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Daily Press Briefings : Daily Press Briefing - July 23, 2014

Thu, 07/24/2014 - 07:09

Marie Harf
Deputy Spokesperson
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
July 23, 2014

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TRANSCRIPT:

1:48 p.m. EDT

QUESTION: Good afternoon.

MS. HARF: Hello and welcome to the daily briefing. I have just a couple things at the top, and then happy to go into questions, of course.

First, I’m sure many of you have seen that today is the Dutch day of mourning. Today, we join King Willem-Alexander, Prime Minister Rutte, and all of the people of the Netherlands in mourning the loss of the 193 Dutch residents who died when Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was downed over eastern Ukraine. No words can adequately express the sorrow the world feels over this loss. On behalf of the American people, we again extend our deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims of this terrible tragedy.

As the President said yesterday, we will work with the Netherlands to make sure that loved ones are recovered, that a proper investigation is conducted, and that those responsible for the downing of flight MH17 are brought to justice.

And second, a quick travel update for people. Excuse me. The Secretary, as you saw, is in Jerusalem and Ramallah having some meetings today. He’s met with President Abbas, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and Prime Minister Netanyahu, who I think is ongoing as well, that meeting. So has traveled there to continue discussions on the ceasefire. As we said, he’s always happy to get on the plane and travel if he wants to and needs to. So, with that.

QUESTION: All right. I’m sure we’ll get to Ukraine in a second, but I want to start with the Mideast.

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: Two things. One, the FAA extension of the flight ban; and second, the vote at the UN Human Rights Commission.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: I’ll start with the Human Rights Commission.

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: Why did you vote against forming a panel of inquiry? The statement that was given before the vote by the – your ambassador there said that whatever steps that the commission would take should be balanced and should not single out Israel. Was it your understanding that what was approved in the end is unfair to – would be unfair to Israel?

MS. HARF: And one-sided. So we do strongly oppose today’s special session at the Human Rights Council and the resulting resolution as the latest in a series of biased, anti-Israel actions at the Human Rights Council. We strongly oppose the creation of this kind of mechanism that you spoke about because it’s one-sided. No one’s looking here at Hamas rockets, no one proposed looking at anything else other than Israel in this case, and again, we oppose it as one-sided.

QUESTION: In her opening statement, the commissioner for human rights talked about the possibility or potential that war crimes had been committed, not just by Israel but also by Hamas. Was that not your understanding of what this commission would – your understanding of --

MS. HARF: Well, we were voting on a resolution that had certain language in it --

QUESTION: Right.

MS. HARF: -- and that was looking at certain things, and that was one-sided in nature.

QUESTION: Can – what was it precisely about the language, do you know, that was --

MS. HARF: That it was one-sided --

QUESTION: Right.

MS. HARF: -- in nature.

QUESTION: I mean, it talked – yeah, but what was that language? What was the offensive language?

MS. HARF: I can pull the specific language for you after the briefing, but --

QUESTION: The title of the resolution seemed to be respecting – or “A resolution on the respect for international law and norms in the Palestinian territories,” and then including East Jerusalem. Is that problematic?

MS. HARF: I haven’t seen the specific title. As I said, the resolution in general, we view as one-sided and biased, and therefore we voted against it.

QUESTION: So you were concerned that this might turn out to be Goldstone 2?

MS. HARF: Again, we were concerned about it for being one-sided and biased, and it’s something we’ve said, quite honestly, we’ve said in the past by actions this body has taken.

QUESTION: All right. Does it surprise you that you were the only country to vote against?

MS. HARF: There were a number of abstentions. That’s my understanding.

QUESTION: Yes, there were 17 – all of Europe. Do you --

MS. HARF: And other countries as well. I think there were some countries in there that weren’t in Europe, that aren’t in Europe.

QUESTION: Right. But --

MS. HARF: Look, we make clear – as we have said repeatedly, we will stand up for Israel in the international community, even if it means standing alone, and I think you saw that today.

QUESTION: Okay. But that doesn’t tell you anything, though, that you’re standing alone?

MS. HARF: I don’t have any more announcements to do on it, Matt.

QUESTION: All right. On the FAA decision --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- there’s still continually this line coming from some in Israel and some here that this is all a political decision, that it’s --

MS. HARF: Totally inaccurate.

QUESTION: -- and it’s designed to push the Israeli Government into accepting a ceasefire that it otherwise would not want.

MS. HARF: It’s a totally inaccurate line, period. We – the FAA makes decisions based solely on the security and safety of American citizens, period. That is the only thing they take into account. I don’t know how much more strongly I can say that. People can choose not to believe us --

QUESTION: Right.

MS. HARF: -- but those are the facts, and people aren’t entitled to their own facts but certainly they can have their own opinions.

QUESTION: Okay. Do you know, has – were there any – aside from the call that Prime Minister Netanyahu made last night, I guess, and then his meetings today --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- I presume that he brought it up again in the meetings with the Secretary?

MS. HARF: I don’t have a readout yet.

QUESTION: I’m not asking you to speak for that, but --

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- you’re not there. But do you – are you aware of any other interactions between the Israelis and the State Department on this issue?

MS. HARF: On this? Not to my knowledge. I’m happy to check. I mean, we have folks on the ground, obviously. I just don’t know.

QUESTION: I understand.

MS. HARF: And look, we do understand that the Israelis want to return to normal air travel in Israel. Obviously, they want to restore a calm and normal life. We want them to be able to do as well. That’s why we’re trying to help broker a ceasefire. That’s the purpose of everything the Secretary is doing.

QUESTION: So would you – I mean, how likely – and I know you can’t speak for the FAA, so let’s talk about just the – your – the State Department’s Travel Warning which preceded this. At least --

MS. HARF: And I’m – let me make a point on the Travel Warning, though, because you asked about this yesterday, because there were some conspiracy theories that you were bringing up as well about why the timing. It takes a while to get travel updates updated and done, and travel warnings updated, but we did issue security messages from our embassy and consulate on the 8th, 9th, and 11th re: rocket attacks. So it’s not like yesterday suddenly we thought there was a security issue, which you mentioned. It’s been a consistent conversation we’ve had with American citizens.

QUESTION: Right. But --

MS. HARF: So I’m pushing back on the timing issue a little bit.

QUESTION: Okay. I mean, it wasn’t me making the argument, I was --

MS. HARF: Well, it was you asking the question.

QUESTION: Well, I was asking you about the criticism that was --

MS. HARF: So I’m pushing back on that criticism.

QUESTION: Got you. Okay.

MS. HARF: Yep.

QUESTION: Is it likely that either of these things, the Travel Warning or the FAA warning, are going to be lifted before a ceasefire is ordered?

MS. HARF: I have honestly no predictions to make. We constantly make decisions based on the situation on the ground. The Travel Warning obviously is under our purview. We’ll continue to look at the situation. The FAA can speak to their processes as well.

QUESTION: Right. But the --

MS. HARF: I have no way to make a judgment about likelihood on either.

QUESTION: Okay. All right. So I’ll leave that and then just go back to my UNRWA questions from the other day.

QUESTION: Well, the Secretary was – Matt --

QUESTION: Yeah.

QUESTION: Can we just – can I just go back to --

QUESTION: Sure.

MS. HARF: Sure.

QUESTION: Because yesterday it was asked about Hamas’s capabilities of --

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: Do you have anything further? And you said you would.

MS. HARF: I did. I got a little bit for you. Give me one second. So Hamas does have rockets that can reach Ben Gurion Airport. During current fighting, Hamas rockets have landed north of the airport, although the accuracy of their rockets does remain limited. Israel’s Iron Dome system, which, as you know, we worked very closely with them to develop and fund, has monitored and, with quite a high degree of success, destroyed many of the incoming rockets which could reach this area as well as other areas. Hamas’s anti-aircraft missile capabilities are still being determined. We don’t have confirmation that Hamas has launched heat-seeking anti-aircraft missile during the current conflict or that Hamas has access to the type of anti-aircraft missiles like those we saw – judge bring down Malaysian aircraft in Ukraine.

So I tried to get a little more about the capabilities for you.

QUESTION: Yeah, thank you very much for that. I mean, it’s helpful to get perspective. Was that kind of thing taken into consideration, do you know?

MS. HARF: I’m guessing all of that was taken into consideration. The FAA worked very closely with the intelligence community, with people that do analysis on these kind of things before they make these determinations. So I’m assuming it was in this case.

QUESTION: So did you – when you said Hamas has not used heat-seeking --

MS. HARF: There’s no confirmation --

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: -- that Hamas has launched heat-seeking anti-aircraft missiles during the current conflict.

QUESTION: Is – do you – is it your assessment that they actually have these kinds of weapons.

MS. HARF: Not to my knowledge. I’m happy to check. I don’t know the answer to that, Matt.

QUESTION: Marie, on the FAA ruling, I mean considering that when this conflict began, Israel had, like, seven Iron Domes. Now they have 10. And the rocket firing has really been reduced dramatically. Why is this such a – why such a --

MS. HARF: Because a rocket landed very close to the airport, and I think if you were a passenger on an airliner taking off or landing at that airport, you’d be pretty nervous about that.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: Iron Dome has been very successful, but security of America citizens is top priority, and that’s why the FAA made this decision.

QUESTION: Can I go back to the Human Rights Commission?

MS. HARF: Just one second. Let me say one more thing about the FAA.

QUESTION: Okay. Sure. Oh, sorry.

MS. HARF: I know you probably saw Jen’s email but – last night – that the FAA notice to airlines does not apply to military aircraft, which is why he could land.

QUESTION: Right. So, but on that --

MS. HARF: I just wanted to clarify that, that was a Taken Question --

QUESTION: But on that, you said that if you were a passenger you would be pretty nervous. Was the Secretary nervous flying into --

MS. HARF: Secretary --

QUESTION: He’s never nervous?

MS. HARF: Well, as you saw, we didn’t announce the trip until it was down.

QUESTION: No, no. I understand that.

MS. HARF: Yep.

QUESTION: But you said that if you were a passenger on a plane flying in --

MS. HARF: The Secretary’s not nervous, Matt.

QUESTION: He is not nervous.

MS. HARF: The Secretary’s very happy to be there meeting with people right now.

QUESTION: And can you speak for your other colleagues?

MS. HARF: I’m not --

QUESTION: Was anyone on the plane --

MS. HARF: This is a ridiculous line of questioning.

QUESTION: No, it’s not --

MS. HARF: Yes. Said. Wait. We’re going back to Said.

QUESTION: -- because if it’s a danger, it’s a danger. And if it’s not, if the Secretary thinks it’s not a danger that’s something else.

MS. HARF: We’re going back to Said.

QUESTION: I just wanted to follow-up on the Human Rights Commission.

MS. HARF: He was very – he and our whole team were very comfortable landing at Ben Gurion.

QUESTION: Okay. Which would seem to, I don’t know, belie the FAA’s concerns, no?

MS. HARF: Take that up with the FAA.

Yes.

QUESTION: I will.

QUESTION: Yeah. On the Human Rights Commission, are you opposed in principle to have any kind of commission to look into possible war crimes by either side, to go one --

MS. HARF: We’re opposed to one-sided and biased inquiries of any kind.

QUESTION: And that – if – you believe that this one --

MS. HARF: We believe this one today was.

QUESTION: -- this one is one-sided?

MS. HARF: Would have been and that’s why we voted against it.

QUESTION: What would – okay. What in the language of this resolution that makes you say that it is one-sided?

MS. HARF: Well, I am happy to see if there’s specific language that we can point to. Again, it was what they were – that would be evaluated in the resolution and in this commission of inquiry, what they would be looking at was purely on one side, which by definition, I think, makes it one-sided.

QUESTION: So it’s not really a knee-jerk kind of reaction, as we have seen in the past? Every time there is an effort to look into Israel’s --

MS. HARF: Well, unfortunately the Human Rights Council has often put forward one-sided documents. The international community has often put forward one-sided documents – excuse me – and we have opposed those as well.

QUESTION: Okay. Now I asked you yesterday on the hospitals – the bombing of hospitals, and so on.

MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: Both ABC News and NBC News, they followed – they accompanied medics and ambulances and so on and went to the hospitals and house and so on, and they saw no evidence of firing rockets from there. So what makes you think that these hospitals have been used to launch rockets or to hide rockets or to hide fighters and so on?

MS. HARF: Well, we have evidence --

QUESTION: Do you have solid evidence?

MS. HARF: Generally speaking – not speaking about any specific hospital, Said, or any specific target of Israeli activity, we have evidence throughout many years of Hamas using hospitals and schools, ambulances, other civilian places to hide rockets, to hide fighters. We’ve seen that throughout this conflict. Again, I’m not making a commentary on any one specific hospital or location, but we have seen that. We have seen Hamas do that in the past and have done that in this conflict.

QUESTION: Now I just want to go --

MS. HARF: And that’s not acceptable. I think if you are a Palestinian living in Gaza who just wants to go use a hospital or a school, you would not want Hamas using them to store rockets in.

QUESTION: Okay. Now let me ask you about the ceasefire points.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: It seems that the Egyptians, at least for now, are not flexible or are unwilling to sort of introduce any new element.

MS. HARF: I have no idea how you could even make that assessment. Everybody who is in these negotiations is not talking about them publicly. We’re talking about them privately.

QUESTION: The Egyptians are talking about their proposal publicly.

MS. HARF: Well, you’re making one assessment, and I think that we are --

QUESTION: I am not making it. They are. They’re saying --

MS. HARF: You called them inflexible.

QUESTION: No, I said inflexible. They said that they --

MS. HARF: Right.

QUESTION: -- what they submitted or what they proposed last week stands, that they’re --

MS. HARF: Well, we’re in discussions about what a ceasefire might look like. That’s why the Secretary is shuttling back and forth between Cairo and Jerusalem and Ramallah so he can see if we can get a ceasefire here. What the eventual contours of that looks like are being discussed right now.

QUESTION: And my last question on this: Today the Palestinian Authority submitted to Secretary Kerry their own version of what a ceasefire agreement should look like. Do you have any reaction to that --

MS. HARF: I can’t confirm that. I can’t confirm that report, Said.

QUESTION: You cannot confirm that report.

MS. HARF: I cannot confirm that report. I’m not going to comment on any of the rumors out there about what these negotiations look like, a line that should be familiar to everyone in this room.

QUESTION: Although you won’t comment on the specifics --

MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: -- there was something that Tony Blinken said earlier today about demilitarization of Gaza. Are you more concerned with getting an immediate – just an end to the fighting right now, or is – and is demilitarization something that would be later on? In other words, that’s not necessarily a part of the negotiations going on now?

MS. HARF: So obviously, our top priority is getting a ceasefire and achieving a ceasefire. What the contours of that ceasefire will look like, I’m obviously not going to outline. But longer term, the issue of rocket fire does need to be addressed. We’re very serious about that. Again, how that looks like, what that looks like, I’m not going to get into the details of that either.

QUESTION: Okay, so it’s – but it’s fair to say that some kind of demilitarization or some kind of dealing with the rocket fire in the future is not necessarily on the table right now. What you’re more --

MS. HARF: I’m not telling you what or what is not on the table right now. What I’m saying is we need a ceasefire. What that ceasefire looks like, I’m not going to detail. But longer term, we do need to deal with the rocket fire.

QUESTION: On my UNRWA question from yesterday, do you know if the – so there was this – they confirmed a second – finding a second batch – cache of rockets in a school. Do you know how those were handled? And more broadly, had your discussions with the UN, with UNRWA, with the PA and Israel come to a better option for dealing with things like this?

MS. HARF: We’re still having those discussions. I’d refer you to UNRWA to discuss the second batch. I don’t have all of the details on that. I think there’s been some confusing information out there. They could probably speak better to what happened to that other batch of rockets. But the conversations continue, and I think hopefully we’ll get to a better path forward.

QUESTION: Okay, so you’re not exactly sure what they did --

MS. HARF: I think it’s probably best for UNRWA to speak to this. They have the most up-to-date information.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: Yes, Nicole.

QUESTION: Is there any discussion about structuring this ceasefire through a UN Security Council resolution or working through the Security Council instead of trying to put together something on a bilateral or multilateral basis?

MS. HARF: I haven’t heard of that. Obviously I’m not going to talk about specifics that are being discussed in the room, but what we’re focused on is working with Egypt and other regional partners – of course, with Israel and the Palestinians – to see if we can get something here.

QUESTION: One more on the flight cancellations.

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: It’s not just Matt that’s been critical and conspiratorial. Senator Cruz – (laughter) –

QUESTION: I haven’t been critical or conspiratorial.

MS. HARF: You’re being put in a category with Senator Cruz, so let’s see where this one goes. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Senator --

MS. HARF: I can’t wait for this.

QUESTION: Yeah. Thanks a lot, Lucas. That’s not --

MS. HARF: You’re welcome, Matt. Thank Lucas later.

QUESTION: Senator Cruz just released a statement saying that the FAA’s flight suspension to Israel is economic blackmail and that the Obama Administration is --

MS. HARF: It’s ridiculous.

QUESTION: -- doing this to punish Israel.

MS. HARF: It’s ridiculous and offensive, quite frankly. The FAA takes its responsibilities very seriously. I will speak for them in that case. They make these decisions based solely on the security and safety of American citizens, period. For anyone to suggest otherwise, it’s just ridiculous, Lucas.

QUESTION: His argument is that tourism is an $11 billion industry for Israel and that while these flights are cancelled and Israel is losing money, the aid to Hamas continues.

MS. HARF: Well, we certainly care about Israel’s tourism industry as well, but we care more about the rockets being stopped from coming into Israel to kill innocent civilians in Israel. We care more about getting a ceasefire, and we care more about protecting American citizens. So clearly, I think Senator Cruz is completely wrong on this. We make decisions about security based solely on what’s in the best interest of American citizens. And look, one of the reasons – the main reason, if not, that Secretary Kerry is investing so much energy into getting a ceasefire is so Israel can return to normalcy, so they can return flights, so we can move past the Travel Warning, so Israelis and visitors and anyone don’t have to run to bomb shelters because Hamas is firing rockets at them. So I’d urge him to take another look at his comments on this.

QUESTION: But you can still fly to Beirut, can’t you, and other hotspots around the country?

MS. HARF: The FAA has a full list of places that we don’t fly. Someone asked about North Korea the other day. You cannot fly, I think, places in North Korea as well. So I would take a look at that. But there are times – in parts of Ukraine, Crimea we have warnings out as well. And these are all designed to protect American citizens here. And again, this is a temporary notice. The 24-hour notice has been renewed for another 24 hours. Our goal is to get this ceasefire in place as soon as possible so we don’t have to take these steps.

QUESTION: Marie, if I may follow – just to follow up on Nicole’s question. The sort of – what format this ceasefire should take? Back in 2009, there was a resolution – a UN Security Council Resolution 1860, and then in 2012 or just an agreement. Is it your feeling or this Department’s feeling that if you frame it in a United Nations Security Council resolution, would be more robust and would have to be – have better chance of being sustainable?

MS. HARF: Well, we’ve talked about 2012 as sort of --

QUESTION: Right, right.

MS. HARF: -- one of the standards that we’re looking at here. I don’t have anything beyond that on what the discussions look like.

QUESTION: Same topic, real quick.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: The Secretary said he was going to Cairo, back to Cairo. Any confirmation or details of when?

MS. HARF: I’m sure he will. I don’t know when. I’m not sure we know when.

QUESTION: He said immediately after the – or not immediately, but after the (inaudible).

MS. HARF: I don’t have details on timing, but he will eventually return to Cairo and could possibly return to Jerusalem and Ramallah.

QUESTION: There have been some riots in Paris over the issue of Gaza. I’m wondering if you see that as indicative of any larger international feelings towards either side.

MS. HARF: Well, let me say first that we obviously have seen some of the horrific anti-Semitic and anti-Israel comments that have come up during some of these protests; not all of them, but some, which we would of course strongly condemn as we always do. But I’ve been asked about these for three days and I don’t think my line’s changed that people have a right to freely express themselves. That’s something that is important to us, but we do want people to remember that Israel has a right to defend itself and that its citizens are living under constant threat of rockets from Hamas that are the responsibility of Hamas to end. And I would just caution people to keep that in mind.

QUESTION: Last thing for me, and it sets a perfect segue of – because we’ve heard --

MS. HARF: Great.

QUESTION: -- that phraseology any number of times from the White House, from this podium as well.

MS. HARF: We are remarkably consistent.

QUESTION: Yes, I know. How do we square that no country would tolerate rocket fire with things like Pakistan and Yemen and rocket fire that has killed civilians from the U.S.?

MS. HARF: Well, they’re wholly different, and I’ll tell you why.

QUESTION: Please.

MS. HARF: Hamas is a terrorist organization firing rockets indiscriminately with the purpose to kill civilians. Our counterterrorism operations, wherever they are, are taken with a great degree of care to protect civilian life. The President has spoken about this several times in speeches, and they are in fact designed to go after terrorists who are trying to kill more civilians. So any equivalency is just – I guess the word of the day – ridiculous and offensive.

QUESTION: And so when mistakes are made, it’s a mistake, it’s – you take every care –

MS. HARF: Right. The President has been very clear that we take extraordinary care to prevent civilian causalities, which is the exact opposite of what Hamas does, who tries to kill as many civilians as they can. We take extraordinary care when conducting counterterrorism operations.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: Can we go to Ukraine?

MS. HARF: Anything else on this?

QUESTION: On (inaudible).

MS. HARF: No. If your hand --

QUESTION: No.

MS. HARF: No? Then don’t keep your hand up if it’s not about Gaza. (Laughter.) You’re trying to play a trick here. Let’s go to Ukraine.

QUESTION: I was wondering if the Department has any comment on reports or Ukrainian Government claims that two more planes have been shot down from Russia.

MS. HARF: Yes, we have seen those reports. We are still looking into them. We have, of course, seen a history of the separatists shooting down planes in the past, I think about a dozen before MH17. And look, if true – and we hopefully will be able to confirm whether it’s true soon – it would only be further evidence that Russian-backed separatists are using advanced surface-to-air weaponry less than a week after shooting down a civilian airliner and killing 298 people. Again, it’s hard to imagine any of this happening without Russian support.

QUESTION: Dovetailing off that, I mean, you said to me yesterday that the fighting is by and large outside of the 25-mile radius of the crash site.

MS. HARF: Forty kilometer --

QUESTION: Yeah. Or whatever.

MS. HARF: -- or whatever. But numbers matter.

QUESTION: At this point, I think it was three miles outside of the crash site. I mean --

MS. HARF: No. I think you have wrong information there. There hasn’t been – they have maintained – the Ukrainians have maintained a ceasefire. The 40-kilometer ceasefire they have declared around the crash site, the Ukrainians have maintained it.

QUESTION: Okay. Are you concerned that a break in ceasefire could impede the investigation?

MS. HARF: Well, obviously, we would be concerned about the separatists not upholding a ceasefire. The Ukrainians have repeatedly shown their willingness and ability to do so.

QUESTION: India?

QUESTION: No.

QUESTION: Wait. Can I continue on Ukraine?

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: You’re kidding, right?

QUESTION: Well, yesterday – this is sort of related Ukraine, I guess, and Russia. Yesterday the intel community said they were going to lay out evidence sort of backing their assertions about who brought down Malaysia Airlines 17. They did lay out a bunch of different things, but they didn’t actually lay out the real documentation that supports those assertions. Why haven’t we seen --

MS. HARF: I’m not sure exactly what you’re looking for. Well, they did a couple things yesterday. They showed – they walked through an intelligence assessment case and they talked about some additional pieces of declassified information that I can walk through today that bolsters our case that we know what happened here. They also showed imagery of training facilities; they showed imageries of the site, including a trajectory based on classified information that they were able to provide that showed the trajectory of the SA-11. So those are important, and let’s get – let me finish --

QUESTION: Yeah, go ahead.

MS. HARF: -- and then you can keep following up.

So a couple things they said yesterday, which I think are significant which we had not set before, that the audio data provided to the press – and we talked a lot about these open source reports, right, these audio messages that people have said are certain people or that prove things – they were provided to the press by the Ukrainians. It was evaluated by the intelligence community analysts, who confirmed these were authentic conversations between known separatist leaders.

And then another key point they talked about yesterday, and we can talk more about the rest of this, is the – this notion the Russians have put out there about a Ukrainian fighter jet. They’ve argued that an Su-25 fighter might have shot down the aircraft with an air-to-air missile. They have judged that engagement would be implausible for the following reasons: The Su-25 is a ground attack aircraft. The only missiles it carries are short-range – excuse me – are short-range, infrared-guided missiles. Ground photography from the crash site is consistent with the expected damage from a surface-to-air missile, but it is – does not correspond, in fact is inconsistent with what we would expect to see for an air-to-air missile, as Russia claims.

Third, Russia – this is a little separately here – has also released a map with the alleged locations of Ukrainian SA-11 units within range of the crash. This is another red herring they’ve put out there. We are confident that this information is incorrect. The nearest Ukrainian operational SA-11 unit is located well out of the range from both the launch and the crash site. So part of their case yesterday was not only giving more information about what we know, but giving our professional, technical assessment of some of the Russian claims that, I think, we have tried to increasingly knock down.

QUESTION: When you said – when they – when you said they showed evidence of this, what do you mean by that, “they showed”? They – I mean, did they have a presentation? I --

MS. HARF: Well, they – they did. They did. They showed some imagery, they showed a number of images; they showed some maps, they showed some graphics. I’m happy for you to get in touch with DNI Public Affairs, who can probably give you that packet that they showed. They showed some – one of the maps that we actually have posted on our Facebook page and our Kyiv Embassy that shows the trajectory of the SA-11 missile. That trajectory is based on classified information. I can’t detail all of what that information is, but that is based on the information we have.

QUESTION: And some of the evidence U.S. is relying on are social media postings and videos made public by the Ukrainian Government. Have those all been authenticated?

MS. HARF: Again, that’s why I said the audio data, which is part of the social media, has been authenticated by the intelligence community analysts. Social media is obviously only one part of the puzzle here. It’s something we look at, but obviously, we back everything up to the extent that we can when we can with other intelligence as well.

QUESTION: Marie.

MS. HARF: Matt.

QUESTION: On your three things that you say were new: one, on the audio data being analyzed and being authenticated. That was not new yesterday. That was actually in the statement that the Embassy in Kyiv put out on Sunday morning --

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: -- before Secretary Kerry appeared on those --

MS. HARF: That the intelligence community had authenticated all of it? I – it’s my understanding that that was not all out there on Sunday, but I’m happy to check.

QUESTION: Well, I believe it was. But I mean, there’s no – it doesn’t --

MS. HARF: Okay. Well, I disagree with you, but I’m happy to check.

What’s the next thing?

QUESTION: Well, you can look at the statement. I mean, it says that they’ve been authenticated. So I would say that that wasn’t new.

MS. HARF: Okay. Happy to check.

QUESTION: Secondly, I’m not sure that – I know that there were some suggestions that the Ukrainian fighter plane shot down this – with a missile, but the --

MS. HARF: So the Russians have basically had a couple of alternative explanations.

QUESTION: Right.

MS. HARF: There was the Ukrainian fighter jet. I think we – the intelligence community went to great lengths yesterday to show why that’s not the case.

The other – one of the other things they said was that it was a Ukrainian SA-11 system that the Ukrainians had fired. Again, I think they made very clear why that’s not also the case.

QUESTION: But the theory that – or the – I don’t know what you would – the suggestion isn’t necessarily that the Ukrainian jet – I mean, you have – you’ve discovered that the Ukrainian jet was in the vicinity, but it was not capable of shooting (inaudible) down --

MS. HARF: No, I can’t confirm that there was even a Ukrainian – we have no confirmation that I have seen that there was a Ukrainian jet.

QUESTION: Oh, that there was even --

MS. HARF: I’m not saying there wasn’t. I just can’t confirm it.

QUESTION: Right.

MS. HARF: But regardless, the notion that this kind of Ukrainian jet the Russians are talking about could have done this with the kind of missile and the kind of debris we’ve seen – it just doesn’t match up.

QUESTION: Because I think the suggestion is that whoever fired this missile may have been shooting for that plane, like what we saw today in terms of a shoot-down.

MS. HARF: Which in no way makes it better.

QUESTION: Well, I’m not saying it does. I’m not saying it does at all, but it’s not --

MS. HARF: And I don’t know what the intentions are of whoever was on the ground pushing the button. I don’t.

QUESTION: And the last thing about this --

MS. HARF: Clearly – well clearly, I know the intentions were to launch a sophisticated missile and to kill people. Whether those – they were trying to kill Ukrainian military officers or civilians, we’re still waiting to find out.

QUESTION: I – yeah, okay. I’m not arguing that one is better than the other.

MS. HARF: Okay. I know.

QUESTION: I’m not saying that.

MS. HARF: Just responding to your question.

QUESTION: I’m just saying – and then on the – this trajectory thing that you said was put out by the Embassy --

MS. HARF: I didn’t say that was new yesterday. We posted that a few days ago.

QUESTION: Right. But I mean, if you just look at that – a lay person looking at it, it’s a line drawn on a satellite photo with no – nothing to back it up.

MS. HARF: Well, as I said, it’s based on a series of classified information --

QUESTION: Which we have to --

MS. HARF: -- which we are --

QUESTION: -- we have to take the leap of faith to believe that – right?

MS. HARF: Well, Matt, we are trying to put as much out of this out --

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS. HARF: -- information out about this as possible. We are trying very hard to do so. It is a process that takes, I think, more time than any of us, certainly you or I, would like.

QUESTION: Right.

MS. HARF: But I think I would make the point that it’s much more time-consuming to declassify real evidence than to make it up, which is what the Russians have been doing for days now.

QUESTION: Okay. Well, be that as it may, are you saying that at some point, the IC is hopeful to --

MS. HARF: We are working to --

QUESTION: -- that they will be able to put --

MS. HARF: We’re working to get more information declassified and put out there as quickly as we can. It’s just a difficult process (inaudible).

QUESTION: Okay. But do you understand that given the conflicting claims, no matter how ridiculous you say the other side’s version is and no matter how implausible it might be – but saying that you’ve put together the imagery showing the root of this --

MS. HARF: Trajectory.

QUESTION: -- trajectory showing imagery.

MS. HARF: Just one piece. It’s one piece of evidence.

QUESTION: Well, I know, but anyone can draw a line on a map. They can. I mean, I’m not saying that --

MS. HARF: That’s not what our intelligence community does. That’s not what the U.S. Government does when we go out there and present a case to the world. We have --

QUESTION: So --

QUESTION: Can I just --

MS. HARF: Wait. We have to protect sensitive sources and methods. We have to, because if we don’t, we won’t be able to get this kind of information in the future if they’re compromised because of a declassification. Believe me, I want to be able to declassify more.

QUESTION: Right, okay.

MS. HARF: They want to be able to declassify more. And it’s not about a leap of faith. We are laying out a very comprehensive argument based on a number of different pieces, right. So if you look at all of them in totality --

QUESTION: Right.

MS. HARF: -- look at the entire picture, it presents a very compelling case about the kind of missile, where it was fired from. Those are the two key pieces, right. The kind of missile that took down this plane we are very confident is an SA-11, we are very confident it was fired from Russian-controlled territory. We are very confident that the two alternate stories the Russians put forward aren’t plausible.

Who put their finger on the trigger? We still need to find that out.

QUESTION: Right.

MS. HARF: But suffice to say, the Russian separatists we believe fired this, in general, could not be doing what they’re doing without the Russians. And responsibility lays at the feet of President Putin, not just for this but for every incident that we have seen throughout this conflict, period.

QUESTION: All right. So Putin is – it’s Putin whose fault this is; that’s what you’re saying?

MS. HARF: I think I was just pretty clear.

QUESTION: What you’re saying – okay. So you said that – you say it’s a very compelling case, but you – it is a circumstantial case, is it not?

MS. HARF: It is a case based on a number of different pieces of evidence, Matt – across the board, a number of different pieces. Whether you’re looking at what we talked about yesterday, whether you’re looking at what we’ve seen on social media, whether you’re looking at the kind of SA-11 which is a missile that essentially gets fired straight up does what it does, and that’s exactly what we saw in this case as well.

So we’ve laid out a very detailed case. We will continue to declassify as much as we can. But again, we’ve been very open about our assessments here. The Russians have repeatedly lied about what’s happening on the ground. They said there weren’t troops in Crimea when there were troops all over Crimea. So there’s just no credibility on their side. And I understand the need to put out more information, but look, the notion that they’ve shot down dozens – over a dozen planes now – and this is just the one that wasn’t them – also just doesn’t pass the common sense test.

QUESTION: Marie --

QUESTION: Okay. Hold on a second. So – but – and I understand the – your desire to protect sources and methods, but we have here an incredible tragedy where almost 300 people died.

MS. HARF: I agree.

QUESTION: Is that – protecting sources and methods are more important than getting --

MS. HARF: No.

QUESTION: -- to the bottom of who --

MS. HARF: Well, those two things aren’t mutually exclusive here. A, if we think an investigation can go forward, then we’ll get to the bottom of what happened here. We believe we do have a good assessment about the things I’ve talked about. The investigation about who did it specifically to a person is ongoing. But look, part of the reason we protect sources and methods is because we want to be able to see these things in the future if they tragically – something like this were to happen again in the same area, the way we found out information this time. So --

QUESTION: So you’re saying that – but just to be clear, that the imagery, the trajectory imagery that you have that --

MS. HARF: In that one sheet, mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Right, right, right, exactly.

MS. HARF: I think it’s the green line.

QUESTION: That is – yes, that there are sources and methods for how you know that trajectory --

MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: -- that people are concerned are going to be somehow --

MS. HARF: Correct.

QUESTION: -- tainted if --

MS. HARF: Correct. Not just tainted, but compromised.

QUESTION: That are going to be compromised if you --

MS. HARF: Yes, correct.

QUESTION: I mean --

MS. HARF: Well --

QUESTION: Okay. I guess --

MS. HARF: Having spent six years in the intelligence community --

QUESTION: I know. That’s what I – I know that’s what --

MS. HARF: -- I know there are a variety of ways we can figure these things out, many of which are quite sensitive and many of which I think we don’t want to lose.

QUESTION: All right.

MS. HARF: So look, believe me, I’m pushing my colleagues at the DNI --

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: -- as much as I love these --

QUESTION: Do you – but I --

MS. HARF: -- conversations with you about this. We are pushing and they’re pushing, and we’ll see if we can get more.

QUESTION: Okay. But do you – I mean, would you expect --

MS. HARF: I have no prediction.

QUESTION: -- or you don’t know? You don’t expect more or you --

MS. HARF: I have no idea.

QUESTION: All right.

MS. HARF: Look, I think there will be. I think we’re just working through it.

QUESTION: Okay. One other thing that’s unrelated to the intel.

MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: Are you aware of the reports that several journalists have been detained or kidnapped – one a Ukrainian, the other one a Brit? Do you know anything about this?

MS. HARF: I saw some reports about some journalists. I think we’re still trying to track down the facts there. I’ll see if there’s more after I get off the podium.

QUESTION: Okay. Ambassador Pyatt had tweeted something about --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- one of the --

MS. HARF: Yeah. Obviously, we are concerned about these reports. Let me see if there’s more details.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: I just wanted to ask you – you said the blame lays at Mr. Putin’s feet just now.

MS. HARF: Yes, yes.

QUESTION: Does that mean that they are involved in issuing the orders issued down there?

MS. HARF: I didn’t say that. I said that these Russian separatists who we strongly believe fired this missile would not be there operating without the support of President Putin and the Russian Government, would not have been trained without the support of President Putin and the Russian Government, would not be armed without the support of President Putin and the Russian Government. They would not be there doing what they’re doing, period, so they could fire an SA-11 without the support of President Putin and the Russian Government. Yes, direct responsibility lays there.

QUESTION: And also – okay. I wanted to ask you also on integrity of the crash site.

MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: Who’s in control now? I mean --

MS. HARF: Let me see if I – the Dutch are leading – give me one second – the investigation.

Just a couple quick updates. The black boxes are now in the United Kingdom. The reason for doing so is that the British have a specific kind of aircraft forensics laboratory needed, and the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch is a highly respected and capable investigation authority.

Let me answer a few more taken questions from yesterday, and then I’ll get to your question, Said.

QUESTION: Sure.

MS. HARF: Not all of the remains were, tragically, handed over yesterday. Potentially, the remains of some 100 people are still missing. We don’t have exact numbers. Obviously, it is critical that international investigators, led by the Dutch, receive immediate and full access to the crash site.

In terms of access to the site, we – they have on the ground in Ukraine begun the difficult work of piecing together exactly what happened here. Today, we understand that they do have better access than they’ve had in the past days. We are, though, troubled by reports of looting, evidence tampering, and the failure to transport, as I just said, all of the remains of all of the victims to Kharkiv and into Dutch custody. So that is the latest I have in terms of the situation and the investigation.

QUESTION: India?

QUESTION: On Ukraine itself?

MS. HARF: On Ukraine?

QUESTION: Hold on.

MS. HARF: Yeah, on Ukraine.

QUESTION: Based on the intelligence information that you released yesterday and what you have been saying today, it looks like it was a case of mistaken identity by the Ukraine separatists that hit the Malaysian plane.

MS. HARF: That’s not what they said at all.

QUESTION: That’s what you are concluding, right?

MS. HARF: No. That’s not what I said either. I said we don’t know yet the intentions of the people who fired the SA-11 from the pro-Russian separatist-controlled territory. We just don’t know what their intentions are.

QUESTION: So my question is --

MS. HARF: It may – they may have been targeting a civilian airliner; they may have been targeting a Ukrainian fighter jet, which they’ve done over a dozen times now. Either way, they’re clearly trying to kill people with an SA-11.

QUESTION: So when the Malaysian Airlines was passing through that part, there were some other passenger planes which was crossing that area, including one of Air India, which was under 25 miles away from the Malaysian planes. And then plane carrying Indian prime minister was passed around one hour before that.

MS. HARF: I haven’t heard that.

QUESTION: Do you know from intelligence information that any of these planes were – could have been a target or could have been hit by these missiles here?

MS. HARF: I haven’t heard – I haven’t heard that.

QUESTION: Can you check?

MS. HARF: I can check. I haven’t heard it, though.

QUESTION: One more?

MS. HARF: Ukraine?

QUESTION: Staying on India?

QUESTION: One more?

MS. HARF: No, let’s stay on Ukraine.

QUESTION: Ukraine, one more.

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: Thank you.

Madam, what message do you have for the grieving families from this terrible incident? What they are asking the United Nations and the United States and the global community: Are we safe to fly in the future, and what steps are you going to take in the future that such incident doesn’t happen? Because many families believe not only these terrorists here in this area, but many other terrorists may have access also to the similar weapons, including in Pakistan or Afghanistan, and anybody could be the next target.

MS. HARF: Well look, I think you heard the President speak about this. I spoke about it at the beginning of the briefing, that one of the reasons, if not the most important reason, that we are so committed to finding out what happened here is so we can hold the people who did it accountable, that people cannot get away with shooting civilian airliners out of the sky. That’s just wholly unacceptable, and that countries that support these kind of separatists, like we’ve seen Russia do, also need to be held accountable. And that’s why you’ve seen additional sanctions; that’s why we’ve said there could be further steps, because that’s just not something that we will allow, that we will stand by and watch, and we do need to get to the bottom of what happened here.

QUESTION: Do you believe, Madam, that other terrorists like al-Qaida in Pakistan or Abu Baghdadi in Iraq, who have challenged already India, U.S., and other countries – that they may have similar weapons?

MS. HARF: I can check and see who else we think has these weapons. I just don’t know that off the top of my head.

QUESTION: Thank you, Madam

MS. HARF: Thank you.

QUESTION: Marie, Senator --

MS. HARF: Yes – no, let’s stay on Ukraine.

QUESTION: One more on Ukraine.

Senator Carl Levin called this an act of war. What is your response?

MS. HARF: Well, look, we’ve been very clear about what’s happening in eastern Ukraine. You have separatists backed by a foreign country who have invaded and been killing people with impunity, who’ve been shooting down Ukrainian military jets, who’ve been – who’ve now taken down a civilian airliner, who’ve been terrorizing populations in eastern Ukraine.

I would also note, just for balance here, that there have been some areas liberated by Ukrainian forces, where people are able to go about their lives without the fear of separatist violence. The Ukrainian Government is providing food and water and hope, I would say, to the residents in those liberated areas. And one of the main places they have restored electricity, water, and train service is to Slovyansk, which we’ve talked about. It was on July 9th, so it was a little while ago. But we have seen steady progress in terms of them regaining territory.

QUESTION: But is this alleged act by the separatists, or by Russia, an act of war?

MS. HARF: I don’t think I have any more terminology to put around it, Lucas. I’m happy to check and see.

QUESTION: An act of terror?

MS. HARF: I’m happy to check and see if there’s more terminology I’d like to put around it.

QUESTION: Your – when you say that the blame for this lies directly at President Putin’s feet, does that also mean that you think that his call – some – seemingly more conciliatory call yesterday for – to support a full and open investigation, do you think that’s duplicitous? Is that --

MS. HARF: Well, I just think that the words need to be backed up by actions, which, unfortunately, we haven’t seen very much of from the Russians lately.

QUESTION: Got you. I had one question semi-related to this.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: That is yesterday you talked about the French going ahead with their transfer of this Mistral ship to the Russians. It turns out today that the Brits have also been continuing to --

MS. HARF: I don’t think that’s actually --

QUESTION: Is that not correct?

MS. HARF: -- accurate. No. And I’m not sure it’s in my book here. I have – they put out a statement very strongly denying this.

QUESTION: Denying it, okay.

MS. HARF: I will send it to you as soon as I get off the podium. I’m not sure I stuck it in my book here, but --

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: -- they have gone on the record.

QUESTION: And denied the earlier reports. Okay.

MS. HARF: Yes, so --

QUESTION: So in other words --

MS. HARF: -- I’m sorry I don’t have it.

QUESTION: No, no, it’s okay.

MS. HARF: Apologies to my British colleagues who may be watching.

QUESTION: You don’t need to – I’m not asking you to respond on behalf the British Government. But I’m just saying --

MS. HARF: No, no, no, but they – no, but I did have that and I wanted to – we’ll get it to you.

QUESTION: But you accept their denial and you don’t have any questions about their --

MS. HARF: We don’t have any questions about the British.

QUESTION: What about French?

MS. HARF: Period, sort of full stop. Well, we have big questions --

QUESTION: Ever?

MS. HARF: -- about whether they would go through with something like that, yes.

QUESTION: So what is the latest? How long ago, how many days has it been that you raised it?

MS. HARF: Well, we raise it consistently with the French. The Secretary has spoken again today to French Foreign Minister Fabius. I don’t have a full readout of that call, but needless to say, I think it’s been raised recently.

QUESTION: And is it that the U.S. wants to just cancel that transaction, or just not to ship it until they start behaving properly?

MS. HARF: I don’t think we think it’s appropriate to provide that kind of material to the Russians at this time. I’m not sure what form that would look like, but we just don’t think they should do it. However they don’t do it, they shouldn’t do it.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MS. HARF: Ukraine. Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: In your statement last night, Marie, at 9:58, you congratulated the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council, and you said, quote, “Today the Council agreed to accelerate preparation of additional sanctions.”

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: But no new additional sanctions were taken. Was that really a disappointment to the West, to the United States?

MS. HARF: Well, they talked about a number of additional things they could do. No, I mean, I put out a statement saying quite positive things and I don’t have much more to add beyond that.

QUESTION: But wouldn’t you like to see additional sanctions taken against Russia as punishment for their support of the separatists?

MS. HARF: We’ve certainly said we will continue to take increased steps. We have taken additional sanctions and we’ll work with our partners so other people will also do so.

Anything else on Ukraine?

QUESTION: India.

MS. HARF: Or I’m going to India. Okay. You’re up.

QUESTION: Thank you. It’s a question on human rights, religious rights and dignity of labor. Shiv Sena, a political party which is a Hindu party as you can see from the name, did force feed a worker during his fasting during Ramadan. And what is – because we always raise voices against human rights and religious right.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: And do you have a reaction to that?

MS. HARF: Well, we are aware of the alleged reports and video, I think, of these MPs forcing a fasting Muslim to eat during Ramadan. We, of course, would expect any allegation of this kind of assault would be dealt with under Indian law. Broadly speaking, of course, religious freedom and human rights are pillars of our foreign policy, and call upon government officials at all levels to promote religious freedom and ensure accountability for all incidents that disrespect, violate or harm individual rights such as this one.

QUESTION: And if we remember that the present prime minister, Modi, was denied a visa for nine years because of his role in the riots with the Hindu-Muslim riots in the state he was the chief minister, in the light of that when he comes in the fall, will human rights be – and religious rights be a major question of --

MS. HARF: It’s certainly a topic we discuss all the time with various partners. I have absolutely no preview for what our discussions will look like during his visit.

QUESTION: Thanks.

QUESTION: Just one quickly.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Follow – a different question on India. Indians in India are asking the United States that a civil-nuclear agreement was signed almost nine years ago between President Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and Indians were told soon U.S. trucks will be rolling into India for 24-hour energy for the Indians, and still they are still waiting. My question is: What is the now future of this civil-nuclear agreement and also future – what message do you have for the Indians now since they have a new government there and they are still waiting for the U.S. as far as the future of U.S.-India relations are concerned on many of these issues, including energy crisis and the present government of Mr. Modi blames the Congress Party for this energy crisis.

MS. HARF: Well, we certainly work very closely with India on issues related to energy. I have no update for you on the civilian-nuclear cooperation issues. Let me check with our team and see if I can get you one.

QUESTION: Thank you, madam.

QUESTION: Turkey?

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Got a couple questions. One is that today, reported in Turkish Daily that Foreign Minister Davutoglu says to reporters that Secretary Kerry expressed his uneasiness about spokesperson Jen Psaki’s --

MS. HARF: Totally false.

QUESTION: Totally false?

MS. HARF: Yeah. Secretary stands behind everything Jen Psaki and hopefully I say from this podium.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: Particularly on this topic.

QUESTION: You can understand – or puzzlement that on the one hand, you say that the Kerry – Secretary Kerry tells Foreign Minister Davutoglu and raised his worries, concerns over some rhetoric used in Turkey. And then on the other hand, we hear from Turkish foreign minister that actually Secretary Kerry expressed his – over uneasiness --

MS. HARF: Again, I just said it was false, and I am the one who speaks for Secretary Kerry and conveys his thoughts, and I can assure you that is not something he said.

QUESTION: Okay. For the last two days, there are about hundred and four or five police chiefs in Turkey arrested. How do you view this development?

MS. HARF: Well, we are closely following these developments, and I understand they’re related to the ongoing corruption investigations in Turkey, including the recent arrest of some 100 police officials. We have repeatedly said that any investigation should be conducted in a fair, transparent, and democratic manner. We have, in the past, made clear concerns about Turkey’s due process and effective access to justice, and we’ll continue talking to the Turks about it.

QUESTION: So these arrests, those police chiefs – actually, some of them or most of them who launched those corruption investigations, so this is kind of a --

MS. HARF: I don’t have any more to --

QUESTION: -- 180 percent.

MS. HARF: Right. I don’t have any more details beyond what I just shared.

QUESTION: So what do you think about those corruption investigations started about eight months ago?

MS. HARF: As we just said – as I just said, any investigations like these should be conducted in a fair, transparent and democratic manner. We continue to support the Turkish people’s desire for a judicial system that meets the highest standards of fairness, timeliness, and transparency. Obviously that’s something we care very deeply about.

QUESTION: Iraq?

QUESTION: And the last question on Turkey about the relationship --

MS. HARF: The strategic relationship?

QUESTION: Yes. (Laughter.) Yesterday, Prime Minister Erdogan expressed his disappointment that he cannot reach or he doesn’t talk to President Obama anymore. Would you able to confirm that this --

MS. HARF: I didn’t actually see those comments. Obviously, for the President’s conversations, the White House can speak mostly – or best to that. In terms of the Secretary’s conversations, obviously he speaks all the time with Foreign Minister Davutoglu. He spoke with him twice yesterday, spoke with him a number of times over the last few days as well. So we have an ongoing dialogue.

QUESTION: On Afghanistan?

QUESTION: Iraq?

MS. HARF: Let’s do Iraq and then Afghanistan.

QUESTION: Very quickly, the parliament failed today to choose a president. Now the problem if they don’t do it tomorrow, then they will miss the deadline, because next week is the (inaudible).

MS. HARF: Well, they’ve said they will meet tomorrow and will vote tomorrow.

QUESTION: Could you very quickly tell us what Mr. McGurk is doing now?

MS. HARF: Brett McGurk?

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS. HARF: He’s back in the United States.

QUESTION: He’s back in the --

MS. HARF: He was testifying on Capitol Hill today.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: On Afghanistan?

QUESTION: (Off-mike) McGurk.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: He said that ISIS is not just a terrorist organization, but a full army and is more powerful than al-Qaida. Can you comment on that?

MS. HARF: I haven’t seen – I didn’t watch his entire hearing this morning. Let me take a look at what he said. Clearly, they have significant military capabilities, though. That is true.

Yes.

QUESTION: Do you have something to say on the suspension of auditing of ballots in Afghanistan --

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: -- and how it’s going to delay the process?

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. So the United Nations, who is running this – or is part of this has said that it will restart tomorrow. The vote counting will restart tomorrow. Given the complexity and unprecedented scope of this effort, it’s not surprising that issues arise, they will arise during the process, that we need pauses to assess and address any concerns that must be taken, and have encouraged the candidates to quickly accept the UN’s advice about resolving issues when they do arise in the audit process quickly. So the UN has made progress on establishing rules of the road here. We expect all audit participants to adhere to these agreements, the IEC’s rules, and, of course, the highest standards of conduct. And as I said, the United Nations has said it will restart tomorrow. But this isn’t surprising given how complicated it is.

QUESTION: So you’re satisfied with the progress being made on this?

MS. HARF: Well, obviously we want this to take place as soon as possible, but yes, broadly speaking we are.

QUESTION: And on neighboring --

QUESTION: Is this --

MS. HARF: Huh?

QUESTION: -- Pakistan, I have one question.

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: The former Pakistani prime – president, Asif Ali Zardari, is in town. Is he having any meeting with the State Department?

MS. HARF: Not that I’ve heard of, but let me check.

QUESTION: And do you have anything on --

MS. HARF: And then we’ll go to Syria.

QUESTION: -- the special assistant to Pakistani prime minister, Tariq Fatemi, here? Is he having any meetings?

MS. HARF: I don’t know. Let me check on that.

Yes, Leslie.

QUESTION: Marie, do you know anything – have you been updated on these – on UN agencies hoping to make the first cross-border aid deliveries under the new UN resolution this week? Do you know when that’s going to be or --

MS. HARF: Are you talking about Syria?

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS. HARF: Let me check. I don’t. I know there are some timing issues here. Let me check on where they are.

QUESTION: On Syria?

MS. HARF: On Syria, okay.

QUESTION: Just a couple days ago, eight different FSA units issued a declaration in which they rejected Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaida-affiliated group, because they are – now Jabhat al-Nusra, apparently in that same declaration, withdrew from Aleppo and now attack moderate Free Syrian Army brigades on northern Syria. So under circumstances now, the Syrian moderate forces fighting with al-Nusra, ISIS, and Syrian regime.

MS. HARF: Well, we’ve always said that the moderate opposition is fighting on several fronts here. They’re fighting the regime, they’re fighting the terrorists, which are, of course, Nusra and ISIL – or ISIS in Syria, I guess. So we’ve always said for a long time that they are fighting on two fronts, which is why it’s so important for us to continue to support them, increase that support in any way we can.

QUESTION: So these – what you exact say increase the support and continue the support? You have been using this rhetoric for about two years and these guys --

MS. HARF: And we’ve consistently increased our support. We announced another additional round of support a few months ago, maybe now it was, or a month and a half ago – in May, I think – in June when the President spoke at West Point and then after that. So we’ve continued to increase our support.

QUESTION: But that 500 million, I think you’re talking about, will not reach --

MS. HARF: I’m not just talking about 500 million. There was a variety of support we talked about then. I’m happy to bring those details back up for you.

QUESTION: Marie --

QUESTION: Marie, with your indulgence, can I go back to Gaza just for a very quick --

MS. HARF: Yeah, uh-huh.

QUESTION: Khaled Mashaal, the head of the Hamas group, who were just now in a press conference, he said they have --

MS. HARF: I love when things happen when I’m up here when I haven’t seen them.

QUESTION: Right, exactly. Yeah. He said they have two conditions for demilitarizing: to end occupation and to end the settlement. That’s not too unreasonable. I mean, you support both, right?

MS. HARF: Again, Said, what we’re focused on right now is getting an immediate ceasefire to end the hostilities here.

QUESTION: Back to Syria for a second?

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: The Washington Post had a lead editorial that was very critical of the Administration’s response to Syria as of late, saying, quote --

MS. HARF: I think they write that editorial every few months and just change the date, actually. Seriously, you should do a word cloud and compare them.

QUESTION: One of the accusations was that there’s no senior envoy to unite the moderate Syrian and Iraqi forces to combat ISIS.

MS. HARF: I think Daniel Rubinstein would probably disagree with that. We have a number of people at the State Department working on Syria. We do have an envoy, as you all know, and a number of other folks working on it as well.

QUESTION: And called the plans to fight the Islamic state, quote, “pathetically underpowered.”

MS. HARF: I don’t even want to venture a guess as to what that means.

QUESTION: And --

MS. HARF: We have consistently said we will support the moderate opposition. We have increased out support because we believe it’s important. But look, this is a tough challenge, one that sometimes the complexities of that challenge do not end up in the Washington Post editorial page.

QUESTION: But don’t you need Congress to give you the funds to arm the moderates?

MS. HARF: Well, in terms of the funding we’ve talked about based on the Levin Amendment, yes, obviously we do need funding from Congress. We’ve consistently worked with Congress to increase our support to the moderate opposition and we’ll keep doing so.

QUESTION: But Congress – they’re looking like they’re not going to do this for --

MS. HARF: Well, I think it’s easy for members of Congress to come out and say we should do more and then vote no. Somehow those two things are not compatible in my view.

QUESTION: And just one subject. In Egypt, can you confirm that your colleague Jen Psaki and Secretary Kerry were given the wand treatment when --

MS. HARF: I got asked about this yesterday. Those were very bizarre reports. It was sort of standard procedure that happens in many places. I talked to them on the ground and they were, quite frankly, surprised by some of the tweets coming out of there. It was very – nothing out of the ordinary.

QUESTION: But it’s not offensive for a senior – it’s not offensive?

QUESTION: The Secretary --

MS. HARF: I talked to them on the ground.

QUESTION: For the Secretary to be wanded?

MS. HARF: I don’t think all of those reports were accurate, Nicole. And I talked to the folks on the ground, not just the people on Twitter, and they said that there was really nothing to this and it got blown quite out of proportion.

QUESTION: Did you talk to the people on Twitter as well? (Laughter.)

MS. HARF: I try not to talk to the people on Twitter as much as possible.

QUESTION: But do you find it offensive that a senior Administration official --

MS. HARF: Well, I don’t think those reports were all true, Lucas, is what I’m saying. This was – the Secretary was walking into a meeting, walked right through. Again, I talked to them and they said there was nothing out of the ordinary about this.

QUESTION: Through a metal detector or through a --

MS. HARF: I think he just walked in the door. There may have been a metal detector there, but there’s really no story here, I promise you.

QUESTION: There are pictures show that Mr. Secretary being searched, actually.

MS. HARF: I don’t think that that is in any sense of the word true. So we can check on that, but I think that’s inaccurate.

Uh-huh.

QUESTION: Madam, if I may go back to Afghanistan and Pakistan, please. Afghanistan. If these two candidates doesn’t come to an agreement, let’s say, from UN and international community pressure, why don’t – let them – let the both candidate run the country? First time in the history two presidents, country – a country have two --

MS. HARF: You’re proposing a new government structure for Afghanistan. Well, that’s an interesting idea. We have in place a process to audit all of the votes that both candidates have agreed to, as you know, when Secretary Kerry was there. That process is moving forward and we look forward to the conclusion of that process and having a new president of Afghanistan at some point.

QUESTION: Pakistan.

MS. HARF: Great.

QUESTION: Major general spokesman for the Pakistani military, Saleem Bajwa, he said that his country has extended the – its operation against the terrorists there in the country. Now, he said that these terrorists are running around the country, different locations – so are the people of innocent Pakistanis. Now, Pakistan has almost 1 million refugees in their own country and running from the fear of these terrorists. One, if Pakistan has asked any U.S. help as far as helping these refugees? And also, the Imran Khan has said that August 14 will be the darkest day in Pakistan, because they will shut down the entire country against the present government of Nawaz Sharif because it has failed the country.

MS. HARF: I haven’t seen those comments, but in terms of the refugee issue – displaced persons, not refugees – the Government of Pakistan has been working with the appropriate international and donor organizations to ensure assistance is in place for the displaced people and their families. The United States Government is a major contributor to such organizations. We are standing by, ready to assist. Our contributions at present total over $8 million, primarily through partnerships with the Government of Pakistan; the UN World Food Program, that uses donor funds to help mill, process, transport and deliver flour – also in the food realm, populations in need. We are also working with local and international NGOs to conduct assessments and provide additional assistance to IDPs as well.

QUESTION: And have they asked anything – any help as far as extending this operation and going --

MS. HARF: Well, this is an entire – the – entirely Pakistani-led and executed operation.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. HARF: Let’s be clear about that.

QUESTION: So this week, U.S. announced, I think, 9.3 million aid to Pakistan for these IDPs. So this 9.3 is in addition to 8 million, or is it part of that?

MS. HARF: Okay. I can check on that. It sounds like it is. Let me check.

Yes.

QUESTION: Can I just go back to the plane investigation? Not intel, but just the plane investigation?

MS. HARF: Yeah, mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Given your suspicions, your allegations against the Russians, are you objecting or would you object to a Russian role in the investigation? I know you’ve been asked this before --

MS. HARF: It’s – yeah. Well, I don’t think I have.

QUESTION: -- just slightly different ways.

MS. HARF: It’s been a – it’s a good question. Look, the best thing the Russians could do, honestly, to help the investigation is to use their influence with the separatists to allow access, to make sure looting stops, to let the investigators get in there to make sure the remains are recovered and returned. So that’s really the best thing the Russians could do to help at this point.

QUESTION: Right, but your statement just a few minutes ago saying the blame for this lies, ultimately, with President --

MS. HARF: Yeah. So use your influence with people who did it to allow access.

QUESTION: No, no, no – lies with President Putin.

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: I’m just wondering, I mean, is it appropriate, in your --

MS. HARF: To be a part of the official investigation?

QUESTION: For them to – for Russian aviation experts to be involved in this, or is that – do you think that that’s just --

MS. HARF: Well, I’m not sure there’s a reason for them to be. As I just said --

QUESTION: Well, there are – they are part of ICAO.

MS. HARF: Right, but ICAO is not running the investigation. The Dutch are.

QUESTION: Right.

MS. HARF: And the United States is a part of the investigation because it was a U.S.-manufactured aircraft. There are certain ways countries become parts of investigations.

QUESTION: All right.

MS. HARF: The UK is with the black boxes --

QUESTION: Well if you’re right, it was a Russian missile that took it down. So there’s a Russian aspect to it too, if you’re right.

MS. HARF: Look, the best thing they could do and what we would encourage them to do to help is to push the separatists to allow access.

QUESTION: So you don’t --

MS. HARF: I don’t have much --

QUESTION: I’m trying to figure out if you’re taking a position one way or the other on this, because it --

MS. HARF: I’m really not taking much more of a position on this. I don’t want to get into hypothetically what that might look like.

QUESTION: Well, I mean, they – because they’ve offered to be a part of it, and you might think that that’s --

MS. HARF: As I said, what they can do is help allow access.

QUESTION: And that’s it? They shouldn’t do any --

MS. HARF: That’s all I’m saying today. I don’t have anything else for you.

QUESTION: All right. Well, could you find out if there is an Administration position on what are they --

MS. HARF: I certainly have spoken to people about this. I just don’t have anything more for you on this.

QUESTION: Can I just --

MS. HARF: So I’m happy to have those conversations --

QUESTION: Wait, you mean you’ll tell someone else, but not me?

MS. HARF: I don’t have anything more for the briefing room on this issue.

QUESTION: Oh, okay. All right.

QUESTION: Can – I just want to follow up on something --

MS. HARF: It was the royal “you.” (Laughter.)

QUESTION: The royal “you”? That’s a new one. Is that a sheep? (Laughter.) A-ha.

QUESTION: Absolutely (inaudible).

QUESTION: It’s a female sheep with a crown.

MS. HARF: How was I gone for 20 days without you guys? (Laughter.) I can’t – it is – I – the depths of my missing you guys.

QUESTION: That one came out of the – that was a fireball.

MS. HARF: Out of nowhere. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Give us your phone number, we will call you.

MS. HARF: Okay, let’s do a few more and wrap it up.

QUESTION: I just want to ask about – I’m sorry, I stepped out. Were you asked about the downing of two --

MS. HARF: I was. I was. I said we couldn’t – yeah. It’s in the transcript, but I said can’t confirm it. We’re looking into it. Obviously, they’ve up until this point downed about a dozen planes, and this coming on the heels of the downing of a civilian aircraft would be particularly – I don’t know, abhorrent. I don’t know what word I used earlier.

QUESTION: And then on – more about sheep?

QUESTION: No, not about sheep.

MS. HARF: Stare at each other down here.

QUESTION: No, no, about plane going down, but if you’re still on Ukraine – I just wanted to know if you had any reaction, but it can wait until the Taiwan accident.

QUESTION: Nigeria?

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: There have been an increased spate of these attacks from Boko Haram, and I was wondering – and they seem to be taking over large areas of Borno area.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: What has happened to the U.S.-Nigerian cooperation to kind of rein in this group?

MS. HARF: Yeah. It’s ongoing, and we still remain committed to helping the Government of Nigeria address this threat. We do believe that reports are accurate, I think, from several days ago, that Boko Haram militants captured the town of Damboa in Borno State and killed, I think, 100 civilians in the process. So look, we strongly condemn this incident – any incidents like this. And we’re trying to help the Nigerians, but it is a tough fight here.

QUESTION: On the Taiwan crash, any --

MS. HARF: I don’t have anything on that. Let me see if I can get --

QUESTION: No, I – well, not – I mean, in terms of – well, can I put the question out there --

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- that in terms of potential U.S. citizens who were – might have been on the --

MS. HARF: I have zero for you on that. Let me check.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. HARF: Anything else?

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. HARF: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:49 p.m.)

1:48 p.m. EDT

QUESTION: Good afternoon.

MS. HARF: Hello and welcome to the daily briefing. I have just a couple things at the top, and then happy to go into questions, of course.

First, I’m sure many of you have seen that today is the Dutch day of mourning. Today, we join King Willem-Alexander, Prime Minister Rutte, and all of the people of the Netherlands in mourning the loss of the 193 Dutch residents who died when Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was downed over eastern Ukraine. No words can adequately express the sorrow the world feels over this loss. On behalf of the American people, we again extend our deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims of this terrible tragedy.

As the President said yesterday, we will work with the Netherlands to make sure that loved ones are recovered, that a proper investigation is conducted, and that those responsible for the downing of flight MH17 are brought to justice.

And second, a quick travel update for people. Excuse me. The Secretary, as you saw, is in Jerusalem and Ramallah having some meetings today. He’s met with President Abbas, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and Prime Minister Netanyahu, who I think is ongoing as well, that meeting. So has traveled there to continue discussions on the ceasefire. As we said, he’s always happy to get on the plane and travel if he wants to and needs to. So, with that.

QUESTION: All right. I’m sure we’ll get to Ukraine in a second, but I want to start with the Mideast.

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: Two things. One, the FAA extension of the flight ban; and second, the vote at the UN Human Rights Commission.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: I’ll start with the Human Rights Commission.

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: Why did you vote against forming a panel of inquiry? The statement that was given before the vote by the – your ambassador there said that whatever steps that the commission would take should be balanced and should not single out Israel. Was it your understanding that what was approved in the end is unfair to – would be unfair to Israel?

MS. HARF: And one-sided. So we do strongly oppose today’s special session at the Human Rights Council and the resulting resolution as the latest in a series of biased, anti-Israel actions at the Human Rights Council. We strongly oppose the creation of this kind of mechanism that you spoke about because it’s one-sided. No one’s looking here at Hamas rockets, no one proposed looking at anything else other than Israel in this case, and again, we oppose it as one-sided.

QUESTION: In her opening statement, the commissioner for human rights talked about the possibility or potential that war crimes had been committed, not just by Israel but also by Hamas. Was that not your understanding of what this commission would – your understanding of --

MS. HARF: Well, we were voting on a resolution that had certain language in it --

QUESTION: Right.

MS. HARF: -- and that was looking at certain things, and that was one-sided in nature.

QUESTION: Can – what was it precisely about the language, do you know, that was --

MS. HARF: That it was one-sided --

QUESTION: Right.

MS. HARF: -- in nature.

QUESTION: I mean, it talked – yeah, but what was that language? What was the offensive language?

MS. HARF: I can pull the specific language for you after the briefing, but --

QUESTION: The title of the resolution seemed to be respecting – or “A resolution on the respect for international law and norms in the Palestinian territories,” and then including East Jerusalem. Is that problematic?

MS. HARF: I haven’t seen the specific title. As I said, the resolution in general, we view as one-sided and biased, and therefore we voted against it.

QUESTION: So you were concerned that this might turn out to be Goldstone 2?

MS. HARF: Again, we were concerned about it for being one-sided and biased, and it’s something we’ve said, quite honestly, we’ve said in the past by actions this body has taken.

QUESTION: All right. Does it surprise you that you were the only country to vote against?

MS. HARF: There were a number of abstentions. That’s my understanding.

QUESTION: Yes, there were 17 – all of Europe. Do you --

MS. HARF: And other countries as well. I think there were some countries in there that weren’t in Europe, that aren’t in Europe.

QUESTION: Right. But --

MS. HARF: Look, we make clear – as we have said repeatedly, we will stand up for Israel in the international community, even if it means standing alone, and I think you saw that today.

QUESTION: Okay. But that doesn’t tell you anything, though, that you’re standing alone?

MS. HARF: I don’t have any more announcements to do on it, Matt.

QUESTION: All right. On the FAA decision --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- there’s still continually this line coming from some in Israel and some here that this is all a political decision, that it’s --

MS. HARF: Totally inaccurate.

QUESTION: -- and it’s designed to push the Israeli Government into accepting a ceasefire that it otherwise would not want.

MS. HARF: It’s a totally inaccurate line, period. We – the FAA makes decisions based solely on the security and safety of American citizens, period. That is the only thing they take into account. I don’t know how much more strongly I can say that. People can choose not to believe us --

QUESTION: Right.

MS. HARF: -- but those are the facts, and people aren’t entitled to their own facts but certainly they can have their own opinions.

QUESTION: Okay. Do you know, has – were there any – aside from the call that Prime Minister Netanyahu made last night, I guess, and then his meetings today --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- I presume that he brought it up again in the meetings with the Secretary?

MS. HARF: I don’t have a readout yet.

QUESTION: I’m not asking you to speak for that, but --

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- you’re not there. But do you – are you aware of any other interactions between the Israelis and the State Department on this issue?

MS. HARF: On this? Not to my knowledge. I’m happy to check. I mean, we have folks on the ground, obviously. I just don’t know.

QUESTION: I understand.

MS. HARF: And look, we do understand that the Israelis want to return to normal air travel in Israel. Obviously, they want to restore a calm and normal life. We want them to be able to do as well. That’s why we’re trying to help broker a ceasefire. That’s the purpose of everything the Secretary is doing.

QUESTION: So would you – I mean, how likely – and I know you can’t speak for the FAA, so let’s talk about just the – your – the State Department’s Travel Warning which preceded this. At least --

MS. HARF: And I’m – let me make a point on the Travel Warning, though, because you asked about this yesterday, because there were some conspiracy theories that you were bringing up as well about why the timing. It takes a while to get travel updates updated and done, and travel warnings updated, but we did issue security messages from our embassy and consulate on the 8th, 9th, and 11th re: rocket attacks. So it’s not like yesterday suddenly we thought there was a security issue, which you mentioned. It’s been a consistent conversation we’ve had with American citizens.

QUESTION: Right. But --

MS. HARF: So I’m pushing back on the timing issue a little bit.

QUESTION: Okay. I mean, it wasn’t me making the argument, I was --

MS. HARF: Well, it was you asking the question.

QUESTION: Well, I was asking you about the criticism that was --

MS. HARF: So I’m pushing back on that criticism.

QUESTION: Got you. Okay.

MS. HARF: Yep.

QUESTION: Is it likely that either of these things, the Travel Warning or the FAA warning, are going to be lifted before a ceasefire is ordered?

MS. HARF: I have honestly no predictions to make. We constantly make decisions based on the situation on the ground. The Travel Warning obviously is under our purview. We’ll continue to look at the situation. The FAA can speak to their processes as well.

QUESTION: Right. But the --

MS. HARF: I have no way to make a judgment about likelihood on either.

QUESTION: Okay. All right. So I’ll leave that and then just go back to my UNRWA questions from the other day.

QUESTION: Well, the Secretary was – Matt --

QUESTION: Yeah.

QUESTION: Can we just – can I just go back to --

QUESTION: Sure.

MS. HARF: Sure.

QUESTION: Because yesterday it was asked about Hamas’s capabilities of --

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: Do you have anything further? And you said you would.

MS. HARF: I did. I got a little bit for you. Give me one second. So Hamas does have rockets that can reach Ben Gurion Airport. During current fighting, Hamas rockets have landed north of the airport, although the accuracy of their rockets does remain limited. Israel’s Iron Dome system, which, as you know, we worked very closely with them to develop and fund, has monitored and, with quite a high degree of success, destroyed many of the incoming rockets which could reach this area as well as other areas. Hamas’s anti-aircraft missile capabilities are still being determined. We don’t have confirmation that Hamas has launched heat-seeking anti-aircraft missile during the current conflict or that Hamas has access to the type of anti-aircraft missiles like those we saw – judge bring down Malaysian aircraft in Ukraine.

So I tried to get a little more about the capabilities for you.

QUESTION: Yeah, thank you very much for that. I mean, it’s helpful to get perspective. Was that kind of thing taken into consideration, do you know?

MS. HARF: I’m guessing all of that was taken into consideration. The FAA worked very closely with the intelligence community, with people that do analysis on these kind of things before they make these determinations. So I’m assuming it was in this case.

QUESTION: So did you – when you said Hamas has not used heat-seeking --

MS. HARF: There’s no confirmation --

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: -- that Hamas has launched heat-seeking anti-aircraft missiles during the current conflict.

QUESTION: Is – do you – is it your assessment that they actually have these kinds of weapons.

MS. HARF: Not to my knowledge. I’m happy to check. I don’t know the answer to that, Matt.

QUESTION: Marie, on the FAA ruling, I mean considering that when this conflict began, Israel had, like, seven Iron Domes. Now they have 10. And the rocket firing has really been reduced dramatically. Why is this such a – why such a --

MS. HARF: Because a rocket landed very close to the airport, and I think if you were a passenger on an airliner taking off or landing at that airport, you’d be pretty nervous about that.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: Iron Dome has been very successful, but security of America citizens is top priority, and that’s why the FAA made this decision.

QUESTION: Can I go back to the Human Rights Commission?

MS. HARF: Just one second. Let me say one more thing about the FAA.

QUESTION: Okay. Sure. Oh, sorry.

MS. HARF: I know you probably saw Jen’s email but – last night – that the FAA notice to airlines does not apply to military aircraft, which is why he could land.

QUESTION: Right. So, but on that --

MS. HARF: I just wanted to clarify that, that was a Taken Question --

QUESTION: But on that, you said that if you were a passenger you would be pretty nervous. Was the Secretary nervous flying into --

MS. HARF: Secretary --

QUESTION: He’s never nervous?

MS. HARF: Well, as you saw, we didn’t announce the trip until it was down.

QUESTION: No, no. I understand that.

MS. HARF: Yep.

QUESTION: But you said that if you were a passenger on a plane flying in --

MS. HARF: The Secretary’s not nervous, Matt.

QUESTION: He is not nervous.

MS. HARF: The Secretary’s very happy to be there meeting with people right now.

QUESTION: And can you speak for your other colleagues?

MS. HARF: I’m not --

QUESTION: Was anyone on the plane --

MS. HARF: This is a ridiculous line of questioning.

QUESTION: No, it’s not --

MS. HARF: Yes. Said. Wait. We’re going back to Said.

QUESTION: -- because if it’s a danger, it’s a danger. And if it’s not, if the Secretary thinks it’s not a danger that’s something else.

MS. HARF: We’re going back to Said.

QUESTION: I just wanted to follow-up on the Human Rights Commission.

MS. HARF: He was very – he and our whole team were very comfortable landing at Ben Gurion.

QUESTION: Okay. Which would seem to, I don’t know, belie the FAA’s concerns, no?

MS. HARF: Take that up with the FAA.

Yes.

QUESTION: I will.

QUESTION: Yeah. On the Human Rights Commission, are you opposed in principle to have any kind of commission to look into possible war crimes by either side, to go one --

MS. HARF: We’re opposed to one-sided and biased inquiries of any kind.

QUESTION: And that – if – you believe that this one --

MS. HARF: We believe this one today was.

QUESTION: -- this one is one-sided?

MS. HARF: Would have been and that’s why we voted against it.

QUESTION: What would – okay. What in the language of this resolution that makes you say that it is one-sided?

MS. HARF: Well, I am happy to see if there’s specific language that we can point to. Again, it was what they were – that would be evaluated in the resolution and in this commission of inquiry, what they would be looking at was purely on one side, which by definition, I think, makes it one-sided.

QUESTION: So it’s not really a knee-jerk kind of reaction, as we have seen in the past? Every time there is an effort to look into Israel’s --

MS. HARF: Well, unfortunately the Human Rights Council has often put forward one-sided documents. The international community has often put forward one-sided documents – excuse me – and we have opposed those as well.

QUESTION: Okay. Now I asked you yesterday on the hospitals – the bombing of hospitals, and so on.

MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: Both ABC News and NBC News, they followed – they accompanied medics and ambulances and so on and went to the hospitals and house and so on, and they saw no evidence of firing rockets from there. So what makes you think that these hospitals have been used to launch rockets or to hide rockets or to hide fighters and so on?

MS. HARF: Well, we have evidence --

QUESTION: Do you have solid evidence?

MS. HARF: Generally speaking – not speaking about any specific hospital, Said, or any specific target of Israeli activity, we have evidence throughout many years of Hamas using hospitals and schools, ambulances, other civilian places to hide rockets, to hide fighters. We’ve seen that throughout this conflict. Again, I’m not making a commentary on any one specific hospital or location, but we have seen that. We have seen Hamas do that in the past and have done that in this conflict.

QUESTION: Now I just want to go --

MS. HARF: And that’s not acceptable. I think if you are a Palestinian living in Gaza who just wants to go use a hospital or a school, you would not want Hamas using them to store rockets in.

QUESTION: Okay. Now let me ask you about the ceasefire points.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: It seems that the Egyptians, at least for now, are not flexible or are unwilling to sort of introduce any new element.

MS. HARF: I have no idea how you could even make that assessment. Everybody who is in these negotiations is not talking about them publicly. We’re talking about them privately.

QUESTION: The Egyptians are talking about their proposal publicly.

MS. HARF: Well, you’re making one assessment, and I think that we are --

QUESTION: I am not making it. They are. They’re saying --

MS. HARF: You called them inflexible.

QUESTION: No, I said inflexible. They said that they --

MS. HARF: Right.

QUESTION: -- what they submitted or what they proposed last week stands, that they’re --

MS. HARF: Well, we’re in discussions about what a ceasefire might look like. That’s why the Secretary is shuttling back and forth between Cairo and Jerusalem and Ramallah so he can see if we can get a ceasefire here. What the eventual contours of that looks like are being discussed right now.

QUESTION: And my last question on this: Today the Palestinian Authority submitted to Secretary Kerry their own version of what a ceasefire agreement should look like. Do you have any reaction to that --

MS. HARF: I can’t confirm that. I can’t confirm that report, Said.

QUESTION: You cannot confirm that report.

MS. HARF: I cannot confirm that report. I’m not going to comment on any of the rumors out there about what these negotiations look like, a line that should be familiar to everyone in this room.

QUESTION: Although you won’t comment on the specifics --

MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: -- there was something that Tony Blinken said earlier today about demilitarization of Gaza. Are you more concerned with getting an immediate – just an end to the fighting right now, or is – and is demilitarization something that would be later on? In other words, that’s not necessarily a part of the negotiations going on now?

MS. HARF: So obviously, our top priority is getting a ceasefire and achieving a ceasefire. What the contours of that ceasefire will look like, I’m obviously not going to outline. But longer term, the issue of rocket fire does need to be addressed. We’re very serious about that. Again, how that looks like, what that looks like, I’m not going to get into the details of that either.

QUESTION: Okay, so it’s – but it’s fair to say that some kind of demilitarization or some kind of dealing with the rocket fire in the future is not necessarily on the table right now. What you’re more --

MS. HARF: I’m not telling you what or what is not on the table right now. What I’m saying is we need a ceasefire. What that ceasefire looks like, I’m not going to detail. But longer term, we do need to deal with the rocket fire.

QUESTION: On my UNRWA question from yesterday, do you know if the – so there was this – they confirmed a second – finding a second batch – cache of rockets in a school. Do you know how those were handled? And more broadly, had your discussions with the UN, with UNRWA, with the PA and Israel come to a better option for dealing with things like this?

MS. HARF: We’re still having those discussions. I’d refer you to UNRWA to discuss the second batch. I don’t have all of the details on that. I think there’s been some confusing information out there. They could probably speak better to what happened to that other batch of rockets. But the conversations continue, and I think hopefully we’ll get to a better path forward.

QUESTION: Okay, so you’re not exactly sure what they did --

MS. HARF: I think it’s probably best for UNRWA to speak to this. They have the most up-to-date information.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: Yes, Nicole.

QUESTION: Is there any discussion about structuring this ceasefire through a UN Security Council resolution or working through the Security Council instead of trying to put together something on a bilateral or multilateral basis?

MS. HARF: I haven’t heard of that. Obviously I’m not going to talk about specifics that are being discussed in the room, but what we’re focused on is working with Egypt and other regional partners – of course, with Israel and the Palestinians – to see if we can get something here.

QUESTION: One more on the flight cancellations.

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: It’s not just Matt that’s been critical and conspiratorial. Senator Cruz – (laughter) –

QUESTION: I haven’t been critical or conspiratorial.

MS. HARF: You’re being put in a category with Senator Cruz, so let’s see where this one goes. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Senator --

MS. HARF: I can’t wait for this.

QUESTION: Yeah. Thanks a lot, Lucas. That’s not --

MS. HARF: You’re welcome, Matt. Thank Lucas later.

QUESTION: Senator Cruz just released a statement saying that the FAA’s flight suspension to Israel is economic blackmail and that the Obama Administration is --

MS. HARF: It’s ridiculous.

QUESTION: -- doing this to punish Israel.

MS. HARF: It’s ridiculous and offensive, quite frankly. The FAA takes its responsibilities very seriously. I will speak for them in that case. They make these decisions based solely on the security and safety of American citizens, period. For anyone to suggest otherwise, it’s just ridiculous, Lucas.

QUESTION: His argument is that tourism is an $11 billion industry for Israel and that while these flights are cancelled and Israel is losing money, the aid to Hamas continues.

MS. HARF: Well, we certainly care about Israel’s tourism industry as well, but we care more about the rockets being stopped from coming into Israel to kill innocent civilians in Israel. We care more about getting a ceasefire, and we care more about protecting American citizens. So clearly, I think Senator Cruz is completely wrong on this. We make decisions about security based solely on what’s in the best interest of American citizens. And look, one of the reasons – the main reason, if not, that Secretary Kerry is investing so much energy into getting a ceasefire is so Israel can return to normalcy, so they can return flights, so we can move past the Travel Warning, so Israelis and visitors and anyone don’t have to run to bomb shelters because Hamas is firing rockets at them. So I’d urge him to take another look at his comments on this.

QUESTION: But you can still fly to Beirut, can’t you, and other hotspots around the country?

MS. HARF: The FAA has a full list of places that we don’t fly. Someone asked about North Korea the other day. You cannot fly, I think, places in North Korea as well. So I would take a look at that. But there are times – in parts of Ukraine, Crimea we have warnings out as well. And these are all designed to protect American citizens here. And again, this is a temporary notice. The 24-hour notice has been renewed for another 24 hours. Our goal is to get this ceasefire in place as soon as possible so we don’t have to take these steps.

QUESTION: Marie, if I may follow – just to follow up on Nicole’s question. The sort of – what format this ceasefire should take? Back in 2009, there was a resolution – a UN Security Council Resolution 1860, and then in 2012 or just an agreement. Is it your feeling or this Department’s feeling that if you frame it in a United Nations Security Council resolution, would be more robust and would have to be – have better chance of being sustainable?

MS. HARF: Well, we’ve talked about 2012 as sort of --

QUESTION: Right, right.

MS. HARF: -- one of the standards that we’re looking at here. I don’t have anything beyond that on what the discussions look like.

QUESTION: Same topic, real quick.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: The Secretary said he was going to Cairo, back to Cairo. Any confirmation or details of when?

MS. HARF: I’m sure he will. I don’t know when. I’m not sure we know when.

QUESTION: He said immediately after the – or not immediately, but after the (inaudible).

MS. HARF: I don’t have details on timing, but he will eventually return to Cairo and could possibly return to Jerusalem and Ramallah.

QUESTION: There have been some riots in Paris over the issue of Gaza. I’m wondering if you see that as indicative of any larger international feelings towards either side.

MS. HARF: Well, let me say first that we obviously have seen some of the horrific anti-Semitic and anti-Israel comments that have come up during some of these protests; not all of them, but some, which we would of course strongly condemn as we always do. But I’ve been asked about these for three days and I don’t think my line’s changed that people have a right to freely express themselves. That’s something that is important to us, but we do want people to remember that Israel has a right to defend itself and that its citizens are living under constant threat of rockets from Hamas that are the responsibility of Hamas to end. And I would just caution people to keep that in mind.

QUESTION: Last thing for me, and it sets a perfect segue of – because we’ve heard --

MS. HARF: Great.

QUESTION: -- that phraseology any number of times from the White House, from this podium as well.

MS. HARF: We are remarkably consistent.

QUESTION: Yes, I know. How do we square that no country would tolerate rocket fire with things like Pakistan and Yemen and rocket fire that has killed civilians from the U.S.?

MS. HARF: Well, they’re wholly different, and I’ll tell you why.

QUESTION: Please.

MS. HARF: Hamas is a terrorist organization firing rockets indiscriminately with the purpose to kill civilians. Our counterterrorism operations, wherever they are, are taken with a great degree of care to protect civilian life. The President has spoken about this several times in speeches, and they are in fact designed to go after terrorists who are trying to kill more civilians. So any equivalency is just – I guess the word of the day – ridiculous and offensive.

QUESTION: And so when mistakes are made, it’s a mistake, it’s – you take every care –

MS. HARF: Right. The President has been very clear that we take extraordinary care to prevent civilian causalities, which is the exact opposite of what Hamas does, who tries to kill as many civilians as they can. We take extraordinary care when conducting counterterrorism operations.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: Can we go to Ukraine?

MS. HARF: Anything else on this?

QUESTION: On (inaudible).

MS. HARF: No. If your hand --

QUESTION: No.

MS. HARF: No? Then don’t keep your hand up if it’s not about Gaza. (Laughter.) You’re trying to play a trick here. Let’s go to Ukraine.

QUESTION: I was wondering if the Department has any comment on reports or Ukrainian Government claims that two more planes have been shot down from Russia.

MS. HARF: Yes, we have seen those reports. We are still looking into them. We have, of course, seen a history of the separatists shooting down planes in the past, I think about a dozen before MH17. And look, if true – and we hopefully will be able to confirm whether it’s true soon – it would only be further evidence that Russian-backed separatists are using advanced surface-to-air weaponry less than a week after shooting down a civilian airliner and killing 298 people. Again, it’s hard to imagine any of this happening without Russian support.

QUESTION: Dovetailing off that, I mean, you said to me yesterday that the fighting is by and large outside of the 25-mile radius of the crash site.

MS. HARF: Forty kilometer --

QUESTION: Yeah. Or whatever.

MS. HARF: -- or whatever. But numbers matter.

QUESTION: At this point, I think it was three miles outside of the crash site. I mean --

MS. HARF: No. I think you have wrong information there. There hasn’t been – they have maintained – the Ukrainians have maintained a ceasefire. The 40-kilometer ceasefire they have declared around the crash site, the Ukrainians have maintained it.

QUESTION: Okay. Are you concerned that a break in ceasefire could impede the investigation?

MS. HARF: Well, obviously, we would be concerned about the separatists not upholding a ceasefire. The Ukrainians have repeatedly shown their willingness and ability to do so.

QUESTION: India?

QUESTION: No.

QUESTION: Wait. Can I continue on Ukraine?

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: You’re kidding, right?

QUESTION: Well, yesterday – this is sort of related Ukraine, I guess, and Russia. Yesterday the intel community said they were going to lay out evidence sort of backing their assertions about who brought down Malaysia Airlines 17. They did lay out a bunch of different things, but they didn’t actually lay out the real documentation that supports those assertions. Why haven’t we seen --

MS. HARF: I’m not sure exactly what you’re looking for. Well, they did a couple things yesterday. They showed – they walked through an intelligence assessment case and they talked about some additional pieces of declassified information that I can walk through today that bolsters our case that we know what happened here. They also showed imagery of training facilities; they showed imageries of the site, including a trajectory based on classified information that they were able to provide that showed the trajectory of the SA-11. So those are important, and let’s get – let me finish --

QUESTION: Yeah, go ahead.

MS. HARF: -- and then you can keep following up.

So a couple things they said yesterday, which I think are significant which we had not set before, that the audio data provided to the press – and we talked a lot about these open source reports, right, these audio messages that people have said are certain people or that prove things – they were provided to the press by the Ukrainians. It was evaluated by the intelligence community analysts, who confirmed these were authentic conversations between known separatist leaders.

And then another key point they talked about yesterday, and we can talk more about the rest of this, is the – this notion the Russians have put out there about a Ukrainian fighter jet. They’ve argued that an Su-25 fighter might have shot down the aircraft with an air-to-air missile. They have judged that engagement would be implausible for the following reasons: The Su-25 is a ground attack aircraft. The only missiles it carries are short-range – excuse me – are short-range, infrared-guided missiles. Ground photography from the crash site is consistent with the expected damage from a surface-to-air missile, but it is – does not correspond, in fact is inconsistent with what we would expect to see for an air-to-air missile, as Russia claims.

Third, Russia – this is a little separately here – has also released a map with the alleged locations of Ukrainian SA-11 units within range of the crash. This is another red herring they’ve put out there. We are confident that this information is incorrect. The nearest Ukrainian operational SA-11 unit is located well out of the range from both the launch and the crash site. So part of their case yesterday was not only giving more information about what we know, but giving our professional, technical assessment of some of the Russian claims that, I think, we have tried to increasingly knock down.

QUESTION: When you said – when they – when you said they showed evidence of this, what do you mean by that, “they showed”? They – I mean, did they have a presentation? I --

MS. HARF: Well, they – they did. They did. They showed some imagery, they showed a number of images; they showed some maps, they showed some graphics. I’m happy for you to get in touch with DNI Public Affairs, who can probably give you that packet that they showed. They showed some – one of the maps that we actually have posted on our Facebook page and our Kyiv Embassy that shows the trajectory of the SA-11 missile. That trajectory is based on classified information. I can’t detail all of what that information is, but that is based on the information we have.

QUESTION: And some of the evidence U.S. is relying on are social media postings and videos made public by the Ukrainian Government. Have those all been authenticated?

MS. HARF: Again, that’s why I said the audio data, which is part of the social media, has been authenticated by the intelligence community analysts. Social media is obviously only one part of the puzzle here. It’s something we look at, but obviously, we back everything up to the extent that we can when we can with other intelligence as well.

QUESTION: Marie.

MS. HARF: Matt.

QUESTION: On your three things that you say were new: one, on the audio data being analyzed and being authenticated. That was not new yesterday. That was actually in the statement that the Embassy in Kyiv put out on Sunday morning --

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: -- before Secretary Kerry appeared on those --

MS. HARF: That the intelligence community had authenticated all of it? I – it’s my understanding that that was not all out there on Sunday, but I’m happy to check.

QUESTION: Well, I believe it was. But I mean, there’s no – it doesn’t --

MS. HARF: Okay. Well, I disagree with you, but I’m happy to check.

What’s the next thing?

QUESTION: Well, you can look at the statement. I mean, it says that they’ve been authenticated. So I would say that that wasn’t new.

MS. HARF: Okay. Happy to check.

QUESTION: Secondly, I’m not sure that – I know that there were some suggestions that the Ukrainian fighter plane shot down this – with a missile, but the --

MS. HARF: So the Russians have basically had a couple of alternative explanations.

QUESTION: Right.

MS. HARF: There was the Ukrainian fighter jet. I think we – the intelligence community went to great lengths yesterday to show why that’s not the case.

The other – one of the other things they said was that it was a Ukrainian SA-11 system that the Ukrainians had fired. Again, I think they made very clear why that’s not also the case.

QUESTION: But the theory that – or the – I don’t know what you would – the suggestion isn’t necessarily that the Ukrainian jet – I mean, you have – you’ve discovered that the Ukrainian jet was in the vicinity, but it was not capable of shooting (inaudible) down --

MS. HARF: No, I can’t confirm that there was even a Ukrainian – we have no confirmation that I have seen that there was a Ukrainian jet.

QUESTION: Oh, that there was even --

MS. HARF: I’m not saying there wasn’t. I just can’t confirm it.

QUESTION: Right.

MS. HARF: But regardless, the notion that this kind of Ukrainian jet the Russians are talking about could have done this with the kind of missile and the kind of debris we’ve seen – it just doesn’t match up.

QUESTION: Because I think the suggestion is that whoever fired this missile may have been shooting for that plane, like what we saw today in terms of a shoot-down.

MS. HARF: Which in no way makes it better.

QUESTION: Well, I’m not saying it does. I’m not saying it does at all, but it’s not --

MS. HARF: And I don’t know what the intentions are of whoever was on the ground pushing the button. I don’t.

QUESTION: And the last thing about this --

MS. HARF: Clearly – well clearly, I know the intentions were to launch a sophisticated missile and to kill people. Whether those – they were trying to kill Ukrainian military officers or civilians, we’re still waiting to find out.

QUESTION: I – yeah, okay. I’m not arguing that one is better than the other.

MS. HARF: Okay. I know.

QUESTION: I’m not saying that.

MS. HARF: Just responding to your question.

QUESTION: I’m just saying – and then on the – this trajectory thing that you said was put out by the Embassy --

MS. HARF: I didn’t say that was new yesterday. We posted that a few days ago.

QUESTION: Right. But I mean, if you just look at that – a lay person looking at it, it’s a line drawn on a satellite photo with no – nothing to back it up.

MS. HARF: Well, as I said, it’s based on a series of classified information --

QUESTION: Which we have to --

MS. HARF: -- which we are --

QUESTION: -- we have to take the leap of faith to believe that – right?

MS. HARF: Well, Matt, we are trying to put as much out of this out --

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS. HARF: -- information out about this as possible. We are trying very hard to do so. It is a process that takes, I think, more time than any of us, certainly you or I, would like.

QUESTION: Right.

MS. HARF: But I think I would make the point that it’s much more time-consuming to declassify real evidence than to make it up, which is what the Russians have been doing for days now.

QUESTION: Okay. Well, be that as it may, are you saying that at some point, the IC is hopeful to --

MS. HARF: We are working to --

QUESTION: -- that they will be able to put --

MS. HARF: We’re working to get more information declassified and put out there as quickly as we can. It’s just a difficult process (inaudible).

QUESTION: Okay. But do you understand that given the conflicting claims, no matter how ridiculous you say the other side’s version is and no matter how implausible it might be – but saying that you’ve put together the imagery showing the root of this --

MS. HARF: Trajectory.

QUESTION: -- trajectory showing imagery.

MS. HARF: Just one piece. It’s one piece of evidence.

QUESTION: Well, I know, but anyone can draw a line on a map. They can. I mean, I’m not saying that --

MS. HARF: That’s not what our intelligence community does. That’s not what the U.S. Government does when we go out there and present a case to the world. We have --

QUESTION: So --

QUESTION: Can I just --

MS. HARF: Wait. We have to protect sensitive sources and methods. We have to, because if we don’t, we won’t be able to get this kind of information in the future if they’re compromised because of a declassification. Believe me, I want to be able to declassify more.

QUESTION: Right, okay.

MS. HARF: They want to be able to declassify more. And it’s not about a leap of faith. We are laying out a very comprehensive argument based on a number of different pieces, right. So if you look at all of them in totality --

QUESTION: Right.

MS. HARF: -- look at the entire picture, it presents a very compelling case about the kind of missile, where it was fired from. Those are the two key pieces, right. The kind of missile that took down this plane we are very confident is an SA-11, we are very confident it was fired from Russian-controlled territory. We are very confident that the two alternate stories the Russians put forward aren’t plausible.

Who put their finger on the trigger? We still need to find that out.

QUESTION: Right.

MS. HARF: But suffice to say, the Russian separatists we believe fired this, in general, could not be doing what they’re doing without the Russians. And responsibility lays at the feet of President Putin, not just for this but for every incident that we have seen throughout this conflict, period.

QUESTION: All right. So Putin is – it’s Putin whose fault this is; that’s what you’re saying?

MS. HARF: I think I was just pretty clear.

QUESTION: What you’re saying – okay. So you said that – you say it’s a very compelling case, but you – it is a circumstantial case, is it not?

MS. HARF: It is a case based on a number of different pieces of evidence, Matt – across the board, a number of different pieces. Whether you’re looking at what we talked about yesterday, whether you’re looking at what we’ve seen on social media, whether you’re looking at the kind of SA-11 which is a missile that essentially gets fired straight up does what it does, and that’s exactly what we saw in this case as well.

So we’ve laid out a very detailed case. We will continue to declassify as much as we can. But again, we’ve been very open about our assessments here. The Russians have repeatedly lied about what’s happening on the ground. They said there weren’t troops in Crimea when there were troops all over Crimea. So there’s just no credibility on their side. And I understand the need to put out more information, but look, the notion that they’ve shot down dozens – over a dozen planes now – and this is just the one that wasn’t them – also just doesn’t pass the common sense test.

QUESTION: Marie --

QUESTION: Okay. Hold on a second. So – but – and I understand the – your desire to protect sources and methods, but we have here an incredible tragedy where almost 300 people died.

MS. HARF: I agree.

QUESTION: Is that – protecting sources and methods are more important than getting --

MS. HARF: No.

QUESTION: -- to the bottom of who --

MS. HARF: Well, those two things aren’t mutually exclusive here. A, if we think an investigation can go forward, then we’ll get to the bottom of what happened here. We believe we do have a good assessment about the things I’ve talked about. The investigation about who did it specifically to a person is ongoing. But look, part of the reason we protect sources and methods is because we want to be able to see these things in the future if they tragically – something like this were to happen again in the same area, the way we found out information this time. So --

QUESTION: So you’re saying that – but just to be clear, that the imagery, the trajectory imagery that you have that --

MS. HARF: In that one sheet, mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Right, right, right, exactly.

MS. HARF: I think it’s the green line.

QUESTION: That is – yes, that there are sources and methods for how you know that trajectory --

MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: -- that people are concerned are going to be somehow --

MS. HARF: Correct.

QUESTION: -- tainted if --

MS. HARF: Correct. Not just tainted, but compromised.

QUESTION: That are going to be compromised if you --

MS. HARF: Yes, correct.

QUESTION: I mean --

MS. HARF: Well --

QUESTION: Okay. I guess --

MS. HARF: Having spent six years in the intelligence community --

QUESTION: I know. That’s what I – I know that’s what --

MS. HARF: -- I know there are a variety of ways we can figure these things out, many of which are quite sensitive and many of which I think we don’t want to lose.

QUESTION: All right.

MS. HARF: So look, believe me, I’m pushing my colleagues at the DNI --

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: -- as much as I love these --

QUESTION: Do you – but I --

MS. HARF: -- conversations with you about this. We are pushing and they’re pushing, and we’ll see if we can get more.

QUESTION: Okay. But do you – I mean, would you expect --

MS. HARF: I have no prediction.

QUESTION: -- or you don’t know? You don’t expect more or you --

MS. HARF: I have no idea.

QUESTION: All right.

MS. HARF: Look, I think there will be. I think we’re just working through it.

QUESTION: Okay. One other thing that’s unrelated to the intel.

MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: Are you aware of the reports that several journalists have been detained or kidnapped – one a Ukrainian, the other one a Brit? Do you know anything about this?

MS. HARF: I saw some reports about some journalists. I think we’re still trying to track down the facts there. I’ll see if there’s more after I get off the podium.

QUESTION: Okay. Ambassador Pyatt had tweeted something about --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- one of the --

MS. HARF: Yeah. Obviously, we are concerned about these reports. Let me see if there’s more details.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: I just wanted to ask you – you said the blame lays at Mr. Putin’s feet just now.

MS. HARF: Yes, yes.

QUESTION: Does that mean that they are involved in issuing the orders issued down there?

MS. HARF: I didn’t say that. I said that these Russian separatists who we strongly believe fired this missile would not be there operating without the support of President Putin and the Russian Government, would not have been trained without the support of President Putin and the Russian Government, would not be armed without the support of President Putin and the Russian Government. They would not be there doing what they’re doing, period, so they could fire an SA-11 without the support of President Putin and the Russian Government. Yes, direct responsibility lays there.

QUESTION: And also – okay. I wanted to ask you also on integrity of the crash site.

MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: Who’s in control now? I mean --

MS. HARF: Let me see if I – the Dutch are leading – give me one second – the investigation.

Just a couple quick updates. The black boxes are now in the United Kingdom. The reason for doing so is that the British have a specific kind of aircraft forensics laboratory needed, and the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch is a highly respected and capable investigation authority.

Let me answer a few more taken questions from yesterday, and then I’ll get to your question, Said.

QUESTION: Sure.

MS. HARF: Not all of the remains were, tragically, handed over yesterday. Potentially, the remains of some 100 people are still missing. We don’t have exact numbers. Obviously, it is critical that international investigators, led by the Dutch, receive immediate and full access to the crash site.

In terms of access to the site, we – they have on the ground in Ukraine begun the difficult work of piecing together exactly what happened here. Today, we understand that they do have better access than they’ve had in the past days. We are, though, troubled by reports of looting, evidence tampering, and the failure to transport, as I just said, all of the remains of all of the victims to Kharkiv and into Dutch custody. So that is the latest I have in terms of the situation and the investigation.

QUESTION: India?

QUESTION: On Ukraine itself?

MS. HARF: On Ukraine?

QUESTION: Hold on.

MS. HARF: Yeah, on Ukraine.

QUESTION: Based on the intelligence information that you released yesterday and what you have been saying today, it looks like it was a case of mistaken identity by the Ukraine separatists that hit the Malaysian plane.

MS. HARF: That’s not what they said at all.

QUESTION: That’s what you are concluding, right?

MS. HARF: No. That’s not what I said either. I said we don’t know yet the intentions of the people who fired the SA-11 from the pro-Russian separatist-controlled territory. We just don’t know what their intentions are.

QUESTION: So my question is --

MS. HARF: It may – they may have been targeting a civilian airliner; they may have been targeting a Ukrainian fighter jet, which they’ve done over a dozen times now. Either way, they’re clearly trying to kill people with an SA-11.

QUESTION: So when the Malaysian Airlines was passing through that part, there were some other passenger planes which was crossing that area, including one of Air India, which was under 25 miles away from the Malaysian planes. And then plane carrying Indian prime minister was passed around one hour before that.

MS. HARF: I haven’t heard that.

QUESTION: Do you know from intelligence information that any of these planes were – could have been a target or could have been hit by these missiles here?

MS. HARF: I haven’t heard – I haven’t heard that.

QUESTION: Can you check?

MS. HARF: I can check. I haven’t heard it, though.

QUESTION: One more?

MS. HARF: Ukraine?

QUESTION: Staying on India?

QUESTION: One more?

MS. HARF: No, let’s stay on Ukraine.

QUESTION: Ukraine, one more.

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: Thank you.

Madam, what message do you have for the grieving families from this terrible incident? What they are asking the United Nations and the United States and the global community: Are we safe to fly in the future, and what steps are you going to take in the future that such incident doesn’t happen? Because many families believe not only these terrorists here in this area, but many other terrorists may have access also to the similar weapons, including in Pakistan or Afghanistan, and anybody could be the next target.

MS. HARF: Well look, I think you heard the President speak about this. I spoke about it at the beginning of the briefing, that one of the reasons, if not the most important reason, that we are so committed to finding out what happened here is so we can hold the people who did it accountable, that people cannot get away with shooting civilian airliners out of the sky. That’s just wholly unacceptable, and that countries that support these kind of separatists, like we’ve seen Russia do, also need to be held accountable. And that’s why you’ve seen additional sanctions; that’s why we’ve said there could be further steps, because that’s just not something that we will allow, that we will stand by and watch, and we do need to get to the bottom of what happened here.

QUESTION: Do you believe, Madam, that other terrorists like al-Qaida in Pakistan or Abu Baghdadi in Iraq, who have challenged already India, U.S., and other countries – that they may have similar weapons?

MS. HARF: I can check and see who else we think has these weapons. I just don’t know that off the top of my head.

QUESTION: Thank you, Madam

MS. HARF: Thank you.

QUESTION: Marie, Senator --

MS. HARF: Yes – no, let’s stay on Ukraine.

QUESTION: One more on Ukraine.

Senator Carl Levin called this an act of war. What is your response?

MS. HARF: Well, look, we’ve been very clear about what’s happening in eastern Ukraine. You have separatists backed by a foreign country who have invaded and been killing people with impunity, who’ve been shooting down Ukrainian military jets, who’ve been – who’ve now taken down a civilian airliner, who’ve been terrorizing populations in eastern Ukraine.

I would also note, just for balance here, that there have been some areas liberated by Ukrainian forces, where people are able to go about their lives without the fear of separatist violence. The Ukrainian Government is providing food and water and hope, I would say, to the residents in those liberated areas. And one of the main places they have restored electricity, water, and train service is to Slovyansk, which we’ve talked about. It was on July 9th, so it was a little while ago. But we have seen steady progress in terms of them regaining territory.

QUESTION: But is this alleged act by the separatists, or by Russia, an act of war?

MS. HARF: I don’t think I have any more terminology to put around it, Lucas. I’m happy to check and see.

QUESTION: An act of terror?

MS. HARF: I’m happy to check and see if there’s more terminology I’d like to put around it.

QUESTION: Your – when you say that the blame for this lies directly at President Putin’s feet, does that also mean that you think that his call – some – seemingly more conciliatory call yesterday for – to support a full and open investigation, do you think that’s duplicitous? Is that --

MS. HARF: Well, I just think that the words need to be backed up by actions, which, unfortunately, we haven’t seen very much of from the Russians lately.

QUESTION: Got you. I had one question semi-related to this.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: That is yesterday you talked about the French going ahead with their transfer of this Mistral ship to the Russians. It turns out today that the Brits have also been continuing to --

MS. HARF: I don’t think that’s actually --

QUESTION: Is that not correct?

MS. HARF: -- accurate. No. And I’m not sure it’s in my book here. I have – they put out a statement very strongly denying this.

QUESTION: Denying it, okay.

MS. HARF: I will send it to you as soon as I get off the podium. I’m not sure I stuck it in my book here, but --

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: -- they have gone on the record.

QUESTION: And denied the earlier reports. Okay.

MS. HARF: Yes, so --

QUESTION: So in other words --

MS. HARF: -- I’m sorry I don’t have it.

QUESTION: No, no, it’s okay.

MS. HARF: Apologies to my British colleagues who may be watching.

QUESTION: You don’t need to – I’m not asking you to respond on behalf the British Government. But I’m just saying --

MS. HARF: No, no, no, but they – no, but I did have that and I wanted to – we’ll get it to you.

QUESTION: But you accept their denial and you don’t have any questions about their --

MS. HARF: We don’t have any questions about the British.

QUESTION: What about French?

MS. HARF: Period, sort of full stop. Well, we have big questions --

QUESTION: Ever?

MS. HARF: -- about whether they would go through with something like that, yes.

QUESTION: So what is the latest? How long ago, how many days has it been that you raised it?

MS. HARF: Well, we raise it consistently with the French. The Secretary has spoken again today to French Foreign Minister Fabius. I don’t have a full readout of that call, but needless to say, I think it’s been raised recently.

QUESTION: And is it that the U.S. wants to just cancel that transaction, or just not to ship it until they start behaving properly?

MS. HARF: I don’t think we think it’s appropriate to provide that kind of material to the Russians at this time. I’m not sure what form that would look like, but we just don’t think they should do it. However they don’t do it, they shouldn’t do it.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MS. HARF: Ukraine. Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: In your statement last night, Marie, at 9:58, you congratulated the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council, and you said, quote, “Today the Council agreed to accelerate preparation of additional sanctions.”

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: But no new additional sanctions were taken. Was that really a disappointment to the West, to the United States?

MS. HARF: Well, they talked about a number of additional things they could do. No, I mean, I put out a statement saying quite positive things and I don’t have much more to add beyond that.

QUESTION: But wouldn’t you like to see additional sanctions taken against Russia as punishment for their support of the separatists?

MS. HARF: We’ve certainly said we will continue to take increased steps. We have taken additional sanctions and we’ll work with our partners so other people will also do so.

Anything else on Ukraine?

QUESTION: India.

MS. HARF: Or I’m going to India. Okay. You’re up.

QUESTION: Thank you. It’s a question on human rights, religious rights and dignity of labor. Shiv Sena, a political party which is a Hindu party as you can see from the name, did force feed a worker during his fasting during Ramadan. And what is – because we always raise voices against human rights and religious right.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: And do you have a reaction to that?

MS. HARF: Well, we are aware of the alleged reports and video, I think, of these MPs forcing a fasting Muslim to eat during Ramadan. We, of course, would expect any allegation of this kind of assault would be dealt with under Indian law. Broadly speaking, of course, religious freedom and human rights are pillars of our foreign policy, and call upon government officials at all levels to promote religious freedom and ensure accountability for all incidents that disrespect, violate or harm individual rights such as this one.

QUESTION: And if we remember that the present prime minister, Modi, was denied a visa for nine years because of his role in the riots with the Hindu-Muslim riots in the state he was the chief minister, in the light of that when he comes in the fall, will human rights be – and religious rights be a major question of --

MS. HARF: It’s certainly a topic we discuss all the time with various partners. I have absolutely no preview for what our discussions will look like during his visit.

QUESTION: Thanks.

QUESTION: Just one quickly.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Follow – a different question on India. Indians in India are asking the United States that a civil-nuclear agreement was signed almost nine years ago between President Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and Indians were told soon U.S. trucks will be rolling into India for 24-hour energy for the Indians, and still they are still waiting. My question is: What is the now future of this civil-nuclear agreement and also future – what message do you have for the Indians now since they have a new government there and they are still waiting for the U.S. as far as the future of U.S.-India relations are concerned on many of these issues, including energy crisis and the present government of Mr. Modi blames the Congress Party for this energy crisis.

MS. HARF: Well, we certainly work very closely with India on issues related to energy. I have no update for you on the civilian-nuclear cooperation issues. Let me check with our team and see if I can get you one.

QUESTION: Thank you, madam.

QUESTION: Turkey?

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Got a couple questions. One is that today, reported in Turkish Daily that Foreign Minister Davutoglu says to reporters that Secretary Kerry expressed his uneasiness about spokesperson Jen Psaki’s --

MS. HARF: Totally false.

QUESTION: Totally false?

MS. HARF: Yeah. Secretary stands behind everything Jen Psaki and hopefully I say from this podium.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: Particularly on this topic.

QUESTION: You can understand – or puzzlement that on the one hand, you say that the Kerry – Secretary Kerry tells Foreign Minister Davutoglu and raised his worries, concerns over some rhetoric used in Turkey. And then on the other hand, we hear from Turkish foreign minister that actually Secretary Kerry expressed his – over uneasiness --

MS. HARF: Again, I just said it was false, and I am the one who speaks for Secretary Kerry and conveys his thoughts, and I can assure you that is not something he said.

QUESTION: Okay. For the last two days, there are about hundred and four or five police chiefs in Turkey arrested. How do you view this development?

MS. HARF: Well, we are closely following these developments, and I understand they’re related to the ongoing corruption investigations in Turkey, including the recent arrest of some 100 police officials. We have repeatedly said that any investigation should be conducted in a fair, transparent, and democratic manner. We have, in the past, made clear concerns about Turkey’s due process and effective access to justice, and we’ll continue talking to the Turks about it.

QUESTION: So these arrests, those police chiefs – actually, some of them or most of them who launched those corruption investigations, so this is kind of a --

MS. HARF: I don’t have any more to --

QUESTION: -- 180 percent.

MS. HARF: Right. I don’t have any more details beyond what I just shared.

QUESTION: So what do you think about those corruption investigations started about eight months ago?

MS. HARF: As we just said – as I just said, any investigations like these should be conducted in a fair, transparent and democratic manner. We continue to support the Turkish people’s desire for a judicial system that meets the highest standards of fairness, timeliness, and transparency. Obviously that’s something we care very deeply about.

QUESTION: Iraq?

QUESTION: And the last question on Turkey about the relationship --

MS. HARF: The strategic relationship?

QUESTION: Yes. (Laughter.) Yesterday, Prime Minister Erdogan expressed his disappointment that he cannot reach or he doesn’t talk to President Obama anymore. Would you able to confirm that this --

MS. HARF: I didn’t actually see those comments. Obviously, for the President’s conversations, the White House can speak mostly – or best to that. In terms of the Secretary’s conversations, obviously he speaks all the time with Foreign Minister Davutoglu. He spoke with him twice yesterday, spoke with him a number of times over the last few days as well. So we have an ongoing dialogue.

QUESTION: On Afghanistan?

QUESTION: Iraq?

MS. HARF: Let’s do Iraq and then Afghanistan.

QUESTION: Very quickly, the parliament failed today to choose a president. Now the problem if they don’t do it tomorrow, then they will miss the deadline, because next week is the (inaudible).

MS. HARF: Well, they’ve said they will meet tomorrow and will vote tomorrow.

QUESTION: Could you very quickly tell us what Mr. McGurk is doing now?

MS. HARF: Brett McGurk?

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS. HARF: He’s back in the United States.

QUESTION: He’s back in the --

MS. HARF: He was testifying on Capitol Hill today.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: On Afghanistan?

QUESTION: (Off-mike) McGurk.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: He said that ISIS is not just a terrorist organization, but a full army and is more powerful than al-Qaida. Can you comment on that?

MS. HARF: I haven’t seen – I didn’t watch his entire hearing this morning. Let me take a look at what he said. Clearly, they have significant military capabilities, though. That is true.

Yes.

QUESTION: Do you have something to say on the suspension of auditing of ballots in Afghanistan --

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: -- and how it’s going to delay the process?

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. So the United Nations, who is running this – or is part of this has said that it will restart tomorrow. The vote counting will restart tomorrow. Given the complexity and unprecedented scope of this effort, it’s not surprising that issues arise, they will arise during the process, that we need pauses to assess and address any concerns that must be taken, and have encouraged the candidates to quickly accept the UN’s advice about resolving issues when they do arise in the audit process quickly. So the UN has made progress on establishing rules of the road here. We expect all audit participants to adhere to these agreements, the IEC’s rules, and, of course, the highest standards of conduct. And as I said, the United Nations has said it will restart tomorrow. But this isn’t surprising given how complicated it is.

QUESTION: So you’re satisfied with the progress being made on this?

MS. HARF: Well, obviously we want this to take place as soon as possible, but yes, broadly speaking we are.

QUESTION: And on neighboring --

QUESTION: Is this --

MS. HARF: Huh?

QUESTION: -- Pakistan, I have one question.

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: The former Pakistani prime – president, Asif Ali Zardari, is in town. Is he having any meeting with the State Department?

MS. HARF: Not that I’ve heard of, but let me check.

QUESTION: And do you have anything on --

MS. HARF: And then we’ll go to Syria.

QUESTION: -- the special assistant to Pakistani prime minister, Tariq Fatemi, here? Is he having any meetings?

MS. HARF: I don’t know. Let me check on that.

Yes, Leslie.

QUESTION: Marie, do you know anything – have you been updated on these – on UN agencies hoping to make the first cross-border aid deliveries under the new UN resolution this week? Do you know when that’s going to be or --

MS. HARF: Are you talking about Syria?

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS. HARF: Let me check. I don’t. I know there are some timing issues here. Let me check on where they are.

QUESTION: On Syria?

MS. HARF: On Syria, okay.

QUESTION: Just a couple days ago, eight different FSA units issued a declaration in which they rejected Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaida-affiliated group, because they are – now Jabhat al-Nusra, apparently in that same declaration, withdrew from Aleppo and now attack moderate Free Syrian Army brigades on northern Syria. So under circumstances now, the Syrian moderate forces fighting with al-Nusra, ISIS, and Syrian regime.

MS. HARF: Well, we’ve always said that the moderate opposition is fighting on several fronts here. They’re fighting the regime, they’re fighting the terrorists, which are, of course, Nusra and ISIL – or ISIS in Syria, I guess. So we’ve always said for a long time that they are fighting on two fronts, which is why it’s so important for us to continue to support them, increase that support in any way we can.

QUESTION: So these – what you exact say increase the support and continue the support? You have been using this rhetoric for about two years and these guys --

MS. HARF: And we’ve consistently increased our support. We announced another additional round of support a few months ago, maybe now it was, or a month and a half ago – in May, I think – in June when the President spoke at West Point and then after that. So we’ve continued to increase our support.

QUESTION: But that 500 million, I think you’re talking about, will not reach --

MS. HARF: I’m not just talking about 500 million. There was a variety of support we talked about then. I’m happy to bring those details back up for you.

QUESTION: Marie --

QUESTION: Marie, with your indulgence, can I go back to Gaza just for a very quick --

MS. HARF: Yeah, uh-huh.

QUESTION: Khaled Mashaal, the head of the Hamas group, who were just now in a press conference, he said they have --

MS. HARF: I love when things happen when I’m up here when I haven’t seen them.

QUESTION: Right, exactly. Yeah. He said they have two conditions for demilitarizing: to end occupation and to end the settlement. That’s not too unreasonable. I mean, you support both, right?

MS. HARF: Again, Said, what we’re focused on right now is getting an immediate ceasefire to end the hostilities here.

QUESTION: Back to Syria for a second?

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: The Washington Post had a lead editorial that was very critical of the Administration’s response to Syria as of late, saying, quote --

MS. HARF: I think they write that editorial every few months and just change the date, actually. Seriously, you should do a word cloud and compare them.

QUESTION: One of the accusations was that there’s no senior envoy to unite the moderate Syrian and Iraqi forces to combat ISIS.

MS. HARF: I think Daniel Rubinstein would probably disagree with that. We have a number of people at the State Department working on Syria. We do have an envoy, as you all know, and a number of other folks working on it as well.

QUESTION: And called the plans to fight the Islamic state, quote, “pathetically underpowered.”

MS. HARF: I don’t even want to venture a guess as to what that means.

QUESTION: And --

MS. HARF: We have consistently said we will support the moderate opposition. We have increased out support because we believe it’s important. But look, this is a tough challenge, one that sometimes the complexities of that challenge do not end up in the Washington Post editorial page.

QUESTION: But don’t you need Congress to give you the funds to arm the moderates?

MS. HARF: Well, in terms of the funding we’ve talked about based on the Levin Amendment, yes, obviously we do need funding from Congress. We’ve consistently worked with Congress to increase our support to the moderate opposition and we’ll keep doing so.

QUESTION: But Congress – they’re looking like they’re not going to do this for --

MS. HARF: Well, I think it’s easy for members of Congress to come out and say we should do more and then vote no. Somehow those two things are not compatible in my view.

QUESTION: And just one subject. In Egypt, can you confirm that your colleague Jen Psaki and Secretary Kerry were given the wand treatment when --

MS. HARF: I got asked about this yesterday. Those were very bizarre reports. It was sort of standard procedure that happens in many places. I talked to them on the ground and they were, quite frankly, surprised by some of the tweets coming out of there. It was very – nothing out of the ordinary.

QUESTION: But it’s not offensive for a senior – it’s not offensive?

QUESTION: The Secretary --

MS. HARF: I talked to them on the ground.

QUESTION: For the Secretary to be wanded?

MS. HARF: I don’t think all of those reports were accurate, Nicole. And I talked to the folks on the ground, not just the people on Twitter, and they said that there was really nothing to this and it got blown quite out of proportion.

QUESTION: Did you talk to the people on Twitter as well? (Laughter.)

MS. HARF: I try not to talk to the people on Twitter as much as possible.

QUESTION: But do you find it offensive that a senior Administration official --

MS. HARF: Well, I don’t think those reports were all true, Lucas, is what I’m saying. This was – the Secretary was walking into a meeting, walked right through. Again, I talked to them and they said there was nothing out of the ordinary about this.

QUESTION: Through a metal detector or through a --

MS. HARF: I think he just walked in the door. There may have been a metal detector there, but there’s really no story here, I promise you.

QUESTION: There are pictures show that Mr. Secretary being searched, actually.

MS. HARF: I don’t think that that is in any sense of the word true. So we can check on that, but I think that’s inaccurate.

Uh-huh.

QUESTION: Madam, if I may go back to Afghanistan and Pakistan, please. Afghanistan. If these two candidates doesn’t come to an agreement, let’s say, from UN and international community pressure, why don’t – let them – let the both candidate run the country? First time in the history two presidents, country – a country have two --

MS. HARF: You’re proposing a new government structure for Afghanistan. Well, that’s an interesting idea. We have in place a process to audit all of the votes that both candidates have agreed to, as you know, when Secretary Kerry was there. That process is moving forward and we look forward to the conclusion of that process and having a new president of Afghanistan at some point.

QUESTION: Pakistan.

MS. HARF: Great.

QUESTION: Major general spokesman for the Pakistani military, Saleem Bajwa, he said that his country has extended the – its operation against the terrorists there in the country. Now, he said that these terrorists are running around the country, different locations – so are the people of innocent Pakistanis. Now, Pakistan has almost 1 million refugees in their own country and running from the fear of these terrorists. One, if Pakistan has asked any U.S. help as far as helping these refugees? And also, the Imran Khan has said that August 14 will be the darkest day in Pakistan, because they will shut down the entire country against the present government of Nawaz Sharif because it has failed the country.

MS. HARF: I haven’t seen those comments, but in terms of the refugee issue – displaced persons, not refugees – the Government of Pakistan has been working with the appropriate international and donor organizations to ensure assistance is in place for the displaced people and their families. The United States Government is a major contributor to such organizations. We are standing by, ready to assist. Our contributions at present total over $8 million, primarily through partnerships with the Government of Pakistan; the UN World Food Program, that uses donor funds to help mill, process, transport and deliver flour – also in the food realm, populations in need. We are also working with local and international NGOs to conduct assessments and provide additional assistance to IDPs as well.

QUESTION: And have they asked anything – any help as far as extending this operation and going --

MS. HARF: Well, this is an entire – the – entirely Pakistani-led and executed operation.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. HARF: Let’s be clear about that.

QUESTION: So this week, U.S. announced, I think, 9.3 million aid to Pakistan for these IDPs. So this 9.3 is in addition to 8 million, or is it part of that?

MS. HARF: Okay. I can check on that. It sounds like it is. Let me check.

Yes.

QUESTION: Can I just go back to the plane investigation? Not intel, but just the plane investigation?

MS. HARF: Yeah, mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Given your suspicions, your allegations against the Russians, are you objecting or would you object to a Russian role in the investigation? I know you’ve been asked this before --

MS. HARF: It’s – yeah. Well, I don’t think I have.

QUESTION: -- just slightly different ways.

MS. HARF: It’s been a – it’s a good question. Look, the best thing the Russians could do, honestly, to help the investigation is to use their influence with the separatists to allow access, to make sure looting stops, to let the investigators get in there to make sure the remains are recovered and returned. So that’s really the best thing the Russians could do to help at this point.

QUESTION: Right, but your statement just a few minutes ago saying the blame for this lies, ultimately, with President --

MS. HARF: Yeah. So use your influence with people who did it to allow access.

QUESTION: No, no, no – lies with President Putin.

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: I’m just wondering, I mean, is it appropriate, in your --

MS. HARF: To be a part of the official investigation?

QUESTION: For them to – for Russian aviation experts to be involved in this, or is that – do you think that that’s just --

MS. HARF: Well, I’m not sure there’s a reason for them to be. As I just said --

QUESTION: Well, there are – they are part of ICAO.

MS. HARF: Right, but ICAO is not running the investigation. The Dutch are.

QUESTION: Right.

MS. HARF: And the United States is a part of the investigation because it was a U.S.-manufactured aircraft. There are certain ways countries become parts of investigations.

QUESTION: All right.

MS. HARF: The UK is with the black boxes --

QUESTION: Well if you’re right, it was a Russian missile that took it down. So there’s a Russian aspect to it too, if you’re right.

MS. HARF: Look, the best thing they could do and what we would encourage them to do to help is to push the separatists to allow access.

QUESTION: So you don’t --

MS. HARF: I don’t have much --

QUESTION: I’m trying to figure out if you’re taking a position one way or the other on this, because it --

MS. HARF: I’m really not taking much more of a position on this. I don’t want to get into hypothetically what that might look like.

QUESTION: Well, I mean, they – because they’ve offered to be a part of it, and you might think that that’s --

MS. HARF: As I said, what they can do is help allow access.

QUESTION: And that’s it? They shouldn’t do any --

MS. HARF: That’s all I’m saying today. I don’t have anything else for you.

QUESTION: All right. Well, could you find out if there is an Administration position on what are they --

MS. HARF: I certainly have spoken to people about this. I just don’t have anything more for you on this.

QUESTION: Can I just --

MS. HARF: So I’m happy to have those conversations --

QUESTION: Wait, you mean you’ll tell someone else, but not me?

MS. HARF: I don’t have anything more for the briefing room on this issue.

QUESTION: Oh, okay. All right.

QUESTION: Can – I just want to follow up on something --

MS. HARF: It was the royal “you.” (Laughter.)

QUESTION: The royal “you”? That’s a new one. Is that a sheep? (Laughter.) A-ha.

QUESTION: Absolutely (inaudible).

QUESTION: It’s a female sheep with a crown.

MS. HARF: How was I gone for 20 days without you guys? (Laughter.) I can’t – it is – I – the depths of my missing you guys.

QUESTION: That one came out of the – that was a fireball.

MS. HARF: Out of nowhere. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Give us your phone number, we will call you.

MS. HARF: Okay, let’s do a few more and wrap it up.

QUESTION: I just want to ask about – I’m sorry, I stepped out. Were you asked about the downing of two --

MS. HARF: I was. I was. I said we couldn’t – yeah. It’s in the transcript, but I said can’t confirm it. We’re looking into it. Obviously, they’ve up until this point downed about a dozen planes, and this coming on the heels of the downing of a civilian aircraft would be particularly – I don’t know, abhorrent. I don’t know what word I used earlier.

QUESTION: And then on – more about sheep?

QUESTION: No, not about sheep.

MS. HARF: Stare at each other down here.

QUESTION: No, no, about plane going down, but if you’re still on Ukraine – I just wanted to know if you had any reaction, but it can wait until the Taiwan accident.

QUESTION: Nigeria?

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: There have been an increased spate of these attacks from Boko Haram, and I was wondering – and they seem to be taking over large areas of Borno area.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: What has happened to the U.S.-Nigerian cooperation to kind of rein in this group?

MS. HARF: Yeah. It’s ongoing, and we still remain committed to helping the Government of Nigeria address this threat. We do believe that reports are accurate, I think, from several days ago, that Boko Haram militants captured the town of Damboa in Borno State and killed, I think, 100 civilians in the process. So look, we strongly condemn this incident – any incidents like this. And we’re trying to help the Nigerians, but it is a tough fight here.

QUESTION: On the Taiwan crash, any --

MS. HARF: I don’t have anything on that. Let me see if I can get --

QUESTION: No, I – well, not – I mean, in terms of – well, can I put the question out there --

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- that in terms of potential U.S. citizens who were – might have been on the --

MS. HARF: I have zero for you on that. Let me check.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. HARF: Anything else?

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. HARF: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:49 p.m.)

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Categories: News Pit Feeds

Daily Press Briefings : Daily Press Briefing - July 22, 2014

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 17:49

Marie Harf
Deputy Spokesperson
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
July 22, 2014

Share Index for Today's Briefing
  • DEPARTMENT
    • Secretary Kerry Travel Update and Calls
  • MIDDLE EAST PEACE
    • Travel Warning
    • FAA / Notice
    • UNRWA
    • Cease-fire Goal
    • Turkey
  • UKRAINE/RUSSIA/MALAYSIA
    • Intelligence
    • Investigation / Remains
    • Commercial Imagery
    • Sanctions
  • MIDDLE EAST PEACE
    • Travel Warning
    • Protests
    • UNRWA
  • INDIA
    • Modi Welcome in Washington
  • GERMANY/DEPARTMENT
    • Secretary Works Very Closely with Lisa Monaco and Denis McDonough
    • U.S. Respects Freedom of Expression and Peaceful Protest in Germany
    • Secretary Kerry Meeting with Foreign Minister Steinmeier in Vienna Last Week
  • LIBYA
    • Benghazi
  • IRAQ/DEPARTMENT
    • U.S. Committed to Religious Freedom
  • LIBYA
    • Benghazi / Security
  • IRAQ
    • Humanitarian Situation / Humanitarian Assistance
  • EGYPT
    • Secretary Travel
  • D.P.R.K.
    • Civilian Airlines
  • TURKEY
    • U.S.-Turkey Working Group
  • IRAN
    • IAEA Report
    • Joint Plan of Action
  • INDONESIA
    • U.S. Looks Forward To Working with President-elect Widodo


TRANSCRIPT:

1:28 p.m. EDT

MS. HARF: Hello. Welcome to the daily briefing, everyone. Just a quick travel update at the top and then happy to open it up for your questions.

As you know, yesterday, Secretary Kerry arrived in Cairo, where he is meeting with a range of officials regarding the conflict in Israel and Gaza and ongoing efforts to reach a cease-fire agreement. Last night, the Secretary met with UN Secretary General Ban to discuss his recent meetings in the region. This morning, the Secretary met with Egyptian Foreign Minister Shoukry, Arab League Secretary General al-Araby, and Egyptian President al-Sisi to discuss the conflict in Israel-Gaza. The Secretary also had two meetings with the Palestinian Authority intel chief as well.

And just a call update. Obviously, the Secretary remains closely engaged with international partners on the situation on the ground. As I said yesterday, over the weekend, he spoke several times with Prime Minister Netanyahu in addition to calls with Foreign Minister Fabius and EU High Representative Lady Ashton. The Secretary spoke with a range of officials in the region, including President Abbas, Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu, and the U.A.E. foreign minister as well. Yesterday, the Secretary spoke with Jordanian Foreign Minister Judeh and Qatari Foreign Minister Al Attiya regarding the ongoing efforts to reach a cease-fire agreement.

Secretary Kerry also remains engaged on the ongoing situation in Ukraine. Over the weekend, he spoke with the Malaysian foreign minister, the French foreign minister, the Dutch foreign minister, the Norwegian foreign minister, and EU High Rep Lady Ashton, in addition to his call with Foreign Minister Lavrov. So far today, he’s spoken with High Rep Ashton, the Qatari foreign minister, and Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu again as well. Lots of phone calls.

QUESTION: Right. Let’s start with the Mideast --

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: -- because you started with that. There is some – there is suspicion in Israel and among pro-Israel types in the U.S. that last night’s Travel Warning that the State Department issued for Israel, West Bank, and Gaza, along with the move by the FAA today to ban U.S. airlines from flying to Tel Aviv for up to 24 hours, is somehow a political move intended to put pressure on the Israelis, on Prime Minister Netanyahu’s government to agree to a cease-fire that they might not want to. In addition to the U.S. airlines, now a bunch of European airlines are also canceling their flights in and out of Tel Aviv.

Is there any truth to that? Did the – was the State Department involved in this FAA decision at all that you’re aware of?

MS. HARF: So let me take all of those questions in order. So to your first question, I would wholly disagree with that argument. We issue travel warnings because one of our top priorities is protecting U.S. citizens overseas. I would note that in 2012, the Department also issued travel warnings for Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza in March, August, and December. So this is a step we have taken when we felt the situation on the ground warranted it. Obviously, that is a process that we go through that in no way is policy related or politically related. It is just related to how we can best protect American citizens.

On the FAA, we, to my knowledge, were not involved in that decision making. Obviously, we knew it was coming today. And I was actually waiting for the announcement to come out before I came out to brief so I had more information. But the FAA makes these decisions when they feel it’s warranted, again, for the safety of United States citizens. And they, in response to the recent attack at Ben Gurion Airport – in the vicinity of Ben Gurion Airport – after consultation with U.S. operators, felt today that it was important to issue this notice, which is in effect for up to 24 hours. And they will provide additional guidance to – the updated instructions to the aircraft operators no later than 24 hours from when it went into effect.

QUESTION: So you knew – this building knew it was coming. Apparently, the White House was a bit out of the loop on this, though.

MS. HARF: That’s not true. I was on many email chains this morning about when the statement would actually come out that included my White House colleagues.

QUESTION: Okay. So when they said that it was a bit disingenuous for the White House to say that there had not been – half an hour before it came out that there has --

MS. HARF: Well, there’s not coordination. The FAA makes decisions on its own from a policy perspective. We all – we knew – I knew a little bit before the briefing, as did the White House, that this was being announced publicly on the communications side.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: But from a policy perspective, this is a process driven entirely by the FAA.

QUESTION: Okay. From the State Department point of view, I mean, is this something that you’re in touch with Israeli authorities about once it comes out or even beforehand?

MS. HARF: Yes. The Department of State as well as the FAA has been in contact with the Israeli Government about this. I don’t have specifics on what that looks like.

QUESTION: Was that before – that was before --

MS. HARF: It’s my understanding it was before.

QUESTION: -- this was announced publicly?

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: Okay. Because they --

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: I’ve seen some reports that they say that they were taken aback by this.

MS. HARF: No, I have here that we consulted with the Israelis before taking this step.

QUESTION: Okay. On a slightly – the same thing but slightly different tack. On UNRWA, I asked you a question yesterday about the rockets that they had found in the school and if you knew what they did with them after they had found them. Now, apparently, there have been some more found today. Do you have an answer to the question from --

MS. HARF: I wasn’t aware of those found today, but I got a little more information about what you asked me about yesterday that – a few points on this. Obviously, UNRWA is a humanitarian organization operating in a very difficult operating environment. That’s particularly acute in Gaza, obviously, where there is an active and ongoing conflict.

In terms of what happened to them, UNRWA has told us that they asked the local police to remove the rockets from the school. We recognize that this was not an acceptable outcome and we are consulting closely with UN leadership, with UNRWA, the Israeli Government, and the Palestinian Authority to develop better options available in the event of future incidents. Again, it’s important to remember that UNRWA is a humanitarian relief organization, it’s not a peacekeeping mission equipped to deal with the kind of situation where you find rockets. That’s not their mandate.

We also urge UNRWA to continue to be as transparent as possible about this issue. They will have more details on it, but that’s what I know as of right now.

QUESTION: Well, is it your understanding that by local police, that was Hamas, right?

MS. HARF: I think they can better speak to who specifically in the local police. I don’t have more information than that.

QUESTION: Well, if you – but if you say it was the – that the outcome was not acceptable, it would appear that UNRWA gave these missiles back to their owners, back to Hamas.

MS. HARF: They have told us they went to the local police. I will leave it to UNRWA to provide more details about who that was.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: I just don’t have those details, Matt.

QUESTION: Is there --

MS. HARF: I just don’t have them.

QUESTION: So after this happened, the Secretary and people with the Secretary in Cairo announced an additional tranche, a big package of aid, including $15 million to UNRWA.

MS. HARF: Which is an organization that does very important work in terms of the humanitarian situation, not just in Gaza but elsewhere.

QUESTION: I understand. But can you see how to an outside observer, this sounds a little bit – this sounds a bit bizarre that --

MS. HARF: Well, maybe to an outside observer who doesn’t have all the facts or understand the details here. But I think I just laid out for you that we don’t believe this is an acceptable outcome.

QUESTION: Right.

MS. HARF: The UNRWA is operating in a very difficult situation and there weren’t a lot of good options here. And we are working with them to try and figure out a better outcome in the future.

QUESTION: Right. But I mean, the facts are pretty clear: UNRWA discovers missile or rockets in its school; it condemns it, informs the UN, obviously, and then hands them back over to the people who are shooting them into Israel and then --

MS. HARF: Well, let’s not make sweeping generalizations. They – it’s --

QUESTION: But that’s --

MS. HARF: They’ve told us they gave them to the local police.

QUESTION: Well, but the local police in Gaza are Hamas.

MS. HARF: Okay. Well, Matt, I’m sure UNRWA can provide more details about who specifically they gave them back to. But I would --

QUESTION: Right.

MS. HARF: -- just be careful about making sweeping generalizations and I’d check with them about who specifically they were given to.

QUESTION: Okay. Well, if you say it was unacceptable, I’m assuming that it was unacceptable. But anyway, you ended up still giving ---

MS. HARF: I do tend to mean what I say, yes.

QUESTION: Exactly. You say it’s unacceptable, but you won’t say why it’s unacceptable. Right?

MS. HARF: I don’t have more for you than that.

QUESTION: Okay. So but then you go ahead and announce another $15 million to this very organization which is --

MS. HARF: Because it’s an important organization.

QUESTION: I understand. Okay, so maybe --

MS. HARF: Those two things aren’t mutually exclusive.

QUESTION: Okay, so maybe the question is this: What would have been an acceptable outcome in this situation?

MS. HARF: Well, I’m not going to outline specifically what that might have looked like. We’re looking at what acceptable outcomes might look like in the future. I don’t have details on it.

QUESTION: A lot of Israelis have been skeptical, critical, of UNRWA in the past. Do you – I mean, this kind of a situation does not underscore those kinds of concerns?

MS. HARF: Well, look, again, to underscore here, UNRWA is operating in a very difficult situation in a difficult environment. And they aren’t, to be frank here, equipped to deal with discovering rockets in a school where they were working humanitarianly. So again, this wasn’t a good outcome. We certainly don’t think it was, but I would caution people from jumping to conclusions about what UNRWA was trying to do here. We’re working with them to try to do better in the future.

QUESTION: Right. So you don’t believe that this amounts to aiding and abetting of --

MS. HARF: I would certainly not say that.

QUESTION: On this, a clarification --

QUESTION: Marie, can I just ask, there was a school – there was another UNRWA school today that has been hit by – that was sheltering displaced Palestinians that has been hit. I’m not sure what the death toll or the casualty toll is yet from that. Do you believe that possibly by the discovery of these rockets, UNRWA schools have now become a target or UNRWA facilities are now become a target for the Israeli forces?

I was just at a meeting with the Israeli ambassador in which he said that under the rules of war, if rockets are hidden in schools, hospitals, medical facilities, or homes, they become legitimate targets. Has UNRWA now become a legitimate target in this conflict?

MS. HARF: Well, I – well, no, I would say UNRWA is not a legitimate target, but let’s step back for a second. I haven’t seen those reports from today. We do know that Hamas has used schools, hospitals, other civilian buildings to hide fighters, to hide rockets, to hide the tools that they’re using to attack Israel with. So I’ll say that, point A.

Point B, I’m not going to make a sort of international legal judgment based on comments I didn’t see by the Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. We have said that Israel has a right to defend itself. We’ve also said that they need to take every effort to protect civilian casualties of Palestinians. So those two things are also true at the same time.

I can look into the report about this morning. I just haven’t seen it.

QUESTION: Marie, can you --

QUESTION: So I mean, do you believe that the – that if Hamas is hiding these rockets in schools and wherever, those then are legitimate targets by the Israelis as they press --

MS. HARF: I don’t want to say that. I don’t want to make that generalization. What I’ve said generally is that Israel has a right to defend itself, and these rockets are terrorizing the people of Israel. But schools, hospitals, there are places where civilians, particularly displaced people, do go to seek refuge that Hamas has used. So obviously, I don’t want to make a more specific judgment on what is not a legitimate target here. I’m happy to look into this specific issue.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: Marie, on the UNRWA --

MS. HARF: Wait, wait. Let me – let’s do one at a time, please. Thank you.

Said, go ahead.

QUESTION: On the UNRWA issue. Now, in the absence of another authority – okay – in Gaza, where they should turned it to? Who they should have turned it to?

MS. HARF: Well, we’re working with them to see what the other options could have been. We’re working with them.

QUESTION: What could possibly --

MS. HARF: Because obviously, we wouldn’t want rockets to be given back to people who would use them.

QUESTION: I understand, but considering that Gaza is under siege or doesn’t have any connection --

MS. HARF: Well, there have to be other options here, so we’re trying to determine what they are.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: But we also know that it’s very difficult for UNRWA. I mean, they were not equipped to deal with this, and so we’re trying to help them get better.

QUESTION: Okay, like, could they have gone, let’s say, to a third party, as the UN, for instance?

MS. HARF: I don’t have specifics about the other options. We’re working on those right now.

QUESTION: Okay, now let me just quickly follow up --

MS. HARF: Okay. You’re next, I promise.

QUESTION: Yeah. Let me just quickly follow up on the process or the progress of the cease-fire talk. Can you update us on where we are now?

MS. HARF: Well, the Secretary is on the ground in Cairo, has meetings today with Egyptian President al-Sisi, Foreign Minister Shoukry, again, Arab League Secretary General al-Araby. He’s been on the phone with President Abbas, Prime Minister Netanyahu, other regional partners as well.

But look, the reality here is that this is a complicated situation. There are multiple regional players, difficult strategic issues involved, and we’re working together to try to achieve a cease-fire as soon as possible. It’s in the best interest – excuse me – of both sides to do so.

QUESTION: Does the Secretary and his team know roughly, like, do they have like a day, a few days, a week, or anything like this?

MS. HARF: Well, we want this to be as soon as possible so civilians cannot be at risk anymore. But obviously, I don’t have a specific timeline for you, but as soon as possible.

QUESTION: So conceivably, it could happen in a very short order.

MS. HARF: Absolutely, we certainly hope that it does. But again, I want to set expectations here. It’s very complicated, a lot of strategic issues involved, and it could take longer than I think anyone would want.

QUESTION: There are reports that --

QUESTION: Do you know if --

MS. HARF: I promised.

QUESTION: Excuse me.

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: Do you know if Secretary Kerry is planning to come back, to go back to Washington before a cease-fire agreement is reached?

MS. HARF: Well, I don’t have anything to announce in terms of his return to Washington. What we’re focused on right now is seeing if he can help move the process forward. No plans to return at this point, so I think we’ll see what happens in the coming days.

QUESTION: Could you give us a sense, what are his next steps? Is he going to Qatar, for example?

MS. HARF: No additional travel to announce at this point. He’s in Cairo for the foreseeable future and don’t have anything to announce.

QUESTION: As you may know, Hamas has said many times in the past few weeks that it doesn’t – they don’t have good relationship with Egypt, so how do – what’s your comment on that?

MS. HARF: Well, there are a number of regional players that we’ve been talking to, not just the Egyptians, but the Qataris and Emirates and others who do have relationships, as the Egyptians do, with Hamas. Obviously, we don’t, but we’ve talked to other partners who do. So we are all trying to use whatever leverage we have and whatever relationships we have to push the sides to get to a cease-fire they can accept, because we think that’s what needs to happen as soon as possible here.

QUESTION: What kind of cease-fire they can accept? Could you give us an idea?

MS. HARF: Well, we’ve talked in general about the 2012 ceasefire agreement and what that looked like, but I’m not going to more specifically outline what the conversations on the ground are like.

QUESTION: Do you know if Israel accepts the 2012 agreement?

MS. HARF: I’m not going to get into what the discussions look like on the ground. They’re all ongoing right now.

QUESTION: So the Secretary will not return to DC before the cease-fire is agreed upon?

MS. HARF: I didn’t say that. I said we have no plans for him to return now. We’re going to see how much progress we can make in the coming days.

QUESTION: Do you know if the FAA order would cover the Secretary’s plane should he – I mean, should he decide in the next 24 hours, before 12:15 tomorrow afternoon, that he wanted to go, would it be appropriate for him to go to Israel?

MS. HARF: Could he land at Ben Gurion? Well, this was --

QUESTION: Would – does it apply to the Air Force?

MS. HARF: I don’t know if this applies to United States military aircraft. It obviously applies to commercial airlines.

QUESTION: Right.

MS. HARF: I can check.

QUESTION: Marie, I was hoping to go back to that airline thing. So the – I just want to be clear that the State Department was informed by the FAA about – it didn’t have any input into the decision.

MS. HARF: We had – I can check on what the specific decision making looked like. As I said, we talked to the Israelis about it before – we consulted with them before we announced it. But this is an FAA decision --

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS. HARF: -- based solely on security of American citizens and American airlines. I’ll check on what the process is, but --

QUESTION: Because I remember in the East China Sea where the State Department actually said to the airlines, “avoid that area” --

MS. HARF: I’m not sure that was the State Department or that was the FAA in that case as well.

QUESTION: I --

MS. HARF: I remember referring a lot of questions to the FAA at that time too.

QUESTION: As well.

MS. HARF: I can check.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: Obviously, I mean, with the Travel Warning we take very seriously the security and safety of American citizens. I’m sure we had discussions with the FAA about it. I just wanted to make very clear that there was no – nothing driving this beyond security.

QUESTION: So do – and so you agree with that decision, and do you think it should be prolonged according to whatever the conditions – as things stay --

MS. HARF: We’ll see what the conditions look like on the ground. As I said, FAA will give updated instructions to U.S. airlines no later than 24 hours from when it went into effect, which was at 12:15 p.m. Eastern today. It could be earlier, depending on the situation on the ground.

QUESTION: The fact that the – some of the European airlines, Air France and Lufthansa, have now followed suit – was that something that was collectively decided among sort of international airline bodies, or --

MS. HARF: I can check. I don’t know the answer to that.

QUESTION: Or are they just following because the FAA’s done it?

MS. HARF: They may just be following. Obviously, we discuss these issues with our counterparts around the world. This was just a decision for U.S. airlines. Let me check on that and see if there’s more details to share.

Yes.

QUESTION: Back to Secretary Kerry?

MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: Does the Secretary have some concrete proposals to the parties, or he’s just now in Cairo waiting for --

MS. HARF: I think anyone who knows the Secretary knows he always has concrete proposals and doesn’t just wait around for anything. But what he’s doing is talking to our partners, the Egyptians, others about how we can get to a ceasefire. There are a lot of pieces to this, so obviously there are active discussions, productive discussions going on today about how we could get to a ceasefire. I’m not going to outline what they look like specifically, but the discussions are very substantive and productive today.

QUESTION: But for the time being, he’s focusing on getting a ceasefire?

MS. HARF: Correct. That is the goal.

Yes, Said.

QUESTION: Marie, the Israelis warned international journalists to keep out of the combat area. You have anything to say on that?

MS. HARF: I’ve seen some – sorry – I had seen some reports of that. I can’t confirm those details. Obviously, we put out a Travel Warning today for American citizens.

QUESTION: Right.

MS. HARF: We believe, of course, that journalists should not be targets of violence, must be protected and allowed to freely do their jobs no matter where, but I hadn’t seen those specific reports.

QUESTION: Now, those international journalists, almost all of them, agree that Hamas operatives don’t even go to these hospitals like Shifa and Wafa and so on; they have their own clinics and hospitals to send their fighters to that are, in fact, probably closed to the public. And most of these areas that were targeted were actually civilian hospitals. Do you have any comment on that?

MS. HARF: Well, I don’t want to do individual assessments of targets that may have been hit by Israeli operations. That’s just not my place to do that. I will note, as I did, that Hamas has in the past used civilian hospitals, schools to hide rockets, to hide fighters. I don’t want to make an independent judgment about each individual operation it’s undertaken, though. I don’t think that’s my place to do that.

QUESTION: Marie, the --

MS. HARF: Yes, staying here? Yeah.

QUESTION: The Israeli ambassador last night, he was talking at a group event for – run by Christians for Israel or something like that, and he said that he believed that Israel deserves a Nobel Peace Prize for Israeli soldiers, for the restraint that they’ve shown in going in and doing what he would say is targeted operations. And he thinks – at a breakfast I was at this morning, he says the international community should watch with admiration what the Israeli army is doing. Is it the opinion of the United States that there is restraint being shown by the Israeli army, that they are really working to try and get civilians out of harm’s way, they’re giving them advance warning? Do you believe that his comments are accurate?

MS. HARF: Well, a few points. As the President said yesterday, they do have a right to defend themselves. They have given us assurances that they are taking every step to protect civilians from casualties.

The President also said yesterday that we’re – we have serious concerns about the growing number of Palestinian civilian deaths. And it is clear, I think, that while the Israelis have said they hold themselves to very high standards and we certainly hold them to the same standards as well, I think probably they could take some greater steps, maybe could do a little bit more. And we’ll continue those conversations with the Israelis going forward.

QUESTION: So they haven’t shown enough restraint, then, in your opinion?

MS. HARF: Well, we do think that there could be – they could do a bit more, that they could maybe take some greater steps here. But again, we’ve been very clear, having said that, that Israel has a right to defend itself; that that’s what they are doing in this case; that when their civilians are the targets of terrorist rockets that are the – Hamas firing them into Israel, that there’s a very serious obligation to protect their citizens.

QUESTION: So what kind of greater steps would you like to see Israel take?

MS. HARF: I don’t have any specifics for you. It’s a conversation we’ll continue having with them.

QUESTION: Sorry, they should take a – they should do a little bit more? Or a bit more?

MS. HARF: I said it’s clear they could take greater steps.

QUESTION: Does that mean you would prefer that they didn’t blow up kids on the – on a beach?

MS. HARF: I said it’s clear they could take greater steps, Matt.

QUESTION: But you said “a little bit,” and then you said “a bit more.”

MS. HARF: Feel free to use whatever quote of mine you’d like. I think I just made clear they could do more, and I don’t have anything to add to that.

QUESTION: Okay. But is it your opinion that all they need to do is a little bit more, or is --

MS. HARF: I just said it’s clear they could take greater steps. Happy to use whatever quote you’d like.

QUESTION: Marie, sorry.

MS. HARF: Yes, Said.

QUESTION: I wanted to ask you about the number of soldiers that have U.S. citizenship. The latest figures show that there are 2,000 Americans serving for the Israeli army.

MS. HARF: I haven’t – I don’t think we keep figures on that. I don’t – I certainly haven’t seen them.

QUESTION: Okay. I just wanted – maybe you could look into it.

MS. HARF: We do – the State Department does not keep figures on how many U.S. citizens are volunteering with the IDF. We do not.

Yes.

QUESTION: Can we switch to Ukraine?

MS. HARF: Are there any more on this?

QUESTION: Yes.

QUESTION: Oh yeah.

MS. HARF: Okay. Then you can switch us to Ukraine, yes.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: You – earlier you mentioned also yesterday that the Secretary talked to Foreign Minister Davutoglu.

MS. HARF: He’s spoken to him many times, yes.

QUESTION: And can you give us a little bit more on that – what exactly the Secretary wants Turkey at this point?

MS. HARF: Well, we’ve talked to all of our partners in the region about how they could play a constructive role in getting to a ceasefire here. That was part of these conversations.

QUESTION: Okay. You talk about the countries that have ties with Hamas that can play a role. Do you think Turkey can play a role at this point?

MS. HARF: I think, certainly, they’re one of the countries. And, I think, to address one of the questions that you asked yesterday, the Secretary has raised our concerns about the inflammatory statements we have seen a number of times, including during his call with Foreign Minister Davutoglu today. Senior U.S. officials in Washington and Ankara have also raised our concerns with Turkish counterparts. So I wanted to answer a question you asked yesterday.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. HARF: You’re welcome.

QUESTION: But does the – I want to just – taking my colleague’s question a bit further: Do those inflammatory comments kind of rule out Turkey as being any way – in any shape or form a mediator in this conflict?

MS. HARF: No, no. But we did – as I said yesterday, it does hurt their ability to play a constructive role here. But no, I wouldn’t rule it out. Obviously, we believe they can play a role, but these comments certainly do not help.

QUESTION: Not this, but related to something Jen talked about last week, which was – she expressed concern about the arrest and detentions without charge of members of the Abu Khdeir family, the family whose one American teen was beaten up and is now back in Florida, and the other one who was murdered.

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: Has there been a – are you aware if there’s been a resolution to that situation with the family?

MS. HARF: I’m checking. I’m not sure if there has been. Let me see if I have something from yesterday. I thought I did, but I might not. Let’s see.

We – this is probably what she said last week, that we’ve raised our concerns with senior Israeli officials; the Israelis have said they are looking into the issue. We’re continuing to closely monitor it. We do not believe that any of the detained family members are American citizens. I’ll check and see if there’s an update. I don’t have anything else.

QUESTION: Right, but one of the things that Jen said last week was that you had an – even though none of them were – are American citizens, that you obviously have an interest in this case given the fact that one of the relatives was an American citizen. Is it your understanding that there’s – that the Israelis have taken 15 members of this family into custody?

MS. HARF: I don’t have a number in here.

QUESTION: Okay. Could you just check to see --

MS. HARF: I can check, yep.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. HARF: Staying here?

QUESTION: Yes. If I can just go back to the press coverage issue in Gaza, I’m not asking you to comment on any one specific incident, but have you relayed in general your concerns about freedom of the press, freedom of channels to be able to relay the news in Gaza to Israeli officials? Have you been in touch with them about that?

MS. HARF: I can check on that specifically. Obviously, we make it very clear all the time, but let me check on that specifically.

QUESTION: Well, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman quoted in press by saying that Al Jazeera, at least, was, quote, spreading “anti-Israeli incitement, lies, and encouragement to the terrorists.” That is his quote, and wanted close the channel there in his country. Do you agree with his assessment?

MS. HARF: Well, we certainly believe that journalists must be able to freely do their jobs no matter where they’re operating, period, and don’t think steps should be taken to prevent them from doing so.

QUESTION: And just to follow up on this question, actually, I got at these two. I was asked to ask this question many times. (Laughter.) One of the CNN report --

MS. HARF: Is it about our relationship with Turkey strategically?

QUESTION: No. I’ll do it next week.

MS. HARF: Okay, I’ll wait for it. (Laughter.) Or you can do it later this week.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: Give me a few days off from it.

QUESTION: One of the CNN reporters, because of her tweet – I don’t remember her name right now, but because of her tweet, she was relocated to Russia because she was saying in tweet that she was insulted by some of the Israelis that were watching the bombs coming over the Gaza. So the question was: As we all know, you are very sensitive to the freedom of press. Do you think this – on this particular issue, you see any issue with the CNN --

MS. HARF: I’m sorry. I’m not familiar with this case.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: I’m happy to look into it.

QUESTION: Can I just go back to UNRWA for one second?

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: Are you – in your discussions with – are you – what exactly are you telling them – what are you telling them to do? Are you telling them to consult with who about how to handle these --

MS. HARF: Right. We’re talking to them, to the UN leadership, to the PA, and to the Israel Government about developing better options in the case something like this happens. I don’t have specifics about what those options might look like.

QUESTION: Okay. But you’re --

MS. HARF: Basically, we want to have – if this happens again, we want to have a different way to resolve it.

QUESTION: Right. Is there any concern that these rockets may now be being fired into Israel?

MS. HARF: I can check and see.

QUESTION: All right.

MS. HARF: I just don’t know.

QUESTION: And the money that’s going to them that was announced yesterday – going to UNRWA, 15 million – can you remind us of what that’s for?

MS. HARF: The 15 million specifically? I can check and see if I have that. In terms of what it would specifically do for the organization, I don’t have that in front of me. It was part of a larger, I think, 47 --

QUESTION: It doesn’t go – it’s not intended for rocket disposal, neutralization, and that kind of thing. (Laughter.) Is that right?

MS. HARF: This has long been in the works, Matt.

Yes, I promised Ukraine. You want to go to Ukraine?

QUESTION: Yes. Okay, so the White House said today that it would lay out intel regarding the Malaysian airliner.

MS. HARF: Yes. I told you guys just to stick with us and we’d get you some more intel.

QUESTION: All right. So who – do you have any information on when that’s supposed to be released?

MS. HARF: So I would refer you to the intelligence community, who will today be further declassifying information and will be putting out additional information that supports what we have said; that we believe the most likely outcome here was that this was an SA-11 originated from Russian-separatist controlled areas. I’d refer you to them for details on that.

QUESTION: Okay, but you don’t know --

MS. HARF: But it will be coming out today.

QUESTION: But you don’t know what time, you have (inaudible)?

MS. HARF: I don’t have those details, I’m sorry.

QUESTION: Okay. Also, Russia has recently been questioning a Ukrainian Su-25 fighter jet that was flying no more than three miles away from the Boeing plane before it was shot down. And they’ve sort of suggested that it may have been involved. They don’t know, but they’re questioning it.

MS. HARF: I think they’ve done more than suggest that, yes.

QUESTION: What evidence does the U.S. have to rule out that as a possibility at this point? Because I’ve heard reports that the U.S. already sort of knocked that out of --

MS. HARF: A couple points. First, as we’ve said, when you look at the kind of markings on the plane and how it looked like it was brought down, obviously that’s consistent with an SA-11, which is fired from the ground. I haven’t seen any information that indicates a Ukrainian jet. We’re still looking into it, obviously. The president of Ukraine has said there was not, but again, we like to independently verify things for Matt, before you ask the question. And so I haven’t seen information that would indicate that.

And all of the – the preponderance of the information that we’ve laid out and that the intelligence community will lay out was that this was an SA-11 fired from the ground from a separatist-controlled area.

QUESTION: And there are also several reports that the Ukrainian military has continued to issue attacks in eastern Ukraine, despite everything going on with the investigation. What kind of information do you have on that, and has the U.S. said anything whatsoever to Kyiv authorities about a cease-fire?

MS. HARF: Well, the president of Ukraine is committed to a 40 kilometer cease-fire around the crash site, and I believe the fighting is outside of that 40 kilometers. I think he’s held to it. And look, we – a cease-fire takes two sides. So where there are attacks against the Ukrainian people, Ukrainian forces, they obviously have a responsibility and obligation to protect their people. But it’s my understanding that they have held the cease-fire around the crash site.

QUESTION: And just one more question.

MS. HARF: Yep.

QUESTION: Is the U.S. concerned about that fighting continuing amidst the investigation?

MS. HARF: Well, we’re concerned about all of the fighting in eastern Ukraine, which is the result of these pro-Russian separatists, who we’ve seen what they’re capable of doing – not just this week but over many weeks, including when they’ve bragged about shooting down planes in the past. So we’ve called on President Putin very directly to use his influence to help end the fighting there.

QUESTION: So President Putin --

QUESTION: Excuse me, I would like to ask you about --

QUESTION: -- President Putin said today --

MS. HARF: Can we do – let’s just do one at a time.

QUESTION: -- that he would --

MS. HARF: Let’s do Matt, and then we’ll go to you, and then I’ll go to Wesley.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: -- that he would use that influence.

MS. HARF: Let’s see some actions backed up – backing up those words.

QUESTION: And the other thing is, I would hope that you’re not just verifying these things for me, for my sake.

MS. HARF: Matt, I just care very deeply about answering your questions thoroughly and fulsomely. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Fulsomely, yes. Okay, in --

MS. HARF: No, but I did say yesterday that we are committed and I didn’t just say it to say it. We do mean it.

QUESTION: I understand that. So can you give us any idea – recognizing that the intel community is going to do this and not you – can you give us an idea of what it is that they’re going to --

MS. HARF: I can’t.

QUESTION: -- I mean, just broad – okay.

MS. HARF: Obviously, we’ve spoken about our assessment, and I think we’ll have some more information that backs that up.

QUESTION: The Europeans today met – the European Council met --

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: -- and said that they were going to expand and enhance --

MS. HARF: I think visa bans, asset freezes.

QUESTION: Correct.

MS. HARF: Yep.

QUESTION: That’s correct. I presume that you think that’s a good thing?

MS. HARF: We do. Yes.

QUESTION: You do? Do you have anything more to say about it --

MS. HARF: I don’t.

QUESTION: -- than just that?

MS. HARF: I don’t.

QUESTION: Just that it’s a good thing?

QUESTION: Do you feel they could go further though? I mean, there’s some reluctance – I think there’s some Europeans that want to go towards a tier 3, to expand it onto different sectors --

MS. HARF: Right.

QUESTION: -- and also an arms embargo which would perhaps put the French in a difficult position. And there’s some who don’t – notably the French. So do you think – would you support the EU to go further in these sanctions?

MS. HARF: Well, I think we would support anyone who wants to put increased pressure on the Russians here. As I said yesterday and as the Secretary and the President have both said, this should be a wake-up call for the Europeans, quite frankly, that they should do more. We’ve done more, and we’ll keep working with them on it.

QUESTION: What do you make of the fact that the French, even after the downing of the plane, and – are going to go ahead with the transfer of this warship?

MS. HARF: Clearly think it’s completely inappropriate.

QUESTION: Completely inappropriate?

MS. HARF: And we’ve told them they should not do it.

QUESTION: And why exactly? Because --

MS. HARF: I will let Foreign Minister Fabius speak for himself, which I know he is very capable of doing.

QUESTION: But have you explained to the French your – or do you understand – have the French come to the same conclusion as you did – as you have about who is responsible for this plane going down, do you know?

MS. HARF: It’s my understanding, yes.

QUESTION: They have?

MS. HARF: I mean, they can speak for themselves --

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: -- but I haven’t heard otherwise.

QUESTION: But I mean, they haven’t come back to you – when you say we think this is a really – this is a bad idea, you shouldn’t go ahead with the transfer, they don’t say well, we don’t – they don’t tell you that we’re – they’re not certain that the Russians are --

MS. HARF: I haven’t heard that, Matt.

QUESTION: So what --

MS. HARF: I haven’t heard anyone except for the Russians question what happened here, quite frankly.

QUESTION: Okay. Going back to the stuff that the Russian defense ministry put out yesterday and some of this stuff online, is it your – I’m presuming you have seen – I’m assuming that you’ve seen some of it now.

MS. HARF: Seen some of it.

QUESTION: Do you regard all of that as complete fabrication and --

MS. HARF: Well, I haven’t seen all of it, but certainly the narrative that they are propagating, we very strongly disagree with and have many, many, many pieces of evidence to prove otherwise.

QUESTION: And those pieces of evidence you expect to be presented --

MS. HARF: At this intelligence community briefing, my former colleagues.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: I told you we would try.

QUESTION: Okay. Well, we will all wait with bated breath for that.

MS. HARF: I’m sure you will.

QUESTION: Just on the EU sanctions. There was a suggestion that if they did go ahead with an arms embargo they could make it for new contracts, not existing contracts. Would that be something that the United States would support?

MS. HARF: I don’t know --

QUESTION: Which would allow the Mistral to still go ahead, obviously.

MS. HARF: I don’t know. We obviously don’t think the Mistral should go ahead. I can check on what our position is on that.

QUESTION: Marie --

MS. HARF: We don’t think anyone should be providing arms to Russia.

QUESTION: Excuse me.

QUESTION: Was that discussion --

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- with the Russian – with the French, was that in the last few days? Was there a renewed discussion?

MS. HARF: We’ve certainly spoken to the French foreign minister over the past few days. I can check and see if it came up. I’m guessing it did.

QUESTION: And then I want to ask about the evidence that the intel community is going to release. Is that going to be expanded – anything that’s – is that going to be more than what we’ve seen or heard?

MS. HARF: I think if there wasn’t, I’m not sure why they would be doing it. But yes.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: You can hold me to that tomorrow if no. But I think that they will be – we have – there’s going to be further declassification. We will be putting out more information later. Again, it bolsters and backs up the general assessment we’ve already put out there, but they will be putting more information out there.

QUESTION: Do you know if satellite images will be --

QUESTION: May I go back – may I go back to the --

QUESTION: Sorry.

QUESTION: -- Traveling Warning, please? I was --

MS. HARF: You two can figure out who’s going to --

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

QUESTION: It’s my turn.

MS. HARF: It’s your turn.

QUESTION: It’s my turn.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) Ukraine?

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: May I go back to the Travel Warning?

QUESTION: Can I stay with Ukraine?

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: I’ve got another Ukraine one.

MS. HARF: Okay. He’s going to ask one, and then Nicole can.

QUESTION: All right.

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: Go back to the Travel Warning that this Department has issued yesterday --

MS. HARF: For Ukraine?

QUESTION: No, no, for Israel and --

MS. HARF: We’re going to stay on Ukraine and then we’ll go to Israel. We’re going to stay on Ukraine. We’re going to do one topic at a time.

Nicole, on Ukraine.

QUESTION: Just with regard to the intelligence you’re going to be releasing later today, the Administration, a member of the Russian defense ministry’s advisory council came out earlier today basically with statements – a statement discrediting what you guys are saying. And one of the arguments he made is that the satellite that you have above Ukraine can only register missile launches within a zone of 50 to 100 kilometers, and so that there’s no way with any specificity the U.S. can say that the missile came from rebel-controlled territory. Could you respond to that?

MS. HARF: I think for more details, I think the intelligence community can probably respond. I, suffice to say, strongly disagree with what he said. We’ve seen a history throughout this conflict of the Russian Government putting out just sheer propaganda, falsehoods about what’s happening. We have a great deal of open-source evidence and intelligence to back it up that supports what we believe to be true, and we’ll talk about that more in the coming days.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Ukraine? Ukraine?

MS. HARF: Ukraine.

QUESTION: Can you tell us anything about the remains of the passengers that were turned in to – did --

MS. HARF: Yes. We are pleased that the victims’ remains have finally started their journey back to their loved ones. They – let me see if I can get the details about this specifically, if you just give me one second.

This was part of the agreement that the Malaysian authorities reached with the separatist leader to do three things: move the bodies by train to Kharkiv where they will be handed over to a Dutch representative; hand over the black boxes to a Malaysian team; and guarantee safe access to the crash site for investigators to begin their work. And thus far, all three of these things have happened. The bodies have been moved, black boxes have been delivered to the Malaysians, and monitors had much-improved access today. We are hopeful that that access will continue.

The OSCE did confirm that a contingent of Dutch, Malaysian, and OSCE representatives accompanied the remains on a train to Kharkiv where they will go on to the Netherlands. I can’t confirm yet if the flight to the Netherlands has happened. The train arrived in Kharkiv around 4:30 a.m. Washington time.

QUESTION: It’s a morbid task, but can you give us a figure? All the passengers, 298 have --

MS. HARF: I don’t have that. I mean, we know 298 people were on the plane. I don’t have specifics beyond --

QUESTION: Do you have any information – there was some suggestion that the Ukrainian separatists have said that there were 282 bodies that were handed over, and in fact it seems that the people who have received them said there were only 200 bodies. Do you have any --

MS. HARF: I can check. I don’t have – I – that’s a good question. Let me check with our colleagues there.

QUESTION: There have been some reports that the wreckage of the plane was badly tampered with, including one report that said the cockpit had – well, the remains of the cockpit had actually been sawed in half. Do you have – do you know about this?

MS. HARF: I can’t confirm that. I’ve obviously seen the reports that – and we saw just video and photos of the pro-Russian separatists tampering with the evidence in a fairly grotesque way. I can see if I can confirm the issue about the cockpit.

QUESTION: Okay. Well, I’m just wondering, in general, if such tampering – does that – and the fact that the Secretary said the scene was already seriously compromised --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: I mean, are you concerned at all that the investigation will not be able to reach a conclusive --

MS. HARF: No. I think we are concerned about what happened at the crash site, but we do believe that the investigation can go forward and can make a judgment about what happened here.

QUESTION: One more --

QUESTION: A correct and factual judgment, not just any judgment, right?

MS. HARF: Correct.

QUESTION: Can I have one more?

MS. HARF: Wait. Let’s go to Lucas, then I’m coming to you.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: On the Facebook page of the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, there’s a map showing the SA-11 surface-to-air missile trajectory as well as the flight path of the aircraft.

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: Did this image originate from the State Department?

MS. HARF: It’s commercial imagery that’s available commercially.

QUESTION: And was that --

MS. HARF: And I know we posted it on our Facebook page in the Embassy, but it is commercial imagery.

QUESTION: So commercial imagery. And did somebody at the State Department or from the Embassy put in the flight tracks, the lines?

MS. HARF: I don’t think anyone here did. I think that this is something we’ve been using internally inside the broader USG who’s been talking about this, but let me see if I can get you some more details on that.

QUESTION: Okay, because that --

MS. HARF: And flight paths are obviously publicly available information, so --

QUESTION: Right. But the track of the missile --

MS. HARF: Yeah. It’s a good question, Lucas, and let me check on that.

Yes. On Ukraine?

QUESTION: Yes, madam. This is one of the unique kind of incident, what terrible incident has taken place. Many people are asking now: What is the future – are you calling any kind of some kind of international aviation conference? How can you avoid in the future such incidents? Because this is not – in the past you had seen some bombs and all kind of those things, but not the way it happened now.

MS. HARF: Well, in terms of international response, as you saw yesterday, the Security Council unanimously passed a resolution about this incident, and we welcomed that resolution. It talked about a number of things, including the investigation here. And as you saw too, we are very – take very seriously, the United States Government writ large through the FAA, our obligations to protect American citizens and to warn U.S. carriers when we think there could be a possible security risk. I don’t have, I think, more details for you about what comes next. But I think the President was clear yesterday that these incidents need to have accountability, and that’s what the investigation is going to do – that people – what we need to find out right now is who was on the ground with the pro-Russian separatists, who exactly was there at the launch site for the SA-11. That’s part of what the investigation will do so we can hold people accountable.

QUESTION: May I have one on India, please?

QUESTION: No, sorry. Do you --

MS. HARF: We’ll go to you next, then. Yeah.

QUESTION: Do you have any information that would corroborate this, what this Ukrainian official in Kyiv is saying that a Russian – is that what he just asked – or that a Russian officer actually pushed the button?

MS. HARF: I don’t think he just asked that. I haven’t seen any. Obviously, one of the things we’re trying to figure out right now – and this is the hardest thing – who was at the site. So we’re still trying to figure that out right now.

QUESTION: Who was at the site and who actually did whatever it is that is required to launch it.

MS. HARF: Correct, yes.

Okay, Gaza.

QUESTION: Okay. Thank you so much.

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: I want to go back to the Travel Warning that this Department has issued yesterday. We all understand, we all know that the situation in Gaza is not safe. My question is: Why Israel? I mean, do you consider that Israel and mainly Tel Aviv are not safe now?

MS. HARF: Well, due to the ongoing hostilities, we have warned U.S. citizens of the risks of traveling there. We have recommended that U.S. citizens consider deferring nonessential travel to Israel and to the West Bank. We have long – had a longstanding, strong warning to U.S. citizens against any travel to the Gaza Strip.

QUESTION: So that means you consider Israel is an unsafe place, that’s --

MS. HARF: Well, we are warning them to consider deferring nonessential travel. We’re giving them the information that there are security risks. Obviously, we’re not telling them not to go there, as is the case with the Gaza Strip.

QUESTION: Okay. Based on what you said, do you – are you aware or do you have any information if Hamas possesses, has any long-range missiles, can reach the Ben Gurion Airport?

MS. HARF: Well, that’s a separate issue with the FAA. Let me go to that for just one second. Because there was a recent attack in the vicinity of Ben Gurion Airport, that’s why the FAA issued the notice to airmen today informing U.S. airlines they’re prohibited from going there to or from for 24 hours. So obviously, there was a security risk in the vicinity of Ben Gurion Airport.

QUESTION: So that means, based on what you are saying, that Hamas has the capability to shoot down any civilian aircraft?

MS. HARF: Well, I didn’t say that. I said that there was --

QUESTION: No. I mean, I’m trying to --

MS. HARF: I know. You’re trying to extrapolate from what I said to make judgments.

QUESTION: Exactly, yeah.

MS. HARF: And I’m telling you the facts as I know them. I’m happy to see if there’s additional judgments we can make about Hamas’s capabilities here. It was because of an attack in the vicinity of the airport that we don’t want U.S. airlines landing or taking off from there for a period of up to 24 hours. Let me check and see on the capabilities, in terms of the kind of rockets they have, in terms of airlines. I can check on that.

QUESTION: Marie – okay. Marie?

MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: But Ben Gurion Airport has been targeted before by Hamas rockets. Why wasn’t there a warning then and there is one now?

MS. HARF: Well, again, this is just in response to this recent attack. Obviously, it’s been some time. I don’t know the precise details about the past attacks, but this was in response to a recent attack. We haven’t seen one like this in recent memory, so we thought we would issue this warning (inaudible) the FAA.

QUESTION: Well, I mean maybe a week before when the hostilities started --

MS. HARF: I’m happy to check and get the specifics on that.

QUESTION: -- there was some rockets landing on --

MS. HARF: Okay. I don’t know if it was the same vicinity. I’m happy to check.

QUESTION: Do you have any concern that Hamas may have antiaircraft weapons?

MS. HARF: I will check and see. I don’t have all the details about their capabilities. Let me check on that.

QUESTION: Do you – one of the – among the complaints of Israelis who are upset that – or pro-Israel people who are upset about the Travel Warning and think that it’s a political move is that over the course of the last several days, the number of rockets going into Israeli territory has declined, and they raise the question: Why wasn’t the Travel Warning issued, say, 10 days ago when the number of rockets was far higher?

MS. HARF: Well, Matt, I would --

QUESTION: It’s their question, not mine.

MS. HARF: And I’m using their term. I would very much consider myself to be one of the people that thinks our protection of U.S. citizens abroad is our – one of our, if not our highest priority at the State Department. Obviously, we issue these travel warnings. There’s a process for updating them and changing them, which is what we did here, and this is the timing that came out of that process. There’s no specific reason why this timing was selected. It’s because of the ongoing hostilities we wanted to put the warning out.

QUESTION: The conspiratorial-minded say that the timing is – the convergence of the Secretary’s visit to Cairo is very coincidental, shall we say, when – or not coincidental --

MS. HARF: Well, it is, and there’s just no facts to back up those kind of conspiracies, period.

QUESTION: Okay. So --

MS. HARF: Period.

QUESTION: -- flat out?

MS. HARF: Period.

QUESTION: Would you think that – what’s the likelihood of the FAA warning staying in place until – for the duration until there is a ceasefire in place? Do you think those two could --

MS. HARF: I don’t know. I would – they’ll have a better sense at the FAA of that. Again, they’ll have to provide updated instructions to airlines no later than 24 hours, given that it’s only up to 24 hours. But I really don’t know.

QUESTION: Is it – I mean, is there a possibility that it could be extended beyond a 24-hour period?

MS. HARF: There is. There is. There is.

QUESTION: Excuse me. Just on the same topic, I know that this Department always plans for contingencies. Do you have any plan in case the situation gets worse to evacuate U.S. citizens from Israel, for example?

MS. HARF: Not that I’ve heard of. Obviously, we have an open embassy there working on the ground. We also have a consulate, as you’re aware of. They’re operating on a little reduced staffing right now. The Embassy in Tel Aviv is operating at reduced staffing. The consular section is providing only emergency consular services. The consulate general in Jerusalem is maintaining normal operations, including consular services. So I haven’t heard anything beyond that.

On this still?

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: Then what’s your assessment about the protests going on across the United States, Europe, and many European countries, and across the world, of course, concerning the Israeli invasion of Gaza?

MS. HARF: Well, I got asked about this yesterday, and I think I’d probably make a few points that I also made yesterday, one of which is that Israel does have the right to defend its citizens. And I think that many of the people if they were – in these protests – if they were constantly having to run to bomb shelters because terrorists were firing rockets at them, I think some of them may feel differently. I don’t want to speak for them. But certainly, Israel is living under a very serious terrorist threat that they have a responsibility to protect their people from.

As I said, though, a few minutes ago, we do believe that Israel should uphold the highest standards. They have told us they will. We think they could be doing more to protect civilian casualties here, and we’ll keep the conversation going with them on this as well. So I want to, I think, probably make both points here and don’t have much more comment on the protests than that.

QUESTION: Sorry, back on UNRWA again. So I’m just looking at the – there wasn’t --

MS. HARF: I love when you email people and you --

QUESTION: There – I didn’t – no, I didn’t email anybody. I got --

MS. HARF: You’re looking at your phone going back.

QUESTION: Well, I am. But I’m looking at an UNRWA statement that just came out --

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: -- that says, in fact, that yes, there was another – a second cache found.

MS. HARF: Okay. I can check on that. I’m not familiar with it.

QUESTION: And they say they’re taking all appropriate measures. Now after the – to deal with this stuff, these rockets – after this first incident, and you’re saying that the result was unacceptable, what’s your understanding of what all appropriate measures are for UNRWA to do with this cache of rockets?

MS. HARF: I don’t know where the conversation – I know we’re having conversations with them about what other options exist. I’ll check and see where they stand. I hadn’t seen the report of the second one; I’m happy to get more information.

QUESTION: Okay. It just seems very bizarre that rockets that are – that you condemn are being handed by a UN agency back to the local authorities.

MS. HARF: A UN agency, to be fair, that’s not armed, that’s --

QUESTION: I understand that.

MS. HARF: Well, no, no, no, but you get to make your point; I get to make mine. So they are a UN agency that’s unarmed, that is not equipped to deal with these kind of things. They did not make the right decision and no one’s – we’re certainly not saying that. But let’s give them a little bit of a benefit of the doubt here that it is difficult. But we are working with them to make sure there are better options.

QUESTION: Okay. But while you give them the benefit of the doubt, they give Hamas their rockets back, and those rockets can --

MS. HARF: Okay. You’re making sweeping generalizations again.

QUESTION: Well, no, I’m not. I mean, I think that’s --

MS. HARF: Well, I don’t know who they – we’ll check and see who the local authorities were they gave them to, and let’s not jump to conclusions here before we have all the facts. That’s all I’m saying.

QUESTION: All right.

MS. HARF: On Gaza. Anything else on Gaza?

QUESTION: I have something completely unrelated to anything we’re --

MS. HARF: Okay. Why don’t you take us somewhere else and then we’ll go around the room.

QUESTION: But I – no, I can go last. I’m --

MS. HARF: Okay. Go ahead.

QUESTION: India. Quickly, a two-part question: One, if Secretary has ever or now recently advised the White House or President for a new U.S. ambassador to India? Because the U.S. Embassy is still without a U.S. Ambassador in India, in Delhi.

MS. HARF: Let me check and see.

QUESTION: Number two: How can we overcome this 10-year-old problem as far as visa for Mr. Modi then – and now prime minister of India? Because each time in India right now, every day in the news and all that in the minds of the people, the same thing is sitting there. Is U.S. Embassy or State Department doing anything to overcome, because now --

MS. HARF: Well --

QUESTION: -- the prime minister of India is coming to the U.S. and White House --

MS. HARF: Correct. And we made very clear he would be welcomed, so --

QUESTION: No, but my question --

MS. HARF: -- I think that probably answers the question about whether or not – the visa issue.

QUESTION: No, I mean as far as a public – (inaudible) campaign or something, if U.S. Embassy or State Department doing to overcome this problem of the 10-year-old not visa for Mr. Modi?

MS. HARF: Well, I think when you have the White House and the State Department, the President both – all come out and say we welcome Mr. Modi to come to Washington, I think that should make very clear that he is indeed welcome in Washington.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. HARF: You are welcome.

Lucas.

QUESTION: Go to Germany?

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: Did Secretary Kerry send – had representative at this meeting with the President – Obama’s chief of staff and Lisa Monaco with counterparts in the German Government?

MS. HARF: I can check and see. Obviously, the Secretary’s part of the Administration, and the chief of staff of the White House is a key part of the Administration. I can see who else was there. I don’t have more details on who was there. Obviously, the Secretary works very closely with Lisa Monaco and Dennis McDonough.

QUESTION: Earlier today your colleague in the White House, Mr. Earnest, said that this is part of a, quote, “structured dialogue” to address concerns on both sides.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Is there anything more to read out from the podium?

MS. HARF: There’s not. Obviously, I know he spoke about it a bit. As we’ve said before, we will discuss these issues privately, not publicly, and this is part of that effort.

QUESTION: And --

QUESTION: Sorry --

MS. HARF: Yes.

Do you want to follow up on your Benghazi questions from yesterday? I got you some answers.

QUESTION: Wait, I have one about Germany if you’re --

MS. HARF: Okay. I did --

QUESTION: No, Germany.

MS. HARF: -- get Lucas some answers, though.

QUESTION: Are you staying on Germany? I just want to know if you got a – if there was any response, reaction to this incident over the weekend where these people flashed --

MS. HARF: I did see it. I would note that local police quickly spotted the projection. They have details, but of course, we respect freedom of expression and peaceful protest in Germany and around the world.

QUESTION: Okay, so you’re not – don’t have any – you don’t really have any problem with this?

MS. HARF: Well, I strongly disagree with the message in it --

QUESTION: Fair enough. But I mean --

MS. HARF: -- but support the ability of people to freely express that message. There was --

QUESTION: And you don’t – you weren’t offended by it in any way other than the fact that you don’t agree with it?

MS. HARF: Well, I mean, I don’t agree with it and I don’t think it’s appropriate, but I don’t have much more than that.

QUESTION: Okay, but – all right. But “NSA in the house” you think is not correct?

MS. HARF: I do not agree with the underlying premise of the message, Matt. And I really don’t have any more on this for you, as much as I think you probably want to push.

QUESTION: Okay, but you don’t – how can you – I’m not sure --

MS. HARF: I would rather I answer Lucas’s questions on Benghazi. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Wow. That bad?

MS. HARF: Banner day. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: I’m not sure you how you can under – how you can disagree --

MS. HARF: How much more analysis do you want me to do on this? I think it’s ridiculous.

QUESTION: I just don’t understand how you can disagree – of course you think it’s a stunt and ridiculous, but --

MS. HARF: It’s ridiculous, but they’re able to freely express themselves.

QUESTION: Right, exactly. But I don’t understand how you can disagree with the fundamental premise – the underlying premise of it.

MS. HARF: As we’ve said --

QUESTION: It’s true, no?

MS. HARF: -- we collect intelligence of the kind that other nations do as well, and I would leave it at that.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: Before we go to Benghazi, Marie, a couple more on Germany --

MS. HARF: Also a banner day. Let’s – before we go to Benghazi.

Yes. Go ahead, Lucas.

QUESTION: Given the fact that such a high-level team has gone to Germany, how do you rate the relationship between the United States and Germany right now, given that Germany has just expelled the chief spy in Germany?

MS. HARF: Well, since some of those developments, Secretary Kerry met with his German counterpart, the Foreign Minister -- Steinmeier, in Vienna last week. They had a very good meeting where they discussed a host of issues – Afghanistan, Iran, Gaza, Israel – and came out and spoke to the press afterwards. I think Foreign Minister Steinmeier probably said it best when he said we have a deep strategic relationship, we have shared values, we are working together. So I think just the tone of those comments and how we are working together shows that we’re focused on the future here. And the structured dialogue is part of that private discussion about how we can work together.

QUESTION: When Mr. Earnest said that there’s concerns on both sides, are there concerns on Germans’ side – or excuse me, on the United States’s side that Germany is spying on the U.S.?

MS. HARF: I don’t think I would further delineate what those concerns are.

QUESTION: Okay. And moving to Benghazi --

MS. HARF: Moving to Benghazi.

QUESTION: -- is there any follow-up on the questions I asked yesterday?

MS. HARF: Yes, I got answers to both of your questions.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. HARF: Just give me one second here. It’s a page to the front of my book.

Okay, so on the question about Ansar al-Sharia supposedly moving in next door, we have no record of the presence of Ansar al-Sharia in close proximity to our Benghazi facilities. We have received no warnings of their presence. We just have nothing to corroborate that at all, period.

On the question of the machine gun, on August 22nd, 2012, shortly before the attacks, obviously, a list requesting physical security improvements was submitted to Embassy Tripoli from Benghazi. It did include this request for a belt-fed weapon. This – the Embassy never accepted or rejected, never ruled one way or another on this proposal before the attack. Obviously, it happened – the request – the list was made right before the attack. They were still under review when the special mission was attacked, and obviously that request never came to main State as well.

QUESTION: So --

MS. HARF: And regardless, I would – you yesterday mentioned aesthetics or something being denied. Nothing was denied here, but also would argue that that’s not why we would deny security.

QUESTION: So would --

QUESTION: What was the date?

MS. HARF: August 22nd.

QUESTION: So we can just chalk this up to bureaucratic --

MS. HARF: Yes, Lucas, that there’s a process here, and that Benghazi sent on August 22nd a list requesting physical security improvements. One of these things was that. The Embassy was still reviewing it in Tripoli when the special mission was attacked. It never came to main State and they had not ruled on it one way or the other. But I would also caution you from thinking that any one thing could have prevented the tragedy that happened that day. I know it’s a tempting argument to make, but unfortunately, it’s not based in reality.

QUESTION: And just to follow up on Samir’s question yesterday about ISIS in Iraq and persecuting Christians, is there any update from the podium about any special ambassador for international religious freedom that might be able to – better equipped to deal with this kind of issue?

MS. HARF: Well, we’re very well-equipped to deal with this kind of issue. We have a number of people working on it. I don’t have an update for you on that. I’m happy to check.

QUESTION: Would you agree that when President Obama goes to the Dutch embassy and signs a book of condolence – largely it’s a ceremonial gesture. Would a nomination – would you agree that a nomination of this position of international – ambassador of international religious freedom, it would set – it’d be better optics, given --

MS. HARF: Why is it related in any way to the President signing a ceremonial book? I don’t see the link, and obviously, we’re committed to religious freedom regardless of whether or not there’s someone in that position.

QUESTION: Because it’s a gesture that says that we care.

MS. HARF: Well, we do care. We care very deeply, and I will see if there’s an update on any sort of nominations for you.

QUESTION: Can I just go back to the – this machine gun thing?

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: Sorry, the request from the --

MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: That’s – if I’m – unless I’m bad – really bad at my math and about the days of the month in August, which I believe there are 31, right?

MS. HARF: I don’t know.

QUESTION: I think there are 31. So that would be 20 days. Do you know – I mean, and this isn’t meant to be accusatory – is that a normal --

MS. HARF: I like when you preface – the other questions are.

QUESTION: No, it’s not. I just want to know if --

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- a request like this normally takes longer to --

MS. HARF: I think it depends on what the request – yes. Many times, particularly for routine security or requests like this, they do take much longer. If there’s something urgent, obviously – I don’t have any information indicating this was an urgent request.

QUESTION: A belt-fed machine gun wasn’t an urgent – I don’t know.

MS. HARF: I don’t either.

QUESTION: I mean, that doesn’t – it seems a little bit – I mean, it’s not like --

MS. HARF: Let’s not jump to --

QUESTION: -- the embassy in Berlin is asking for a belt-fed machine gun.

MS. HARF: Let’s not – let’s not jump to conclusions here, Matt.

QUESTION: I don’t want to.

MS. HARF: It was on a list – well, you are, and I’m going to walk you back from it. It was on a list of requests made from Benghazi to the embassy in Tripoli. Obviously, we take security very seriously.

QUESTION: Right.

MS. HARF: It hadn’t been – this list hadn’t been ruled on one way or another.

QUESTION: I know, but okay, what else was on the list? Toilet paper?

MS. HARF: I can look.

QUESTION: I mean, was it routine, or was the other stuff like --

MS. HARF: It’s my understanding that it was routine.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: Let me check.

QUESTION: All right.

QUESTION: Marie, could I go to the issue of the Mosul Christians?

MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: I mean, this is – for the first time in 1,800 years, these people have been uprooted and thrown out of their home. I mean, are you just resigned to just issuing condemnations? I mean --

MS. HARF: Absolutely not, Said.

QUESTION: -- they appropriated their property --

MS. HARF: We take the humanitarian situation very seriously.

QUESTION: -- they are forcing people to convert to Islam. I mean, they have done some really horrible, brutal things.

MS. HARF: They have. And we have worked very closely with the United Nations and other NGOs about the humanitarian situation. Since June, we have announced a new $13.8 million in humanitarian assistance to international organization partners working to help displaced persons and conflict victims in Iraq. This is helping across the board – obviously, not just with Christians, but this is part of our ongoing humanitarian effort.

Also, on July 3rd, Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration, Anne Richard met with officials from the Kurdistan Regional Government to discuss – to thank them for their hosting of IDPs, to discuss ways we can help with the displaced Iraqis. So we’re constantly engaged on the topic.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MS. HARF: Yes. Right here – we’ll go across that row and then end with Matt. Go ahead.

QUESTION: India. There are some reports saying that when Mr. Secretary Kerry was at Egyptian presidential palace to meet President al-Sisi, he was detected – he was searched by a metal detector.

MS. HARF: There is no story here. I – regardless of the fact that some of the reporters there, I think, were tweeting about it, there was really no story here. I talked to the folks on the ground and they were quite frankly surprised by the attention paid.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.) Do you have anything on the United States warning civilian airlines fly to North Korean airspace site?

MS. HARF: Let me check. I don’t know the answer to that. I’m happy to check.

QUESTION: Thank you very much.

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: On Turkey, today – (laughter).

MS. HARF: Go ahead.

QUESTION: I thought you said next week. (Laughter.)

MS. HARF: Go ahead.

QUESTION: There has been an operation going on today since last night. About 100 police chiefs been arrested. What’s your reaction? How do you view --

MS. HARF: I hadn’t seen that. I’m happy to check on that.

I think you also asked maybe yesterday at the end about the U.S.-Turkey working group. They are meeting here today. Deputy Secretary Burns met with the Turkish Foreign Ministry under secretary; chaired a meeting today of the working group, whose discussions focused on how the U.S. and Turkey can further strengthen our coordination on security, counterterrorism, and refugee issues, particularly with respect to the crises in Syria and Iraq.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: Yes – oh wait, did you have one more?

QUESTION: No, I don’t think.

MS. HARF: Okay. Okay. Lucas, one more.

QUESTION: One more, just on Iran.

MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: Earlier today, the IAEA issued a report saying that they are concerned about Iran’s lack of engagement with investigation into their nuclear program and the deadline was forthcoming. Iran has another deadline, apparently. And I was just wondering --

MS. HARF: So that’s a separate issue from the ongoing negotiations. The IAEA did acknowledge – first, let’s talk about the IAEA’s report on July 20th, which confirmed Iranian compliance with 14 specific measures agreed to under the Joint Plan of Action. So basically, at the end of the first six months here, the IAEA has confirmed that they have upheld their obligations under the Joint Plan of Action. There are, of course, outstanding concerns that Iran has been working with directly with the IAEA, which is separate from the P5+1 process. We agreed with the IAEA’s concerns, obviously, which is part of the main reason we are at the negotiating table trying to get a comprehensive agreement here. We know Iran has more work to do with the IAEA.

QUESTION: Is this another area where you think Iran is making progress?

MS. HARF: Progress in what way?

QUESTION: You just said you share the concerns with the IAEA over this nuclear problem?

MS. HARF: Well, we certainly share the concerns. We’ve said in the negotiations room – the negotiating table, we have made progress. But we’ve also said if you looked at what the Secretary said in Vienna that there are some very large gaps that remain. So clearly, that’s why we said we needed a little more time to address them.

QUESTION: Can I just ask, Marie, on the – under the JPOA, there was 7 million – 7 billion, sorry, that was going to be transferred in various tranches.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: So has that all – has that all been transferred now?

MS. HARF: Yeah. We have – the last tranche was, I believe, was at the very end of this. So it’s my understanding that we have fulfilled all of our obligations in terms of releasing that money. We obviously don’t hold it, right? It’s held overseas. So we’ve upheld our end of what we’re supposed to do here, and then it’s up to the Iranians to figure out how they’re going to get it back. But we’ve released it and done what we needed to do.

QUESTION: And have the Iranians done – because it was in return for each step --

MS. HARF: Yes, and they have – they have. They have fulfilled all of their obligations under the Joint Plan of Action.

QUESTION: Okay. So my next question is, under the extension Secretary Kerry mentioned in his statement there would be 2.8 billion that would released --

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: -- over the next four months.

MS. HARF: Correct.

QUESTION: Do you have a detail – a calendar of how that will be handed out in tranches and what the Iranians have to do in return to get – for getting it?

MS. HARF: So let me get the schedule for you after this; I thought I had it in here. The 2.8 is prorated at the same rate that the money was released under the six months. So it’s the exact same rate. They’re not getting anything additional. It’s just prorated. If you take the amount of money they got over six months and prorate it for four --

QUESTION: So – but it was about 550 billion – million they were getting each month.

MS. HARF: Well, take out – so two of those – at least two of those installments were for specific things they had to do with their – in terms of conversion or dilution of their uranium stockpile. The others were just monthly payments, so I believe it’s – let me check on the – but I know it’s prorated for one of the two.

QUESTION: It would be helpful if we could have the schedule of what they have to do in return.

MS. HARF: Yep. Well, so there’s not – the things are linked up one to one, right? So we have agreed to continue payments at the prorated amount we did for the first six months. But the additional steps Iran has committed to take as part of the extension – they have committed to convert 25 kg of its 20 percent enriched uranium oxide into fuel plates for the Tehran Research Reactor and continue converting that oxide into plates in a timely manner until all of the oxide has been converted into fuel. Why this matters is because in this form, Iran would find it difficult and time-consuming to use this 20 percent enriched material for further enrichment in a breakout session. So that’s why it’s significant that they’re converting it into fuel plates.

They also – I have all of this in here, sorry – Secretary’s statement – so they agreed to do that. Let me see, I think that’s – that’s it.

QUESTION: But they don’t have differences? They don’t have to by the end of August have to have done 5 kilos and – kg --

MS. HARF: Well, they have to – everything they committed to in the Joint Plan of Action in terms of not moving the program forward and freezing it – all of that stays. So everything they’ve already committed to doing, that all remains in place. They can’t install things that – Arak, they can’t – all of the things that we’ve said they can’t do, they still cannot do. In addition, they’ve committed to converting this into fuel plates, which again, we think is a significant step. We have agreed to provide payments metered out at the same rate we did for the first six months.

QUESTION: Marie, you said – I know you said that there’s no date been set yet for the resumption of talks.

MS. HARF: That is true.

QUESTION: But when are they likely to start? Because --

MS. HARF: I don’t know.

QUESTION: -- August is like a vacation month for everybody --

MS. HARF: Well, not for the United States of America, it’s not.

QUESTION: (Laughter.) All right.

MS. HARF: Look, I think the next four months will be a combination of sort of the big P5+1 plus EU meetings we have with the Iranians, bilaterals we’ll have directly with the Iranians, experts meetings we’ll all have. So I think you’ll see a combination of that over the coming four months. We certainly are not seeing August as a vacation month as much as I would like to, although we won’t brief on Fridays, per our tradition. A little bit of news for you all today.

One more?

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: Indonesia.

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: There was an election.

MS. HARF: There was an election.

QUESTION: What do you think of it?

MS. HARF: The United States looks forward to working with President-elect Widodo – is that how you say it? I think so – to enhance the partnership between our two countries and promote our shared interests. We congratulate the Indonesian people for, again, demonstrating their commitment to democracy through free and fair elections. I think if we have not already, we would be putting out a statement from the Secretary as well.

QUESTION: On the election?

MS. HARF: I believe so, yes.

One last one?

QUESTION: All right.

QUESTION: On a different topic. Do you know if the State Department is going to host the annual Iftar this week?

MS. HARF: I believe we were going to tonight. I know there was some question about whether we would, given the Secretary’s traveling. Let me check on that for you. I don’t know the answer. Let me check.

QUESTION: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:32 p.m.)

DPB # 127


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Categories: News Pit Feeds

Daily Press Briefings : Daily Press Briefing - July 21, 2014

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 08:08

Marie Harf
Deputy Spokesperson
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
July 21, 2014

Share Index for Today's Briefing
  • MIDDLE EAST PEACE
    • Secretary Kerry's Travel to Egypt
  • UKRAINE / RUSSIA / MALAYSIA
    • Investigation / SA-11 Missile Launch / U.S. Assessment
    • Pro-Russian Separatists / U.S. Intelligence
    • De-escalation / Russian Role in Investigation
    • Sanctions
    • UN Security Council Meeting
    • Crash Site / Repatriation of Bodies / Black Boxes
  • MIDDLE EAST PEACE
    • Israel's Right to Defend Itself / Hamas' Terrorist Infrastructure
    • Cease-fire / Egyptian Role / Secretary Kerry's Meetings and Phone Calls
    • IDF Soldiers Killed / U.S. Citizens' Military Service in Foreign Countries
    • Turkish Prime Minister's Comments
    • Civilian Casualties / De-escalation
    • Secretary Kerry's Interviews
    • Secretary Kerry's Engagement with Partners in the Region
  • IRAQ
    • Persecution of Ethnic and Religious Minorities by ISIL / Humanitarian Crisis
    • Election of Parliamentary Speaker and Deputy
  • TURKEY
    • U.S.-Turkey Relationship
  • IRAQ
    • U.S. Team on the Ground
  • NORTH KOREA
    • North Korea's Aggressive Actions / Violations of UN Security Council Resolutions
  • GERMANY
    • U.S.-German Relationship
  • IRAN
    • Capitol Hill Engagement / P5+1 Talks


TRANSCRIPT:

1:48 p.m. EDT

MS. HARF: Hello everyone.

QUESTION: Welcome back.

MS. HARF: Thank you. It’s good to be back in the United --

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MS. HARF: -- it is. I missed all of you, even though I saw some of you in Vienna.

Apologies for the delay. There’s a lot going on, obviously. Welcome to the daily briefing. Just a quick update at the top: The Secretary is en route to Cairo right now, where you know he will be meeting with our partners to discuss the situation in Gaza, to talk about a cease-fire, to talk about a host of issues. So he’s en route, will land later this afternoon.

With that --

QUESTION: Right. Well --

MS. HARF: Kick us off.

QUESTION: -- I’m sure we will get back to Gaza and the Secretary’s activity, but since he hasn’t arrived yet, I’m expecting that you won’t have a whole massive amount more to say than what we already know. So let’s start with Ukraine.

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: I’m wondering, first, if you have any reaction to the Malaysian prime minister’s announcement that they have gotten a deal with the rebels to turn over the black boxes and to – and the train has apparently – with the bodies has apparently left. Is this a positive sign in your --

MS. HARF: Well, if true – obviously, we think that there should be a full investigation, full access to the site. We can’t confirm independently these reports, but if true would be a step in the right direction. I would say this in no way legitimizes this person who has claimed leadership over this area, but we need access and his people control the area, so obviously this would be a step in the right direction. But we can’t at this point independently confirm either of the things you asked about.

QUESTION: Okay. And then you are perhaps familiar with the briefing that the Russian defense ministry gave this morning in which they laid out satellite images or radar tracking images talking about a Ukrainian fighter plane that was apparently near this – the Malaysian airlines plane. They also asked questions, a series of questions to you – meaning the U.S. Government – to produce the documentation, the evidence that Secretary Kerry, Ambassador Power talked about but didn’t offer any forensic evidence, or at least intel evidence. How do you respond to that?

MS. HARF: Well, a couple points. You saw the Secretary yesterday speak very clearly about our assessment that this was an SA-11 fired from Russian-backed, separatist-controlled territory; that we know – we saw in social media afterwards, we saw videos, we saw photos of the pro-Russian separatists bragging about shooting down an aircraft that then they then – they then – they then – excuse me – took down once it became clear that it may have been a passenger airline.

There is a preponderance of evidence at this point both sort of out there in the public domain and also from our information that points to the fact that there was a SA-11 launched from separatist-controlled territory. We assess, of course, that the Russian-backed separatists have this system, and one of the main reasons we have called for a full investigation is so we can get all the facts out there.

So what I encourage the Russians to do at this point is to push the separatists that are backed by their government to allow access, to allow investigators who are in Ukraine waiting to go into that area right now, and that’s what I would call on Russia to do at this point.

QUESTION: Right. But what they’re saying is that you should – they’ve put their – what they have out on the table, or at least they say they have done that.

MS. HARF: Well, I haven’t seen any of that. Again, we’ve made an assessment based on a broad range of information. We know this was fired from Russian-controlled territory. It is our assessment, very strong assessment this was an SA-11 that we know the Russian-backed separatists have. We, again, continue to gather more information and call --

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: -- on Russia to push the separatists to allow for a full investigation.

QUESTION: How is it exactly that you know that it was fired from Russian – I mean, from separatist-held territory?

MS. HARF: Well, we have a great deal of information that the Secretary laid out yesterday, and I can go back through some of it today. But we do know first that Russian-backed separatists were in possession of an SA-11 system as early as Monday, July 14th. This is from intercepts of separatist communications posted on YouTube by the Ukrainian Government.

QUESTION: Well, is there anything – okay, is there anything other – because there’s other --

MS. HARF: I can keep going if – or you want to jump in.

QUESTION: Well, is there stuff that’s other than social media that you’re talking --

MS. HARF: Yes, absolutely. There is.

QUESTION: Okay. So what is it that’s other than social media?

MS. HARF: At this point, Matt, we’ve said what our assessment is, very strong assessment publicly. If there’s more information that that’s based on that we can share, we’re happy to do so. We’ll continue looking at that. But look, this is what we know as of right now. Based on open information which is basically common sense, right – we know where it was fired from, we know who has this weapon – backed up --

QUESTION: Well, I don’t --

MS. HARF: -- backed up --

QUESTION: -- I mean, it’s disputed, though.

MS. HARF: -- backed up by a host of information that we have gathered about who did this, where it came from, and what the weapon system was. So one of – we’re just telling you what we know now.

QUESTION: Right, right. But --

MS. HARF: One of the reasons we’ve called on Russia to push the separatists it backs into an investigation is so we can get all the facts. Instead of holding press briefings and making statements, maybe the Russian Government should call on the separatists they support to allow an actual investigation.

QUESTION: Right. But that’s what you’ve done. You’ve held press – well, Security Council meetings and going --

MS. HARF: Well, we don’t have leverage with the separatists. I would say the Russians do and they’re not using it. So let’s have them use it.

QUESTION: Well, okay. But I mean, I think we’re talking at cross-purposes here. I’m asking you --

MS. HARF: It wouldn’t be the first time.

QUESTION: (Laughter.) No, that’s true. What I’m asking – I mean, there are social – all you’re willing to present publicly that backs up your version of the story, which may well be the correct version of the story, but all you have --

MS. HARF: “May well be.”

QUESTION: Well, it may well be. But I don’t know because I haven’t seen your evidence that shows that the missile was launched from rebel-held territory. But you’re saying – so the only thing you’re willing to put out publicly is the social media accounts, I mean the social media stuff.

MS. HARF: That’s part of it.

QUESTION: Right. But there are social media accounts that says – that disputes that or that claims to present a different version. So are you saying --

MS. HARF: What would that version be, Matt?

QUESTION: Well, I don’t – there are many, many theories.

MS. HARF: Any --

QUESTION: But you’re saying that all of those accounts --

MS. HARF: Most of which are completely illogical, I would point out.

QUESTION: Well, but all of the accounts that do not support your version of events are wrong --

MS. HARF: No.

QUESTION: -- and all of the ones that do support it are right? Is that what you’re saying?

MS. HARF: Look, we make assessments based on a variety of intelligence and a variety of information, some of which we can talk about publicly and some of which we can’t.

QUESTION: Well, is the – are you --

MS. HARF: And we also – and look, if you just take a step back, right, we need there to be an investigation so we can get all the facts, period. But on top of that, we have public information, which is, of course, the easiest for us to talk about --

QUESTION: Right.

MS. HARF: -- of the separatists bragging about having the system, bragging about the attack that took place, and then walking back from it when it became known that it was a passenger jet. I would ask people who don’t believe our assessment to say, “Okay, what other possible explanation could be – could there be for that?” They defy logic, right?

QUESTION: Well, I don’t know if it defies logic or not, but --

MS. HARF: So when you start from a place of you have separatists out on – again, this is the easiest piece of information for us to talk about – online bragging about it, start there and then work from there and work from all of the evidence we have that we are confident we know where it was fired from, we’re confident we know what it was, and it points in a certain direction. Again, we would encourage Russia to support an investigation if they don’t believe the facts.

QUESTION: Right. It points in a certain direction, but I’m not sure it would stand up to an international --

MS. HARF: I strongly disagree. I absolutely believe that it would.

QUESTION: -- investigation. Well, are you willing, if not at this moment in time now but soon, to put forward the intel that you say backs the claims that were made on social media? And in particular, it seems to me that the Secretary was very definitive, as you were just now, at saying that you know for sure 100 percent --

MS. HARF: I didn’t say 100 percent. Nothing is 100 percent in any world, Matt. But go ahead. It is our assessment, very strong assessment.

QUESTION: Okay, very strong assessment that the rocket – that the missile was fired from the rebel-held territory.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: And I mean, you can’t – there is no social media that I’m aware of that would lead to --

MS. HARF: Well, at the time that MH17 flight dropped out of contact, we detected a surface-to-air --

QUESTION: Yes.

MS. HARF: -- missile launch from a separatist-controlled area in southeastern Ukraine.

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS. HARF: Which we believe was an SA-11. What you want is the intelligence that underlies that?

QUESTION: Yeah. Well, I mean, they – the Russians have challenged – I’m not – I’m just saying the Russians have said --

MS. HARF: I’m just trying to clarify the question.

QUESTION: -- have said we’ve shown – we’ve put out our radar images which show this Ukrainian plane near at least – well, they have. I mean --

MS. HARF: Right.

QUESTION: Why don’t you put out your --

MS. HARF: Well, unfortunately, I don’t have original declassification authority, Matt. But --

QUESTION: Okay. Is --

MS. HARF: Wait, let me finish. But look, we have endeavored to make public as much information as possible. Obviously, if you’re dealing with an intelligence assessment in part, we are sometimes limited in what information we can share. That’s why I think you saw the Secretary speak much more forward-leaning about why we believe this and how we believe it.

QUESTION: Right.

MS. HARF: Sometimes you can’t get into all the specifics. We endeavor to put as many out as possible. We’re continuing to see if we can do more.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: I will say that.

QUESTION: So okay --

MS. HARF: Yes, we are --

QUESTION: So there is a possibility --

MS. HARF: I can’t promise you anything, but we’re continuing to see.

QUESTION: There is --

MS. HARF: And I would also say that the Russian Government has a long history during this conflict of misinformation and propaganda that they’ve put out, so I would take anything they say about this with a very large grain of salt.

QUESTION: Well, okay. But I mean, the problem – are you committing now to at least doing – that the intel community is doing its best to declassify stuff that they can put out and at least end the conflicting claims put forward by both the U.S. --

MS. HARF: Well, I would say that the Administration in general is attempting to put out as much information as we can about what underlies our assessment. I would also say that these aren’t competing narratives from two equally credible sources here. The Russian Government has repeatedly put out misinformation and propaganda throughout this conflict in Ukraine, so I would caution you from saying that this is just two equally credible sources.

QUESTION: Well, all right.

MS. HARF: Although you’re happy to report it that way.

QUESTION: No, I just --

MS. HARF: But I would take issue with it.

QUESTION: Well, I mean, again, you might be right, but I don’t see how you can say that everything we say is right and everything the Russians say is a lie.

MS. HARF: That’s not what I said.

QUESTION: That’s exactly what you just said right now.

MS. HARF: That’s not what I said. I said I would say that we are not two credible – equally credible parties when it comes to what we say publicly about the conflict in Ukraine.

QUESTION: And your argument would be that the U.S. is more credible than the Russians are, right? Is that what you’re --

MS. HARF: I’m not even dignifying that question with a response.

QUESTION: Well, I mean --

QUESTION: Marie, did you see the --

QUESTION: But you’re leaving that impression, Marie.

MS. HARF: That we’re more credible? Yes. We don’t put out mass amounts of propaganda. We don’t put out misinformation about what’s happening there repeatedly over the course of this conflict, which I’ve spoken about from this podium day after day. Absolutely.

QUESTION: But can you tell us --

QUESTION: The problem with that is is that all of 2002 and the beginning of 2003 was propaganda and misleading information that was put out by the United States.

MS. HARF: Okay, Matt. I’m sure that’s a tempting historical analogy to make, but it in no way impacts at all how we are doing this assessment or what we’re doing.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: And maybe someday you’ll finally stop using that as a straw man all the time.

QUESTION: It’s a --

QUESTION: Well Marie, one of the big things is showing evidence.

MS. HARF: Yeah. I – agreed. Agreed.

QUESTION: I mean, in court or anywhere, and I think that’s what Matt’s saying, is show the evidence, independent evidence of what you got in intel. I mean, the Russians --

MS. HARF: So we --

QUESTION: -- said today that they did not deliver any SA – you’ve seen it – bulk missile system. I mean, is there evidence that you have seen – not what the Ukrainians or anything online has shown, but it’s something that the U.S. has got evidence that they – that the Russians supplied this to them?

MS. HARF: This specific system.

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS. HARF: So a few points. And again, I agree that evidence is important and we are attempting to put out there as much as possible. I do think that’s why you saw the Secretary and me today going much further in why we say we believe – why we believe what we say. And I know it’s frustrating. Believe me, we try to get as much out there as possible. And for some reason, sometimes we can’t.

Look, I think it still remains to be seen, right, how the pro-Russian separatists got whatever – the SA-11, the specific one – I’m not assigning culpability there. But we know that there have been legions of young men crossing the Russian border with very sophisticated weaponry. This would not happen without at least the acquiescence or the support of the Russian Government.

These are complicated systems, right, that it takes training on. We know that the Russian Government’s been training the pro-Russian separatists. We know, period, that what’s happening in eastern Ukraine would not be happening without the support of the Russian Government. So we need a full investigation to determine exactly where the SA-11 came from, but we know that the pro-Russian separatists have many of the weapons they have, have the training they have, and have the support they have because of the Russian Government.

QUESTION: They could have stolen it from the Ukrainian --

QUESTION: Does the U.S. – does the – did the U.S. actually have – independently noticed that a Ukrainian warplane was the in the vicinity of the Malaysia --

MS. HARF: I don’t know if I can confirm those reports. I’m happy – I don’t even know if that’s true. I’m happy to check on it.

Yes.

QUESTION: Could they have stolen it from the Ukrainian military? I mean, the Ukrainian military has the same system, correct?

MS. HARF: Again, as I just said, I think we – we’re still – part of the reason we want to do an investigation is to determine the origins of the SA-11 system that we believe was used here. But regardless, it was fired from pro-Russian separatist area. We know that these pro-Russian separatists have shot down planes throughout this conflict – other planes, Ukrainian military planes – they’ve bragged about it online – with a – using a variety of systems. So this fits into a certain pattern we’ve seen here, but I would underscore this is why we need an investigation that’s not impeded, where there’s full access – you heard the President speak about it this morning, and that’s the best way to get all of the facts, is for there to be an investigation.

QUESTION: Is the fact that the Malaysian Government – if it’s true, they cut that deal with the separatists – does that in any way sort of elevate the separatists into a sort of legitimate status, and what --

MS. HARF: Well, as I just made clear, it does not give them any legitimacy --

QUESTION: I understand. I --

MS. HARF: -- but they control the area and we want – our biggest concern at this moment is for the loved ones of those lost on that plane to be able to have their loved ones return home with dignity. It’s insulting that the separatists are not allowing them to do so.

QUESTION: And the other part of that question: Do you think that the Malaysian Government in a way did not coordinate with you and the other international parties by doing that on their own so to speak?

MS. HARF: Said, I don’t have any analysis of that to do. As I said, this doesn’t in any way confer legitimacy on the so-called leader there. But it is the truth that his fighters do control the territory, and our biggest concern right now is getting the remains of those lost on the plane, and allowing access for an investigation.

Yes, James.

QUESTION: Marie, I wanted to follow-up on various aspects of this, and begging the indulgence of my colleagues for the various strands I want to pursue with you.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. Okay.

QUESTION: But first just to follow up on this notion of the disclosure potentially of some of our intelligence information or product by way of satisfying the world’s questions about this affair. Perhaps the more apt analogy than 2002-2003 is Adlai Stevenson at the UN where we had a very serious charge that the Soviet Union at that time had installed missiles on Cuba, and we shared our photographic reconnaissance by way of making that point.

Is that the kind of thing you say the Administration’s considering doing here to satisfy the world’s questions about this?

MS. HARF: I would actually compare it to a more recent event, which is when we talked about the chemical weapons use in Syria. That’s something I lived through, so I know more acutely than Adlai Stevenson’s activities at the UN. But on that, there were a lot of questions, and we attempted to, as the days went on, make more information available until we got to a point where we basically put out an intelligence assessment, not – we didn’t put out every piece of information, but we were able to get as much out there. That’s what we’re trying to do right now. Obviously, it’s always a balance.

QUESTION: Some sort of white paper, as we saw in the Syrian conflict?

MS. HARF: I have no idea what that would look like, but we’re trying to put as much information out as possible.

QUESTION: The reason I ask this is because Secretary Kerry himself seemed to me to be rather forward-leaning in his discussion publicly of intelligence product --

MS. HARF: Absolutely.

QUESTION: -- in a way that was inconsistent with the repeated statements we get from podiums like this that we cannot discuss sources and methods. So, for example, he stated, “We ourselves tracked the imagery of the launch of this surface-to-air missile. We have the trajectory recorded. We have the intercepts of their conversations. We know this from voice identification. We have a video.”

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: It seems to me that, having displayed so much of that information across the country on various channels yesterday, the Administration should be quite prepared to back that up.

MS. HARF: It’s in no way inconsistent, James. I think the balance we always try to strike is when we can put as much information out publicly without threat to sources and methods. Many times we can’t. That’s not just something we say because it’s fun to say. Having worked in the intelligence community, it is a fact. But in cases like this, in cases like Syria’s chemical weapons, we endeavor to put as much out as possible when we can do so. And that’s why I was making the point that he was quite forward-leaning yesterday, because we believe it’s important.

QUESTION: A couple of very quick other things --

QUESTION: Can I just have one very briefly, because I want --

QUESTION: There’s no such thing with you, Matt. Come on.

QUESTION: Yeah, no, there – this time there is.

So is that --

MS. HARF: I agree with your colleague, by the way.

QUESTION: Is all – really? Ganging up, huh? (Laughter.)

I just want to make sure – so you’re saying that the information that the Secretary – that James just went through – the imagery, all that kind – that this is stuff that you’re going to provide to the investigators?

MS. HARF: I did not say that, Matt.

QUESTION: Oh.

MS. HARF: I said that we endeavor to make as much public as we can.

QUESTION: But whether or not it’s made public, you will give them to the investigation team, right?

MS. HARF: Well, the Dutch is leading the investigation. We’re obviously a part of it, as are other countries as well. I don’t have anything to preview for what we’ll provide to them, but we’ve said we’ll cooperate as much as we can.

QUESTION: Sorry.

QUESTION: Secretary Kerry stated during his round of interviews yesterday, in particular with Fox News, “It’s been seriously compromised,” speaking of the investigation. The Secretary’s a former prosecutor.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: As a former prosecutor, it seems to me he should know that when he says a given investigation has been “seriously compromised,” that the faith that the world may have in the final product of this investigation is also going to be seriously compromised.

MS. HARF: Well, James, I would take it a step further, and I would say at this point, because of the lack of access, we are very concerned. But that doesn’t mean that there’s not a future for this investigation; that if investigators are allowed in today, tomorrow, in the coming days with full, unfettered access, they can do an investigation. Look, there’s a lot of technical expertise out there in terms of investigating plane crashes. And he was very clear, though, that we are outraged about the lack of access here. Not just us, but every country around the world, particularly those who lost people in this plane crash. So look, we are very committed to this investigation. We are providing some FBI and NTSB officials to help with it and are willing to help in any way we can.

QUESTION: Two more things, and then I will yield to my colleagues. When he was asked by NBC News about our dealings with the Russian Federation, Secretary Kerry said – and specific to President Putin, “It’s a question of whether or not you’re going to get the cooperation necessary.” And he adds, “We’re trying for the last time to see if that will be forthcoming at this moment or not.” What did the Secretary mean by “the last time”? “We’re trying for the last time.” Is that an indication that if the kind of cooperation the U.S. wants to see from Russia is not forthcoming at this moment, that we will cease our engagement with the Russians in some way?

MS. HARF: Well, I think you heard the President speak this morning very clearly, that responsibility – direct responsibility – for cooperation with the investigation by the pro-Russian separatists lies with President Putin. He was very clear about that. We have also said, James, that if they do not de-escalate here, that if they don’t take steps – you heard the President again say this morning – there will be further consequences.

We have also said, at the same time, that there are times we work with the Russians. I was just in Vienna for a few weeks where we sat on the same side of the table with the Russians, on the same page on the Iran nuclear issue.

QUESTION: But what is, “We’re trying for the last time to see”? What is that --

MS. HARF: I don’t think I have anything more to parse of his words, James. What he was conveying is that this --

QUESTION: To ask the meaning of the words is not parsing them. He said --

MS. HARF: I’m telling you the meaning of what he said --

QUESTION: -- “We’re trying for the last time.”

MS. HARF: I am telling you how the Secretary views our relationship with Russia.

QUESTION: Right.

MS. HARF: Okay? He views it – again, in this – when we’re talking about Ukraine, you heard the Secretary or you heard the President very clearly say they have a direct responsibility to push their backed separatists to work with the investigation; that if they do not, if they do not de-escalate, there will be further consequences. I don’t think the Secretary was meaning to convey anything beyond what we have said for months and months publicly.

QUESTION: Last thing. To your point, when he was asked by ABC News if these – this set of events is going to make the Europeans likelier to back stiffer sanctions on the Russian Federation, the Secretary’s reply was “We hope Europe will be.” So that produces the question of whether or not the horrific nature of this set of events hasn’t catalyzed a single one of our European partners to tell us that, in fact, they are ready for stiffer sanctions.

MS. HARF: Well, we’re in discussions with them all the time. As you know, there’s a Foreign Affairs Council meeting, I believe tomorrow, of the European Union. And look, we think and hope that this should be a wakeup call for the Europeans, particularly in terms of imposing additional costs on Russia. We certainly hope it will be. We’ve been clear that we will continue to take additional steps.

QUESTION: And lastly, Reuters reported today, and I’m quoting now: “The expected handover of the bodies and the black boxes, and reports by international investigators of improved access to the wreckage” weakened a new case for broader sanctions against Russia laid out by Western leaders. Would you say that that’s false?

MS. HARF: I didn’t see that quote, but I think what is clear here is you have a situation where there is a crash site in an area controlled by separatists back by Russia. And Russia needs to use its leverage over these separatists to provide access.

QUESTION: Does this newfound set of steps that looks like cooperation – does that weaken the case for stiffer sanctions?

MS. HARF: I can’t confirm that any of those steps are actually happening. I’ve seen the reports, but I think we need to see many more actions on the ground.

QUESTION: Thank you very much.

MS. HARF: Yep.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) talked repeatedly about responsibility, that Russia has ultimate responsibility. If indeed it is proved that the separatists did shoot down MH17, how are they to be held accountable? Is there supposed to be a trial? Does their leader go on trial? Do the people who fired the missile go on trial? If the ultimate responsibility lies with Moscow, how is that government held accountable? What’s – what is the U.S. and the international community looking for here specifically?

MS. HARF: Well, I don’t have anything specific to preview for you. I think – I don’t want to get ahead of the facts, and what we’re focused on right now is getting all of the facts.

QUESTION: Would this be a criminal case?

MS. HARF: Again, I don’t want to get into specifics here. I know we’re looking into a variety of options in conjunction with our partners, but nothing specific to outline today.

QUESTION: Is – are families being told that they should perhaps back away from any sort of civil litigation until they figure out exactly why this plane fell out of the sky and who was behind it?

MS. HARF: I don’t have details on what the communications with the families are like. I just don’t have those details.

QUESTION: Is there a role for the Security Council (inaudible)?

MS. HARF: Well, today at 3:00 p.m. the Security Council will be meeting to consider a resolution – let me just pull up this information – expanding on its call on Friday for a full, thorough, and independent international investigation in accordance with the international civil aviation guidelines, for appropriate accountability, and for full and unrestricted access to the crash site. This is a resolution we fully support. Obviously, we think these tenets included in it are very important. That’s happening at three today.

QUESTION: Is --

QUESTION: Are you pretty sure that it will pass, that no one will veto it?

MS. HARF: I don’t want to make a prediction, Matt, on what might happen at three. I think we’ll all be watching it. Of course, we hope that everybody supports it, but we will wait and see.

QUESTION: What would you say – and I realize this is a hypothetical, but since you’re so strongly in favor of it, if there was a veto, what do you think that would show?

MS. HARF: Well, I think what we’ve said – well, first, it depends on who vetoes it.

QUESTION: I think you know who I might be referring to.

MS. HARF: Well, I don’t ever want to presume to understand what you’re asking – (laughter). No, but being – look --

QUESTION: Then how can you possibly answer any of my questions if you don’t know what I’m asking?

MS. HARF: What we’ve said is – look, what we’ve said is Russia has said words publicly about supporting this investigation, and we need to see actions now to back up those words.

QUESTION: Right. Well --

MS. HARF: And obviously that would not be an action that would be supportive of the investigation.

QUESTION: Fair enough. The German foreign minister, the Secretary’s friend and colleague, Foreign Minister Steinmeier said earlier this – today that anyone who is trying to obstruct the investigation into this crash either has something to hide or has no heart or both. Is that something that you would agree with?

MS. HARF: I would certainly agree with those sentiments, yes.

QUESTION: Okay, so in other words --

MS. HARF: Absolutely.

QUESTION: -- if someone does veto it, they’re either heartless or they’re hiding something or both?

MS. HARF: Well, we – I would have to see what the reasons behind that veto were, but in general, yes. Look, this is – you heard the President speak this morning, I think, about this in a way that made clear that these are people who want their loved ones back. I mean, this is disgusting and insulting that they would cut off access to a crash site like this, and we need to see that stopped.

Yes, Lucas.

QUESTION: I just had a quick follow-up. A short time ago, Ukraine President Poroshenko called for both the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic to be added to the international terror list. Would the State Department support that, and is there any plans for the State Department itself to add these two entities to terror watch lists?

MS. HARF: I haven’t seen that. Obviously, we don’t talk about the processes of how we determine whether or not someone would be on it. I haven’t just seen those reports. I’m happy to check with our team.

QUESTION: But would you support their addition to the watch lists?

MS. HARF: Again, we don’t talk about our deliberations about whether or not groups or people are added to these kinds of terror lists. We’ve been very clear, regardless of what we call it that what they’re doing in these areas is completely unacceptable and against international law.

QUESTION: Would you be against their inclusion on an international watch list?

MS. HARF: I know you’re trying to ask it five different ways, and I’m not going to answer in any of those ways, that we don’t talk about those kind of deliberations.

QUESTION: And just --

QUESTION: While you were away, however, Marie, they were added – both – to the sanctions list.

MS. HARF: Thank you for keeping me up to speed, Matt.

QUESTION: And just one quick one.

MS. HARF: This is a group effort today.

QUESTION: How much evidence do you need to blame Russia for this action?

MS. HARF: Well look, we want to be very clear about the facts before you make statements, which is why I think when you see the Secretary go out and be as clear as he was yesterday, that should be a signal to people. So we’re still trying to get the facts here. And it’s true that it’s not possible for the separatists to function the way they are without support from Russia, without the training, without the sophisticated weaponry. So we need to get all the facts about this specific incident, but we know that the pro-Russian separatists could not function the way they’re functioning without the support from Russia.

QUESTION: So you are blaming Russia.

MS. HARF: I certainly am blaming the Russians for the pro-Russian separatists’ behavior in general, but we need to get all the facts about this specific incident. We don’t – I don’t want to go out there and put culpability on anyone until we have all of those facts. That’s why, if Russia has nothing to hide, they should push their separatists to allow access.

QUESTION: Can we go to Gaza?

MS. HARF: Anything else on this?

QUESTION: I want to ask about Putin.

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: Today I believe that Assistant Secretary Burns is meeting on the Australian.

MS. HARF: I believe they had a phone call. I can check if there was meetings as well.

QUESTION: Oh, okay. Is there --

MS. HARF: I can check. I know the schedule’s been a little in flux with the Secretary’s travel.

QUESTION: Okay. Is there any kind of effort to maybe push Russia or bar Russia from participating in the G20?

MS. HARF: I don’t know. I can check. I haven’t heard of any, but let me check.

Yes. On this still?

QUESTION: Yes. There’s been reports of a new offensive in Ukraine in the Donetsk region this morning. Are you concerned that this new fighting is going to undermine efforts to get access for the international observers to the site?

MS. HARF: No. The president of Ukraine has called for a 40-kilometer cease-fire, which he has committed to around the crash site. The fighting is outside of that 40 kilometers. It’s actually about double, 70 to 80 kilometers away, so we are not concerned about that.

Anything else on this? Yes.

QUESTION: I was wondering if there is a point when the crash site becomes too tainted in order for investigators to become useless, essentially.

MS. HARF: I mean, look, every day that goes by that we don’t have access it becomes more challenging, but we do believe there is a credible – a full investigation that can still be done. That’s why we need access immediately for the investigators, the team that’s led by the Dutch. And look, I think we can always get information. We want every piece of information we can get. That’s why we need the investigators there.

QUESTION: Is there any information in terms of the bodies that have been moved that is coming into the State Department?

MS. HARF: So we’re seeing reports that they’ve started to be moved. Obviously, it’s very important to us – I can’t confirm those independently – that the bodies be repatriated to their families, as you heard the President speak about this morning, as soon as possible. The way this has been handled up until this point by the separatists has just been horrific. And again, that needs to change (inaudible).

QUESTION: And finally, in terms of the black boxes --

MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: -- have you heard any information about where they might be, who might have control of them, and who might ultimately become in possession of them?

MS. HARF: Yeah, let me see. I think I have something about that. Let me see if I have it right here.

I don’t think we have full fidelity at this point. Yes, we have seen the various reports, but do not have a definitive answer on if they’ve been found or where they are. We have called on both the separatists and on Russia to turn over any investigative information, of course, including the black boxes, to the investigators.

Yes.

QUESTION: Okay. About Gaza --

MS. HARF: Oh, about Gaza. Okay. Anything else on Ukraine?

Okay, let’s go to Gaza.

QUESTION: So the President earlier said – said earlier that the Israelis has made, like, significant damages to Hamas, like infrastructure.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Does he mean, like, the 67 people who’s been killed – civilian killed in Shujai’iya, I mean, when he say that? I mean, I don’t understand because Hamas, like, still like firing rockets and civilians still, like, fallen.

MS. HARF: So as the President said this morning, Israel has a right to defend itself against rocket and tunnel attacks from Hamas, and as a result of Israel’s operations they have done significant damage to Hamas’s terrorist infrastructure in Gaza. He also said that we have serious concerns about the rising number of Palestinian civilian deaths and the loss of Israeli lives, and then followed that up by saying this is why it’s so important right now to – for the Secretary to be going, for the international community to work to bring about an immediate cease-fire on the ground.

QUESTION: I understand. I watched the whole, like, speech. But the thing is, like, what are the significant damages? I don’t see them. I mean, I see, like, civilians keep falling down in Palestine, however --

MS. HARF: Well, I’ll let the Israeli Government speak to its operations. But they’ve spoken about particularly rocket and tunnel attacks coming from Hamas in Gaza, and I know they’ve been quite focused on those kind of attacks and thwarting them. But I’ll let them speak to their own military operations.

QUESTION: Let’s talk about the Secretary’s travel. Can we talk first about --

MS. HARF: I’ll go to you in a second, Said.

QUESTION: -- one, the Secretary and the President have both said let’s try to get back to the terms of the 2012 --

MS. HARF: Correct.

QUESTION: -- cease-fire. If my research is accurate, neither Israel nor Hamas was actually at the table for that final round of talks. Those talks were conducted between Secretary of State Clinton and the former president Mohamed Morsy. Why would going back to this with neither of the two sides at the table actually be a viable process?

MS. HARF: Well, the Secretary and the President both have been clear that they have spoken about the November 2012 cease-fire because, look, overall our preference here is a cease-fire as soon as possible. That’s what the Secretary is going to Cairo to talk about with the Egyptians, with Ban Ki-moon and with others. So at this point, we do believe that there’s not another viable plan out there, that this is not a negotiation about rewarding a terrorist organization. Obviously, our position on Hamas hasn’t changed. But this is an important point to talk to the Egyptians, who do play a role here and have played an important role in past cease-fires, as you’ve noted, to see if we can get to a cease-fire here. I would also emphasize that this is hard and that I think the Secretary will be there on the ground talking to the Egyptians, but that I think we need to be realistic about how hard this is. We’d like to see progress as soon as possible, but this is a very difficult challenge.

QUESTION: Is it hard because unlike the Morsy government, the Sisi government has no relationship with Hamas and thus ostensibly has no leverage?

MS. HARF: It’s hard because when you’re trying to broker a cease-fire, as you heard the President say today, tensions are obviously very high, things are quite tense on the ground, that this is just a difficult thing to do for a variety of reasons. But the Secretary thought it was the right time to go and try and see if we can make some progress.

QUESTION: Because two years --

MS. HARF: Okay, let’s do one at a time, everyone.

QUESTION: Because two years ago, Hamas --

MS. HARF: We’ll get to all of you. Yeah.

QUESTION: -- said that it was willing to go along with the cease-fire, and in fact, called it a victory for its side because it felt that Morsy was representing its interests at the bargaining table. What is the U.S. prepared to do? To whom is the U.S. prepared to talk? Is it going to talk with leaders in Qatar? Is it going to talk to leaders in the UAE? Is it going to talk to Iran? Who has the leverage that might be able to persuade Hamas to sign on to some sort of cease-fire?

MS. HARF: Well, the Secretary will be meeting with the Egyptians, Egyptian President al-Sisi, the foreign minister, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, as well as other senior officials. He’s also been on the phone with President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu a number of times over the past few days, and including other regional partners as well. So while we understand Qatar’s role, the Secretary has spoken to the Qataris as well, we have said all along that we support the Egyptian initiative for a cease-fire, and that is the effort the Secretary is going over there to build on to see if we can make some progress on. But obviously, we encourage anyone who has influence with Hamas to use that influence to push them to accept the Egyptian cease-fire proposal, no matter who that is.

QUESTION: Is the U.S. –

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

QUESTION: Has the U.S. specifically --

MS. HARF: Let’s finish Roz.

QUESTION: Has the U.S. specifically made that request of the Qataris, of the leaders in Dubai, of the Iranians, of others who may have influence that we’re not aware of?

MS. HARF: Well, to my knowledge, we haven’t spoken to the Iranians about this. As you know, we just concluded several weeks of nuclear negotiations where that was focused exclusively on the nuclear issue, not on other regional issues, as has been the tradition. I’m very publicly saying that anyone, including Iran, should use their influence over Hamas to get them to accept the cease-fire. I’m happy to check on the specific conversations with the Qataris and with the UAE in terms of what those look like, but we’ve been very clear that anyone who has influence should use it.

QUESTION: What about – what realistically – what is the U.S. prepared to bring to the table that hasn’t already been brought up? Two years ago in the cease-fire, one of the ideas was in terms of loosening border controls, was allowing the EU and the Palestinian Authority work together to control those border crossings so that Palestinians in Gaza could get in and out, so that supplies could come in. Is that the immediate goal, trying to get something that never really was consummated two years ago?

MS. HARF: Well, I’m not going to detail before – or preview before the Secretary is even on the ground what our private discussions will look like as we attempt to help with this brokering a cease-fire here that really needs to go into place as soon as possible. So I’m not going to preview that for you. I’m sure we’ll talk about it more in the coming days.

QUESTION: But what is to induce either side to sign onto it if there isn’t at least a target that wasn’t even achieved two years ago on the table?

MS. HARF: Again, I’m not saying we’re not having those discussions privately. I’m just not going to outline what those negotiations will look like over the coming days.

QUESTION: Marie, do you still believe the Egyptians actually do have some influence in this situation --

MS. HARF: Well, clearly --

QUESTION: -- given their own internal politics as well and that you’re talking about a government that’s come out of a military leadership, and it’s not the same government as the Morsy government was two years ago.

MS. HARF: That’s true. We’ve been clear that we support the Egyptian proposal today, that we believe this is the best path --

QUESTION: Yeah, but do they have any influence? I mean, it was rejected by Hamas.

MS. HARF: Well, I don’t think we would support something if we don’t think it had a chance of succeeding. So look, we do believe that they have an important role to play, have played an important role. We’ve seen the Secretary have a number of conversations with all of the parties, except for Hamas, of course – I’m not changing our position on Hamas – about the way forward here. So I think that we believe that there’s a path forward here; it’s going to be difficult, but that this can lead us to a cease-fire as soon as possible.

QUESTION: And is he planning to talk with the main protagonists in this, which are, of course, the Palestinians and the Israelis?

MS. HARF: Well, the Secretary has spoken a number of times over the phone over the past few days with Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas, and those discussions will continue.

QUESTION: But he’s a great believer in face-to-face diplomacy, so --

MS. HARF: He absolutely is. I don’t have anything to preview in terms of additional travel --

QUESTION: And did you --

MS. HARF: -- for the Secretary, but he certainly picks up the phone all the time and has spoken to them regularly over these past few days.

QUESTION: And so today Palestinian President Abbas is in Doha meeting with the Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, and they’ve ended their talks, calling for an end to what they say is Israeli aggression and lifting of the blockade, but also saying that they’ve agreed that all Palestinian factions should work towards a cease-fire. Given the comments just by Secretary Kerry yesterday, which he basically put the blame on Hamas for refusing cease-fire efforts, do you believe that this meeting today could be helpful as everybody works towards trying to get a cease-fire?

MS. HARF: Well, I haven’t seen the details of that meeting yet, but any meeting that eventually works to get towards a cease-fire here would of course be helpful, because we need all the parties to buy into a cease-fire for it to work, obviously. And the Secretary was very clear that responsibility here does lie with Hamas, and we need all of the parties to come together and really – we need to get back to a cease-fire as soon as possible, and he’ll see if he can make some progress on the ground.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) responsible for the bombing of the al-Aqsa hospital today?

MS. HARF: I haven’t seen those reports; I’m happy to look. I just haven’t seen them.

QUESTION: I have a couple. Just in – to nail down. You say that the Secretary feels that Egypt has an important role. I mean, what is their important role at this point? I mean, as we’ve been discussing, it’s not the kind of political influence that they have with Hamas. Is it more about their border – their – the fact that they border with Hamas and what they can do to help shore up the cease-fire, kind of physically and materiel – material-wise?

MS. HARF: Well, they certainly play a key role in the Arab world in general. I mean, I know we’ve talked about that a lot in this room regardless of who the leader of Egypt is, quite frankly. It partly is the border. It partly is the fact that they still have a peace treaty with Israel, right. And so they are someone who can talk to the parties and who can try to help us get back to a place of a cease-fire. And they’re certainly one part of this, but obviously, we can’t do the work for them; neither can the Egyptians. We need the parties on the ground to actually accept and adhere to a cease-fire.

QUESTION: Where is the Secretary meeting with Ban Ki-moon? In Cairo?

MS. HARF: In Cairo.

QUESTION: Oh, okay. Because you know that he’s in Doha right now.

MS. HARF: They are meeting in Cairo.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

QUESTION: And then, also I have one other question: What – have there been any American – Palestinian-Americans that you know of that have been killed in Gaza?

MS. HARF: Not to my knowledge. I’m happy to check.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. HARF: But you did see, I think we put out a statement last night --

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS. HARF: -- about the two dual – or the two American citizens who --

QUESTION: Do you have any more details about who they are and what they were doing?

MS. HARF: I just have a little bit, I think; not much more than last night. We can confirm that two IDF soldiers killed in Gaza were U.S. citizens, Sean Carmeli and Max Steinberg. Officials from the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv and the Department of State have been in touch with both families; obviously extend our deepest condolences to the families on their loss. We don’t have much more information than that at this point, except for – we’ve seen press reports, and I think we can try – we’re trying to confirm this – they were part of the Golani Brigade; two of 13 IDF soldiers killed on July 20th. We’re trying to confirm this right now. We’ve just seen some press reports on this.

QUESTION: Does that give you cause to discourage Americans from joining foreign forces?

MS. HARF: Well, in general, U.S. nationals can serve in military forces. It’s different in every country, obviously. We don’t have a number for how many serve in the IDF, but we know many do, and I don’t think have much more of a position than that.

QUESTION: Okay. Let me go back to the Secretary’s trip. Is he taking anything with him other than the Egyptian proposal or the two – 12 proposal that he says we want to go back to? For instance, is he taking with him the possibility of going back into Resolution 1860 that was adopted on January 9, 2009, which speaks of lifting the siege, speaks of opening the crossings and so on?

MS. HARF: As I just said to Roz’s question, I’m not going to outline what the Secretary’s private conversations will look like before he’s even arrived. I’m sure we’ll talk about them more in the coming days.

QUESTION: Would he be open to these suggestions?

MS. HARF: I’m not going to speculate in any way, Said.

QUESTION: Can I ask --

QUESTION: No, I – go ahead. I have some more.

QUESTION: No, you’re going to get the same answer over and over and over. (Laughter). On the IDF – those American soldiers. Is this something that is specific to Israel and the IDF?

MS. HARF: What? Is what specific?

QUESTION: Well, that it being – that it is okay or that there’s no problem legally for an American citizen --

MS. HARF: No, military service in foreign countries usually does not cause loss of nationality or problems since an intention to relinquish nationality normally is lacking, obviously – many times dual citizens or they just have a desire to serve. So usually it’s not – U.S. citizens can lose their citizenship if they perform certain acts working for certain countries or with the intent to relinquish their nationality. But with the IDF, certainly, and with other countries, I can see if I have more details. This is something that happens fairly frequently.

QUESTION: Well, I’m just thinking – how about Iran? If an Iranian American joined the IRGC --

MS. HARF: That would be quite different, Matt.

QUESTION: Okay. So there is a – there --

MS. HARF: Absolutely there’s a difference. It depends on --

QUESTION: -- there’s a big distinction. Or if a Korean American went to North Korea and joined the North Korean army, that would be a problem?

MS. HARF: I can guarantee you we would respond very differently.

QUESTION: Or a Chinese American and the – I mean, where does – is --

MS. HARF: Where is there a line?

QUESTION: Yeah, where – or is there one?

MS. HARF: I can see if there are more details on that.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: I actually think there are --

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: -- rules written up about this. Certainly, service with the IDF is something that many Americans do proudly and we have no issues.

QUESTION: I understand that. I just want to know about other ones.

MS. HARF: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

QUESTION: On Thursday, UNRWA reported that it had found 20 missiles – or rockets, sorry, in one of its schools. I asked about this on Friday; I got the answer in a kind of a TQ way, which --

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: -- you can please repeat now if you’d like to, but it was a commendation. Do you want to do that? I have a question that follows onto the – what you --

MS. HARF: Okay. Why don’t you go ahead and follow on?

QUESTION: Well, my – over the weekend there were reports that UNRWA basically gave these rockets back to Hamas after finding them.

MS. HARF: Hmm. I can check on that. I had not seen those reports.

QUESTION: Well, in the response that I got on Friday – maybe you – it’s short. Do you want to read it?

MS. HARF: I don’t have it in front of me, so I’m not going to read it.

QUESTION: Oh. Okay. Well, you commended UNRWA for doing what – the right thing, what you said was the right thing in handing over these rockets to the local authorities. Now, in Israel, people are saying, “Well, the local authorities in Gaza are Hamas.”

MS. HARF: Understood the question.

QUESTION: Okay?

MS. HARF: I understand. I just don’t know the answer. I’m sorry.

QUESTION: All right. So --

MS. HARF: Let me check. I will follow up on that and I will attempt to get you an answer right after the briefing.

QUESTION: All right. Last one: You said that there’s – the Egyptian plan is the only plan out there. The Israelis say --

MS. HARF: It’s the viable one.

QUESTION: Well, the only viable plan out there. The Israelis say that this plan needs to be – this proposal needs to be strengthened.

MS. HARF: Well, clearly part of what --

QUESTION: And I --

MS. HARF: -- we’ll be discussing is what it eventually looks like, how we can get all the parties to agree to a cease-fire.

QUESTION: Right.

MS. HARF: I’m not saying exactly the format it’s in right now. Obviously, we believe it’s an important --

QUESTION: So your --

MS. HARF: -- format, and we’ll talk with the parties about how to put it into place.

QUESTION: So are you open to changes? I’m not suggesting what those changes might be. Are you – it’s not necessarily that what has been written down on paper right now is written in stone? You are open to some modifications?

MS. HARF: We – what we’re focused on is the Egyptian proposal, how we can get – how we and our partners can get the different parties to adhere to a cease-fire. What that will eventually look like in its final format I really don’t want to get ahead of.

QUESTION: All right.

MS. HARF: The Secretary hasn’t even landed yet.

QUESTION: Marie?

QUESTION: Last one.

MS. HARF: And then I’ll go to you next.

QUESTION: On Friday we talked about – Jen was asked about comments made by the Turkish prime minister --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- which were – she described as offensive.

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: I’m wondering if --

MS. HARF: I would agree.

QUESTION: I’m wondering if Prime Minister Erdogan, from the Administration’s point of view, is just no longer a viable interlocutor as it relates to Israel or as it relates to larger things.

MS. HARF: Well, we certainly believe that comments like these undercut Turkey’s ability to effectively influence the situation. I completely agree with what Jen said about how offensive and awful these comments were, and that they quite frankly hurt Turkey’s international standing. We will continue working with Turkey on a number of issues, but comments like these really have no place in this discussion.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: But when you say that you’re – in response to Roz you say that you’re looking for everyone who has some influence with Hamas, and I think that --

MS. HARF: Well, they should certainly use it. You can use your influence --

QUESTION: Okay. So they haven’t --

MS. HARF: -- with Hamas without saying horribly offensive things.

QUESTION: I just want to – fair enough.

MS. HARF: Right.

QUESTION: I just wanted to make sure that you weren’t --

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- saying that the Turks had forfeited their --

MS. HARF: No, not at all.

QUESTION: -- good position.

MS. HARF: Not at all. But --

QUESTION: Can I follow up?

MS. HARF: You can, yes.

QUESTION: Prime Minister Erdogan actually gave interview just yesterday responding to your Administration. He said that if America is still saying that Israel is using – it has right to self-defense, then it should be critical of itself; it’s America who is offensive.

MS. HARF: I don’t think I have any response to that. His comments were offensive in their own right, period, full stop. There’s no excuse for them.

QUESTION: I have --

MS. HARF: There’s no justification for them at all.

QUESTION: I have one more question. Prime minister again ask your Administration and it is that – what is it to you, America, what you got to do with Hitler when some Americans say – this is quote, still – some Americans say, why Mr. Prime Minister make such comparison with Hitler? What is it to you?

MS. HARF: Why do we care when foreign leaders make horribly anti-Israeli comments and offensive comments?

QUESTION: Yes.

MS. HARF: I think it matters to everyone. I think that there’s no place in international dialogue for those kinds of comments, period. And that we stand up and are very clear in saying that when people do say those kind of things – and again, it only hurts Turkey’s standing in the world, only hurt’s their ability to influence events when they say things like that.

Yes, James. I’m going to James, I’m going to James. I promised him – I’m going to James.

QUESTION: Go ahead, Said. By all means.

QUESTION: I just wanted very quickly --

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: Yesterday the Secretary of State said that Israel was under siege. What did he mean by that? Because unless he has some geography mixed, it is Gaza that is under siege, right?

MS. HARF: Said, Israeli citizens, as we’ve talked about for weeks, live under fear of rockets fired by Hamas. We’ve talked about when the Secretary and President were on the phone with Prime Minister Netanyahu the air raid sirens going off in the background, having to go into bunkers. No citizen in Israel should have to live under that kind of threat, and Israel does have a right to defend itself. You also heard the President speak today about the rising number of Palestinian civilian deaths and the loss of Israeli lives. So I think it’s very clear what we mean when we say that.

QUESTION: But look, I understand his empathy and sympathy to the Israeli prime minister who had to run to a bunker, but don’t you think that the Palestinians were also subject to a lot of air raids and so on?

MS. HARF: I think there is no excuse whatsoever --

QUESTION: There is no comparison?

MS. HARF: There is no excuse for what Hamas is doing, period.

QUESTION: Is there any excuse for what Israel is doing, bombing with their F-16s? You’re just, you’re just --

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: Hold on a second.

MS. HARF: Let’s do one at a time.

QUESTION: Hold on one second. You just talked about how the Russians are responsible for whatever weapons that the separatists are using. What about Israel that is using American weapons day in and day out – tanks, airplanes, F-16, bombs, and so on – to kill, basically, a lot of civilians?

MS. HARF: Said. Israel has the right to defend itself, period. They have the right to defend itself from rockets fired from Gaza, from things smuggled from tunnels into Israel, period. At the same time --

QUESTION: And should the Palestinians be given the same kind of courtesy to defend themselves?

MS. HARF: At the same time, the President – first of all, nothing that Hamas is doing has any justification at all, period. Even bringing it up in that context is offensive.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: But stepping back, the President --

QUESTION: Let me ask you something, you talked about how --

MS. HARF: Wait. Let me finish, Said. Said.

QUESTION: -- offensive. Isn’t it offensive that a hundred civilians were killed in one night?

MS. HARF: I’m going to move on if you’re not going to let me answer.

QUESTION: I’m sorry. Go ahead.

MS. HARF: No. James, go ahead. You don’t get any more questions if you don’t let me answer.

QUESTION: Along the lines of the issue of civilian casualties, various senior Obama Administration officials have made it clear, I think publicly and privately, that they would like to see Israel do more to curtail civilian casualties. Since we can presume that the United States presumes that the IDF generally is committed to curbing civilian casualties, what is it exactly that the United States thinks that Israel can presently do that it’s not presently doing in order to curtail civilian casualties?

MS. HARF: Well, we have repeatedly encouraged them to take steps to prevent civilian casualties, also to take steps to de-escalate and work together to achieve a cease-fire here. So look, we’re very clear that they need to take steps to prevent civilian casualties. You saw the president today express concern – serious concerns about the rising numbers of Palestinian civilian casualties.

QUESTION: But elaborate.

MS. HARF: He was very clear about that.

QUESTION: Elaborate what is it you expect Israel that could be doing that it’s not in order --

MS. HARF: I don’t have any more specifics for you on that, James. It’s a conversation we have with them and no more specifics behind that.

QUESTION: And last question, and this relates to the conversations that this Administration has with the Israelis. During the set of round robin interviews that Secretary Kerry conducted yesterday with the five major TV news organizations in this country, and while he was seated in front of a camera, and while he was still wearing a hot microphone, the Secretary elected at that particular moment to have a conversation on his cellphone with one of his aides, during which he could be overheard repeatedly and sarcastically making reference to the IDF operation saying, and I quote: “Hell of a pinpoint operation.”

I know that the State Department feels that it was improper for the contents of those conversations – or that conversation to be broadcast. But nonetheless, it would seem that the original sin might properly be ascribed to the Secretary insofar as he was sitting in front of a camera with a microphone on him when he elected to have this conversation with his aide on the cellphone.

The question is: Did the Secretary at any time in his conversations with Prime Minister Netanyahu make the same point that he thinks it’s “a hell of a pinpoint operation they’re conducting”?

MS. HARF: Well, what the Secretary said during the private conversation he had yesterday was perfectly consistent with what we’ve said publicly and what he said on all five shows – that Israel has the right to defend itself, including against recent tunnel attacks, but he has encouraged them to not only take steps to prevent civilian casualties, but also to de-escalate the situation. So it’s perfectly consistent, I think, given everything going on in the world we’re not going to litigate whether taping and playing that private conversation was within acceptable protocol or consistent with it. Suffice to say the private comments were completely consistent with what he said publicly.

QUESTION: But I think that a reasonable observer would disagree that the comments are entirely consistent with a belief that Israel has the right to defend itself. In fact --

MS. HARF: And a second part: Encourage them to take steps to prevent civilian casualties. Both are important there.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: Don’t cherry pick. Thank you.

QUESTION: Yeah I was wondering if you have a reaction, it’s not just in this news room that there’s some anger about what’s happening with the Palestinians, but I wonder if you’d seen the rallies in France and in Germany where there’s been a lot of violence overnight – particularly in France – angered by what they see as the disproportionate use of force by the Israelis against the Palestinian people. Do you have any comments on that, on --

MS. HARF: Not on the rallies specifically. I’ve seen those reports. Again, the President made very clear this morning that he has serious concerns about the rising number of Palestinian civilian casualties. I don’t think it gets any more clear than when the President says it. I just don’t have anything more to add to that, I don’t think.

QUESTION: But does America understand that, in some ways, its stand that Israel has this right to self-defense is actually against a current of popular opinion on the streets in Europe, that they sort of fill --

MS. HARF: I’m not sure if any of those citizens were living in a country that was under constant threat of rockets from another bordering area, if they would feel the same way. Look, Israeli citizens live under a threat from Hamas. This is Hamas’s responsibility and culpability here for the threat that the Israelis live under, and that is a threat that is unacceptable. And they do have a right to defend themselves. You heard the President speak about that as well today.

QUESTION: But on the other hand, you have a death toll on the Palestinian side which is now well over 500 --

MS. HARF: And he expressed serious concerns about that as well.

QUESTION: -- and on the Israeli side you’ve got a death toll of sort of in the 30s. So I mean, it is – the numbers are different and the weaponry is different.

MS. HARF: I’m aware of the numbers, but again, I think the President spoke to this this morning and I don’t have much to add beyond that.

QUESTION: Do you know if in their conversation – in his conversations, either the Secretary or the President – and that when they have spoken to Prime Minister Netanyahu and expressed this concern about the rising number of civilian casualties, particularly Palestinians in Gaza, if they have said that there will be any consequence if --

MS. HARF: If they who? We?

QUESTION: Yeah. I mean, is there any consequence contemplated if --

MS. HARF: I don’t have any more details about our private conversations to read out for you, Matt, other than what we’ve already said.

QUESTION: So – okay. So in other words, you’re saying you don’t know.

MS. HARF: I’m saying I don’t have any more details to share with you about the conversations. I’m aware of the contents of the conversations.

QUESTION: When you say that you think that Israel could and should do more – I want to go back to James’s question. Have – can you say --

MS. HARF: Those were James’s words, not mine. I said they need to take every step possible to prevent civilian casualties.

QUESTION: But you believe that they have been doing that to date?

MS. HARF: We’ve certainly continued that conversation with them.

QUESTION: No, I know, but --

MS. HARF: I’m not going to make a broad-based judgment.

QUESTION: Okay. Well, what’s their response been? Has it been the same as what Prime Minister Netanyahu and others have said publicly?

MS. HARF: I don’t think I’ll speak for the Israeli Government. I think they can speak for themselves.

QUESTION: Well, I mean, are you encouraged? Do you believe that the Israelis are going to heed your admonition, your whatever – your advice?

MS. HARF: Look, we’ve been very clear what steps should be taken. The reason the Secretary is going to Cairo is to help broker a cease-fire that will ultimately end the bloodshed we’ve seen here on both sides. So clearly we’re committed to that. I don’t have more details about our private conversations for you.

Yes.

QUESTION: Is the goal in this to try to stop the fighting --

MS. HARF: Then you’re next.

QUESTION: -- before the end of Ramadan?

MS. HARF: It is to do it as soon as possible. Ideally, yes, of course.

QUESTION: Yes. You said that the Secretary is in Cairo to lead us to cease-fire. I mean, what do you expect – how long he will take? Because the last time in 2012, it was the urgency of Thanksgiving. That’s why people were, like, trying to wrap it fast.

MS. HARF: Well, I would caution people that these things do take time, that they are complicated, that this is a very difficult situation. So he’s going to land, I think, shortly, if he hasn’t already. That means I’ve been up here for a while if he just landed. And we’ll see, but I don’t want people to think this is something that just happens right away. But to be clear, we are very committed to seeing if we can make some progress as soon as possible.

QUESTION: And without speculation or anything that you are avoiding to answer, the whole cease-fire, it was – what was mentioned even by both side, including the prime minister of Israel, that it was not perfect or it was, like, temporary, which means that there is a political solution has to be done related to this fire, which was even done in 2012. It was not complete. You are – are you foreseeing or proposing anything more than just stop firing, rocketing, and bombing?

MS. HARF: I don’t have more details to preview for you about what our proposals or discussions will look like.

QUESTION: Okay. The – another question: Today, the Secretary is going to meet the UN secretary general.

MS. HARF: He is, in Cairo.

QUESTION: In Cairo. And generally, in any related issue between Israel and Palestinian, it was said that not the UN or any other formula can be accepted as a formal solution for those two, for the peace process. They have to sit together, not through an international organization.

MS. HARF: Well, this is separate than the peace process, obviously.

QUESTION: So what he is trying – what you are expecting from UN to do in this process?

MS. HARF: Well, I don’t have specifics to detail for you on what their role is. But obviously, the secretary general is a key international interlocutor. He’s on the ground there having conversations with a number of people. Obviously, this is completely separate from how we would view any role in a peace process.

QUESTION: So another thing, which is there are two questions still. One of them is the Prime Minister of Israel Netanyahu was stressing in his interviews yesterday the necessity and the urgency of demilitarizing Gaza. The U.S. agree with this concept as a concept, or you don’t have to say anything?

MS. HARF: Look, what we’re focused on right now is seeing if we can get a cease-fire, if we can stop the rockets coming into Israel, coming from Hamas, seeing if we can end the bloodshed on both sides. What that looks like, I’m just not going to preview at all.

QUESTION: I’m not trying to look what it’s coming, but --

MS. HARF: Well, I just don’t have more details for you.

QUESTION: Okay. I mean, I will try to – another question, which is a little bit – all these are not issues to discuss, it just easier to answer. The – you are talking about partners.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: I mean, few days ago it was – I mean, like a week ago you were all talking about Turkey and Qatar.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: And other partners, Egypt of course, the proposal, whatever is there. Nowadays, the last 24 hours or 48 hours, the issue of or the name of Turkey is not mentioned. Does changing in the – there is any change in dynamics of participation or proposing something?

MS. HARF: Well, just to read out a number of calls to catch you up on where the Secretary’s calls have been, today he has already spoken with the Qatari foreign minister. He spoke with him yesterday as well, also with the Emirati foreign minister, with President Abbas, with the Egyptian foreign minister, with the Israeli prime minister, with Secretary General Ban, with a whole host of interlocutors, also did speak with Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu on Saturday as well. So as I just said, I was very clear about some comments that were made, but the Secretary remains engaged with all of our partners in the region about this issue.

QUESTION: So my last question is regarding the Egyptian proposal.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: It was mentioned the last 24 hours that there is a possibility of making if not changes at least modifications, according to these terms used in the region.

MS. HARF: Well, we’ll see what the discussions look like over the coming days.

QUESTION: Marie, you mentioned a call to Davutoglu. Do you know what – can you be more --

MS. HARF: On Saturday.

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS. HARF: He also spoke with him on Friday.

QUESTION: More – yeah.

MS. HARF: And on Thursday. He’s had a lot of calls.

QUESTION: Okay. So post the Erdogan comments, has he registered your dismay or your concern about --

MS. HARF: I’m happy to check on those details.

QUESTION: Just it seems to me, Marie, that your last exchange with Matt created a bit of ambiguity about the U.S. position vis-a-vis the IDF and its mission that I’d like to give you an opportunity to address. Is it the view of the United States Government that the Israeli Defense Force is committed to limiting civilian casualties?

MS. HARF: They have certainly made that clear to us, said that to us both privately and they’ve said it publicly.

QUESTION: Has it been your observation that that is, in fact, its policy and its practice?

MS. HARF: They’ve certainly made clear that it’s their policy. Look, we’ve said that they have a right to defend themselves, James, and we’ve been very clear about that. We’ve the whole time called on them to do everything they can to limit civilian casualties as well.

QUESTION: You’re not being asked whether they have a right to defend themselves. You’re being --

MS. HARF: I’m just not going to make a sweeping generalization or assessment, James.

QUESTION: Or an endorsement, in other words?

MS. HARF: I’m just not – I don’t have anything more for you on this question. I think we’ve talked about it enough today.

QUESTION: You don’t – so you don’t have an opinion on whether – when Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Netanyahu, say that Israel’s army, its military, is the most moral in the world or most just, you don’t --

MS. HARF: I haven’t seen that comment, Matt.

QUESTION: Well, he’s said it frequently.

MS. HARF: Okay. Well, I haven’t seen it.

QUESTION: But you won’t agree or disagree with that? Is that --

MS. HARF: I don’t think I’m going to make assessments of those comments.

QUESTION: Gotcha.

QUESTION: New topic?

MS. HARF: I tend – my money tends to be with the United States military on most things, but you know.

QUESTION: Gotcha.

MS. HARF: Yeah. Yes, new topic. Yes.

QUESTION: Iraq. Do you have anything to say about the ISIS campaign to take over churches and expel --

MS. HARF: I do.

QUESTION: -- monks and the priests from near Mosul and that region?

MS. HARF: Yes. Let me see what I have on this. I think I have something. Let me just check. Yes. And I believe that Jen – we put out a statement on this late on Friday. But we condemn in the strongest terms the systematic persecution of ethnic and religious minorities by ISIL. We are particularly outraged by ISIL’s recent announcement that Christians in Mosul must either convert, pay a tax, leave, or face execution in the coming days. These are abominable acts. We are very clear that they only further demonstrate ISIL’s mission to divide and destroy Iraq, and they have absolutely no place in the future of Iraq. We could not be more clear.

QUESTION: Just because that is the statement that was released on Friday --

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- that you just read, there is no change to it since then?

MS. HARF: No.

QUESTION: The Kurdistan --

MS. HARF: All about consistency here.

QUESTION: The Kurdistan government is complaining that they can’t afford any more to host the displaced people. Is there any – anything the U.S. --

MS. HARF: I can check on that. I hadn’t seen that. Let me check for you, Samir.

QUESTION: Is the U.S. able to do anything to limit this ISIS campaign?

MS. HARF: The persecution of Christians?

QUESTION: Yeah, I mean, to take over the churches and the --

MS. HARF: Well, in general, we’ve been very clear that we will help the Iraqi Government in its fight against ISIL writ large. This is one part of that fight, certainly. We are working with them now, but I don’t have anything specific on that for you.

QUESTION: But you have --

MS. HARF: We’ve also worked very closely with international organizations to address the humanitarian crisis in Iraq.

QUESTION: But currently you’re not doing anything?

MS. HARF: I can check and see specifically. I just don’t know.

QUESTION: Just a follow-up.

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: Yesterday, Michael O’Hanlon of Brookings said that it’d be impossible to combat ISIS without a few more folks on the ground. Do you have a reaction to that?

MS. HARF: Well, the United – you mean United States folks?

QUESTION: Yes.

MS. HARF: United States military assessment teams have provided a draft report. I know my colleagues at the Defense Department are looking at it to determine the best way to assist the Iraqi Government. We’re very committed to that. I would leave it to my colleagues there to talk in further detail about that.

QUESTION: And can I ask a question on an unrelated topic?

MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: Benghazi?

MS. HARF: Sure.

QUESTION: There’s some reports that shortly – after the United – shortly after renting the consulate, members of Ansar al-Sharia moved in next door. And that report was given back to Washington and the State Department didn’t do anything about it. Do you have a --

MS. HARF: I haven’t seen that, Lucas, but it sounds pretty dubious to me. Let me check.

QUESTION: Okay. And just one more. American security personnel also reported back that they wanted to put bell-fed machine guns and sandbags on top of the consulate but were told it would be aesthetically unpleasing. Do you have a reaction to that?

MS. HARF: I also find that equally dubious, but I can check, of course.

QUESTION: Can I go back to Mosul for a second?

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Is there any update about the hostages, Turkish diplomats?

MS. HARF: I have no update on that.

QUESTION: So no update means that you are talking to Turkish authorities, but --

MS. HARF: So no update on that. I don’t have any information on that for you at the moment.

QUESTION: And on Iraq, I think they are now trying to elect new president.

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: Do you have any --

MS. HARF: So we did congratulate the Iraqis on the election of their parliamentary speaker and deputies. We know that the new speaker has scheduled the next session for this Wednesday to discuss nominees for the presidency. The next step is to nominate and vote on a president, and then of course a prime minister after that, which we’ve said should happen as soon as possible. Once a president is elected, they have up to 15 days to nominate a prime minister. So obviously, we think this should happen as soon as possible.

QUESTION: Do you have any candidate to endorse in --

MS. HARF: I have repeatedly said we do not support any one candidate or any one party. We need an inclusive government as soon as possible.

QUESTION: I have one more on Turkey.

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: Actually, two. According to Israeli press, during the phone conversation between the Prime Minister Netanyahu and Secretary Kerry, Prime Minister Netanyahu complained about Turkish prime minister rhetoric over Gaza.

MS. HARF: I’m happy to check. I don’t know the answer to that for you, and I probably wouldn’t discuss it even if I did, given we don’t discuss private conversations. But I’m happy to check.

QUESTION: Do you still – this is my final question.

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: Do you still think the U.S. and Turkey relations are a model partnership?

MS. HARF: You ask this once a week, and I think I always have the same answer for you. Turkey’s a NATO ally. They’re a close partner on a number of issues. We also make very clear when there are things we do not agree with.

QUESTION: So my question is --

MS. HARF: You said that with the last one.

QUESTION: But you didn’t answer. President Obama --

MS. HARF: I think I just answered it.

QUESTION: President Obama described this relationship as model partnership. My question is: Would you still describe the same partnership --

MS. HARF: Turkey is a very close NATO ally. We work together on a number of issues. When we have disagreements, we make those clear as well.

QUESTION: I wanted to ask about Bahrain.

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: With the Bahrain – Bahrainis have filed a lawsuit to suspend the largest Shiite opposition, called Al-Wefaq.

MS. HARF: Is this Al-Wefaq? Yeah.

QUESTION: Yes. Do you have a comment on it?

MS. HARF: I saw this and I don’t. Let me see if I can get you something.

QUESTION: Okay, thank you.

MS. HARF: Yeah. What else?

QUESTION: Bahrain. I mean, can you update us what was done, the latest after the return of the assistant secretary?

MS. HARF: Let me check on the latest.

QUESTION: Because it’s like --

MS. HARF: I will check on that for you.

QUESTION: -- for 48 hours we talk about it, and then as if it’s – it was solved. It was not solved.

MS. HARF: That happens with a lot of issues in this briefing room. Let me check and get the latest for you.

QUESTION: Okay. The other Iraq issue?

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: When you talk about these churches in Mosul and all these thing, I mean it was – it – in it you are mentioning what was mentioned like 72 hours ago, or maybe more.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. Yeah.

QUESTION: How you are following at the State Department what’s going on in these areas, or these areas are out of concern now?

MS. HARF: No, they’re still very much in concern. We have a team on the ground in Iraq that works closely with the Iraqis to determine what’s happening on the ground to assist in any way we can. That team remains there fully engaged with the Iraqis, and really trying to get a ground truth about what’s happening and see how we can help.

QUESTION: So it’s now – it’s a humanitarian issue now?

MS. HARF: It’s partly a humanitarian issue. It’s also a security issue. When religious minorities, particularly Christians in Iraq, are being persecuted, it’s both.

QUESTION: I’ve got --

MS. HARF: One more from the back. Are you saving the best for last, Matt?

QUESTION: I’ve got two very brief ones.

QUESTION: No, no.

MS. HARF: Go ahead.

QUESTION: Okay, thank you. Secretary Kerry has said in one of the interviews yesterday that North Korea has been more quiet since his visit to China last year. Do you think this is a correct assessment of the situation, when North Korea has fired a number of missiles, rockets, and --

MS. HARF: Well, I think the Secretary – and we all have been very clear in condemning North Korea’s aggressive actions when they occur. We’ve talked recently about ballistic missiles and how those were in violation of UN Security Council resolutions. So I think the Secretary’s been very clear about our concern with North Korea’s activities.

QUESTION: But he said North Korea has been a lot more quiet than --

MS. HARF: Well, again he wasn’t trying to convey something different than we’ve conveyed in the past.

QUESTION: Just a quick one, Marie, on Anders Dale, the Norwegian that the State Department added to the Foreign Terrorist Watch List.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Do you think he’s related to the travel – international travel warnings that we’re seeing today about --

MS. HARF: I don’t have the details. Let me see if I can get them, Lucas.

QUESTION: Two things slightly related. On Friday in The Washington Post a former State Department official who worked in DRL on internet freedom wrote a piece saying – warning Americans that surveillance of them – of U.S. citizens – is not just limited to the new NSA stuff but goes back to this executive order that was signed some years ago. I’m wondering if you have any comment on that.

MS. HARF: Well, I didn’t read the piece. I’m happy to read it after the briefing, but I will say in general that this Administration, starting with the President, has made very clear what we do and what we don’t do when it comes to intelligence gathering and why we do it. And I think I would probably leave it at that. I’m happy to take a look at the article.

QUESTION: Well, this goes beyond just metadata. This goes into actual --

MS. HARF: Well, I said intelligence gathering, writ large, which is --

QUESTION: Oh, no. I understand. But so – please read the – and if you have anything to say about it I will be --

MS. HARF: I’ll come back to you tomorrow if I have anything to say.

QUESTION: And then – okay. And then there was an incident over the weekend in Berlin at your Embassy. I don’t know if you’re aware of it.

MS. HARF: I’m sorry. I’m not.

QUESTION: Okay. Well, some people went into the memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe, which is across the street from the Embassy and projected onto the Embassy wall a picture of the President along with the words “NSA is in the house.” I’m wondering if you have any problem with this, given that it was on – it was projected, there was no damage, obviously, but there’s --

MS. HARF: Well, I haven’t seen it, but I would certainly have a big problem with the sentiment.

QUESTION: Well, it makes for a quite compelling picture.

MS. HARF: Look, when we were in Vienna Secretary Kerry had a very good meeting with Foreign Minister Steinmeier. They spoke to the press after it. Look, they said there’s a number of very important things happening in the world right now and they’re working very closely together on all of these issues, and when there are bilateral issues that need to be discussed they will, and we are working together in an open and transparent manner. We’ve committed to that, and I think that the Germans are working very closely with us on a number of issues.

QUESTION: No, but in terms of this specific incident you – other than the fact that you would disagree with the sentiment – is that correct?

MS. HARF: Well, I haven’t seen it.

QUESTION: Well, it said “NSA in the house” and it’s got --

MS. HARF: I can envision what – let me take a look at it. I’ll take that as one of my do-outs for tomorrow’s briefing.

QUESTION: Okay. But as far as you know, there wasn’t any – there’s no like broader – because I’m talking about like security of the Embassy, anything like that.

MS. HARF: I can check.

QUESTION: There’s nothing – okay.

MS. HARF: I’m sorry. I’m not familiar with the incident.

QUESTION: Talking about Vienna, you just reminded me about Iran.

MS. HARF: Yes, I know. No Iran. I’ve been up for an hour and a half – no Iran questions. (Laughter.)

Yes.

QUESTION: Is the Secretary planning to go up on the Hill anytime soon to talk about the extension?

MS. HARF: We are doing a number of Hill engagements, whether it’s at staff level, member level, us, the White House, Treasury. I don’t have any specifics on the Secretary given his travel. I know he’s had conversations and had some meetings over the past few weeks. I can attempt to get you some more details for tomorrow.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: But we are doing a number of engagements with the Hill to explain what the extension is, what it isn’t, why we think it’s important to continue these negotiations.

QUESTION: And I realize it’s only a couple of days since you guys came back – probably less than 24 hours, in your case.

MS. HARF: Yeah. (Laughter.) Less than 24 hours. Yep.

QUESTION: Is there any idea yet when the next meeting might be held?

MS. HARF: I don’t – we don’t have those details yet. Obviously, as soon as possible. Hopefully in the next few weeks. I think the meetings over the next few months will look – a combination of experts meetings, bilateral meetings, multilateral meetings – we’re still trying to figure out all those details.

QUESTION: Vienna will still be your port of choice?

MS. HARF: I think we’re still trying to determine all the details on where we’ll be and where all the meetings will happen. Vienna was a very good host for three weeks, but I’m happy to be home.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 3:00 p.m.)

DPB # 126


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Categories: News Pit Feeds

Daily Press Briefings : Daily Press Briefing - July 18, 2014

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 17:59

Jen Psaki
Spokesperson
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
July 18, 2014

Share Index for Today's Briefing
  • SYRIA
    • U.S. Condemnation of ISIL's Stoning of Woman
  • UKRAINE/RUSSIA/MALAYSIA
    • Malaysia Airlines Passengers / Passports
    • U.S. Calls for De-escalation of Tensions
    • U.S. Government Officials to Assist in Crash Investigation
    • Ambassador Powers' Remarks at UN
    • U.S. Support for International Participation in Investigation / OSCE Role / FBI Role
    • Readout of Secretary's Calls
    • Ukrainian Military Equipment
    • U.S. Engagement with Russia
    • FAA Advisory Issued
    • Technical Complexity of SA-11's
  • MIDDLE EAST PEACE
    • U.S. Engagement with Regional Leaders
    • U.S. Concerned by Arrest of Palestinian Family
    • Turkish Prime Minister Comments Not Helpful
    • U.S. Support for Egypt Ceasefire Proposal
  • IRAN
    • P5+1 Members Discuss Extension
  • AFGHANISTAN
    • Update on Ballot Audit
  • INDIA
    • U.S. Engagement with India / Upcoming Visit of Prime Minister Modi
  • DEPARTMENT
    • Jen Psaki and Social Media Critics
  • CAMBODIA
    • U.S. Condemns Violence
  • BURMA
    • U.S. Condemns Detention of Journalists
  • NORTH KOREA
    • U.S. Engagement with the UN on Ballistic Missile Launches


TRANSCRIPT:

1:38 p.m. EDT

MS. PSAKI: Hi, everyone.

QUESTION: Hello, Madam.

MS. PSAKI: I have one item for all of you at the top. We condemn in the strongest possible terms the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s barbaric stoning of a woman yesterday in Tabqa, Syria. This is the latest example of ISIL’s infamous atrocities against the Syrian people. ISIL is a vicious terrorist organization with a proven agenda of grotesque violence and repression which runs against the Syrian revolution’s goals of freedom and dignity. It seeks to distort religion solely to obtain power through violence. We’ve been clear that all those who commit crimes against the Syrian people must be held accountable. The United States regularly reports on violence against women and girls around the globe, and supports efforts to prevent and respond to such violence, including advancing accountability by working with law enforcement, supporting civil society’s efforts, and engaging with critical stakeholders such as men and boys. We raise these issues with world leaders and at international fora such as the United Nations to spur collective action against such – these egregious crimes.

With that, Matt, I hope we gave you enough two minutes --

QUESTION: No.

MS. PSAKI: Our apologies.

QUESTION: No, there was no two-minute warning at all. But –

MS. PSAKI: I believe there was. You may not have heard it, but anyway, we’ll continue.

QUESTION: Well, no one heard it. (Laughter.) But anyway --

MS. PSAKI: Perhaps we have a technical issue.

QUESTION: -- it’s not as if I think you’re trying to, like, escape.

MS. PSAKI: Good. Good to hear.

QUESTION: Let’s start with the plane.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: The President said there was at least one American. Was this person traveling with a U.S. passport? Is it – and I believe there’s still three unidentified. Is it possible that any of those three are American citizens?

MS. PSAKI: Yes. Let me give you an overview that I think will answer some of – all of those questions and maybe a few more. On Thursday, Malaysia Airlines notified us that no passengers boarded Malaysia Airlines flight 17 using a U.S. passport. Knowing this information, we immediately then took additional steps to verify whether any of the passengers were also U.S. citizens. And the process that we underwent was to individually check each name against our passport records, and there isn’t – there wasn’t, in this case, biographical data available either, so obviously that takes some time to check. And we, of course, need to ensure that we can be confident in our results before we notify family members.

So the President spoke to one individual, who is a dual national. There are also – I believe the number, unless there’s been a change, are – there are four individuals that Malaysia Airlines has not identified the nationalities for. So certainly, we also don’t know the nationalities of those individuals. We’re also – while we’ve gone through the manifest, because there isn’t biographical data available we’re continuing to do our due diligence to match any available data up to ensure there aren’t additional dual nationals in the manifest.

QUESTION: Well, so you’ve gone through all of the names.

MS. PSAKI: Yes.

QUESTION: And the only one that popped up as holding a U.S. passport or being a U.S. citizen is --

MS. PSAKI: There were no individuals holding U.S. passports who boarded the plane.

QUESTION: Okay. So this one guy --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- this one victim who the President named was a dual citizen but did not have a U.S. passport?

MS. PSAKI: Correct.

QUESTION: Did not possess one?

MS. PSAKI: Well, not – didn’t – I’m not sure if they possessed one, but they did not have one that they boarded the plane with. I suppose they did not possess one.

QUESTION: Well, wouldn’t – all right. Then I’m confused. If you check all the names against your passport data --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- wouldn’t it show up if he had one, whether or not he had used it to get on the plane or not?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, I would remind you obviously there are also a dual – sometimes there are names that are common names that we need to check.

QUESTION: Well, but let’s just talk about this one guy.

MS. PSAKI: Okay, mm-hmm.

QUESTION: He did or did not possess – whether or not he used it or not to get on the plane, did or did not possess a U.S. passport?

MS. PSAKI: Well, he is a dual citizen. What passports he possessed, I would have to check if that’s how we determined.

QUESTION: So the State Department doesn’t know if this guy had a – possessed a U.S. passport?

MS. PSAKI: Clearly, we know that he was a U.S. – a dual citizen. I don’t have any other additional information. I assume that’s how we knew.

QUESTION: Does that mean that if you typed in “Jennifer Psaki” into the passport records, it would not pop up that you have a passport?

MS. PSAKI: I am a U.S. citizen.

QUESTION: You have a passport.

MS. PSAKI: I would board a plane with a U.S. passport.

QUESTION: But not all U.S. citizens have U.S. – anyways, we’re probably getting bogged down.

MS. PSAKI: That is correct.

QUESTION: Anyway, so none of the other – including the four, or three, or whatever it is that are not yet identified by nationality by Malaysian Airlines, you – none of those people are U.S. citizens; is that what you’re saying?

MS. PSAKI: At this point in time, we’re still doing a review given there isn’t biographical data available for a number of individuals, so we’re doing due diligence to ensure before we make that confirmation.

QUESTION: But you can’t say for sure that none of the 200 – none of the total number of people on the plane actually held a U.S. passport?

MS. PSAKI: None of them boarded the plane --

QUESTION: I know that.

MS. PSAKI: -- with a U.S. passport.

QUESTION: Maybe I’m getting bogged down into something that’s really – I just don’t understand why you can’t tell – you can’t go in and look at a name and see if that person has a passport.

MS. PSAKI: I’m happy to double-check that for you, Matt.

QUESTION: All right. Anyway --

MS. PSAKI: I’m providing the information we have available, which is the one individual and the process we’re undergoing.

QUESTION: Are you aware of any discussions between – from this building and Russia or Ukraine over the course of the last 20 – 18 hours or so between Secretary Kerry or other senior officials?

MS. PSAKI: Secretary Kerry has not made calls --

QUESTION: Assistant Secretary Nuland?

MS. PSAKI: -- to Russian or Ukrainian authorities. I would remind you that we have a large – or a number of senior officials who have been in touch with Ukrainian and Russian authorities, certainly both on the ground, but also you’ve seen the calls read out by the White House.

QUESTION: I’m hoping this isn’t something going on and --

QUESTION: This reflects dissembling (inaudible).

QUESTION: Exactly.

QUESTION: Very sensitive issue.

QUESTION: I think it reflects the state of chaos --

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

QUESTION: -- state of chaos in the world.

MS. PSAKI: I’m sure we can turn that off if that’s possible. Is that possible? Okay. Great. Does that help decrease the distraction?

QUESTION: There we go. Look at that. All the world’s problems are fixed.

MS. PSAKI: All right. (Laughter.) All right. Have a good weekend. (Laughter.) Good to see all of you. Just kidding.

QUESTION: So there have been contacts, but just not at the Secretary’s level or a senior level?

MS. PSAKI: Correct.

QUESTION: Okay. Are there any plans for there to be such contacts or any plans for the Secretary to potentially travel to deal with this situation? The reason I ask is that Ambassador Power at the UN this morning made some pretty powerful, strong --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- accusations, allegations against the Russians.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: And I’m just wondering if anyone thinks – if the Administration believes that it would be worthwhile to pursue these with Russian officials or whether you’ve decided that it’s more appropriate to wait until an investigation is finished.

MS. PSAKI: Well, our focus right now is on seeing through a full, credible, thorough investigation. I can give you an update on the resources that the United States has sent – made available for that. In terms of travel, there’s no current plans for the Secretary to travel to the region. As you know, he always has a bag packed, and if that is a decision made that that would be productive, I’m sure he’d be happy to do that. You’re right. Ambassador Power – and then again, the President – repeated a number of items of evidence and data that is available about what is happening on the ground. They both reaffirmed the fact that we’re not going to prejudge the investigation. We want to see that move forward, and that is where we are at this point in time.

With that being said – let me just finish, and then we’ll go. With that being said, we certainly understand that – and our focus is, as the President said and as the White House statement said last night, is of course continuing to call for a reduction in tensions and a de-escalation. And aside from the investigation, if there’s a need to play a role in that, the Secretary or anyone in the Administration is certainly ready and willing to do just that.

Can I just give you an update on the staff that are – the individuals who are going? So we have offered – the Government of Ukraine, as many of you may have seen, has issued invitations to assist with an investigation to ICAO, NTSB, Boeing, Malaysia, the Netherlands, and the European Civil Aviation Conference. We have offered assistance to the Ukrainian Government, including personnel and resources from the NTSB and the FBI, which the Ukrainians have accepted. The NTSB will be sending at least one investigator to the Ukraine. The timing of this is still being determined, and our response will, of course, be guided by events as they unfold, and our understanding is at this point the FBI is preparing to deploy at least one FBI individual personnel member to Ukraine. It’s also not clear on the timing of that. Of course, it remains a fluid situation, and we, of course, will be responsive to their needs moving forward.

QUESTION: And then last one from me, at least I hope it is. You referred to Ambassador Power’s comments to the Security Council. You said that she presented items, evidence and data. What – maybe I was watching a different Security Council meeting. I mean, she certainly made some strong accusations, but I don’t think she presented any evidence to back them up or any data to – that would back up the claim, her claims. Is – one, is there such items, evidence and data that you have? And two, are you willing to make it public? Because clearly there are people on the Russian side who don’t buy this.

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, what I was referring to – and I’m sorry you disagree with my terms I used to describe it, but – was the information that’s available, the context of what has been happening on the ground, which is what she outlined. Obviously, she stated – as the President stated – we’re going to see the investigation through. We want that to be a credible international investigation, and there isn’t a separate process that we’re undergoing from the United States.

QUESTION: So – but – so you’re saying that you are not willing to make the evidence and data that you have public – you’ll give that to the investigators, but you won’t make it public to --

MS. PSAKI: What I’m referring to is exactly what she stated publicly, which is the presence of certain systems along the border, which is the fact that – and many of them are public reports. She was outlining information about what has been happening on the ground, which I think is important for context. But we’ll see the investigation see itself through.

QUESTION: Well, but she was pretty – she said that “we assess that” – and that’s clearly a finding by the intelligence community, because they’re the ones who use that language --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- “we assess that is was fired” – this missile was fired --

MS. PSAKI: Sorry, your thing – yes.

QUESTION: -- an SA-11 was fired – where is the data? Where is the evidence that backs that up?

MS. PSAKI: There isn’t additional data that we are providing publicly at this point. I’m – it is likely we will use – we will provide that through the investigation process.

QUESTION: So – all right. But do you understand how there are people who are skeptical of what she said, especially given previous UN Security Council presentations by Americans? I mean, I just – if you’re pretty convinced about it, would – could you – I would appeal to you to ask to make some of this information public. I’m not necessarily doubting any of it, but --

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: -- when you say that she presented evidence and data, she really didn’t. She presented --

MS. PSAKI: What --

QUESTION: -- the overall assessment from --

MS. PSAKI: The overall assessment and facts of what we’ve been seeing on the ground.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: That may be the more accurate way of describing it.

QUESTION: Okay. Thank you.

MS. PSAKI: James.

QUESTION: Thank you, Jen. I have a number of areas related to this that I’d like to pursue --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- and with the indulgence of my colleagues. First, there’s been a lot of discussion of a credible international investigation that the United States, through various spokespeople, has said that it would like to see pursued here. Under what auspices does the United States wish to see an international investigation pursued?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Ukraine – this happened in the territory of Ukraine, so they clearly would have the lead on this process. As I mentioned, there are a range of countries they’ve asked for assistance from that have agreed to provide and participate in any investigation. We’ve also seen on the ground a number of international organizations already engage. And these reports just came out, so I’m not sure if you saw them, but the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission went to the site of the crash today. They’re obviously playing a role here as well. They had only limited access and left after 75 minutes. Of course, calling the need for unfettered access is incredibly important in our view.

QUESTION: So in calling for there to be an international investigation, is the United States also calling for the final report or product of this investigation also to be international in character?

MS. PSAKI: Well, the engagement of a range of countries and organizations, I think, in our view makes it an international process. But of course, Ukraine would have the lead in the investigation.

QUESTION: And the final say in the outcome of the investigation as – in terms of ascriptions of culpability and so forth.

MS. PSAKI: Well, again, there’ll be participation and expertise provided by a range of countries and organizations. You’ve seen a broad level of interest, and the Ukrainians themselves have requested the assistance from a range of international organizations and countries as well.

QUESTION: I guess I’m making a distinction between the investigation and potential prosecutions that might flow therefrom.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: And I’m – I guess I’m asking if your desire to see an international investigation is mirrored by a desire to see the prosecution – any potential prosecutions also retain some kind of international flavor or character.

MS. PSAKI: Well, James, it’s a good question. I think we’re not quite there yet in the process.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: One of the reason – let me just finish – that we sent a – we’re sending an FBI – an individual from the FBI, if not more over time, is because of the special expertise they have in criminal investigations. So we’ll see where we get to in the process.

QUESTION: When the announcement went out last night that Secretary Kerry had canceled his appearance at the Sixth and I Synagogue here in Washington, the press release stated that he was doing so so that he could engage in internal discussions with staff and discussions with his counterparts around the world. You’ve just told us that those counterparts did not include anyone from Russia or Ukraine, and so I’m wondering if you can give us a readout of his calls to date --

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: -- on this subject. And I guess perhaps later when we do Gaza, you could reserve that for that segment of the briefing or --

MS. PSAKI: Well, if you don’t mind, let me just – because I think it gives a flavor of what he was working on last night. There were, of course, a range of discussions that he and senior members of the Administration were in last night through the interagency. So that was part of what his time was spent on.

QUESTION: What are you talking about there exactly? Is – was there an NS principals meeting or an NSC? What were --

MS. PSAKI: No. But again there are a range of ways to engage, and certainly on the phone and discussions about how to address – as you know, there were a number of statements put out pretty late in the evening last night, so there was an effort to work on those as well through the process.

Last night – or yesterday, I should say, and today – he has spoken with Quartet rep Tony Blair, with the Malaysian foreign minister, Dutch foreign minister, Qatari foreign minister, the Arab League secretary general. He spoke last night with the Egyptian foreign minister twice – sorry, once last night, once yesterday – with French Foreign Minister Fabius, with Prime Minister Netanyahu. We – you saw the – I’m sorry – readout we put out last night with Foreign Minister Davutoglu and with the UAE foreign minister.

So he was engaged and there were times when he was back and forth and spoke with some of them multiple times last evening.

QUESTION: Okay. To proceed to some of the specific points of contention today --

MS. PSAKI: Yes.

QUESTION: First, the Ukrainian security services released what they claimed were transcripts of the intercepts involving Russian military intelligence officials --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- purportedly directly discussing this attack. Does the United States Government have any assessment as to the authenticity of those recordings?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any assessment to offer at this time. There’s obviously an investigation. We’ll let it see itself through.

QUESTION: You don’t – do you have cause to doubt the authenticity?

MS. PSAKI: I really don’t have any analysis of it to provide.

QUESTION: Secondly, the Russian defense ministry disclosed that it has intercepted the activity of a Ukrainian radar system on the very day when this attack occurred, and the defense ministry stated, and I quote, the launch of rockets could have also occurred from any of the batteries deployed in the populated area of Avdiivka, which is eight kilometers north of Donetsk, or from Gruzsko-Zoryanskoe, which is 25 kilometers east of Donestsk. Does the United States have any assessment of this disclosure by the Russian defense ministry of radar intercepts and suggestions of alternative scenarios to what Ambassador Power suggested?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think one of the points Ambassador Power made was that while the Ukrainians do have SA-11 systems in their inventory, we’re not aware of Ukrainian – any Ukrainian SAM systems in the area of the shoot-down. Obviously, that’s a contextual example and that’s why we need to see the investigation see itself through, but obviously relevant information.

QUESTION: Is that assessment, which Ambassador Power included in her remarks, take into account what the Russian defense ministry is saying here about these other installations that could have been the origin point for this missile?

MS. PSAKI: I think she was stating what we’re aware of at this time. And obviously these events are only – just over 24 hours old, so that’s why we’re going to focus on seeing the investigation through.

QUESTION: Last question, you’ve all been very patient with me --

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.

QUESTION: -- and I appreciate it.

So the President kept using a phrase in his remarks today: “We have confidence in saying.” And as you know, that’s kind of a term of art. This confidence that the United States has that the origin point for this missile was rebel-held Ukrainian territory – is that high confidence?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I’m going to leave it where the President of the United States stated it, James, no surprise. And again, there is a range of information, as you noted in your question, we have available that we don’t always speak about publicly, and I believe that was what he was referring to.

QUESTION: He later called it “increasing confidence.” So he qualified it at one point.

And just to follow up on what Matt said, when we have the President saying we feel confident in saying something, and then we have the UN ambassador saying “we assess” – doesn’t that strike you as there being some kind of important semantic difference there?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t think it was meant to be a difference. Those statements were very coordinated and were similar in the language that was used.

QUESTION: Because the last thing she said: “We assess Malaysian airlines Flight 17 carrying these 298 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was likely downed by a surface-to-air missile, an SA-11, operated from a separatist-held location in eastern Ukraine.” Is – the word “likely” appears in there. Is the word “likely” which occurs right before “downed by a surface-to-air missile,” is she saying that it’s the missile that was likely or she’s saying that it’s the rebel-held territory that’s the likely part of this?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think we have some information available about what happened. Obviously, we know – we’re confident in what and where. The questions we really have are who and why, and I think that’s what the investigation will really be exploring.

QUESTION: So we know the “where,” is what you’re telling us?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we have – you heard the UN ambassador. You heard the President also speak to that. And I think --

QUESTION: Because the President said we don’t have a definite judgment on that, but you seem to be rather definitive on it, saying we know the where.

MS. PSAKI: Well, we have a good sense, as the ambassador to the UN said. So again, we’re going to see the investigation through. As we have more information, we’ll provide that information.

QUESTION: So it’s not a slam dunk?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I’m not sure what that means, but go ahead.

QUESTION: A couple of questions. Jen, is there any doubt about who those four individuals who have not been identified yet might have been doing on the plane, or is that sort of – there’s no suspicion about who they were, or it’s just that they haven’t been identified?

MS. PSAKI: Not that I’m aware of at all, Kim. I think it’s just that information about their identities.

QUESTION: And then going back to the point of the international – about the international investigation, it’s an interesting point. Under whose auspices – apart from the fact that it was – that it happened on Ukrainian territory, surely the Russians might be in a position to contest the results of any investigation if they feel they’re not part of it or if it’s not UN-led. I mean, how are you going to make sure the results of this investigation aren’t contested by the Russians, for example?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I don’t know that we can ensure that, of course, but again, I think it’s only natural that because this took place in Ukrainian territory that they would have the lead on the investigation. And that’s a pretty standard procedure. But they have welcomed and invited in a range of countries, a range of international outlets with expertise, and clearly, that’s an indication of their openness to an international investigation.

QUESTION: Would you want the Russians involved?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not in a position to make a decision on that. Of course, we don’t have the – we’re not in the lead on the investigation.

QUESTION: Jen.

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.

QUESTION: Can I just follow up on the list of calls that you listed --

MS. PSAKI: Yes.

QUESTION: -- that the Secretary made today? There wasn’t a call, unless I missed something, with Foreign Minister Lavrov.

MS. PSAKI: Correct.

QUESTION: I realize the presidents spoke yesterday --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- but is there a reason why he’s not trying to reach out to his Russian foreign counterpart? Isn’t this something that – obviously, that the two diplomats of the two countries should be talking about?

MS. PSAKI: Well, it’s nothing other than there’s a great deal of focus at a very senior level in the Administration on this issue right now. The President of the United States spoke with President Putin just yesterday. He spoke with the president of Ukraine just yesterday. And I’m certain, if there’s a need, that Secretary Kerry would be more than happy to speak with Foreign Minister Lavrov, and we’ll see what happens over the coming days.

QUESTION: Because Ambassador Power’s statement basically laid it squarely at the door of Russia, as did the President in saying that the equipment had come from the Russians. I mean, it would seem that at this point, you need to be having some kind of discussions with your Russian counterparts.

MS. PSAKI: Well, we are in discussions with Russia, and we have a large embassy there. We have a great deal of engagement with Russians. The question of whether the Secretary will make a call – that certainly is possible in the coming days. I’m just not going to predict given I don’t have those plans yet in front of me.

QUESTION: Were you able to get an answer to the question that I asked yesterday about these missiles? Let’s say the SA-11, which is what the – what Ambassador Power said was likely used to shoot this plane down, is that among the materiel that the Russians sent into Ukraine according to your information?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I believe that the reports that have been out there have referred to Buk missiles. Those are – while we’ve expressed concern about surface-to-air missiles in general, we have not specified those in that level of detail. We just don’t have information we can share on that particular missile system.

QUESTION: Well, but when you, Marie, and other officials were talking about missiles along with tanks going from Russia into Ukraine to supply the separatists, did they – did those missiles include SA-11s?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t think we have specified to that level of detail, Matt.

QUESTION: So you don’t know as --

MS. PSAKI: I’m not saying we don’t know.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: I’m saying I don’t have any more information to share.

QUESTION: Well, but do you – you don’t – so you don’t have any information to share with us about whether you even know for sure that SA-11s were in --

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any more information to share --

QUESTION: -- in the (inaudible)?

MS. PSAKI: -- on the types of surface-to-air missiles that we have seen in the hands of Russian separatists.

QUESTION: Well, okay. Could I appeal to you to – I mean, if – because if this isn’t among the arsenal that you say was moved --

MS. PSAKI: Well, I would remind you too, Matt, that aside from that, one of the points that Ambassador Power made this morning was that there was an SA-11 system reported by a Western reporter, and separatists were spotted hours before the incident with an SA-11 system.

QUESTION: Yeah, I understand that. But I’m just wanting to know if you believe that SA-11s were among the things that were sent in over the course of the past month or two months into --

MS. PSAKI: I’ve – if there’s more information to share publicly about specific weapon systems, we can make that available; I’m not sure that there is.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: So I mean, I know you’re still trying to determine exactly what happened, but it sounds like, just to put a fine point on it, regardless of whether it came from the Russian side of the border or it came from one of the separatists, that you feel that Russia has a responsibility here, whether they gave them the weapon, they had operatives that helped them do it, or they just gave them the weapon and an instruction manual and said go ahead.

MS. PSAKI: That’s not at all what we said or what the President said or what the UN ambassador said, Elise. They laid out specific details of the events we’ve seen happening on the ground. All of that is important context. But we’re not going to prejudge the outcome of the investigation.

Certainly, aside from this specific tragic event, we have concerns about a range of the steps that they outlined, including providing access to weapons systems, providing materials to the separatists, but we’re going to see the investigation through before we make a judgment.

QUESTION: Do you think that this will in any way will change President Putin’s calculus in terms of his support for the separatists or for his kind of bid to destabilize Ukraine?

MS. PSAKI: Well, it certainly should. This, as the President said this morning, was a wakeup call to the world, to many European countries, and certainly should be to Russia as well that given all of these events, this is of great concern and it’s something that we think, certainly, that President Putin and the Russians should take a close look at.

QUESTION: And do you think that this will harden European kind of resolve in terms of the severity of the measures that you’ve been considering?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we can’t make a full prediction of that for obvious reasons, but certainly seeing the horrific events that happened yesterday, seeing the families who are mourning their loved ones, all of the information that’s available should be a wakeup call to everybody.

QUESTION: Are you going to push the Europeans to be – to take a tougher line on Russia now?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think, again, we’re going to see this investigation through. But we’ve been engaged in discussions with the Europeans about sanctions for months now, as you all know. We’ll see how this proceeds, but those will continue regardless.

QUESTION: Jen, after the President – after Ambassador Power’s comments and after the President’s comments, but in particular Ambassador Power’s comments, how can you say that we’re not going to prejudge the outcome of this investigation? I mean --

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt --

QUESTION: -- she outlined what you assess, your – the conclusions of your looking into this so far, and basically – not basically, did blame the Russians for it; said it came from a – not a specific area, but a rebel-held area; that it was a specific kind of missile that was used. It seems to me that that’s prejudging, or you’ve done your own investigation and those are the results of it.

MS. PSAKI: We have --

QUESTION: But you seem to want to have it both ways.

MS. PSAKI: -- not done our own investigation.

QUESTION: You make your – you make these allegations.

MS. PSAKI: We’re participating in the international investigation.

QUESTION: I understand.

MS. PSAKI: Let me finish. There’s a range of information, most of which is publicly available, that Ambassador Power laid out in her remarks this morning. That’s all relevant context.

QUESTION: Sure.

MS. PSAKI: But again, there’s an official process that will be seen through.

QUESTION: Well, it’s not public information that an SA-11 – that the U.S. assesses that an --

MS. PSAKI: I said a vast majority.

QUESTION: -- right – SA-11 was responsible, and that it was fired from rebel-held territory. That’s not – that’s something that --

MS. PSAKI: I said the vast majority of information.

QUESTION: I understand that, but in coming – but in presenting those conclusions or those assessments, that seems to me, unless you’ve done your own investigation already, that you – that there has been a pre-judgment of what happened here.

MS. PSAKI: That was not the intention --

QUESTION: All right.

MS. PSAKI: -- and I’d point you to where she stated in her remarks – I don’t have it exactly in front of me – a reference to the fact that there will be an investigation.

QUESTION: All right. But then she closed out her remarks – near the end she said, “This war must end. Russia can end this war. Russia must end this war.” How is that not a prejudgment of the situation?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think there’s a concern here outside of this --

QUESTION: Or is she talking about more broadly?

MS. PSAKI: Correct. There is an ongoing concern about the escalation, and certainly outside of this investigation, we have remaining concerns about the steps of Russia and their – the materials they’ve provided to separatists.

QUESTION: But wait a minute. But you’re --

QUESTION: And then – just let – I actually have one – this is extremely brief. You don’t regard what she said and what the President – what Ambassador Power said and what the President said as prejudging the outcome of the investigation?

MS. PSAKI: Correct, we do not.

QUESTION: But why, then, are you tying this incident, then, to everything of the – if you don’t know and you aren’t kind of prejudging that – I know you’re not prejudging the exact details, but it seems as if you are prejudging that these events are a direct result of the conflict in Ukraine, of which you’ve said that Russia is the main instigator here.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I don’t actually think that’s what they said at all. I think outside of this, there’s no way, given this event happened in Ukraine, given there’s accusations being tied back and forth – I can assure you CNN and every other outlet has been tying this to the events happening on the ground, and of course we look at that context. And we look at the concern about rising escalation; we look at – that’s why we called for a return to a discussion about a ceasefire. So certainly, the context of what’s happened over the last several months, given the accusations back and forth, is incredibly relevant here.

QUESTION: No, I understand. But if you say that you don’t believe that the Ukrainians have this type of missile and you say it came from eastern Ukraine, which would indicate that – and you say that you believe that the separatists were responsible, and you’re blaming Russia for its support for the separatists, wouldn’t that logically point to Russia as having some type of culpability here?

MS. PSAKI: Again, when there’s a conclusion of the investigation we’ll have more to say about what culpability is and what it means and what the implications will be.

QUESTION: Can we go to Gaza?

QUESTION: I was told that the Russian ambassador to the UN said today that Ukraine should have closed its airspace. Do you have some comment on that?

MS. PSAKI: I have not seen those particular comments. You may have seen – I mentioned yesterday a step the FAA took a couple of months ago. And you may have all seen this, but the FAA, after considering the recent event, has determined that an increase in the area covered by our prohibition is necessary. So therefore, the FAA has issued a notice to airmen to prohibit all U.S. flight operations within two flight information regions in eastern Ukraine. That was, obviously, a recent step that’s been taken since the events of yesterday.

QUESTION: But I mean, it sort of suggested that the fault lies with Ukraine.

MS. PSAKI: Well certainly, this area, aside from Crimea, which there was a – there was an aviation regulation in place since April on, this has been open flight area. So I think we would disagree with that notion.

QUESTION: Sorry, did you say that happened since yesterday?

MS. PSAKI: Correct --

QUESTION: The FAA has --

MS. PSAKI: -- given the events, mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Okay. Thank you.

QUESTION: So in addition to what was – Ambassador Churkin also said that – raised the question of why Ukraine air traffic controllers would’ve routed this jet over an area that was a conflict zone. Do you have any response or reaction to that kind of question being raised?

MS. PSAKI: I think it’s important to remind everyone that this action was taken in an area – the area was – the conflict there was caused by the intervention and the engagement of Russian separatists supported by Russians. And otherwise, there are certain regulations that the FAA and other flight organizations put into place, but there wasn’t one over this particular area of eastern Ukraine.

QUESTION: So you think that it’s irrelevant? That question that he posed is pretty much irrelevant.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think it’s not – it doesn’t speak – there are – now, it’s important to note that a number of operators over time have chosen to voluntarily alter their routes beyond just the restriction in the Crimean Peninsula. But it’s not – it wasn’t a requirement or a regulation in place.

QUESTION: No. But I mean, his question – his raising the question, why did the Ukrainian air traffic control route the plane over this area, you don’t think that that’s particularly relevant to the investigation?

MS. PSAKI: No. It was open airspace.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: So it was – there were planes flying over it.

QUESTION: All right. And then President Putin in his comments last night, and again Ambassador Churkin at the UN – and I also believe Foreign Minister Lavrov – all say that this would not have happened if it hadn’t been for the Ukrainian Government resuming its military operation in the east. Is that – what’s your reaction to that?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think it’s important, again, to remember that the entire conflict in eastern Ukraine is due to the illegal intervention of Russian-backed separatists, the support of Russia with military equipment and other materials. That’s where the conflict came from. They went into a sovereign country, and that’s why we’re here. There’s no other reason.

QUESTION: Okay. So that just – you do not accept that?

MS. PSAKI: Correct, yes.

QUESTION: Just to follow up?

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead, Goyal.

QUESTION: Thank you. A wake-up call to the world; this terrible incident, Madam, has shaken up the entire aviation industry. And also within half an hour of this incident, Air India, carrying 126 passengers, went through luckily and landed safely in Delhi. And prime minister of India, coming from Brazil to Germany to Delhi, also about to come within one hour, but he – they would change their route.

What I’m asking you is that as far as these kind of weapons are concerned, you think other terrorists also may have – including in Afghanistan and Pakistan? And then what is the future and how can you stop them not to carry all these weapons? Because this is a first-of-its-kind incident.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I’m trying to follow what exactly your question is, but let me try. So there’s an investigation that’s ongoing with international support about this specific incident. I would caution anybody about broadening that into what it means and to other countries. Obviously, there are steps that the FAA here has taken. Other national or international civil aviation outlets may take similar steps, but we’ll leave that to them to determine.

QUESTION: What kind of investigation can be done if – right, they only allowed them to stay for 75 minutes, the first group that went in? I mean, it’s over a huge amount of territory.

MS. PSAKI: You’re right, and that’s why we’re very concerned. And those who say they are going to participate in or welcome this investigation need to give unfettered access, and obviously, we didn’t see that when these individuals were there for 75 minutes.

QUESTION: A couple last things, I’m sorry.

MS. PSAKI: Sure, go ahead.

QUESTION: Does the United States Government have any information as to the whereabouts of the black box and in whose custody it presently resides?

MS. PSAKI: There have been a range of reports about those being in the hands of Russian-backed separatists. I don’t believe we have any independent confirmation of the location.

QUESTION: And is it fair to say, just to follow up on Elise’s line of questioning earlier, that when the President tells us we still await definitive judgment on the origin point and likely culpability for this attack, is it fair to say that the United States, given the case that Ambassador Power laid out, has at least reached a preliminary conclusion about those matters?

MS. PSAKI: I think there’s a range of information that’s publicly available. As is the case with serious incidents like this, we’ll let the official conclusion be made. But obviously, Ambassador Power wouldn’t have said that if there wasn’t a reasonable belief that that was accurate information.

QUESTION: Don’t you see a sort of possible conflict of interest that people might see when the eventual report comes out of how this happened? The U.S. Government, given Samantha Power’s statements at the UN, is then – the U.S. Government is then sending the FBI to also be a part of this investigation, this report. Couldn’t it be difficult for the results of this report to stick if we’re already hearing sort of a line from the U.S. Government that they believe it’s Russia’s fault, then they are – the government is indirectly involved in this investigation?

MS. PSAKI: Well, that’s not exactly --

QUESTION: There are a range of other nations that have many --

MS. PSAKI: Let me answer your question. That’s not exactly what either the President or Ambassador Power said. They also both made clear that there’s an investigation we’re going to see through. The FBI participation – the FBI clearly has a range of important expertise in criminal investigations. I think that’s expertise that could – we don’t know – could come in handy in this case. That’s what they will be offering. So there’ll be a range of expertise and entities that will participate in this investigation.

QUESTION: So I have one more on something that Ambassador Power said, and that was she said that we cannot rule out the possibility that Russia – there was some kind of Russian technical assistance to the --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Why not? Why can’t you rule that out? And is she referring to the tapes that the Ukrainians have presented that James referred to earlier? Is that what makes this a question?

MS. PSAKI: She’s referring to the technical complexity of the SA-11 and the unlikelihood that the Russian-backed separatists could effectively operate that kind of assistance without assistance – the kind of – systems, sorry, without assistance from knowledgeable individuals.

QUESTION: But could not those knowledgeable officials be former Soviet soldiers who happen to be Ukrainians who happen to happen to have joined the separatists?

MS. PSAKI: She said “rule out.” We can’t rule out.

QUESTION: Okay. But I mean, that – so she’s not intending to make the accusation that there was – that the U.S. believes there was Russian assistance in operating this SA-11 system. She’s saying – she’s just throwing it up there --

MS. PSAKI: She was making the point that it’s a complicated, technical system that would require expertise in that system.

QUESTION: Kind of like Churkin questioning whether – why Ukrainian air traffic control routed the plane over --

MS. PSAKI: I would hardly compare the two --

QUESTION: No? Okay.

MS. PSAKI: -- given it was open airspace.

QUESTION: So – I’m sorry, though.

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead, Elise.

QUESTION: I mean, it’s – I understand what you’re saying, that you’re waiting for the final results, but for a Cabinet member to go out and address the world and say we can’t rule it out, that’s pointing the finger at someone, even if you’re not 100 percent sure. And given the fact that you’re careful in all other areas so as not to say anything – I mean, clearly you didn’t want to say anything yesterday – you’re not saying with 100 percent certainty that Russia was involved, but you are pointing the finger at Russia. To say that you’re not is disingenuous, I think.

MS. PSAKI: I think we’re laying out a range of contextual facts that we’ve been concerned about for some time.

QUESTION: You’re building a case against Russia. Is that --

MS. PSAKI: No, I wouldn’t put it that way. It’s – I think it’s clear what the SA-11, which is a complicated, technical system, it’s hard to see how back – how separatists, pardon me, could do that on their own. She was making a statement of a fact. We – she said we couldn’t rule it out. She didn’t say an individual was at fault or she didn’t say it absolutely is. There are a range of facts in this case that are publicly available information or information that we’ve assessed. She said in her own statement that there’s going to be an investigation.

QUESTION: I just think that if you weren’t reasonably sure that you felt that Russia had some capability here, you wouldn’t even be laying out a possible Russian involvement.

MS. PSAKI: Well, capability, which was laid out --

QUESTION: Culpability.

MS. PSAKI: -- is different – culpability. I thought you said capability. Again, Elise, I would – I think if you look at what she stated and what her remarks outlined, it was information laying out the context of what we’ve seen happen on the ground.

QUESTION: Can we go to Gaza?

QUESTION: I have one more follow-up.

MS. PSAKI: Can we just do a few more, and then we can go to you, Said?

QUESTION: Sure.

MS. PSAKI: Okay, go ahead.

QUESTION: Okay, I have two questions.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: First, it’s about the timing. Since the U.S. has imposed sanctions to Russia, then this happened. And I will add, the recent trip of President Putin to Latin America, if you see any connection.

And the second one, I was wondering if you have any information: How could a passenger plane be mistaken for a military aircraft? Thank you.

MS. PSAKI: Well, these are all excellent questions, and this happened just 24 hours ago. So they’re questions we just don’t yet have definitive answers on.

QUESTION: Just one more?

QUESTION: As the Secretary makes these calls here, and you all, and the President and everyone else, is part of the message that it’s about time Europe stood up to Putin and put in some real sanctions?

MS. PSAKI: As he speaks with his European counterparts?

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS. PSAKI: I think it’s important to note that we have been working in lockstep with our European counterparts on announcing sanctions and rolling out additional consequences. And clearly --

QUESTION: But haven’t they’ve been sort of – not done as much as this country would have hoped?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think, one, they have taken a number of steps that there has been an impact. There’s no question that the economic impact, or the economic impact on Europe is different from the impact on the United States. We’re also talking about dozens of countries that need to agree and work together. We’re one country. But regardless of all of that, we have worked very closely with the Europeans. They announced a new set of sanctions just this week, and obviously, if events continue to escalate, if President Putin continues to choose escalation over de-escalation, the international community will continue to put consequences in place.

QUESTION: Just one more on the plane. Today Turkish prime minister was very definitive, and he said that this Malaysian plane was hit by Russia over Ukraine. Have you reached out to Turkish prime minister, whether he got some intel that you don’t?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not aware. There hasn’t been a call from here with the Turkish prime minister, so beyond that I don’t have any other speculation on that. I think I’ve outlined where we stand.

QUESTION: I’m sorry. He spoke to the foreign minister.

MS. PSAKI: He did. And they spoke a great deal about the events in Gaza. And of course, they’re all coordinating on and discussing the events that happened yesterday in Ukraine as well.

QUESTION: I think now is a good point to go to Gaza.

QUESTION: A small one?

QUESTION: Would that be all right?

QUESTION: I have a small one.

MS. PSAKI: You can duel it out, Said. We’re here all day, Said.

QUESTION: Sure.

MS. PSAKI: We can go to you next.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: Do you consider this as an act of terrorism? If yes, then if you’d like to call the separatist side terrorist outfits?

MS. PSAKI: I think, again, we don’t know the origin. Of course, any time the loss of innocent lives are – we see a loss of innocent lives, that’s a horrific act. We’ll see the investigation through. I’m not going to put additional labels on it beyond what the President and the – Ambassador Power –

QUESTION: (Off-mike) who did it, but the act itself. Is this an act of terrorism?

MS. PSAKI: Again, I’m not going to put additional labels on it from here.

QUESTION: Do you rule out that it could have been an accident?

MS. PSAKI: I think we’re not ruling out – well, we don’t feel this was an accident. We feel – I think you heard the President and Ambassador Power give very definitive remarks on this. But we’re going to see the investigation through, and I will --

QUESTION: Because Vice President Biden yesterday stated this was no accident. So the Department stands by those remarks?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we – I think there have also been remarks that point to that from the President and from Ambassador Power as well.

QUESTION: Wait a second. I want to make sure that – because I think that you clouded the – muddied the waters a little bit here.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: You do not believe this was an accident. In other words, you do not believe that whoever fired this missile wasn’t aiming for something else. Or to put it another way, you believe that whoever fired this missile intended to hit and take down a passenger airplane.

MS. PSAKI: I’m not – I wasn’t --

QUESTION: A civilian passenger airplane.

MS. PSAKI: I wasn’t stating that, Matt.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: I think I’m not going to go farther than I’ve gone here.

QUESTION: All right. So in other words, it may have been an accident in terms of whoever fired this thing thought that they were hitting a military target?

MS. PSAKI: Correct. Look --

QUESTION: All right. So that’s --

MS. PSAKI: Again, this --

QUESTION: That’s a mistake. That’s an accident.

MS. PSAKI: There are a range of ways of defining it, yes. Thank you for your clarification.

QUESTION: But you’re not saying that you know or you believe that this --

MS. PSAKI: We don’t know --

QUESTION: -- Malaysian aircraft’s Boeing 777 civilian plane was targeted by the people who fired this missile?

MS. PSAKI: We don’t know more than what I’ve just stated and what has been stated today.

QUESTION: But when you say, quote, “we don’t feel this was an accident,” you are expressing a preliminary conclusion, correct?

MS. PSAKI: Well, that’s not my intention. I think we’ve been pretty clear. We’re participating in the international investigation. We’re going to let that conclude. There are a range of events and information that’s available from what has happened on the ground recently. That’s all relevant, but this happened 24 hours ago.

Kim, go ahead.

QUESTION: I’m sorry, because we’re going back to square zero here. Are you saying --

MS. PSAKI: Okay. I hope not. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Because accident and mistake are two different things, and if you’re saying “we don’t feel that this was an accident,” that means that you’re saying it’s still possible that this plane just came down from the sky because something went wrong with the plane.

MS. PSAKI: Well, Kim, let me just be clear here. This happened 24 hours ago. There hasn’t been an investigation; that’s been underway. We’re participating in that process. I’m not going to prejudge it beyond that, and we’re – I don’t think I’m going to have much more to add from here today on it.

QUESTION: Okay. So when you say “accident,” you mean – when you say you don’t feel this was an accident, you mean that whatever the motive or whatever whoever fired this missile was shooting at, they were shooting at something, and this wasn’t a malfunction of the plane. Is that what you mean by “accident”? Because I think we’re getting hung up here on something. When you say “accident,” you mean the engine failed or something like that in terms – is that what you’re saying?

MS. PSAKI: Well, there’s no evidence of that to date. I don’t have anything more in terms of analyzing what exactly happened here, but obviously there’s a range of contextual information from what’s happening on the ground that’s relevant.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: Can we go to Gaza?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: Yeah. Let’s begin with the national security – I mean Security Council meeting this afternoon at 3 o’clock. There’s going to be a call for an immediate ceasefire. Will you support that?

MS. PSAKI: Well --

QUESTION: That’s in about a half hour.

MS. PSAKI: -- let me – I understand. We’ve certainly seen the reports. I would note that no action requiring a vote has been proposed from this session. We’re not aware that this has changed. We’re certainly supportive of diplomatic efforts to end the ongoing violence. And our focus, though, is on the Egyptian initiative and the role that can play as a means of doing that – of moving to a ceasefire moving forward, and that’s really where our efforts remain.

QUESTION: Now both the President – President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry in their conversations with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke of Israel’s right to self-defense and so on. Do you feel that although they called for caution, do you feel that really this is giving a green light to Israel to go ahead and do – and strike by whatever might it has in Gaza?

MS. PSAKI: I would point you, Said, to both the readout that we issued last night as well as the President’s comments. And let me just finish; you’re eager to go here.

QUESTION: Then I’ll have a follow-up.

MS. PSAKI: And the specific statement that the President made is that it is our understanding the current military ground operations are designed to deal with the tunnels, and we are hopeful that Israel will continue to approach this process in a way that minimizes civilian casualties.

You saw the Secretary’s readout of his call last night with Prime Minister Netanyahu, which was certainly consistent with that. And I don’t think either of them were stating what you just stated.

QUESTION: Now Israelis are saying that this operation may need 10 days or 14 days and so on. Do you support that or do you support, let’s say, an operation that would go on for about two weeks in Gaza?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to give a timeline, Said. I think we’ve been clear that these ground operations are designed to deal with the tunnels and the events that happened over the past 24 to 36 hours. And the President and the Secretary have – well, the Secretary’s call with Prime Minister Netanyahu last night spoke to that.

QUESTION: But you are not aware of any initiative that the United States could be taking to bring an end to the violence, are you?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think our initiative to bring an end to the violence is the engagement that I outlined a little bit earlier in the briefing of the Secretary with his counterparts around the world, with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, with the Egyptian foreign minister, and our efforts to encourage all countries and parties to work through the Egyptian ceasefire proposal.

QUESTION: The reason I ask this is because Egyptian Government sources saying that the Secretary of State may be heading that way. Is he?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any travel to announce for all of you. As has remained the case, he’s prepared to go if we decide that that is the right step to take to help de-escalate the situation on the ground.

QUESTION: And I – let me ask you again what I asked you yesterday.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: Should any ceasefire proposal include things to relieve the humanitarian suffering of the Gazans under the siege, the closure of the entry points and border points and so on. Should it include that, any kind of ceasefire that you might support?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think I said yesterday, Said, that we in the Secretary’s call with Prime Minister Netanyahu just a couple of days ago – and certainly this is a point we’ve reiterated – we’ve made clear that it’s important to take every step possible to reduce civilian casualties. We’re urging all parties to respect the civilian nature of schools and medical facilities and certainly our effort and focus on the ceasefire is in order to prevent more civilian deaths.

QUESTION: The other day I asked you on Al-Wafa hospital, in particular, a few days ago. And now the Israelis yesterday bombed the Wafa hospital after giving people a very short time to evacuate. In fact, there were invalids they could not move and so on – those 17 (inaudible). Would it have made any difference had you, at the time, said maybe they ought to spare Al-Wafa hospital?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think our view has consistently been that facilities like hospitals serve as shelters for many of those fleeing the conflict and they must be treated as inviolable and off-limits from military use and targeting by all sides – by both sides. So I can’t predict for you what would’ve happened or wouldn’t have happened.

QUESTION: In the readout last night and the Secretary’s call with the prime minister, the Secretary – it says that the Secretary told Prime Minister Netanyahu that the U.S. would like to see Israel use precision – same thing that the President said today, but didn’t use the word precise, I don’t think. Thus far, in the last 22 hours or so of this operation, this ground operation in Gaza, has the U.S. seen Israel using precision to go after strikes? Or are – do you have concerns that they are not doing as you called for yesterday – what the Secretary called for, what the President again called for today, that they are not doing as much as they possibly could to minimize civilian casualties?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think, Matt, obviously part of that reference was certainly to the deaths of the four boys that we talked about a little bit yesterday. I don’t have an evaluation of over the last 16 hours or so since the Secretary spoke with Prime Minister Netanyahu. Certainly, we are encouraging Israel and both sides to continue to take – take as many steps as possible to reduce civilian casualties. So I don’t know that there’s going to be a point of satisfaction as much it’s something that we’re encouraging both sides to continue to do.

QUESTION: Right, but I’m not asking you to give them a grade necessarily. I’m just wondering if the concern still exists or if they have addressed – if those concerns had been addressed. I don’t know. It’s not an A, B, or C.

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: I guess it’s more like a pass/fail.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think, again, as long as civilians’ lives are put at risk, it’s a call we will continue to make.

QUESTION: Yesterday, I was going to bring this – raise this yesterday, but I don’t know why I – I guess time ran short. Yesterday, UNWRA put out a statement condemning – and apologizing to Israel for the fact that some rockets were found in one of their schools, a vacant school. Do you have any comment or response to that?

MS. PSAKI: I actually had not seen that. It may be due to the range of events over the past 24 hours.

QUESTION: Fair enough.

MS. PSAKI: We can check on that for you, Matt, and get you a comment.

QUESTION: Fair enough. But this has been a complaint that the Israelis have had for some time now, which has been always in the past denied by UNRWA. And I’m just wondering if U.S. officials, if the Administration has any – have any thoughts about that. And lastly, are you aware of reports that family members of the boy who was killed, the Palestinian teenager who was killed and apparently set on fire, who was the cousin of the American citizen who was beaten up, that they have been detained by Israelis? And if you are aware, do you have anything to say about this?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we are aware. Our Consulate General in Jerusalem has been following this incident closely. We understand that several family members were arrested without charges and placed in detention. As you know, by – as you know, we were shocked by the treatment of Tariq and strongly condemned any excessive use of force. We are deeply concerned about this latest development and reports and are closely tracking them on the ground.

QUESTION: Can I ask: What is the cause of your deep concern about these detentions?

MS. PSAKI: The arrests of family members without charges and the placement of them in detention, and certainly the backdrop here is of the treatment of their family member.

QUESTION: But – no, no. But have you – I mean, it is possible, is it not, that the Israelis have good reason to arrest these people. Right?

MS. PSAKI: Well, there were no charges filed.

QUESTION: Okay. So that’s the reason for your – have you made your deep concern clear directly to the Israelis?

MS. PSAKI: That is a good question. I’m happy to check on that. I know there – I believe we have, but let me make absolutely sure.

QUESTION: But not at the – it didn’t come up in the conversation between Secretary Kerry and Prime Minister Netanyahu, right? It would be --

MS. PSAKI: Let me double-check for you, Matt, and just make sure.

QUESTION: Do you know – and do you have any details about when this happened?

MS. PSAKI: It was over the last couple of days. I don’t have a specific day for you, but we can get that as well.

QUESTION: Do you have a specific number of how many members of the family?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have more information, but we can ascertain to get that.

QUESTION: All right. And then --

QUESTION: Jen --

QUESTION: -- hold on a second – then can I ask: Why has the U.S. taken such – the Consulate General taken such a particular interest in this? Are any of them Americans? I – the cousin was, clearly, but is there some kind of U.S. – other than your – just your basic interest in human rights and rule of law, due process, et cetera, is there some kind of special American interest in this family?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not aware, though I can check on this with the group of questions that any of them are American citizens. We’ll check. But obviously we were deeply shocked by the treatment of their young family member. And certainly we’ve taken an interest in --

QUESTION: The one who was an American?

MS. PSAKI: Correct.

QUESTION: Right.

MS. PSAKI: We’ve taken an interest in this case and certainly the treatment of family members would be of interest to our team on the ground.

QUESTION: So is it a – so the interest lies in the fact that these are relatives of the American citizen who was beaten up, or the interest lies because these are relatives of the Palestinian teenager who was killed?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think I don’t want to pick one or the other. I think, Matt, that obviously we’ve seen the suffering that this family has gone through. Many of our officials have been able to get to know the family members, and certainly we’ve taken an interest.

QUESTION: See, I mean – following on that very point, I mean, most Palestinians that are arrested by the Israelis are arrested without charges. In fact, they languish year after year under administrative detention for a very, very long time. So why this particular case?

MS. PSAKI: I think I just answered that question, Said. Do you have another question?

QUESTION: I have plenty, but --

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.

QUESTION: -- I think I’ll refrain.

QUESTION: There have been protests in front of the Israeli consulate and embassy in Ankara and in Istanbul and Israel. Recall some of the diplomatic staff to Turkey. Did the Secretary talk about these issues with Foreign Minister Davutoglu? Is there any way you can give us some more detail?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t believe I have many more details. Let me just check and see about whether that came up on the call. Give me just one moment here. I just – I don’t have any additional details on that specifically.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: We can check for you, certainly.

QUESTION: And today, Prime Minister Erdogan, while talking about the situation in Gaza, he said that Israel is applying state terror as well as undertaking a genocide in Gaza, is his quote. Do you have any view on – would you agree to this?

MS. PSAKI: Well, certainly, we believe his statements are offensive and wrong, and of course, this kind of provocative rhetoric is unhelpful and distracts from urgent efforts to bring about a ceasefire.

QUESTION: Is there a figure that would constitute a genocide? Is there a figure? How many people have to die before something can be termed a genocide – civilians?

MS. PSAKI: There’s a range of definitions, Said, but I don’t have any more information available for you.

QUESTION: Okay. Is the death of 300 Palestinians thus far in Gaza, most of them civilians, does that constitute a genocide in your view?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t believe we’ve called it that. It’s horrific that there have been losses of that many civilian lives.

QUESTION: But independent of the circumstances that are ongoing, would the death of, let’s say, 200 civilians or 150 civilians constitute genocide?

MS. PSAKI: I appreciate your line of questioning. I’m sure we can connect you with an expert on this particular issue, Said.

QUESTION: I don’t believe that you appreciate his line of questioning. I think that you --

MS. PSAKI: Certainly, I always appreciate Said.

QUESTION: Can I – just back on the Prime Minister Erdogan comments, these are pretty strong and, you said, offensive and wrong comments. Do you know if the – anyone from the Administration plans to take this up with either him or with Foreign Minister Davutoglu?

MS. PSAKI: I can certainly check and see if there – if that’s already happened or if there’s a plan otherwise.

QUESTION: Because it would seem to me Turkey is a NATO ally, it’s a country that the government has some relationship with Hamas, and I’m just wondering if you think that they – the Turks, given the comments of the prime minister, have forfeited a role to play in potentially negotiating a ceasefire, if they are showing so much – if their leader is coming out with comments that you find offensive and wrong about your ally, Israel.

MS. PSAKI: No. I think our view and what we’re continuing to convey to any country in the region, including Turkey, is that the most productive role they can play is supporting the Egyptian ceasefire proposal. When there are concerns we have about comments made or actions taken, even when it is a NATO ally, we certainly don’t hesitate to make those concerns known.

QUESTION: So you would say, then, that these comments mean that Turkey or the Government of Turkey is an obstacle rather than a – is an obstacle to peace or to a ceasefire rather than an active participant?

MS. PSAKI: I think I will leave it as I stated, that they’re unhelpful, but again, there’s a role that many countries can play in the region.

QUESTION: But you don’t think that they have forfeited their interest by coming --

MS. PSAKI: No, I don’t.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: Just one more on Prime Minister Erdogan’s strong --

MS. PSAKI: We’ll go to you next, Said. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Speaking of Prime Minister Erdogan’s strong language, he also talk about there is a crusader movement – today, just a couple hours ago, he said that there’s a crusader against Islam being assembled by the West. And my question is: Does the U.S. play any kind of role in this crusade – new crusader against Islam – was stated by the prime minister again?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not even sure what that’s a reference to or what he meant by those comments, so --

QUESTION: Reference is again Gaza. What’s happening in Gaza according to Prime Minister Erdogan is a new crusader movement against Islam.

MS. PSAKI: I think it’s safe to say that is not an effort the U.S. is undergoing. No.

QUESTION: I wanted to ask you, just to follow up on – back when – before this latest flare-up, whether what Israel is doing today is – falls under collective punishment.

MS. PSAKI: I think --

QUESTION: Would you agree that it falls under collective punishment?

MS. PSAKI: The President of the United States just spoke to this, Said. I don’t think I have anything more to add to it.

QUESTION: Can I ask you, in his calls with Foreign Minister Davutoglu and also with his Qatari counterpart, did he ask them to use their influence with Hamas to try and – to accept a truce, a ceasefire?

MS. PSAKI: Certainly. That’s part of the message, Jo, that he’s conveying and discussing with any of his counterparts in the region, as well as encouraging all countries to support the Egyptian proposal for a ceasefire.

QUESTION: So did he get any joy from either of those two countries as to whether they would use their --

MS. PSAKI: Any joy?

QUESTION: Any – did they say whether they would try and press Hamas, or are they still – are they keeping out of it? Are they just --

MS. PSAKI: Well, I’ll let them, naturally, speak to that. But certainly, we think that they all have a role that they could play, and we’re encouraging them to play that role to the maximist – maximal position.

QUESTION: Just back on the Erdogan comments for a second – this is kind of unrelated to Gaza, but do you have any concerns that inflammatory remarks such as this will have a major negative impact on the rapprochement that you’ve been trying to engineer between the Turks and the Israelis?

MS. PSAKI: They’re certainly not helpful to moving that forward, Matt.

QUESTION: So they’re not helpful to the – resolving the situation in Gaza, they’re not helpful to getting a ceasefire to ultimately resolve – to the peace process more broadly, and even more broadly than that, to the Turkish-Israeli rapprochement, all three.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think that kind of rhetoric is generally unhelpful.

QUESTION: Turkish prime minister actually said today, under no circumstances will Turkey’s relationship with Israel improve “as long as I am in power.” That’s a quote by him today, so I think that means that rapprochement is dead.

MS. PSAKI: I certainly wouldn’t say that. It’s obviously been an ongoing process that we remain committed to, continuing to encourage, but I certainly wouldn’t say that.

Go ahead, Kim.

QUESTION: Two questions also on this.

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: The British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said that Israel’s airstrikes and incursion in Gaza have been deliberately disproportionate and were collective punishment. Do you disagree with your British allies?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think I would leave it at how we’ve stated and how we view it is how the President of the United States outlined it just the last two hours.

QUESTION: So you disagree?

MS. PSAKI: I think I’d leave it at what public comments we’ve made.

QUESTION: Then in terms of negotiating a ceasefire, the regional sort of balance of power has changed with Qatar and the Egyptians at odds with the Muslim Brotherhood, and we’ve had people in Egypt call on the Egyptian army to actually bomb Gaza. So how will the mediation efforts actually work, and how does the U.S. fit in at this stage? Because clearly, the Egyptians aren’t able to actually talk to Hamas directly at the moment because they don’t seem to have that kind of connection. The Qataris are at odds with the Egyptians. And where do you fit in? I mean, how is this coming together? Or is it simply not the time to discuss a ceasefire because the Israeli generals are too busy with their ground incursion?

MS. PSAKI: Well, our view is that there’s no other serious ceasefire proposal being discussed other than the Egyptian proposal. And so in the Secretary’s engagements with leaders in the region, he’s certainly made that clear. You’re right that there are a range of different dynamics in the region, and there are also a range of countries and officials who do engage with and speak to Hamas, and we’re certainly encouraging them to play a role in encouraging Hamas to have a discussion about the ceasefire proposal, the reason why there would be benefits to the people and the civilians in the region who are currently at risk.

In terms of our role, the Secretary’s engagement has been pretty expansive, as you’ve seen by his phone calls. And he is trying to engage each of these countries with determining what role they can play. And as you know, this is complicated, it’s difficult, but there are countries that have a role they can play in speaking to Hamas and encouraging them to be more constructive in the discussion about a ceasefire process. There are countries that certainly have a significant stake like Israel and Egypt who have put forward a proposal.

So there are a range of conversations he’s having in the region, and I think he’s – certainly the United States has a stake in seeing stability and a return to and de-escalation of what’s happening, and that’s why he’s so engaged.

QUESTION: But there’s not much point anymore getting just a ceasefire with limited easing of some of the restrictions, because that’s where we were last time. So is there an opportunity here – as awful as it sounds while people are dying, is there an opportunity here to try to perhaps make this a slightly longer-term agreement?

MS. PSAKI: I think our immediate focus is on how we can end the violence now. There are obviously a range of dynamics here that existed long before the events of the last couple of weeks and will, perhaps, certainly exist after. But our immediate focus is on what we can do to get an agreement on an end to the violence and the back-and-forth rockets between the parties.

QUESTION: Sorry, Jen. You just said “end the violence now.” So if a ceasefire is announced, do you expect the Israelis to uncock their artilleries and so on, stop their guns, and withdraw immediately? Is that what --

MS. PSAKI: Well, a ceasefire would mean that there isn’t back-and-forth shooting of rockets, putting civilians at risk.

QUESTION: But you’d expect them to go back?

MS. PSAKI: In terms of the specific details, we’ll have to see that play out.

QUESTION: Can I just – I need to go back to Turkey for a second --

MS. PSAKI: Yes.

QUESTION: -- but not the prime minister’s comments. There – the atmosphere in Turkey, according to Israelis, according to others, has grown increasingly anti-Israel, to the point where the Israeli Embassy I think is withdrawing some of its people. They – the Israelis are complaining about incitement, not just from the prime minister, but from media outlets in Turkey. I’m wondering if you have any comment about the situation there as it relates to anti-Semitic and anti-Israel sentiment.

MS. PSAKI: Obviously – and I spoke to the comments that were made, and, obviously, the circumstances around it or other anti-Semitic events going on would certainly be of concern to us. I really don’t have anything more, but we can get you something if you need.

QUESTION: Do you think the Turkish officials’ ruling party – the officials – and there are many, including Ankara mayor and many more highly visible officials – are tweeting these anti-Semitic tweets and other statements. Do you think that Turkish officials are playing any role in this anti-Semitic environment?

MS. PSAKI: I’m certainly not going to make a sweeping, general accusation or characterization like that. If we see comments that are of concern or statements that are of concern, we’ll make that known.

QUESTION: Can I change to Iran --

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: -- the nuclear talks?

MS. PSAKI: Yeah.

QUESTION: So the deadline’s Sunday --

MS. PSAKI: Correct.

QUESTION: -- for a treaty with the P5+1 negotiators. The Chinese chief negotiator this morning said that it was likely that today there’d be an agreement on an extension of that deadline, and the Russians are saying that it could be as long – it could be a four-month extension to November. Could you update us where we are and what’s the likelihood of an extension --

MS. PSAKI: Well, our --

QUESTION: -- that we see one today or this weekend?

MS. PSAKI: Our team is on the ground in Vienna talking to the Iranians about what the contours of an extension would look like. And tangible progress has been made, but there’s more work to do. And there are a range of options, of course, being considered and discussed with our partners and with the Iranians. Of course, there’s a lot of speculation, as there always is in these sorts of cases, about what that will mean and when it will be concluded and how. And I’m not going to make a prediction of that, because the discussions are ongoing on the ground.

QUESTION: Can we just back up a bit? So you are now talking about an extension?

MS. PSAKI: I think – yes. Yes.

QUESTION: You just said that, yeah. So we – the Sunday, July 20th deadline is now null and void for --

MS. PSAKI: Well, I don’t – I wouldn’t make it null and void, but we’re certainly discussing what the contours of an extension would look like.

QUESTION: Okay. And so could you tell us when you are likely to make a definitive announcement on that? Would it be later today, or would we see something on Saturday?

MS. PSAKI: I just don’t have any prediction of the timing on that.

QUESTION: And do you believe the extension is going to be for weeks, or will it be for several months?

MS. PSAKI: Again, there are a range of details and options that are being discussed, but I don’t want to get ahead of the negotiators and the discussions that we’re having with the Iranians and with our partners.

QUESTION: And would it be that the terms of the current JPOA, i.e. that there’s a freeze on a certain amount of uranium enrichment in return for a certain amount of sanctions relief, would then be applied to any extension of the talks? Or would there be added, additional things which would be added to that?

MS. PSAKI: I am certain that when we make an announcement about whatever the next step may or may not be we’ll have more details to share about what the details of that would look like. But everything’s being discussed right now.

QUESTION: So there will not be a comprehensive agreement announced on Saturday?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Lucas, I think we’re talking about an extension. Stay tuned all weekend.

QUESTION: Right. Does that mean that the team is staying?

MS. PSAKI: Well, they’re currently on the ground. I don’t have any predictions on that.

QUESTION: Because apparently the Iranians have left or are in the process of leaving.

MS. PSAKI: There are still individuals who are discussing the contours of an extension.

QUESTION: I have one on Afghanistan.

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: In Islamabad today, officials of --

QUESTION: Oh, I’m sorry. Sorry. Just – did you offer a readout of the meeting that Secretary Kerry had this morning with the Jewish leaders? I presume it was about Iran, but it might’ve also been Gaza.

MS. PSAKI: I did not. I actually didn’t get one.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: If you’d like one, I’m sure we can --

QUESTION: Just curious what the --

MS. PSAKI: -- look into that for you.

QUESTION: -- subject was, or subjects.

MS. PSAKI: I would bet there were a range of topics discussed.

Go ahead. Afghanistan.

QUESTION: In Islamabad – yeah. In Islamabad today, officials of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India signed an operational agreement for TAPI gas pipeline. Do you have anything to say on that?

MS. PSAKI: I --

QUESTION: Which will bring gas from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan, Pakistan, and provide it to India.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. I do not. We can get you something after the briefing I’m certain. Let me – can I give you just a quick update on what’s happening in Afghanistan? So a quick morning update. There were 30 teams of auditors this morning; 102 boxes were reviewed. There are – let’s see. Sorry, I just want to make sure I have the accurate numbers right in front of me. There were 156 accredited auditors in Kabul; 160 will be coming; 60 will be USAID implementers. ISAF has also begun moving the boxes from other parts of Afghanistan, but go ahead.

QUESTION: So are you satisfied with the progress being made on auditing of ballots?

MS. PSAKI: Certainly, and as I mentioned yesterday, we anticipate that will be ramped up, and we’re anticipating a pace of about 1,000 boxes a day as it ramps up.

QUESTION: So you expect the results would be accepted by the two candidates?

MS. PSAKI: They have stated that, certainly, and obviously we’re in the early stages of the review. It’s ramping up quickly, though.

QUESTION: So how many – if you’ve done 102 boxes, that’s out of a total. Do you know the total of boxes to be reviewed?

MS. PSAKI: That was just as of this morning, and I believe as of yesterday, there were just over 30. But again, because observers are – the number of observers are increasing rapidly, we’re expecting to get to a pace of about a thousand boxes a day, so we’re --

QUESTION: But how many total?

QUESTION: Thirty thousand; she just answered that.

QUESTION: Oh, okay. Sorry. Okay, 30,000 boxes.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: All right. Thank you.

QUESTION: India, quick one.

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: Madam, as far as the previous government was concerned of Dr. Manmohan Singh, a number of issues are pending, including billions of dollars of pipeline, and there are arms purchase, and also civil nuclear agreement. And now the prime minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi, in Brazil, he said that time has come now to reform the IMF and the United Nations Security Council. So what I’m asking you: What is the future of those pending issues between the – and this is the question on U.S.-India relations in the past and the future. So what is happening on those issues, arms purchase, and also the civil nuclear agreement, and the reform of the United Nations Security Council and the IMF? And those issues were – we were talking last year and ’12 and ’13, but now no more.

MS. PSAKI: Well, they’re important issues, and I think we’re looking forward to welcoming the new prime minister to the United States, and obviously the Secretary will look forward to visiting India at some point soon, and think a range of other officials will be doing the same.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Sorry, go ahead.

MS. PSAKI: Oh, go ahead, Lucas.

QUESTION: Jen, last night you put out a tweet concerning your friend and former colleague in the Administration, and that tweet generated a lot of criticism. What is your response to that criticism?

MS. PSAKI: Is there a specific criticism that you want me to respond to?

QUESTION: How about just to all of it?

QUESTION: I think it was that you did not tweet anything about Gaza or anything else, but you tweet that particular tweet.

MS. PSAKI: I actually believe in the use of social media and do it quite frequently and tweet quite frequently. I think you’re referring to an opinion piece that a former colleague of mine wrote about the role women and can play in being both smart and having outside interests, and I think, as a woman, that’s an important message we can send to the world, so --

QUESTION: I guess just critics have said that you use Twitter both for – to convey messages, world events, the Bring Back our Girls, but then when you put out tweets like that, it kind of --

QUESTION: I think the criticism was about the timing because it was after the crash.

QUESTION: Correct, with world events, invasion of Gaza, crash.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. Well, I can assure any critics that I was here yesterday for about 17 hours, and I put out a range of statements. I did about an hour-and-a-half briefing and answer questions all day, and there are – that’s my primary responsibility. But I think all of us, as whether you’re a woman or not, can represent the interests of making the point that you can be studious and smart, and you can also have outside interests, and I think that was the point I was making.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: Yesterday I asked you a question about Cambodia and the arrest of some opposition leaders. I understand that you have an answer.

MS. PSAKI: I do. Mm-hmm. We condemn the violence that occurred in Freedom Park on July 15th, so just a couple of days ago, which resulted in injuries to numerous security personnel and protesters. We call on all parties to exercise restraint and to avoid further violence and escalation. We emphasize the importance of due process guarantees and call for the release of the Cambodia National Rescue Party officials. We once again also urge – again urge the Cambodian Government to lift the ban on demonstrations and allow for the peaceful exercise of freedom of assembly.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Were you also asked yesterday about some – by my colleague about --

MS. PSAKI: Burma?

QUESTION: Burma, that’s right.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. Sure.

QUESTION: They arrested some Burmese journalists.

MS. PSAKI: Sure. Sure. We are very concerned by reports that journalists and the CEO of the newspaper United Weekly News were sentenced to 10 years of hard labor for publishing investigative stories about a weapons factory. The sentence sends the wrong message about Burma’s commitment to freedom of expression, including for the press. The Burmese Government has made tremendous progress in the last three years working to develop an environment conducive to free, fair, independent media. This is a critical element of a vibrant and well-functioning democracy, and we urge the Government of Burma to continue that trend and respect the right of all journalists.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. PSAKI: Should we do the last one in the back?

All right. I have an update on our engagement with the UN. Would you like that?

QUESTION: Oh, yeah. Yes.

MS. PSAKI: Was that your question?

QUESTION: No. (Laughter.)

MS. PSAKI: Oh, okay. Well, too bad. (Laughter.) Why don’t you ask your question and I’ll give that as well.

QUESTION: Okay, okay. Earlier this week, North Korea became a observer member of the Asia Pacific group on money laundering. And I think the U.S. is also a member of this anti-money laundering group. Do you have any comment on this?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t think I have a particular comment on that. I can give you an update on our engagement with the UN, which I know you’ve studiously asked the last couple of days. I can confirm that on July 17th, so just yesterday, we participated – the United States participated in UN Security Council consultations on the serious threat posed by North Korea’s recent series of ballistic missile launches which were June 2nd, July 9th, July 13th. As the council president reported to the press after the consultations, all members of the Security Council, of course, including the United States, condemned these launches as violations of the Security Council resolutions and urged North Korea to fully comply. In the remarks of our representative, we expressed particular concern with the irresponsible manner in which the launches were conducted, jeopardizing the safety of civilian aircraft and ships, and we will continue to monitor the situation closely and consult with our UN Security Council colleagues.

Thank you, everyone. Go have lunch.

QUESTION: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 3:00 p.m.)

DPB # 125

   


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Categories: News Pit Feeds

Daily Press Briefings : Daily Press Briefing - July 17, 2014

Thu, 07/17/2014 - 20:07

Jen Psaki
Spokesperson
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
July 17, 2014

Share Index for Today's Briefing
  • AFGHANISTAN
    • Ballot Audit / IEC / UN Supervision
  • TUNISIA
    • U.S. Condemns Terror Attack
  • UKRAINE/RUSSIA/MALAYSIA
    • Malaysia Airlines Incident
    • New Round of Sanctions
  • MIDDLE EAST PEACE
    • Secretary Kerry's Calls with Regional Leaders
    • U.S. Concerns about Civilian Casualties
    • Egypt Ceasefire Proposal / President Abbas Engagement / Two-State Solution
    • Secretary Kerry's Engagement with Arab League
  • IRAN
    • Readout of Department Discussions with Hill Leaders
    • Sanctions / Oil Accounting Mechanisms / Oil to Syria
  • BURMA
    • Reports of Journalists Sentenced
  • TURKEY
    • US Support for Democracy and Human Rights
  • CHINA
    • Dialogue on Counterterrorism / U.S. Concerns about Religious Freedom and Human Rights
  • AFGHANISTAN
    • Condemnation of Taliban Attack at Kabul Airport
    • Update on Bilateral Security Agreement Timeline
  • JAPAN/NORTH KOREA
    • Secretary Kerry Call with Prime Minister Abe / North Korea Abduction Issue
  • INDIA
    • BRICS Summit / Development Bank / Prime Minister Modi Visit to U.S.
  • RUSSIA/UKRAINE
    • FAA Advisory / Safety of Air Travel


TRANSCRIPT:

1:27 p.m. EDT

MS. PSAKI: Hi, everyone. Thanks for your patience. I have a few items for all of you at the top.

In our effort to provide you updates on what’s happening in Afghanistan, today the Afghan IEC began auditing ballots from the Afghan presidential runoff. The audit is being conducted in Kabul by the IEC under close supervision of the United Nations in accordance with international best practices, utilizing an IEC checklist supplemented by UN best practice recommendation. At today’s kickoff, 33 boxes were audited, each in the presence of international and domestic observers. UN personnel, IEC and Electoral Complaints Commission representatives and candidate agents all were there. Live television covered the process, so it’s also publicly available to all of you. And the first day of audits proceeded professionally, setting a good tone for the process.

These are the first 33 boxes of approximately 23,000 that will be audited in the next few weeks. There is a planned ramp-up, of course, of the auditing process. This is just the first day. Once it’s up to scale, the audit will involve a hundred teams operating simultaneously. The process is set to ramp up tomorrow, and there are over a hundred accredited international observers already in Kabul. We note that the EU also plans to bring in an additional 100 professional observers from Europe next week to continue to support and ramp up this process. And --

QUESTION: Wait, how many did you say were done today?

MS. PSAKI: Thirty-three.

QUESTION: Thirty-three. So when you say ramp up, you would expect them to do more than 33 in a day?

MS. PSAKI: Significantly more. This was just the first day. It was a kickoff. Obviously, there were a great deal of media present. So it will significantly pick up in the coming days. The purpose of the audit is to finalize, of course, the election, honor the millions of Afghans who participated. Clearly, there’s still work to be done. We’re working closely with both candidates, with Afghan officials, and with the UN Mission in Afghanistan to ensure the agreement is translated into action.

Next item at the top: The United States strongly condemns last evening’s terrorist attack near Kasserine, Tunisia, which killed at least 14 Tunisian soldiers. We extend our condolences to the families of the victims and hope for a quick and full recovery of the wounded. Recognizing that only in an environment of security and stability will a democratic Tunisia be able to continue to move forward in a positive direction, the United States will continue to support the efforts of the Tunisian Government to combat the threat of terrorism.

And finally, all of you have seen and many of you have asked me about what we know about the reports of the Malaysian plane crash. We have seen the same reports you have. At this point, we do not have any confirmed information about casualties, the cause, or additional details. Our thoughts and prayers go out to those onboard, their families, and loved ones. We’re closely monitoring the situation. The Secretary is, of course, aware of these reports, and we’re seeking additional information. Our Embassy in Kyiv is also in close contact with the Ukrainian authorities on this incident. But at this point, those are all the details that we have.

QUESTION: Jen, so you have seen these reports apparently coming from the manifest that there were 23 U.S. citizens onboard. Even if you don’t know if that’s actually correct, can you say whether you have that information from the manifest that apparently there were 23 U.S. passengers aboard?

MS. PSAKI: We’ve seen the public reports. I spoke to our team right before I came out here. We don’t have any additional details at this point on American citizens. We’re looking to, of course, obtain that information. As soon as we have it available, we’ll make it available to all of you.

QUESTION: And has the Secretary – we know that the President was – spoke to President Putin this morning about – not this, but the plane came up. Has the Secretary made any calls to anyone in Russia, anyone in Ukraine that you’re aware of?

MS. PSAKI: Not at this point. Obviously, this just happened a couple of hours ago. We can keep you updated as well on any additional calls that he makes this afternoon.

QUESTION: Does he plan to?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any planned calls to predict for you, but if any calls happen, we can make sure those are available to all of you.

QUESTION: So the Ukrainians’ foreign ministry is saying that they have reason to believe this – not just a guess, but based on their assessment – that this was a Russian-made Buk missile that is in the hands of the Russian separatists. You also have kind of chatter on Twitter about some of the separatists saying that they did shoot down a plane. Has your team on the ground spoken to the Ukrainians? Have they told you that this is your assessment – that this is their assessment and you just want to get your own confirmation? I mean, where are you at this point?

MS. PSAKI: As I mentioned, we’re in touch with Ukrainian authorities on this incident.

QUESTION: So they’ve obviously shared this assessment with you?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not – I don’t have further readouts, but I think it’s a safe assumption that we’re discussing reports and, obviously, a range of comments that have been out there. We don’t have our own confirmation of details. I can’t predict for you if and when we will. But obviously, events are very fluid on the ground. We don’t have any more information from here to share.

QUESTION: Because given the fact that it is very fluid and it’s very early, I mean, there is already a kind of – some common wisdom that says, like, the separatists have done it. But just to confirm that, is this your belief and you don’t have confirmation of that?

MS. PSAKI: It’s --

QUESTION: I mean, do you have suspicions of that at this point?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to speculate on this, Elise, for obvious reasons. We don’t have any additional details to share other than the reports you’ve seen about the plane crash. In terms of the causes, the individuals onboard, I have nothing else here from the U.S. Government.

QUESTION: There were some Ukrainian transport planes that were shot down, I think, in the last week, maybe in the same area. I mean, is that something that you’re looking at in terms of that this could be a similar mistaken --

MS. PSAKI: I’m just not going to speculate further for obvious reasons.

QUESTION: Quite aside from the actual – what actually happened, whoever or whatever was responsible for it, is it correct that this type of missile that Elise just mentioned, the Buk missile, was among the --

QUESTION: I could have said that wrong.

QUESTION: Sorry?

QUESTION: I could have said that wrong, but I think it --

QUESTION: Well, however you pronounce it, this kind of missile was among the weaponry that you have said over the past – the course of the past couple – month or so that have been transiting from Russia, from these military facilities, sites in southeast – in western Russia, sorry – in western Russia to the separatists in Ukraine?

MS. PSAKI: I’m happy to check that, Matt, but I’d also note that we don’t have confirmation that that is the cause --

QUESTION: I know. I’m not suggesting --

MS. PSAKI: -- or the source of the plane being down.

QUESTION: I understand that. But are these missiles that the Ukrainians say were responsible for this plane, are those the types of missiles, quite apart from this incident, that you were complaining had – that the Russians had been sending into Ukraine?

MS. PSAKI: I’m happy to check with our team on that information separately from this particular incident.

QUESTION: I mean, one of the things yesterday when you imposed these new sanctions on the Russians, I mean, isn’t it true that one of your concerns is that the Russians have been doubling down on their – increasing, actually, their supply of weapons to the separatists?

MS. PSAKI: We have stated that publicly and still have a concern about that. But I think there’s a difference between making unfounded or unconfirmed accusations from the podium --

QUESTION: I understand. But without talking about the specific Buk missile or something, has it been a concern that the Russians have been supplying them with truck-mounted or shoulder-fired missiles?

MS. PSAKI: We have expressed concern about it in the past, Elise. That hasn’t changed.

QUESTION: Particularly of those type of missiles?

MS. PSAKI: I would point you to past comments we’ve made about them.

QUESTION: The Administration has made very clear that it blames the Russians for escalating the conflict in this area and that they’ve added to the tensions there. So whoever is to blame, ultimately, for this downing of the airliner, is there some source of responsibility that must be borne by Moscow for the situation as it now exists in the area?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think broadly speaking, Matt, the fact that we announced yesterday a new round of sanctions, including several defense companies, several energy companies, speaks to our level of concern about the escalatory actions that we continue to see from Russia. However, we don’t have enough information with this specific incident, and that’s why I’m not going to be able to provide you any confirmation of details and I don’t want to speculate on who’s to blame or the root causes when we don’t have that information at this point.

QUESTION: When I speak of the climate, the climate of conflict that’s escalated there and obviously led to this tragedy.

MS. PSAKI: Well, again, we don’t know that at this point in time because we don’t know what the causes are or who is responsible for the plane going down.

QUESTION: And what, if any, assistance would the Administration provide for any investigation of this incident?

MS. PSAKI: It’s too early to say. And we have traditionally or historically provided a range of assistance. You’re familiar with the assistance we provided when the Malaysian plane disappeared. But we can keep you all up to date on whether there’s a request made and a request granted from our end.

QUESTION: Given the fact that it did – this plane did fall down in separatist territory, clearly those separatists are not equipped, capable to launch – I see that they’ve called – they’ve said that they’ll try and help with an investigation. But given the fact that they clearly don’t have any type of capability to launch any type of investigation – I think they might have control over the black boxes – I mean, how do you see the Ukrainians and how can you help navigate ensuring that there is an investigation?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’re in close touch with Ukrainian authorities, and if there are requests made, we will keep you all abreast of whether we are providing assistance and what kind of assistance we’re providing.

QUESTION: Can you confirm that any Americans were onboard?

MS. PSAKI: I can’t at this point in time. And again, this just happened so recently, Lucas, but we are happy to provide all of you with that information as soon as we have any details to confirm. And obviously, we’re seeking that information as we speak.

QUESTION: Change topic?

MS. PSAKI: Do we have any more? Okay, go ahead, Said.

QUESTION: I have --

MS. PSAKI: Oh, okay. Go ahead, Matt.

QUESTION: Yeah, I just have one more – one on Ukraine.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: Apart from this incident, just generally speaking the situation in the east, I presume – but please tell me if I’m wrong – that you still have the same concerns and the same issues with the Russians that you did yesterday that led to the imposition of the new sanctions.

MS. PSAKI: Correct.

QUESTION: Is that correct?

MS. PSAKI: Yes.

QUESTION: And you haven’t seen any movement by them towards meeting – toward meeting the – what has been asked of them?

MS. PSAKI: In the last 24 hours, no.

QUESTION: And then – excuse me. I’m not sure if you had a reaction – I don’t think you did because it happened so late – but to the EU – the EU’s move --

MS. PSAKI: Well --

QUESTION: -- which they said that they would have new sanctions by the end of the month. Is that okay with you guys? Is that --

MS. PSAKI: Well, as you know, they placed some restrictions – they took steps yesterday to impose costs on the Russian economy. We have been doing these, and including yesterday, in close coordination with the EU. They moved also to put in place the legal framework needed to impose costs on Russian companies that undermine Ukraine’s stability and territorial integrity with an end of July deadline for naming the first list of entities. I think that’s what you’re referring to.

QUESTION: Right.

MS. PSAKI: And certainly, we were coordinating closely with them; we were in close touch with them. And we certainly welcome the steps that the Europeans have taken in this regard. I’m sure you have the details. I’m happy to outline those for you if you have any questions.

QUESTION: One of the companies that was hit by the sanctions yesterday was the Kalashnikov company, the company that makes AK-47s. The Russians today are saying that this specific sanction runs counter to the interest of U.S. consumers. Do you have any comment on that?

MS. PSAKI: Well, let me first say that, clearly, as we are making decisions about sanctions as it relates to here or any around the world, we take into account the impact on the United States, on U.S. businesses and consumers, and certainly we feel that peace and political stability and respect for international law are of critical importance to the global economy and to U.S. businesses.

But let me give you some specific examples of the precautions that we take. The sanctions we imposed yesterday were deliberately crafted to limit, to the extent possible, spillovers on the United States and on third-party countries – third-country companies, pardon me. For example, in the financial sector, we deliberately avoided interfering with day-to-day operations to avoid a shock to global financial markets. In the energy sector, we took steps to limit the ability of certain companies to raise dollar financing, but we have not tried to interfere with their ability to export oil and gas or to maintain their existing joint ventures. So we take into account, of course, any impact on U.S. businesses, U.S. consumers, as we make these decisions.

QUESTION: So these specific sanctions on the Kalashnikov company will not affect American consumers of AK-47s?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I haven’t seen the specific impact that’s been listed. We can – if there are specifics out there, we can certainly look into that, but --

QUESTION: But as far as you know, the ability of the American consumer to purchase semiautomatic assault rifles from Kalashnikov has not been affected. Is that correct?

MS. PSAKI: I can check that level of specificity and see if there’s a direct impact.

Said.

QUESTION: New topic?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: Yeah. Gaza, Israel bombardment.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Are you aware of any efforts undergoing now of talks for the ceasefire and whether the United States is actually involved in this directly?

MS. PSAKI: Well, first let me say that Secretary Kerry has been in touch daily with Israel and with Egypt and with a range of countries in the region. Let me just see if there are any other specific calls to read out for you this morning. Today he spoke with – again with Egyptian foreign minister, with the Qatari foreign minister, and those have been regular occurrences. He hasn’t just supported the ceasefire track, he’s encouraged others to support it in full coordination with Egypt, who’s leading this effort and in full coordination – of course, we’re in close touch with Israel, as I mentioned. So I think our engagement is evident in his calls, in his level of focus on this important issue.

QUESTION: Israeli press reports say that the Egyptian proposal of last Monday was basically worked out between Tony Blair, the Israelis, and Egypt. And in fact, the Government of Egypt wanted to sort of to keep the Secretary of State of the United States John Kerry out of the process and not to give him any credit. Do you have any comment on that?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I’ve seen the same report that you’re mentioning, and I’ll say that the anonymous source is either out of the loop or ignorant of the facts, because the Secretary has been closely engaged at every point in this process, including in the Egyptian proposal, including – ever since then he’s been closely engaged on a daily basis with the foreign ministers in the region about how to proceed moving forward.

QUESTION: So neither the Israelis nor the Egyptians tried to keep the Secretary of State out in the dark?

MS. PSAKI: Hard to see how you’re keeping someone out of the dark if you’re speaking to them multiple times a day.

QUESTION: In.

MS. PSAKI: In the dark. Sorry. In the dark.

QUESTION: In the dark.

MS. PSAKI: Out of the loop, in the dark, a combination.

QUESTION: Out of the loop. Okay.

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.

QUESTION: Yeah. Just wanted to follow up. Former President Bill Clinton told Maariv, the Israeli newspaper, that what needs to be done really is the peace resolution, otherwise Israel will risk being isolated, further isolation, and being chastised in international forums and so on. Do you agree with that assessment?

MS. PSAKI: That there needs to be a two-state solution?

QUESTION: There needs to be not just issues of ceasefire and so on, although this is quite urgent at the present time, but also the issue of a peace settlement and a two-state solution should be addressed immediately or right away or in a expeditious fashion, lest Israel be isolated in the international arena. Do you agree with that --

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think the Secretary’s view is very much that the absence of a two-state solution leaves a vacuum that is often filled by violence. And we’ve seen what’s happened historically. Of course, our focus in the immediate terms is achieving a successful ceasefire that will bring an end to the violence, bring an end to the civilian casualties. That’s what our focus is on right now. And any two-state solution will require the parties to be willing to make the tough choices they haven’t been willing to make to date. But certainly, in the medium and long term and the stability and security of the region, we would agree with that point.

QUESTION: Jen --

QUESTION: One --

QUESTION: -- yesterday you didn’t have a lot to say about the incident on the beach in Gaza. I’m wondering if you have more to say about it today now that things are a little bit more clear --

MS. PSAKI: More clear.

QUESTION: -- about what happened, but also in general whether you think – well, what you think of the restraint or lack of restraint being shown by either side in this.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. Well, as the violence continues, and it’s continued overnight, there were reports – that we don’t have confirmed – of additional children, I think, since then, unfortunately. But we are increasingly concerned about the safety and security of civilians on both sides. We continue to urge all parties to do all they can to protect civilians, and we have been heartbroken by the high civilian death toll in Gaza, including the death of four innocent Palestinian children as they were playing on a beach in Gaza just yesterday.

It was – the reports were horrifying, the photos were horrifying, the video was horrifying. The tragic event makes clear that Israel must take every possible step to meet its standards for protecting civilians from being killed. We will continue to underscore that point to Israel; the Secretary has made that point directly as well.

QUESTION: You said that they (inaudible). Are they?

QUESTION: Is that – hold on, hold on, hold on – does that mean --

QUESTION: You said that they (inaudible). Are they?

QUESTION: Does that mean – let me – can I finish, please? Did – are you – does that mean that you don’t believe that Israel is doing – is practicing what it preaches in this, that they have not shown the restraint that you have called for?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, you have seen – you may have seen, but I can flag for you – that they have – the Israelis have expressed their sorrow and regret in these cases. What we’re asking for is a redoubling of efforts moving forward to prevent civilian casualties, given the events of the last couple of days.

QUESTION: So you do not believe they have done enough to prevent civilian casualties – or you do?

MS. PSAKI: I think --

QUESTION: I --

MS. PSAKI: We believe that certainly there’s more that can be done.

QUESTION: And you said that the Secretary has made this point to Prime Minister Netanyahu and --

MS. PSAKI: Yes.

QUESTION: Was that today? Have they spoken?

MS. PSAKI: Over the last 24 hours. I think they spoke yesterday.

QUESTION: Can I ask about the ceasefire and all of the various parties? It seems as if there’s a little bit of a rivalry going on right now between on one hand the Egyptians, who you seem to want to take the lead here in the current efforts with their proposal in terms of trying to manage – trying to get a ceasefire in place, and on the other hand, Qatar and Turkey, who also have close ties with Hamas. And it seems as if there’s kind of dueling agendas and both trying to play the major role here. Have you talked to the Qataris and the Turks and the Egyptians about kind of playing nice and working together for the common goal?

MS. PSAKI: Well, the Secretary’s been in touch with leaders from all of those countries. There is an Egyptian ceasefire proposal, as you all know, that was put out there just a couple of days ago, which we’ve continued to support – remains on the table. And we’re engaging with any country that we think could play a role in influencing Hamas and bringing an end to the violence and the death of civilians on the ground. I’m not going to speculate or weigh into any political rivalries in the region, but we’ll remain engaged with all of the countries that we think can play a role.

QUESTION: Well, let me ask the question differently. So are you focusing on the Egyptian plans for the ceasefire, or are you trying to create another parallel mechanism whereby the Qataris seems to be want to offer another cease plan – ceasefire plan for Hamas?

MS. PSAKI: Well, the Egyptian proposal is the one that has been out there to date. We remain engaged with all of the countries in the region who can play a role. I’m not going to predict for you whose ideas or whose views may be most incorporated.

QUESTION: Change subject?

MS. PSAKI: Oh, sorry. Do you want – go ahead. Go ahead.

QUESTION: So for the time being – I’m just trying to understand --

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: For the time being – so the Egyptian proposal is the dominant proposal for the time being?

MS. PSAKI: Correct.

QUESTION: And everybody else will help – will play a supportive role, including the Qataris and the Turks?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think we’re engaged with all countries to see what role they can play in influencing Hamas to engage and return to the 2012 ceasefire. So we are having a range of talks in that regard.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: Just on the 2012 ceasefire, but not really – talk about opening the entry points and the border points and so on or lifting the siege that Gaza has suffered from for seven straight years. So this is a real problem that’s creating a humanitarian disaster. Should – after the fighting stops, or after the exchange of rockets and bombardments stop, should there be almost an immediate effort to sort of include things like this, to lift the siege, to open the borders, to allow – or to pressure the Egyptians, your allies, to open their point of entry and exit and so on? Should that be part of any sort of larger ceasefire agreement?

MS. PSAKI: I’m just not going to speculate on that from here. I think our view is that these conversations and discussions need to happen behind closed doors, and so we’re going to leave them there to the degree we can.

QUESTION: Yes, please.

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.

QUESTION: I’m trying to figure out regarding this Egyptian proposal, and you mentioned again maybe for the second or third time in the last two or three days the ceasefire of 2012. Is – can we say it it’s a kind of reset? I mean, it’s coming – going back to what was the situation at that time, or how do you look to it?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think we’re referring to it because that was sort of the last – well, not permanent – successful ceasefire, I believe is accurate to say, and so we think it can be a model or a basis. But of course, the Egyptians have been in the lead in putting a proposal forward. There are discussions happening behind closed doors, and we’ll see how they proceed. The Secretary, as I’ve mentioned, has been very engaged in discussions with all parties in that regard.

QUESTION: The – in the last 24 hours always the raised question is what kind of carrot you are offering to Hamas to accept a Egyptian proposal. Is there any carrot there?

MS. PSAKI: We’re not engaged with Hamas, so I would point you to the Egyptians or others to lay out, if they choose to, more about their discussions.

QUESTION: So you talked a bit about wanting the – saying that the Israelis needed to do more to live up to their own standards, but you didn’t mention Hamas. I wanted to give you the opportunity now. There are rockets that are still being fired into Israel; you have condemned that in the past. I presume that you still do. But just to put – to make it perfectly clear, Hamas – it’s not just Israel that needs to do more to prevent civilian casualties as well. Hamas needs to stop the rocket attacks, correct?

MS. PSAKI: Absolutely. And I think I have not – I don’t think we’ve made any secret about our concern, strong concern about the actions of Hamas, the indiscriminate rocket attacks, the targeting of civilians, and that concern remains.

QUESTION: And you believe that while Israel needs to do more to make sure it lives up to its own standards, you do believe your statements in the past that they have the right to defend themselves, and they are – and that’s what they’re doing in this operation --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- that those – those still stand as well, yes?

MS. PSAKI: Correct. That remains the case, absolutely. And let me just make one more point. We were all so heartened to see the statement by President Peres – and I don’t know if all of you saw that – where he also condemned – or I don’t think that’s the word he used, so I’ll let you take a look at the statement yourself, but he spoke to the deaths of these children. And that was something the Secretary also noted.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.

QUESTION: And then one – just one more thing. During this UN-organized brief humanitarian ceasefire, there were several mortars that were fired from Gaza into Israel. Did you have any thoughts about that?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think there were rumors over the past 24 hours, or unconfirmed reports, that there had been a new ceasefire put forward. But we never saw confirmation of that.

QUESTION: Not even of the UN – of the humanitarian pause?

MS. PSAKI: There was not – there were mixed and unconfirmed reports of that.

QUESTION: Okay. So that was not – that wasn’t a violation, because there wasn’t one?

MS. PSAKI: Correct --

QUESTION: All right.

MS. PSAKI: -- although obviously, that’s where we would like to return to. But --

QUESTION: One more quickly, one more quickly. If this Hamas is already a designated terrorist organization and they are killing innocent people and throwing all these rockets, where is the Palestine government?

MS. PSAKI: Well --

QUESTION: Have they ask any U.S. help or Israeli help to fight against these terrorists?

MS. PSAKI: Well, President Abbas has been very engaged as the chairman the PLO and as, of course, the president of the Palestinian Authority. He is the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. He is – I believe he was in – today he’s in Cairo. He’s been in discussions with all parties. He will play a central role in any solution, and we believe there is a role for him to play and for the Palestinian Authority to play at the table precisely because we believe there is a need that speaks for the legitimate concerns and aspirations of the Palestinians. He has, I believe, a travel schedule over the next couple of days to engage in these discussions as well.

QUESTION: And if this continues, there cannot be a two-state solution, and also there cannot be a stable region.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think, in response to Said’s question, our view is that the only way to bring an end to this type of violence is to have a two-state solution.

Do we have any more on this topic?

QUESTION: Yes. Just to --

MS. PSAKI: Okay, go ahead.

QUESTION: -- clarify an issue, you’ve mentioned other people, other partners’ role. What is the role of United States? How you define it? Is it a facilitator, guarantor of this agreement, or what?

MS. PSAKI: Well, certainly, we have a stake. The United States has a stake in a stable region, and we’re certainly very concerned about the civilian casualties and about what we’re seeing in the increasing violence on the ground. And as you know, we have long been a strong partner of not just the Israelis and Prime Minister Netanyahu, but also the Palestinians. And so we’re looking at this and feel real concern about what we’re seeing. The Secretary has been engaged because he has strong relationships with many of the parties in the region. I’m not sure I’m going to put an additional label on it other than to convey that he’s deeply committed to seeing an end to the violence on the ground and a return to the ceasefire.

QUESTION: And yesterday, you mentioned that he called the Arab League secretary general.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Do you see – foresee or whatever you can expect – a role from the Arab League or other international organization that – as UN to play in this process, or it’s just an Israeli-Hamas process?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I believe over the past couple of days you’ve seen some members of the Arab League speak out in support of the Egyptian proposal. Obviously, they have also an incredible stake in seeing an end to the violence on the ground, so that’s one of the reasons the Secretary is engaged. And to the degree any of them can play a positive role, we certainly support that and encourage that.

Go ahead, Samir.

QUESTION: Is the Secretary considering travel – considering traveling to Qatar and Egypt?

MS. PSAKI: The Secretary – while no final decisions have been made on travel, he remains prepared with his bags packed in the event it is productive and makes sense for him to travel to the region.

QUESTION: Can we change subject?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: To Iran. The Secretary met this morning over breakfast with some lawmakers. Can you tell us what was discussed and whether or not he, as some participants are saying, said that – or expressed any interest or openness to sanctions, to new triggered sanctions? That’s the end of the question.

MS. PSAKI: Sure. Well, the Secretary had a meeting with a range of House – members of Congress this morning. There is a broad level of engagement from a number of senior Administration officials, including Under Secretary Sherman, Deputy Secretary Burns; Tony Blinken has done a range of meetings and calls as well. So this was a part of that effort, and part of the discussion was certainly on the P5+1 negotiations that are ongoing. They also discussed the situation in Gaza and shared concern about that. They discussed Iraq; they discussed Syria. So it was a wide-ranging discussion.

In terms of reports that the Secretary had proposed or embraced any proposal on a trigger, I can tell you that is inaccurate. Our position – his position – has not changed. We do not support additional nuclear-related sanctions while we negotiate. Secretary Kerry made that clear this morning. Part of our role and his role is to engage with members. It’s no secret that they have proposals on the table that include triggered sanctions. Certainly, they raised those this morning, and we will continue our close consultations with Congress. But that has not changed and our position hasn’t changed.

QUESTION: So what breakfast was Congressman Sherman at?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think there are times when members of Congress hear and project what they want to hear. But the Secretary’s position hasn’t changed, and he certainly made that clear this morning.

QUESTION: Okay. And do you know if – and I realize this is probably a White House question, but I mean, is it your understanding that if such legislation containing new sanctions was to pass on the Hill, that it would be vetoed? Is that --

MS. PSAKI: I would certainly point you to them, but I’m not aware of any support in the building that’s-- in the White House for this – for a proposal like that.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: I just have one more.

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead, Lucas.

QUESTION: So earlier you sent out a tweet saying Secretary Kerry does not support additional sanctions. Doesn’t this kind of fly in the face of some comments he made back in December, as well as you and Mr. Carney?

MS. PSAKI: In what capacity?

QUESTION: That you that said if there was not a comprehensive agreement made after six months, there would be new sanctions. And Secretary Kerry said if Iran does not meet its commitments – I’m quoting here – “we will be the first ones to come to you if this fails” for additional sanctions.

MS. PSAKI: Sure. No, it doesn’t conflict at all. The negotiations are ongoing on the ground. We’ve been – consistently said we don’t support additional sanctions legislation while the negotiations are ongoing. We’re going to spend the next couple of days determining what’s next. But if Iran doesn’t meet its obligations, certainly he’d be the first in line. That hasn’t changed.

QUESTION: But hasn’t for eight straights months Iran has been selling more oil than is allowed under the JPA, in violation of your agreement?

MS. PSAKI: Actually, over the past six months, Iran has met its commitments under the interim deal we reached last year. We believe that it’s consistent that the numbers we’ve seen – we feel comfortable that the crude oil exports of Iran are remaining in the million to 1.1 million barrel a day average, as we anticipated under the JPOA. That remains the case.

QUESTION: So no redlines being crossed? It’s not a Syria-part-two situation?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t believe so, but obviously if the Secretary maintains, the President maintains, of course, the right to call for, embrace, endorse, advocate for any legislation if they so see fit in the future.

QUESTION: So it looks like there’ll be an extension on the negotiations over the course of the weekend?

MS. PSAKI: Well, today on the ground, Lucas, in Vienna our team is discussing what the contours of an extension would look like if all parties were to agree to one. That – we’re not at that point yet, but certainly those discussions are ongoing on the ground and over the course of the next couple of days we’ll consult with Congress and certainly make a decision.

QUESTION: So if all countries agree on an extension, there will be an extension?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not predicting that. I think we’re going to see how negotiations play out on the ground, and certainly all countries would have to agree. That’s part of the requirement.

QUESTION: Jen, on the --

QUESTION: Yesterday, you said that --

QUESTION: Excuse me.

MS. PSAKI: Hold on. One moment, Said.

QUESTION: On the oil issue.

MS. PSAKI: Yes.

QUESTION: This is all just massaging of statistics, isn’t it? I mean, there are statistics out there that are not inaccurate that show that Iran is in violation of the JPOA.

MS. PSAKI: Well --

QUESTION: Those statistics, though, include things, items, condensates, whatever, that you, meaning the Administration, do not include.

MS. PSAKI: Well --

QUESTION: I mean, you do accept that, right?

MS. PSAKI: Nor does the accounting or the – or Congress or the way that we measure the JPOA include condensates. And the numbers we calculate also don’t include oil that is going to Syria, given that is not producing revenue to Iran. So there are a range of public accounting mechanisms, but our mechanisms, which are based on a range of public and private data, still maintain the million to 1.1 million barrels a day average.

QUESTION: Okay. But it was my understanding that even stuff that’s not exported to Syria, they don’t get the money from, they don’t – I mean, it goes into an account that they’re not allowed to use without approval, right?

MS. PSAKI: You’re right. Even other countries, you’re correct, yes.

QUESTION: So I don’t understand what the difference is.

MS. PSAKI: Well, there won’t be --

QUESTION: And it would to me that you would, like, count Syria – the exports to Syria twice because those are going to fuel – I mean, I’m being facetious a little bit, but I mean, that oil is going to fuel the Assad regime and its – what you call its killing machine.

MS. PSAKI: Well, there’s --

QUESTION: So it’s worse, in fact --

MS. PSAKI: It doesn’t --

QUESTION: -- than oil that Iran is selling to India or China or South Korea.

MS. PSAKI: Well, let me be clear. We have long opposed and had strong concern about Iran’s support for Syria, as well as a number – a range of other concerns we continue to have about Iran.

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS. PSAKI: But I’m talking about the technical aspect. There’s no revenue being paid or sitting in any bank held or not anywhere for this oil, because it’s being contributed from Iran to Syria. So it’s not increasing their revenue.

QUESTION: Right, but the problem with that is – or the – maybe not the problem, but the argument that those who say they’re in violation is they say that this is – it’s fungible. So that by giving Syria this oil, Iran is saving money that it might otherwise spend to prop up Assad. So --

MS. PSAKI: I think that’s speculative, Matt. I think we’re talking about how we account for or count the barrels and concerns about any revenue being held in accounts that’s coming in for them.

QUESTION: Well, wouldn’t – at least isn’t this a violation of the spirit, if not the letter of the law? If you include the oil that is sent – that Iran sends to Syria, that would put them over the limit, correct? And if you – but – and if you do that, or if you – sorry, if you don’t do that, it seems to me the problem is that they’re – not only are they getting a foreign policy benefit, from their point of view, but they’re also giving Assad benefit, which works directly in opposition to what the U.S. policy is.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think it’s a separate question. One, the fact that many countries, when they report the oil purchases, they lump in a number of products. It’s not just crude oil. I know we already talked about this, but that is one of the contributing factors to a range of the reported numbers. Otherwise, we’re talking about abiding by the JPOA. Separately, certainly, we’re incredibly concerned about Iran’s support for the Assad regime and their continued assistance. And we’ve long talked about --

QUESTION: All right.

MS. PSAKI: -- how that assisted and boosted Assad on the ground.

QUESTION: Okay. Well, so that concern, though, does not enter in at all to the nuclear negotiations. Your concern that Iran is doing nefarious things, according to you, in Syria and elsewhere with – in Gaza, probably, and with Hezbollah and Lebanon – those concerns about Iranian behavior don’t give you any pause in the nuclear negotiation?

MS. PSAKI: They give us pause in general, of course. As do human rights violations, as do a range of media freedoms, other issues. But we’re focused on the nuclear aspect and addressing that.

QUESTION: Can I --

QUESTION: Last one? One more, Said, one more.

MS. PSAKI: Can we just finish this, Iran? Or --

QUESTION: Iran. It’s on Iran.

QUESTION: Just one more, Said.

QUESTION: If I could ask you on the – you mentioned yesterday that extension will be contingent on progress, correct?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: You said “progress made.” So how would you – what kind of progress Iran needs to be – to make as opposed to when these negotiations began --

MS. PSAKI: Well, if we make that --

QUESTION: -- to have the merit of an extension?

MS. PSAKI: If we make that determination, perhaps we’ll have more to say publicly. Until that time, I’m going to leave it in the hands of the negotiators on the ground to determine and conversations between the Secretary, the President, the Vice President, and other decision makers in this case.

QUESTION: Jen, can you explain how an extension without more sanctions helps Iran not attain a nuclear weapon?

MS. PSAKI: Well, what we’re talking about, Lucas – and obviously what you’re suggesting is purely speculative, so let me just say that first – but we’re talking about here is preventing Iran over the long term from acquiring a nuclear weapon. We know before these negotiations the path they were on. So if a determination is made that enough progress has been made, that we can seek a comprehensive agreement, that that’s attainable, those are all factors that will be taken into account. What it will mean and what it will entail, I will certainly leave that to the negotiating team to determine.

QUESTION: And isn’t it speculative, though, to say that they’re not attaining a nuclear weapon right now?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think the fact that they’ve abided by the JPOA – they have stepped back a range of steps they had taken previously, I think answers that question.

QUESTION: Isn’t it true, though, that Iran today is actually less capable to manufacture or produce a nuclear bomb than they were when these negotiations began?

MS. PSAKI: Well, they’ve taken a number of steps --

QUESTION: They’re actually setting back, correct?

MS. PSAKI: -- obviously, to halt and roll back – to halt and roll back. But again, what we’re determining is whether enough progress has been made in the negotiations to warrant moving forward.

QUESTION: But that would be calculated as part of that progress, correct?

MS. PSAKI: There are a range of steps and pieces that will be calculated.

Samir?

QUESTION: No, hold on. Just let me know, would you expect that there – that it will run right up until the 20th, or could a decision on an extension or not be made tomorrow or before the weekend? Or do you think that --

MS. PSAKI: The negotiators certainly have the prerogative to make a decision at any time they warrant. I don’t have any prediction on the timing, of course, as you are all familiar with the deadline.

QUESTION: Right. Which is the 20th, which is Sunday, correct?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm, Sunday.

QUESTION: So I’m just trying to figure out if our weekends are all going to be ruined with an announcement on Sunday when it could be just as easily made tomorrow.

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, there are a fair number of events in the world, so your weekend is perhaps ruined regardless.

QUESTION: Yeah. (Laughter.) Thank you. I look forward to it. (Laughter.)

MS. PSAKI: Samir.

QUESTION: On Iraq --

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: -- do you have any update --

QUESTION: Fix them.

MS. PSAKI: Samir, go ahead.

QUESTION: Do you have any update on what Deputy McGurk is doing regarding the political process in Iraq?

MS. PSAKI: In Iraq?

QUESTION: Any update?

MS. PSAKI: He continues – he remains on the ground. He continues to meet with the parties. You all are familiar with the events that have occurred this week in terms of the election of a new parliamentary speaker, two deputies. Of course, the next step in this process is the selection of a president. So he continues to work with a range of parties and contacts on the ground, as does Ambassador Beecroft, of course.

QUESTION: Change of topic?

MS. PSAKI: Sure, Shaun.

QUESTION: Burma, Myanmar.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: There’s a court decision – five journalists who alleged the government was producing chemical weapons were all sentenced to 10 years in prison. This comes during the democratic reforms of Myanmar. Do you have any concerns about this? Do you think this says something overall about the progress in Myanmar?

MS. PSAKI: Well, certainly, and we can get you something more formal on this. I’m very familiar with these reports, but we are concerned about – while Burma has made a range of progress in a number of areas, we are still concerned about media freedom and these reports of these journalists being first arrested and, it sounds like, sentenced today. But those are concerns that we raise, of course, directly. But why don’t I talk to our team and we can get you a more formal response.

QUESTION: Sure. Do you know if this one specifically has been raised – this case?

MS. PSAKI: I will check on that. I will check on that and see if it has, absolutely.

QUESTION: A little hop, skip, and jump to the east of --

MS. PSAKI: I’m going to start taking these maps down because I never know what anybody’s looking at. But go ahead. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Cambodia.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: Have you seen these reports of the arrest of these opposition, or – I’m not sure it’s arrest – something happening to the opposition?

MS. PSAKI: Something happened in Cambodia? Okay.

QUESTION: Something not good happening with the opposition in Cambodia. (Laughter.)

MS. PSAKI: Why don’t I take that --

QUESTION: Thanks.

MS. PSAKI: -- and we’ll get you all a response and find out what happened and how concerned we are about it.

QUESTION: I’ll – actually, I got an – I’m asking for a colleague of mine.

MS. PSAKI: Understood. We will get you – we will send you out something that you can send to your colleague.

QUESTION: Turkey.

MS. PSAKI: Turkey, sure.

QUESTION: Yes, thank you. Today, Turkish foreign minister stated that U.S. is attempting to dismantle the legitimacy of AKP’s success story and wear out the party. Are you trying to dismantle the AKP?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything to add beyond what I said yesterday, but the question you asked me yesterday was about the comments of Ambassador-designate John Bass made before the Senate. And my points – my comments certainly stand, that these were consistent with the concerns we’ve expressed before, including in our Human Rights Report. The United States supports democracy, human rights, and fundamental freedoms around the world, and anything suggesting that we were doing other – anything other than restating our support is false.

QUESTION: Also, foreign minister said that about discussions on the Hill two days ago between the senator and the Ambassador John Bass that the discussions about drifting in the direction of authoritarianism is part of the campaign against the ruling party, his own party. And this is foreign minister of Turkey. There was someone else --

MS. PSAKI: A good friend of Secretary Kerry’s. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Yes.

MS. PSAKI: Yes.

QUESTION: And he accuses U.S. that – undertaking a campaign against his own party.

MS. PSAKI: Well again, any suggestion that Ambassador-designate Bass was doing other – anything other than repeating – expressing concerns we’ve expressed before about anything from freedom to democracy to human rights issues is untrue, and hopefully that can be recognized.

QUESTION: And the final one: Foreign minister also says that, actually, there is authoritarianism in the U.S., that it’s increasing. This is quote by the foreign minister just today.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I’m not sure what that would be a reference to, so perhaps you can ask for more clarity and we can talk more about it.

QUESTION: He said that if he gives – this is also quote – if he gives samples about this increasing authoritarianism in the U.S., that would be shameful for the U.S. counterparts.

MS. PSAKI: Well, it’s hard to see what that’s a reference to, so --

QUESTION: So on this Cambodia thing --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- it was six Cambodian opposition politicians arrested or charged yesterday with leading an insurrection movement and then two more arrested in – since then. So that’s the question, if you could take it.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I’m certain we will express some concern about that, but why don’t I take it and we’ll get you a comment and something for Shaun as well.

QUESTION: And then on China, yesterday you guys put out a statement of the resumption of the counterterrorism dialogue with the Chinese. There’s some concern in the human rights community that this is a suggestion or this implies that you are fully supportive of China’s counterterrorism strategy, including out in its west with the Uighurs. Do you – does the U.S. still have concerns about the Chinese counterterrorism operations or their policy in the west of the country? And if so, why was it – was it appropriate to be – to resume this discussion with them?

MS. PSAKI: Well, let me first say that counterterrorism is, of course, an area that China and the United States have cooperated on. And as part of the dialogue that took place just a couple of days ago, we discussed – the United States representatives discussed our comprehensive approach to counterterrorism that includes an emphasis on the protection of human rights, access to education, social development, and appropriate security measures.

Our concerns that we’ve expressed, when warranted, about ongoing discrimination and restrictions on members of ethnic and religious minorities in China remains. And we will continue to urge Chinese – China officials to take steps to reduce tensions and uphold its international commitments to protect religious freedom.

We do an annual report, and the Secretary, of course, raises human rights issues at every opportunity he has in his discussions with the Chinese.

QUESTION: Sorry. You said – so you’re urging the – sorry – the dialogue includes you pressing China on the need to protect human rights in – while it conducts its counterterrorism operations?

MS. PSAKI: Correct.

QUESTION: Is the United States really in a position to be telling any country about the protection of human rights and counterterrorism programs, given Guantanamo, given the deaths of innocent people in drone strikes?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, I think we express concerns about issues, including the treatment of Uighurs, in these dialogues as we felt it was appropriate to do so, and as others have concerns they can express them to us as well.

QUESTION: Okay. So anyway, the main point of my question was: You do not see that there is any kind of a disconnect here in having this dialogue along with your concerns about – at the same time as you’re still expressing your concerns? This is an opportunity for you to raise those concerns? Is that the way the U.S. sees it?

MS. PSAKI: That’s part of what is certainly raised in this dialogue. But we think cooperation on counterterrorism issues is something that is important and should continue and will continue as well.

QUESTION: Just to pursue that, to clarify: Was the issue of human rights actually raised during the counterterrorism dialogue?

MS. PSAKI: Yes, that was part of the discussion that we had just two days ago.

QUESTION: And was there a specific reason why the dialogue is being held now? Was it a regularly scheduled thing or is it – in light of various incidents that have happened in China?

MS. PSAKI: I believe it’s been scheduled for some time, but why don’t we check on that for you and see if there’s anything that prompted it at this particular moment.

QUESTION: On Afghanistan.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: In view of the two series of big terrorist attacks inside Afghanistan this week, including on the Kabul airport, what is the assessment of the security situation in Afghanistan?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we condemn in the strongest terms the Taliban attack on facilities at Kabul International Airport early this morning. We note the Afghan national police led a successful operation to secure the airport. I would certainly direct you to them for additional information, but security officials in Kabul are currently surveying the area and assessing the situation, so they would have more information.

As I noted at the top, the process of moving forward on the audit has started today. That’s proceeding. That will increase – or ramp up, I should say, in the coming days, and there hasn’t been an impact that I’m aware of of these incidents on that.

QUESTION: The ministry Afghan – Minister of Interior today said that those was – the terrorists who were in the Kabul airport attack were Urdu-speaking people from Pakistan. Do you have any information on that?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any information on the individuals or beyond what I just stated, and I’d certainly point you to Afghan authorities on that.

QUESTION: Are these attacks anyhow linked to the Pakistani actions in north Waziristan?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any other information. Again, the Afghans have the lead on any process of surveying and assessing the situation.

QUESTION: On the agreement that the two presidential candidates reached on the auditing of ballots, what is the expectations once the results are declared? Do you expect a nation government to be formed, or --

MS. PSAKI: What do we expect the outcome to be?

QUESTION: Outcome would depend on the counting of ballots. But once the results are declared, do you expect a national government to be formed in Kabul or --

MS. PSAKI: Well, as you know – and we will leave it to the candidates to speak to their agreements – obviously, the Secretary was there just this past weekend facilitating that. The purpose of the audit is to finalize the election, and of course, honor the millions of Afghans who participated. And both candidates have agreed to abide by the results of the audit, and the winner of the election will certainly serve as president and will immediately form a government of national unity.

In terms of additional specifics, I – we are going to leave it to them to spell out anything in addition.

QUESTION: National unity means members from the opposition camp too?

MS. PSAKI: Well, again, that’s typically what the word means, but we’ll let the candidates there describe it in more detail.

QUESTION: So you do expect Abdullah Abdullah to become the prime minister in any new government?

MS. PSAKI: We’re not prejudging the outcome. That’s the purpose of the audit, as to make sure that both candidates – that there’s a restored legitimacy to the process and to Afghan democracy.

QUESTION: But you don’t have any timeline to this auditing of ballots?

MS. PSAKI: To the process of counting? Well, we have – let me – I have a quick update on this. We do anticipate that the process will take a number of weeks. The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan has requested that President Karzai – as well as the candidates have, and they did this this past weekend – postpone the inauguration date to accommodate the requests. As you know, President Karzai has agreed to do that, and the timeline, of course, will be determined by when this is concluded. And we still believe there’s time to sign the BSA.

QUESTION: But this will also push back – or push the signing of BSA with U.S, the new president will sign.

MS. PSAKI: Well, it would push the inauguration back, but both candidates have said they would sign it, and we still feel comfortable with the timeline to sign the BSA.

QUESTION: Are you surprised that President Karzai would agree to stay on a little longer as president, delay the inauguration? (Laughter.)

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, I think everybody wants to see legitimacy restored to democracy in Afghanistan.

QUESTION: My question –

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.

QUESTION: My real question on this is: Are you not concerned at all that this might drag on past the NATO summit, at which – I mean, I presume you would like to see this to be done and have the BSA signed before the summit, so that NATO members could make decisions on how they’re going to proceed. Is that not correct?

MS. PSAKI: Well, it’s ramping up significantly over the coming days. We think it will take a number of weeks. Obviously --

QUESTION: You got six.

MS. PSAKI: -- we have I think six or seven weeks. But certainly we want to see – we’ve long wanted to see the BSA signed as quickly as possible, but we still feel comfortable with the timeline with that in mind.

QUESTION: Okay. But does that mean comfortable like you think it can be done before the summit, or comfortable in that if it’s not done by the summit it – that’s not a hard and fast deadline?

MS. PSAKI: I just don’t have anything more on the timeline at this point in time.

QUESTION: On the same subject.

MS. PSAKI: Let’s just do – go ahead.

QUESTION: A Pakistani news channel journalist who had gone to Afghanistan on assignment to cover events – he has been jailed by Afghan authorities. Pakistan has called for his release and said that he was a journalist working on an assignment. What is your reaction?

MS. PSAKI: I hadn’t seen those reports, so why don’t we talk to our team, and we’ll get you a comment on it.

QUESTION: Okay. You’ll take the question?

MS. PSAKI: Okay. Sure.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: There was a news report a couple of days ago that Secretary Kerry told his Japanese counterpart, foreign minister, during a phone call last week that the Prime Minister Abe should refrain from going to North Korea because such a trip could undermine trilateral cooperation between U.S., Japan, and Korea in dealing with North Korea’s nuclear missile program. Is this report true, and do you have such a concern?

MS. PSAKI: I know there have been a range of reports out there. We’ve provided a readout. I just don’t have any additional readout to share with all of you. I can reiterate that during their call last week they discussed the full range of bilateral and regional issues, as well as cooperation that reflects the global nature of our partnership. The United States, of course, supports Japanese efforts to resolve the abductions issue in a transparent manner. We are close allies and partners. But beyond that, I know there have been a range of reports; I just don’t have anything more to add from here.

QUESTION: Do you have any – yeah. Do you have any updates with – on the U.S. engagement with the Security Council with regard to North Korea?

MS. PSAKI: To North Korea? No, I do not.

QUESTION: Can I just pursue that? I mean, does the U.S. have a stance or whether it would appropriate for Prime Minister Abe to go to North Korea?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything more to add on this particular issue --

QUESTION: Quickly, India.

MS. PSAKI: -- and I’m not aware of a particular trip plan they’ve announced either, so --

QUESTION: India. Five nations that includes Brazil, India, China, Russia, and the South Africa – they met recently in Brazil and also they announced $100 billion bank and --

MS. PSAKI: I spoke to this yesterday, Goyal, so I would point you to that. I gave a couple of comments on it.

QUESTION: But my question is actually in this regard, that even Russia is part of this. As far as these sanctions are concerned, how this will affect these five nations have announced unity in fighting against terrorism and also working on unity on economic --

MS. PSAKI: Well, it remains to be seen what the focus of the BRICS Development Bank will be. The BRICS summit has been around long before the issues in Ukraine over the past couple of months. So at this point, many of the important details aren’t yet clear, but beyond that, I would point you to what I said yesterday.

QUESTION: And one more quickly. I’m sorry.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: There had been a lot of high-level visits to India from the U.S., including Deputy Secretary and also Madam Biswal and among others. One, if you have any quick summary on these visits? And finally, there have not been any visits from India to the USA. Are they waiting for the prime minister’s visit?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think we’re looking forward to the prime minister’s visit, whenever that’s scheduled, and I expect we’ll continue to have high-level visits to India. I don’t have any summary in front of you. So many, hard to lay them all out.

QUESTION: Thank you, madam.

MS. PSAKI: All right.

QUESTION: Still on --

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Still on India, health minister (inaudible) --

MS. PSAKI: Okay. Health minister – see, there was an assist from your colleague there.

QUESTION: Jen – Jen, just – I’m sorry, one more. There was some news over the course of the briefing about the Malaysian Airlines flight that I just wanted to get your comment on.

MS. PSAKI: Okay. I don't know that I’ve seen it yet, obviously.

QUESTION: I know. I’m going to tell you. A number of foreign-based airlines have announced that they will no longer fly over Ukrainian airspace, and I was wondering if the State Department plans to urge U.S.-based carriers to follow suit.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think you may be familiar that in April, the FAA and a Special Federal Aviation Regulation prohibiting U.S. civil flight operations in the airspace over the Crimean region of Ukraine and adjacent portions of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov went out. I don’t have any additional updates. Obviously, this happened while I’ve been out here. We will see if there’s more to share. I expect any announcement would be – come from the FAA if there’s a decision made.

QUESTION: Great, thank you.

MS. PSAKI: Thank you.

QUESTION: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:25 p.m.)

 


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Categories: News Pit Feeds

Daily Press Briefings : Daily Press Briefing - July 16, 2014

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 17:17

Jen Psaki
Spokesperson
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
July 16, 2014

Share Index for Today's Briefing
  • AFGHANISTAN
    • Audit of Ballot Boxes / IEC / UN Supervision
  • DEPARTMENT
    • U.S. Special Representative for the Arctic
  • MIDDLE EAST PEACE
    • Secretary's Contacts
    • Risks to Civilian Population
    • Calls for Ceasefire / Egypt's Engagement
    • U.S. Citizens in Gaza
    • Two-State Solution / Reconciliation
  • CHINA/DEPARTMENT
    • U.S. Welcomes China's Announcement on Movement of Oil Rig
    • BRICS Summit / Plans for Development Bank
    • South China Sea / Secretary Kerry Concerns
  • NORTH KOREA
    • Letter to ICAO / Missile Launches / UN Security Council
  • INDONESIA
  • IRAN/REGION
    • Next Steps / JPOA / Decision Hasn't Been Made on Possibility of Extension / Calls by Officials / Progress Made
  • SYRIA
    • Assad / So-Called Presidential Election / Charade
    • Mr. Hof
  • RUSSIA/CUBA
    • Alleged Russian Intelligence Facilities
  • RUSSIA/UKRAINE/REGION
    • European Council Meeting Today
  • DEPARTMENT
    • Secretary Kerry's Engagement on Nominee Confirmations
    • Update on Pending Nominees
  • TURKEY
    • Ambassador Bass Will Serve As Strong Voice Supporting Democratic Principles in Turkey


TRANSCRIPT:

12:58 p.m. EDT

MS. PSAKI: I just have a couple of items at the top. We welcome today’s announcement by the IEC that auditing of ballot boxes will begin in Kabul tomorrow, July 17th. As the Secretary announced while in Kabul last weekend, the audit process began immediately following his visit and has been ongoing since July 13th, with preparatory meetings, trainings, and working on the logistics of moving 8 million ballots in a difficult environment.

The purpose of the audit is to finalize the election and to honor the millions of Afghans who participated. The audit will be conducted by the IEC under close supervision of the United Nation in accordance with best – with international best practices, utilizing an IEC checklist supplemented by UN best practices recommendations. International and Afghan observers, along with representatives of the campaigns, will provide oversight and transparency. International observers have been trained and will be ready when the audit starts.

As Secretary Kerry promised this weekend, the United States is working very hard, hand in hand with both candidates and with Afghan officials to ensure that the July 12th agreement is translated into the actions that the people of Afghanistan expect, and ensuring the full legitimacy and credibility of this audit process.

So just to give you a few numbers: Already thousands of boxes are in Kabul ready to be counted. ISAF forces are guarding these boxes, and there are about a hundred international observers who have been trained, including 10 USAID contractors. So just a brief update on that.

Today, Secretary Kerry also announced the appointment of former Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Robert Papp, Jr. – Robert J. Papp, Jr. – to be the United States Special Representative for the Arctic. This new position was created to advance U.S. interests in the Arctic region as the United States prepares to take on the chairmanship of the Arctic Council in 2015. The Arctic has enormous and growing geostrategic, economic, climate, environment, and national security implications for the United States and the world, and we are, of course, delighted to welcome Admiral Papp, a distinguished and senior public servant with broad foreign policy experience.

With that, Matt, go ahead.

QUESTION: Right. Let’s start with the Mideast.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: First of all, can you just give us any update – the Secretary with the prime – foreign minister of Luxembourg said earlier that he was still working the phones. Are there any calls to report since we last got an update of this?

MS. PSAKI: Sure. Let me give you a clear update of that, and then we’ll get to your next question. As has been the case for the last several weeks even, he’s been in very close contact with a range of officials. Over the past 24 hours he’s spoken with the Arab League Secretary General Elaraby, he’s spoken with foreign minister – the Egyptian Foreign Minister Shoukry. He spoke with – let’s see – the U.A.E. foreign minister, the Qatari foreign minister. He hasn’t spoken with Prime Minister Netanyahu in the past – since we spoke yesterday, but I’m sure he will in the next 24 hours.

QUESTION: Okay. And these are all an attempt to get the cease-fire back – to push --

MS. PSAKI: That’s correct. Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- to push the cease-fire. I don’t know if you saw this, but overnight, Human Rights Watch put out a statement saying that Israel is in violation of international law attacking – with some of its attacks, at least, some of its airstrikes in Gaza, which they claim – Human Rights Watch – are actually targeting civilians. Since that report came out a little after midnight our time, there was this incident on the beach in Gaza where four children were killed. I’m wondering: Do you endorse or do you echo the call of Human Rights Watch here for Israel to stop these attacks?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I --

QUESTION: And do you think that they are, in fact, targeting civilian structures – if not civilians themselves, but civilian structures?

MS. PSAKI: Well, let me first say that we certainly believe – and this is the message the Secretary has conveyed to all parties – that it’s in the interests of all sides to de-escalate the situation. That is a message he’s conveyed to Prime Minister Netanyahu, to everybody involved in the events on the ground. And there are great risks in what is happening in the region to civilians, as you mentioned. That is of great concern to us, and certainly any death of a civilian, whether they’re a child or otherwise, is certainly of great concern to the United States.

And right now the potential we’re looking at is, of course, an even greater escalation of violence. I have not seen that specific report or reviewed it or discussed it with our team. Certainly, we would like to see an end to the tensions on the ground, and that’s why Secretary Kerry is so engaged with the range of parties I just mentioned to all of you.

QUESTION: Right, but – well, but whether you’ve seen it or not, they say that these are unlawful airstrikes that are killing civilians and they’re targeting apparent civilian structures and killing civilians in violation of the laws of war. Would you agree with – would you agree with that?

MS. PSAKI: I --

QUESTION: Whether or not you’ve seen it – I’m reading it to you right now – does the --

MS. PSAKI: I understand.

QUESTION: Does the Administration believe that Israel is in violation of the laws of war?

MS. PSAKI: I have not heard that concern expressed internally, Matt, specifically.

QUESTION: So you don’t agree with the Human Rights Watch report?

MS. PSAKI: Well, again, I have not – there’s not been a discussion I’m aware of a violation of international law by Israel.

QUESTION: Okay. Well, but even if there – whether there’s been a discussion or not, the Administration’s position is that Israel has the right to defend itself and it is – and its operation in Gaza is defending itself and therefore it’s not in any violation --

MS. PSAKI: That remains our position and that has not changed.

QUESTION: All right. The --

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

QUESTION: Hold on a sec. The Human Rights Watch statement said – also says that Palestinian armed groups should end indiscriminate rocket attacks launched toward the Israeli population, Israeli population centers. You would agree with that, yes?

MS. PSAKI: Certainly, we would agree --

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: And we view – and need to urgently bring an end to the escalation that we’re seeing on the ground.

QUESTION: So you agree with Human Rights Watch when they say that the Palestinians should stop their shelling, but you don’t agree with them when they say that Israel should; is that correct?

MS. PSAKI: Well, that’s not exactly what I said at all, Matt. I think we --

QUESTION: Well, I’m trying --

MS. PSAKI: Let me finish.

QUESTION: Mm-hmm.

MS. PSAKI: Our view is that there are great risks in what is happening in the region to civilians. That is of concern to us. That’s why we want to see a de-escalation from both sides.

QUESTION: Right. But I’m just – I just want to – I want to know why you are willing to accept or echo this Human Rights Watch call, which is something that you have been saying in the past, that the Palestinian – that Hamas and other armed groups in Gaza need to stop their indiscriminate shelling – their shelling of population centers in Israel, but you’re not willing to call on Israel to stop its bombardment of what Human Rights Watch says apparent civilian structures and killing civilians in violation of the laws of war.

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’re – been calling on and publicly and privately all sides to de-escalate. But the circumstance here is that we have a terrorist organization indiscriminately attacking and sending rockets into Israel. They have the right to defend themselves. Obviously, we’d like to see a return to the ceasefire. That’s what our focus is on.

QUESTION: I don’t think anyone is arguing that Israel does not have the right to defend itself.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: But if you don’t think – but my question is whether or not you think Israel is targeting civilian structures and with the result of the deaths of civilians, including children.

MS. PSAKI: I don’t think I have anything more to add on this particular question.

QUESTION: Shouldn’t Israel be held to the same standards in this case?

MS. PSAKI: I think, Said, I’ve answered this question.

QUESTION: No, I have --

MS. PSAKI: Do we have other – Roz, go ahead.

QUESTION: No, I have --

MS. PSAKI: Said, I’m going to Roz.

QUESTION: I have – I asked another question.

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead, Roz.

QUESTION: All right. I’ll try this a different way.

QUESTION: I have another one --

MS. PSAKI: We’ll go to you next. We’ll go to you next, Said. Go ahead, Roz.

QUESTION: Several journalists, including my colleague Stefanie Dekker, a correspondent from The Washington Post, a correspondent from The Guardian, all saw an attack on what can only be described as a civilian target, a fishing pier several yards from their hotel where many journalists are. And as they responded to the scene, they found that four children from one family, the Bakr family, had been killed. They said there wasn’t any rocket strike that they could see or detect or hear that might ostensibly be coming from Hamas.

How is an Israeli airstrike on what can only be described as a civilian target in full view of international journalists be acceptable to the U.S. Government?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Roz, let me first say that obviously the circumstances on the ground are of great concern to us, including the deaths of civilians, including the impact that the tensions on the ground have had on civilian communities. Obviously, there have been a number of lives lost in Gaza, including the lives of children, and that’s absolutely tragic in our view.

I’m not in a position here to confirm or give you ground updates of what’s happening on the ground. What we’re focused on here is de-escalating the situation using every tool in our diplomatic toolbox to do that, and beyond that I’m not going to speculate on reports of what people may or may have not seen on the ground. We know the situation is tense. We’re concerned about it. That’s why we’re focused on seeing if there’s a diplomatic path forward.

QUESTION: Why is it --

QUESTION: Can I --

QUESTION: Let me follow up, Elise. Why wouldn’t it be reasonable to expect that civilians who, for whatever reason, happen to be living in Gaza would not become more hardened in their view of the Israeli Government, of the Israeli people, when their own children can’t ostensibly go play in the surf, and instead, the next time they see their children they’re on funeral biers?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Roz, let me first say I’d remind you again that the deaths of any individuals, any civilians, the deaths of children, how this is impacting people in the region is why the Secretary’s been working on this morning, noon, and night for the past several days. Obviously, the tensions have escalated. Obviously, that has caused a great deal of violence that is of concern. But I would remind you that yesterday there was a cease-fire proposed that was abided to by the Israelis for a couple of hours that Hamas did not abide to. And they’re putting their own people at risk by continuing to escalate the situation on the ground.

QUESTION: If Israel does have the legal right to defend itself, and I don’t think anyone in this room would dispute that, because I would expect the U.S. to protect this territory from attack --

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: -- how is this considered an acceptable form of retaliation? Why wouldn’t people on the ground who weren’t near any sort of Hamas airstrike into Israel, why wouldn’t they believe that this is not an act of retaliation?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not sure what your exact question is.

QUESTION: Put it more simply: If rockets didn’t emanate from where I happened to be living or playing or visiting or doing whatever, and suddenly my area is targeted by a foreign government’s airstrike, why wouldn’t it be reasonable for me to think this is an act of retaliation and punishment, vengeance, rather than a direct response to a military attack?

MS. PSAKI: I still don’t understand what your question is.

QUESTION: I think she’s saying that if – that because these are civilian areas, I think you’re saying that --

QUESTION: Yeah. They weren’t (inaudible).

QUESTION: -- this is indiscriminate, that wholesale – the whole Gaza population is suffering. And we – I understand what you’re saying about that Hamas is the party responsible for what’s coming from the territory, but that the whole Palestinian population in Gaza is suffering at those hands. And yes, it may be Hamas’ fault, but that they’re the ones that are bearing the brunt of it.

And let me just follow up on that: Given that, is there any discussion with Israel about how you can help them or whether they have better technology for better precision in these strikes? I mean, during the – for over many years, for instance, during the Israelis surrounding the Muqata when Arafat was alive, I mean, they used to boast that they knew exactly what room he was in. So they knew – they – it was very – when they want to, they can pinpoint with pretty exact precision. So is there any discussion of any technology or intelligence or anything that could help them better with their precision?

MS. PSAKI: I’m just not in a position to outline any of that, Elise. Obviously, their targeting or their response is something that the Israeli Government is overseeing, not the United States. Certainly, we’ve expressed our concern about civilian deaths and civilian casualties to all parties involved here. And I think beyond that, that’s why our focus is on now moving as quickly as we can to see if we can return to a discussion about the cease-fire, whether that’s the – that was proposed by the Egyptians just yesterday.

QUESTION: What is the gist of the Secretary’s brief with the President in the next half hour or so? Is he going to be recommending that the President step up pressure on Israel and on interlocutors for Hamas to get back to a cease-fire? What exactly is he going there to do?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I’m not, obviously, going to outline the President’s – the Secretary’s private discussions with the President of the United States, but part of their discussion will certainly be on the situation on the ground that we’ve been discussing. It will also be about the P5+1 negotiations. I think you’ve seen a commitment by Secretary Kerry as well as by the President to reach out, to engage with any entity in the region who can play a role here on influencing Hamas and trying to take steps forward back to the cease-fire.

QUESTION: Has anyone spoken with President Abbas?

MS. PSAKI: Our team on the ground remains in close touch, and that will certainly continue. And the Secretary’s – I’ve outlined some of the calls that he has done, but we receive many updates. He’s in close touch with the team on the ground as well about what’s happening on the ground.

QUESTION: Are you counseling Israel not to bomb hospitals?

MS. PSAKI: Said, I think --

QUESTION: Are you telling the Israelis not to bomb hospitals like Wafa Hospital and the Shifa Hospital? Again, (inaudible).

MS. PSAKI: Said, I think I’ve been clear --

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: -- that we’ve expressed our concern about civilian casualties. Obviously, we want to see an end to what’s happening on the ground, and a de-escalation is in the interest of everyone.

QUESTION: I understand. But I remember last week asking you, and you said that the Israelis give warning to the Palestinians to evacuate. Now many of them evacuate to the beach out there, as was the Bakr family, and they have been hit. There isn’t really many places to evacuate to, so what should the Palestinians do to escape this onslaught of Israeli bombardment? I’m talking about civilian – Palestinian civilians. What do you suggest to them?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Said, I think part of our focus here is on working with all of the parties who can have influence on the circumstances on the ground so civilians are not impacted. And obviously, that’s one of the driving forces and motivations for us being as engaged as we are.

QUESTION: Okay, but seeing that this Gaza problem lingers on time and time and time again, and basically it is bad because it’s – because of the siege, because of the lack of access, because of the humanitarian conditions – unemployment is 60, 70 percent and so on – why can’t the ceasefire include a – either a promise or a commitment to open up these entry points, border points between Egypt and Gaza – between Israel and Gaza?

MS. PSAKI: Well, the Egyptians have the lead on the proposal. They will remain in the lead on that and in discussions about that. As you know, there are some discussions going on on the ground today. President Abbas is in Egypt today; so I’d point you to them for any specific updates about their proposal.

QUESTION: There are some who are throwing around the idea that maybe Israel should reoccupy the strip closest to Egypt, that small, narrow area and the border between Egypt and Gaza. Is that something that the Administration --

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to speculate further --

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: -- on the proposals.

QUESTION: And my last question on the issue of Palestinian Americans in Gaza.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: Did you find out what is the status of Palestinian Americans?

MS. PSAKI: Sure. I did. I did, after you asked that question yesterday.

So the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem continues to work to facilitate the safe passage of U.S. citizens from the Gaza Strip. That’s an ongoing process. As you know, there was a message that we sent out July 10th, so just about a week ago, and we received quite a few responses from U.S. citizens and their immediate family members. I believe that on the ground they’ve put out a number of about 300 responses. The U.S. Consulate General Jerusalem has also – has now provided assistance to approximately 150 U.S. citizens and their family members to depart Gaza. And these individuals who checked in were – would check in at the point of departure and their – they’ve been transported to Jordan via a bus. This is an ongoing process, and we’re continuing to engage with the local community to ensure that we can assist as many American citizens as possible.

QUESTION: And the same thing is true with the border with Egypt?

MS. PSAKI: In terms of their movements?

QUESTION: Yeah, their movement. Can they go through Egypt?

MS. PSAKI: I’m just not going to get into greater detail about how we’re moving these individuals out.

QUESTION: What in your view is the goal of the cease-fire? Is it just to stop the rocket fire and have calm and quiet in a lasting way? Or is it something larger to kind of break Hamas’ choke-hold on Gaza, disarm the territory, and see if you can use this opportunity to empower President Abbas or the Palestinian Authority to take – exert greater control over?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Elise, I think the first goal is the primary, immediate goal right now. Obviously, we know that this has been an ongoing issue that has long preceded the events of the last couple of weeks. If there’s a possibility of a larger conversation, we’ll leave that to the parties who are engaged in this to have.

QUESTION: But what would you – I mean, what would you – when you clearly the – while I understand you’re saying that this is an Egyptian proposal, clearly the United States is involved in the discussions. And you’ve said and Secretary Kerry has said that you’re willing to help facilitate. So what are you trying to facilitate? Are you trying to facilitate an end to this current round of violence, or something that changes the status quo?

MS. PSAKI: Well, the United States certainly would like to see an end to this current round of violence and a de-escalation of the tensions on the ground. And certainly we’d love to see a lasting peace in the region. Now our view is that will also require a two-state solution between the parties. Beyond that, I think we’re just taking it day by day and playing the diplomatic role that we can play.

QUESTION: I understand about a two-state solution and all of that, but you seem to have been skirting around for years, and certainly what’s going on right now is even – the issue is even more germane of Palestinian reconciliation and how one of the Palestinian parties is in a conflict with Israel while the other is not. So is de-escalation enough or can you really not have – are you bound to keep repeating this cycle of violence until something is done in Gaza?

MS. PSAKI: Well, there are a range of steps over the long term that obviously would need to be taken. A two-state solution is one of them. Obviously, given --

QUESTION: You could have a two-state solution, but you still – if Hamas --

MS. PSAKI: Let me finish.

QUESTION: -- still controls Gaza --

MS. PSAKI: Let me finish. Obviously, given – we’ve not – our position as the United States Government is not opposition to reconciliation. As you know, there are certain requirements that we would need to see in place in order for our relationship to continue. Given the circumstances right now, it’s hard to see how that could move forward at this point in time. However, what our focus is on right now is bringing an immediate end to the violence. We’re not ending our engagement or our work with the region if we see an end to violence. Obviously, discussions will continue about a range of issues.

QUESTION: The collapse of the Egyptian peace ceasefire initiative clearly shows that the relationship between the military-backed government in Egypt now is nothing like it was with Morsy’s government, which brokered the cease-fire in 2012. So to what extent is the Secretary using these calls to regional players like Qatar to get them to reform – to get involved to reformulate a cease-fire proposal that might be more acceptable and more – that might gain Hamas’ trust? And does Turkey have a role to play in this as well? Because they also have something of a bond with Hamas and Gaza.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. Well, the reason the Secretary’s engaged in such a broad number of calls is the point you’ve raised, which is there is – there are many players in the region, many countries in the region who have a stake, who have different relationships with the relevant parties on the ground. And he is open to engaging with any country and any leader who can help play an influential role with Hamas. What we want to see is an end to the violence on the ground, a return to a restoration of the 2012 cease-fire.

In terms of the specific details and particulars, we’ll continue to discuss those through private channels, but obviously the end goal is what our eyes are focused on.

QUESTION: Jen, just to – I have a quick follow up on a question that I asked yesterday.

MS. PSAKI: Yeah.

QUESTION: Seeing that Gaza is really twice the size of DC and has more than three times the population – so it’s very densely populated – in this case, why shouldn’t Israel be held to the same standard to avoid the – a high possibility of civilian casualties or intense civilian casualties in a state of – like Elise raised and Roz raised, having targeted targets?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Said, I think as I’ve mentioned in response to a similar question you’ve asked a couple of times before --

QUESTION: Right.

MS. PSAKI: -- Hamas is a terrorist organization. They’ve been firing indiscriminately into Israel. Israel – we want to see an end to the violence. We want to see a de-escalation of what’s happening on the ground. They have the right to defend themselves. So I think the context of the circumstances on the ground is an important component of the answer here.

QUESTION: Yeah, but that same right to defend themselves is denied to Hamas because it is a terrorist organization regardless to what the population’s position is, correct?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Hamas is putting their own people in Gaza at risk by continuing their actions.

QUESTION: So that means that it’s okay?

MS. PSAKI: I did not say it was okay. I did not say it was okay.

QUESTION: More --

MS. PSAKI: That’s why our focus is on de-escalating the situation on the ground.

QUESTION: More broadly, since this began, you have been counseling restraint on the side of the – on the Israelis and an end, obviously, to the rocket attacks. Today – and you have commended the Israelis, I believe, for showing restraint thus far. Can you still – are you still of the opinion that Israel has shown restraint in its operation?

MS. PSAKI: Well, yesterday, Matt, I was referring to the time where they – the Israeli cabinet abided by the cease-fire.

QUESTION: No, but even prior to that?

MS. PSAKI: That’s true. I don’t have any new – anything new to offer for you today.

QUESTION: Okay. So it’s the opinion of the U.S. Government that the Israelis are still showing – well, I won’t use a qualifier – that the Israelis are using – are showing restraint in their operation to exercise their right to self-defense?

MS. PSAKI: The comments I made about the cease-fire yesterday certainly stand, Matt, but obviously, we – the situation on the ground changes every day.

QUESTION: So if you don’t agree that – I mean, if you say that Hamas – this is Hamas’ fault, they’re putting their own people at risk. That suggests that you think that whatever Israel does is okay and comes within their rights to self-defense. But correct me if I’m wrong, please.

MS. PSAKI: Not what I suggested, Matt. I’m speaking to circumstances that are happening on the ground, and I think the most important issue here is what we’re working to do to bring an end to this violence, which is what our efforts and our focus is on.

QUESTION: When there has been collateral damage and civilian casualties in U.S. military operations – in Afghanistan, in Iraq, elsewhere – the United States has often apologized, paid compensation. Would you call – would you suggest or tell the Israelis that the same thing might be appropriate here?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not suggesting that, no.

QUESTION: Nope? So you would not?

MS. PSAKI: No.

QUESTION: So the people who have been killed, including these children – it’s – frankly, it doesn’t seem to – it doesn’t faze you?

MS. PSAKI: That’s not at all what I said. I think I’ve stated multiple times that the deaths of civilians, the loss of lives for children and individuals in Gaza is horrific and is a tragedy. And that’s why we’re so focused on bringing an end to the violence, and I think that’s far more important than a speculation about --

QUESTION: Right, but it’s – but it’s horrific and it’s a tragedy, but you’re saying that it’s the fault of Hamas for not stopping the rocket fire.

MS. PSAKI: They certainly are at fault in part here, yes.

QUESTION: Can I get back to this Hamas proposal for – their own ceasefire proposal that they have put out, that in addition to a cessation of the hostilities – some of these other things, particularly like fishing rights, payment of salaries, opening of the – closing of Israeli aircrafts to Gaza airspace – I mean, do you think that some of these things should be considered as part of the cease-fire talks?

MS. PSAKI: I’m just not going to do a negotiation from here.

QUESTION: No, I understand, but – I mean, there are certain things that Israel has called for in order for there to be a cease-fire. Do you think it’s reasonable that Hamas should have certain demands – certain conditions that they want met as well, or do you see this as a one-sided thing where Hamas has to stop the rocket fire in order for Israel to stop.

MS. PSAKI: Well obviously, Hamas would have to agree to a cease-fire. But in terms of what the specific details would be, I’m not going to do that from here.

QUESTION: But do you – but – I mean, I understand maybe you don’t want to speak about the specific things. But do you see Hamas as having any legitimate demands, or – I don’t even know if I want to use the word “demands.” But as part of a negotiation, it’s really two sides that are negotiating. Or do you just see this as Hamas has to agree to what Israel is calling for?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I don’t think that’s realistic, in the sense that, obviously, Hamas has to agree to a cease-fire. But beyond that, in terms of what it would entail or whether there will be requests or demands met, I’m just not going to speculate on that further.

QUESTION: Have you seen the Hamas cease-fire proposal?

MS. PSAKI: I just don’t have any more details from here on this.

Do we have more on this issue? Should we move on? You want to go into --

QUESTION: No, I’m sorry. I --

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.

QUESTION: This is not – this is just a logistical thing.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: You said you would expect that the Secretary to speak with Prime Minister Netanyahu within the next 24 hours. Is that right?

MS. PSAKI: He’s been in – he’s been speaking with him frequently, so I was setting the expectation. I would suspect he speaks within the next 24 hours.

QUESTION: Okay. Is he still open – the Secretary – is the Secretary still open to going to the region if – I mean, that’s still an option?

MS. PSAKI: Yes, he certainly is. I have nothing to announce at this particular moment.

QUESTION: All right.

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead in the back, and then we’ll go to you. Go ahead.

QUESTION: A couple of questions first on China.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: China just moved one of the oil rigs in South China Sea.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Do you applaud this move?

MS. PSAKI: We welcome China’s announcement that it is moving its oil rig from its location near the Paracels to an area closer to Hainan Island. The oil rig incident has highlighted the need for claimants to clarify their claims in accordance with international law to reach a shared understanding on appropriate behavior and activities in disputed areas. We support relevant parties adopting a voluntary freeze on provocative unilateral actions in support of further implementation of the 2002 code of conduct for the South China Sea between China and ASEAN.

QUESTION: Do you see the reason behind it – does it have anything to do with your recent call of all claimants to freeze their provocative actions, or the President’s call with Chinese President Xi, like if they have reached any consensus?

MS. PSAKI: Well, the White House, of course, put out a readout of their call. As you know, issues related to maritime issues, issues related to the South China Sea often come up. The Secretary certainly discussed these issues and reiterated his concern while he was in China just last week. I’m not going to speculate on China’s reasons for withdrawing its rig, but of course, we have expressed our same concerns publicly as we have privately.

QUESTION: And a quick one on the announcement of the BRICS bank yesterday. First of all, what’s your thought on this?

MS. PSAKI: I think – I don’t know that I have much more than I said yesterday. I’m happy to reiterate that. I know there have been some announcements over the course of the last 24 hours. As I noted yesterday, this summit is a venue for leading emerging economies to discuss economic issues they may have in common. Obviously, they made an announcement about the plan for the creation of a BRIC development bank. There are no – not a lot of details about the specific focus that this planned development bank would play – or what it would have – the specific focus it would have, I should say. And many of the important details, including its governance and any relationships with the established international financial institutions aren’t clear yet. So we’ll wait to see what more details emerge.

QUESTION: But do you have any concern that the China and Russian lead BRICS bank may affect the U.S. interest?

MS. PSAKI: Well, again, without knowing the objectives or the focus or the means of governance, it’s hard for us to speculate on that or worry about it at this particular moment.

QUESTION: If it is modeled after the World Bank, I mean, if they are trying to replicate the World Bank, would that be fine with you?

MS. PSAKI: Said, I don’t think we’ve seen the details of how it’s modeled, and obviously, it has to serve a particular role and needs to these countries that works with the other financial institutions that are out there internationally.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: One more on the South China Sea?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm, sure.

QUESTION: So Chinese Government still emphasize that it has not any plan to stop the – carrying out the exploration activities in water. What’s the view on – what’s the U.S. view on that?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think – our view, I think, on – is well known on this issue. We certainly maintain a national interest in maintenance of peace and stability and respect for international law, unimpeded lawful commerce and freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea. The Secretary reiterated just last week his concerns about some of the recent actions when he was in China and those have not all been addressed.

Do we have any more on Asia or --

QUESTION: Just one.

MS. PSAKI: Okay. Go – Asia, Asia, go ahead.

QUESTION: Please. The U.S. has joined several other countries in writing to the International Civil Aviation Organization about North Korea’s recent missile launches --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- and the threat that those launches might pose to civil aviation. Can you tell us about that?

MS. PSAKI: Sure. On July 8th, so just last week, we cosigned – the United States cosigned a letter to the president of ICAO expressing concern with the serious threat to international aviation posed by North Korea’s recent rocket and missile launches. We’ve talked about them a couple of times but there have been more than a half dozen, and certainly, that’s raised concern.

North Korea’s decision to conduct these launches without prior notification threatens the safety of international aviation and demonstrates North Korea’s disregard for the rules and regulations of the organization, and hence our effort to express our concern from the United States.

QUESTION: North Korea?

MS. PSAKI: North Korea, sure.

QUESTION: I asked this question last week but didn’t get a clear answer, and North Korea has, you said, fired a number of missiles, rockets and artillery rounds recently. And some of those launches violated UN Security Council resolution --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- including the Scud launches last weekend, another set of ballistic missiles fired this week. North Korea is flouting these UN Security Council resolutions every week and – but it looks like all you do is just expressing concern over and over again. And I’m wondering if the U.S. has any plan to raise this issue at the Security Council, because there’s no point of having these kind of resolutions unless violations are properly dealt with.

MS. PSAKI: Well, let me give you a little bit of context. There are times when we have to do a little more work confirming some of the details, so according to our information that North Korea launched two Scud-class short-range ballistic missiles from its southwest region on July 13th. Both missiles flew in a northeasterly direction and impacted the sea, and that was, of course, just a couple of days ago, but as I mentioned, sometimes it takes a little time to confirm specifics. And certainly, we are concerned about the most recent round of ballistic missile launches. These are yet another – this is yet another violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions, and these provocative actions heighten tensions in the region and will not provide North Korea the prosperity and security it claims to seek. And obviously, the UN Security Council has the lead on deciding next steps here. In terms of our role, I can check on that and see if there’s more specifics about our engagement with the UN Security Council.

QUESTION: You’re not aware of the council considering any action at this point, though, to --

MS. PSAKI: I have not seen any updates from their end, but certainly, we view these as a clear violation.

QUESTION: Okay. And then on the ICAO thing, I don’t know this and I don’t know if you know it either --

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: -- but does North Korea have a representative at this organization? It seems to me that writing to the head of ICAO instead of contacting the North Koreans directly would be – is a bit odd. I mean, I can see writing to both of them. Do you know if there was any contact with the North Koreans directly?

MS. PSAKI: I do not know if North Korea has a representative. We can certainly – I’ll look into that, Matt.

QUESTION: But do you know if the same --

MS. PSAKI: But obviously, they have oversight over --

QUESTION: Right, fair enough.

MS. PSAKI: -- civil aviation issues, so --

QUESTION: But you don’t happen to know if that same letter was cc’d to Pyongyang, do you?

MS. PSAKI: I do not have that level of detail. I’m sure we can check on that for you.

Do we have any more on Asia? Okay.

QUESTION: On Indonesia?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: I know it’s been addressed before, but the election. I wanted to see if the U.S. had anything further to say about the deadlock after the election. What’s the level of concern with the lack of – or the rival claims to victory there?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I know that has been – I don’t know that I have anything particularly new on this, Shaun, though we’re happy to follow up afterwards and connect with the appropriate person from post on the ground, if that’s helpful. Obviously, we – our understanding is that they’re expected to announce the official results by July 22nd. And certainly, we remain committed to the close relationship we have based on common interests and values, but we typically would wait until the official announcement is announced before we have any additional comment.

Any – okay, Asia? Not – no more Asia. Go ahead, with the red shirt.

QUESTION: Hi. Kenneth Handelman recently spoke about the possibility or hinted about the possibility of loosening controls for the export of armed drones. Is there, first of all, a timeline for when this announcement will be made, what kind of factors play into this decision, and who the potential allies that we’d be seeking these drones for are?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any details on that. We can check and see if there are any to share.

QUESTION: Iran?

MS. PSAKI: Iran? Sure.

QUESTION: If no comprehensive agreement is reached by July 20th, will the Administration recommend more sanctions?

MS. PSAKI: Well, let me just give you all a quick update. One, I’m not going to get ahead of the conclusion of this round of talks. Obviously, as you note – as you know, there are discussions that are ongoing on the ground with our team that’s continuing to negotiate. The Secretary’s meeting today with the President and Vice President to discuss the Iran talks, as I noted in response to Roz’s question, and they will, of course, receive a briefing on the Secretary’s conversations in Vienna and talk about the path forward.

And part of what they’ll be talking about and what our teams will be talking about on the ground is whether taking more time for negotiations makes sense given the progress that has been made. And we’ll also be engaging with Congress on that discussion. And obviously, there are a range of proposals that are out there, but we’re just going to take this one day at a time and determine whether we have the progress that’s needed to proceed and what steps would be taken accordingly.

QUESTION: And what progress has been made thus far?

MS. PSAKI: Well, again, I think as the Secretary noted yesterday, we’re going to leave the negotiations behind the – at the negotiating table. You’re familiar with the issues that are being discussed and the difficulty of those. But that’s one of the factors – of course, the main factor – that will be part of our decision making.

QUESTION: The Iranians are saying, I mean pretty much – well, I think they’re going even a little bit more forward-leaning than you in saying that, obviously, the goal is to get a deal by the end of the week, but they’re already discussing that it’s possible that there may be an extension. And so --

MS. PSAKI: Well, Elise, there’s a discussion going on in Vienna and certainly an active discussion about the options, including that option. No decisions have been made at this point in time.

QUESTION: Jen, eight --

QUESTION: But Jen --

QUESTION: Hold on. Eight months ago, you said from that podium, “If the Iranians don’t get to a yes at the end of six months, we can put in place more sanctions.” Is that not the case anymore?

MS. PSAKI: Well, look, I think, Lucas, our focus here and our primary goal is preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. We are going to let the negotiations proceed on the ground. There’ll be ongoing discussions with a range of senior officials, with members of Congress, and I’m not going to get ahead of that process.

QUESTION: But is what you said no longer the case?

MS. PSAKI: I would have to look at the context of the comments, Lucas. But I think our goal here has remained the same and we’re looking at the negotiations through the prism of what our goal is.

QUESTION: And Jay Carney said the same thing. He said, “If Iran fails to reach an agreement with the P5+1 on the more comprehensive agreement over the course of six months,” he said this back in December, “we are very confident that we can work with Congress to very quickly pass new, effective sanctions against Iran.”

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think the discussion, Lucas, is about whether there’s been enough progress made to continue these negotiations. It’s been written into the JPOA, the possibility of an extension. Obviously, a decision hasn’t been made, but we’re working through what the best – what’s in the best interests of the United States, our P5+1 partners, and our goal of preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

QUESTION: Given the fact that it’s --

QUESTION: Was that the terms, though?

QUESTION: Given the fact that you’re still negotiating – you haven’t closed off the negotiations, even though, I mean --

MS. PSAKI: Sure, mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- I know the deadline is Sunday. But it seems as if that would indicate that you think that there’s enough good faith in the negotiations that would merit a continuation of them.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I wouldn’t – I think we’re making that determination right now. So that’s part of the discussion the Secretary will have today with the President and the Vice President, and certainly part of what our team is discussing on the ground.

QUESTION: But I mean, whether – if you haven’t already determined that, then I mean that would indicate that you’re just running out the clock for the next couple of days.

MS. PSAKI: It’s not an indication of that at all. I think our team is working to make a determination about whether it makes sense, given the progress that has been made, to proceed. And there are obviously a range of very senior officials who will be a – play a part in that decision making.

QUESTION: But even Mr. Carney was very clear that if Iran fails to reach a comprehensive agreement after six months there would be more sanctions. That’s not the case anymore?

MS. PSAKI: Again, Lucas, I’d have to look at the context. I think we’ve always known it was written into the GPO – JPOA that if there was mutual agreement, there could be a six-month extension. Obviously, we want to take steps that would allow a negotiation to proceed, if that’s the case. But we’re going to take it one day at a time and see what’s needed.

QUESTION: Does an extension help Iran more than the United States?

MS. PSAKI: I think – again, I’m not going to speculate on what decision may or may not be made, Lucas. But our goal here is to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. That helps not only the United States but countries in the region, and obviously Iran has its own reasons for being engaged in these discussions.

QUESTION: So if Iran has six more months, potentially, does that help them acquire a nuclear weapon, or does not help them acquire one?

MS. PSAKI: I think there have been several steps that were taken in the interim agreement, as you’re familiar with. But I’m not going to speculate further on what that may or may not look like, given a decision hasn’t yet been made.

QUESTION: Any conversations with members of Congress since the Secretary returned?

MS. PSAKI: Well, he just got back last night, as you know. There have been calls made by Deputy Secretary Burns, by Under Secretary Sherman, by Tony Blinken over at the White House. Those calls were made yesterday. They’ve continued. I don’t have anything else to predict for you, but we’re making decisions day by day on our engagement.

QUESTION: Can you say to whom those calls were made? Are we saying foreign relations, are we saying armed services? Who’s at the receiving end?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have a list of those calls. I can see if there’s anything more specific.

QUESTION: But the Secretary plans on making his own, I would assume.

MS. PSAKI: The Secretary plans to absolutely be engaged, of course, with members of Congress, as he stated yesterday.

QUESTION: Is there any plans for him to brief them or meet with them or anything on the Hill planned?

MS. PSAKI: Not at this moment, but we’re making decisions day by day. And obviously, there are a range of senior officials who are – have been very closely involved in this who are certainly qualified and able to also brief members of Congress.

QUESTION: One more. Would the Administration grant an extension with no additional sanctions?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to speculate further on the circumstances that would go into granting or not granting an extension.

QUESTION: You’ve said several times that people are looking at the progress that has been made and whether it’s worth it to continue if an agreement isn’t reached by the 20th. What constitutes what you called “enough progress” to do that?

MS. PSAKI: Well, that goes into the discussions of those particular issues.

QUESTION: Just very broadly, what would constitute – not specifics at all. What – very broadly, what would constitute enough progress to make an extension worthwhile?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think, Matt, obviously on the core issues that you’re familiar with, whether it’s enrichment or other issues that are pivotal to these discussions, whether we’ve made enough progress on issues to see a path forward. And that’s a decision being made on the ground and through discussions at a very high level.

QUESTION: But there has been – but you aver that there has been some progress; it’s a question of whether it is enough to warrant an extension.

MS. PSAKI: That’s correct, yes.

QUESTION: So would you – if you had to compare the progress made here with the progress that we heard so much about during the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, how would you – where would that rate? About the same? More? Because as we all know, the progress that was allegedly made during the peace talks amounted to nothing in the end.

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, I would disagree with that as well. Just because we didn’t talk about it publicly doesn’t mean that it wasn’t made. There was a great deal of progress made in the peace talks; there has been progress made in the Iran negotiations. I don’t – I can’t tell you right now if we’re going to be able to outline that publicly or not.

QUESTION: Well, given what’s happening right now between Israel and the Palestinians, I hope there was more progress made in the Iran negotiations.

MS. PSAKI: Well, as you know, that the circumstances on the ground – the environment on the ground existed long before the Secretary made an effort to reignite the peace process.

QUESTION: Yeah.

QUESTION: Still on the conflict. If it’s decided that there will be an extension, will it come out in the form of a statement, press conference?

MS. PSAKI: You always like to ask – how things will be rolled out.

QUESTION: I love it, yeah. I mean – if you know.

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any prediction of that for you at this point in time, Said.

I can just do a two – couple more, because I just have a meeting at two o’clock.

QUESTION: On North Korea. (Inaudible.)

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: In fact, there’s talk right now about the – negotiating teams returning to capitals on Friday the 18th and announcing an extension. Was this decision made prior to the Secretary left --

MS. PSAKI: I understand that has come out in some Iranian press, but there hasn’t been a decision made yet about an extension. So it’s – would be hard to see how a rollout plan would be made.

QUESTION: Syria. Syria.

MS. PSAKI: Syria, okay.

QUESTION: Yes. Today President Assad gave a speech after the election, and he said that he pledged that uphold laws and freedoms in his third term. What’s your reaction?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’ve been clear that President Assad – that Assad has no more credibility now than he did before the so-called presidential election. And while Assad and his regime include in this charade – indulge in this charade, I guess I should say – Syrians are starving and besieged in Damascus, dodging barrel bombs in Aleppo, fleeing across Syria’s borders from refuge, and enduring unspeakable abuses in regime prisons and detention facilities. And in the face of this, we will continue to help the Syrian people stand up against Bashar al-Assad and support those who fight for the right of all Syrians to choose their own future. So our concerns are no different today than they were yesterday, than they were right before this farcical election.

QUESTION: Just one more follow-up: Speaking of helping Syrian people, former U.S. State Department official Fred Hof wrote couple days ago that your Administration asked Congress for an opposition equip and train funds. And according to his analysis, this cannot happen – realized until the ideal circumstances, until the end of 2014. Is that a fair assessment?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Mr. Hof is a private citizen, and I’m not sure he has all of the details on all of the plans that have been proposed. Obviously, part of our effort is what you just outlined: the President’s announcement to increase the kind of and expand the kind of support that we’re providing to the moderate opposition. Daniel Rubenstein is on his way back from the region; he’s been there for quite some time, meeting with a range of countries, meeting with the opposition as well. As you know, they just elected – the opposition just elected new leadership. So there are a range of steps that we’re taking, but obviously, we want to see it move as quickly as it can. There’s a process for that. I don’t have any predictions on the timeline.

QUESTION: So this --

MS. PSAKI: But I have to move on so I can just do a few more.

QUESTION: -- this fund can reach them before 2014, is what you are saying?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any predictions on the timeline. I’d just remind you that Mr. Hof is a private citizen and not currently employed by the United States Government.

Scott, go ahead.

QUESTION: Do you have any thoughts on Russian plans to reopen its electronic surveillance base in Cuba?

MS. PSAKI: Sure. Well, given, Scott, there hasn’t been any formal announcement for – from the Russian or the Cuban Governments, I have very little to say. I’d of course – and would, naturally, have nothing to add on alleged Russian intelligence facilities. So if there’s more public statements made, perhaps we’ll have more to say.

QUESTION: Can you – can I ask you about --

QUESTION: Jen, staying on Russia, then Ukraine.

MS. PSAKI: Yes. And then we’ll go to Michele, sorry.

QUESTION: As you know, the Europeans are meeting today right now --

MS. PSAKI: Yes.

QUESTION: -- soon, and – to discuss potential additional sanctions.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: In the view of the Administration, has Russian – has the Russian behavior gone now to the point where a new – you are encouraging the EU to enact a new round of sanctions?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’ve been engaged in that discussion with them for some time. And obviously, all of our efforts are focused on being coordinated. We know that there’s strength in numbers, especially when we’re talking about impacting an economy. I – as you noted, the European Council is meeting today. We anticipate they’ll discuss Ukraine at their dinner tonight, which should be taking place about now. It’s possible we’ll have more for you later today when we get closer to the end of the Council’s discussions, including from here. But I would just say that we’ve been encouraging, of course, the Europeans to keep considering and keep on the path of preparing additional sanctions, just as we are doing on our end.

QUESTION: I – understood, but do you believe that the time has come to pull the trigger on new sanctions?

MS. PSAKI: Well again, that’s of course up to the Europeans to determine, but we have certainly been discussing the need to keep sanctions prepared and ready to go. And certainly, the actions of the Russian-backed separatists – supported, in many cases, by the Russians – have not given us a great deal of pause in our preparations.

QUESTION: Just some quick ones.

MS. PSAKI: Okay, let – can we go to Michele?

QUESTION: Yeah – oh, Michele. Excuse me. Yeah.

MS. PSAKI: She hasn’t had one. I just have to go in a minute here.

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead, Michele.

QUESTION: Thank you. I’m wondering if you can fill us in on what the Secretary has been doing to speed up the confirmation process for these ambassadors who have been lingering out there.

MS. PSAKI: Sure. Let me just give you a quick update on this, Michele. Well, you probably did see the Secretary’s op-ed opinion piece last week. We also have been engaged with members of Congress through our office here on the need to move forward as rapidly as possible with confirming nominees. As you are all aware, we have the AU Summit coming up in early August where we’ll be welcoming dozens of African leaders to the State Department, while at the same time we have nearly a full 25 percent of total ambassadorial posts or present – or posts in the continent are without an ambassador.

So what we’re doing is the Secretary is asking our team every morning for an update, working through every channel we have to encourage fast movement on confirming nominees. In his opinion piece last week, he proposed considering career nominees in the same way that military nominees are proposed. We’re continuing to work with our colleagues on the Hill on that. And right now the numbers stand at 55 Department nominees still pending before the Senate, 39 of whom are noncontroversial career diplomats, 33 have been approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and could be confirmed with a simple voice vote on the Senate floor.

QUESTION: Hold on.

QUESTION: Wait, wait. Thirty-nine are noncontroversial career diplomats? Does that mean that there are some career diplomats who are controversial?

MS. PSAKI: I was using that as an adjective, Matt, for career diplomats who have served for decades. Those are --

QUESTION: Okay. But you’re not saying that career diplomats can’t be controversial.

MS. PSAKI: I’m saying that these are 39 career diplomats who should be confirmed as quickly as possible.

QUESTION: And – okay, but other than the 39, are you – does that mean that the others are controversial political appointees?

MS. PSAKI: They are not.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: They are political appointees, so I was --

QUESTION: Right. But not necessarily controversial?

MS. PSAKI: Not controversial.

QUESTION: Just a follow-up --

QUESTION: The proposal --

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead, Michele.

QUESTION: The proposal that he’s making is to vote for those 39 noncontroversial ones as a lump sum?

MS. PSAKI: Correct. Yes, exactly.

QUESTION: I have one question on that.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: John Bass, Mr. John Bass at the Hill for his hearing yesterday as well. I think he’s one of the 39. But Senator McCain several times ask him if he thinks Turkey’s becoming more authoritarian, and he considered the fact that Turkey is becoming more authoritarian. As an ambassador who’s going to Turkey very soon if he’s confirmed, do you think he’s going to be a problem for his post?

MS. PSAKI: Well, first, let me say that his comments were consistent with the concerns we have previously expressed, including in the annual Human Rights Report. We remain committed to supporting democracy, human rights, and fundamental freedoms in Turkey. And when they’re not met, we certainly express our concerns, and that’s true in many countries around the world. Ambassador Bass is – will serve as a strong voice on the ground in support of democratic principles in Turkey. I worked very closely with him, can’t think of a better representative for the United States, and I’m – I can assure you that when he’s confirmed, I think the people of Turkey will see that as well.

QUESTION: So you also agree with him that Turkey’s becoming more authoritarian?

MS. PSAKI: I think we have expressed concerns in the past when we haven’t seen actions that represent abiding by human rights – respect for human rights and media freedoms, and that’s also noted in our Human Rights Report.

QUESTION: Did you get an answer to my Iran oil export question from yesterday?

MS. PSAKI: I did.

QUESTION: Do you have time to do it now or do you want to put it out as a taken question?

MS. PSAKI: Why don’t we put it out as a taken question and we can discuss it further tomorrow if you’d like.

QUESTION: Okay. Thank you.

QUESTION: Can you (inaudible)?

MS. PSAKI: We’ll be back tomorrow.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:53 p.m.)

DPB # 123


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Categories: News Pit Feeds

Daily Press Briefings : Daily Press Briefing: July 15, 2014

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 06:24

Jen Psaki
Spokesperson
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
July 15, 2014

Share Index for Today's Briefing
  • UNITED KINGDOM
    • U.S.-U.K. Relationship / Foreign Secretary William Hague Steps Down / Phillip Hammond Accepts Role
  • MIDDLE EAST PEACE
    • Secretary Kerry in Touch with Prime Minister Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Shoukry / Continue to Work toward Cease Fire / Goal to De-escalate Situation
    • Civilian Casualties
    • Egyptian Proposal
    • Assistance for American Citizens / Humanitarian Assistance
    • Abbas' Engagement
  • DEPARTMENT
    • Counterterrorism / U.S. Diplomacy / Secretary's Role
  • MIDDLE EAST PEACE
    • No Role for Iran
    • Civilian Casualties
    • American Citizens in Gaza
    • Continued Diplomatic Engagement
    • Egyptian Proposal
  • IRAN
    • P5+1 Talks
  • IRAQ
    • Parliamentary Speaker Elected
    • Central Command Draft Assessment / Safety and Security of Personnel
    • Formation of New Government / U.S. Remains Engaged
  • JAPAN
    • Foreign Minister Kishida
  • BRAZIL/RUSSIA/INDIA/CHINA/SOUTH AFRICA
    • BRICS Summit
  • RUSSIA/UKRAINE
    • Sanctions on Russia
    • U.S. Engagement
    • Reports of Military Action / U.S. Defense Attache's Visit to Rostov Region
  • KOREAN PENINSULA
    • U.S. Concern about North Korea Missile Launches / U.S. Commitment to Alliance with South Korea
  • LIBYA
    • Benghazi Suspect Faraj al-Shibli
    • Concern about Level of Violence / Importance of Safety and Security of U.S. Personnel
  • RUSSIA/GUAM
    • Russian Citizen's Arrest
  • SYRIA
    • Refugee Crisis / UN Humanitarian Assistance
  • UNITED KINGDOM
    • U.S.-U.K. Relations


TRANSCRIPT:

1:21 p.m. EDT

MS. PSAKI: Hi, everyone.

QUESTION: Hello.

QUESTION: Welcome back.

MS. PSAKI: Thank you. Welcome back to some of you as well.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. PSAKI: I have one item at the top. I think you all saw the announcement by Foreign Secretary Hague, and I think you all know what an excellent working relationship Secretary Kerry has had with Foreign Secretary Hague, which exemplified the U.S.-U.K. special relationship. You’ll recall that the United Kingdom was the first country Secretary Kerry visited as Secretary of State, and Foreign Secretary Hague was the first foreign minister to receive him.

Secretary Kerry is immensely grateful for the close collaboration they’ve enjoyed on the full range of bilateral and global issues. In addition to the critical work on the peace and security challenges of our time, Foreign Secretary Hague has been instrumental in global efforts to improve the condition of humanity, to protect those who would become victims of trafficking and sexual violence and promote the rights of women and girls. He’s been a stalwart supporter of these working to give the voice to the voiceless and creating opportunity that empowers people to reach their potential.

Mr. Hague is and will continue to be a dear friend of the United States and of Secretary Kerry’s. We wish him the very – the very best to his successor, Phillip Hammond, as he assumes the duties of the office of foreign secretary. As friends and allies, the United States and the United Kingdom will continue to stand together for freedom and for liberty and to work for a more secure and prosperous world.

With that, Matt.

QUESTION: I actually kind of have a question about that, but it can wait until the end.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: Not about Hague, but about Hammond.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: Let’s start with the Middle East and the situation in Gaza. The White House talked a little bit about this, as did Secretary Kerry earlier this morning. Prime Minister Netanyahu has just come out and said that the rejection of the cease-fire by Hamas gives Israel “full legitimacy to expand the operation to protect our,” meaning its, “people.” I’m wondering if you agree with that.

MS. PSAKI: Well, let me first give you just a quick update that the Secretary has been in touch with Prime Minister Netanyahu. He’s also been in touch with Foreign Minister Shoukry of Egypt this morning, so just a couple of updates for you. And obviously, you saw all the – saw also the statement, I should say, we put out this morning of welcoming the Egyptian proposal. In our view, we’re going to – we need to all remember what’s at stake here, and we’ll continue to work for a cease-fire.

So clearly – and it’s important, I think, to remember the context of what happened over the course of this morning and last evening. Once this proposal which we welcomed was put forward and we feel is a goodwill effort by the Egyptians and by others to reach a cease-fire, the Israelis welcomed that. The cabinet supported it. There was actually – despite the fact that they were being – there were still rockets coming in, they declined to respond for several hours. Obviously, we saw the response from Hamas, and our view continues to be that Israel has a right to defend itself.

However, the goal for everyone here is to de-escalate – I should say the goal of the United States, the goal for Israel, is to de-escalate the situation, and we want to continue to work toward that.

QUESTION: Okay. But I missed the answer to my question. Do you believe that Hamas – do you believe – do you agree with Prime Minister Netanyahu that the rejection of the cease-fire offer by Hamas gives Israel “full legitimacy to expand its operation in Gaza”?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we believe that Israel has the right to defend itself. That remains the case.

QUESTION: Right.

MS. PSAKI: But our focus continues to be on working towards a cease-fire. Obviously, there were some efforts toward that overnight, and we’re going to stay at it. The Secretary will remain engaged with the parties, remain engaged with countries in the region to see if we can return to that.

QUESTION: I understand that, but – and I understand your position that Israel has a right to defend itself. It’s a mantra that administration after administration --

MS. PSAKI: Yes.

QUESTION: -- repeats, but --

MS. PSAKI: Consistently been our position.

QUESTION: Exactly. But you have been – how do I put this? – less than enthusiastic, or unsupportive perhaps, of broadening the operation or expanding the operation to include a ground offensive since this latest surge in violence began. Is that still the case?

MS. PSAKI: Yes. That is no one’s preference.

QUESTION: Okay. So you --

MS. PSAKI: That is why our focus remains on returning – taking every step we can, using every tool in our toolbox, to return to the ceasefire.

QUESTION: Okay. So you do not agree, then, with Prime Minister Netanyahu that the rejection of the cease-fire by Hamas gives him, gives Israel, full legitimacy to expand its operation if that expansion means a ground operation?

MS. PSAKI: I wouldn’t put it – it’s not in as black-and-white terms as you just put it, Matt. We saw Israel and the cabinet embrace the ceasefire --

QUESTION: Right.

MS. PSAKI: -- just this morning, so just a couple of hours ago. Our efforts are going to continue to be to see if we can return to that.

QUESTION: So then is it a correct – is it correct that the U.S. position remains to urge restraint?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think, again, the context here is important. The restraint – we’ve seen that – evidence of that from the Israeli side over the course of the last 24 hours. Our effort remains focused on seeing if we can return to the ceasefire. That’s why the Secretary has remained engaged with the parties, and I expect that will continue.

QUESTION: So your view is that the cease-fire offer remains on the table and is still – Hamas can still accept it?

MS. PSAKI: Yeah, and our view is that --

QUESTION: Without modification?

MS. PSAKI: -- the political wing of Hamas, if they can have influence with the military wing, it’s in everyone’s interest to bring an end to the violence and civilian casualties.

QUESTION: You said that you had seen evidence of Israel showing restraint in the last 24 hours. What does that refer to? Does that refer to that they stopped firing?

MS. PSAKI: I was referring to embracing the cease-fire and not returning rocket attacks when they came in for several hours.

QUESTION: Do you have any concern at all about the number of civilian casualties in Gaza?

MS. PSAKI: We remain concerned. We have been concerned about the civilian casualties. We’ve spoken to that numerous times. And that is one of the reasons why we think it’s in everyone’s interests to return to a discussion about the cease-fire.

QUESTION: But – last one.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: But the – going back to my question before, the evidence of the restraint that you’re talking about is that they accept – they welcome the cease-fire and then stopped responding to Hamas’s attacks. Has there – is there other evidence of the Israeli restraint?

MS. PSAKI: Well, that happened just this morning --

QUESTION: I understand.

MS. PSAKI: -- so that was the example I was referring to.

QUESTION: But you believe – do you believe in general that they have shown – that the Israelis in their air operations have shown restraint?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, I think the context here, as you know, is they have been responding to indiscriminate attacks into their country, into civilian communities.

QUESTION: Right.

MS. PSAKI: What I was referring to was what’s happened over the last 24 hours.

QUESTION: Right, okay. So – but prior to this 24-hour period, I just – I understand that – I get your point that they’re responding to rocket fire coming in that are targeting civilian areas of Israel. But in their response, do you believe that they have shown the restraint that you have called for?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think what we’ve called for is a de-escalation. We’ve seen efforts to engage in that over the past 24 hours, so we’re going to proceed from here.

Go ahead, Elise.

QUESTION: Can I ask a few? So you kind of hint at this kind of split between the Hamas political wing and the military wing. It does seem as if that the political wing of Hamas is more – maybe more amenable to a cease-fire than the military wing. So do you make any kind of distinguish – do you distinguish at all if one side is kind of – if you get from your discussions with the parties that one of the sides is more amenable, how do you – do you – is there anything to be done with that?

MS. PSAKI: In terms of direct United States engagement, or what specific --

QUESTION: No, I just mean in terms of how you view the situation. Now, if the rockets are coming from the military wing – I mean, a lot of times it is a kind of whole of Hamas decision to launch some kind of offensive, but in this case it does seem as if the military wing is more interested in keeping this going than the political side. So how do you distinguish at this case in terms of whether there are kind of chances for a cease-fire here?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I was just speaking to the – a range of public comments. Our engagement from the United States continues to be with members of the Arab community to use their influence to convince Hamas to accept a cease-fire. I mentioned right before you came in here that the Secretary spoke with the Egyptian foreign minister, and you’re familiar with all of the calls he’s done over the course of the last several days.

In terms of differentiation, I was just making a point about public comments, nothing more.

QUESTION: No, I understand. But if Hamas itself is split about whether this should continue, I mean, how do you – not you, but the international community – kind of encourage the more, if you can say, moderate aspects of the group while the military wing of Hamas are the ones that are keeping this going?

MS. PSAKI: Well, as you know, we’re not directly engaged with Hamas.

QUESTION: I understand.

MS. PSAKI: I know. I’m just repeating --

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS. PSAKI: -- because it’s important to note. There are countries in the region that are that we remain engaged with. And obviously, they are – many of them – more expert, have greater expertise in how to influence Hamas. And we’re going to continue to be engaged with them in discussions about how to do that.

QUESTION: Okay. And then now – let me just, if you don’t mind.

MS. PSAKI: Sure, go ahead.

QUESTION: It seems as if the Egyptians, when they talk about Palestinian factions being invited to this for cease-fire talks, that they’re including the Palestinian government as part of the unity government to take part in any kind of ceasefire negotiations. And I’m just wondering, what is the futility of that if President Abbas has said many times that he has – that his influence over Hamas is limited? And you’ve said that from this podium. So why would they even be part – if they have nothing to do with the rocket fire and they’re not part of a cease-fire agreement?

MS. PSAKI: Well again, it’s an Egyptian proposal. It doesn’t – I would point you to them for specific details on it. I haven’t seen that level of detail. It doesn’t mean it’s not out there. But they’re making judgments about what the relevant parties and players are to have a discussion.

Our view continues to be that President Abbas – there is not – the technocratic government does include members of Hamas, but --

QUESTION: Well, then why would he – if he’s not – if they’re not inviting President Abbas as the – kind of head of a unity government of which Hamas is part, and Hamas is not part of that government, I don’t understand why he would have to be part of the – party to the negotiations.

MS. PSAKI: I would suggest you ask the Egyptians. And just because parties may be invited, if they are invited, it doesn’t mean there’s fault. It means they may have a relevant role to play in the discussion.

QUESTION: It just goes back to the idea that we’ve discussed over several days. I mean, what is the role of President Abbas here? I mean, on one hand you say he’s the head of the unity government; on the other hand, you say Hamas is not part of that government, and you seem to insinuate that he has no influence over Hamas and has nothing to do with the rocket fire that’s going on. So I mean, what is his role? What would you like to see President Abbas do right now to help de-escalate this conflict? Obviously, Israel has its part, and Hamas has its part. What is President Abbas’ part?

MS. PSAKI: Well, you’ve seen President Abbas condemn rocket attacks before. You’ve seen him speak out against --

QUESTION: I haven’t seen him in this particular instance do that.

MS. PSAKI: Well, in the past you have. You have him speak out against violence. I’m – I don’t have the additional details on what the Egyptians are proposing in terms of participants, so I’m just not going to speculate on it further.

QUESTION: I just would like to know what you would like to see from President Abbas in terms of his potential role in de-escalating this conflict.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think all – again, all members of the Arab League – we’ve spoken about how they can – any who can have a role we’ve spoken with about having a role in influencing Hamas. Certainly, President Abbas is a part of that. He’s certainly familiar --

QUESTION: So he’s just another member of the Arab League?

MS. PSAKI: Let me finish. He’s certainly familiar with the organization. Just because he can’t bring an end to the rocket attacks, it doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have views and doesn’t have instructive – an instructive role he can play. But beyond that, I just don’t have any more to offer for you on this particular question.

QUESTION: I just have one more. You talk about various parties, that they would have a role. And obviously, Egypt is one of them, and obviously Qatar, with close ties to Hamas, is another. Do you see some kind of rivalry going on right now, or jockeying for influence, or very kind of dueling ideas or agendas on how this should go? It seems like Qatar also wants to play a similar role to Egypt, but it doesn’t look like they’re necessarily working together.

MS. PSAKI: I’m just not going to speculate on that, Elise. Obviously, the Egyptians are the ones who put forward the proposal that has – we still feel is a live proposal and something that the parties can take a look at and hopefully embrace, and that remains where our focus lies. But we’ll continue to engage with any country in the region that has a role that they can play.

QUESTION: Jen, just to follow up on the ground assault: Are you telling the Israelis directly not to do that?

MS. PSAKI: Well --

QUESTION: Are you telling them not to have that as part of expanding whatever operations they have to protect their civilians?

MS. PSAKI: Said, I think it’s important to note here that over the course of the last 24 hours, the Israelis embraced the cease-fire. The cabinet voted on that. They did not respond for several hours to attacks that were coming in. I think our message has been consistent, publicly and privately, about de-escalating to all sides. No one wants to see a ground war; no one wants to see additional civilian casualties, and that certainly is the message that we’re conveying to everybody involved.

QUESTION: So the message you are conveying to them, that they can continue with the bombing but not use ground troops?

MS. PSAKI: That’s not what I said, Said.

QUESTION: Okay. All right.

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.

QUESTION: One of Hamas’ gripes is that this whole thing was hatched up without consulting with them. Their gripes is that they want to see as part of this deal maybe opening entry points and so on to Gaza to relieve the siege that Gaza has suffered for seven years. You disagree, therefore, that there is a need to have the entry points opened and the siege lifted?

MS. PSAKI: Said, this is an Egyptian proposal, one that we’ve, of course, been engaged with the Egyptians, engaged with a range of parties. But I would point you to them for more details of that discussions.

QUESTION: But in your discussions with the Egyptians sides today – with the Foreign Minister Shukri, was there – at any time did you discuss perhaps to open these entry and closure points, the border points?

MS. PSAKI: That was not a part of the discussion, no.

QUESTION: Okay. Let me just follow up on the American citizens that are in Gaza. As of yesterday, 150 were allowed to leave, but then there are apparently like 240 more who are saying that they are not getting facilitated, they are not allowed to leave. You have anything on that?

MS. PSAKI: Well, again, Said, I’m not going to speculate on those reports. I’m not even sure if those are accurate. We provide a range of services to American citizens. As you know, we put out some information publicly, as we often do. And we’ve been using all of our tools that we can to help citizens who want to depart.

QUESTION: Are you aware of the number of American citizens that are left behind in Gaza?

MS. PSAKI: I think you’re aware that we don’t track that sort of thing.

QUESTION: Okay. And apparently their – one of the complaints they had is that they were given a window of time, like, a half hour, to ride buses and so on, and if they are not there then tough luck.

MS. PSAKI: Said, we’re happy to get you information on the services that we’re providing. We’ve provided a range of public information and I’m not sure what you’re stating is accurate.

QUESTION: Okay. Don’t you think that it is a good idea for the United States to take a lead and – to cement the cease-fire, to bring it about, to have actually part of a broader agreement that does include humanitarian issues, the relief of Gaza? It has really suffered a great deal in the past seven years.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think there’s almost no greater contributor to humanitarian assistance around the world than the United States. That continues to be the case. You’ve heard the – you heard the Secretary say this morning that, while he’s heading home now to the United States because the offer of the cease-fire is on the table, that he’s prepared to pack his bags and return if he can play a useful diplomatic role. That remains the case.

QUESTION: Okay. And just my last question to follow up on what Elise was asking about President Abbas. Do you believe he is really the biggest loser in this whole thing, that he comes off completely marginalized, he is not effective, and especially with the peace talks or the peace process is on the rocks? Does he remain relevant?

MS. PSAKI: Absolutely. And Said, I would remind you that, as we talked about a little bit last week, I think, President Abbas’ willingness to engage in the peace process for several months was certainly an important signal about the challenges that the people, the Palestinian people face, and on the other side that the Israeli people face. And the lack of a peace process right now is – leaves a vacuum that is often filled and has historically been filled by violence. That’s one of the factors we’re seeing at this point in time.

QUESTION: I just want to broaden it out a little bit.

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: I mean, there are a lot of critics right now of this Administration that say that the way that you’ve handled the Syria crisis, kind of has seen an explosion of Islamic extremists in the ISIS situation, and the pullout of Iraq has seen the situation that we have now with the political vacuum and ISIS taking over and your – the way that you handled the end of the Libya conflict and lack of political engagement, kind of now you see a lot of violence and instability. And now you look at the situation and the Israeli-Palestinian – after the – that some would attribute to the breakdown of the talks. I mean, what do you say to respond to critics that say – the kind of region and turmoil that we’re seeing right now is a direct result of U.S. foreign policy failures?

MS. PSAKI: I would refute that completely. There have been a range of factors happening in the Middle East and other parts of the world as well, including the growth of some extremist groups. You’ve seen the proposal the President’s put on the table, putting a counterterrorism fund in place, $5 billion to try to address the threats from where we face them. The United States has never been more engaged in more places in the world than it is today. The Secretary alone, if you look at his level of engagement, he has spent the last 10 days at the S&ED in China while discussing with parties in the region, with the Israelis, with the Egyptians, with others, what to do about the situation in Israel, while at the same time negotiating a deal in Afghanistan. There – this is not an Administration or a Secretary that rests. The fact is there are a range of factors happening in the world that are not caused by the United States but the United States remains engaged in, because we care about the stability in the region as well.

QUESTION: Well, I mean, you’re talking about all the stuff that Secretary Kerry did, and that’s absolutely true, but like, where are the other top foreign policy advisors in this Administration? And there was a recent op-ed by a very senior columnist – Fred Hiatt of The Washington Post – that suggested that maybe there needs to be a rethink of the President’s foreign policy team because the bench – given that the Secretary is pulled in so many directions and he’s really – obviously he’s America’s top diplomat, but there are supposed to be others. I mean, it seems like the bench is pretty thin.

MS. PSAKI: I would disagree with that, Elise. I think what’s important to remember is the role that the Secretary plays, that traditionally any Secretary of State plays.

QUESTION: Well, it seems that he’s stretched a lot more than most secretaries have been.

MS. PSAKI: The role any Secretary plays is to be on the front lines of diplomacy and to be the person negotiating and reporting back. Obviously, the President makes the final decisions about whether – everything from military engagement to whether negotiations will continue in Iran from the – with Iran the United States perspective. And the Secretary’s role is to be out there in the world meeting with his foreign counterparts.

QUESTION: I understand, but there are only 24 hours in a day and seven days in a week and – I mean, this is not impinging upon the Secretary, but doesn’t he think sometimes, like, “Gee, I could use a little bit of help here”?

MS. PSAKI: I think he loves his job, as you know, and I think he’s happy to be out there representing the Administration and spending time through tough negotiations and trying to grapple with some of the world’s biggest challenges.

But I would remind you that he remains in close touch on the road with everybody from the National Security Advisor to Secretary Hagel to, when warranted, the President of the United States. These are tough issues, and they require and include the participation of all members of the national security team.

Go ahead, Samir.

QUESTION: Do you see a role for Iran to influence Hamas to accept the cease-fire?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not aware of a role that we see at this current time.

QUESTION: So does --

QUESTION: Just one more.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: At the White House today – there was one Israeli death, and obviously any death on either side of the conflict is terrible – but at the White House, Josh Earnest says that this death today – the reports of this death, this Israeli death – indicate that this situation is not sustainable. But I mean, shouldn’t the death of a hundred Palestinians indicate that the situation is not sustainable? I mean, is there an equivalency between how many people are dying on each side here?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t think that’s what – point he was making at all. Obviously, the death of any civilian is a tragedy, and that’s one of the reasons why we’ve been so focused on using every tool we can to de-escalate the situation on the ground. We’ve seen the reports of the number of Palestinian deaths, including children. That’s horrific. And that’s why we want to see an end to what’s happening on the ground and a return to the cease-fire.

QUESTION: On that, Jen, there have --

MS. PSAKI: Yes.

QUESTION: -- been accusations from the Palestinian side that the Israelis are intentionally targeting civilians. Do you give those allegations any credence?

MS. PSAKI: I – we do not.

QUESTION: So you believe that any civilian casualties that have been caused in Gaza have been the result of what? Been the result of – they’re just very unfortunate accidental collateral damage? Or is it Hamas actively using human – civilians as shields, or what is it?

MS. PSAKI: I just don’t have any speculation on that, Matt.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: You said that you didn’t track that sort of thing in response to a question about whether there are American citizens still in Gaza trapped or not trapped, whatever word you want to use, but --

MS. PSAKI: Well, numbers, specifically.

QUESTION: I understand. But – I know, but are you aware, have American citizens in Gaza gotten in touch with the consulate to say we’re still here, and can – is there any help you could offer, I mean, post the first evacuation?

MS. PSAKI: I certainly – obviously, you’re aware with the fact that we put out information.

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS. PSAKI: We were able to help a number of citizens. I don’t have a recent update. I’m happy to check on that for you.

QUESTION: Right. But I just want to know – I mean, you do know, though, that there are American citizens who are still stuck in – or maybe they’re there – they want to stay, but that there are Americans in Gaza, right?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have information on the circumstances, Matt, but we can see if there --

QUESTION: All right. No, no. I know. Regardless of the circumstances. But that they are there. There are still Americans in Gaza. You don’t know?

MS. PSAKI: I assume so. I don’t have any more details on it to share.

QUESTION: I just wanted to follow up on the issue of responsibility for the deaths of civilians and so on. I mean, Gaza is one of the most densely populated places on Earth, probably second to Kolkata. It’s very difficult to really avoid civilian casualties, no matter what kind of weapon you use. You do agree with that, don’t you? You agree that it is basically, whatever you use, whatever weapon you use – you can throw a stone and injure people, it is so densely populated, correct?

MS. PSAKI: Do you have a question?

QUESTION: This is in response to the suggestion that maybe Hamas is bringing all these people and putting them in an area where they can be --

MS. PSAKI: I’m just not going to speculate on that, Said. Do we have more on this topic, or should --

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: Iran.

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead, Roz.

QUESTION: You said before that the Secretary decided to come back to the U.S. primarily to consult on the P5+1 talks, but also because this cease-fire had been announced.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: If my timeline is correct, Hamas had not given an answer one way or the other. Was an opportunity missed for the U.S. to be in the region and to try to, in particular, work with those countries that have a direct connection to Hamas?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I would remind you that we have been working with those countries, and the Secretary spoke with the Egyptian foreign minister on his flight. So that diplomatic engagement continues. If there is a role that he can play in the region, he will return to the region and he is happy to do that.

QUESTION: But isn’t it preferable to actually be on the ground and to actually have people who agree on the overall framework but not necessarily on the details yet, to actually be on the ground together and actually work more energetically to get both sides to buy into the deal?

MS. PSAKI: It --

QUESTION: Or was this a strategic way of essentially letting Israel and Egypt reaffirm their longstanding relationship that some would argue had been disrupted by the political turmoil in Egypt over the past three years?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Roz, it certainly can be. And you know the Secretary always is happy to get on a plane and roll up his sleeves and spend the night negotiating if needed. And if he needs to do that, he can get on a plane tomorrow, as soon as tomorrow. There’s no plans to do that at this point in time, but he reserves that particular option.

But the fact remains that he can still engage with the parties on the phone. He can still engage through a range of tools in order to play the role that the United States can play in this particular case. This is an Egyptian proposal, one certainly we’ve commended and we’ve supported, and we’ll give it some time to see if it can work its way through.

QUESTION: And I know that there wasn’t any – there was a deliberate decision to not talk about Israel/Hamas during P5+1. What contacts has the U.S. initiated or received to Iran regarding the situation inside Gaza?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything on that to read out for you.

QUESTION: So they passed the point of no return, as it were, on their way back?

MS. PSAKI: To Shannon?

QUESTION: There’s no way he could decide to change his mind and head back?

MS. PSAKI: I have not been tracking their movements. We have done that before, but my understanding is he’s still --

QUESTION: No? Okay.

MS. PSAKI: -- planning to return to Washington.

QUESTION: He could still go to Frankfurt.

QUESTION: And how – I mean, I know you said if there’s a reason for him to go back then he can go back. But like, what’s the earliest that – how much – let’s not talk about how, when you – how much time do you feel that you need to give this before saying, look, we really need to --

MS. PSAKI: Well, part of what he’ll do over the course of the next couple of days is consult with the President and also be in touch with Congress about the P5+1 negotiations as well. So I expect we’ll give that some time to occur.

QUESTION: The Secretary --

QUESTION: Is he concerned about having – about the perception that some critics have that, as Elise said before, he’s spread too thin? That he’s showing up everywhere and doesn’t have much to show for his on-the-ground efforts?

MS. PSAKI: I actually don’t think there’s evidence of that, Roz. I think – look at what happened over the weekend with the deal in Afghanistan. He was doing that while at the same time remaining engaged with our team on the ground in Vienna. Taking on tough challenges, you don’t do that because you’re guaranteed victory; you do it because they’re tough challenges and they need to be addressed. And that’s why he’s engaged in all these issues. It doesn’t mean that you’re assured of a victory at the end.

QUESTION: So his motto would be “We do these things not because they are easy, but because they are hard”? Is that what you’re saying?

MS. PSAKI: That is fine, Matt.

QUESTION: Can I ask you, when you --

MS. PSAKI: That’s an excellent headline of an AP story. Go ahead. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: You know who said that, right?

MS. PSAKI: Yes. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Okay. You said roll up his sleeves and negotiate, ready to get back on a plane --

MS. PSAKI: Yes.

QUESTION: On the ceasefire, who is there to negotiate with? The Egyptians came up with it with some heavy U.S. work, I would expect. The Israelis agreed to it. He’s not going to talk to Hamas, or is he?

MS. PSAKI: No. That has not changed.

QUESTION: So who would he negotiate with?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I wouldn’t maybe put it in the form of negotiating as much as playing a role and advising, or going to any of these countries that can play a role and working with relevant parties on the ground.

QUESTION: In other words, going to third – going to countries that might be able to apply pressure to Hamas to accept it?

MS. PSAKI: Sure. That’s part of what he could do.

QUESTION: Because --

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.

QUESTION: That is part of what he could do? But there’s certainly no plan to talk to Hamas, correct?

MS. PSAKI: No, there’s not. And there’s no current plan to travel back to the region either.

QUESTION: Here’s something.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: So the – just to go back to what we were talking about before, the Egyptians have invited Palestinian factions – and that’s to include President Abbas and possibly – obviously, members of Hamas would have to be part of that negotiating team because they’re the party enacted in the – engaged in the fighting. So feasibly, could Secretary Kerry go to – be meeting with those – the entire delegation which might include Hamas, or do you completely rule that out? Or would he just meet maybe with President Abbas on the side or something like that?

MS. PSAKI: Elise, we’re getting way too ahead of where we are currently. We don’t even have a plan to go back to the region at this point in time. So we’ll have to evaluate --

QUESTION: Well, you do have a plan, but you just don’t have a date. Is that right?

MS. PSAKI: We’ll have to evaluate what productive role we can play, whether that’s here, whether that’s in another country. And we’ll, I’m sure, keep talking about it.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: Has Secretary Kerry spoken with President Abbas about the cease-fire?

MS. PSAKI: He has not spoken with him over the last couple of days, but I would remind you that we obviously have a consul general on the ground, we have a very active team there, and they’ve been closely engaged with him and his team.

QUESTION: Given that – all of the conflicts over the last several years in this – the violent conflicts have been because Hamas is a party to them. And clearly they’re the ones, like, with the influence to stop this bloody conflict. Possibly have – would they end their resistance potentially, that there would be an opportunity for the peace process to move forward. Do you think that there was a mistake all those years ago to boycott Hamas when it won those elections? I mean, do you not think that engaging with them as a party that actually has an opportunity to end the conflict would’ve done some good?

MS. PSAKI: I think it’s nearly impossible to look back and make an evaluation, and I’m not going to do that from the podium.

QUESTION: Only nearly?

MS. PSAKI: It’s not impossible.

QUESTION: It is.

Go to someone else.

MS. PSAKI: Do we have any more on this topic before --

QUESTION: Hamas.

MS. PSAKI: -- okay, in the back. You’re sitting in a different seat. I’m very thrown off. Go ahead.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) okay, so you mentioned few times that this – the proposal, the Egyptian proposal is still on the table.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Are you expecting or – the possibility of making some changes in the content of it, or just try to convince both sides to accepted it?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think as you heard or you saw in our statement this morning, we believe that this is a goodwill effort to put a cease-fire in place. The Egyptians deserve time and space to be able to make this initiative work. So I’m not going to speculate on whether anything could be changed. Obviously, the effort at this point is on working with Hamas to see if they will engage in this ceasefire.

QUESTION: Just to follow-up, why I’m saying this is because there were some reports regarding two issues, which was many issues of disagreement from Hamas. One side is – was the border passing gates with Egypt, and the other was related to some money payment for the employments that they are not paid. So all these two issues are on the table, or you are not aware of these issues?

MS. PSAKI: I would point you to the Egyptians to answer any questions on what they may or may not be considering.

QUESTION: There is another thing, which is like two mentioned – two publicly – publicly, two issues were mentioned at the beginning of this proposal: that – first the cease-fire, and second that the Israelis and Palestinians will sit together in Egypt somewhere and discuss these issues. Are there – these two issues are – United States are going to be part of it or not?

MS. PSAKI: The United States obviously – I’m not aware of our plans at this point to be a part of it. They – this hasn’t been scheduled yet, so I will – why don’t we see how this plays out and determine whether there’s a productive role we can play.

QUESTION: Jen, last round --

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: -- on this issue. One of your allies, Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, today in his speech before parliament accused your other ally, Israel, of committing massacres against the Palestinians, that it is committing terrorism by the state. And he basically said that it’s shameful that the world remains silent. Do you have any comment on that?

MS. PSAKI: I haven’t seen those specific comments, Said.

Go ahead. More on this, or --

QUESTION: No. P5+1.

MS. PSAKI: Okay. Should we --

QUESTION: Well, whether or not you’ve seen them or not, you disagree with them, correct?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I’m not sure if they’re accurate, because I haven’t seen them printed anywhere. So --

QUESTION: Okay. Well, if Said said it himself, or if I said it, would you agree or disagree?

MS. PSAKI: We certainly would disagree, Matt.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: But why don’t I see if that’s actually an accurate depiction of the statements.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: Jen.

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.

QUESTION: P5+1?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: A few days ago, Secretary Kerry said if there is a real – I quote, “real” – progress, we can consider extension. Yesterday he spoke about “tangible,” and I quote. Are they the same, real and tangible, so the extension is on the table?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think he also spoke to this issue this morning, and I would certainly point you to his comments that he made there. We’re still working. Our team on the ground is still working. Over the course of the next couple of days leading up to July 20th, the team in Vienna will continue to meet. Progress has been made and the process continues. The Secretary is going to be consulting with the President and with Congress in the coming days. And certainly, an extension will be an option that’s discussed, but I’ll leave it to the team on the ground to provide any updates of forward movement in the negotiation in that regard.

QUESTION: But you do agree that real is tangible, isn’t it?

MS. PSAKI: I’m sorry?

QUESTION: Tangible means real.

MS. PSAKI: Tangible means real?

QUESTION: That’s what he said. He said yesterday “tangible;” previously, he --

MS. PSAKI: I think there --

QUESTION: He put a condition to have --

MS. PSAKI: They have similar meanings, yes.

QUESTION: -- real progress.

MS. PSAKI: They have similar meanings, those words do.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead in the back.

QUESTION: So this is about Gaza, Israel.

MS. PSAKI: Oh, okay. Okay, that’s fine.

QUESTION: Just one --

MS. PSAKI: Okay, go ahead.

QUESTION: -- last question.

So there are multiple reports from some Hamas spokespeople who’ve said that this proposal was presented to them by Israel and Egypt as sort of an ultimatum, that they received no rough draft to consider, that it was kind of sprung on them and they didn’t have time to ingest it. And many of them actually said that they heard about it through media reports. Do you know for certain that they had ample time to ingest the information, to determine how they wanted to respond?

MS. PSAKI: I would point you to the Egyptians for that. I don’t have any specific information to offer.

Should we go back – let’s – can we finish Iran, and then we’ll go back. Does anyone have other Iran questions? P5+1 negotiations? All of them are answered. All right, good.

QUESTION: Is the Secretary prepared to recommend an extension of the talks beyond Sunday?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to speculate on that. He spoke to this this morning. Obviously, our team on the ground – that remains an option, but our team on the ground is continuing to work, and we’ll just see where things proceed over the coming day or so.

QUESTION: Just in the last few days, diplomat – last few minutes, rather, diplomats in Vienna – Western diplomats, which could be U.S. or any other – or any of the European partners were saying that it’s inevitable that the talks will continue for months.

MS. PSAKI: Well, we will see, Elise. Obviously, that has remained an option. We’ll see what happens over the next couple of days.

QUESTION: So for the past several months – like clockwork, pretty much – you have been – you and Marie have been asked about oil sales, Iranian oil sales --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- and the – and the cap set by the JPOA. The reason you’ve been asked is because statistics have been showing that they are exceeding the million barrels a day that was agreed to. And you have consistently said that it’s too early to tell, that it’s an average; you have to average out the whole six months. It is now mathematically impossible – and actually has been for some time, although you wouldn’t concede the point the last time I raised it with you – that they will come in and meet that cap that was set by the JPOA, which puts them in violation already of the agreement.

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, I’d --

QUESTION: What do you --

MS. PSAKI: I’d have to take a look at your mathematical calculation and talk to our team and see what their view is on that.

QUESTION: Okay. So you don’t have – you’re not prepared to say what you have said in the past, at least, that well, it’s too – it’s way too early to say, that the average might not be --

MS. PSAKI: I just have not spoken with them about this particular issue --

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: -- in a couple of weeks.

QUESTION: I would be curious to an answer of what the Administration – whether the Administration believes that the – that this part of the agreement has been violated by the Iranians or not, and if it has – which I think it may be an unlikely event, no matter how strong the math supporting it is – but if it has violated the JPOA, what you are prepared to do about it. And what do you think it means for not only the JPOA until Sunday, but any extension in the negotiations and then a final agreement? Can you trust the Iranians?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I am happy to talk to our team. I will just remind you that, as we’ve talked about before, there are a range of factors and data that we look at as we make our calculations. So I’ll discuss that with them as well.

QUESTION: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: A number of Republicans on the Hill have been basically repeating the Secretary’s line, “no deal is better than a bad deal.” And in recent days they have echoed Prime Minister Netanyahu’s concerns about not just the Iranian demand to retain their centrifuge arsenal, as it were, but also to develop and expand their arsenal of ICBMs. Are those the two main sticking points?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I’m not going to get into specifics. You’re familiar with the range of issues on the table. You’ve touched on some of them; enrichment, centrifuges, transparency, and other issues. It’s all about how they fit together. That’s what our team is discussing on the ground. You heard the Secretary this morning talk about how the number of centrifuges that Iran has now are too many. So I think we’ll let the negotiations happen behind the scenes with our negotiating teams and refrain – continue to refrain from playing all of these numbers out publicly.

QUESTION: And with whom is the Secretary planning to consult from Capitol Hill?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have a list of members. That’s something, obviously, we’ll work through with a range of others in the Administration and what’s appropriate.

QUESTION: Does that mean that members of Congress will be coming here, or would he be meeting with them in a closed-door session on the Hill?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have that level of detail. I think, obviously, he was in Congress for 28 years and he can also pick up the phone, and I expect that will be part of his engagement, and there’ll be other officials who also engage with the Hill in other ways.

QUESTION: Would he be prepared to – absent what’s happening in the Gaza Strip, would he be prepared to go back to Vienna this weekend?

MS. PSAKI: He said this morning that he’s open to doing that if there’s a productive role he can play. That’s not currently planned.

QUESTION: Iraq?

MS. PSAKI: Iraq. Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: What’s your reaction – the new parliament elected a new speaker today.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MS. PSAKI: I’m getting an assist from Said here. The Secretary --

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MS. PSAKI: We put out a statement from the Secretary. It came out right before I came out here, so I’m not sure if you saw it.

QUESTION: I didn’t see it.

MS. PSAKI: Let me just reiterate some of the points that he made. We certainly, of course, congratulate the Iraqi people on the election of a new parliamentary speaker as well as two deputies. This election of a speaker is the first step in the critical process of forming a new government that can take into account the rights, aspirations, and legitimate concerns of all of Iraq’s communities. We urge the – Iraq’s leaders to follow this step today with rapid formation of a new government. That means, as you all know, selection of a president and a prime minister. We expect as they – as the meeting breaks, and maybe that’s already happened, we’ll know more soon about the next time they plan to meet. And obviously those are the next appropriate steps in the process.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Stay in Iraq?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Without getting into the classified information, a report that’s on Secretary Hagel’s desk – has Secretary Kerry, as a member of the National Security Council, expressed concern over U.S. personnel who are in Iraq and are working with different forces and officials?

MS. PSAKI: Are you speaking to military personnel, or which personnel are you referring to?

QUESTION: Any officials in Iraq. Is the United States or people in this building concerned about insider attacks for U.S. personnel working with their Iraqi counterparts?

MS. PSAKI: Well, there are a couple of different things I think you’re referring to here, so let me just break those apart, if that’s okay with you. I think the Pentagon confirmed yesterday that Secretary Hagel and Chairman Dempsey received the draft of the assessment from Central Command. Obviously, they’re the front individuals to review that draft and they also have oversight over military personnel who are on the ground in Iraq.

Broadly speaking, certainly as the State Department and the Secretary are always evaluating the safety and security of our personnel, the men and women serving in a variety of capacities in Iraq, and any other high-threat post around the world, and we take steps accordingly and as needed. And you’re familiar with the steps we recently took. I don’t have any of those to be – to predict at this point, but that certainly is something we evaluate broadly speaking on nearly a daily basis about places like Iraq.

QUESTION: And specific to Iraq, are you concerned about Shia forces aligned with Iran and about Sunni forces aligned with extremist elements? Are those specific --

MS. PSAKI: I’m just not going to speak to reports in a draft that obviously the proper officials have not yet reviewed.

QUESTION: I know that you want the choice of a prime minister to the Iraqi people.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: You’ve said – stated --

MS. PSAKI: You’re familiar with our point on that.

QUESTION: Yes.

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.

QUESTION: I’m fully familiar with it, but --

MS. PSAKI: Yes.

QUESTION: But as Maliki becomes more and more polarizing, a polarizing figure – and those were the words of someone like Barzani in Turkey, those are the words of even allies within the Shia coalition, even his own coalition – are you willing to support as an alternative someone that the Iranians might support, who is Ahmed Chalabi, someone who has been tarnished in the United States as someone who collaborated with the enemies of the United States?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’re not going to pick or support candidates. Obviously, as you noted, but it’s worth me repeating from the U.S. Government, we – it’s up to the Iraqi people to determine their leadership. We’ve expressed concern in the past about the lack of inclusivity in Prime Minister Maliki’s leadership. That hasn’t changed. And obviously, we want to see a future government and future leaders who govern in a more inclusive manner. But that’s one of the next steps in the process, and we leave that to the Iraqis to determine.

QUESTION: Do you believe that Mr. Maliki, the message he gets from this podium and other podiums and so on, that the United States sticks to him no matter what?

MS. PSAKI: I can’t evaluate for you what I believe Prime Minister Maliki hears or listens to or reads, but --

QUESTION: If he gets that message, do you think that he’s getting the wrong message?

MS. PSAKI: I think our message has consistently been that it’s up to the Iraqis to determine their future leadership. So I think that would be what anybody would hear.

QUESTION: Well, if they haven’t elected him, then it means that they don’t want him. So I mean, they have chosen, don’t you think?

MS. PSAKI: We’ll let the process play itself out, Elise.

QUESTION: Yes, please.

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead. Iraq?

QUESTION: Yes, please. I mean, you mentioned that the Iraqis have to choose their prime minister and the president, assuming that they have this parliament now, proper parliament president.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Do you have in your mind a timeframe? Because a while ago – I mean, it’s like last week you were talking about Sunday or 10 days or something like this. Do you have a timeframe for this?

MS. PSAKI: Well, so they did meet on Sunday, and obviously, this – the selection of the speaker just happened today.

QUESTION: Yes.

MS. PSAKI: So I think we’ll leave it to them to make any announcements about their next planned meeting where we – and expect and hope that they will move forward with the remaining steps in government formation.

QUESTION: And like few days ago, Prime Minister Maliki replaced the foreign minister or asked him to leave his job or replace him with another person. Do you have any concern and especially Zebari has had a good relation or at least long relation with Secretary Kerry and the State Department – is this representing any concern to you in your relations with – foreign relations with Iraq, or it doesn’t matter?

MS. PSAKI: In the selection of a new foreign minister?

QUESTION: Yes.

MS. PSAKI: That’s, again, an Iraqi political decision. Obviously, you’re right that the Secretary has worked with the former foreign minister quite a bit in the past, but we’ll work with the leaders and the representatives who are selected by the government and the people of Iraq.

QUESTION: Was there any contact with the new foreign minister or not yet?

MS. PSAKI: Not at the Secretary’s level. I don’t have anything to read out from our team on the ground, though they remain engaged with a range of officials on the ground.

QUESTION: And who – still the same team on the ground doing contact with all this leadership?

MS. PSAKI: That’s right. Ambassador Beecroft, Deputy Assistant Secretary McGurk. They remain on the ground and closely engaged.

Do you have any more on Iraq before we continue? Okay, go ahead.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) Japan?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: So according to reports in Japanese media and his phone call to Japanese Foreign Minister Kishida, last week Secretary Kerry warned Japan against moving too quickly to unilaterally remove some sanctions. Is that an accurate depiction of the phone call?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything more to read out on the call. Why don’t I check back with our team and see if there’s more we can convey from here.

QUESTION: And also according to the reports --

MS. PSAKI: And you said that was a report or a – can you just repeat for me where that was from? Was it a news report?

QUESTION: News report from Kyodo agency. And also according to that report, Foreign Minister Kishida said that he intends to visit the U.S. to explain directly to Secretary Kerry his view on this particular issue. Is that an accurate report? Does Kishida have any plans to come and visit Secretary Kerry anytime soon?

MS. PSAKI: I would refer you to him. We’ve obviously welcomed him many times in the past and certainly would be happy to again. I don’t have any scheduling plans in front of me. They, I think, would likely announce that from there.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.

QUESTION: Do you have any comments on the BRICS nations meeting?

MS. PSAKI: The – did you have a specific question about it? Or --

QUESTION: The whole – like the summit. Any comments?

MS. PSAKI: The fact that they’re meeting?

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS. PSAKI: Sure. Did you have a question about it specifically or a component of it?

QUESTION: Yeah. President Xi Jinping visit the Latin Americas and is --

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything specific other than to say that the --

QUESTION: Yeah, how does it going to affect U.S. policy --

MS. PSAKI: Well, as you know, the BRICS summit is a venue for leading emerging economies to discuss economic issues that they may have in common. And we’ve – obviously have relationships with all of those countries and work closely with them. I think the Secretary has actually visited all but South Africa of the BRICS countries. And these countries also have important differences that this is a forum to discuss. So it remains to be seen what the specific focus – the planned BRICS development – the – BRICS will have in the coming months and years, and we’d certainly defer to them. But I don’t think we have anything specific – a specific comment or concern about their summit.

QUESTION: Were you asked last week while I was away about President Putin’s tour, which – of Latin America – of Latin and South America that ended with this – with this summit?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t remember if I was or not. I don’t think so.

QUESTION: Do you have any comment about it?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t think I have anything specific to add on it.

QUESTION: Do you have any comments about the European – new sanctions individuals and your plans to impose new sanctions in the coming days?

MS. PSAKI: Sure. Well, Elise, as we’ve said before, but it’s worth repeating, of course we have a range of tools at our disposal, including sanctions on individuals, sanctions on different companies or banks or entities. That remains the case. We – I don’t have anything predict for you in terms of new sanctions or decisions from here. We certainly welcome the additional – the announcement by the Europeans on the additional individuals.

QUESTION: Well, you also have in your range of tools – you mentioned individuals and companies, but you --

MS. PSAKI: And sectors. But I was trying to kind of lay out that it’s not exactly how it describes when we said – it’s described when we say sectors. So --

QUESTION: Right. But do you – when you’re considering – I mean, have things reached the point where sector – sectoral sanctions are a distinct possibility? Or are you still in the kind of individuals and companies realm?

MS. PSAKI: Sectoral sanctions have remained an option. I don’t have anything to preview or announce for you today.

QUESTION: Sorry. When you talk about – when you say range of tools and then you talk about individuals, companies, sectors – that seems – are you talking about a range within the sanctions tool?

MS. PSAKI: Yes. That’s what I’m referring to.

QUESTION: So what is the actual – okay. So what is the actual range of tools? Zero is doing nothing, and then 10 is nuclear war? What – and sanctions would fall about --

MS. PSAKI: Well, I was referring to a range of sanctions tools.

QUESTION: Sanctions would fall about what? Three or four into that?

MS. PSAKI: Actually, I would strongly disagree with that. Since you gave me the opportunity, let me just give you a couple of additional economic data points --

QUESTION: Please. Please do.

MS. PSAKI: -- on the impact of our sanctions. The IMF has downgraded Russia’s growth outlook to .2 percent this year and has said that the country was in recession the first half of the year. This stands in stark contrast to previous IMF forecasts, which as recently as February were projecting 2 percent growth. These are some specific data points of what our impact has been. The IMF has also said they expect up to $100 billion in capital flight from Russia this year. And since March, Russia companies and government – and the Government of Russia have had to cancel numerous bond auctions. Russian companies have had to pay more to borrow and the ratings agencies have downgraded Russia’s credit rating to one notch above junk status. I know that’s your favorite example.

But those are some examples of how our sanctions to date have had an impact, and obviously as we consider additional sanctions in a coordinated manner with the Europeans. That’s the impact we’ve already had.

QUESTION: So what impact has your – what impact have your sanctions and what you just mentioned had on the actual Russia policy in Ukraine?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, I think there has been engagement and discussion about a ceasefire. We are clearly – still believe that there are more steps that the Russian separatists need to take, that the Russians can take themselves; we feel that this has been exerting a strong amount of pressure on the economy there; that we feel if President Putin cares deeply about his people, about the economy in his own country, should continue to impact his decision making.

QUESTION: Right, but you just went through this bevy of statistics --

MS. PSAKI: Yes.

QUESTION: -- talking about how crappy the Russian economy is doing since you and the Europeans have imposed your sanctions. And I’m just curious, since you say that it’s having an impact on the economy, where’s the impact on the – on Russia’s policy towards Ukraine? You – they still have Crimea. I mean, that seems to be just gone now. The ceasefire, despite your pushing it and trying to get the Russians on board numerous times is not going anywhere. In fact, the situation is getting worse. They don’t – they haven’t changed their attitude or their policy at all. So I’m just curious as to how it is exactly you would argue that the sanctions are having an impact.

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, I think that’s why we reserve the option of doing more if we decide we should and we decide it would be effective.

QUESTION: So you would agree, then, that the sanctions to date have not been effective in changing the policy, the Russians’ policy?

MS. PSAKI: I think we’ve seen in the past that there are occasions where economic sanctions can hit a breaking point and can cause the willingness to engage. Obviously, it’s very different from Iran, but we’re seeing a dramatic impact from the economic sanctions. And if, again, the leaders in Russia care as deeply as they say they do about their people, then we hope and expect that this will change their behavior.

QUESTION: Have you – right. But it hasn’t yet, correct?

MS. PSAKI: Well, again, I think you’re --

QUESTION: I mean, you’re still seeing this could go --

MS. PSAKI: You’re familiar with --

QUESTION: This leads into my next question, which is: I’m wondering – since we last spoke, since early last week when I was last here – have you seen any movement from the Russians to stop the supplies or what you say, the transfers of weapons and material, from Russia into eastern Ukraine in support of the separatists? Have you seen any change in it?

MS. PSAKI: There have actually been a range of reports, I’m sure you’ve seen over the course of the weekend, but I don’t have anything new in terms of positive steps to outline for you.

QUESTION: Okay. So that would just – going logically, right, your sanctions, while they may have had an impact on the Russian economy according to the IMF, have not had – they have not stopped, slowed, deterred anything that Russia is doing in aid of the pro-Russian separatists in the east. Is that correct?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we have remaining concerns about their support for the separatists. That has not changed. We can’t disprove a negative. We don’t know what they would have done had these not been in place. That’s nearly impossible to guess about.

QUESTION: Yeah, but it hasn’t stopped them from doing what you are complaining about.

MS. PSAKI: We have remaining concerns that we continue to express.

QUESTION: Okay. So where does this stand now in terms of contacts between Secretary or other senior people in the Administration and the Russians and the Ukrainians? I saw that Vice President Biden had a couple conversations, but what – where do things stand right now? Are – is it kind of frozen or is there active diplomacy going on despite the fact that the Russians haven’t shown any interest --

MS. PSAKI: There continues to be active diplomacy on this issue on the ground. We have – Ambassador Pyatt’s on the ground. He remains closely engaged with the Ukrainian Government. We – the Secretary, as you know, regularly speaks with Foreign Minister Lavrov. Let me just see if there’s anything specific to read out for you.

I don’t have anything specific over the last couple of days, but --

QUESTION: Okay. Do you – there were a couple incidents, I believe – and forgive me if they happened a while ago, but I’m still trying to get caught up with what I missed.

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: One, a plane being shot – a Ukrainian plane being shot down, and then the Russians complaining about Ukrainian military firing across the border into Russia. Do you have anything on either of those?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have – there have been a range of reports, which is what I was referring to.

QUESTION: Was referring to before?

MS. PSAKI: We are – I don’t have any confirmation of these reports. Obviously, there are statements being made by the Russians. They accused – I think one of the things you were referring to – the Ukrainians of strikes or of shelling Russian – a Russian village. We’ve heard these comments, but we don’t, again, have any confirmation of them. The U.S. Embassy defense attache received an invitation from the Russian Ministry of Defense to visit the Rostov region, accepted the invitation. The Ukrainian Government, as I noted, has of course, denied these allegations. The trip and the itinerary was controlled by the Russian Government without input from the participants. It wasn’t conclusive in our view.

QUESTION: So the attache from the Embassy in Kyiv or in Moscow?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. I’d have to double-check on that, Matt, but I’ll – I can do that.

QUESTION: Okay. But they – the attache was among others who went to where this allegedly happened and decided – his observation was there was nothing conclusive about what he saw or (inaudible) visit saw --

MS. PSAKI: Sure, where – the cause or where it came from.

QUESTION: -- to prove that. Okay, so are you concerned that the Russians might use such a claim as a pretext to invade, for lack of a better word? To do what they did in Crimea?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’ve seen a pattern in the past of Russians’ comments using incidents to justify military action or direct military engagement. And certainly that is concerning to us. And our view is that if there is such a high level of concern about the violence on the ground or the overflow of it, there are steps they can take to de-escalate which they’ve chosen not to take at this point in time, the Russian separatists specifically.

Any more on Ukraine? Okay. Go ahead.

QUESTION: North Korea.

MS. PSAKI: North Korea.

QUESTION: Yes. About the missile launch of North Korea. As you know, the – I’m not sure you are aware of this. The top official of the Workers’ Party of North Korea told that the Japanese member of the House of the Councillors. This time the missile launch represent the protest against United States and South Korea, particularly this military exercise. Are you aware of this? And what is the position of this?

MS. PSAKI: Well, let me first say that we’re concerned by reports that North Korea fired multiple suspected rockets and artillery shells into the sea just one day after yet another reported round of missile launches. I think you’ve seen it’s about a half dozen if not more of these incidents over the course of the past several days. I’d caution anyone from linking the missile launches to the joint military exercises. These annual joint exercises are transparent, defense-oriented. They’ve been carried out regularly and openly for roughly 40 years now, and these recent missile launches were conducted without warning and are clearly designed to raise tensions. So an effort to link them, in our view, is not appropriate.

QUESTION: So these exercises just annual? You don’t have any intention or message to North Korea, actually?

MS. PSAKI: These are, again, exercises that we’ve been undergoing for 40 years now. They show the strong U.S. commitment to the alliance, and they’re done in a transparent manner and I expect they will continue.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: Libya?

MS. PSAKI: Yeah, Libya.

QUESTION: Do – can the State Department confirm that a suspect in the Benghazi raid was killed in the last few days?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we are aware of the reports that Faraj al-Shibli was found dead in the Libyan coastal city of Marj. We are also cognizant of reports that he had been in the custody of local militia prior to his death. I don’t have any independent confirmation from here, Lucas. I’d refer you to Libyan authorities.

QUESTION: Can I ask one about Libya?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: It does seem as if – well, that the airport is – continue to be shelled, most of the planes even are damaged, I don’t – and the Embassy is near the airport, I mean, and it doesn’t seem as if there’s been any movement on any type of evacuation. So I’m just wondering what’s going on.

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’re obviously deeply concerned about the level of violence in Libya and some of the incidents you referred to. Every day, we make assessments about the level of violence and the impact on our personnel there, but I don’t have anything to predict for you or outline in terms of any changes to our security posture or level of staffing on the ground.

QUESTION: I mean, it seems as if there wouldn’t be any way for those employees to get out unless you had some kind of airlift because the airport is inoperable right now.

MS. PSAKI: Well, again, Elise, I think it’s safe to say that we evaluate every single factor when we’re making determinations about our staff. There’s nothing more important than the safety, almost nothing more important than the safety and security of our staff, but we do that in private and I have nothing to outline for you here from – publicly.

QUESTION: Is Ambassador Satterfield in Libya now or here?

MS. PSAKI: I know – I’m not sure, actually, where he is. We can check and see if we can get that information to you.

Sure, I can just do a couple more. Go ahead in the back. Welcome back. Hello.

QUESTION: Hello, thank you. It’s about the Russian citizen captured in the Maldives. Why is he in Guam now? How does it affect his rights?

MS. PSAKI: Well, this is a case being overseen by the Department of Justice. I don’t have anything specific for you in terms of his transit. Obviously, Guam is a territory of the United States and he’ll be afforded all consular access as is accorded by the Vienna Convention.

QUESTION: I just --

QUESTION: Would he have the same rights as a U.S. citizen under these circumstances?

MS. PSAKI: He has the same rights as any citizen through our – he’s not a U.S. citizen, but through the Vienna Conventions where we grant consular access. And that will, of course, be observed in this case.

QUESTION: One more: What would you say, what would the U.S. say, if the Russian secret service started capturing U.S. citizens in third countries and shipping them to Russia, denying them necessary medical care, as is the case with Konstantin Yaroshenko, another Russian?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think it’s important to note here --

QUESTION: Would you find it acceptable?

MS. PSAKI: -- that this was a law enforcement action. It was based solely on law enforcement considerations. The indictment in this case was returned more than three years ago and thus predates – I think it’s important to note – any current issues or current disagreements between Russia and the United States. He was arrested following his expulsion from another country under – acting under its own laws, and he was advised of his rights and given consular notification.

So I think this is a judicial case, a case that belongs in our law enforcement – discussed along those lines and with those appropriate contacts, and I think I’ll leave it with that.

QUESTION: Well --

QUESTION: But if Russia did the same, would you find it acceptable?

MS. PSAKI: Again, I think this is a case where this individual is accused of violating the law.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: Violating the law, but he was picked up by U.S. officials and then flown to Guam. Is that correct?

MS. PSAKI: That is correct.

QUESTION: And he went there willingly?

MS. PSAKI: I just don’t have any more details on this case for you, Matt.

QUESTION: Okay. I’d just be – I mean, what is – does the U.S. have some kind of a treaty with wherever it was he was – was he in Seychelles or – no, it was the Maldives? Do they --

QUESTION: The Maldives.

QUESTION: The Maldives. Is there some kind of a treaty with the Maldives that allows U.S. law enforcement agents to come in and just pick people up off the street, throw them on a plane and fly them to Guam, or anywhere else for that matter?

MS. PSAKI: This is – these actions were in no way inconsistent with our treaty obligations.

QUESTION: Were they consistent with international law?

MS. PSAKI: Yes, they were.

QUESTION: I have --

MS. PSAKI: Do you have another topic? I have a meeting but I can do a couple of more.

QUESTION: Syria?

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.

QUESTION: Go ahead.

QUESTION: Syria?

MS. PSAKI: Syria? Sure.

QUESTION: One just very brief on Hammond.

MS. PSAKI: Okay. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Yes. The UN Security Council voted unanimously to push aid deliveries into Syria without the approval of the Syrian Government. Do you have anything about that?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think it’s important to note that as a result of this conflict in Syria, 10.8 million Syrians in Syria now need assistance. I know we’ve actually talked quite a bit, thanks to your questions, about the refugee crisis in Syria and how we can address that. So what the council did was they authorized the use of four additional crossings to UN humanitarian agencies and their implementing partners without the need for approval from the Syrian regime.

Obviously, typically the UN or other entities work through the government, but in this case we were seeing trucks and – UN trucks fully loaded literally sitting at the border waiting for the Syrian Government to issue travel papers. So this gives – it allows the UN to move forward while notifying the Syrian Government with 48 hours notice in advance of humanitarian – in advance of action.

So this step was taken in an effort to break the logjam here and see if there can be afforded more flexibility for UN convoys to make sure they can reach or take every step they can to reach the men, women, and children who need assistance in Syria. Obviously, it needs to be implemented, and that’s the key component. But certainly, we support this effort.

QUESTION: So there is a time to start to implement it, or just what – when you voted it, you realize it?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything. I’d refer you to them in terms of when they’ll be able to start implementing it. I’m sure they’ll try to do that as quickly as they can.

QUESTION: Are you beginning to see eye-to-eye with the Russians on your timing on the Syrian issue --

MS. PSAKI: I think --

QUESTION: -- by unanimously agreeing to this resolution?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think we have existing areas of disagreement, but hopefully we can find ways to work together on making sure humanitarian assistance reaches the people who need it most.

Okay.

QUESTION: So since 1991, the U.S. has made it a point to talk about how it desires to see Europe whole and free and at peace. And this Administration has, as have previous ones, celebrated the fact that the EU as the EU, and just this morning we saw the Secretary give some effusive praise to Catherine Ashton. The U.S. is generally supportive of the European Union as an entity, correct, and believes that it is a good thing for Europe to be united rather than disunited; is that – that’s correct?

MS. PSAKI: Let me see where you’re going with this first, Matt.

QUESTION: Well, the new foreign secretary of Britain is what people call a Euro-skeptic. He has suggested that the Brits might want to consider or should consider a referendum on withdrawing from the EU. And I’m wondering if in light of that, which seems to go against pretty much everything the Secretary has ever said about Europe and the EU, if you think that this can be as close of a working relationship as he had with Foreign Secretary Hague.

MS. PSAKI: We do.

QUESTION: You do? You don’t have any concerns about Mr. Hammond’s rather outspoken criticism of the European Union?

MS. PSAKI: I think we’ll leave that to domestic politics in the U.K.

QUESTION: But do you take it as a sign that Europe does not – that Europe may be moving towards their position, or do you see it as now that he’s joined the government he’s going to follow the --

MS. PSAKI: His selection?

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS. PSAKI: I would point you to David Cameron and his reasons for selecting him.

Thanks, everyone.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:33 p.m.)

DPB # 122


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Categories: News Pit Feeds

Daily Press Briefings : Daily Press Briefing: July 10, 2014

Thu, 07/10/2014 - 15:44

Jen Psaki
Spokesperson
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
July 10, 2014

Share Index for Today's Briefing
  • DEPARTMENT
    • Secretary Kerry Visit to Beijing
  • GERMANY
    • U.S. Security and Intelligence Relationship with Germany
  • MIDDLE EAST PEACE
    • Secretary Calls with Abbas, Netanyahu
    • Rocket Fire
    • Part of the Secretary's Effort Has Been Reaching out to Countries in Region
  • INDONESIA
    • Congratulate Indonesian People for Demonstrating Commitment to Strengthening Democracy through Free and Fair Elections
  • CHINA
    • Cyber Security Issues / OPM / DHS / Possible Intrusion / No Reason to Believe Any Personally Identifiable Information Was Compromised
    • S&ED / U.S. Eager to Reengage through the Cyber Working Group We Have Recently Established with the Chinese
  • IRAQ
    • Letter Iraqi Permanent Representative to the UN to UN Secretary General / Seizure of University of Mosul Facilities Containing Nuclear Materials / IAEA
    • Social Media / Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications
  • LIBYA / BENGHAZI
    • Investigation Ongoing / ARB / FBI
  • AFGHANISTAN
    • U.S. Wants to See a Unified Afghanistan
    • SIVs / Deputy Secretary Heather Higginbottom
  • CHINA / DPRK
    • China Important Partner in Implementation of Sanctions
  • PAKISTAN
    • Counterterrorism and Range of Issues
  • INDIA
    • Export-Import Bank


TRANSCRIPT:

1:10 p.m. EDT

MS. PSAKI: Hi everyone. Hi, Matt. It’s good to see you.

QUESTION: Good to see you.

MS. PSAKI: And everyone else, of course. I just haven’t seen him in a while.

I have one item at the top for all of you, and I should also note I have a hard stop at about 1:45, so let’s try to get to as many issues as we can.

Secretary Kerry yesterday continued his visit – I should say today – continued his visit to Beijing for the Sixth U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue and the Fifth U.S.-China High-Level Consultation on People-to-People Exchange. The CPE aims to enhance and strengthen ties between the citizens of the United States and China, and has done so over the past four years in the areas of culture, education, science and technology, sports, and women’s issues. This year the two sides agreed to add a sixth area of people-to-people exchange: health, and the additional of a health pillar, starting with the 2015 CPE in Washington, D.C. So next year we’ll strengthen existing health collaboration, encourage more people-to-people collaboration in this important area.

During sessions at the S&ED, the Secretary continued discussions on the full range of bilateral, regional, and global issues. He reiterated to his Chinese counterparts that we seek a relationship defined not by strategic rivalry but by practical cooperation on common challenges and constructive management of differences where our interests diverge. With regard to human rights, the Secretary raised our concerns in a direct, candid, and constructive way. He also continued our conversations on cybersecurity and cyber threat. And you probably have all seen the press conference he did on the ground earlier this morning our time, so I’d certainly point you to that.

And with that, Matt, let’s go to you.

QUESTION: Well, thank you very much. I have a question about the German expulsion of the top U.S. intelligence official there. Chancellor Merkel says that spying on allies is a waste of time and energy and that allies should focus on other things. And does the Administration agree or disagree with that? Is there – and do they believe Germany is overreacting or handling this properly?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I know there are, obviously, recently reports this morning, which I’m sure prompted your question. We’ve seen those reports, and let me first get out of the way: We don’t have any specific comment on that. Our security and intelligence relationship with Germany is a very important one. It’s one that helps keep Germans and Americans safe.

I would also say that, as you know, last year the President underwent a review of all of our intelligence gathering. The Secretary was engaged in that, as were Administration officials across the board. There are, of course, a range of factors that are taken into account and were taken into account in that – keeping Americans safe, keeping allies in other countries safe, as well as taking steps to reform and revise some of our systems when needed. And he did just that.

Clearly, we’re going to continue to have conversations with a range of our allies and partners around the world. We’re certainly open to that, but we’ll let those happen through diplomatic channels.

QUESTION: Excuse me. Just a quick follow-up.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: When you say you have seen the German reports or the media reports saying – what do you mean by that? Are you denying the German allegations about there was a spy operation going on?

MS. PSAKI: All I meant by it was that we’ve seen the reports, we’ve read the reports. I’m not going to – I don’t have any specific comment on it, given its purported intelligence matter.

QUESTION: So do you think those reports are true?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to have anything more to add on that front.

Said?

QUESTION: Will you have --

MS. PSAKI: Well, let’s finish this topic. Do we have any more on this topic? Go ahead in the back.

QUESTION: So Germany really took an unusual step today. And they’ve been patient all along and secretly kind of expressing their anger, and this is a more unusual outward expression of their anger. Is the United States going to have any sort of reaction to them or just any signal to send to them?

MS. PSAKI: Well, as you know, we’ve had a range of discussions with Germany over the course of the last several months, and I expect those will continue. But those will happen through diplomatic channels, and we think those are often – we’re better served, our relationship is better served by having those take place through those channels. I would expect that Secretary Kerry and Foreign Minister Steinmeier will have an opportunity to speak sometime in the coming days, and I would just reiterate that our relationship with Germany is extremely important. We have many areas we work together on. We have areas, certainly, where we may disagree, and – but the sign of a strong relationship is being able to work through those disagreements or challenges, and we’ll continue to do that through proper channels.

QUESTION: Is the Administration considering* expelling somebody from the German embassy?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything more to add on this particular topic.

QUESTION: Jen, how come after the United States Government was caught spying on Chancellor Merkel, the effort was made to clean up the spying, and then this happens? How do you reconcile that?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to have anything more to add, Lucas, on this particular topic. I think, as you know, we’ve spoken to those reports. The White House has spoken to those reports. The President undertook – laid out a series of reforms that we believe should not only give the American people greater confidence that their rights are being protective – protected, but also allowing us to preserve the tools to keep Americans safe and secure. And I would point you to those range of reforms that the President announced earlier this year.

QUESTION: But can this government control its intelligence gathering capability?

MS. PSAKI: Can the United States of America?

QUESTION: Control its spy network.

MS. PSAKI: Well, Lucas, I, again, would point you to the fact that we just underwent just last year an intensive review led by the President, led by the White House, that the Secretary was engaged in to take a look at all of these programs and put in place new principles. And that’s exactly what he announced earlier this year.

QUESTION: But the result is more spying and more spying on our allies.

MS. PSAKI: I think I would refute that notion, Lucas. We’ve – I would point you to the specific details that have already been put out.

Do we have a new topic?

QUESTION: Oh, no. One more. Some German news reports suggest that the Germans may have taken this action now as much for domestic political consumption as well as to express their anger with the U.S. over past infractions, including the tapping of the Chancellor’s cellphone. Is there any credence to some of those suggestions, or is this simply a basic concern about how these two countries share intelligence and how they – how much they trust each other?

MS. PSAKI: Well, it’s not appropriate for me to speak to motivations or decisions. I would just reiterate that our relationship is vitally important. We’ll continue our dialogue through senior officials in the days and the weeks ahead.

QUESTION: Has anyone from the German embassy requested a meeting with anyone here about these latest revelations?

MS. PSAKI: I just don’t have anything more to add on this topic.

QUESTION: And how soon do you think the Secretary will speak with the foreign minister?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any prediction for you, other than to say that they speak regularly, and I’m sure that will happen in the near term.

QUESTION: Do you expect them to meet in Vienna this week?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything to announce in terms of the Secretary’s planned travel schedule. But again, there are a range of ways to communicate with our allies and foreign ministers – the foreign ministers of our allies, and I’m certain they’ll find a way to do just that.

QUESTION: Sorry, Jen. Just to clarify --

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: -- you were referring to this as reports, but the spokesman for Chancellor Merkel said – announced that the government had expelled – had ordered the expulsion of the top U.S. intelligence official from the embassy. So you all, I assume, have that confirmed?

MS. PSAKI: I’m just not going to have anything more to add. I’ve seen what they’ve said, but this is a U.S. intelligence matter, so we’re not going to have anything more to add from this end.

QUESTION: But what are the Americans willing to do to satisfy the concerns the German Government has about privacy?

MS. PSAKI: Well, as I mentioned, we’ve had an ongoing dialogue about intelligence gathering, something a range of countries around the world certainly do, not just the United States. The President has put in place a range of reforms that – which we’re continuing to implement, and we’ll continue that dialogue with German officials through the appropriate channels.

QUESTION: Why is it appropriate to spy on one’s allies?

MS. PSAKI: I think I’ve addressed this question. Let’s move on to a new topic.

Said, go ahead.

QUESTION: Palestinian-Israeli --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- fighting? Is it the position of the Government of the United States that Israel is conducting itself in this bombardment, the ongoing bombardment of Gaza, within the constraints and rules of international law for its self-defense?

MS. PSAKI: Well, let me first, Said, just so I don’t forget to do this, just update you all that the Secretary spoke with President Abbas this morning. I know I mentioned to all of you that he had planned to do that. He, as you know, had already spoken with Prime Minister Netanyahu just yesterday. During both of those calls, the Secretary reiterated our concern over the escalating tensions and restated his own willingness and the willingness of the United States to engage robustly in helping to stop the rocket fire so we can restore calm as soon as possible.

And Said, to answer your question, that is really what our focus is on, is using all tools at our disposal to bring an end to the rocket fire that is threatening the innocent lives of civilians in Israel and that is certainly posing a threat in the region.

QUESTION: So his effort would be focused on stopping the rocket fire from Gaza, but not to stop Israeli bombardment of Gaza?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think it’s important to note here that no country should have to live under the constant threat of indiscriminate violence against innocent civilians. That’s what we’re looking at here. I think it’s important context here that Hamas is a terrorist organization. They have been launching indiscriminate number of attacks against Israel. Israel, we – of course, as I had mentioned yesterday, but it’s worth repeating, we are – it’s clear that civilians have been killed, that – including children. This is deeply tragic and we have been continuing to call on both sides to take steps to protect civilians. I would note that while the Israelis have taken steps to try to prevent civilian casualties by warning – providing warning in advance, that is not what, of course, Hamas is doing, and they have continued their indiscriminate attacks against – including civilian areas in Israel.

QUESTION: So you consider that Israel dropping leaflets of calling – or calling people on the phone and so on to terrify them, basically, to leave their home is a great humanitarian gesture?

MS. PSAKI: I think warning that there may be a response attack to the indiscriminate attacks of Hamas, a terrorist organization, is different and certainly important to point out in comparison with the attacks that are coming into parts of Israel, yes.

QUESTION: So do you believe that the utility of an F-16 to bomb a home and kill five civilians was appropriately done in accordance with the laws governing the transfer of weapons to Israel?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Said, first – and let me just repeat, because it’s important to note here, that it’s clear that civilians have been killed, and certainly that’s of concern to us, and that’s one of the reasons that we have been certainly calling for all sides to de-escalate tensions on the ground. It’s tragic and our condolences go out to the families, but I would remind you who is at fault here, and that is Hamas and the indiscriminate attacks that they have launched against Israel.

QUESTION: Do you agree with the Secretary General of the United Nations who just called for an immediate ceasefire?

MS. PSAKI: I think our focus, Said, is the – is on using all tools at our disposal to stop rocket fire so that we can restore calm, and that’s what we feel that the immediate focus should be on.

QUESTION: Okay. So you are not calling for a ceasefire; you’re calling for the rockets to stop from being launched from Gaza, correct?

MS. PSAKI: Well, certainly that would contribute to a reduction in violence.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MS. PSAKI: And let’s just keep going. Go ahead.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

QUESTION: That’s not – let me just – excuse me. Let me just --

MS. PSAKI: Let’s just go one at a time. Go ahead next.

QUESTION: -- follow up with that.

MS. PSAKI: So go ahead, Said.

QUESTION: Okay. I want to follow up. So does that also call for the Israelis to stop their immediate – to stop their bombardment of Gaza, or no?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Said, again, as I’ve stated several times in here from the briefing room in response to your questions, there’s a difference between Hamas, a terrorist organization that’s indiscriminately attacking innocent civilians in areas where there are innocent civilians in Israel, and the right of Israel to respond and protect their own civilians. And that’s what we’re seeing on the ground take place.

QUESTION: Are you keeping count of the innocent civilians on both sides that have been lost in this latest (inaudible)?

MS. PSAKI: The death of any innocent civilian is a tragedy, and our hearts and prayers go out to those families. And certainly a reduction of civilian casualties preventing that, ending that, is in everyone’s interests.

QUESTION: You said --

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.

QUESTION: On the same topic, in the same topic, given the complexity of the situation between Israel and Gaza, do you think Egypt could play a role, a mediation role to ease the tension? And as you may know, in the past, Washington reached out to Qatar and –

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- Egypt to help the Israelis and the Palestinian ease the tensions between them. Do you think now Egypt can play a role? Would the State Department ask Egypt – the Egyptian Government to do that?

MS. PSAKI: Well, part of the Secretary’s effort has been reaching out to countries in the region, including Qatar, including Egypt. I would note, as you know, historically there’s a difference between the relationship between the prior government to Hamas and the current government to Hamas. So I will leave that to others to analyze on how we can influence and who is most influential.

QUESTION: Yeah, but the Egyptian military has been always in good relationship with Hamas. So why not now?

MS. PSAKI: Well, again, any country in the region that can play a role in bringing an end to the rocket fire from Hamas we’re certainly going to be engaged with. But I think it’s important to note the difference between the governments and their relationship with Hamas. And I leave it to others to analyze whether they’ll be able to influence them.

QUESTION: What specifically was the Secretary meaning by his willingness to engage? What is the Administration prepared to do to help stop the rocket fire and to perhaps persuade the Israelis not to launch any sort of ground offensive?

MS. PSAKI: Well, he’s clearly engaging with both the Israelis and the Palestinians, as evidenced by his calls, but he’s also referring to discussions with other countries in the region. And again, I would note that the goals we’re looking at here – and the Secretary mentioned this earlier today, so you can certainly quote him, but our focus right now is on saving innocent lives, trying to de-escalate in a way that accomplishes that while allowing Israel to exercise its right of self-defense and protecting as many civilians and, of course, those in the region as best as we can. But engaging with the parties as well as having discussions with countries in the region is something we’re already doing, and the Secretary is – was reiterating his commitment to continuing that level of engagement.

QUESTION: What kind of – what did he tell President Abbas specifically? Did he give him advice on how to engage, given that Abbas technically does not have any legal authority over Gaza? I mean, what can he do and what did – what does this Administration believe that Abbas can do given the complex legal situation?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I’m not going to go into greater detail on their discussion, but clearly the discussions that the Secretary is having with any leader in the region is about how we can de-escalate and we are open to discussing and using all avenues to do that. So certainly the Secretary discusses the conversations that he has having with other leaders in the region, as well as what steps can be taken to bring an end to the rocket fire from Gaza.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: Another topic?

MS. PSAKI: Let’s just finish this and then we can go to you, Elliot, if that works.

QUESTION: Sure.

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead, Said.

QUESTION: Just a follow-up very quickly --

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: -- because I don’t understand. You keep saying, “We want to put an end to the rocket firing.” Are you calling for a simultaneous ceasefire that should take place from both sides at the same time? Or do you just want the Palestinians to stop firing their rockets?

MS. PSAKI: Well, let me be clear.

QUESTION: It’s very simple.

MS. PSAKI: It’s not accurate to say it’s quote/unquote “the Palestinians.” This is Hamas, a terrorist organization that is launching --

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MS. PSAKI: Let me finish – that is launching these rockets. Obviously, if the rockets are – if the rocket fire is brought to an end, I don’t think anybody’s preference, including the Israelis, is an escalation of this. Nobody wants to see a ground invasion. That’s why it’s so important for Hamas to stop the rocket fire against Israeli citizens immediately. That step will reduce tension, will de-escalate, and that’s why we’re having discussions with a range of leaders in the region.

QUESTION: Is the United States counseling against a ground invasion?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think the Israelis themselves have said that that is not – that they don’t want to see a ground invasion. Nobody wants to see that. And so de-escalating and taking steps to de-escalate is certainly what our focus is on.

QUESTION: Nonetheless they are amassing troops around Gaza and getting ready for a land invasion.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think, Said, as I’ve mentioned, because of the indiscriminate attacks from Hamas and the rocket fire that’s coming in, Israel is exercising its right to self-defense. I think it’s in everyone’s interest to de-escalate the situation, to prevent a ground invasion or a ground component of this, and to save the lives of innocent civilians. And those are the – that’s our focus at this important point in time.

QUESTION: What can Abbas then do to influence Hamas?

MS. PSAKI: Well, again, we’re having that discussion with him, and he’s the expert on that and what he has the ability to do and not do. But certainly he’s an important player in this, and that’s one of the reasons the Secretary spoke with him.

QUESTION: Is the – has the Secretary or is it the Administration urging the Israelis against a ground offensive?

MS. PSAKI: Well, they’re – we’re having a discussion with them on how to de-escalate. And clearly, our focus remains on steps that we can take, steps that other countries can take to influence Hamas and bring an end to the rocket fire, and that’s really what we’re counseling at this point in time.

QUESTION: And can you say what discussions the U.S. has had with Egypt in particular about trying to de-escalate?

MS. PSAKI: Well, the Secretary has been in touch with the foreign minister, and certainly any country and any leader who can play a role in influencing Hamas and bringing an end to the rocket fire we’ll remain engaged with.

QUESTION: Did the Secretary phone the Egyptian foreign minister?

MS. PSAKI: He was in touch with him over the last couple of days, yes.

QUESTION: Okay. Thank you.

MS. PSAKI: Oh.

QUESTION: Asia?

MS. PSAKI: Sure. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Just a couple – one on Indonesian elections. I wanted to get your take on what you think of the opposing sides declaring victory based on unofficial quick-vote counts?

MS. PSAKI: Sure, Elliot. Give me one moment.

Well, let me first say, just since I haven’t had the opportunity, that we congratulate the Indonesian people for, again, demonstrating their commitment to strengthening their democracy through free and fair elections. As the world’s second and largest – the second and third largest democracies, we remain committed to close relations based on common interests and values, and we expect that will continue.

As you know, Elliot, and I’m sure others know, the official vote count continues. The Indonesian General Election Commission is expected to announce the official winner by July 22nd. We look forward to that official result and we’ll wait for the official announcement, and we’d certainly encourage others to do so as well.

QUESTION: So you are not – you are discouraging any candidates from prematurely declaring victory before that happens?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think it’s in everyone’s interests to wait until the official announcement or official vote tally is completed.

QUESTION: Okay. And then unless anyone else has something on this, I wanted to go to China, if I may.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: Iraq.

MS. PSAKI: Indonesia, or no?

QUESTION: Iraq.

MS. PSAKI: Okay. Let’s just go to China and then we’ll go to Iraq.

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS. PSAKI: Does that work?

QUESTION: Yeah. That’s fine.

MS. PSAKI: Okay. China.

QUESTION: On this report that a hacking attack penetrated OPM databases, I was wondering if you have any confirmation that any State Department employees’ records may have been stolen.

MS. PSAKI: Well, let me first say – not that I’m aware of, Elliot. Let me first say that OPM and, of course, DHS are the lead regarding this incident, as you know. As soon as they learned of the possible intrusion, they took steps to assess and mitigate it. We have no reason to believe that any personally identifiable information was compromised from anywhere, so to answer that specific question.

QUESTION: Are you seeking clarification from the Chinese side on whether there was any government involvement in this attack? Because at the moment, it seems that’s unclear.

MS. PSAKI: Well, as you know, we routinely raise cyber security issues. But DHS is in the lead, so I’d point you to them for any specific questions about this.

QUESTION: But it hasn’t come up with Secretary Kerry’s – as far as you know – his discussions?

MS. PSAKI: I think he said earlier today that he just learned about it right before the press conference or right before the meeting, so it wasn’t raised today.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.

QUESTION: Follow-up on this. Given the timing of this story broke out, do you think it will help your conversation with Chinese and put more pressure on them on this cyber intrusion issue?

MS. PSAKI: Well, as you know, we are eager to reengage through the Cyber Working Group that we have recently established with the Chinese, and that’s been long the case before today and before opening any newspapers. And we hope that that is something that we can reconvene in the near future.

QUESTION: But it seems to me it’s odd, because it’s second day of S&ED, and this incident actually happened – took place in March. So I just wonder, do you have any thought on the timing of this story?

MS. PSAKI: I would point you to The New York Times for their decision to put a relevant news story in the news during the S&ED.

QUESTION: But this – do you think it’s helpful to help your stance in --

MS. PSAKI: I really don’t have any analysis on that. I would just reiterate to you that the cyber issues and cyber security came up during the discussion, as you’ve seen from reporting on the ground. It’s a big priority for us; it’s a priority for the Chinese, and that’s why we’re – we’d really like re-engage through the working group.

QUESTION: But as you mentioned, the working group has been suspended.

MS. PSAKI: You’re right.

QUESTION: So what are other channels? And --

MS. PSAKI: Well, the other channels are it can be raised through a range of levels. And it was obviously raised over the last couple of days, even though the working group was not a part of what took place at the S&ED.

QUESTION: So that didn’t bother you, getting --

MS. PSAKI: I think we expressed our preference that that issue and that working group would be a part of the S&ED. But we still took the opportunity to raise the issues during the last couple of days.

QUESTION: Do you blame the Chinese in this particular instance of spying on the OPM?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to – we’re not going to discuss attribution. And again, the State Department is not the lead on this particular case.

QUESTION: Iraq.

QUESTION: I want to go to Iraq if I can.

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: ISIS recently said that it has acquired a chemical weapons facility and 2,500 degraded weapons. Does the State Department have a comment on that, and what is the potential fallout over acquiring those weapons and this chemical facility?

MS. PSAKI: Sure. I do have something on this. Give me one moment.

Well, first, let me note that there was a copy of a letter – and I know you’re aware of this, but just so everybody is aware – of a letter that the Iraqi permanent representative to the United Nations sent to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon which was circulated yesterday to members of the Security Council, which outlined this. The purpose of the letter was to notify the international community of the seizure of University of Mosul facilities containing nuclear materials in June and to request international assistance.

In typical fashion, these requests are sent just directly to the IAEA and they look into them. And that is, of course, the natural process at this point. I would point you to the comments and the statement made by the IAEA today, that they believe the material involved to be low-grade and not presenting a significant safety, security, or nuclear proliferation risk. Of course, they’re the appropriate identity to make any decision about whether there is a risk or concern, but it doesn’t seem that is the case at this point in time.

QUESTION: But what do you say that – if you see the letter – in that it says that – from the Iraqis – that “threat of their use by terrorists in Iraq or abroad.” So how – what do the Iraqis say about it?

MS. PSAKI: Well, they sent the letter that was referenced and the – they took responsible action by informing the UN Secretary General and the international community and it’s been referred, of course, to the IAEA. They, of course, made initial comments. I would leave it to them if they have more to say about it. I would point out that the letter also notes that this is material used for scientific and medical purposes, which is an important contextual point on our level of concern or their level of concern.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: So --

MS. PSAKI: Oh. Go ahead.

QUESTION: So are you worried that some other kind of materials that – weapons that can go into these hands. And they were also – in the letter they say it can be used in Iraq or it can be taken abroad. So --

MS. PSAKI: Well, again, I would just highlight the fact that the Iraqi Government and the United States Government are not the experts like the IAEA is on this type of material and what risk it may or may not pose. So it’s in their hands. They’ve made an initial statement. I would point you to that and I would refer to them if there’s more they plan to say on this.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: Is there any update on cutting off funding for ISIS or maybe working with Twitter to get ISIS’s Twitter handles cut off?

MS. PSAKI: Sure. I think that is not at this moment in the works, to my knowledge. But I do have a little bit of an update from what you asked about yesterday, which was interesting to learn about, to be frank. One moment.

So you asked yesterday about our plans to counter ISIS’s social media presence. And the Department for – the Department Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications specifically and aggressively counters ISIL propaganda in social media on a daily basis, working closely with other bureaus and offices here in the Department, as well as interagency partners. For the most part, this campaign is conducted in Arabic, as most ISIL social media efforts are in that language. But broadly speaking, they also conduct social media engagement in a range of languages in order to reach a range of audiences. And they’ve been doing this messaging for some time now, but it has increased over the past month or so as it’s also increased from ISIL.

QUESTION: Do you know which platforms this messaging is being done?

MS. PSAKI: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, a range of social media platforms is where they engage.

QUESTION: Yes, please. From what I understand from your answer is that you are debating with them or you are arguing with what they are saying, or you are blocking it?

MS. PSAKI: Not exactly, but let me try to explain a little bit better. I think the question Lucas asked yesterday was about – there’s a – the broad engagement of ISIL on social media. And I did a little research and talked to our team and learned a little bit more about what we do here. And what we do here, it may be engagement, but it may be just putting out information or a different kind of propaganda that combats the messages that are be put – that are put out, because nowadays, there’s so much focus on social media and it’s an international tool of communicating.

QUESTION: But the reason I’m asking because that the – I’m just not sure what the – what pushed Lucas to ask this question. Because there is a concern about using the social media as a tool of terrorism, anyway, or a message of terrorism. And in order to confront it, there are some suggestions that to block it or at least to follow it instead of putting in a debate. Because in social media, as you know, is like those who – they are following something, they don’t follow the other thing.

MS. PSAKI: That’s true. And the truth is we’re not targeting the hardliners through this messaging. It’s targeting more of the folks in the middle, so to speak. So – but an interesting thing to note about the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications is that it was created by an executive order just a couple of years ago. It’s only about three years old. And their mandate is countering actively violent extremist propaganda across multiple countries and regions.

So I understand what you’re saying, but there also is an effort that is only a couple years old that this Department has a prominent role in to combat these messages and communicate our own messages.

QUESTION: New topic?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: Benghazi?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Does the State Department have a reaction to recently released testimony from retired General Carter Ham, the AFRICOM commander?

MS. PSAKI: Is there a specific question you have about it?

QUESTION: Yeah. He said yesterday that – written in this transcript – that the assault was probably the work of a new team of militants, the attack on the annex is part of a third wave, the attack was not spontaneous, the mortar crew was well-trained, they probably had an observer.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Does this kind of go against this notion of a spontaneous attack or attacks?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Lucas, first let me say that obviously, the release of these transcripts is an additional effort to be as transparent as possible in this ongoing investigation. The investigation is ongoing. There’s a range of information. I would caution anyone from taking just one sliver from an interview at one point to determine a final outcome. It’s been clear all along that the second phase of the attack was more sophisticated with the use of mortars, and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s January 2014 report concluded that it remains unclear if any person or group exercised overall command and control of the attacks.

But again, because this is an ongoing investigation, we’re going to let that conclude before we draw any conclusions.

QUESTION: But I thought the ARB investigated this attack.

MS. PSAKI: Well, the ARB certainly did, but there’s also a separate investigation, as you know. The ARB looked into a range of questions, but there’s also a separate investigation that’s led by the FBI.

QUESTION: But how come a year and a half after the attacks, we’re still hearing about reports? And this wasn’t testimony to Congress, this wasn’t General Ham being interviewed by members of the State Department or members of the Administration.

MS. PSAKI: Well, these were interviews that were released that were closed-door interviews. But just like any different reports or different individual accounts, you have to take those as one of many. And obviously, assessments are made about – through investigations and through an overall review about what actually happened, but it’s ongoing.

QUESTION: Are you ready to finally acknowledge that the attacks were not spontaneous?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Lucas, I think we’ve been pretty clear or we’ve stated many times and very consistently that we believe it was an opportunistic attack on our mission that did not involve significant preplanning. It still doesn’t change the fact that at the time, there were known protests all around the region dominating the news at the time. There were a range of reports on those that probably every outlet in this room reported on. So we’re not in a position to make any conclusive confirmation today of anything. We’ll let the investigation conclude.

QUESTION: And I noticed you didn’t mention the video this time. Have you guys dropped that one?

MS. PSAKI: I think we’ve referred to the video before. Nothing has changed on that particular point.

More on this or a new topic?

QUESTION: A new topic.

MS. PSAKI: New topic, okay.

QUESTION: Afghanistan?

MS. PSAKI: Can we go to the back and then we’ll go to you. Go ahead.

QUESTION: So James Dobbins said yesterday that a winner-take-all system in Afghanistan is not workable, and he called for a government of national unity that includes all elements. Is that the view of the U.S. State Department?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think there’s no question that the United States Government wants to see a unified Afghanistan and wants to bring unity to the people of Afghanistan. It’s for the next president of Afghanistan to determine the composition of the government, which will need to be broad-based and inclusive to lead to a unified Afghanistan. Obviously, we’re encouraging a range of steps in the process so we can get closer to that conclusion.

QUESTION: So is it – so he was calling for something specific, a government of national unity. So is this – is it the State Department’s view that it’s something more general than that?

MS. PSAKI: Well, national unity, I would say, means unified – leading a united Afghanistan. Right now, what we’re – what we don’t want to see is a divided Afghanistan. We don’t want to see any candidate or entity in Afghanistan continue down any path that would lead to a divided Afghanistan. So I think it’s – he was making the point about the contrast to that.

QUESTION: But should it be a coalition government or is it up to the president?

MS. PSAKI: It’s up to the president to determine the composition of his government. But certainly – I know there’s a lot of use of “unified,” “unity,” and what that all means, but I think what we’re focused on as the United States Government is continuing to encourage all candidates and entities in Afghanistan to work towards bringing unity to the country and to the Afghan people.

QUESTION: Sticking with Afghanistan --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- I wanted to ask – VICE News recently put out three different investigations that were looking into interpreters being denied visas into the United States. Is the State Department working on that? And what kind of steps are they taking in order to help these people that helped the U.S. who are now being potentially attacked by the Taliban get out of a hostile situation?

MS. PSAKI: Well, SIVs and our effort to address that and to improve and increase the review of that has been a priority of the Secretary’s. Deputy Secretary Heather Higginbottom has been running point on this issue, and there have been significant increases and improvements over the last several months, and I’m sure we can get that directly to you and anyone else who is interested in that.

Obviously, each of these cases is considered on a case by case basis. We don’t speak to that as a matter of policy, but we can get you some more information and statistics on that if that’s helpful.

I just have time for a couple more here. Let’s go to Scott.

QUESTION: Several times this week you’ve spoken of the need for Afghan candidates to refrain from counter-production – counterproductive efforts in declaring victory.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Is it your assessment that Afghan politicians are following that advice?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’ve expressed concern a couple of days ago about some of the comments that we had seen happen on the ground, including rumors of calls for parallel governments and declaration of victory. You can tell me or you all can tell me if there have been new calls for that, but obviously we’re continuing to communicate our concerns about any candidate or party going down that path. And to be very crystal clear about it – and we’ve talked this a little bit in here – but any extra constitutional actions which would impact the unity of Afghanistan would result in the immediate end of U.S. assistance to Afghanistan. That’s not our preference. That’s not what we want to do, but that has certainly been communicated to the candidates.

QUESTION: Madam, India?

MS. PSAKI: Okay, let’s just go to the back and then we can go to you, Goyal.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: Secretary Kerry said in Beijing that he discussed the importance of enforcing sanctions on North Korea, and China has a huge role to play in this regard, and China understands this obligation. Does this mean that China has agreed to carry out those sanctions more vigorously than before?

MS. PSAKI: Well, China has been an important partner in the implementation of sanctions, and even as recently as last year they took a number of important steps. I will leave it to them to announce whether there are additional steps that they plan on taking. But I think the Secretary was just referring to the important role they play and the relationship that they have with North Korea.

QUESTION: India?

MS. PSAKI: India? Sure, go ahead.

QUESTION: How do you address the fears that are raised in the Indian subcontinent about the Pakistani nuclear weapons after this Iraq incident?

MS. PSAKI: After the Iraq incident?

QUESTION: Yes, the insurgents --

MS. PSAKI: Can you play this out a little bit more for me? What are the --

QUESTION: Yeah. You just answered that the Iraqi insurgents took the nuclear material, but that was not --

MS. PSAKI: We don’t have any confirmation of who the source of taking the material was.

QUESTION: Yeah, but in Pakistan, there – which is nearly a failed state, are you confident of the security of their nuclear weapons?

MS. PSAKI: We’ve obviously been – we have a range of dialogues with Pakistan. We work closely with them on counterterrorism issues and a range of issues. I’m not aware of any new concern in this case.

Matt, do you have anything else? Okay. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Just two quick questions. One, just follow on Pakistan. How much concern this building has as far as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has ordered the military throughout Pakistan in major cities, say, this is something to maybe do with Afghanistan also?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not familiar with what you’re referring to, but maybe we can connect you with the right person after to get more details.

QUESTION: And finally just another subject. What is the future of, madam, 80-year old Import – Export-Import Bank, which is they are trying to close down? And it’s supposed to help the small businesses, including it was playing a great role between the U.S. and India trade and business and other economic issues.

MS. PSAKI: Sure. Well, it’s a little out of my lane, but I will certainly say that the Export-Import Bank plays an important role in not just partnering with foreign governments and countries and working with them on business development and economic growth, but it plays an important role in economic growth in the United States and job creation in the United States. And in fact, a little known fact is that it turns a profit every year. Can’t say that about many entities.

QUESTION: And you do not want – and you do not want to close this down?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t think anyone in the United States Government wants to see the Export-Import Bank close down.

Thanks, everyone.

QUESTION: Thank you, madam.


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Categories: News Pit Feeds

Daily Press Briefings : Daily Press Briefing: July 9, 2014

Wed, 07/09/2014 - 18:13

Jen Psaki
Spokesperson
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
July 9, 2014

Share Index for Today's Briefing
  • DEPARTMENT
    • Secretary Kerry Travel Update / S&ED
    • Treasury Department / Syrian Regime / Sanctions
    • Pending Nominees / U.S. Senate
  • ISRAEL/PALESTINIANS
    • Rocket Attacks / Diplomatic Engagement / Secretary Kerry's Efforts / Humanitarian Issues / Continuing Peace Process / Call for Restraint / Path Forward / Regional Concern
    • Iran Involvement
  • IRAQ
    • Government Formation / Inclusivity / Political Process / Deputy Assistant Secretary McGurk
    • Efforts on the Ground / ISIL / Accurate Communication / Turkish Diplomats
  • CHINA
    • International Woman of Courage Award Winner / Tsering Woeser
  • AFGHANISTAN
    • Election / Reconciliation / Discussions with Afghan Leaders / Audit Process / Foreign Assistance
  • BAHRAIN
    • Assistant Secretary Malinowski's Visit / Formal Complaint Registered
  • DEPARTMENT
    • Pending Nominees / U.S. Senate / Secretary Kerry's Op-Ed / Working through Process
  • VENEZUELA
    • Exchange of Chargés / Bilateral Relationship
  • SYRIA
    • Syrian Opposition Coalition / Election / Assistance
  • NORTH KOREA
    • North Korean Launches / U.S. Concern / International Obligations / Chinese Concerns / Japanese Concern


TRANSCRIPT:

12:59 p.m. EDT

MS. PSAKI: Hi, everyone.

QUESTION: Hi there.

MS. PSAKI: I just have a couple of items for all of you at the top. Secretary Kerry continues his visit to Beijing for the sixth round of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, and the fifth U.S.-China High-Level Consultation on People to People Exchanges. On July 9th, which is of course today, he opened the S&ED and reiterated our commitment to cooperate in areas of common interest and to constructively manage our differences.

As the Secretary said, we welcome the emergence of a peaceful, stable, prosperous China that contributes to the stability and the development of the region and plays a responsible role in world affairs. Secretary Kerry co-chaired the S&ED strategic track session and a special joint session on climate change and clean energy, where the two sides reviewed and strengthened efforts to tackle climate change. He also attended an event to highlight the importance of combating wildlife trafficking and to outline areas of cooperation to stop this transnational crime.

I just have a couple of other quick items at the top. As the Treasury Department announced this morning, I wanted to highlight that the United States took action to increase pressure on the Syrian regime by sanctioning three entities contributing to its repression of the Syrian people and literally fueling its war machine. Treasury designated the Pangates International Corporation for providing material support for and goods and services to the regime, including a Syrian state oil company already sanctioned by us. Pangates International is based in the U.A.E.

Treasury also designated two Syria-based front companies – the Expert Partners and Megatrade – for acting for or on behalf of the regime agency responsible for developing and producing nonconventional weapons and ballistic missiles, which we’ve also sanctioned. Today’s actions build on our robust multilateral sanctions coalition against the Assad regime. We’ve worked with more than 60 countries and international organizations to impose targeted sanctions against nearly 200 individuals and entities.

And just one more item, and then we’ll get to your questions.

You all may have seen the Secretary’s editorial piece this morning calling on the Senate to confirm our pending nominees. As he noted in this piece, the United States continues to operate without a complete diplomatic toolbox to exert our leadership, advance our security and economic interests, and address global crises because we are without ambassadors in nearly 40 countries while their nominations await Senate confirmation. Just to go through a couple of the numbers for all of you, 53 Department nominees are pending before the Senate, 35 of whom are noncontroversial career diplomats. Thirty-seven have been approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and could be confirmed immediately with a simple vote. Not only do the vacancies in so many world capitals send a dangerous message to allies and adversaries alike about America’s engagement, but the length and number of these vacancies compromises U.S. national and economic security.

And just to give you a few examples that were highlighted in the Secretary’s opinion piece: In the Middle East, it’s critical that we have leaders on the ground in a region where we have extensive economic and security interests. Countries like Qatar, Algeria, and Kuwait all are pending – all have nominees pending in the Senate. In Africa, nearly a full 25 percent of our total ambassadorial presence on the continent is pending before the Senate and has been for over eight months. Vital roles that ambassadors would play in coordination in the fight against Boko Haram and al-Qaida affiliates remain vacant. And to highlight something we’ve been talking about over the last week or so, we need ambassadors in the Western Hemisphere to help find ways to prevent the crush of unaccompanied minors along our southwestern border. Nominees for both Honduras and Guatemala await Senate action right now.

As noted in the piece, but just to highlight for all of you, the Secretary proposed a unique solution to combat the nominations backlog and prevent such a logjam in the future – that the Senate carve out State’s career nominees and expedite their confirmation, just as it does for military promotions. And just to not to put too fine a point on it, obviously for America to continue to play a strong role in the world, we need equal treatment for diplomats, we need to have ambassadors and our representatives on the front lines in these countries around the world.

So with that, let’s get to who’s first. I knew it would be you, Said. Go ahead.

israelpalestinians">QUESTION: Jen, thank you. So can we start with the Palestinian Israeli --

MS. PSAKI: We certainly can.

QUESTION: -- fight over Gaza? Yesterday you took issue with my number. Today the Israelis acknowledged that they have waged, as of one o’clock this morning our time, they have waged 160 bombing runs over Gaza. Thirty-nine Palestinians have been killed, including a whole family, children and so on. Are you doing anything beyond just calling for restraint to actually bring about some sort of a de-escalation or a quiet?

MS. PSAKI: Well, let me first – I’ll give you a brief update on the Secretary’s diplomatic engagement, as well as the Administration, I should say. Secretary Kerry spoke with Prime Minister Netanyahu this morning and he plans to speak with President Abbas over the next 24 hours. There’s a bit of a time change challenge, as you all know, given he’s in China. White House coordinator Phil Gordon is in Jerusalem and the West Bank today and has been meeting with key decision makers on both sides. He met today with President Abbas. And the Secretary, as I noted yesterday, has been making calls over the past 24 hours to world leaders as we continue to evaluate the situation and look for ways to stop the rocket attacks.

As I mentioned yesterday, and I want to reiterate, certainly no country should be expected to stand by while rocket attacks from a terrorist organization are launching into their country and impacting innocent civilians. At the same time, in the Secretary’s conversations, in the conversations of all of our senior Administration officials, they’ve been encouraging all sides to de-escalate the situation and certainly we don’t want to see any civilian casualties. That is one of the prominent reasons why it’s so important to move forward and de-escalate the situation on the ground.

QUESTION: Okay. He also made very clear time and time again Israel’s right to self-defense. And I asked you about the Palestinians’ right to self-defense. Let me ask you this: The population in Gaza, is it largely Hamas operatives or largely innocent civilians? And if there are larger Hamas operatives, then an argument can be made that they could be targets. But if they are largely civilians, then they should have, certainly, the right to self-defense --

MS. PSAKI: Well, Said, I would simply say there’s a --

QUESTION: -- or to protection.

MS. PSAKI: -- strong difference between attacks --

QUESTION: Right, I understand.

MS. PSAKI: -- rocket attacks launched by a terrorist organization that is based in Gaza and the right of Israel to defend itself. At the same time, as you know, we work closely with the Palestinians. We work closely with the Israelis. And it’s important at this point in time to see if all sides can take steps to de-escalate.

QUESTION: How could you follow or do you have any means of following what is going on on the ground in Gaza in terms of the humanitarian suffering, people that lack water, lack the – of medical care, lack of food, things of that nature. Do you have anyone --

MS. PSAKI: How do we --

QUESTION: Do you have anyone on the ground in Gaza that can monitor the situation?

MS. PSAKI: Said, I think we are concerned about any humanitarian suffering around the world. As you know, that isn’t about sides. That’s about what’s right morally. But I think – do you have any more questions on this issue?

QUESTION: But – yes, I do. Yeah.

MS. PSAKI: Okay. Go ahead.

QUESTION: You also mentioned that Mr. Gordon – Phil Gordon said yesterday in a speech at the peace conference, he said that the current Israeli Government is not committed to peace. Those were his words. Do you agree?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think it’s been clear that both sides haven’t taken the – made the difficult choices needed to continue the peace process. And when there’s an absence of peace or a peace process, there’s a vacuum left that, at times, is filled by violence. So that’s the circumstance we’re looking at right now.

QUESTION: But he didn’t say both sides. He said the current Israeli Government is not committed to peace, and he went on to say --

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to parse his words --

QUESTION: -- and he went on to say --

MS. PSAKI: -- but we’ve – let me finish. We’ve consistently said that both sides didn’t make the necessary choices needed to continue the process.

QUESTION: Do --

MS. PSAKI: I think we have one more for you and then we’ve got to move on.

QUESTION: Okay. One more, I promise, yeah. And he also said that Israel continues to deny the Palestinians sovereignty, security, and dignity. Do you agree with that assessment?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to parse his words. As you know, there are difficult issues with --

QUESTION: But he --

MS. PSAKI: -- let me finish, Said – with strong emotional feelings when it relates to these tough choices that need to be made around the peace process. Certainly, the Secretary, the President still believe, as is – as the President wrote in his op-ed, that that is the right path towards a stable and secure long-term Middle East. And that’s why we’re keeping the door open to a peace process in the future.

QUESTION: But you agree Mr. Gordon --

MS. PSAKI: I think we need to move on to other questions.

QUESTION: -- Mr. Gordon speaks on behalf of the Administration?

MS. PSAKI: Samir, go ahead.

QUESTION: Iraq – Iraq?

QUESTION: No, let’s stay with Palestinian – yeah.

MS. PSAKI: Well, let’s do this process.

QUESTION: No, this – the Palestinian.

MS. PSAKI: Okay, go ahead.

QUESTION: One more.

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead, Lucas.

QUESTION: Do you know who’s supplying Hamas with these rockets?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any information to share on that, Lucas.

QUESTION: Because a few weeks ago the United Nations said that Iran had been fingered in delivery of rockets to Gaza and Sudan, and I was wondering if you had a comment on that.

MS. PSAKI: That is true, and has – those reports have been around for some time, I believe, but I don’t have anything specific or any confirmation from here.

QUESTION: Is this being brought up on the side during the ongoing nuclear talks in Vienna?

MS. PSAKI: Is the issue of --

QUESTION: Iran supplying Hamas with rockets?

MS. PSAKI: Not that I’m aware of. The focus is on the nuclear issue. There’s plenty to discuss on that particular issue.

QUESTION: And how do you discuss just nuclear issues with Iran when all this is going on, them supplying rockets to Hamas or Syria, and also possible destabilizing efforts in Iraq?

MS. PSAKI: Well, as we’ve long said, Lucas, obviously resolving the nuclear issue and preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon is not the only issue we have with Iran. But it’s such an important issue and it’s one that’s vital to our national security interests and to the security of the region that we feel a focus on that at these discussions is absolutely appropriate.

QUESTION: But would cutting off the supply line help with the conflict currently going on in Gaza?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think it’s clear, Lucas, that our concern and our condemnation of the rocket attacks has been consistent. And of course we’d be concerned about the suppliers, but I don’t have any more information to share on that.

Go ahead, Roz.

QUESTION: What specifically did the Secretary tell Prime Minister Netanyahu in his call?

MS. PSAKI: Well, they’ve been in close touch over the course of the last several days. They’ve been discussing the circumstances on the ground. Certainly, he commended him for his call for restraint this weekend when he was meeting with his cabinet, and they’re discussing a path forward. I think certainly Prime Minister Netanyahu is concerned about the threat that the rockets from Hamas pose to his own people. He’s spoken about that publicly. The Secretary is concerned as well, and so they’ve discussed that and they’ve had ongoing discussions.

QUESTION: Did the Secretary say to the prime minister that while it’s perfectly appropriate to defend against rocket attacks from Gaza, that any effort to launch an offensive is inflammatory?

MS. PSAKI: I wouldn’t put words in his mouth. What he’s conveyed is what I just said. And as you know, we’ve – we’re encouraging all sides to de-escalate the situation on the ground. But again, Israel has every right to defend themselves and take steps to defend themselves, as – and as we know, the aggression is currently coming from Hamas in Gaza.

QUESTION: Did the Secretary raise any concerns that the U.S. might have about Israel’s plans to call up 40,000 reservists? You don’t need 40,000 people to operate Iron Dome.

MS. PSAKI: Again, I don’t have anything more to read out from the call, so I think I’ll leave it at what I just said.

QUESTION: And then besides the time difference in trying to reach President Abbas, what would be the thrust of the Secretary’s message to him?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think it’s a similar discussion in terms of discussing the path forward and how to de-escalate the situation on the ground. Obviously, as you know, President Abbas has condemned a range of the attacks as well as the recent tragic events with the three Israeli teenagers. And the Secretary will simply have a discussion about the path forward.

QUESTION: President Abbas also noted today that this wasn’t just a matter of the Israeli Government engaged with Hamas, but that this was – and I’m paraphrasing here – an attack on the entire Palestinian people. Is that kind of language coming from Mr. Abbas appropriate?

MS. PSAKI: I didn’t see his specific comments, so I don’t have a comment on them.

Do we have more on this issue?

QUESTION: Yes, please. (Inaudible.)

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead. Go ahead in the back. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Regarding the Secretary Kerry contacts with the regional leaders, you said --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Yesterday, you didn’t give any details. Do you have something to say today?

MS. PSAKI: I can give you a list of the meetings or the engagements, and certainly it’s a discussion about the circumstances on the ground. He spoke with Qatari Foreign Minister al-Attiyah, he spoke with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. I mentioned his call with Prime Minister Netanyahu. Those are the calls that he’s had today and he’s looking to speak with President Abbas in the next 24 hours.

QUESTION: So you think that regional power or regional countries have a role to play in the escalation of this, or you just asking the two sides?

MS. PSAKI: Well, they – certainly regional countries have a stake in the stability of the region. And so the Secretary’s simply reaching out and having a discussion about the path forward with these regional leaders as well.

QUESTION: So either Prime Minister Netanyahu or Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority president, did they ask for other regional or did they ask their – your – what you call it – being in touch with leaders to be involved in this?

MS. PSAKI: I would point you to them to answer that question. I think the Secretary feels it’s only natural to have these discussions with countries in the region and their leaders.

QUESTION: So there is another thing. Related to the – just to check with you, it’s like – you said this morning he had a call with Netanyahu --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- Prime Minister Netanyahu. This is the third call in the last four days? I mean, you said before, I think it was Friday and Sunday?

MS. PSAKI: That’s correct. I believe at least three calls in the last several days. And during those calls, he certainly reiterated our concern about escalating tensions and our willingness to -- expressed our willingness to engage and helping to stop the rocket fire and restore the 2012 ceasefire as soon as possible. I mentioned the calls he’s had with foreign leaders.

Let me reiterate, just in response to Said’s earlier question, we are concerned about the safety and security of civilians on both sides and – whether that’s the residents of southern Israel who are forced to live under rocket fire in their homes and the civilians in Gaza. And that’s why we’ve called on both sides to do all they can to restore calm and to take steps to protect civilians, even as we’re working to resolve the circumstances here.

QUESTION: Yes, please. My last question: Regarding the rocket attacks, in the last two days, the – in relation to Iron Dome statistics, almost that – just 20 percent of those rockets were intercepted. Did Israel ask U.S. for more help to – regarding the rocket attacks?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not aware of any additional requests. As you know, we are – we provide a significant amount of security assistance and provisions to the Israelis.

Go ahead, Samir. Can we go to Samir just since he hasn’t had one? Go ahead, Samir.

QUESTION: Iraq?

MS. PSAKI: Oh, okay. Sorry. Go ahead, Said. Let’s do one more on this. You don’t – okay, okay. Go ahead, Samir.

QUESTION: Yes. Prime Minister Maliki in a TV address today, he accused the Kurdistan Regional Government of allowing Erbil to become a base for the ISIS and the al-Qaida and terrorists. And he also kind of confirmed that he will not allow them to take over disputed areas like Kirkuk. Do you have any reaction to this kind of a --

MS. PSAKI: Well, without seeing the full context of his comments, let me just reiterate that our view is that the focus in Iraq right now should be on taking steps to urgently move forward with government formation. There have been – there’s a long history here of a lack of inclusivity, and at this pivotal point in time, it’s important for all leaders, including Prime Minister Maliki, to act in a way that welcomes in and unites leaders in the country instead of dividing.

QUESTION: Are you concerned that Erbil might become a hotbed for extremists?

MS. PSAKI: Erbil?

QUESTION: Yes.

MS. PSAKI: I think we’re concerned about any threat that ISIL poses to citizens and communities in Iraq.

QUESTION: Okay. And let me just follow up on the advisors on the ground. Their first assessment last week was that the Iraqis may be able to defend Baghdad but are unable to sort of retake territory already conquered by the Islamic State. Has there been any update to the situation? Are they doing anything other than assessment and perhaps talking to --

MS. PSAKI: Well, assessing is certainly a part of --

QUESTION: Right.

MS. PSAKI: -- what their mandate is. But I would refer you to DOD for any updates on their work on the ground.

QUESTION: Okay. But the fact that al-Baghdadi so boldly goes to a mosque that is a well-known mosque in Mosul and within – knowing exactly where he is, his location was well known and so on, is the United States or would the United States be willing to engage militarily to ensure that, like they did back in 2004 and ’05 and ’06 when they targeted Zawahiri, that they would actually target al-Baghdadi?

MS. PSAKI: You’re familiar with the options that we always have and the President always has at his disposal, but as has consistently been the case, our focus is on the political process and encouraging that to move forward. And again, we have 300 advisors on the ground. They’re in the process of assessing, but I would refer you to DOD for any more specifics on their work.

QUESTION: How realistic to – is it to assume that if Prime Minister Maliki started acting in a more inclusive way and if the Sunnis and Kurds bought into this inclusive policy of governance, that this would neutralize the threat from the Islamic State group. How realistic is this?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Roz, I think I’m not going to speculate on that. I think there’s no question in anyone’s mind that a unified Iraq and one that – where the leaders are moving forward toward a government formation would strengthen Iraq and strengthen the case and the fight against ISIL and the threat it poses.

Do we have more on --

QUESTION: But does that mean – I mean, it just seems as if the Administration has been creating this impression that if the political climate will change, then magically this threat from the Islamic State group will just --

MS. PSAKI: I don’t think --

QUESTION: -- will just be eradicated. And it seems as if, given --

MS. PSAKI: That’s not at all – let me stop you there. That’s not at all the impression we’re sending or we’re intending to send, or I don’t think anyone thinks we’re sending. We’re – our focus here is on the reality on the ground, which is that this is – there’s a grave security situation on the ground. There’s a threat that’s being posed to all Iraqi people, as well as to leaders in the region, and right now the focus should not be on political disagreements. It should be on unifying against the threat that they all face. And so what we’re talking about is how to strengthen the Iraqi leadership, Iraqi security forces, in order to take on the threat they face. And I think there’s no question that in order to work towards a long-term sustainable Iraq, that that is an essential step toward that process.

QUESTION: But given the widespread criticism of Maliki’s leadership in the past eight years, it’s going to take time to build trust among Sunnis and among Kurds. And so it just seems as if it’s going to take a while to get that political structure right-sized. In the meantime, Islamic State is going to be doing what it’s doing.

MS. PSAKI: Well, Roz, they’re meeting – let me disagree with you. They’re meeting on Sunday, as you know, to move forward with the political process. We’re encouraging them to do that rapidly. It’s up to the Iraqi people to determine who their future leadership will be, but there’s no question they have it in their capacity to move forward. And once they’ve put a new parliament – speaker of the parliament, a new president, a new prime minister in place, that will begin the path, or – be an important step on the path towards unity and towards strengthening their fight on the ground.

More on Iraq? Samir, go ahead.

QUESTION: Is Assistant Secretary McGurk still in Iraq?

MS. PSAKI: He is. Deputy assistant secretary. Yes, he’s still in Iraq.

QUESTION: He’s deputy secretary.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: What is he doing?

MS. PSAKI: He’s been working closely with a range of Iraqi leaders. He’s been working closely with Ambassador Beecroft, and they’re working to see how they can assist in moving this political process forward.

QUESTION: Can I just follow up on Iraq?

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: Now, the Iraqis claim that they have deployed the Sukhoi fighters that they have received from the Russians. If they can deploy these Sukhois that were apparently purchased, paid for, delivered, and deployed in the last month, why is it so difficult for them, at a time when they have been – or being trained for the past 10 years or so on to fly American fighter jets, why is it so difficult for them to receive those jets?

MS. PSAKI: Well, first let me say there’ve been a range of reports about what’s happening on the ground and whether they’re Russian-made aircraft, whether they’re – what country they’re coming from, and I don’t have any confirmation of those specifics. We’ve seen all the reports. We’re aware there are Iranian operatives inside Iraq, that Iran has provided some supplies for Iraq’s armed forces.

But again, we take steps as the United States Government to ensure that any country – Iraq included, of course – is prepared to and equipped to accept and utilize the equipment that we’re providing. And that’s a natural part of the process, and one certainly, I think, that’s supported broadly by the United States Congress.

QUESTION: So do you suspect that Iran may be conducting these aerial bombardments?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to speculate on that, Said. I don’t have any confirmation of those I can offer from here.

Do we have any more on Iraq?

QUESTION: Yes, one more.

MS. PSAKI: Okay. Go ahead, Goyal.

QUESTION: Thank you, madam. Madam, my question is that – do you consider – I mean, U.S. – does U.S. consider Abu Baghdadi the next or similar to Usama bin Ladin, as he claims himself? And he has put a number of countries on alert, including U.S., India, and western countries, among others.

MS. PSAKI: Well, Goyal, I certainly spoke extensively to this the other day, but let me just reiterate. We’ve seen these type of videos and messages from ISIL and terrorist groups like ISIL in the past, and the goal here is to divide along sectarian lines the people of Iraq and to control people through terrorist means based in repressive ideology. And certainly, we have great concern about that and we have – that’s why it’s so important to express the fact that these are ruthless – this is a ruthless terrorist organization that’s only serving to divide. I’m not going to make any comparisons other than to say that you certainly know where we stand on ISIL and the fact that it is a ruthless terrorist organization, and I think that speaks to how we feel about one of its leaders.

QUESTION: And finally, on Saudi, one more quickly. One, where are they getting all this financial help to get all these weapons and all these threats? I’m sure somebody big must be behind them. And second, finally, can you confirm if there is a $10 million or more reward on him or his organization?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any details on their financial backing. I would point you to the Iraqis for that.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.

QUESTION: A follow-up?

MS. PSAKI: Oh, sorry, Lucas. On Iraq or --

QUESTION: ISIS.

MS. PSAKI: Uh-huh. Go ahead. Okay, we’ll go to you next. Sorry about that. Go ahead, Lucas.

QUESTION: Okay, no problem.

QUESTION: Have you seen reports that ISIS has issued its own passports?

MS. PSAKI: I’ve not seen those reports.

QUESTION: Is there a plan from the State Department and U.S. Government to counter ISIS’ social media presence?

MS. PSAKI: To counter ISIS’ social media presence?

QUESTION: Social media. Mm-hmm.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think first one of the – we use every tool in our toolbox to communicate what’s accurate, and that’s something the Iraqi Government does and we work with them to do as well. And obviously, speaking from the podium and the Secretary speaking out about the circumstances on the ground, the President speaking out, sends a powerful message to people in Iraq and people in the region.

QUESTION: Would it just be working with the Iraqi Government, because the Islamic State now covers a broad swath of territory?

MS. PSAKI: Well, no. Obviously, it’s working with countries in the region, and it’s vitally important to make sure that we continue to communicate and countries in the region continue to communicate that ISIL is a terrorist organization, that they are – their goal is to divide the Iraqi people, divide people in the region among sectarian lines. There’s a long history of fighting against that and uniting against that, and that’s one of the reasons we’ve been so engaged in encouraging countries in the region and their leadership to send that message as well.

QUESTION: And would the U.S. Government recognize an ISIL passport should someone come to the airport?

MS. PSAKI: I think that’s highly unlikely, Lucas.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: It has been about a month now there are 49 Turkish consulate staff and diplomats still being held hostage by the ISIS. Do you have any update on any of those?

MS. PSAKI: I do not have an update. We remain in regular touch through our team on the ground with Turkish officials, and of course, we remain concerned about those who are being held, as we do about Americans who have been held, as we do about any international citizens who are being held by ISIL.

QUESTION: Have Turkish officials asked you any kind of help to --

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any update to offer for you on this case.

QUESTION: Last time you said that a door is – door remains open if there is any need by Ankara. The door is still open?

MS. PSAKI: Certainly. And we are engaged in continued discussions.

QUESTION: I just wanted to follow up on Lucas’ question. Do you know whether there is any Rewards for Justice program for al-Baghdadi or anyone else in --

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have that information in front of me. I’m sure we can check. I believe there are some for some of these officials, but we can get that around to all of you and it’s available on our website as well, of course.

QUESTION: Right, okay. And if it hasn’t been done, can you let us know whether it’s being considered?

MS. PSAKI: We certainly don’t get into what’s being considered or isn’t being considered. But if there’s publicly available information on our website, we will pull that together and send that to all of you about anyone who has a Rewards for Justice – is linked to the program.

Go ahead, Scott.

QUESTION: On China?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: The two writers who are under house arrest in Beijing, can you confirm that the International Women of Courage Award winner was invited previously to the U.S. Embassy?

MS. PSAKI: I have some information on this and some of it we’re still gathering, Scott. But we are concerned – there were two Chinese recipients of the Secretary’s International Women of Courage Awards who were invited to a private dinner focused on women’s issues. We are concerned that Tsering Woeser was placed under house arrest and prevented from attending – I believe the other recipient as well – and we’re looking into the matter to determine more details about what happened here and, of course, the reasons.

QUESTION: Has that been communicated with Chinese officials at the highest level, since some of the highest levels are in Beijing right now?

MS. PSAKI: I would have to check and see if this is an issue that came up in the dialogue in those discussions. And why don’t I do that, and we’ll let you know.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: Afghanistan?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Has Secretary made additional phone calls to the Afghan leaders?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t – there have not been new, additional calls today, no.

QUESTION: So what is the assessment of the situation in Afghanistan right now? Do you believe that the two candidates are heading towards any kind of reconciliation?

MS. PSAKI: Well, in all of the discussions, whether it’s the Secretary or Ambassador Cunningham or Ambassador Dobbins, in all of the conversations we’re continuing to urge both candidates and their campaigns to refrain from statements and actions that could jeopardize the electoral process. As we’ve said, we expect allegations of fraud to be reported and investigated by the relevant commissions. And so we continue to talk to the parties involved and deliver our message that both sides need to remain engaged with the electoral institutions to avoid violence or threats of violence, and to avoid any move towards or call for extra-constitutional measures, and also to engage with each other. So these are messages that we’re consistently sending through our senior leadership on the ground, and I expect that will continue in the coming days.

QUESTION: So what kind of action do you plan to take if they go ahead with the extra-constitutional measures which they have announced --

MS. PSAKI: Well, I don’t --

QUESTION: -- like announcing a cabinet or --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. I don’t want to speculate on that, other than to say it certainly is not our preference. Our preference is to continue providing the type of support and assistance that we have been to Afghanistan. Our preference is to continue to move forward, and we fully expect we can with the planned presence that the President announced just a few weeks ago.

I stated this yesterday, but we have – we remain confident – and I spoke with our team this morning about this – that the audit process can be completed in time to allow the inauguration of the next president. And in the meantime, the fact is that there have been reports – really, not new this morning but over the last couple of days – of plans to declare victory or create a parallel government. And those are steps that we don’t think would be productive or beneficial to the Afghan people or the future of Afghanistan. And we won’t be able to provide the type of support that we would like to if things continue down that path. But that’s certainly not our preference.

QUESTION: And finally, given the current situation right now that Afghanistan is in, is the Administration considering it to review the policies that it has in Afghanistan regarding post-2014 presence, number of troops that you’re planning to draw?

MS. PSAKI: As I noted, we have every confidence that an audit process can be concluded in plenty of time for the presidential inauguration that’s scheduled for August 2nd. And as you know, both candidates have committed to signing the BSA, so we’ll look forward to hopefully moving this process forward.

QUESTION: And one more. If the U.S. is in talks with the regional countries like India, Pakistan, possibly Iran, too, on bringing the situation under control in Afghanistan.

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any contacts along those lines to read out for you. I’m happy to check and see if I think – if we’re in – if we’ve been in touch on the ground with India and Pakistan about these issues. Not that I’m aware of at this point in time.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) aid message? At first blush, it looks like a threat: If you don’t do this the right way, the U.S. is not going to provide aid. But I’m wondering whether there are – what the legal restrictions are on providing foreign aid when there is a disputed election and there are questions about what is the legitimate government in country X.

MS. PSAKI: It’s not a threat. I wasn’t trying to make a legal point. I think the fact is that if they’re not abiding by their constitution, it makes it difficult for us to continue to provide the kind of support that we have been and we would like to. But that certainly is not our preference and not what our focus is on at this point in time.

QUESTION: How does it make – what is it that makes it difficult? Is it U.S. law that a government has to be properly constituted in order for the U.S. to provide foreign aid?

MS. PSAKI: It’s our policy, Roz. But if there’s a legal component, I’m happy to check on that as well for all of you.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: So this is not a threat. This is soft warning kind of thing?

MS. PSAKI: It’s neither. It’s a statement of fact.

QUESTION: All right. (Inaudible.)

MS. PSAKI: Afghanistan?

QUESTION: Yes.

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.

QUESTION: Madam, just quickly. Just – is Secretary planning to visit the region, including Afghanistan, any time soon?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any travel to outline for or announce for all of you today.

QUESTION: Thank you, ma’am.

 

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.

QUESTION: Ambassador Dobbins is still doing his special envoy message or is --

MS. PSAKI: He is. We expect he’ll be here until about the end of the month, and Dan Feldman will be transitioning in over the course of that time.

QUESTION: Bahrain.

MS. PSAKI: Do we have any more on Afghanistan? Okay, Bahrain.

QUESTION: Bahrain. You were being criticized for mishandling this whole issue with the Assistant Secretary Malinowski.

MS. PSAKI: Who’s criticizing?

QUESTION: It’s in the newspapers and there are editorials.

MS. PSAKI: Do you have any specific names or just --

QUESTION: The Washington Post today had --

MS. PSAKI: -- unnamed sources?

QUESTION: No, the Washington Post today was – had an editorial that is not quite complimentary to the way you handled the issue.

MS. PSAKI: Well, Said, I think we were very clear that we found some of the requests issued by the Government of Bahrain to be inappropriate and contravening international diplomatic norms and conventions. We also have an important relationship with the Government of Bahrain. We’ve made our concerns known. We’ve voiced those both publicly and privately, and so I would point you to that.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: And I can also confirm for all of you that we registered a formal complaint with the Embassy of the Kingdom of Bahrain in D.C. in the last 24 hours. We’ll have probably more of an update on that later today.

QUESTION: If you were to counteraction, so to speak – if you take a counteraction, what would you do in this case? I mean, Bahrain is a small country that the United States protects in many ways. You have a major fleet out there to protect the country from any imagined aggression or possible aggression. So why do you think Bahrain has done this?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’re considering our response to the government’s decision and I’m not going to speculate on that further.

Do we have more on Bahrain or a new topic?

Go ahead, Lucas.

QUESTION: Just going back to the Secretary’s editorial piece, I was wondering, out of the 53 nominees that are awaiting confirmation, does one of them include a nominee to be the new special ambassador for international religious freedom?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think you’re familiar with the publicly announced nominations and who has made it through the committee and made it onto the Senate floor. And as you know, that position is a priority for the Administration and one that we intend to fill soon.

QUESTION: But Jen, you’ve said that a number of times. The President asked for it during the prayer breakfast in February. How long does it take just to make a nomination? I assume it’s a few phone calls.

MS. PSAKI: Well, let me first assure you that we have a team of people who work on issues of international religious freedom. Certainly, having an ambassador in place is always our preference, as is evidenced by the Secretary’s op-ed. But we have a team working every day on these issues. We raise them at the highest level every day. But we’re looking, as with any position, to find the right person for the job. And I think in the meantime, as the Secretary’s op-ed said, the Senate can move forward with confirming dozens of nominees who are sitting and waiting.

QUESTION: But the Secretary said he wanted those positions filled, the ambassador post, because it’s a critical time and it sends a bad message when you don’t fill the positions. If this is a position that’s maybe largely ceremonial, what message is that sending? Is it saying that the United States doesn’t care about religion?

MS. PSAKI: I didn’t state that at all. In fact, the United States cares deeply about human rights issues, including freedom of religion, and that’s one of the reasons that we’re working hard to find the right person and fill it with the right person for the job.

QUESTION: Yes, please. This editorial piece by the Secretary --

MS. PSAKI: Yes.

QUESTION: -- in Politico.

MS. PSAKI: Yes.

QUESTION: You mentioned that nearly 40 countries, they don’t have ambassadors, and then you mentioned too that it’s – although some of them were even approved by the Committee for Foreign Relation, yet the Senate didn’t approve them – I mean, or at least confirm them. And we know that the Senate is majority Democratic. So how do you explain? Because the Secretary just highlight an issue, but he didn’t explain why these people are approved or not approved and what is this process not going on?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’re dealing with a logjam Congress, logjam Senate and House right now, and a big part of that is that there is opposition to moving forward with anything, whether it is legislation or the approval of nominees, and one party can’t do it on their own. So in this case, there are options that the Senate has at their disposal, and that includes a voice vote on dozens of noncontroversial nominees. These are officials who have served their country as Foreign Service officers for decades, many of them. There’s nothing controversial about them. They have decades of experience and they would play vital roles on the ground. And that’s why it’s – we’re pushing this so strongly. They can voice vote them through. And many of them receive approval of 93 to1 or 97 to1 anyway, while at the same time they’re waiting. Of the 37 floor nominees, they’ve waited an average of 245 days. That’s over eight months to be confirmed while there’s no ambassador in many of these pivotal countries.

The other option that’s mentioned in the op-ed is expediting confirmations for career employees, as it does – I mentioned that a little bit – for military – that happens with the military as well. So there are a range of options that the Senate can move forward with and we’re urging them to do so.

QUESTION: So the other question related – because this was – this issue was raised over the last – many times and – whether it was the case with having an ambassador in Moscow or whether in India or in Egypt for months. And the answer was coming from this podium, there are a lot of capable people and they are doing – we don’t need the – I mean, it’s not – we didn’t – you didn’t say you don’t need, but it’s like whether the ambassador is there or not, the job is done. What happened in the last few weeks or months that change your --

MS. PSAKI: The two are not contradictory, and I would go back to Lucas’s question. We have capable mid to senior-level employees and staff, whether they’re career staff or Foreign Service officers or political staff, serving at our posts and embassies around the world. But there is no question that it would be helpful and it’s vitally important to have ambassadors and leaders at the helm in some of these important countries around the world where they’re facing some of the biggest global challenges we face. And so we’re looking to move things forward quickly.

QUESTION: Somehow related to this issue is the issue of perception, which is always either, like, appreciated or ignored here. Because it’s how others are looking to United States, especially with – regarding the ambassadors. Do you think this perception is right, when people – they don’t have ambassadors – U.S. ambassadors there, they feel that it is not – somehow their issues are not handled enough?

MS. PSAKI: Are – sorry, can you --

QUESTION: I mean, are you considering that it’s an issue, the impression that if U.S. doesn’t have an ambassador, as Ambassador Kerry – Secretary Kerry was raising the issue, the necessity of having the leadership role, so the presence of ambassadors are important or not?

MS. PSAKI: Absolutely, vitally important to have the individual at the helm of any post or embassy in these countries around the world. And when you have dozens that are vacant, that leaves a void of leadership at the top that we think needs to be avoided, because there’s a real national security issue at stake here.

QUESTION: A follow-up on that question?

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.

QUESTION: Is this the reason why the Administration has not announced a new – nomination for new ambassador to India?

MS. PSAKI: Well, as you know, the last ambassador just left her post and served there for the last – over a year. And obviously, it’s a vitally important position, and with many you just have to work through the process and find the right person for the position. What I’m talking about here is slightly different, which is individuals who have been nominated who have waited an average of 245 days, over 8 months, to be confirmed. So there are people who have been sitting waiting to go to these countries to serve proudly in these countries who haven’t been confirmed on the Senate floor.

QUESTION: So even if you nominate an ambassador to India now, it would take – it will be early next year that you have a new ambassador --

MS. PSAKI: Well, we certainly hope not.

QUESTION: You’re concerned even by these --

MS. PSAKI: And that’s a great example. I think everybody agrees that we should have an ambassador to India in place. And as soon as one is nominated, we’re hopeful that the Senate will move forward as quickly as possible.

QUESTION: Just a quick follow-up.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Is that, Madam, since India has now a new prime minister, a new government, it’s taking time because it had to find the right person for India, the U.S’s next ambassador?

MS. PSAKI: No, it – not at all. It’s not taking a great deal of time at all. We’re – we have to work through the process of finding the right person for these pivotal positions.

QUESTION: But sometime it’s consultations between the two governments, right?

MS. PSAKI: Certainly, that’s a part of any process.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.

QUESTION: Going back to the Senate, Senate Democrats have been putting the blame on Senate Republicans for holding up these nominations, but you have Senate Republicans saying look, Senator Reid, who’s a Democrat, controls the schedule on these votes and he’s been prioritizing judicial nominees over State Department nominees, perhaps because that’s the Administration’s priority. Do you feel that the White House is prioritizing State Department nominees and that Senate Democrats are as well?

MS. PSAKI: Well, a couple of important points here. One is there has been a logjam in the Senate on the Senate floor about nominations and legislation long before Senator – Majority Leader Reid moved forward with the nuclear option several months ago. That was put in place because there was a complete deadlock on getting anything done in the Senate at all. And I think the point you raised is an important one and that there – all you need for a voice vote is unanimous consent. And when you’re talking about a vote that could be 97 to 1 or 90 to 1 or 80 to 1 or 80 to 5, whatever it may be, there’s no reason they shouldn’t have a voice vote for the majority of these nominees. That’s an easy thing that the Senate can do on the Senate floor, and we encourage them to do that.

QUESTION: And then going back to what the Secretary said in this op-ed and what you actually just said earlier from the podium, he said that the length and number of these vacancies compromise national security, citing a few examples, as you did, of places where maybe greater capacity or presence would strengthen the partnership or help maintain the partnership in these countries.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: But are there specific cases where the State Department feels U.S. national security has been compromised by a nomination being held up in the Senate?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think in any case there are nominations – and I think I listed a bunch of the specific examples of individuals who have been waiting for months, if not longer. I don’t want to parse it further than what the Secretary did in his op-ed.

Go ahead. Scott? Oh. Scott.

QUESTION: Venezuela.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Do you have anything else that you can tell us about the circumstances surrounding the exchange of chiefs of mission?

MS. PSAKI: Certainly. One, there’s nothing out of the norm about this at all. We – let me just get a quick update and see where we are on this. It’s customary practice, diplomatic practice, to put in place a charge when we do not have ambassadors at the mission. This is not a new practice. There was an acting charge there previously, and Lee McClenny’s arrival is part of a routine personnel rotation.

QUESTION: Well, it might not be unusual logistically, but relations between the United States and Venezuela are unusual.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: So I mean, what about the circumstances between the United States and Venezuela, as reflected by this move?

MS. PSAKI: Well, it doesn’t change the fact that there are a range of reasons why we have a diplomatic presence in countries, even where we don’t agree on every issue. And certainly, in this case, as I mentioned the other day, the Venezuelan Government has tried repeatedly over the last couple of months to shift focus from its mistakes and Venezuela’s problems to the bilateral relationship. But again, it’s still, in our view, productive to have a presence where we can. There are American citizens that we can provide services to, we can voice concerns where we have them, and those are some of the important tools that our diplomatic embassies and posts serve as well.

QUESTION: Can we go to Syria real quick?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: Okay. The Syrian Opposition Coalition elected Hadi al Bahra. And other than the statement that you issued, has there been any conversations with him?

MS. PSAKI: The Secretary looks forward to congratulating him. He hasn’t had a chance to do that yet. As you know, it’s the middle of night in China.

QUESTION: Right. Okay. Who is the point person that is conducting affairs with the Syrian opposition at the present time? I mean, it was – in the past it was Ambassador Ford, then it was --

MS. PSAKI: Daniel Rubinstein?

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS. PSAKI: Continues to be.

QUESTION: He continues to be?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Are there any – what is the latest on their – whatever negotiations or talks? What is the likelihood of having a Geneva III or anything like that?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Said, I think you’re familiar with the range of steps we’ve taken over the course of the last several weeks, even. The President announced additional assistance and additional funding to the moderate opposition. We remain in close touch with the opposition, obviously, working to elect new leadership at this time. And obviously, there are specific restrictions on how many consecutive terms that leaders can serve in the SOC is an important part of what took place in this case. They elected, in addition to the new president – and let me just note this – they also elected three new vice presidents and a new secretary general. And we understand the new president is planning a press conference later today, so I’d point you to that for any specific update.

But again, this is a group that has given – the coalition has given a voice to all Syrians who have been oppressed by the regime for decades. We remain committed to supporting them, and obviously, the President’s announcement from a few weeks ago is evidence of that. And we remain – continue – committed to continuing to support them in their effort to work on behalf of the Syrian people. So there are a range of steps we take every day to work toward that.

QUESTION: The Syrian air force bombarded bases or convoys of ISIL right at the border, the Syria and Iraq border. And do you welcome that kind of activity?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any confirmation of those specifics, Said.

Do we have any more on Syria? Go ahead.

QUESTION: Can you confirm reports that the UN Secretary-General is going to appoint today Ambassador de Mistura as a – to replace Brahimi as an envoy to Syria?

MS. PSAKI: I’ve seen those reports. I would point you to the UN to – for confirmation.

Do we have a few in the back? Go ahead. Oh, go ahead. In the front, in the middle. Go ahead.

QUESTION: North Korea?

MS. PSAKI: North Korea, sure.

QUESTION: So it launched two missiles last night again. So how does the U.S. analyze the purpose of it and intention on why they chose this timing?

MS. PSAKI: The United States is concerned by reports of yet another round of North Korean launches, the fourth in less than two weeks. As we have emphasized, such provocative actions unilaterally heighten tensions in the region, and they will not provide North Korea with the prosperity and security it claims to seek. We once again note with concern North Korea’s apparent failure to provide prior notification to merchant ships, fishing vessels, and passenger and cargo aircraft in the vicinity, despite international provisions to do so. And we once again urge North Korea to refrain from taking provocative actions, and instead fulfill its international obligations and commitment.

QUESTION: A follow-up question?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: Yeah. Pentagon has just confirmed that these missiles were Scud ballistic missiles and this launch is a violation of a number of UN Security Council resolutions. Do you have any plan to take action against the North at the Security Council? Thank you.

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any confirmation of those specific details or reports when I came down here. I can circle back with our team. Obviously, we take any violation seriously and have in the past certainly encouraged the UN Security Council to move forward with steps.

QUESTION: Do you believe Hollywood movies are to blame for the North Korean launch, Scud launches?

MS. PSAKI: I think they’ve been around long before this – recent Hollywood movies about these issues.

QUESTION: Jen, is it related to the S&ED held in Beijing?

MS. PSAKI: Are the launches related to?

QUESTION: Yeah, yeah.

MS. PSAKI: I can’t speculate or make a prediction of what the cause of their launches are. As you know, this is the fourth in less than two weeks, and so it’s merely provocative actions that they’re taking from their end. Certainly, we’re concerned, as are countries in the region concerned about these steps.

QUESTION: And a follow-up. But the fact that they did choose to fire this missile during this meeting, S&ED, does it affect in any way the U.S. and China interacting in Beijing?

MS. PSAKI: Well, the – certainly, North Korea and the threat from North Korea is a part of the agenda at the S&ED and has long been planned to be a part of the agenda. And I know that they discussed and will continue to discuss these issues over the next remaining day of the meetings there.

QUESTION: What is the U.S. view --

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.

QUESTION: What is the U.S. view on Japanese Government still are going to keep contacting with North Korea on the abduction issue, and they are going to carefully watch the procedure of the discussion?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. Well, we have spoken to this a bit in the past, but I’m happy to reiterate what our statements have been on this.

We continue to support Japanese efforts to resolve the abductions issues in a transparent manner. We are closely coordinating with our allies and partners, including Japan, taking – in an effort to take appropriate measures to address the threat to global security posed by North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs, but would refer you to the Government of Japan for any additional information about these discussions.

Go ahead, Scott.

QUESTION: But is it right for the Japanese to include the possibility of unilaterally lifting some of their sanctions as part of these negotiations, given what you have termed these provocative actions by North Korea?

MS. PSAKI: Well, as far as I’m last aware, I don’t believe there’s been any public announcements in that regard. There have been a range of reports and rumors, but I’m not going to speculate on proposals that haven’t been announced.

Great. Thanks, everyone.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:53 p.m.)

DPB #120


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Categories: News Pit Feeds

Daily Press Briefings : Daily Press Briefing: July 8, 2014

Tue, 07/08/2014 - 18:08

Jen Psaki
Spokesperson
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
July 8, 2014

Share Index for Today's Briefing
  • CHINA
    • Secretary's Visit to Beijing for the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue and the U.S.-China High-Level Consultation on People-to-People Exchange
  • ISRAEL/PALESTINIANS
    • Continued Attacks / Israel's Right to Defend Itself / Call for De-Escalation
  • BAHRAIN
    • Assistant Secretary Malinowski's Visit
  • AFGHANISTAN
    • Elections / Allegations of Fraud / Commitment to Resolution
  • IRAN
    • P5+1 Talks
  • CHINA
    • Reports of Discrimination against Ethnic and Religious Minorities during Ramadan
  • ISRAEL/PALESTINIANS
    • Focus on Need for De-Escalation
  • CHINA
    • U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue
    • International Development Financial Institution Proposal
    • North Korea / Ongoing Dialogue with Partners
  • IRAQ
    • Congressional Briefings
    • Government Formation Process
    • Deputy Assistant Secretary McGurk's Engagement
    • U.S. Support
  • MEXICO/CENTRAL AMERICA
    • Asylum Claims / Process / UN Role
  • IRAQ
    • Formation of New Government / Process Ongoing
  • SYRIA
    • Chemical Weapons Removed
    • Concern about Situation on the Ground
  • UKRAINE/RUSSIA
    • Concerns about Russian Separatists
    • Encourage All Sides to Minimize Civilian Casualties


TRANSCRIPT:

1:50 p.m. EDT

MS. PSAKI: Hi, everyone.

QUESTION: Hello.

QUESTION: I just have one item at the top. Secretary Kerry arrived in Beijing, China to take part in the sixth U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue and the fifth U.S.-China High-Level Consultation on People-to-People Exchange. He had a small working dinner with State Councilor Yang Jiechi. And tomorrow, the S&ED and the CPE will begin.

As you know, the S&ED is a central forum for the United States and China to take stock of progress, set new goals for the relationship, develop habits of cooperation in areas of mutual interest, and to manage areas of difference through candid, high-level discussions. The S&ED remains an important component of our efforts with China to build relations between our countries, and the CPE provides a high-level forum for government, civil society, and private sector representatives to discuss cooperation in various areas of common interest. Secretary Kerry will also co-chair this year’s forum and call for closer and expanded people-to-people ties.

With that, Matt, let’s get to what’s on your mind.

QUESTION: Let’s start with Israel.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: As you are aware no doubt, the Israeli Air Force is conducting operations over in Gaza right now, and I’m wondering what you make of that. Also, the rockets have been – are being fired into southern Israel. Tel Aviv was – there were air raid sirens in Tel Aviv. What’s your take on the situation? Do you believe that this is the kind of restraint that you’ve been calling for from both sides for the past week or so?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we strongly condemn the continuing rocket fire into Israel and the deliberate targeting of civilians by terrorist organizations in Gaza. No country can accept rocket fire aimed at civilians, and we certainly support Israel’s right to defend itself against these attacks. We appreciate – we’re concerned, of course, about the safety and security of civilians, as you mentioned. I know there’s been a range of reported attacks that have gone directly on both sides, the residents of southern Israel who are forced to live under rocket fire in their homes, the civilians in Gaza who are subjected to the conflict because of Hamas’s action.

The Secretary spoke with Prime Minister Netanyahu Friday and again on Sunday. He’s been in regular contact. Let me just make sure he hasn’t had a call today as well. Not today, but he’s been in close contact and he’s reiterated our concern, as our teams have on the ground, to both sides about the need to de-escalate the tensions on the ground. We’ve also – he’s also been in touch with leaders in the region about our concerns about what’s happening on the ground.

So in terms of what’s happening specifically today, our hope is certainly that by sending a strong message that Israel will be able to deter some of the attacks that have been happening that have been coming at them from Gaza. And again, I would just reiterate our view that they have the right to defend themselves.

QUESTION: Do you believe that this is – that the Israeli actions are “sending a strong message”? That’s what you were referring to?

MS. PSAKI: Sending – well, I’m referring to --

QUESTION: The air strikes --

MS. PSAKI: -- the calls this morning. I’m not referring to specific air strikes. But I would reiterate just that they’re defending themself. They have rocket attacks coming into their own country.

QUESTION: Right. I just – well, I don’t have an ulterior motive here.

MS. PSAKI: No, go ahead. Keep going.

QUESTION: I’m just trying to figure out when you say that you think that Israel is sending a strong message – by sending a strong message Israel will be able to deter future rocket attacks from Gaza, is what the Israelis are doing now, do you consider that to be sending a strong message, or is it something else?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not referring to specific action. I’m referring to their statements that they are prepared – they’re preparing themselves to respond to the attacks. Certainly, our preference, which is what the Secretary and others have been conveying to both sides, is to de-escalate the tensions, to bring an end to the violence. But we certainly believe they have the right to defend themselves as well.

QUESTION: They’ve – the government has authorized to call up 40,000 troops, which would appear to be paving the way for a potential ground operation. Is that something that you would oppose, something that you would think is fully within Israel’s right to do? What’s your – what are your thoughts about that?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’re not going to get ahead of where we are. I’m not going to get ahead of where we are now. I would remind you that just this past weekend, Prime Minister Netanyahu called for acting responsibly, called for all sides acting responsibly. We’re continuing to convey the need to de-escalate to both sides. Again, it is not a surprise that they are taking steps to prepare themself, but certainly, our preference is to de-escalate the situation on the ground.

QUESTION: Do you believe that all sides are acting responsibly at the moment?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think certainly, we’ve been calling for de-escalation because, obviously, the rocket attacks coming into Gaza, the recent violence on the ground --

QUESTION: So that’s no?

MS. PSAKI: Correct.

QUESTION: On the Palestinian side, they are not – or on the Hamas side, they are not acting responsibly, correct?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not – we think all sides should act responsibly, all sides should take steps to de-escalate. But again, it’s important to note where the rocket attacks are coming from. But obviously, there are a lot of circumstances on the ground now, as you know.

QUESTION: I understand that. I’m just trying to get at – I’m trying to find out what the Administration’s position is on whether the sides are acting responsibly, whether they are showing the kind of restraint that you think is necessary to de-escalate the situation, or not. And it’s very possible that one side is and the other side isn’t, or that that’s your opinion, but I’m just trying to find out if – what is the – what does the Administration believe? Is its – are its calls for restraint being heeded by one side, both sides, or either side?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to get into that level of specificity, Matt, other than to say that we’re conveying through diplomatic channels the importance to both sides of acting responsibly and with restraint.

QUESTION: Okay. And then my last one is you said that the Secretary had been – in addition to calling Prime Minister Netanyahu on Friday and Sunday – was it Friday --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm, correct, Friday and Sunday.

QUESTION: -- that he had also been in touch with leaders in the region to pass along the same message, I guess.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Could you be more specific about who in the region?

MS. PSAKI: Well, what I’m specifically – let me see if there are more specific calls to read out for you. What I’m referring to is any leader in the region, any countries in the region that can send a strong message to Hamas as well.

QUESTION: But that would be – so, like the Egyptians, the Saudis, the – who, Turks? The --

MS. PSAKI: That’s correct. Those are all applicable. I don’t have any more specifics to read out for you, though, on that.

QUESTION: Well, what about the – what about Palestinian President Abbas sending a strong message to Hamas? I mean, you are recognizing his government, of which Hamas is a part. I mean, doesn’t he bear some responsibility for reining in Hamas?

MS. PSAKI: We don’t recognize governments. Hamas is not a part of the technocratic government. We certainly expect --

QUESTION: It’s a unity government of which Hamas is --

MS. PSAKI: Let me finish. We certainly expect President Abbas to do everything in his power to prevent rocket attacks and to condemn violence, and he has made a range of those calls. But we’re conveying the same message to him as well about the need to exercise restraint and de-escalate the situation on the ground.

QUESTION: But do you think that he bears some responsibility here? I mean, I just – it’s like at one point, yes, it was a conflict between just the U.S. and Hamas, and Abbas had no real kind of skin in the game because it was between these two parties, even though it was affecting the Palestinian people directly. But now, he’s part of a unity government and has some influence with Hamas now, wouldn’t you say?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we have no evidence that Hamas plays any role in the interim technocratic government. And as far as we know, there have also been no steps taken for the implementation of the reconciliation. And obviously, as I mentioned yesterday, given the situation on the ground, it’s difficult to see how the reconciliation process can move forward in the current atmosphere.

I think, yes, we want President Abbas to do everything in his power to prevent rocket attacks and to condemn violence. But I would remind you, as you know, Hamas control – continues to control Gaza. The Palestinian Authority security forces only operate in the West Bank and don’t operate in Gaza. So there are certainly limitations to what is possible, though we want him to do everything in his power to prevent and condemn these type of attacks.

QUESTION: Remaining on the message theme, so you think that all Israel is doing is sending a strong deterrent message and that’s all there is, and that remains within the accepted proportion or whatever, proportionality?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t think that’s what I stated, Said. There is obviously a range of circumstances on the ground right now, as you all know. There are the unfortunate recent deaths of the three teenagers. There are – there is the kidnapping and then the beating of the other teenager.

QUESTION: Right.

MS. PSAKI: There is violence and back-and-forth. I don’t have to repeat for you. You know exactly what’s happening on the ground.

QUESTION: I know. I understand and you don’t have to repeat for me. But you feel that sort of the Israeli air raids, like maybe hundreds of them so far this day, are proportionate to the rockets?

MS. PSAKI: That’s not – I wouldn’t validate the accuracy of that number, but I would say, Said --

QUESTION: Okay. Well, the sorties – there are hundreds of sorties.

MS. PSAKI: I would say, Said, that I don’t think any country would be expected to allow rockets to come in and threaten the lives and health and well-being of the citizens in their country, and Israel has the right to defend themselves.

QUESTION: Okay. Do you believe that the Palestinians in Gaza have the right to defend themselves?

MS. PSAKI: I think – I’m not sure what you’re getting at, Said.

QUESTION: I am asking you: Do they have the right to defend themselves against Israeli aggression?

MS. PSAKI: What are you specifically referring to? Is there a specific event or a specific occurrence?

QUESTION: Do they have the right to respond to Israeli rocketing and bombing their homes, their houses, their areas, their schools?

MS. PSAKI: We’re talking about attacks from a terrorist organization, Said. I don’t think you’re --

QUESTION: No, but there is also a population --

MS. PSAKI: -- we’re having a conversation about what’s happening here.

QUESTION: I mean, you agree that there is a civilian population in Gaza that is also subject to --

MS. PSAKI: Certainly, and the threat, as I mentioned earlier, to civilian populations is of great concern to us. And that’s one of the reasons why we’re so focused on encouraging all sides to de-escalate.

QUESTION: Are you calling on someone like Egypt to intervene, perhaps, that can bring about some sort of quiet?

MS. PSAKI: We’ve, again, been in touch with countries from the region. I’m not going to get into any greater level of specificity.

QUESTION: Have you gotten a response from the Egyptians that they are willing to intervene or perhaps broker --

MS. PSAKI: I’ll let countries speak for themselves.

Do we have more on this issue? Okay. Should we move on to a new topic?

QUESTION: Bahrain?

MS. PSAKI: Bahrain.

QUESTION: I don’t – can you update us on the l’affaire Malinowski?

MS. PSAKI: Sure. I believe we sent this out, but in case you didn’t all see it, I just wanted to give a quick overview of the meetings that he had on the ground. He arrived on July 6th. On that evening, he briefly attended the Wefaq Ramadan gathering, which was open to the public. Throughout his visit he was also scheduled to attend the Ramadan gatherings of a broad spectrum of society, as is traditional. He also met with the minister of interior and police chief; with the National Institution for Human Rights. He had meetings scheduled over the coming days with the crown prince, first deputy prime minister and director general of his office, the foreign minister, the minister of justice and Islamic affairs, the minister of interior, ombudsman, the commission on prisoner and detainee rights, and the chief of the public prosecutor special investigative unit.

So as was noted in the statement we sent last night, this was a trip that was prior planned, that we’d worked with the government on. He held meetings internally at the Embassy today, and he’s scheduled to leave today as well. To our knowledge, the Government of Bahrain has not changed its position.

QUESTION: How long had he planned to be there?

MS. PSAKI: He had planned to be there about through the end of the week – or through later this week.

QUESTION: Okay. And he will leave today, or has – it’s getting late there. I don’t know --

MS. PSAKI: He’s scheduled to leave today.

QUESTION: Right.

MS. PSAKI: I’m not sure exactly with the time change if he’s departed yet.

QUESTION: But will he have had all the meetings that he planned, or --

MS. PSAKI: No, he will not have.

QUESTION: The Bahrainis complained – and you had rejected this, but the Bahrainis complained that he was only meeting with one sect or one sector – wasn’t meeting with everyone, and that’s not conducive to their attempt at dialogue. The Gulf Cooperation Council, the head of that in Saudi Arabia has also – has expressed the same thing. Are you concerned that this incident is going to affect not just your relations with Bahrain, but also with the broader Gulf including Saudi, where you’ve already had a somewhat strained relationship?

MS. PSAKI: We’re not. Obviously, we remain and will be in close touch with both the Government of Bahrain and any other country that expresses a concern, as would be normal protocol and process. As you mentioned, but it’s worth noting, he was scheduled to meet with high-level government officials and had some of those meetings before all of these events happened just yesterday. But no, that’s not a concern that we have at this moment.

QUESTION: Okay. Assistant Secretary Malinowski in a tweet, which was then retweeted by the State Department, said that this was not about him; this was rather about the Bahraini authorities trying to undermine dialogue and national reconciliation. Is that the position of the Administration, of the State Department, that the Bahraini Government is not interested in a dialogue and national reconciliation?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we spoke at great length and detail about this yesterday, Matt. Obviously, it’s important for all sides, including the Government of Bahrain, to move forward on the reconciliation process. But I don’t think I’m going to have anything to add to the tweet you referenced.

QUESTION: So did the retweet by the State Department constitute an endorsement of Assistant Secretary Malinowski’s stance?

MS. PSAKI: I wouldn’t take it that way.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: Have there been any conversations between the U.S. ambassador and the Bahraini Government about something which this building considers highly irregular?

MS. PSAKI: We have been in close touch with the Government of Bahrain. I don’t have any other specific meetings to detail for you.

QUESTION: How will you respond to this move, to this type --

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’re considering our response to the government’s decision. But again, obviously, this is new yesterday. So I don’t have anything to outline in that regard.

QUESTION: When can we expect this response?

MS. PSAKI: I can’t predict that for you, unfortunately.

QUESTION: When he leaves, is he coming back here, or does he have other stops in the region?

MS. PSAKI: That’s a good question. I believe he’s coming back to Washington, but we can double-check and make sure that’s the case.

Said.

QUESTION: Will he respond to it?

QUESTION: (Inaudible) or is he out?

MS. PSAKI: He was scheduled to leave today. I’m not sure with the time change if he’s departed yet.

QUESTION: So his last meeting, just so I’m checking – his last meeting was this – with this group that they said that it’s not desirable to meet them?

MS. PSAKI: Well, he had meetings yesterday also with the minister of interior and police chief and the National Institution for Human Rights, as well as the Wefaq leaders. But he had meetings with the government as well as, obviously, members of the opposition.

QUESTION: And if you can clarify – I’m not sure if it’s clear or not. The reason that it was the meeting, or that they ask for somebody to attend the meeting and you refused to let them in?

MS. PSAKI: Well, he was scheduled – there are a couple of reasons, and we outlined this a bit in our statement, but the Government of Bahrain did request to have an MFA representative in all of his private meetings with civil and political society leaders, including inside the U.S. Embassy. And that’s not typical, it’s not appropriate in our view, and it contravenes international diplomatic norms. But there have been a range of meetings that officials have had within the country where that wasn’t requested, so that certainly isn’t even consistent with what is standard there.

QUESTION: You said --

QUESTION: What --

QUESTION: -- “request.” The statement last night, I believe, said that they demanded, they insisted. It was more than a request, right?

MS. PSAKI: Well --

QUESTION: Or – did the interior or foreign ministries have someone present in these meetings, or were they rejected?

MS. PSAKI: Well, not that I’m aware of, Matt. Obviously, there are some meetings where it’s appropriate and some where it’s inappropriate. I don’t have a list of who was at each of the meetings, but certainly having – requiring it or insisting or demanding, whatever you want to use as an adjective, that they be in meetings is something we didn’t feel --

QUESTION: Verb.

MS. PSAKI: Sorry, verb. Sorry.

QUESTION: Yes.

MS. PSAKI: It’s hot up here. Go ahead.

QUESTION: There is another question related to the same issue. Usually these meetings, I think it’s prescheduled and prearranged and preorganized with the authorities, wherever they are going. Is that – was the case here, or that meeting was like at the last moment was scheduled and then took place?

MS. PSAKI: This is a visit that was highly coordinated with the government and it certainly --

QUESTION: With all the details, including the meeting of this group?

MS. PSAKI: Well, it’s certainly pretty standard. The Secretary does, and a range of high level officials meet with a range of groups, civil society leaders, when they go to almost any country. So it was very – highly coordinated with the government.

QUESTION: The reason that I’m asking is like just to be sure that the Bahraini Government was aware that the assistant secretary is going to meet this group, right?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think there was a discussion about his agenda. I don’t have the list of exactly the meetings they were aware of, and some of these come together on the ground, but certainly we’ve had government officials meet with these groups before, so there’s a long precedent.

QUESTION: On Afghanistan?

QUESTION: I would refer to Matt’s wisdom on this, but how unusual is it to have --

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: How unusual is it to have a host government insist – and that’s the language in the statement from last night – that one of its representatives be allowed to attend private meetings that a visiting U.S. official would be carrying out?

MS. PSAKI: Well, it’s highly unusual, and in our view it’s also inappropriate and contravenes international diplomatic norms.

QUESTION: So given that Assistant Secretary Malinowski was simply visiting, how does the U.S. respond in this sort of situation? I mean, you don’t normally when there’s a PNG situation – there’s usually a diplomat or two in residence who was then told, pack your bags, you have 48 hours, or whatever. How do you respond in something like this to make it clear to the Emirate that this is not permissible?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’re considering our response to the government. Obviously, this just happened in the last 24 hours, so I don’t have a prediction of the timing or the outcome of that at this point in time.

QUESTION: Is there a concern that the U.S. has to proceed carefully because of the presence of the Fifth Fleet in Bahrain?

MS. PSAKI: Well, certainly our strong relationship with Bahrain is something that we would like to maintain, but obviously we’re considering a range of options with that in mind.

QUESTION: Jen, how do --

QUESTION: Really? Does the range of options include not maintaining a strong relationship with Bahrain?

MS. PSAKI: No. I don’t think I said that it did, Matt.

QUESTION: Well --

MS. PSAKI: But obviously, there are, of course – our response, there’s a range of options we can consider with that in mind.

QUESTION: Do any of those options have to do with moving the Fifth Fleet?

MS. PSAKI: No. That’s not what I said, Matt. I know you --

QUESTION: I know. I’m just --

MS. PSAKI: You have an obsession with the Fifth Fleet, I know, Matt. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: I’m not --

MS. PSAKI: You need to visit.

QUESTION: I’m not saying that you said it. I’m asking if --

MS. PSAKI: I was actually trying to convey quite the opposite, that our strong relationship with Bahrain is, of course, something that we consider and something we want to maintain, and that’s one of the reasons that we’re having these conversations through diplomatic channels.

QUESTION: So in other words, maintaining your strong relationship with the Government of Bahrain is equal to or more important than them respecting human rights and working towards national reconciliation?

MS. PSAKI: It’s all a factor, Matt. Obviously, we raised human rights issues as – at every opportunity, and certainly we’ve expressed our strong concern about the events of the last 24 hours.

QUESTION: Would it be fair to consider the presence of the Fifth Fleet as a bargaining tool --

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to --

QUESTION: -- or as any sort of leverage?

MS. PSAKI: No. I’m not speculating on that. Obviously, we – considering our response, this just happened in the last 24 hours, but I wouldn’t go down that direction, Roz.

QUESTION: So expressing your concerns about – the limit of your language and sort of expressing this – your displeasure with this act? Can’t you say that we are outraged, we are --

MS. PSAKI: I think --

QUESTION: -- annoyed, we are --

MS. PSAKI: I don’t know if you saw our statement last night, Said --

QUESTION: I saw your statement.

MS. PSAKI: -- but it was a pretty strong statement in terms of our view of the circumstances over the last 24 hours. That remains the case and we’ve conveyed that privately and we’ll continue those discussions privately, and we’ll continue to consider our response otherwise.

QUESTION: New topic?

QUESTION: Well, let’s say it – hold on. It was a pretty strong statement when it comes to statements about Bahrain, that’s for sure. But “deeply concerned” is a far bit different than “we condemn” or “we are mortified” or “we are horrified” or whatever. Is that correct?

MS. PSAKI: Well --

QUESTION: I mean, I take your point; it was a strong statement, but it was a strong statement as related to other statements about Bahrain.

MS. PSAKI: I would also point you to the fact that I just said that their requests were inappropriate and contravene international norms.

QUESTION: Fair enough, fair enough.

MS. PSAKI: So Margaret, do you want to go to Afghanistan?

QUESTION: Afghanistan, if we could.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: With other statements that came out yesterday, beyond expressing “gravest concern,” which I think was the phrase in the statement last evening, can you tell us what the U.S. is doing to try to resolve the standoff on the ground?

MS. PSAKI: Well, first – and I know you’ve seen some of these readouts, but President Obama, Secretary Kerry, as well as S-Rep Dobbins, Ambassador Cunningham have been speaking with the candidates, the electoral bodies and Afghanistan’s political leadership over the past couple of days to try to come to a resolution. And Secretary Kerry has been in touch with both candidates, President Karzai over the course of the weekend, and I expect that will continue. And we’ve been – and as was noted in our statement last night or some we’ve issued over the last couple of days, we’re calling on both campaigns and their supporters to work towards a resolution which will produce a president who can bring Afghanistan together and govern effectively and avoid steps that undermine Afghan national unity. And clearly our engagement shows our level of commitment to not just the future of Afghanistan, but to a resolution to this issue.

QUESTION: In the – one of the statements yesterday there was also the – I mean, threat is what it appeared to be, but the mention that at risk here is a tremendous amount of aid and potential other forms of U.S. support. What exactly was that referencing?

MS. PSAKI: Well, it’s not our preference. It’s not the preference of the United States; it’s certainly not the preference of the Afghan people. That statement was in response to the fact that there have been reports on the ground of plans to declare victory, to create a parallel government. Both of those steps would be illegal, and it’s not a threat, it’s a fact that certainly we wouldn’t be able to provide the kind of support that is our preference to provide if those type of steps were taken. So it was conveying that.

QUESTION: Because it would be a coup, essentially?

MS. PSAKI: Well, those are illegal steps, and obviously we’re talking about a broad range of assistance that we provide.

QUESTION: Senator --

QUESTION: So if there were illegal steps taken to form a new government in Afghanistan, they would lose aid, but not in Egypt, huh?

MS. PSAKI: Matt, every circumstance is different --

QUESTION: Right.

MS. PSAKI: -- and you know where we stand on that particular issue.

QUESTION: Do you know – do you regard – does the Administration regard the steps that candidate Abdullah has taken already just by declaring himself the winner of the election, even though he didn’t name a – hasn’t tried to form a government – are those – isn’t that a step that undermines the – what you called the – what you called Afghan national unity and what one might say – one might ask if Afghan national unity actually exists, given the situation – but is that the kind of step that you think is bad? Just the (inaudible).

MS. PSAKI: Well, certainly – I want to say acting on that step, yes. And one of the reasons the Secretary has been in close touch and we issued the statement last night is to convey that that is not acceptable.

QUESTION: That what – sorry --

QUESTION: Sure.

QUESTION: -- which is unacceptable? The proclaiming oneself the winner --

MS. PSAKI: Correct. There are proper entities and bodies in Afghanistan who will --

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: -- who can determine that. And this also – the rumors or reports that there were plans to create a --

QUESTION: Right.

MS. PSAKI: -- parallel government.

QUESTION: But what is – is that – that is a strike against Abdullah Abdullah in your – now, I’m not saying that there are three strikes; I’m not saying anything like that. But that is a checkmark on him; he’s done something that you think crosses the line?

MS. PSAKI: No, I wouldn’t say it that way at all, Matt. Obviously, we’re concerned about having – about the fact that Afghanistan has made tremendous progress. We want to preserve that. Any of these steps, the implementation of them would not be good for the future of Afghanistan, the future of the Afghan people. We’re not doing a day-by-day grading system here, but certainly we don’t think that would be a productive step moving forward.

QUESTION: Is the – Ghani agreeing to the audit of, I think, it was 3 million votes or something. Is that something that’s a step in the right direction?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we think there are two things that need to happen here that need to – that the candidate – that needs to happen on the ground, I should say, moving forward. The electoral commission and the complaints commission need to examine all of the allegations of fraud. There are serious allegations. They need to be looked into. There needs to be a review of all the ballots that may or may not be legitimate. There are – were the proposal of the couple of options, Margaret, that you reference, but there are also some UN proposals that we think the electoral bodies should be working with them on. And at the same time, the candidates and their supporters need to be in conversations with each other about the formation of a government of national unity and a government that includes all of the relevant parties and important groups, and we feel both of those steps are important moving forward.

QUESTION: Has anyone been in touch with Ashraf Ghani?

QUESTION: Senator Inhofe said --

QUESTION: I’m sorry.

QUESTION: Sorry. Has anyone been in touch with --

MS. PSAKI: Ladies first, Said.

QUESTION: Yes.

MS. PSAKI: You’re normally so polite. Go ahead, Roz.

QUESTION: Jen just said that he had called him.

QUESTION: He called – okay. Sorry.

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.

QUESTION: Senator Inhofe told reporters a short time ago that he’s very concerned about these allegations of fraud and he started reading off some numbers about vote disparities between the first round and the second round – 10 times, 12 times the gap in the first election to the second election.

He’s also very concerned that efforts to hew to the July 22nd final declaration may be stacking the victory in Ghani’s favor, and he wants to see more time so that these allegations of fraud can be fully explored. Otherwise, Inhofe is arguing, whoever becomes the new president won’t be considered credible. Does this building – does this Administration – share his concern about a rush to declaring someone the president?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we, one, feel there are serious allegations that – of fraud that need to be looked into, and we were disappointed. And I know that Matt asked this question yesterday, that the IEC went ahead with yesterday’s announcement – serious – because these serious allegations were not sufficiently investigated and we would have preferred that the announcement be postponed until there was agreement on further audit measures that need to be taken to address the substantial allegations.

All of that being said, there are proposals on the table that would help to address that. Our view remains that the audit process can be completed in time to allow the inauguration of the next president to proceed as scheduled on August 2nd.

QUESTION: Is there concern – and maybe this came up yesterday – is there concern that a resolution on the BSA could be in jeopardy because of this dispute over who was the actual victor?

MS. PSAKI: Well, again, we view – we feel that an audit can be completed by – an audit process can be completed in time to allow the inauguration of the next president. As you know, both candidates have made clear that they would sign the BSA. We are proceeding with our planning accordingly.

QUESTION: Is it – you say that you were disappointed that the IEC went ahead with this and that you would have preferred that they had waited.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Was that conveyed to the IEC itself?

MS. PSAKI: I believe not through the Secretary, but I believe on the ground in some capacity, yes.

QUESTION: Okay. So in fact you – the U.S. has been involved in this process.

MS. PSAKI: Well, not exactly. I mean, I think obviously there’s – we’re not involved in the process of considering allegations or considering – or counting ballots. That’s what I’m referring to. But certainly, when there’s a partial result announced, which we’ve expressed a concern about --

QUESTION: Right.

MS. PSAKI: -- because it doesn’t represent or doesn’t necessarily represent the outcome, that can cause confusion. And that was one of our concerns.

QUESTION: Right. Okay. But I’m just trying to get it – so if you expressed your concern about that to the IEC, they clearly didn’t listen to you. They clearly didn’t buy – it’s a bit like calling for restraint from people who never show restraint. So I’m just wondering: Are you – when you say that you’re disappointed, are you – you’re disappointed that they didn’t heed your advice? You’re disappointed that – disappointed at what?

MS. PSAKI: That they went forward with yesterday’s announcement when there was serious allegations of fraud that remained on the table that hadn’t been properly investigated.

QUESTION: Okay. But you still think, as you said before – I just want to make sure – that there is time enough to resolve all the fraud complaints, inaugurate a new president, get the BSA signed by the time you all and NATO have to figure out what you’re going to do.

MS. PSAKI: Yes.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: Afghanistan?

QUESTION: Yes.

MS. PSAKI: Okay, go ahead.

QUESTION: I mean, I’m trying to understand who is – both sides are ready to make this count or recount process? Because one of them is declaring that he’s the victor, and the other one is saying that I’m going to make a parallel government. Who in those two sides or other sides is ready to continue the process until they come to the 2nd of August?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’ll let them speak for themselves.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: But obviously, the – not the candidates, but the election commission and the complaints commission are the ones who would look in – the complaints commission specifically is the entity that would look into the allegations of fraud and examine those allegations.

QUESTION: So you believe – as United States believe that they want – you want them to recount the process, right? Recount the votes.

MS. PSAKI: Well, there are serious allegations, and we think that more can be done to examine the allegations.

QUESTION: Keeping in line with this country’s own special experience with the 2000 election, what would be an acceptable audit – and I’m using your word – for reviewing these allegations?

MS. PSAKI: Well, there have been a number of proposals put out there. There have been some that the complaints commission and the electoral commission have referenced; Margaret referenced those a little bit earlier. But there are also some proposals put forward by the UN. We think they should all talk about the best way to move the process forward.

QUESTION: So just to be clarified: So U.S. and UN and others believe that this process has to be done, right? Is – am I correct or wrong?

MS. PSAKI: We think there are serious allegations of fraud. They need to review all of the ballots that may or may not be legitimate.

QUESTION: So --

QUESTION: Is two weeks really enough time? Two weeks from today?

MS. PSAKI: I would stand by what I just said. We feel there is enough time to conclude an audit process by that time.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: Change topic?

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: P5+1.

MS. PSAKI: Yeah.

QUESTION: France foreign minister said today the differences in approach between some of the world powers and Russia had appeared in the last few days during negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program. Do you feel the same, or do you have the same feeling as France?

MS. PSAKI: Well, as you know, there – this is a long process that’s been ongoing for more than six months now, and there have been concerns expressed in the past – actually, the last round we had – by France, and the P5+1 remains united through the process. We certainly believe that that will be the case here.

That doesn’t change the fact that significant gaps remain with Iran. Everyone is working very hard to see if we can get to an agreement here, and we have put on the table a reasonable, verifiable, and easily achievable proposal that can show the world that Iran is committed to what it means. And that means a peaceful program and preventing them from acquiring a nuclear weapon. So we’re in the middle of it right now, so I don’t have much more to speculate on.

QUESTION: Did you mean that the U.S., Europe, and Russia are still on the same page?

MS. PSAKI: And China, yes.

QUESTION: And China?

MS. PSAKI: The talks are continuing. Obviously, we never said this would be easy, and that certainly is the case now where gaps remain in the discussions.

QUESTION: Is the Secretary planning to attend the meetings in Geneva – in Vienna?

MS. PSAKI: Well, the Secretary is always happy to get on a plane, as you all know and many of you have experienced it. But there hasn’t been a decision made at this point in time for him to travel to Vienna.

QUESTION: Because the French foreign minister has said that the United States wanted foreign minister to join the negotiations in Vienna. That means maybe he talked to the Secretary, and --

MS. PSAKI: Well, there are a lot of rumors on the ground, as there always are, around negotiations like these. But we evaluate day to day. I have nothing to announce for you, and there hasn’t been a decision made at this point in time.

QUESTION: So I suspect – and I’m only – I know what your answer’s going to be, but I would be remiss not to ask it.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: And that is: Would you expect the Secretary to bring his case for and on Afghanistan to the candidates in person any time in the near future?

MS. PSAKI: I have nothing to announce in regard to upcoming travel beyond his trip in China that’s ongoing.

QUESTION: Somalia. There was an attack today on the presidential election – on the president’s – presidential palace. Do you have any information about this attack?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any new information. I know it just happened, I believe, this morning or overnight.

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS. PSAKI: Obviously, we would condemn that attack, but let me circle back with our team post-briefing and see if we have more details. I’m not sure if there’s been any claims or anything along those lines.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

Scott.

QUESTION: Does the United States have – on China. Does the United States have a view on Chinese authorities preventing some Uighur civil servants and students from observing the Ramadan fast?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we are deeply concerned by reports of discrimination against and restrictions on ethnic and religious minorities in China, including Uighurs, especially during the holy month of Ramadan. We urge Chinese authorities to take steps to reduce tensions, uphold China’s international commitments to protect religious freedom and other universal human rights – and certainly, observation of religion is one of them – and reassess counterproductive policies in the region and other ethnic areas.

QUESTION: Is it your understanding that this is not the first time that this has happened in that area?

MS. PSAKI: I believe there is some history here. I don’t have that in front of me. But certainly, we’ve been – expressed concern about discrimination against Uighurs in China, and I know that’s been related to religious observations as well.

QUESTION: I meant to ask you if you have – if you can clarify what the Russian foreign ministry is saying, that one of its citizen was kidnapped by the Americans. Can you clarify that --

MS. PSAKI: I think you’re referring to reports --

QUESTION: -- rumor?

MS. PSAKI: -- of allegations of --

QUESTION: Allegations, yes, yeah.

MS. PSAKI: It’s a --

QUESTION: They’re saying that he was kidnapped from the Maldives.

MS. PSAKI: It’s – I just want to make sure I’m referring to the same person. Hopefully, there’s only one incident you’re talking about. You’re talking about the Department of Justice case that’s been raised?

QUESTION: No, they’re – they said that one of their citizens, Roman Seleznyov, was kidnapped from the Maldives by American agents.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I know there have been – obviously, there’s been a recent case that I would point you to the Department of Justice on. I’m not sure if this is exactly the same case or not, Said, in terms of allegations that have been issued. Certainly, no kidnapping took place.

QUESTION: Oh, you mean that there’s more than one incident of a Russian citizen being taken --

MS. PSAKI: I’m not sure exactly --

QUESTION: -- by U.S. officials from the Maldives?

MS. PSAKI: -- what he’s referring --

QUESTION: I was referring --

MS. PSAKI: I’m not sure what he’s referring to specifically.

QUESTION: The issue (inaudible).

QUESTION: That’s the issue.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: The son of a member of parliament --

QUESTION: Yes.

MS. PSAKI: Yes, from the Maldives.

QUESTION: -- has been taken to Guam.

QUESTION: Right, yes.

QUESTION: Have you gotten a official or any kind of a protest from the Russians about this? They’ve been speaking about it publicly.

MS. PSAKI: I know they’ve spoken a great deal about it publicly. I don’t have anything privately to lay out for all of you.

QUESTION: Okay. Well, do you know how it works in terms of consular access when you’re – when someone is in Guam? I mean, you’re still obligated to – it’s not like Guantanamo, right? Even though the first three --

MS. PSAKI: It is a U.S. territory, yes.

QUESTION: -- first three letters are the same, but I think – (laughter) –

MS. PSAKI: That’s good.

QUESTION: -- the airport code is probably different, so --

MS. PSAKI: It may be. We can look that up.

QUESTION: But is there some kind of – one of the things that the Russians say or the father of this guy says is that he suspects that his son was taken to Guam because people in Guam may not be – may not enjoy the full legal protections of – and I’m just wondering if you know if that – I don’t expect you to know if that’s a case. I know it’s a DOJ thing. But in terms of consular access, I would expect the State Department, even if you don’t know off the top of your head, or the State Department might know, is there some difference in terms of consular access versus someone who’s being detained in Guam as opposed to someplace that’s a state?

MS. PSAKI: Not that I’m aware of, Matt. And let me just reiterate – and I think part of the confusion is Said also referred to a woman, so I just wanted to make sure we’re talking about --

QUESTION: I didn’t say a woman.

MS. PSAKI: -- we’re talking about the same individual, but --

QUESTION: I said his name was Roman.

QUESTION: I think we are, right? We’re talking about the same --

MS. PSAKI: This is – yes, I believe so.

QUESTION: I did not --

QUESTION: This is a computer fraud --

MS. PSAKI: This is a – yes, there were accusations made. It’s a Department of Justice case. Certainly, there was no kidnapping involved. I believe that certainly a U.S. territory would abide by the same consular access obligations.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: We can check and confirm for you that that is the case.

QUESTION: But I’m not sure – all right, maybe “kidnapping” is a bit too strong. But if someone is in the capital of the Maldives trying to get on a flight to – back to Russia, and somehow they’re spirited away and they end up in Guam charged with a crime, how is that not abduction?

QUESTION: Napping.

MS. PSAKI: I’m just not going to have much more on this case to offer, Matt.

Do we have a new topic?

QUESTION: Yeah. With your indulgence and my colleagues, of course --

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: -- I just wanted to go back to the Gaza issue for a minute.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm, okay.

QUESTION: Because the Israelis said this will take – it will take days, not hours. So this may go on for a long time. Is that okay with you? I mean, is Israel within its right to conduct this operation for as many days as it deems appropriate or necessary?

MS. PSAKI: Said, I’m happy to indulge you, as always, but I’m not going to speculate. Obviously, our focus is on communicating the need to de-escalate the situation on the ground, but I would reiterate that we believe Israel has every right to defend itself. And certainly, no country would – should be expected to stand by while rockets are impacting and threatening their citizens.

QUESTION: In light of calling 40,000 reservists to duty, are you concerned that there may be a ground invasion in Gaza?

MS. PSAKI: I think I’ve already addressed and exhausted this topic.

Go ahead in the back.

QUESTION: My name is Jason Chong with Yonhap News Agency from South Korea.

MS. PSAKI: Hello.

QUESTION: Hi. My question is: You said yesterday that the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula will be one of the key topics for the strategic --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- talks with China. And what kind of specific outcome do you hope to see from the meeting with regard to this issue?

And my second question is: U.S. has been negative about Chinese plan to set up regional development bank AIIB.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: And do you think this will also come up during the strategic talks? Thank you.

MS. PSAKI: Well, there are a range of topics, certainly, that will be discussed that may or may not be at the top of the agenda. In terms of the AIIB, we believe that there is a need for additional public, private, and multilateral development bank to support infrastructure development. But we also believe any proposal for a new international development financial institution should clearly explain how it will complement and add value to existing institutions. As you know, there’s already an existing institution that does some of the same work.

And additionally, we believe that any international institution involved in infrastructure investment and development should incorporate high standards of governance, environmental and social safeguards, procurement, and debt sustainability that have been established over decades of experience at multilateral development banks.

And as you know, there’s already the ADB, which plays a critical role in regional infrastructure development, so the AIIB – excuse me – hasn’t – doesn’t exist yet, and obviously, those are the bar – that’s the bar we believe it should pass.

In terms of North Korea, there’s been an ongoing dialogue between the United States and China as well as all of our partners in the Six-Party process about how to best work together to put the necessary pressure on North Korea, but the ball remains in their court to take the necessary steps to abide by their international obligations. But certainly, we expect the threat from North Korea, our concerns about North Korea to be a part of the discussion ongoing on the ground now.

Lucas.

QUESTION: On Iraq?

MS. PSAKI: Yes.

QUESTION: Anne Patterson is leading a delegation on Capitol Hill today at 5 o’clock to brief the House. I was wondering if you had anything more on that.

MS. PSAKI: I believe it’s a part of our standard efforts to make sure members of Congress are up to date on our thinking and policy and what’s happening on the ground.

QUESTION: So this is just a routine update?

MS. PSAKI: That is my understanding, yes.

QUESTION: Was there any coordination with the Pentagon, given the Secretary of Defense’s briefing this morning?

MS. PSAKI: Frequently, we have briefings the same day as the Pentagon and – or other officials throughout the Administration. So that certainly is not uncommon. And as you know, all of these senior officials are in regular meetings together about our policy, so I can assure you there’s coordination.

QUESTION: Now, granted that this was closed door and classified, but Senator McCain told reporters afterwards that from his perspective, this Administration does not have a coherent policy on dealing with the Islamic State group. Is that a fair criticism?

MS. PSAKI: I think that’s a common refrain from Senator McCain no matter what the issue is. But I would say, look, every member of Congress has every right to express their view of what our policies are and what they should be and where they see frustrations or where they support us. And that’s the case for Senator McCain or any member of Congress.

In this case, I think our policy is fairly clear. The President has been clear, the Secretary has been clear, that we’re going to take – go after threats where they face us. That includes ISIL and includes other terrorist organizations. But in Iraq, our focus is also on the political process, and that is the only way to have a long-term, sustainable, and successful Iraq. So hopefully, the continued briefings will help shed some light.

QUESTION: Two follow-ups on that. One, has this Administration seen any change in Nuri al-Maliki’s political posture? Is he doing the work that this Administration believes needs to be done in order to make his government more inclusive?

MS. PSAKI: Well, our concerns haven’t changed. But obviously, we continue to encourage all parties to move forward with the government formation process. I think you’ve seen overnight that they have announced that they’ll be meeting on Sunday instead of August. So that was a positive step forward. Obviously, we’d like to see that happen and see the rapid – the – all parties move forward with the rapid creation of a government.

QUESTION: And then in terms of confronting the Islamic State group, Senator Graham said that he could not see any scenario in which the Iraqi security forces, Syrian opposition, even the Syrian Government, would be capable of confronting this organization without the assistance of the U.S. military. In particular, he said he couldn’t see this happening without the use of air strikes. Is this Administration in any way contemplating some sort of very active engagement to confront this organization?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to outline from here what our options may or may not be. Obviously, we have a – always have a range of options at our disposal. Those are decisions for the President to make in consultation with the national security team. Our focus remains on continuing to encourage the rapid formation of the government.

QUESTION: Sorry. So you say it was a positive step forward for them to move up the resumption of --

MS. PSAKI: Well, we certainly --

QUESTION: -- I mean, surely --

MS. PSAKI: -- welcome the announcement. But I won’t stop there. We – it will require --

QUESTION: Right.

MS. PSAKI: -- a prompt agreement on a new parliamentary speaker, and following that candidates for president and prime minister in order to have a successful creation or formation of a government.

QUESTION: All right. In response to one of Roz’s earlier questions, I mean, what are the odds of you ever agreeing with critics who say that the Administration’s policy is incoherent on any issue?

MS. PSAKI: That’s probably unlikely, but we certainly support freedom of speech here in the United States.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: Because there are people that – Iraqis who have accused Mr. McGurk of being one of Maliki’s staunchest allies and that, in fact, his position may have in any way hamstrung your position, so to speak, the Administration’s position in Iraq in pushing forward some sort of reconciliation type of government. Do you agree with that assessment?

MS. PSAKI: I would not, and I’m not sure who the unnamed critics are. There are certainly a lot of unnamed critics out there. I would say that Deputy Assistant Secretary McGurk has been on the ground for weeks now. There’s almost no one in the government who knows Iraq and the political parties and all the leaders better than he does, and he’s been working day and night to move the political process forward. And I’d remind you he’s been meeting with leaders from all – from all sects and it hasn’t been just Prime Minister Maliki and his government. Far from it. He’s had a diversity of meetings, and that, I expect, will continue.

QUESTION: Would you say that he’s a strong advocate of Mr. Maliki?

MS. PSAKI: I would say he’s a strong advocate of a stable Iraq, and he cares deeply about the future of the – for the Iraqi people.

QUESTION: When you are asking all these parties to be part of this process of, let’s say, stable Iraq, what these people are expecting from U.S.? I mean, guarantor is like what – how do you – is – what is the U.S. role in the coming future? I mean, it’s going to be like guaranteeing that these people are sitting together or secure the borders?

MS. PSAKI: Well, it’s up to the Iraqi people to make the political choices that they need to to move forward. At the same time, we have provided a great deal of assistance. We’ve only expedited that, and we’ve increased that in recent months. That is part of our effort to support Iraq, but we have a stake in a stable Iraq just like we have a stake in a stable region, and that’s one of the reasons we’re so committed to the future of what’s happening on the ground.

QUESTION: But let’s say when we are – U.S. is providing to the Iraqi army things, people looking to it as if it’s – you are supporting Maliki against the others, right?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’ve provided also some support to the Peshmerga. We’ve advocated for a united security force that works with all parties that is united against the shared threat they all face with just ISIL, and that’s the message we’ve been sending.

QUESTION: So there is no U.S. role in the coming future – I mean, the coming Iraq? Or there is a role for it?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not sure what you’re getting at.

QUESTION: I mean like in 2011 or end of 2012, I mean, it’s like it was decided to leave Iraq and come out of it. Now, it’s getting another involvement, or I assume it’s involvement. Am I wrong?

MS. PSAKI: A little bit. I think we’re not considering putting combat troops back on the ground. That’s not what is under consideration. We do have a stake in a stable and secure Iraq just like we have a stake in the stable and secure region, and that’s one of the reasons we’ve increased our assistance. Iraq will remain a partner, and we’re working to address the short-term threat so we can have a long-term successful Iraq.

QUESTION: Jen, yesterday – this is a new subject.

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: On the Central America and the migrants. Yesterday in exchange with Elise, you were talking about – the question about a potential UN role and whether or not these people could be considered refugees or not. There are people with UNHCR now who are saying that at least some of these people should be identified as refugees and be made eligible for resettlement. Is the Administration’s – does the Administration believe that a UN role in this situation is appropriate or needed?

MS. PSAKI: Well, the UN plays a role. I know you know this, but they play a different role depending on the countries around the world. Obviously, we’re – we have a far different circumstance than, say, Syria. And in this case, the UN – UNHCR has previously conducted monitoring trips to the U.S. border in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security. That should come as no surprise. In terms of how you label what an individual may or may not be, that’s determined through a process run by the Department of Homeland Security where they conduct interviews, and there’s an entire process I would point you to them to get more details on.

Typically, the UNHCR conducts these interviews in countries where the host government is not capable or willing to conduct these interviews. And obviously, the United States – that’s a process that we undergo ourselves.

QUESTION: So you do not – you believe that DHS – the Administration believes that it is capable of doing this itself and that the United Nations is not needed --

MS. PSAKI: Well --

QUESTION: -- to do the screening and the classifying of whether people are refugees or not? Is that --

MS. PSAKI: I would point you to DHS to see if there are needs that they have, but that’s typically how the process works as a standard operating procedure in the United States.

QUESTION: Well, I guess I’m – so there is no Administration position? It’s only a DHS position on whether they need help? I’m – I guess I’m --

MS. PSAKI: DHS oversees a process in the United States – obviously, in the United States.

QUESTION: I understand that.

MS. PSAKI: I would point you to them for more detail on how they work with the UNHCR.

QUESTION: But you don’t – but – yeah, but you’re the main – the State Department is the main --

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: -- interlocutor with all --

MS. PSAKI: You’re right.

QUESTION: -- almost all these UN agencies.

MS. PSAKI: But specifically on individuals coming into the United States, as you know, DHS is the point for that specifically.

QUESTION: Right. But what I’m getting at is that – I’m trying to find out if the Administration broadly thinks that it’s appropriate or necessary for the UN to involve itself in this. I’ll take it and I’ll go to DHS and ask them if that’s – if they’re the ones who decide whether that’s the case or not. Are they?

MS. PSAKI: Well, DHS screens children to determine the validity of their asylum claims, consistent with our domestic law and international obligations. I’m not aware of a role needed --

QUESTION: Right.

MS. PSAKI: -- for UNHCR, but I just was pointing to you DHS because they are better versed on this specific issue.

Go ahead, Lucas.

QUESTION: Going back to Iraq. Is it realistic or was it ever realistic to expect the Iraqis to form a new government during the holy month of Ramadan?

MS. PSAKI: The process, as you know, Lucas, is ongoing on the ground, and they’re going to be meeting on Sunday, so I think that answers your question.

QUESTION: But isn’t it a little insensitive on the part of the U.S. Government based on the religious obligations of the Iraqi Government and Muslims everywhere?

MS. PSAKI: Well, it’s up to the Iraqis to determine their process. They have determined the timing of their process, and we’re simply urging them to move forward as quickly as possible.

QUESTION: But I mean, if someone asks the U.S. Government to do something over Christmas, wouldn’t it be a little unrealistic?

MS. PSAKI: I think, Lucas – I think you’re forgetting the fact that this is a Iraqi process that the Iraqis run, and we are certainly just here to support them and encourage them to move forward as quickly as possible?

QUESTION: You should ask the same thing about Afghanistan.

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead, Said.

QUESTION: A question on Syria.

QUESTION: Afghanistan.

QUESTION: On Syria real quickly.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Are you satisfied that all chemical weapons are now out of Syria and in the process of being destroyed?

MS. PSAKI: Said, the declaration --

QUESTION: I mean, today there was --

MS. PSAKI: -- is on declared weapons.

QUESTION: Right, right.

MS. PSAKI: The OPCW remains --

QUESTION: I mean the declared weapons.

MS. PSAKI: -- let me finish – they remain a member of the CWC, so obviously the OPCW will continue to take steps to verify that the declared weapons represent the stockpile in Syria.

QUESTION: So all the declared weapons have been accounted for?

MS. PSAKI: Correct. They’ve – 100 percent have been removed.

QUESTION: Now, on this issue of the SOC is holding elections, presidential elections in Turkey. Is there any U.S. representative there, or not?

MS. PSAKI: That’s a good question. I will check and see. Obviously, we’re not – these are internal SOC meetings, so no U.S. officials will attend. So there – we don’t have any officials on the ground.

QUESTION: And the situation in Aleppo is deteriorating and the opposition is warning about the situation there. Do you have anything on this?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not in a position to give any ground updates. Obviously, you know we remain concerned about the situation on the ground. And that’s one of the reasons we’re so focused on doing everything we can to address it.

QUESTION: Does that concern extend to the fact that the opposition might lose Aleppo and then they might really have essentially lost the battle, lost the war?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I’m not going to speculate. Obviously, we’re not there at this point. So – go ahead.

QUESTION: Can I go to Ukraine?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: I’m just wondering what – it looks like people – the separatists in Donetsk are gearing up for a big – a last stand, and that the Ukrainian authorities are doing the same around these last little enclaves in the east, and I’m wondering what the – if the Administration believes that its – once again, its calls for restraint and for minimization of civilian casualties are being heeded by either or both or neither sides.

MS. PSAKI: Well, we have remaining concerns about the actions of the Russian separatists. I’d also note that President Poroshenko proposed to hold ceasefire talks with the separatists today in the Donetsk region. They have not responded yet. And certainly a peaceful outcome is what would be in the best interests of everyone, in our view. Ukraine, again, has the right to defend their country and their people and maintain calm and order to the degree they can. So we certainly support them in that effort. And there are – continue to be steps that Russia and the Russian separatists can take to de-escalate the situation.

QUESTION: In terms of either side or any of the three sides, two sides, however we want to call this --

MS. PSAKI: It could – it has three-side potential.

QUESTION: Right.

MS. PSAKI: Go back to a triangle.

QUESTION: Right. But let’s talk the two sides at the moment, Ukraine and the separatists. Do you have concerns about reports of large – widespread civilian casualties --

MS. PSAKI: Well, certainly, and --

QUESTION: -- on --

MS. PSAKI: We would have concerns, of course, about reports of widespread civilian casualties. And obviously de-escalating the situation and bringing an end to the violence is the step that could end civilian casualties. That’s where the – one of the reasons we’re so supportive of the ceasefire effort.

QUESTION: Okay. But to date, do you believe that either or both or neither side has shown any inclination to heed the call for restraint and for trying to minimize or prevent at all civilian casualties? You were presented here at the briefing yesterday with some graphic photos. I don’t know if they could be authenticated or not, but I mean, have you expressed concern to authorities in Kyiv and also to the Russians for whatever influence they can have with the separatists about things like that?

MS. PSAKI: Well, one, I mean, we – in general, the Ukrainian security forces have sought to minimize casualties among the Ukrainian population during their security operation. There have been numerous reports on the contrary to Russian – the Russian-backed separatists using privately owned buildings as firing positions. We’ve also seen a great deal of exaggerated and outright false claims from Russian sources throughout the crisis in Ukraine. So certainly we would encourage all sides to minimize civilian casualties, and we’ve also seen the Ukrainian Government make effort to do just that themselves.

QUESTION: And you have not – but you have not yet seen the Russians use their influence with the separatists to do the same. Is that correct?

MS. PSAKI: That’s correct.

QUESTION: And then one more thing on this. The Russian foreign ministry has said that the proposal you mentioned just now for Poroshenko was not – the venue is not good. And in fact, I believe some of the separatists or one of the separatist leaders said that venue is no good because it’s under the control of Kyiv, which would seem to be a bit of a stumbling block. When you referred to that offer to meet, are you referring to that specific offer or do you not know? I mean, I’m trying to figure out this --

MS. PSAKI: I’m not sure which offer they’re referring to.

QUESTION: You think it’s appropriate – you think his offer should be acted – should be taken up by the separatists?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’re talking about discussions about the Government of Ukraine – what’s happening in the country of Ukraine, I should say. So certainly, I think it’s appropriate that it could be held in a government building run by the Government of Ukraine.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: All right. Thanks, everyone. Oh, sorry in the back. One more.

QUESTION: Sorry, guys. I had asked this question before but haven’t gotten a response.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: It’s about the European Court of Human Rights which had upheld a French ban on burkas. Did you get that question?

MS. PSAKI: I think we have something on that. I’m happy to send that you after the briefing.

QUESTION: Okay. Great, thanks.

MS. PSAKI: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:50 p.m.)

DPB # 119


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Categories: News Pit Feeds

Daily Press Briefings : Daily Press Briefing: July 7, 2014

Tue, 07/08/2014 - 18:07

Jen Psaki
Spokesperson
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
July 7, 2014

Share Index for Today's Briefing
  • DEPARTMENT
    • U.S.-Chinese Strategic and Economic Dialogue
    • Sentencing of Saudi Human Rights Lawyer Waleed Abu al-Khair
    • Sentencing of Pastor Zhang Shaojie
  • BAHRAIN
    • Assistant Secretary Malinowski's Visit
  • IRAQ
    • Government Formation / ISIL
    • Security Assistance / U.S. Engagement
    • Reports of Video / ISIL
  • AFGHANISTAN
    • Preliminary Election Results / Proposed UN Audits
  • ISRAEL / PALESTINIANS
    • Muhammad Hussein Abu Khdeir / Investigation
    • Secretary Kerry's Call with Prime Minister Netanyahu
    • Palestinian Technocratic Government / Reconciliation Process
    • Rocket Attacks / Economic Assistance
  • SUDAN
    • Meriam Ibrahim
  • JAPAN
    • Collective Self-Defense
  • SAUDI ARABIA
    • Secretary Kerry's Meeting with King Abdullah / Human Rights
  • VENEZUELA
    • Charge d'Affaires / U.S.-Venezuela Relationship
  • GERMANY
    • U.S.-German Relationship
  • CHINA
    • Human Rights
  • MEXICO / CENTRAL AMERICA
    • Unaccompanied Minors and Repatriation / U.S. Engagement
  • UKRAINE
    • Expulsion of Russian-Backed Separatists / Ceasefire
    • Quad Discussions
    • Refugees


TRANSCRIPT:

1:23 p.m. EDT

MS. PSAKI: Hi, everyone.

QUESTION: Hello, ma’am.

MS. PSAKI: I hope everybody enjoyed your long weekend. I have a couple of items at the top.

As you all know, the Secretary is en route to Beijing to take part in the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue. The Strategic and Economic Dialogue is a central forum for the United States and China to take stock of progress, set new goals for the relationship, develop habits of cooperation and areas of mutual interest, and manage areas of difference through candid high-level discussions. The S&ED remains an important component of our efforts with China to build relations between our countries, and the 2014 S&ED brings dozens of high-level U.S. Government officials to Beijing to discuss nearly every issue – every major issue in our bilateral relationship, from issues like food security and human rights to combatting wildlife trafficking.

Our two countries will exchange views and forge progress on global, regional, and bilateral challenges, including pressing issues related to Ukraine, Afghanistan, Iran, the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and maritime disputes. We expect to have high-level discussions on climate change and clean energy, including how expanding cooperation under the U.S.-China Climate Change Working Group and the U.S.-China EcoPartnerships will allow us to make significant strides toward addressing the pressing global challenge.

I would also like to start by highlighting the recent sentencing of a Saudi human rights lawyer, Waleed Abu al-Khair. The United States is troubled by the 15-year prison sentence, travel ban, and steep fine handed down to human rights lawyer and activist Waleed abu al-Khair. Mr. al-Khair’s situation is discussed in our most recent Human Rights Report on Saudi Arabia. We urge the Saudi Government to respect international human rights norms, a point we have made to them regularly.

And finally, I want to express deep concern by the United States by reports that Zhang Shaojie, pastor of the government-sanctioned Nanle County Christian Church, was convicted July 4th and sentenced to 12 years imprisonment in retaliation for his peaceful advocacy on behalf of his church community. We call on Chinese authorities to release Pastor Zhang and we urge China to cease harassment of his family members and congregants. We call on the Chinese authorities to allow citizens to worship freely in accordance with China’s own laws and its international human rights commitments. Freedom of religion is a critical – is critical to a peaceful, inclusive, stable, and thriving society.

With that, go ahead, Matt.

QUESTION: Was there a reason that – well, first, happy Fourth of July.

MS. PSAKI: Happy Fourth of July.

QUESTION: Was there a reason that you separated the two China things by the Saudi thing? Are you --

MS. PSAKI: There was not.

QUESTION: Is there – do you expect that this guy’s case is going to come up in the Secretary’s conversations --

MS. PSAKI: Well, as --

QUESTION: -- or in any of the conversations that --

MS. PSAKI: As you know, there are a range of officials on the ground. We raise human rights issues at every opportunity and we always welcome a direct and candid dialogue.

QUESTION: All right. One thing that I noticed that you didn’t say was on the agenda was cyber issues. Does that mean that there is not going to be any discussion of this issue, which you and others think is a very big deal, with the Chinese?

MS. PSAKI: Well, it continues to be – cyber continues to be an incredibly important issue to the United States and to China. And we are – have a range of means of communicating on cyber issues. Was – that was not meant to be inclusive of every topic discussed by every official on the ground. As you know, we have quite an extensive delegation who will be there.

QUESTION: Right. But in terms of the actual formal cyber talks that you had been going on that the Chinese canceled after the indictments of the PLA guys, that’s not happening. Is that correct?

MS. PSAKI: Nothing has changed in that regard.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: But again, there’ll be a great deal of time for dialogue. There are many meals involved, so I’m certain there’ll be a range of issues that will be discussed.

QUESTION: So they’re going to be chatting about cyber-crime over their --

MS. PSAKI: Stay tuned, Matt. There’s quite a bit of time our team has on the ground.

QUESTION: -- orange chicken, lemon chicken? Okay. Can we start with just this, quickly – Bahrain.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: The expulsion of Tom Malinowski. What is the status? Have you guys accepted this? Are you protesting to the Bahrainis? Has he left the country? And what’s your understanding of what he did wrong that would warrant – or not warrant, as the case may be – this kind of a move?

MS. PSAKI: Well, let me first say that Assistant Secretary Malinowski is in Bahrain. He remains in Bahrain; he’s still in Bahrain today. He was – he’s on a visit to reaffirm and strengthen our bilateral ties and to support His Royal Majesty King Hamad’s reform and reconciliation efforts at an important time, particularly given events elsewhere in the region. Our team – we’ve, of course, seen the statements, and our team is in close touch on the ground to figure out – with the government to figure out exactly what’s happened here. I expect we’ll have more later once we have more of an update on the ground. As you know, these reports or these statements just came out in the last hour or so.

QUESTION: Right. Well, does him going there and then becoming – being declared persona non grata, how does that reaffirm and strengthen U.S.-Bahrain bilateral ties?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, what I was stating is the purpose of his visit and why he was on the ground.

QUESTION: Would you say that at this moment that it succeeded?

MS. PSAKI: Well, this visit is not complete yet. He is still on the ground --

QUESTION: Well --

MS. PSAKI: -- and we’re in close touch with the government officials. So we’ll see what transpires.

QUESTION: Or how does it express Bahrainis’ commitment to human rights and democratic reforms through the reconciliation process that you are talking about?

MS. PSAKI: Well, this was a statement made – as I mentioned, our officials are in close touch with Bahraini Government officials on the ground, and we’ll see what transpires over the next several hours.

QUESTION: Can we go to Iraq?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: Okay. Over the weekend, former Ambassador Ryan Crocker told --

QUESTION: I’m sorry, Said. I just have one. Do you have any details of his schedule in Bahrain, what he was doing there?

MS. PSAKI: In terms of his --

QUESTION: Other than --

MS. PSAKI: -- his specific meetings?

QUESTION: Yeah, other than – no. Yeah, in terms of his specific meetings, but not necessarily specific, but as specific as you can get.

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have his specific schedule in front of me. I can see if there’s – that’s something we can provide.

QUESTION: Do you know, did he meet with government officials today?

MS. PSAKI: Did he – did Assistant Secretary Malinowski meet --

QUESTION: Tom. Yeah.

MS. PSAKI: -- with government officials today? Not that I’m aware of, but why don’t we check and see what the specific details are of the schedule.

QUESTION: Is it correct that he met with the Al Wifaq people yesterday and again today?

MS. PSAKI: I know he did yesterday. I don’t have confirmation of another meeting today.

Iraq?

QUESTION: One more. Are you planning to consider any Bahraini diplomatic persona non grata too, or how will --

MS. PSAKI: Again, our team is in close touch on the ground with government officials. Assistant Secretary Malinowski remains on the ground, so let’s see what happens through the course of the day.

Iraq?

QUESTION: Can we go to Iraq?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Yes. Former Ambassador Ryan Crocker told CNN – I know he’s a former official but he probably knows Iraq better than many people. He said that, “The Islamic State may have done us a favor by publicly erasing the Iraqi-Syrian border. If they have, I think we should too and go after their targets wherever they are.”

Is that the kind of thinking that may be germinating in this building that --

MS. PSAKI: Well, Said --

QUESTION: -- because the Iraqis recognize their borders and the Syrians recognize their borders. Only the Islamic State that recognizes this fungible border, right?

MS. PSAKI: Well, as you know, Ambassador Crocker is a private citizen and doesn’t speak for the United States Government. We’ve also talked quite a bit in here about the fact that our focus remains on encouraging urgent steps toward a government formation, and we have a range of options at our disposal to take on the threat that Iraq and the region is facing from ISIL. That’s long been the case for weeks now, long before these comments were made.

QUESTION: But as they expand their territory – and obviously they are – I mean, what is the United States doing actually on the ground to sort of reverse the tide?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think a range of steps. One, we’re consulting closely on the ground with a range of government officials from all parties. We also have increased, expedited our security assistance. You’re familiar with the steps we’ve taken in that regard. And we remain in close consultations. And again, we have a range of options at our disposal. But our focus remains on encouraging political steps forward and a unified front against ISIL and the threat that all people --

QUESTION: You said that --

MS. PSAKI: -- of Iraq face.

QUESTION: You said that your kind of first priority is a government.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Now, the parliament wrapped up and kind of delayed its next meeting until August 12th without any kind of judgment or new government or anything. And I mean, do you have – given, like, if you think back to the last time the Iraqi Government tried to form a government, that took months.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Do you have that kind of time to kind of wait for a government to form and hope that that gels and will fight ISIS? I mean, it seems like they’ll probably be pretty close to overrunning the country before the Iraqi – if that’s like what needs to happen before any meaningful action is taken.

MS. PSAKI: Elise, there’s no question that sooner is better than later and that we’re in a dire – we’re looking at a dire situation on the ground, which is why it’s so important that things move forward urgently on the ground. We’ve seen the statements. Our view is that’s not set in stone, that they still have the ability to move forward more quickly than what they outlined this morning.

QUESTION: I understand. But I mean, if history is any indicator, that doesn’t really seem like it’s going to – that – like that’s going to happen. And I mean, can you afford really to wait until a new government is formed, regardless of how long that takes? It could take a week. It could take six weeks or six months. And so, can you really afford to wait, given that ISIS is continuing to gain territory with astonishing speed, as you admit?

MS. PSAKI: Well, the circumstances are different than they were the last time we went through this. And certainly, you’ve seen us increase and expedite our – a range of assistance that we’re providing to the security forces on the ground, as a result of the circumstances on the ground. Our view is that government formation and the steps that the Iraqis need to take themselves is essential to a long term – the long term success in Iraq; that’s why we’re encouraging it. But the President has the prerogative to take any steps he chooses. But I don’t want to get ahead of any decision-making process.

QUESTION: Let me just follow up on the government and the formation. In your opinion, what is really the hold up? Is it the Sunni bloc in the parliament or is it Maliki, who insists on being the prime minister once again or – what is it? What is the hold up?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to do analysis along those lines from here, Said. At – bottom line is it’s urgent that all parties in Iraq take concrete steps to form a new government as quickly as possible under the constitution. That’s what we’re encouraging; that’s what we’re conveying to all parties on the ground.

QUESTION: But you would think that after such investment in blood and treasure – of American blood and treasure in Iraq, you would be more engaged in this process. Or you would be --

MS. PSAKI: We would be more engaged?

QUESTION: Yes. You would be more engaged, perhaps a bit more forceful on what kind of outcome Iraq --

MS. PSAKI: Well Said, just to refute your point – and I’m not sure – how – what are you referring to when you say we’re not engaged?

QUESTION: I’m referring that – I don’t know. Are you engaged in this parliamentary, sort of little, whatever, ballet that is going on now to choose the three presidencies, as they call it – the president to the parliament, the president of the country, and the prime minister?

MS. PSAKI: Well Said, the Secretary was just there two weeks ago. We’ve had Ambassador Beecroft, we’ve had Deputy Assistant Secretary Brett McGurk engaged every single day with a range of Iraqi officials. We’ve expedited our assistance. We’ve been in – probably as engaged or more engaged than any other country in what’s happening on the ground. So I think your point is not backed up by facts.

QUESTION: Okay. Let me ask you this: Are you still sort of sticking to Maliki, or do you prefer to see someone else? Because the Iranians said today that while they support Maliki, they are not really – they could see working with someone else like Adil Abd al-Mahdi, who is the former vice president of the country.

MS. PSAKI: We’ve consistently said it’s up to the Iraqi people and only the Iraqi people to determine their future leadership. Moving forward in the process is what our focus is on now.

QUESTION: Jen, do you have a specific reaction of whether it’s discouragement or anger or whatever to the parliament just taking off and not doing anything?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think specifically, as we’ve said in the past, we hope that Iraq’s leaders will move forward with extreme urgency, and that’s what we’ve been calling for.

QUESTION: Have you --

MS. PSAKI: Again, it’s not – in our view, the reports and what they called for this morning is not set in stone. They have every ability to move forward more quickly, and we’re encouraging them to do so.

QUESTION: Well, do you think they’re demonstrating great – or the urgency with which you think that this situation needs to be treated?

MS. PSAKI: We think there could be greater urgency in moving forward, yes.

QUESTION: All right. And then you had also said that the United States has been engaged perhaps more than any other country? Would you put Iran in that category?

MS. PSAKI: Well, what I’m referring to, Matt, is the fact that we’ve been engaged on the political front. We’ve been engaged on providing assistance. We’ve been working closely with the Iraqi Government. The Secretary was just there.

QUESTION: Right.

MS. PSAKI: So I think there’s no question I was refuting the point that Said was making.

QUESTION: I understand that. But do you think that – or is it you think that the United States has been as engaged and active in Iraq over the course of the last three years as Iran has been?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, I think I wasn’t meaning to draw a comparison --

QUESTION: Right.

MS. PSAKI: -- but bottom line, I don’t have all the details on their engagement either.

QUESTION: Jen, I stand refuted, but let me just take you to what, let’s say, Martin Dempsey said – the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Now, he said that the Iraqis may be able to defend Baghdad, but they will not be able to, sort of, liberate territory already (inaudible) – or taken, and now under the power of control of ISIS. Is that something that you want to see go on? I mean, this is – where is --

MS. PSAKI: I haven’t seen the full --

QUESTION: Where is the sort of the more, let’s say, more engaged – engagement by the United States?

MS. PSAKI: I think I’ve answered this question. Let’s go on to another Iraq.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) Jen. Yeah.

MS. PSAKI: Do you have --

QUESTION: Yes. Just a follow-up.

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead. Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Over the weekend on Friday, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi gave a sermon. Can you confirm the authenticity of the video?

MS. PSAKI: We’ve seen, of course, the reports of the video. We have no reason to doubt the authenticity of the video.

QUESTION: And do you think the Islamic State is the number-one threat to the United States?

MS. PSAKI: I know you always like to do this, Lucas, but I’m not going to give rank order. We have annual reports we issue that go through where we view the threats are and where our concerns are. There’s no question we have been – our concern has grown about the threat of ISIL to the region, to Iraq, and that’s why we’ve increased our assistance and why we’ve been so engaged in the last several months on this issue.

QUESTION: I ask because some critics have said that the ISIS is more of a regional threat, that this is a Sunni-Shia battle and they’re not a threat to the homeland; they’re akin more to the Taliban.

MS. PSAKI: Well, our view, Lucas, is that there are threats that are relevant to the United States, and we’re concerned that these threats and what’s happening in the region could pose a threat to the United States. And you heard the Secretary say that, you’ve heard the President say that, and so I would point you to their comments.

QUESTION: Can you confirm that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was actually in U.S. custody some years back?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any more details to confirm for you, Said; just about the relevance of the video.

QUESTION: On Afghanistan?

MS. PSAKI: Let’s finish Iraq and then we can go to Afghanistan if that works for you.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: Any more on Iraq? All right. There you go, Lalit. Okay.

QUESTION: Okay. Thank you. Following up your statement you issued on Afghanistan elections, have you been in touch with the two presidential candidates officially, both Dr. Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani?

MS. PSAKI: We have been in touch with both candidates, but I don’t have more details I’m going to share beyond that.

QUESTION: But do you worry that the way there have been resistance to the Independent Election Commission by these two candidates is leading to some kind of political strike inside the country – strong differences, ethnic conflicts inside the country?

MS. PSAKI: Well, as I noted in my statement, but just in case other people haven’t seen that, we want to – I want to reiterate that today’s announcement is of preliminary results. These results are not final or authoritative and may not predict the final outcome. There are serious allegations of fraud, which I think you referenced there and they’ve been raised, and in our view, they haven’t been sufficiently investigated. So right now, our focus is on encouraging a full and thorough review of all reasonable allegations of irregularities. We think that’s essential to ensuring that the Afghan people have confidence in the integrity of the electoral process.

There have – also noted in the statement were four additional measures that have been accepted by both camps, and we certainly encourage movement forward on those. But there have also been a range of steps proposed by the UN. The UN has proposed a series of additional audits of suspected – suspect ballots, and it’s essential that the IEC and the ICC and the UN – work with the UN to execute these additional audits.

QUESTION: There were some reports earlier today that the ambassador, the U.S. Ambassador, had gone to the Electoral Commission. Those were refuted by the Embassy. I’m wondering if there was – did the U.S. have a position on whether the head of the commission should come out and announce these results given the fact that they are so preliminary, they’re subject to change, and don’t really settle anything?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything more to outline for you, Matt. I would obviously stand by the refuting by the Embassy of where their ambassador – where our ambassador was at the time.

QUESTION: But you don’t know if the U.S. took a position on whether they should go ahead and make the announcement of these?

MS. PSAKI: I just don’t have any more details to share.

QUESTION: So right now, Ghani is leading by a million vote, so it looks like he will be the next president. Are you willing to work with him, he’s a good --

MS. PSAKI: Well, let me reiterate what I just said. These are preliminary results. These results are not final or authoritative. We don’t support any individual candidate, as you know, because we state it frequently. But we have long stated our support for a credible, transparent, and thorough process, and obviously, there are additional steps that need to be taken in that regard.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Just to follow quickly, Madam, U.S. had played a great role as far as the democracy and previous elections are concerned also. Isn’t this also a threat to the foreigners living there and working under constructions and plus also to the future of the Afghanistan democracy if these things doesn’t get resolved because of international relations and so forth? But finally, what role you think UN can play that U.S. cannot play?

MS. PSAKI: Well, the UN has proposed a series of additional audits of suspect ballots, and we encourage the IEC and the ICC to move forward and working closely with them. And in terms of the long-term impact, we believe that the audit process can be completed in time to allow the inauguration of the next president to proceed as scheduled, which is on August 2nd.

And certainly, both candidates have made clear that they would sign the BSA. Obviously, there are a range of steps we would take or we’re planning on taking, and beyond that we’re going to let this process play itself through.

QUESTION: Can we go to Israel?

MS. PSAKI: Sure. Did you want an update now?

QUESTION: First, do you have any update on the American citizen who was detained and that was then put under house arrest?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t know if I have much of an update since yesterday, Matt, but let me provide you --

QUESTION: Well, has he been – has anyone gone to visit him? Have you looked at his – has he – is his health okay?

MS. PSAKI: Well first, our – we visited him in the – an official from the U.S. Consulate General visited him on July 5th and attended his hearing on July 6th. We’ve also seen the family. I don’t have anything else to read out for you in terms of his health.

Obviously, this is a case where we remain deeply concerned about the reports. In fact, we remain shocked that he was severely beaten while in police custody and strongly have condemned that, and any use of excessive force, of course. We’re calling – and I would reiterate our call for a speedy and transparent and credible investigation. As I understand it, he’s been interviewed for that, and so that’s moving forward.

QUESTION: You remain shocked?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we are shocked.

QUESTION: You’re shocked --

QUESTION: Well, it sounds like --

QUESTION: You’re shocked when a --

MS. PSAKI: We continue to be shocked.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: What you were saying, I think on Thursday or in your statements over the weekend, that you remain concerned about reports that he was apparently beaten. And now you’re saying that you’re shocked that he was beaten. So it seems as if like – it doesn’t seem as if there’s any doubt, really, now. I mean, there might be a doubt as to how it happened, or the extent of it, or whether what he did – the Israeli Ambassador said that he was provoking, that he wasn’t an innocent bystander, that kind of implied that he asked for it.

MS. PSAKI: Well, Elise, a couple things, as you know, happened over the weekend. One, of course, we – our consulate – a representative from our Consulate General was able to see him. And obviously, he’s been released and is with his family now at this time. And of course, I’ve seen the comments, and our view is an arrest is justified for anyone who is guilty of committing a crime. And obviously, there’s an investigation; there’ll be a process to review that. But beating an arrestee after they are subdued and in custody is never justified. So we will let the process see itself through. But certainly, we’ve all seen him and we’ve been in touch with him, and we are continuing to call for a credible investigation.

QUESTION: Have you formally demarched the Israeli Government about it?

MS. PSAKI: We’ve been in close touch with the government, but I’m not aware of a specific demarche.

QUESTION: Do you have any concerns about the – an Israeli investigation into this incident?

MS. PSAKI: We’ve seen Prime Minister Netanyahu and other officials express strong concern about a range of these reports, and they’ve expressed a commitment to seeing through an investigation.

QUESTION: All right. Now meanwhile, in southern Israel --

QUESTION: Well, can we just stay on this for one second?

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: I understand that Secretary Kerry spoke with Prime Minister Netanyahu over the weekend. Was this case in particular brought up, or was it about the larger kind of escalating violence?

MS. PSAKI: He reiterated – the Secretary did speak with the prime minister about a range of incidents that are happening on the ground, Elise. And certainly, the focus was on reiterating our concern about escalating tensions. And the Secretary, of course, urged Prime Minister Netanyahu – as he’s urged both parties – to exercise restraint and avoid steps that could further destabilize the situation.

QUESTION: Did he speak to prime – President Abbas?

MS. PSAKI: He has spoken with him over the course of the last several days or week. I don’t – let me see if I have anything specific over the last – he spoke with him – let’s see – I know last Tuesday. He’s been in – I think it’s important to reiterate here we’ve been in touch on the ground very closely with both parties.

QUESTION: Well, but you’ve seen the comments that are coming out of Hamas. And now that the U.S. has, in effect, kind of accepted the fact that Hamas is now in this unity government, you would think that as leader of this unity government it would be incumbent on President Abbas to rein in or take – try and maintain some kind of control over the activities of Hamas. Isn’t that correct?

MS. PSAKI: Well, you’re right. I mean, we’ve stated – you’re right in the sense that we have stated from the beginning that we would judge the interim government by its actions, composition, and policies. And based on what we know now, this hasn’t changed. We don’t believe that Hamas plays a role in the government. However, to your point, it is difficult to see how other aspects of the reconciliation process can move forward in this current atmosphere, and we’ve conveyed that as well.

QUESTION: Well, I mean, I understand that you – that maybe it’s a technicality that Hamas doesn’t play a part in this government, but it is a unity government that includes Hamas. And I’m just wondering, now does President Abbas more so than ever bear responsibility for the actions of Hamas?

MS. PSAKI: No. But we have – President Abbas himself has suggested that there would be serious consequences for whatever party carried out the crimes that we’ve been talking about over the last several weeks. And as I mentioned, it’s difficult for us to see, given this current atmosphere, how other aspects of the reconciliation process could continue.

QUESTION: Just one quick last one. Did Secretary Kerry mention the specific case of this Israeli – Palestinian teen that was beaten?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any other further details, but I think it’s safe to assume when he’s talking about the escalating tensions on the ground, he’s talking about all of the reports that you’ve seen in the news that we’ve all been discussing.

QUESTION: Did you have a response, reaction – and forgive me if I missed it – to the Palestinian teenager who was killed, the cousin of this – or did that happen over the --

MS. PSAKI: I believe we’ve put out something over the weekend. I can double-check that and certainly --

QUESTION: Okay. Thus far, have you seen both sides exercising the kind of restraint that you think is necessary?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, typically you convey that to parties when you feel there’s more that needs to be done.

QUESTION: All right. On the --

QUESTION: Jen --

QUESTION: On the – you say it’s difficult to see how other aspects of the reconciliation can go ahead. Can you be more specific about that? What other aspects?

MS. PSAKI: Well, as you know, there’s – obviously there’s the formation of the interim technocratic government, but there’s also the reconciliation process between Hamas and Fatah, and we feel that obviously, there are a range of circumstances on the ground that make it difficult to see how things can move forward at this time.

QUESTION: So you think that he should stop the reconciliation?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’ll leave that up to him, but obviously, there are a range of circumstances on the ground that we feel make it difficult.

QUESTION: Okay. In those circumstances, have you gotten 100 definitive evidence or proof that the – that Hamas was responsible for the kidnapping and the – of the three Israeli youths?

MS. PSAKI: Nothing has changed since we discussed this last week when we talked about the patterns and --

QUESTION: So you’re still not convinced that Hamas was behind it?

MS. PSAKI: That wasn’t what we said – what we’ve stated. We’ve obviously pointed to the patterns --

QUESTION: No, I understand that, but --

MS. PSAKI: -- but I don’t have – there’s an ongoing investigation, as you know, that hasn’t concluded.

QUESTION: So when you talk about the situation on the ground making it difficult to see – making it difficult for you to see how the other aspects – that refers not to the kidnapping specifically but to the rocket attacks? There have been almost 80, I think, just today. Do you have anything to say about the rocket attacks into southern Israel from --

MS. PSAKI: Well, and I’d also point you, Matt, to the raising tensions and the increasing violence on the ground, as those are all aspects that certainly impact what’s happening on the ground.

QUESTION: Jen --

QUESTION: Well, wait. Do you have any reaction to the – anything to say about the rockets? I mean, the Israelis say that this is really ramping up the tensions.

MS. PSAKI: Well, correct. As you know, I mean, anytime there are rocket attacks into Israel, we certainly condemn those and we would do so in this case as well. And there’s no place for violence and increasing tension as we’re seeing on the ground. We don’t feel that’s productive to a peaceful society.

QUESTION: Jen, the small cabinet, the security cabinet, just finished a meeting like an hour or so ago, and they decided to continue with their – with targeting targets in Gaza. Are you talking to anyone – like perhaps the Egyptians – to see if they could somehow broker a quieting period or a quiet-down period? Because it seems this thing is really escalating out of control, isn’t it?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Said, we – as I mentioned, we strongly condemn the continuing rocket fire into Israel, but we also support Israel’s right to defend itself against these attacks. I think the Secretary’s calls have also reiterated the need to reduce tensions and decrease violence, and that’s part of the discussion that we’re having with both parties at this time.

QUESTION: What about the area of bombardment by the Israeli Air Force of Gaza? I mean, they killed nine yesterday, today they killed a woman and injured a child, and in fact it’s ongoing as we speak now. Are you calling on the Israelis to sort of hold back or restrain themselves at this point?

MS. PSAKI: I think I just answered the question on the Israelis.

QUESTION: Okay. Let me ask you about the teenage boy. He – you said he was released, but in fact, he was sentenced to 10 days under house arrest.

MS. PSAKI: Said he was released --

QUESTION: Is that satisfactory to you?

MS. PSAKI: He’s under house arrest with his family, yes.

QUESTION: Okay. And that is fine with you that he was sentenced to 10 days under house arrest?

MS. PSAKI: Again, I think we’ve been – pretty strongly conveyed how we feel. Circumstances around this case are not fine, but that’s an update on where things stand. His – he was asked to post bail. He’s restricted to his uncle’s home. He’s permitted to visit medical facilities. And if the investigation is concluded properly, as we expect, he should be able to return to Florida as planned with his family later this month.

QUESTION: Well, when you say that you want it to be conducted properly, what are you saying? That if a fair – free and fair investigation that’s unimpeded will probably illustrate that he had no wrongdoing and will be able to leave on his own reconnaissance?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I’m not going to prejudge the outcome, but I think obviously, as we see these things move forward, we feel that if they move forward adequately, that he’ll be able to return with his family to the United States.

QUESTION: Did the Palestinian raise with you the fact that they are suffering from a deficit, a reduction of 62 percent in their budget? Have they spoken to you about their financial conditions?

MS. PSAKI: We have regular conversations with the Palestinians about their economic needs. As you know, we provide a great deal of assistance, and we’re in close touch through our consulate on the ground.

QUESTION: Jen --

QUESTION: To follow --

QUESTION: But as far as you’re concerned, it’s – you’re not aware that any U.S. funds are being held up at the present time?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think we’ve spoken to this before. Obviously, we constantly review these, and Congress is in the position to make decisions about what funds will and won’t move forward. But beyond that, I don’t have any other update.

QUESTION: Can I change the topic?

QUESTION: Wait, one more?

QUESTION: The last time before this that you called for an investigation – an Israeli investigation into something – at least I think it was the last time – one of the last times – was the shooting of the – shooting deaths of the two Palestinian teenagers. Do you recall what the outcome of the Israeli investigation was into that?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any details on that in front of me, Matt.

QUESTION: Okay. Well, I’m just – okay. Could someone take a look at what the results of that investigation was and see if the results were acceptable, if you thought that they were an accurate representation of what happened?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think it’s also important to note here, Matt, that Prime Minister Netanyahu and other senior Israeli officials have pointed to their desire to hold those accountable who are guilty of excessive --

QUESTION: I’m not saying that I don’t – that – I’m not casting doubt on that.

MS. PSAKI: The context is --

QUESTION: I’m just wondering what the --

MS. PSAKI: The context is important. That’s why I mentioned it.

QUESTION: One more?

MS. PSAKI: Do we have more on this? Go ahead, Lucas.

QUESTION: Senior Hamas officials have said the rocket attacks will continue from Gaza until Israel’s siege of Gaza ends. Do you think Gaza is under siege by the Israelis?

MS. PSAKI: Again, I’m not going to echo names or terms used by Hamas or anyone else. Our view is that Israel has the right to defend itself, and we certainly support that.

QUESTION: Jen?

MS. PSAKI: More on this topic --

QUESTION: Yes.

MS. PSAKI: -- or a new topic? Go ahead.

QUESTION: Yes, this topic. President Abbas has called on yesterday UN Secretary General to form an international committee to monitor and investigate what he referred to as crimes by Israeli settlers. Do you support the formation of such a committee? Or what’s your position?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything to offer on that. I’m happy to check with our team and see if we have a view on that specific call.

QUESTION: And today, he mentioned that he will be applying or going to have the Palestinian Authority attending more UN organizations. Do you have any position toward this too?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have details on what he outlined specifically, so why don’t we take a closer look at that and we can see if there’s more to say.

More on this topic or a new issue? Go ahead, Elise.

QUESTION: A new topic?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Can we go over the latest on the case of Meriam Ibrahim in Sudan?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm, sure.

QUESTION: The last you had said was that the – she does have documents to travel to the U.S. Does that mean that she has documents to come here on a tourist visa? Can she apply for citizenship, asylum? Because her husband, I believe, is an American citizen. So I’m just wondering, would you allow her to live here permanently? Anything you could say about that?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I’m not going to get ahead of where we stand, and obviously, part of that is State Department, but part of it is DHS and other entities. So I’m not going to have a lot to update you on, and that – obviously, that process would have to play itself out, whatever the outcome is.

Where things stand now is she was released on June 26th by Sudanese police on bail. The family remains in a safe location, as has been the case all along. In order to ensure their safety, we aren’t discussing their specific location.

Our view, as you mentioned, continues to be that she and her children have all the necessary documents to travel and enter the United States as soon as she is able to fulfill the Government of Sudan’s exit requirements. We remain in close touch with the Sudanese foreign ministry to ensure she and her family will be able to travel as quickly as possible. But as of now, she remains in Sudan.

QUESTION: Well, I mean, she was for – at some point in the American Embassy in Sudan. I mean, are you treating her as the wife of an American citizen – kind of what is your particular interest in this woman other than the case – the fact that she did have a kind of horrible experience and all? It seems as if you’re treating her as a quasi-American citizen.

MS. PSAKI: I think we’re – again, I’m not going to confirm specifics of her location. I think we’ve all seen the details of her story and circumstances around her story. And we’re taking steps to assist her, as I mentioned.

QUESTION: But in what capacity? I mean, are you – she’s receiving this special attention because of the ordeal she went through, and this is a humanitarian gesture? Or is it because – is she being afforded some kind of assistance as the wife of an American citizen? I’m just – and when you say that she has documents to travel to the United States, are you saying that she has an American passport?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to get into details of the documents she has. She has the documents she needs to enter the United States. Obviously, there are steps that need to be taken on the other side in Sudan in order to ensure that she can.

QUESTION: Do you consider her an American citizen right now?

MS. PSAKI: Not that I’m aware of, no, Elise.

QUESTION: Jen, you said that she was released on bail. So is it your understanding that she’s going to have to go back and go back to court and be tried on something --

MS. PSAKI: That was not what I was conveying.

QUESTION: -- for some --

MS. PSAKI: That was how she was released. We’re obviously in close touch with the Sudanese authorities about how to make sure she has the documents needed to leave Sudan.

QUESTION: But does that mean that the charges that they said that she had – that those charges about her allegedly trying to travel on fake documents, that those stand? They still exist and that needs to be resolved before she can leave?

MS. PSAKI: Well, again, I think – they haven’t been resolved, otherwise she would be able to leave, because we’ve provided – she has the necessary documents from our end in order to leave Sudan.

QUESTION: Right. But your understanding is that because she’s only out on bail, she wasn’t like she was just released and they said, “You can go do anything you want.” She was released on bail, which implies that there’s some kind of an obligation on her part to go back to the Sudanese justice system.

MS. PSAKI: I will check and see if that’s the specific case or if that’s just the legal terminology.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

QUESTION: She has travel documents to travel to the U.S. in what capacity? As a tourist, as a – someone with a green card with --

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to get into other details of her travel documents.

QUESTION: Would she have to be on U.S. soil to apply for asylum?

MS. PSAKI: Broadly speaking, that’s how people – where people would need to be.

QUESTION: May I move to Japan?

QUESTION: Just one more on this.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: But you’re not saying that that’s the case here?

MS. PSAKI: Well, any individual who’s applying would have to be typically on U.S. soil.

QUESTION: But is the --

MS. PSAKI: The Embassy is not U.S. soil.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: Is this the type of issue that a special ambassador for international and religious freedom could help with in the future?

MS. PSAKI: Well, you know how strongly we feel about having someone in that position. And obviously, there are a range of officials at the highest levels who’ve been involved in this case. But obviously, having more senior officials who can advocate in cases like these is vitally important.

QUESTION: Is there any update --

QUESTION: Why don’t you send Tom Malinowski? He’s nearby.

QUESTION: Is there any update on the nomination process?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any update for you, Lucas.

QUESTION: Did you just say in response that the U.S. Embassy is not American soil?

MS. PSAKI: Not technically, no.

QUESTION: Can I move to Japan?

QUESTION: Really?

MS. PSAKI: Yes. Despite what you’ve seen in movies and television. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: No, it’s sovereign soil --

MS. PSAKI: Not U.S. soil.

QUESTION: It’s not U.S. territory?

QUESTION: It’s American territory.

QUESTION: It’s American territory.

QUESTION: Well, tell that to the Brits and Julian Assange and the Ecuadorians.

QUESTION: Going back to --

QUESTION: On Japan – okay. Sorry.

MS. PSAKI: Japan.

QUESTION: Japan. Okay.

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.

QUESTION: The Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera visiting the United States this week. So do you have more information on that?

MS. PSAKI: I’m sorry, visited the United States?

QUESTION: Yes.

MS. PSAKI: The defense minister?

QUESTION: Defense minister.

MS. PSAKI: I would point you to the Department of Defense for more details.

QUESTION: And recently we know the Japanese cabinet approved the collective self-defense resolution, and there was a fairly large demonstration outside the prime minister’s office, and arrested . Do you have any comments on that?

MS. PSAKI: You know where we stand on the recent announcements by Japan, and we certainly support their efforts and the announcements that they made. Otherwise, I would point you to Japanese authorities --

QUESTION: But --

MS. PSAKI: -- since that’s a domestic issue.

QUESTION: You realize there are some people also against this kind of resolution.

MS. PSAKI: As there often are in any country. But I would point you to Japan and the Japanese authorities for any reaction.

QUESTION: And by the way --

QUESTION: On Japan.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- China and South Korea, which suffered, I mean, from Japan’s aggression in the past, and also worry about how Japan might exercise this kind of resolution. So – and also, we know since 1947 that Japan’s constitution was written by the United States. So how the United States make sure that Japan will not abuse this kind of authority?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we – again, when the announcement was made, we welcomed – Secretary of Defense welcomed, we welcomed the Government of Japan’s new policy regarding collective self-defense. Obviously, in order for it to be successful, it’s important they move forward in a transparent manner. But we have an open dialogue with Japan about a range of issues, including our security cooperation and partnerships, and so we expect that to be the case.

QUESTION: Can I stay on Japan?

QUESTION: The U.S. also suffered from Japanese aggression as well.

MS. PSAKI: History.

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.

QUESTION: Do you have a readout of Secretary Kerry’s phone conversation with Japanese foreign minister today?

MS. PSAKI: He did speak with Foreign Minister Kishida today. Let me see if I have anything specific on that. If not, I’m sure we can get you something after the briefing. I think it happened late this morning.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: Back to Saudi Arabia.

MS. PSAKI: Saudi Arabia, sure.

QUESTION: Saudi Arabia’s one of the few countries in the world in which homosexuality still remains criminalized, and the kingdom’s LGBT rights record aside from that has come under scrutiny by Amnesty International and many other groups. Yet the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, in an op-ed that The Washington Blade last week published, said that this record was “regretfully absent” during the President’s meeting with King Abdullah back in March, and I know the Secretary recently met with him as well. Do you have any specifics as to whether LGBT rights in Saudi Arabia was discussed during that meeting in Jeddah, and if so, any readouts you have?

MS. PSAKI: The focus of the meeting with King Abdullah was really about the dire situation in Iraq, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t raise human rights issues, including LGBT issues, with a range of countries at many opportunities. And as you know, we have a very active embassy on the ground with a range of senior officials on the ground, but I don’t have any other specific readout from the meeting.

QUESTION: Do you have any specific statements, perhaps, that the State Department has sent out in the last year or so on Saudi Arabia’s LGBT rights record specifically, or can somebody maybe follow up with me on that?

MS. PSAKI: Well, they’re all available on our website.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: All statements we issue. So I’m sure you can find everything you need there.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Can we go back to China, please?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

And I would also – just one more thing. We also issue an annual report on human rights, where we outline any concerns we have about every country, and we don’t hold back in that regard.

QUESTION: But actually – the second thing that you mentioned at today’s – at the top of the briefing was a statement about the jailing of a Saudi human rights lawyer.

MS. PSAKI: That is true.

QUESTION: At the end of that statement, you said you urge the Saudi Government to respect all human – international human rights standards. What do you – all this urging, what has it gotten you?

MS. PSAKI: Well, it’s important to continue to highlight issues where we have concerns, and that’s why we issue statements and why we talk about them from the briefing and why the Secretary raises them.

Let’s go to the back. Scott.

QUESTION: Venezuela.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: What can you tell us about the exchange of chiefs of mission last week? It was on a day when there wasn’t a briefing.

MS. PSAKI: I believe there was a report that we will have a new charge starting soon in Venezuela, but I don’t have an exact timeline at this point.

QUESTION: So does that – is that an opening for improving ties between the U.S. and Venezuela, then?

MS. PSAKI: There’s always – we remain open to a long-term relationship with Venezuela. We have existing concerns, as you know, about circumstances on the ground and accusations they’ve made against the United States. Those haven’t changed, but it’s an – it’s just somebody who will be there, of course, with other officials on the ground representing our – the needs of the United States.

QUESTION: Is there something that has happened to make this opportunity an opportunity?

MS. PSAKI: Nothing specific that I’m aware of, Scott.

Go ahead in the back.

QUESTION: Yes. Regarding Germany and allegations of U.S. spying, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said that the United States is going to work with the Germans to resolve the situation appropriately. Can you comment on how that work is happening?

MS. PSAKI: Sure. I will say, of course, that we work with Germans – with Germany – Germany is an extremely important partner. We work together on a range of vital issues, including many in the news today: the P5+1 negotiations that are ongoing in Vienna now; we have an important economic dialogue with Germany; the Secretary’s been there several times. Ambassador Emerson did meet with the MFA on Friday on these recent reports, and our dialogue will continue on this and every other issue we work together on. But I’m not going to outline that publicly.

QUESTION: Will there be conversations upcoming between the United States and Germany from here?

MS. PSAKI: We have an ongoing dialogue with Germany about a range of issues, and as with any case, we’re happy to discuss these issues if they plan to raise them.

QUESTION: Okay. One more, if you don’t mind.

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: How damaging are – you talk about all the discussions and work you have with the Germans. How damaging are these continuing spying allegations to the relationship? And how do you quell the uproar, really, that’s coming out of Germany over them?

MS. PSAKI: We have a strong friendship and partnership with Germany built on respect and built on decades of cooperation and common values and interests. And we expect that to continue.

QUESTION: Was it also based on listening in to the chancellor’s phone calls? Is that --

MS. PSAKI: I think, Matt, you’re familiar with --

QUESTION: -- that’s the extent of the strong --

MS. PSAKI: -- the steps we’ve taken to address concerns --

QUESTION: -- depth of friendship?

MS. PSAKI: -- in that regard, and we’re continuing to implement those. Go ahead.

QUESTION: The White House – Josh Earnest at the White House suggested that you were going to do everything you could – or the government was going to do everything it could to resolve this situation.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Is there anything to resolve?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I --

QUESTION: By saying – well, the reason I’m asking is: By saying that and by saying that you are willing to talk to the Germans about this, it suggests that there is some – there is a valid complaint that they have here, or at least that there is some validity to the reports that have come out about this person spying for the United States.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think without seeing the full context of Josh’s briefing, I will – I believe what he was referring to is our openness to continuing the discussion and engagement about a range of issues with Germany that’s been ongoing for decades.

QUESTION: Are you under the impression that – or is it your impression that the Germans are as open to this discussion as you are, given the fact that they’ve now been burned two or three times by revelations like this?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’ve had an open dialogue with Germany for some time, including in recent months, where there have been more difficult issues to discuss, so we expect that will continue.

QUESTION: Chancellor Merkel said in Beijing today that this was – this was a serious case, and that if it’s true, if what’s alleged is true, it would be – it would compromise or it would – I can’t remember the exact word – but it would hurt the relationship of trust. Is that your – is that – does this government feel the same way? Does the Administration feel the same way?

MS. PSAKI: Well, it’s a pending German law enforcement case, as she may have mentioned as well. So I’m not going to speak to it much further than to say that we have had decades of a partnership on tough issues, complicated issues, and we hope and expect that will continue.

QUESTION: Did you know what she was going to say in advance?

MS. PSAKI: Not that I’m aware of, Matt.

QUESTION: Just quickly going back to China, please.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: As far as Secretary’s visit to China is concerned, you have been talking to the Chinese about these recent tens of thousands of Chinese demonstrating against the Communist rule in China for human rights and also China is against democracy. Do you support democracy in China?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we support – we, of course, raise human rights issues with China at every opportunity. I’m sure that will be a part of the dialogue here.

QUESTION: But Madam, what message will you have for the --

MS. PSAKI: I think we have to move on, Goyal, because we’ve – we’ll have a briefing on the ground, then we’ll send that transcript out to everybody.

Go ahead in the back.

QUESTION: Last week, Chinese president visited South Korea and held a summit with South Korean President Park Geun-hye. And you – last week, you said that you were going to see the outcome of this summit and the two leaders shared the view on – and they had showed some concern over Japan’s remilitarization, including exercising the collective self-defense, while not resolving historical issues. What is the reactions to this?

MS. PSAKI: Well, our view on Japan’s recent announcement is as I stated a few minutes ago, so that hasn’t changed. We obviously, as I stated I think last week, we certainly encourage dialogue between countries in the region and strong relationships between countries in the region. We feel that’s the best – in the best interests of the region itself. So obviously, there were a range of issues discussed over the course of the weekend. I don’t have any other further readout since we weren’t involved in them, but if you have anything more specific, perhaps I can address that.

QUESTION: South Korean president was very critical of the Japan’s exercises – collective self-defense.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think I stated our view. Our view hasn’t changed.

Go ahead, Catherine.

QUESTION: Following up on my question, I guess, from Wednesday about the unaccompanied minors and teenagers and families that are crossing the southern border of the United States, thank you for the information on refugees and asylum seekers. But the second part of my question was: What does the Administration view the people who are crossing the border as? Are they refugees or are they asylum seekers?

MS. PSAKI: Well, those definitions, I think as we stated in the taken question, are done by the Department of Homeland Security for individuals who are coming into the United States. I think our focus from here and Administration-wide is not on how we define, but what we do to address the problem.

I have a few updates I can give to all of you on what we’ve been working on. As you know, the Secretary was in Panama last Tuesday and we talked about that a little bit. On July 3rd, Counselor Tom Shannon and Assistant Secretaries Jacobson and Richard, and representatives from DHS, DOJ, USAID, and the NSC met with the ministers and ambassadors of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to discuss issues relating to unaccompanied children and repatriations, and to follow up on Vice President Biden and Secretary Kerry’s meetings in Central America the day before and a couple of weeks before.

Before that – and Secretary Kerry spoke about this on Tuesday in Panama – but before that, Ambassador Shannon and Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson visited the southern border of the United States in order to take a firsthand look and work with authorities on the ground on how to address the issues at hand. And President Obama also announced that he’ll be making a request of Congress for $2 billion to immediately apply. And upcoming, Counselor Tom Shannon will travel to Guatemala with DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson tomorrow, July 8th, and he also plans to visit Mexico July 14th to continue the conversation.

And our view is that working – we need to continue the pace of close work with these governments – Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Mexico – to find a solution to the humanitarian situation taking place in our – on the border. And we must do whatever we can to stem the tide and address the core issues at hand, and we have an appropriate – of course, an important obligation to care for the children and adults and adults with children who are apprehended at our border. But from the State Department, we’re working to – with – closely with the countries to see how we can address and stem the tide.

QUESTION: A follow-up on that?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Why do you say that DHS should be the one to determine whether these people are classified as refugees or not? Because if I remember correctly, in all other instances where there’s an influx of refugees around the world – and I think maybe even in the case when Haitians and Cubans were coming into the United States many years ago – the United Nations was the one that you look to to determine the classification of these people.

MS. PSAKI: Well, from the U.S. Government is what I was referring to, Elise.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: In terms of individuals coming and crossing the border.

QUESTION: Have you been in touch with UNHCR about these people and whether there should – there is a role for the UN to play?

MS. PSAKI: I’m certain we’ve been in touch with the UN. I don’t have any other specifics in terms of the --

QUESTION: Can you take that question --

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: -- what the discussions are with the UN on this? Because I mean, obviously, if the United Nations classifies them as refugees, then it would make it more difficult to return them to their home countries because they would be facing some type of – whether it’s persecution or violence or something.

MS. PSAKI: There are a range of definitions, right --

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS. PSAKI: -- as you know and as was in the information. But we are working to repatriate the children with their families back to their countries.

QUESTION: But if the United Nations classified them as refugees, it would be harder to repatriate.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I’m not aware of that being in the pipeline, but I can check and see if there is something specific in regards to our work with the UN.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: I’m – do you know for a fact that the Administration has sought to get the UN involved in this, which is a --

MS. PSAKI: No, I said whether we’ve been in touch with the UN or not, I can check on that. Sure.

QUESTION: Okay. I would – right. And when the answer comes back no, to save yourself a lot of hassle, get it out to us quickly.

MS. PSAKI: Sure, we certainly will.

QUESTION: Well, and if not, why not? Because you want to repatriate them and you don’t like the answer that the United Nations --

MS. PSAKI: I wasn’t intending to speculate, but as you know, we are in touch with the UN about a range of issues. I’m not --

QUESTION: There are --

MS. PSAKI: I’m not aware of any request we’ve made.

QUESTION: Well, there’s a difference between you calling the UN and saying, “Hey, we could really use your help in classifying these people or helping deal with the problem,” or hearing from the United Nations, “Hey, you should really let us come down to the border and meet these folks and take a look at them.”

MS. PSAKI: Well, let me be clear. Our focus is not on that. Our focus is on working with these countries to address the core issues. Our focus is on, as the President has outlined, requesting additional assistance to address both security and necessary funding we need to repatriate the children and their families back. That’s where our focus is. So --

QUESTION: I understand where that’s where your focus is, but that might not necessarily be where the focus of the United Nations would be if they classified those people as refugees.

MS. PSAKI: I have not heard them say anything about this, but I will check and see if there’s more to report.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Just one more, Jen.

MS. PSAKI: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: You said it’s not how you define the problem but how you address the problem. Don’t you have to define a problem before you can go about solving it?

MS. PSAKI: Well, when I said “define” I was referring to asylum seekers versus refugees. And what I was conveying is that our focus is on how to address the influx of unaccompanied minors that are coming across the border and the dangerous journey that they’ve taken to reach the United States.

QUESTION: Ukraine.

MS. PSAKI: Ukraine, sure.

QUESTION: There were some significant developments over the weekend.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: I believe the Ukrainian Government took back one town, and it looks like the separatists are steeling themselves for a defense of Donetsk, I think. What’s your understanding of the situation? Do you think that both sides are – that the government is still showing restraint and that the separatists are still not?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: What’s the U.S. position?

MS. PSAKI: Well, a few updates. As you noted, over the weekend we all saw reports that the Ukrainian Government was able to expel Russian-supported separatists from the cities of Slovyansk and Kramatorsk. The government immediately moved to begin restoring public services and to providing assistance to residents in need in those areas.

Fighting does continue in the cities of Donetsk and Luhansk, and the option of a cease-fire remains on the table. But it takes two to participate in a cease-fire, and President Poroshenko had that cease-fire for 10 days and didn’t see reciprocal participation or engagement from the other side. So there are still remaining steps that we have called on the Russian-backed separatists and the Russians to take. Those remain on the table.

QUESTION: You say that it’s two sides, but it would seem that all your discussion is three sides.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think the Russian-backed separatists and the Russians are on the same side.

QUESTION: So they – so you equate the separatists with Russia?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t think I’m equating, but in terms of --

QUESTION: For the purposes of – for the purposes of this, you think that the – Russia saying yes to a cease-fire is the same thing as the separatists saying yes to a cease-fire?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’ve long felt that they have a strong influence with the actions of the Russian separatists, and there’s more they can do to influence.

QUESTION: Right. Right, but the thing is – is that they had said yes, had they not? I mean, the Russians had supported it; Putin had supported it. But you don’t think that that message – or that they did enough to rein in the separatists in fighting the Ukrainian Government, right?

MS. PSAKI: Correct.

QUESTION: Is that – so that would mean that it’s three sides to the ceasefire, because you need the separatists to go along with it, and you think that that won’t happen unless Moscow says “do it,” right?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I still – my view is two sides. We can disagree on the shape of the --

QUESTION: I’m just – whether it’s a triangle or a line, I don’t know.

MS. PSAKI: Triangle or a line, yes.

QUESTION: But in your view, the Russians still have not done what they should or what you think they should do to --

MS. PSAKI: No. They can allow the OSCE monitors to do their jobs; they can call – they can stop the flow of weapons across the border; they can call on Russian-backed separatists to lay down their arms. There’s certainly more steps they can take.

QUESTION: Okay. And have there been any conversations between the Secretary or any senior officials on this issue since Thursday?

MS. PSAKI: With senior Russian officials, or senior --

QUESTION: Ukrainian officials, anyone – just on this subject that you’re aware of.

MS. PSAKI: The Secretary has not. Of course, our team on the ground remains in close contact about these issues, and there are ongoing discussions through the Quad meetings – or Quad discussions as well.

QUESTION: But that seems to have, unless I’m mistaken, broken down, right? That – they haven’t met since last Thursday or Wednesday.

MS. PSAKI: But they can – they could meet again, certainly, if there isn’t a --

QUESTION: The Russians have been calling for another meeting of that group no later than Saturday. You’re aware of that?

MS. PSAKI: No later than next Saturday?

QUESTION: No, this past Saturday – than the 5th.

MS. PSAKI: Than last Saturday? Well, they can still convene again.

QUESTION: Right. You would like to see another meeting of the Quad soon. Is that correct?

MS. PSAKI: We certainly support dialogue between all of the parties, yes.

QUESTION: Do you have any reaction to the --

MS. PSAKI: Let’s just --

QUESTION: -- to the statement --

MS. PSAKI: We’ll go to you next.


Go ahead.

QUESTION: President Putin’s statement about the Fourth of July and his willingness to work together, and they can resolve all the issues. Do you have any reaction to that?

MS. PSAKI: Our view remains that actions speak louder than words, and there are specific steps that can be taken.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: Last week, your colleague Marie Harf doubted the sources of a UN report that talks about a sharp increase in the number of people fleeing Ukraine into Russia. Well, I’m with RT; you don’t like RT. What about other news sources, U.S. news sources? And here’s The Wall Street Journal writing about the horrors that people face and why they flee to Russia. Are all these sources exaggerating the scale of the crisis there?

MS. PSAKI: Well, there’s clearly a significant movement of people due to the violence caused by Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine, though the vast majority have not sought refugee status. That hasn’t changed. There are a few – and I think Matt asked last week what the difference is between here and Syria, and one of the differences is that there are a range of international organizations on the ground in Syria and NGOs who are calculating or validating the number of asylum seekers or refugees crossing the border.

And so this is single-source reporting strictly from the Federal Migration Service of the Russian Government, and that’s one of the reasons that we expressed doubt about the numbers or the range of numbers that were reported in this case.

QUESTION: But it seems that you are downplaying the – honestly, downplaying the scale of the crisis there. These are just – that’s the reason why I would show these pictures. These are shots of civilians blown to pieces in their homes and their backyards, in the village of – in the village in eastern Ukraine last week. And Kyiv ordered these killings, nobody else.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think --

QUESTION: What does the U.S. do to stop Kyiv from doing it --

MS. PSAKI: I think --

QUESTION: -- from the village of Kondrashovka. It’s --

MS. PSAKI: Well, you finished – go ahead. I’m letting you finish your question.

QUESTION: Yes, I’m sorry. These are gruesome pictures, but it seems --

MS. PSAKI: I think to be clear, on the ground, the reports that we’ve seen and the vast majority of people who are reporting from the ground report that the Russian-backed separatists are the ones who are not only engaged in violence and efforts to take over buildings and attack people and innocent civilians. They have no place doing that in a country that’s a sovereign country like Ukraine, so that’s our issue.

QUESTION: These people died in air strikes ordered by Kyiv – not by Russia, not by the separatist.

MS. PSAKI: The Government of Ukraine is defending the country of Ukraine, and I think they have every right to do that, as does the international community.

QUESTION: Do the people – and these people have right to live, don’t they?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think the people of Ukraine have the right to live in peace and security without Russian-backed separatists attacking their homes and going into buildings. And I think that’s where the root cause of this is and we shouldn’t forget that fact.

QUESTION: Jen, on the numbers. Are you now – when you say there’s been substantial movement across the border, whether or not these people are technically classified by the UN as refugees or not, are you still saying that you don’t think 110,000 is accurate? That’s the number that the UN gave last week. Do you still take issue with that number, or do you now accept that even though they’re not refugees, there are – and maybe not all classified as refugees – there are a hundred – that the numbers could be as high as 110,000?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think the context of what I was trying to explain, Matt, is that there’s single-source reporting here just from the Federal Migration Services of Russia. It’s not independent international organizations and NGOs reporting, as it is in Syria and some other places, because they’re not on the ground. So we don’t have any validation of those numbers, though there’s certainly no question that there are a range – a large number of people who are crossing the border because of the violence they’re seeing on the ground.

QUESTION: So who is it that you’re saying is on the ground in Syria that are collecting these – are you talking about Turkey and --

MS. PSAKI: There are international organizations, NGOs.

QUESTION: But that would be the UN mainly, right?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, who was the same person that’s saying 110,000.

MS. PSAKI: But they’re getting reporting from a single source in this case, whereas in other – in Syria, they’re getting reporting from a range of international organizations.

QUESTION: So you’re saying that the UNHCR is being credulous or they’re not looking at these numbers with enough skepticism?

MS. PSAKI: I think – I’m not trying to overstate it. That’s just the reason why we see the circumstances differently.

QUESTION: Okay. Well, when you say you acknowledge that there is substantial movement or substantial migration, whether it’s actual migration or whether it’s refugees or whatever, could that include – I mean, could that – could the number 110,000 – is that a feasible figure?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to guess at the specific numbers, Matt. I’m just expressing what our skepticism is about some of the numbers we’ve seen reported.

QUESTION: All right. And there are no NGOs, no international organizations that --

MS. PSAKI: Not that are reporting numbers on numbers of refugees on the ground to our – that we’re aware of.

QUESTION: In Russia --

MS. PSAKI: Correct.

QUESTION: -- or in Ukraine?

MS. PSAKI: Yes, exactly, in the – what’s happening on the ground on the border there.

Okay.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. PSAKI: Great. Thanks, everyone.

QUESTION: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:27 p.m.)

DPB # 118


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Categories: News Pit Feeds

Daily Press Briefings : Daily Press Briefing: July 2, 2014

Wed, 07/02/2014 - 17:01

Jen Psaki
Spokesperson
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
July 2, 2014

Share Index for Today's Briefing
  • ISRAEL / PALESTINIANS
    • Abduction and Murder of Muhammad Hussein Abu Khdeir / Secretary's Statement
    • Investigation / Hamas
    • Palestinian Technocratic Government
  • INDIA
    • Alleged Intelligence Activities
    • U.S.-Indian Relationship
  • IRAQ
    • Readout of Secretary's Meetings and Calls
    • ISIL / Kurdistan
    • Iran / Region
    • Military Assistance / Government Formation
  • SYRIA
    • Foreign Fighters
  • CHINA / ROK / REGION
    • Dialogue
  • DPRK / REGION
    • Charges against American Citizens
    • Weapons Launches
    • China / Japan
  • AZERBAIJAN / ARMENIA
    • Nagorno-Karabakh conflict
  • SYRIA
    • U.S. Support for Opposition
    • Chemical Weapons
    • Refugee Crisis
  • IRAN
    • P5+1 Negotiations
  • SYRIA / IRAQ / REGION
    • ISIL's Regional Threat / Government Formation
  • MEXICO / REGION
    • Unaccompanied Minors
  • UKRAINE / RUSSIA
    • Detention of Journalists
    • Events on the Ground / General Breedlove's Comments / Ceasefire
    • Secretary Kerry's Phone Call with Foreign Minister Lavrov / Four-Way Talks
  • MOLDOVA
    • Ratification of Association Agreement
  • CHINA / HONG KONG
    • Traditions and Basic Law Protections
  • SUDAN
    • Meriam Ibrahim


TRANSCRIPT:

1:24 p.m. EDT

israelpalestinians">MS. PSAKI: Hi, everyone. Thank you for your patience. I know everybody is probably eager to spend a little time with their families over the holiday. I don’t have anything at the top, so Lara, why don’t we go straight to you?

QUESTION: Great. Thank you. I noted the Secretary’s statement earlier today about the abduction and murder of Muhammad Abu Khdeir. I’m wondering if you can give us a little more information on what the Obama Administration knows about the circumstances or the motive of this killing.

MS. PSAKI: Well, as you know, Lara, there is an investigation that authorities are looking into this tragedy. A number of Israeli