can certainly say that Secretary Kerry agrees that there needs to be a common effort to take on this threat, so that means not just unity within Iraq, among the different parties in Iraq, but it's also about building and mobilizing a broad coalition of countries, regional states who have no interest in seeing ISIL get a foothold, and our international partners, like the U.K. This is working together to determine how we can best address this common threat we face. Q: But how to do this if Syria is not part of this coalition as, you know, General Dempsey said that it will do nothing if you don't address the problem in Syria, too? MS. PSAKI: Well, are you talking about -- so, just can you (extrapolate it out?) a little more on your specific question? Are you asking us about working with the regime? Are you asking me about taking on the threat in Syria? Q: I mean, for the time being, you still consider the regime in place as, you know, governing Syria, right? MS. PSAKI: Correct. Q: So how would you address the ISIS problem in Syria without coordinating with the regime, even if there is a coalition, I mean, in which Syria is not -- MS. PSAKI: Well, I addressed this a little bit earlier but it's worth repeating. You know, as we look to possible future military action -- I think this is the question that you're asking -- we're going to do what is necessary to protect Americans. So again, I'm not going to get ahead of decision-making that the president hasn't made yet or rule any option on or off the table, but we're not going to be restricted by borders. We're actively considering what's going to be necessary to deal with this threat, or certainly working with a range of partners in the region as we coordinate those efforts. Q: Have you already started talking with somebody in the region to make this coalition possible, or not yet? MS. PSAKI: Well, that's been an ongoing discussion and one that I expect will continue and will take some time to put together and to address the threat, certainly. Q: Jen, you know, now that ISIL has taken over the Raqqa area completely and they routed out the Syrian forces, that provides, like, a base opportunity -- a good target opportunity now if the United States decides to, let's say, bomb this area since we know where they are, and without coordinating with the Syrians, and then they fire at a U.S. airplane and bring one down, you know. So first of all, do you see this as a likely scenario? MS. PSAKI: I'm not sure where you're going with this, Said. Q: I'm going with this that, you know, if you don't coordinate with the Syrians and, you know, they look at, let's say, whatever American assets, including fighter jets, as enemy or as a target and down one, then, you know, the situation gets a bit more complicated, doesn't it? MS. PSAKI: I'm not sure that's a likely scenario, but I -- we have some pretty talented military officials over at the Department of Defense that I'm sure would take any factor into account. Q: On the other hand, if you do coordinate with the Syrians and then you have both the Syrians and the Americans in this case, you know, attacking ISIL, that would be like a juggernaut, wouldn't it? MS. PSAKI: Well, again, Said, I think I addressed a little bit earlier what our views are on that. Anne (sp), go ahead. Q: Well, actually, Said asked a version of my question -- MS. PSAKI: OK. Q: -- which is, is there -- I mean, is there a scenario here under which the United States would go ahead, should the president decide to do this -- using your words, you know, we're not going to be bound by borders and we would do what was necessary to protect Americans -- without any coordination, without any heads up, without any at all signal to the Assad forces that these actions were going to be taken? MS. PSAKI: I'm just -- I understand certainly the nature of the question. Obviously there hasn't even been a decision made, so I'm just not going to speculate from here on what kind of coordination we would be participating in if we were to decide to take an action. Q: Is there a third party through which that coordination might take place? MS. PSAKI: I certainly understand, and if we decide to take an action we can of course discuss this, but I'm not going to have much more to add on this particular question today. Scott, go ahead. Q: As Marie did last week, you've been clear that just because the Syrians and the Americans are both fighting Islamic State it doesn't put you on the same page, plus you blame President Assad for contributing to the rise of the Islamic State. Given that, is there any concern that in fighting the Islamic State yourself, you almost reward or bail out President Assad for creating what may turn out for him to have been a miscalculation? MS. PSAKI: Well, I think the way that we are looking at this -- the world is a complicated place, certainly, and obviously the strength of ISIL has gained in the past several months, as we've all seen and watched closely. And we would be looking at this through the prism of what is in the interests of the United States, how to protect the American people, how to protect, you know, American soil. And obviously decisions that need to be made, those are the most important factors. And certainly we would not view it as being on the same side just because there is a common enemy. Q: Can we go to Gaza? MS. PSAKI: Let's just finish this and then we can. Go ahead. Q: I have two more on this specific question. One is that do you have any kind of update regarding Iran's role in terms of feeding the al-Qaida affiliate groups and ISIL within Syria? MS. PSAKI: I don't have any particular update. Did you have a question about a specific report or -- Q: Yes, I asked this question last week -- MS. PSAKI: OK. Q: -- regarding U.S. Treasury report in February that the operatives in Tehran helping fighters and funds to go into Syrian to affiliated groups. But I couldn't get any kind of clear answer from your department -- MS. PSAKI: Well, that's why we designated them, but -- sorry, what was your specific question about it? Q: So my question is the role of the Iranian government with this ISIL or other affiliated -- al-Qaida-affiliated groups in Syria. MS. PSAKI: I don't have any particular update. Obviously you're familiar with the reports and some that we've confirmed about Iran's role in Iraq currently. But beyond that, I don't have any particular update. Q: I have one more. Speaking of terrorist organizations, there is PKK and PYD. The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by the U.S. and by EU. But at the same time, they've been fighting against ISIL for a number of months now. Do you have any kind of consideration or reconsideration regarding their status as a terrorist organization? MS. PSAKI: Our position on their status as a foreign terrorist organization hasn't changed. As you know, we release a country report on terrorism every year. We -- a review of FTO designation is conducted every five years as required by statute. If circumstances warrant, an FTO designation can be reviewed before the five-year review is required. But I don't have any particular updates or anything to read out for you in this particular case. Q: Jen, do you have any updates on support to the moderate Syrian opposition that may or may not have been expedited by the United States government in light of the threat? Marie talked about the FSA as a partner to the U.S. I'm wondering how we're helping out our partner. MS. PSAKI: Well, I think beyond what we've announced over the course of the last several months, you know, we're waiting for Congress to take action. Obviously they're adjourned at this point in time. I can see if there are any other updates beyond that and beyond the announcements that you know we have made. Q: Has the secretary reached out to the new head who has replaced al-Jarba as head of the FSA? MS. PSAKI: I can check and see if they've had contact or when their last contact was. I mean, it's been some time now, but I can -- I can see if there's any update on that. Go -- or -- Q: Back to -- MS. PSAKI: Oh, go ahead. Q: Back to ISIL. There's a hacker group that's calling itself Lizard Squad. They took down a number of online gaming networks and they caused an American Airlines plane to be diverted yesterday. They say that they're doing what they're doing in the name of ISIS. Is this something that the State Department is concerned about or do they believe -- do you believe that there's any actual credible link between them and ISIS or are they more just interested in their cause? MS. PSAKI: It sounds like a very interesting report that I have not read yet. So let me check and see and -- so your question is whether we think there's a legitimate connection between ISIL and this -- Q: This Lizard Squad. MS. PSAKI: The Lizard Squad? OK. Noted. We will check and see if we can get you something after the briefing. Nicholas and then -- go ahead. Q: One more on Syria. MS. PSAKI: OK. Q: Given the fact that the U.S. and Syria have still diplomatic relationship, do you have -- recently did you have any contact with the Syrian regime? And is the secretary prepared to talk to his Syrian counterpart? MS. PSAKI: We've long had that ability and have been in contact in the past, as you know. I don't have anything to readout for you or predict for you. I can check along with Margaret's question and see if there's anything to add on that front. But not that I'm aware of. And I think it's important that -- to note here that this -- the shared concern about ISIL does not indicate a change in our view and concerns about the Assad regime and the horrific acts that they have done against their own people. Go ahead. Q: Has the U.S. verified or disproven Iran's claim that it shot down a drone over its territory? MS. PSAKI: Let me see if I have anything on that. I'm not sure I do. I don't have anything to update you on that front, my apologies. Should we go to a new topic? Q: Gaza? MS. PSAKI: Gaza, sure. And -- Gaza then China, does that work? Q: I have one on Ukraine as well. MS. PSAKI: OK, no problem. We'll do all of them. Go ahead. Q: On Friday, you know, there were -- folks -- (inaudible) -- that we're heading towards some sort of an international effort for -- to broker a cease-fire. The EU, the United Kingdom and France and Germany and with possibly the United States -- with possible U.S. involvement. But these hopes were dashed, I guess, by this morning. And can you tell us if there's any effort by the secretary of state or by the United States to actually bring about a cease-fire? MS. PSAKI: Absolutely. One, let me say that the secretary has remained engaged with the Israelis, the Palestinians, with a range of countries that have a stake in seeing a peaceful outcome. That has been the case over the course of the last several days. And he spent quite a few hours on the phone working on this particular issue. In addition, we've also been working with our counterparts from the Arab world and Europeans as well in the U.N., working through the U.N. Security Council to see if there is a process that can be taken in conjunction with efforts that the Egyptians are leading on the ground to bring about an end to a cease-fire as well. So we remain very closely engaged in this. The secretary does, Frank Lowenstein does, a range of important of important and high-level officials here at the State Department and around the administration. Q: So you're saying that there is an ongoing effort outside the Egyptian negotiation or the Cairo negotiation -- (inaudible) -- MS. PSAKI: No, I -- no I was saying that. I was saying that we remain closely engaged with both parties as well as the Egyptians. Egyptians count as a counterpart that has a stake in the outcome. They've obviously been leading this effort on the ground. The U.N. effort would be complementary of that, but we're certainly been working with our partners in the Arab world and as well as Europeans on that as well at the same time. Q: Mahmoud Abbas today said, the Palestinian Authority president, said today that if the Cairo talks fail -- which is -- like, he gave a couple days -- then they will go to the United Nations and they would actually seek some sort of a timetable to end the occupation. Would you be supportive of that? MS. PSAKI: Well, Said, I think we believe -- we support President Abbas' objective to achieve a two-state solution, but we believe that if the Palestinian resort to the ICC, it will badly damage the atmosphere with the very people with whom they ultimately need to make peace. And so our focus remains on achieving a sustainable cease-fire not by resorting to unilateral actions in international fora. And that's why we remain focused on the efforts the Egyptians are leading and also working with our counterparts in the U.N. Q: The Israeli raids seem to be intensifying with every passing day rather than -- (inaudible). They're not abating. They're not abating. And as a result, you have, you know, I mean, a very badly deteriorating humanitarian situation, apartment buildings being blown out to smithereens, people are not -- or kids are not able to go to school on time and so on. Are you concerned that the situation may actually even get worse than it is today? MS. PSAKI: Well, certainly, that's our hope that it doesn't. We remain very focused on this because we believe that ending the violence now, bringing up -- about a sustainable cease-fire will of course bring an end to the civilian casualties, bring an end to the fear that many people in the region live under. So certainly, we're aware. We all watch the news reports. We talk to counterparts in the region about what's happening on the ground. And that's why the secretary has logged several hours, why we've had officials in the region working closely on these issues with their counterparts as well. Should we go to China, did you say? China. OK. Q: On Chinese fighter jet encounter, as you know, you know, J-11B, which is a Chinese jet fighter, intercept U.S. Navy place Poseidon in South China -- I forgot the date, but -- MS. PSAKI: Think it may have been Thursday or Friday. Q: Mmm hmm. MS. PSAKI: Friday. Q: OK. And United States has -- (inaudible) -- deep concern very strongly through diplomatic channels with Chinese. Could you explain more detail what kind of language did you -- did United States raise a concern to the Chinese? MS. PSAKI: What kind of language? Well, we raised -- both State and Department of Defense officials -- both expressed strong concerns to the Chinese about the unsafe and unprofessional intercept last week, which posed a risk to the safety and well-being of the air crews and was inconsistent with customary international law. We, again, as I noted, have relayed that through multiple channels and certainly strongly, given the level of our concern. I also think my counterpart over at DOD also spoke to this, and certainly, they would be the appropriate entity to read it out further. Q: And as we know well, the Chinese officials denied that -- they said that United -- that the U.S. aircraft intercepted. How do you respond to this? MS. PSAKI: I would think I would stand by the concerns we expressed and the statement made, my DOD counterpart. Q: At the same time -- yeah, no, one more thing -- (inaudible) -- according to the Pentagon official, they said, you know, this is not a first thing, you know -- first time. Same kind of, you know, dangerous situation has occurred from March to May through. But, you know, did United States made concerns known to China at that time before the -- MS. PSAKI: I think we've spoken to when we've addressed concerns -- when we have expressed concerns, whether it was the ADIZ -- obviously that's a slightly different issue, but -- about actions that China is taking. We express those to them through diplomatic channels and also publicly when we have them. Q: So the United States raised the concerns before -- (inaudible) -- March, May or April -- (inaudible)? MS. PSAKI: No, I was -- broadly speaking, there have been incidents, which I think my colleague was speaking to, not maybe identical to this, but that we have addressed and raised in the past about the importance of safety and security and -- with the Chinese and actions they've taken, and so we've raised them directly and we've spoken about them publicly on those occasions. I don't have any other expressions of concerns to read out for you. Go ahead in the back. Q: Jen, how can you justify the U.S. action, like, this is not provocative to Chinese? MS. PSAKI: Which specific action? Q: This specific (in-close ?) reconnaissance is not provocative to Chinese. MS. PSAKI: Well, I think our concern was about the Chinese intercepts and how closely it flew to our aircraft, so I'm not sure how that's provocative on our part. But maybe you can explain further. Q: Yeah, as you said, this is a routine patrol or -- China feel this is (in-close ?) reconnaissance, which is to spy Chinese maybe submarine or other military activities. So how can you justify this kind of routine patrol as not provocative to the Chinese side? MS. PSAKI: I don't think we viewed it as routine, and that's why we expressed the concern. Q: And the similar actions like this patrol or your military -- (in-close ?) surveillance activities, why this kind of activities is constructive to the U.S.-China military relations? MS. PSAKI: Well, I think it's important to note that obviously we work with China on a range of issues, and the secretary was there just a couple of months ago having an -- the S&ED meetings and talking about security issues and working together on them. When there are concerns, we express them, and that's a sign of strength in a relationship. And here, there was one by our military counterparts over at the Department of Defense. We expressed that through both State and DOD channels. It doesn't mean that we don't still work with China on a range of issues. We will continue to. Q: But how can this kind of actions help the trust, to build the trust between the two countries? MS. PSAKI: The kind of action -- Q: Surveillance. MS. PSAKI: Well, I'm not sure what you're referring to. Q: I'm referring to this (in-close ?) plane reconnaissance or surveillance in South China Sea, which is, like, around 200 miles close to Chinese territory. MS. PSAKI: I just am not going to speak to that. I will just convey that obviously this was a specific case where we had concerns about a step that was taken by China. We expressed them. It doesn't mean we can't move on with our relationship. We will, we do, and we have a range of issues we'll continue to work on -- (inaudible). Q: Will this incident change your plan or your military actions in that area in the future? MS. PSAKI: I would point you to my defense colleagues. Not that I'm aware of. Q: (Off mic) -- international waters. So the U.S. surveillance did not (any violate ?) the international law? MS. PSAKI: I don't have anything more to outline for you on this particular topic. But -- go ahead, Eliot (ph). Q: I wanted to go to a different topic -- (inaudible). MS. PSAKI: Sure. Ukraine? Q: Yeah, Ukraine. On the convoys, first, the one that had gone over the border had returned. Do you have any information on if that was actually, in fact, aid as the Russians claimed, or if there was any arms or any other kind of contraband being smuggled in? MS. PSAKI: We don't know what Russia brought into Ukraine, who it went to and what Russia took out of Ukraine. We do know that Russia sent in a convoy of well over 200 trucks without the permission of the Ukrainian government. We also know that Russia continues to fuel the conflict with weapons, training, personnel and material. It's also not clear that all the trucks and drivers departed. But in terms of those -- that level of specificity, we don't have that at this point in time. Q: OK. And then Foreign Minister Lavrov has announced that a second aid convoy would be heading to Ukraine in the coming days. Given what's happened over the weekend, do you have any -- what's your position on that? MS. PSAKI: Well, we are certainly concerned about Russian plans for a second aid convoy. Any new mission done without the explicit permission of Ukraine would not -- be another provocative measure that would only escalate a situation President Putin claims he wants to resolve. So you can't say one thing and do another and expect the international community to believe that there is legitimate or credible intention behind your words. So in this case certainly we'd be concerned about a second action. I know that in the statements we put out last week about the first convoy, we expressed the plans for consequences, and obviously those discussions continue to be ongoing. Q: Related to Russia, actually. The government of Japan confirmed today that Prime Minister is set to meet with President Putin sometime this fall. Does the U.S - does State Department have any objection to that meeting? MS. PSAKI: I would not say that we have any objections. We are in frequent contact with the government of Japan as well as our other G-7 partners, and we're cooperating closely with them. I think beyond that I would refer you to the government of Japan. I think they just announced this today about his plans for the meeting and intentions and goals for it as well. Do we have any more on Ukraine? Q: (Off mic.) MS. PSAKI: Let's just finish Ukraine. Q: On the convoy - MS. PSAKI: OK. Q: Now they were held up at the border for about two weeks. I don't know how long, maybe that long, and the Russians are accusing the Ukrainians of stalling, that they actually - you know, they only inspected something like 34 trucks or 25 trucks whatever it is, from the 200, and then they finally pushed through. So if there is some sort of a, you know, international body that can inspect these trucks, can see what - (inaudible) - will be they allowed in, accompanied by the Red Cross? MS. PSAKI: Well, I think, Said, I mean, we've consistently said that a system needs to be coordinated and delivered with the permission of the Ukrainian government. Obviously that wasn't the case here. So I'm not going to speculate on what future steps are. Certainly humanitarian assistance and aid is something we strongly support. But the context here and the owners of this assistance is incredibly important, given that, you know, this is a country that has continued to assist the separatists with the flow of weapons, with financing, with personnel, with material, and I think that context is one of the big reasons that gives us strong concern and certainly gives the Ukrainians concern. Q: So you would - you would - you know, you would accept the Ukrainians taking the trucks and taking it to that area of conflict that is not under the - their control? MS. PSAKI: Well, any assistance needs to be coordinated through the Red Cross, with the support of the Ukrainian government. I'm not going to outline from here for you what those circumstances, what those conditions would be. Go ahead, Scott. Q: Bahrain? MS. PSAKI: Mmm hmm. Q: Congressman Jim McGovern was denied entry to Bahrain late last week as part of a trip with Human Rights First. That obviously follows closely Mr. Malinowski's issues there. So do you have a view on that? Have you communicated with the government in Bahrain? Was the State Department involved in making the congressman's - you know, or helping arrange his travel? MS. PSAKI: Well, we have raised this issue with the government of Bahrain. For the specific details, I'd certainly refer you to Congressman McGovern's office. I believe they've been engaging with reporters on this. You know, our view is that the government of Bahrain has much to do in order to meet its own commitments to reform. It's unfortunate that they have not taken advantage of opportunities to hear from outside observers. There are steps that the government has taken in the right direction, including establishing an ombudsman office in the Ministry of Interior, re-establishing the National Institution on Human Rights, rescinding the National Security Agency's arrest capabilities, training police on human rights standards. But there are still remaining concerns we have: lack of accountability, for instance, of abuse by security forces, ongoing harassment and imprisonment of persons exercising their right to freedom of expression, continuing reports of ill-treatment and torture in detention facilities. And obviously there is more that they can do to show the international community that they want to keep taking steps forward when it comes to reform. On Assistant Secretary Malinowski, he has received an invitation to return to Bahrain. There's a trip that's currently being planned. I don't have details on that yet at this point in time. Q: Is it your view that some of those steps that Bahrain could make that would be useful would be allowing members of Congress, like Representative McGovern, to visit and meet with the civil society groups that he and the Human Rights First delegation were planning to - MS. PSAKI: Certainly allowing international observers in to see some of the progress that's been made and certainly discuss their plans for reform is an important component of what they can do to show the international community that they are serious about moving forward. I don't have all of these circumstances of Congressman McGovern's trip and how far down the line it was planned, and so I would encourage you to ask them about those specifics. Q: Are you upset that a small country -- that the United States basically protects and keeps a huge naval base in that country and gives it cover, that actually it (snuf ?) or thumb its nose at the United States, especially not allowing, you know, members of Congress or, you know, other people to go in and look at and meet with whomever they want to meet? MS. PSAKI: Well, Said, I think we expressed clearly at the time when Assistant Secretary Malinowski returned what our views were on that, and we will have those conversations through private diplomatic channels. He has been invited back to visit the country. We'll plan a trip for him to do that. And beyond that, they remain an important partner. It doesn't mean we don't have concerns, as I just expressed, where they need to take more steps to put more reforms in place. Lucas? Q: Jen, is there any update on bringing the killer of James Foley to justice? MS. PSAKI: I don't have any updates. Obviously, our U.K. partners would, of course, be the appropriate entity that would probably speak to that. I'm sure you saw this yesterday that the ambassador did speak yesterday about these efforts, but we're not exactly -- we're not in a position yet to say exactly who the man in the video is yet. We're actively, of course, working with our British counterparts on that. Q: Do you have a pretty good feeling that the killer's been identified? MS. PSAKI: I'm just not in a position to lay out any more details for you. (Inaudible) -- go ahead. Q: One more on Syria. MS. PSAKI: Sure. Q: When you said today that you are not aware of other Americans held by al-Nusra Front, so it means that -- I mean, it could be -- I mean, there could be Americans held by ISIS or the Syrian regime, correct? MS. PSAKI: Correct. Q: OK. So do you have any update on the Mr. Tice? MS. PSAKI: I do not have an update on him. Obviously, his safety, well-being, his return to his family is at the top of our minds, and it's a case that we continue to work on, just as we have been working on many of these other cases over the course of the last couple of years. And when I -- when I mentioned the outrage the secretary and other senior members of the administration have done to -- about two dozen countries that is included questions about assistance and seeking the return of all of the Americans who are being held in Syria. Q: Jen, does freeing Mr. Curtis change your view of al-Nusra? I mean, there are -- ISIS kill hostages, Nusra doesn't. Nusra frees them or -- MS. PSAKI: I always like a -- it was multi-media going on at one point. I -- al-Nusra remains a designated foreign terrorist organization. They have been guilty of horrific acts against a range of individuals. Our concerns about that have not changed. There are different organizations than ISIL, and the reason it's important to point that out -- one of the reasons, I should say -- is that there aren't other Americans that we're aware of that are being held by al-Nusra, so we wanted to make sure that point was made. Q: Yes, but does this change your perception of it? Would you be more sensitive -- MS. PSAKI: I think I just stated they're a foreign terrorist organization and we have remaining concerns about the horrific actions that they've taken. Ally (sp), go ahead. Q: My question's on a much lighter note. MS. PSAKI: OK. Q: The British embassy in the U.S. apologized over Twitter for its tweets sort of commemorating the 200th anniversary of the burning of the White House. I just wanted to know if the State Department accepts this apology and if you have any further comment on it. MS. PSAKI: Well, I would note a couple of things. One, this was a lighthearted get-together. We have an important, an inviting relationship with the United Kingdom. Perhaps those who are concerned about it didn't understand British humor which, I think, is what they have stated. But I certainly don't -- we don't take any offense to it. And I would also note that the president himself has made lighthearted comments about the War of 1812 -- little do we discuss that in here; that's too bad -- and the progress of the relationship since then. Q: Which happened -- let's go back to the -- Q: (Off mic.) MS. PSAKI: There you go. Oh, look. Said the historian. Go ahead. Q: Not to ruin the lighthearted -- (laughter) -- but I wanted to go back to the China for just a second. MS. PSAKI: Sure. Q: There are some reports that (Chinese ?) officials who are concerned that the pilots involved in these kind of incidents may be, quote, "going rogue" or may not be under the control of their commanders. Is that a concern that you're aware of? MS. PSAKI: Elliot, I'd point you to the Department of Defense or other administration officials on that. I can check if there's more we can say on that. That's not a concern I've been made aware of. Q: OK. And then just to clarify on an earlier question. The -- in response to the Chinese statement that the -- these kinds of incidents are being caused by excessive U.S. surveillance flights in the region, what would be your direct response to that? MS. PSAKI: I would say that we would disagree with that. We operate in a transparent manner and we make other countries, including China, aware of our plans. This is a case where we were concerned about, as my colleagues at the Department of Defense outlined, the proximity and the lack of transparency that took place in this case, and that's why we expressed concerns through multiple channels. Q: When you say made them aware of your plans, are you -- do you notify the Chinese when you plan specific surveillance flights or -- MS. PSAKI: I was referring, broadly speaking, to our engagement in the -- in the -- in the zone, in the air zone. Q: OK, fair enough. Q: Is this action included -- is this action included -- have you notified China? MS. PSAKI: I'm just not going to have any more details on this particular topic. Go ahead. Q: And finally -- MS. PSAKI: We're going to move on. Go ahead. Q: I was asking if you notified the -- MS. PSAKI: I don't have anything more. Q: Have you notified -- MS. PSAKI: If there's more to share with all of, I will make it available. Go ahead. Q: Is it OK for China to send their fighter jets to Hawaii transparently? Is it OK with you? MS. PSAKI: I'm just not going to speculate on steps that are taken. This was a specific incident we expressed concerns about. We expressed them directly to the Chinese. I think I'm going to leave it at that. Go ahead in the back. Q: Can I move on to Japan, please? MS. PSAKI: Sure. Q: Last Saturday there was a rally against Futenma relocation in front of Marine Corps Air Base Camp Schwab, and three-dozen people, including local mayor, attended the rally. And they actually plan to do bigger one and consistently later. Then on the other hand, there was a latest poll by a local newspaper and TV, and that says 80,000 of the people in Okinawa are opposed to the current relocation plan and 15 percent support. And actually, this increased 7 points since the government of Japan started the -- drew a survey toward the construction. So my questions are, how do you respond to these polls or, like, movements? And another question is, so -- I understand that the State Department already said it is pleased that the survey has started, but so -- but I'm wondering if the new -- I mean, the FRF, Futenma Replacement Facility, will be constructed. Do you think it is going to be politically sustainable in local? MS. PSAKI: Well, my colleagues at the Department of Defense really have the lead on this, but the progress that's been made is really the result of meaningful, sustained work between the United States and Japan. The relocation, as you know from the history, was -- there are steps that will be beneficial, including reducing our footprint in the most populated part of Okinawa, enabling the return of significant land back to the people of Okinawa while sustaining U.S. military capabilities vital to the alliance. So those are of course some of the reasons I'm sure that you're familiar with. In terms of the politics in Japan, I'm going to let the government of Japan speak to that. I'm not going to speculate on that. Lucas, go ahead. Q: (Off mic) -- Libya? MS. PSAKI: Sure. Q: Since the briefing started, sources have confirmed that the UAE was involved in the airstrikes in Libya, and I was just going to ask, do you support those kind of strikes against Islamist militants in Libya? MS. PSAKI: I'm just not going to have anything more to add on this particular topic. Q: But is there any difference in the UAE striking Islamist militants in Libya and the United States, for example, attacking Taliban forces in Afghanistan? MS. PSAKI: Every circumstance is different, Lucas. If there's more to say on this, we will make it available to all of you. Go ahead. Q: How do you sort of who's who in Libya, because apparently, you know, some reports are saying that Qatar is actually bombing certain people and then UAE is bombing the opposite, and so on. Have you sorted out all this? MS. PSAKI: I'm just not in a position to lay out any more details for you. Do we have any -- go ahead, in the back. Q: Still staying on Libya, has anyone in the administration been in touch with General Haftar in connection with the airstrikes that have been taking place? MS. PSAKI: Not that I'm aware of. All right. Thanks, everyone.