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Daily Press Briefings : Daily Press Briefing - July 28, 2014

Mon, 07/28/2014 - 18:19

Jen Psaki
Spokesperson
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
July 28, 2014

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TRANSCRIPT:

1:36 p.m. EDT

MS. PSAKI: Hi, everyone.

QUESTION: Welcome back.

MS. PSAKI: Thank you. I was going to make up a story, but I couldn’t come up with a good one. So I injured it over the course of the last couple of weeks. So this boot will be with me for about six weeks.

With that, I have one item at the top for all of you, and I wanted to – the Secretary, as you know, just returned late Saturday night from a trip that included stops in Egypt, Jerusalem, Ramallah, Paris, and Tel Aviv. And I wanted to just give you an overview of the last 10 days or so, what has transpired and where we stand today.

So let me first reiterate that the objective of the United States has been and remains stopping the rocket fire against Israeli citizens and bringing about negotiations through – that can lead to a longer-term ceasefire. Our first step – our next step, I should say, here that we’re working toward is a humanitarian cease-fire. That’s what the Secretary has been calling for; that’s what the discussion has focused on. That would not only significantly de-escalate the violence, but it would also allow urgently needed food and medicine to the people of Gaza, and that’s one of the reasons we think it’s so important.

As you all know, two weeks ago – about two weeks ago, the Egyptians put forward a cease-fire proposal that was accepted – that was supported by the United States and endorsed, certainly, by Secretary Kerry and accepted by Israel and rejected by Hamas. At that point, the war began to escalate – shortly after, I should say, the war began to escalate dramatically. And there were no serious conversations going on about how to further initiate a cease-fire. Demonstrations were increasing in the West Bank and the situation was spinning out of control. And casualties, as we all know because we all saw press reports on both sides, were increasing and there were no serious negotiations in place.

So in our view as we watched, as violence escalated, there did not appear to be a clear path to a ceasefire or an end to the violence. President Obama, as you all know, asked Secretary Kerry last weekend to travel to the region, which he did late last Sunday night, first to Egypt to build on the Egyptian ceasefire. Every step of the way through this process we’ve been consulting with and coordinating with our allies, including Israeli and Egyptian partners. And over the past week, and I know many of you have been tracking this closely, but Secretary Kerry has remained engaged with many of the key actors in the region, including Prime Minister Netanyahu, President Abbas, President Sisi, and, of course, Ban Ki-moon, in efforts to negotiate a humanitarian ceasefire.

So, as a part of this effort, it was essential to engage, as it has – as has been done in the past, including in 2012, with countries that have the most influential relationship with Hamas. This is what happened, of course, in 2012 and with the Egyptians, and this time the primary interlocutors are the Qataris and the Turks. And so as a part of that effort, the Secretary has been very closely engaged with Foreign Minister Davutoglu and Foreign Minister Attiyah, parties that we feel have the most leverage with Hamas.

So this gets us to late last week. The Secretary was obviously in the region for several days and there were several meetings with all of the interlocutors, including with the Israelis. And as you know, the Secretary traveled there. And let me be clear, during that meeting there were a range of press reports out there. So part of my effort here is to provide accurate information about what happened last week. There was never a formal U.S. proposal presented. As part of our ongoing consultations we sent them a clearly labeled confidential draft of ideas, sent an order to get Israeli comments, as part of an effort closely coordinated with the Israelis to explore a possible basis for a cease-fire.

This draft was – of ideas was based on the Egyptian proposal that they had supported from just a couple of weeks before that. So it was based on – and I shouldn’t say – not just supported, but the Israeli cabinet formally accepted. So we were surprised and were obviously disappointed that a confidential draft was leaked to the press. Our discussion draft and the Egyptian proposal both called for the immediate cessation of hostilities, the opening of broad – of border crossings, and mediation by the Egyptians on other core issues.

It’s also important to note that the Egyptian proposal accepted by the Israeli cabinet did not make any mention of demilitarization or of tunnels or of rockets. That was not in the proposal from two weeks ago that the Israeli cabinet approved and Hamas rejected. It also made no mention of the need for disarmament, and it underscored the need for discussions between Israel and the Palestinians. In effect, this proposal called for Hamas to cease hostilities that – to cease hostilities, and this was a proposal that Israel had accepted 10 days earlier. The main difference was there was additional language on humanitarian assistance for the Palestinians, something that the Israelis have historically supported. It did not include any of the demands that Hamas was making when Secretary Kerry arrived, including the release of prisoners.

Moreover, the document also reflected the need for negotiations to address the issues necessary for an enduring solution to the conflict, meaning there’s a great deal of history here, there’s a great deal of mistrust here. There – the document didn’t address every issue that each side is being presented – has presented or has spoken out about that’s of concern to them. We all know that the Israelis’ position on the importance about demilitarization – we all know their position. That’s a goal, of course, we support. We know the Palestinians care about opening up the crossings and restoring normal life for the people of Gaza. These are exactly the kind of issues that need to be addressed as a part of negotiation.

So that leads us to where we are now. The Secretary has, of course, been very closely engaged, continues to be. He has been over the course of the weekend. He has been this morning as well. Our focus now is on short-term cease-fires that can build on each other. The longer there’s a reduction in violence, the more likely it is that the parties will be able – will come to the table and talk, and that is our focus at this point. The Egyptians remain prepared to host a negotiation in Cairo. We would support that, and of course the United States would participate at a high level.

So over the course of the last week, clearly we’ve seen violence. We’ve – there’s ongoing violence. That’s of concern. That’s why we’re so focused on bringing an end to this. But we’ve also seen engagement and discussion about short-term cease-fires; we’ve seen negotiations with the parties that wasn’t happening. We’ve also seen an increase in international support where, of course – as is evidenced by the Security Council statement. Obviously we’re going to continue working on this, and the Secretary, of course, will remain very closely engaged.

That was long, I realize, but --

QUESTION: Yeah, it was long.

MS. PSAKI: -- it’s been a lot that’s been happening.

Go ahead, Matt.

QUESTION: I was going to congratulate you. I think you might have set a record for the length of the opening monologue.

MS. PSAKI: It’s a complicated issue and we think that --

QUESTION: Yeah, can I ask --

MS. PSAKI: -- laying out the facts is important. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Can I ask what compelled you to take up, I don’t know, seven to 10 minutes of your opening here to, I mean --

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think, Matt, that there has been a lot of confusion out there in reports about what has been happening, what the focus of our efforts is, and what our goal is, and we felt it was important to lay that out.

QUESTION: Well, I mean, you use the word “confusion.” The White House just a little while ago, the Deputy National Security Advisor Mr. Blinken was up there and said that he – it was his opinion, and I presume this is the opinion of the Administration, that some of these leaks were either misinformed leaks or they were attempts to misinform. How unhelpful – or how angry are you? How unhelpful do you believe the Israelis, or at least some Israelis have been in this issue? And how angry are you at what you claim to be a serious misrepresentation of what the Secretary was trying to do?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think let me just reiterate first that the Secretary’s goal is to bring an end from the – to the rocket fire and the rocket attacks coming from Hamas and impacting the people of Israel, and I think that’s important for everybody to remember. This is, I think we’ve certainly noted, the difference between what is discussed privately and what is noted in public accounts from anonymous sources. And no one is calling to complain about the Secretary’s handling of the situation or his engagement in this effort overseas. And our view is it’s simply not the way that partners and allies treat each other.

So it was important, in our view, to lay out on the record what the facts are about what has happened here, and we’re certainly hopeful that we can all focus moving forward on how we achieve a ceasefire and not on other misinformation campaigns.

QUESTION: When you say – so you accuse – you’re accusing at least some in the Israeli Government of waging a misinformation campaign? Is that --

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any information on the sources, Matt.

QUESTION: Right.

MS. PSAKI: But obviously there’s a great deal of information out there that’s inaccurate.

QUESTION: When you say that this is not the way friends and allies should treat each other, you’re referring to Israeli treatment of Secretary Kerry and of his – of the Administration’s attempt to get a ceasefire together?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think there are obviously some anonymous sources that are out there that are speaking on behalf of the views of the Israeli Government. Whether or not that is an accurate depiction of their position is not for me to make a judgment of, but --

QUESTION: So how serious is this, in terms of jeopardizing the relationship?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t think – I think Israel remains an incredibly important partner. The Secretary has been closely engaged in this over the course of the weekend. His – this is not about him, and his view is this is not about him. But I think we all feel that we need to focus on laying out the facts and not undergoing an effort to distort what our effort is focused on here.

QUESTION: The Israeli – the main Israeli – well, there has been a huge chorus of very, very harsh criticism of the Secretary in the Israeli media and in social media as well, claiming – some of it claiming that the Secretary has – is now pro-Hamas and that the only reason that he went into this was to save Hamas. Can you address – the argument goes Hamas was losing militarily, and he comes in and demands an immediate ceasefire, calls for an immediate ceasefire, and then the argument goes that the only reason he’s doing this, the sole reason that he’s doing this, is to save Hamas so that it can live to fight another day, I guess.

MS. PSAKI: Well, thank you for that opportunity, Matt. I’ll say that the Secretary’s reason for engaging in this, as he is, is to end the rocket attacks from Hamas that are going into – that have threatened Israel. That’s his focus. I think anyone would be hard pressed to find a stronger partner and ally with Israel than Secretary Kerry, not just over the course of the last year in his efforts with the peace process, but the entire time he was in the United States Senate.

But one of the reasons I laid that out in great detail, as I did, is because there’s a lot of information that is inaccurate about what our efforts were about, what they were focused on. The reason that he engaged with the Qataris and the Turks, who are, of course, countries that we regularly engage with about a range of issues, was because they – but on this particular issue is because they have an influential role to play in engaging with Hamas. You can’t have a ceasefire where Israel agrees to a ceasefire and the other side isn’t agreeing to a ceasefire. That doesn’t help make Israel safer, and that’s our primary objective.

QUESTION: Okay. It sounds as though you think the Administration believes that someone in Israel or multiple people in Israel were actually trying to sabotage – maybe I’m wrong, tell me if that’s – were actually trying to sabotage a cease-fire. Is that an accurate reading of your --

MS. PSAKI: I don’t want to ascribe motivations, but certainly I think those who want to support a cease-fire should focus on efforts to put it in place and not on efforts to criticize or attack one of the very people who’s playing a prominent role in getting it done.

QUESTION: All right. I’ll wrap up and let other people --

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: I have one more question and that is: Why are these critics wrong? Why is it not – why should it not be a part of a cease-fire that Hamas demilitarize and disarm? I mean, it would seem to make perfect sense if that’s the ultimate goal, or not even the ultimate goal. Should – why shouldn’t it be the short-term goal as well?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, I think demilitarization is something the United States certainly supports. But in the meantime, people are dying every day, whether it’s children in Gaza or Israeli soldiers. And what we want to see is an immediate end to the violence so we can have a discussion about these core issues. That is certainly one of them the Israelis have presented as an important issue to address, and we support that. But in the meantime, that can’t be a precursor for a cease-fire, and a humanitarian cease-fire that very importantly would allow essential medical and food – medical assistance and food to get in to the people of Gaza.

QUESTION: Sorry, indulge me one more time.

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: Prime Minister Netanyahu just gave a speech, which you’re probably aware of, and he said that they won’t stop until they take care of all the tunnels. Is that problematic for you?

MS. PSAKI: Well, the tunnels are an issue that we recognize as a legitimate threat to Israel, and I think all of you are familiar with this issue. But the way we see it, it would be very challenging, as the Israelis experience every day, to wake up and worry about the threat of terrorists coming in through tunnels into your country. They have been working on address it – on addressing the tunnels. We think that they can be addressed in a way that doesn’t escalate combat. So that’s a part of the discussion that’s being had.

QUESTION: Can I just go back to – you mentioned that nobody was ringing to complain about the Secretary’s presence and his efforts. Do you mean nobody on the official side was – no Israeli or Egyptian or Palestinians were complaining, on the Palestinian Authority side?

MS. PSAKI: Correct, mm-hmm.

QUESTION: But how do you explain the torrent of criticism in the Israeli media that Matt already referred to? The Secretary was described to – as a bull in a China shop, that he believes he could just go in and by his mere presence trying to effect a cease-fire. How do you – what do you say to all those critics who just say that he just isn’t the person to be able to negotiate this cease-fire deal?

MS. PSAKI: Well, it’s hard for me to ascribe the motivations, but I think it’s important to note that prior to the Secretary’s visit to the region, there were no discussions going on about a cease-fire. There was not a focus in the international community of what was happening on the ground. Of course there’s more work to do. There is – we need to end the violence. We’re not going to be satisfied until that happens. But it does raise the question, not all, but are there some who oppose a cease-fire or don’t want to see a cease-fire happen?

QUESTION: So do you believe – is there any sense, perhaps, that the Secretary, through his failed efforts earlier this year to get a comprehensive Middle East peace treaty, may have in some way hampered or compromised his ability to negotiate in this situation? If a few months ago, both the Israelis and Palestinians felt that they could say no to the Secretary on something which was much broader, does that not give them a renewed focus or ability to say no this time around or something?

MS. PSAKI: Absolutely not. I don’t think – we don’t think that those two issues have anything to do with each other. I think the fact that the peace process is not currently ongoing has left a vacuum for violence to fill it, but there are also a range of events, as we all know, including the death of the three teenagers, that has increased the tensions in the region. The factor that our – that we feel is different from, say, 2012, are – there’s a couple of factors. And that’s really, I think, what’s making it more challenging.

One is clearly there’s a different relationship between the Egyptian Government and Hamas. Obviously, they have the lead on this. It’s an Egyptian proposal, but the prior government essentially negotiated the ceasefire, and at this point we’re working, of course, through the Qataris and the Turks and in cooperation with the Egyptians. But that’s a different scenario.

There are also different politics on the ground. There’s increased regional tensions. And Israel – their effort has gone farther earlier than it did a couple of years ago. And the Secretary himself, as we were discussing this with him over the weekend, he was engaged, as you may know, in the 2012 effort. And his view is that the process and the dynamic is completely different. And obviously we’re dealing – the different challenging set of circumstances is certainly a contributing factor to our process.

QUESTION: And we talked a little bit about what Israel would like to see out of a ceasefire, including what Israel’s aim is, including getting rid of the tunnels. But on the other hand, is there an acceptance on the American side that Hamas isn’t just going to agree to a ceasefire for a ceasefire’s sake, because they did that in 2012 and there was supposed to be an opening up of Gaza, there was supposed to be a lifting of the blockade, there was supposed to be an opening up of the Rafah Crossing, and that hasn’t happened.

And so this time, I think there’s a sense that they’re holding out for something more. They actually want guarantees that these things will happen. Is there some sympathy in the American – on the American side with that position?

MS. PSAKI: Well, there’s certainly an understanding that the Palestinians want to see greater access, improved economic opportunity; that’s, of course, a reference to the crossings. And certainly, the border crossings would be a part of any discussion. There are other demands that they have put out there. I think our view is that the need for humanitarian – a humanitarian ceasefire is based in part on the fact that there is a dire situation on the ground where there is a need to get in medical assistance, food, that sort of assistance. And in order to have this discussion about those difficult issues, we need to see a de-escalation.

QUESTION: So the bottom line is a ceasefire first, then further negotiations? Is that what you see?

MS. PSAKI: Correct, mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Jen, just to follow up on this point. I mean, it’s not only the crossing. You’re aware that there is a siege, basically, that has Gaza cut off from the rest of the world, and it’s in the air, in the sea, fishermen are not allowed to fish and so on. So you do support lifting the siege, at least on the humanitarian basis, correct?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Said, I think there are larger issues here that will need to be discussed as a part of a longer-term negotiation. That’s going to be – the Egyptians would have in all likelihood the lead on that. So our – my point is that we’re talking about a ceasefire where those issues are not addressed in advance, because that will delay it further. And what we want to do is de-escalate the tension, put it – bring a pause, so that we can have a discussion about those issues.

QUESTION: Okay. Now, I know you are focused on bringing a pause – as you said, maybe a 24-hour humanitarian cease-fire. But in light or in view of the speech that was just made by Prime Minister Netanyahu and seeing how this whole thing morphed from going after the perpetrators of the kidnapping, and going after the rockets, now going after the tunnel, this thing is really expanding. Are you concerned that there may be a reoccupation of Gaza?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Said, I think we’re concerned about the increasing level of violence we’ve seen over the last several weeks. That’s why we’re focused on stopping it. There are a range of issues at play here that are part of the discussion, but again, I think I reiterated what our focus and – is on.

QUESTION: Just very quickly, a follow-up.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Are you aware of any efforts that are ongoing now by the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to bring along Hamas members and maybe Islamic Jihad members and go to Cairo to talk to the Egyptians perhaps to refrain their proposal? Are you aware of that?

MS. PSAKI: Well, President Abbas has been very engaged in this process. We know there have been some comments out today about his view, which we’ve been in touch with people close to him and are not accurate, and we expect there’ll be a clarification of those. But we – they have stated, and in fact, one of his top advisors stated yesterday during a Sunday show appearance that they would be willing to engage in a negotiation in Egypt. So I’d point you to that.

QUESTION: Right. And this effort, or at least the effort with the Qataris and Turks and so on, with this now over, is it – do we have something other than that? Do we have a follow-up on that, the meeting in Paris and so on? Do we have anything new?

MS. PSAKI: The effort is ongoing, Said --

QUESTION: Right.

MS. PSAKI: -- and the Secretary’s been engaged with all of these parties consistently throughout the weekend, and I expect that will continue through the course of the next several days. And Foreign Minister Davutoglu, Foreign Minister al-Attiyah remain two of the key interlocutors who have influence with Hamas.

QUESTION: Considering how you have spoken to the Egyptians, the Israelis, the Palestinian Authority and (inaudible) and so on, has anyone from the negotiating team been to Gaza to see what is it like on the ground?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think we’ve seen – it doesn’t take a visit to see the photos and the video and the horrible circumstances that people are living in on the ground.

QUESTION: Yeah. I wanted to ask you – you mentioned twice, I think, why the U.S. is engaging with Qatar and Turkey. And I’m just wondering if this is in response to criticism in the media or from the Israeli Government.

And on a related note, you talked about Egypt being the lead. You also talked about the relationship between Hamas and Egypt changing. I’m wondering if there’s any consideration in the Administration about whether Egypt should be the lead given the hostility towards Hamas that you see in Egyptian state media, and the distrust that Hamas has for Egypt. Are they the right people to play that role?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think, again, there’s a range of interlocutors from the international community that are now engaged in this effort, including the UN, including the United States, including European countries. The Egyptians have played a role. They proposed the first of this year ceasefire proposal. They are open to hosting negotiations in Cairo, and we feel that’s absolutely the appropriate lead.

On your first question, the reason I mentioned that – and it goes back to what I said about the difference between public comments – or I should say anonymous public comments – and what’s discussed privately. I think in a negotiation, there’s certainly an understanding that you have to engage with both parties. Otherwise, you’re having a negotiation with yourself. So there’s an understanding of that, and our role in working with the Qataris and the Turks on this – though I should note, again, we work with them on a range of issues, of course – is to – is because of their – the influential role they can play with Hamas. So I would say it’s more about the public accounts than it is private conversations.

QUESTION: Would you – I mean, can you understand Israeli concern with you dealing so closely, particularly with the Turks, after the really inflammatory comments that have been made by not only Prime Minister Erdogan, but by Foreign Minister Davutoglu as well?

MS. PSAKI: Well, first, let me say that those comments were inflammatory and certainly not just unhelpful, but offensive. And we don’t agree – we don’t even talk to Hamas, as you all know, and certainly we don’t agree with those comments that were made by the Turks. But at the same time, when we’re talking about a dire situation on the ground and one where people are dying, people are living under threat every day, it’s important to engage with parties who can have an influence with Hamas.

QUESTION: Right, but you can understand Israel’s concern with that, can you not?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we certainly understand their concern with the comments, of course.

QUESTION: Right. But I mean, for any – when the leaders of a country make comments like that, can they really be expected to be – can you really expect the Israelis to be on board with anything that they’re going to do as it relates to this specific issue?

MS. PSAKI: Well, there has to be a – I think the question is: What’s the alternative? There has to be a way to engage with Hamas. The United States doesn’t, Israel doesn’t. This is the best path at this point to engage.

QUESTION: So if it was not very much of a difference, as you say, between the Egyptian – the initial Egyptian proposal and this Friday proposal, why weren’t the Egyptians in Paris?

MS. PSAKI: Because the purpose of our trip to Paris was not to negotiate. The parties weren’t even in Paris, as you know.

QUESTION: I know.

MS. PSAKI: The Israelis weren’t there either. The purpose was to brief the international community on what was happening.

QUESTION: Right. But if you – but the fact of the matter is that by getting up there in Paris with the Turks and the Qataris – and the Europeans, but the Turks and the Qataris – and not the Egyptians being – not having them there as well, can you see how people might take that as a turning away from the Egyptian proposal and a wholehearted embrace of Qatar and Turkey, with whom Israel has huge problems?

MS. PSAKI: Well, let me just reiterate what the purpose was, because the Secretary did a press conference with the Egyptians the night before we went to Paris.

QUESTION: I understand that.

MS. PSAKI: They fully knew we were going there to meet – that he was going there to meet with the Europeans. It was important to hear from the Qataris and the Turks for the Europeans too, because they had been engaged with Hamas. We had not been. So the purpose was to brief them and continue to build support in the international community.

QUESTION: Okay. That would suggest that – well, let me ask first: Are you saying in your – all your comments here that the leak of – this document that was leaked, this confidential document that you said was leaked, that that is accurate? That that is the document that was given to the Israelis to peruse and decide whether they liked it or not?

MS. PSAKI: As much as this piece of paper is a document, yes.

QUESTION: Right, this piece of paper. And I’m recognizing you’re saying it’s not a formal proposal, whatever. It was the ideas that they were going to discuss. But those are accurate, right?

MS. PSAKI: Yes.

QUESTION: Did the Egyptians sign off on those?

MS. PSAKI: The Egyptians were fully engaged in every aspect of our discussions.

QUESTION: Does that mean that they signed off on that?

MS. PSAKI: Well --

QUESTION: Because I think the argument that – the argument that’s being made by some Israel is that this deviated substantially from their – from the Egyptian initial proposal, which you say that’s just wrong. But I’m wondering if you can say with certainty that the Egyptians on that Friday signed off on this one-page or whatever – however many pages it was – list of ideas.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I understand what you’re asking, but I still think contextually it’s important to note this was not a document getting sign-off from. This was based on the Egyptian proposal --

QUESTION: Well, the Israelis certainly thought that it was.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I’m conveying that --

QUESTION: They voted on it.

MS. PSAKI: I’m conveying that a confidential draft of ideas, perhaps, was not something that was ready for a vote by the Israeli cabinet.

QUESTION: So they acted prematurely in rejecting it?

MS. PSAKI: I think I’ll let you make your own judgment, Matt.

QUESTION: But still, I want to get to the – back to the answer: Did the Egyptians sign off on the confidential draft of ideas?

MS. PSAKI: Well, they were engaged, and no one was asking for anyone’s sign-off at that stage in time. But I would ask all of you to take a look at the – both proposals and note what the differences are, which they’re very minimal.

QUESTION: What – are you willing to offer them up?

MS. PSAKI: I think they’re appearing publicly. I also --

QUESTION: So that means you are confirming that what has been out there is – what is out there is accurate?

MS. PSAKI: It’s accurate in the sense that three days ago, it was an informal draft of ideas that was given on a confidential basis and we asked for responses on. It’s not currently something that is relevant to the discussion.

QUESTION: It’s not? I thought --

QUESTION: Really? I thought they voted --

QUESTION: I thought it was.

MS. PSAKI: Hmm?

QUESTION: I thought it was. No?

MS. PSAKI: Currently not. Where our focus is --

QUESTION: It’s dead?

MS. PSAKI: Our focus right now is on the short-term humanitarian ceasefire.

QUESTION: Right. That’s what I thought this was.

MS. PSAKI: Well, this was a longer document or a longer description.

QUESTION: Well, what are the – the problem that the Israelis have with it is that it doesn’t – apparently that they have with it is that it didn’t address demilitarization and disarmament. But that’s a – and what you’re saying is that that’s a longer-term – I don’t understand why you’ve – you’re so angry with the Israelis that you pulled this whole – this paper off the table?

MS. PSAKI: No, that’s not at all the case, Matt.

QUESTION: All right. I don’t get it.

MS. PSAKI: I think things have moved forward since then over the course of the last several days. So I’m just saying it’s an old discussion, but it’s still out there with a bunch of information that isn’t accurate, which is why we decided to --

QUESTION: Well, things have certainly moved as – I don’t know if they’ve moved forward or backward. But why isn’t that still – that is no longer the basis of what you’re trying to do? Those ideas?

MS. PSAKI: Our basis is what I just outlined, which is --

QUESTION: But what’s going to come next? How’s the next proposal going to differ from this one?

MS. PSAKI: Well, the – what we’re discussing with both sides at this point is a humanitarian cease-fire, where the longer-term issues would be addressed at the later – at a later basis, simple as that.

QUESTION: But I thought that’s what that was?

MS. PSAKI: It is that. (Laughter.) But what I’m saying is that that draft of ideas is not a paper that’s being litigated and going back and forth with edits at this point in time. It hasn’t been for days.

QUESTION: Seeing how this would incrementally work, so you have like a 24-hour proposal followed by seven-day cease-fire, and then during that time things begin to happen or negotiations begin to happen with the involvement of, let’s say, Qatar, Egypt, and so on. Is that what it is?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Said, I think we’d certainly support a longer-term ceasefire, if we could achieve a seven-day humanitarian ceasefire. What we’re doing right now is we’re taking it day by day, and we’re hopeful that with each ceasefire we can build on the last. Because if there’s a pause, we feel that’s going to be the best opportunity for negotiations.

QUESTION: And just to follow up on Jo’s question as of a little while ago, when she said that the 2012 agreement calls for opening the crossing, lifting the siege, doing all these things, which none of it has happened – now strategically, if there is an agreement strategically, would the United States be willing to sort of guarantee that these steps, whatever steps are taken, to lift the border crossing, to open them, and so on? Would it guarantee such a thing?

MS. PSAKI: I think I’m not going to get into guarantees from here, Said. Obviously, there’s ongoing --

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MS. PSAKI: Let me finish.

QUESTION: Oh.

MS. PSAKI: There’s ongoing discussions. We are certainly aware of the issues that are important and have been discussed publicly by both sides, and they would certainly be a part of a negotiation.

QUESTION: Yes, please.

QUESTION: Now just to get us right, you’re just suggesting a 24-hour ceasefire, followed by another 24-hour cease-fire, followed by another 24-hour ceasefire --

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’d certainly support longer than 24 hours. But what our goal is is to have agreement on short – even if they’re short-term ceasefires by the parties so that – and – that we can build on, so that we can have a pause in the violence and have an opportunity to negotiate.

QUESTION: But that doesn’t actually address any of these issues that we’ve talked about here, on either the Israeli or the Hamas side.

MS. PSAKI: It does address allowing food and medical equipment in. It does address bringing a temporary end to the violence and threat of rocket attacks. That’s, right now, an important first step. And there’s no question the larger longer-term issues need to be negotiated and addressed.

QUESTION: But I think the Israeli concern about these – the short-term ceasefires is it simply gives Hamas time and space to regroup and refocus its rockets. It doesn’t actually achieve, other than – I understand that humanitarian – the humanitarian argument, but I wonder whether either party is actually very interested in a humanitarian ceasefire for the time being.

MS. PSAKI: Well, that has been the basis of our discussion. We’ve seen some agreement over the weekend on short-term humanitarian ceasefires. Certainly we would support a much longer-term ceasefire, and we would – we have advocated for that and you’ve seen the UN advocate for that and in the readout of the President’s call advocating for that. What we’re talking about is a step that we think could be an important next step or important steps in the process, and that’s why our focus is on that at this point in time.

QUESTION: And I just wondered if you had any issue or comment on Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif’s round of telephone calls he’s been making in the region yesterday to various different parties, including – and not just the region, but also with the EU and the UN, to try and also on their part effect some kind of truce. Does that concern you at all that the Iranians are getting involved, or do you welcome it? What would be your response?

MS. PSAKI: I haven’t spent a lot of time reading about his comments or his calls. I think our focus is on calling for a ceasefire, bringing an end to the violence on the ground. Efforts to put that in place I think we’d be comfortable with.

QUESTION: But in the same way that any country that has influence is – has been asked to use its influence, would you not ask Iran as well on the same – in the same vein to do so with Hamas?

MS. PSAKI: Well, certainly publicly. That hasn’t been our focus at this time because we’ve been working with other countries, as you know, who we are engaging with in issues aside from the nuclear issue to play a role in influencing Hamas.

QUESTION: Ukraine?

QUESTION: I have one more, broadly.

QUESTION: I have one.

QUESTION: Go ahead.

QUESTION: Thank you. Two questions related to this unusual level of vitriol about the Secretary. One is, do you guys have a theory or a sense as to why? Is this an attempt, an Israeli attempt to deflect blame? And I know you’re going to – I think I know what your answer is going to be, but secondly, has there been any outreach to the Secretary from Israeli officials to apologize or explain?

MS. PSAKI: Well, first, I would say I’m, of course, naturally not going to ascribe the motivation or the reason for the different leaks or anonymous comments that we’ve seen out there. But I do think that laying out the details of what has happened and the level of specificity that I did – and I appreciate all of your patience – helps convey what the facts are. And that’s why I did it.

On the second question, what’s important to note here is that the Secretary has been engaged, as has Ambassador Shapiro, as has Frank Lowenstein, with Israeli officials and others in the region basically nonstop – many calls a day with them. The focus of the discussions are about next steps and what to do next. It’s not about any – there haven’t been complaints about his handling or his engagement or involvement, so it’s almost a separate track than what we’re seeing in the public comments.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) acknowledgement?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think that has not been the focus of the discussions in any way, shape, or form.

QUESTION: Just following on from that, more broadly in terms of the U.S.-Israel relationship under the Obama Administration – more specifically the second term. This is not the first time that we have seen vitriol and very harsh criticism of the Secretary – directed at the Secretary from Israel and its supporters in the United States and elsewhere. And I’m – without ascribing a motive to what might be behind that, does the Secretary himself feel that he is still in a position to be able to deal with the Israeli Government and to be someone who can be effective in both this current Gaza situation, but also in the longer term in terms of peace talks and a peace process with the Palestinians?

MS. PSAKI: Yes. And we certainly understand, as we’ve seen in past occasions, that when there is a difficult political situation or security situation, tensions can rise and we’ve seen that in the past. But Secretary Kerry considers Prime Minister Netanyahu a friend. He has been, as I said earlier, I would be hard pressed – I think anyone would be hard pressed to find a stronger supporter for Israel than Secretary Kerry, and his engagement in the region and his efforts in this regard has been in close coordination and cooperation with the Israelis. So I would say that he will remain engaged; they have welcomed his engagement in this effort, and that will continue – he will continue his effort.

QUESTION: One, you just – they welcomed his engagement in this effort? My understanding was the Israelis fought tooth and nail, didn’t want him anywhere near this.

MS. PSAKI: Well, over the last – I think the fact that he has been engaged in perhaps a half a dozen calls or more every day with them shows you that they’re open to his engagement.

QUESTION: And second, you say that the Secretary and Prime Minister Netanyahu are friends and will remain friends. Who else is Secretary Kerry friends with in the Israeli Government?

MS. PSAKI: In the world?

QUESTION: Defense minister? No, in the Israeli Government. Other Israeli officials. Defense Minister Ya’alon?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t think I need to list a --

QUESTION: Foreign Minister Lieberman?

MS. PSAKI: -- do a listing of his friends. It’s fair to say --

QUESTION: Minister Steinitz?

MS. PSAKI: -- he has a range of friends in Israel, including in the government.

QUESTION: Uri Ariel? (Laughter.) Can you name one other person in – maybe one minister in --

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to get into a naming. I was --

QUESTION: But you already did. You named – you’ve named Prime Minister Netanyahu. So how many of his cabinet members do you think the Secretary could consider friends of his?

MS. PSAKI: I think when the Secretary has an issue he will raise that privately. But he has a range of friends in the government and in Israel, and certainly has been a strong supporter and continues to be.

QUESTION: Would you like to see those friends stand up for him now?

MS. PSAKI: I think, Matt, our focus here is on the ceasefire effort --

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: -- but it was important to lay out the facts on the ground.

Israel or a new issue?

QUESTION: Yes.

MS. PSAKI: Israel? Go ahead.

QUESTION: The same issue. I mean, you mentioned humanitarian aid, and then you mentioned short-term ceasefire. I mean – sorry – humanitarian ceasefire and short-term ceasefire, and then long-term cease-fire which was the aim. I mean, the seven-day proposal was – is that the short-term or the long-term or the --

MS. PSAKI: Well, the seven day was the initial proposal.

QUESTION: What’s the long term for you?

MS. PSAKI: Certainly, we’d support that or a continuation of that. I think we would like to see a permanent ceasefire, if that was possible, certainly. But right now we’re focused on short-term proposals that can build on each other. Let me just note in addition to having access to humanitarian assistance into Gaza, we also announced last week additional funding – $47 million for humanitarian assistance. That’s something that we’re continuing to work on with the international community as well.

QUESTION: So can you say now you are working on humanitarian ceasefire now?

MS. PSAKI: Yes.

QUESTION: And it’s – the same talks are taking place with the counterparts at the sides?

MS. PSAKI: Yes.

QUESTION: Okay. The other question related to draft of ideas that you mentioned, is still that draft of ideas on the table or it’s off the table?

MS. PSAKI: It’s not – the focus of the discussion at this point is on immediate short-term ceasefires that we – that can build on each other. This is a – sort of a discussion from several days ago, but it was worth – we felt it was worth clarifying.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) now; can we say that?

MS. PSAKI: Well, there are a range of issues that are raised in there that will certainly be a part of a discussion, so in – security issues, including greater access to – increased access and economic opportunity for the Palestinians. So there are issues that have been the everlasting issues in this case that will be discussed and negotiated over the course of time. But in terms of a document that is being negotiated back and forth, no, there’s not line edits going back and forth between the parties.

QUESTION: So the other – which is like a follow-up to Matt’s question, which is like: Are – the Egyptian side was aware of the content and the spirit and the text of this draft of ideas, or were out of the loop?

MS. PSAKI: Absolutely aware. We were living in Cairo for five days. The Secretary spoke with Foreign Minister Shoukry multiple times a day and we were very closely involved. And again, it was based on the Egyptian proposal, and so they are obviously a key interlocutor and key lead on this effort.

QUESTION: Yes, there is another thing, which is the two issues of demilitarization of Hamas or Gaza, and the same time crossing that was proposed by – to facilitate crossing to Gaza, whether it’s Egyptian or other sides. Is – are – these issues were discussed? You say they’re going to be discussed or this was proposed to be discussed in negotiations. Are these issues, two issues were part of the deal or the talk and the draft of ideas or not?

MS. PSAKI: It was not mentioned in either – and I would encourage you, and anyone can follow me on Twitter. I tweeted the Egyptian proposal from just two weeks ago. It has all of the details in there. You’ve seen the list of – the draft of informal ideas that’s out there as well in the press. I would encourage you to compare the two. No, there was not a specific mention of demilitarization. Of course that’s something we support. There was a mention of security issues, which has been how it’s been described in many of these documents in the past.

QUESTION: So, wait, wait. I wasn’t aware that the Egyptian proposal could fit into 140 characters.

MS. PSAKI: I tweeted a link.

QUESTION: Oh, there you go.

MS. PSAKI: Thank you for your clarification. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Okay. I have – these are going to be very brief.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: They have to do with Israel. They don’t have to do with this.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: One, I asked Marie --

MS. PSAKI: And then I’ll go to Ukraine, which I would bet is the next issue, but --

QUESTION: Yes. One, I asked on Friday about this 15-year-old Palestinian-American kid who’s been held. Do you have any update on him?

MS. PSAKI: I do. Let me just find that in here, Matt. We can confirm that Mohamed Abu Nie, a U.S. citizen, was arrested on July 3rd during protests in the Shuafat neighborhood in East Jerusalem. The U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv is providing consular assistance. A consular official assisted him on July 17th – visited him, I should say – and attended his hearing on July 22nd. The Embassy’s also in contact with his family and his lawyer. Considering his age, we are calling for a speedy resolution to this case. He is now – this 15-year-old has now been held for three weeks in Israeli custody and has seen his parents only once briefly during that night, and so we are certainly gravely concerned about the detention of an American citizen child.

QUESTION: Seen only once by that – the night that he was arrested, is that what you’re saying?

MS. PSAKI: I would have to check on exactly when his parents saw him, Matt.

QUESTION: Okay. Have you – you’ve made this – you made your concerns known to the Israelis on this, yes?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Have you gotten a response from them? Is there any sign that they are going to act speedily to – I mean, he’s been in custody for – since July 2nd. That’s 20 – how many days is that?

QUESTION: Twenty-six.

QUESTION: Twenty --

QUESTION: July 27th?

QUESTION: Twenty-six days.

QUESTION: Yeah, 26 days.

QUESTION: I mean, is it appropriate for – I mean, well, one, are you aware that this kid did anything wrong?

MS. PSAKI: I just don’t have any more details other than to say he – we did not – just in terms of why we just saw him recently, he didn’t immediately inform Israeli authorities that he was a U.S. citizen. So obviously, as soon as we learned that, we contacted Israeli authorities to schedule a consular visit.

QUESTION: Are you – have the Israelis done anything wrong, as far as you know, in terms of this case? Are you – I noticed that you’re not calling for him to be released immediately. You’re calling for a quick, speedy resolution to the case, suggesting that you’re not sure that the Israelis have acted inappropriately.

MS. PSAKI: Well, our role is to ensure he’s being afforded due process under local laws and international standards, and obviously we’re providing all consular access and we’ll continue to be engaged.

QUESTION: Are you able to give us details of charges he’s facing and what conditions he’s being held in? Is he in an adult prison or is he in a juvenile section?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we understand he faces charges of rock-throwing, attacking police, carrying a knife, and leading protests. We --

QUESTION: Leading --

MS. PSAKI: And leading protests, yes. We are concerned about allegations that he’s been mistreated while in custody. We obviously take all such allegations seriously, raise them with authorities as appropriate.

QUESTION: Well --

QUESTION: But do you know whether he’s being – sorry, Matt. Do you know whether he’s being held in adult jail or a juvenile section?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have that level of detail. We can certainly check for you, Jo.

QUESTION: So when I asked if you would – were worried that – if you were – there were concerns that the Israelis had acted in appropriately, that sounds like there is concern, because you say that --

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’re concerned about allegations that he’s been mistreated.

QUESTION: What are the allegations?

MS. PSAKI: Hmm?

QUESTION: What are those allegations?

MS. PSAKI: That he’s been mistreated. I think there’s allegations out there that he’s been beaten, but we don’t have – I don’t have any more details other than the allegations that have been out there.

QUESTION: Can we move to Ukraine?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: One more on this? Sorry. Just a brief one, sorry.

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

NORTH KOREA">QUESTION: Are you aware of reports that there’s an arms deal between Hamas and North Korea that’s about to go through, and do you have any comment on that?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’re certainly aware of press reports regarding pending arms sales from North Korea to Hamas. We have long highlighted the global security and proliferation threat posed by North Korea, and we continue to work to stop North Korea’s proliferation activities with partners in the Security Council and throughout the international community. But I’m not going to have any other comment on the specific allegations.

QUESTION: So does that mean you have no independent confirmation of this or just --

MS. PSAKI: It means I have no other comment on it.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: So let’s first of all start talking about the satellite images that were released on Sunday. Do we know where they came from, the veracity of them? Let’s start with those.

MS. PSAKI: Sure. Well, we wouldn’t have put them out publicly if we didn’t feel confident about the accuracy. Obviously, we declassify information as we can to make it available to all of you and to the American public and the international community, and that was the case here.

QUESTION: Well, do we know which satellites these images came from? Who’s – who owned them, for instance?

MS. PSAKI: I’m just not going to be able to get into any greater level of detail.

QUESTION: All right. Let’s talk about the timing of them being released. Why did we choose over the weekend, first of all?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think everybody works on the weekend. I think all of us do, and we felt it was important to put this information out publicly. It shows engagement by the separatists and with support from – with – of Russian artillery in this effort. As you know, we’ve been concerned about that engagement and that escalation, and this provides a further example of that.

QUESTION: And the means that they were released – as I understand it, the first time that we saw them was released on the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine’s Twitter account. Is that accurate?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we sent them out publicly for everyone to see from the State Department, so I think I – we sent them pretty broadly.

QUESTION: So what is it that the State Department is hoping to achieve from these? What kind of response, first of all, does the State Department have given the evidence that these satellite images are showing?

MS. PSAKI: Response to what specifically? Response to the satellite images, response to escalation?

QUESTION: Right.

MS. PSAKI: As you know, we’ve been long concerned about the fact that the Russians have been supplying, supporting, arming the separatists. We – as we have information that shows and backs up those concerns, we make that information available. We have put in place, as you know, a range of sanctions, including an additional set of sanctions last week. We fully expect the Europeans will do additional sanctions soon. And this shows the world what those concerns are and why it’s important to focus on the engagement of Russia in Ukraine.

QUESTION: So Secretary Kerry spoke with Foreign Minister Lavrov over the weekend. To what detail was this – were these satellite images discussed, and how will these satellite images affect U.S.-Russia relations moving forward?

MS. PSAKI: Well, it’s not about the satellite images. The satellite images provide evidence of what we’ve been saying publicly for some time now. They didn’t discuss the satellite images. They did discuss Secretary Kerry’s concern about the Russians’ continuing assistance and support for the separatists. And the Secretary certainly made clear he doesn’t buy the claim that they are not involved and they’re not engaged in this effort. So that was a part of the discussion. They also discussed the Secretary’s trip over the past week and the situation on the ground in Gaza.

QUESTION: Jen, what exactly in those images was declassified?

MS. PSAKI: I’d have to look at the specific images, Matt. There was some information that we have from our own sources that we put out publicly for the first time.

QUESTION: But the satellites – they were Digital Globe, right? This is not U.S. spy satellites taking – they were credited to Digital Globe, which is a commercial satellite company. So those pictures in themselves weren’t subject to classification, were they?

MS. PSAKI: I’d have to look back and see what information was newly available from those satellite photos.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: Obviously, you all have the packet of them.

QUESTION: Right. No, I’m just wondering what in there was declassified? What prior to Sunday – what information in that – in those four pages was classified prior to Sunday when they were released?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think, one --

QUESTION: The analysis?

MS. PSAKI: -- there weren’t images released previously that I’m aware of that showed that Russian forces had fired across the border at Ukrainian military forces, and that Russian – there was some, of course, that Russian-back separatists have used heavy artillery. But this was, again, further evidence and further information that we made available to – in order to show what we have concerns about. That’s why we put it out publicly.

QUESTION: Right, okay. And – so that, and I – I think everyone appreciates the fact that you’re going to efforts to put out the – to put out evidence that you say backs up the claim. But does, in fact – do, in fact, those images show Russian artillery being fired into Ukraine from inside Russia? Does it?

MS. PSAKI: Well, the images showed --

QUESTION: I mean, clearly you’re not going to have video, real-time video or whatever – or maybe you do, I don’t know – but that doesn’t show – it doesn’t show that. It shows pockmarks on the ground, and then it’s got arrows drawn in, which could – so, I mean, maybe you could have an analyst or someone come and explain exactly what this is. But, I mean, to – I’m certainly not an intelligence analyst or expert in reading what these satellite photos mean. But to the casual observer, if you just showed them the pictures without the arrows drawn on them and without the text – I mean, it just looks like there’s a bunch of holes in the ground.

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, I think the images showed things such as ground scarring at a multiple rocket launch site on the Russian side of the border oriented in the direction of Ukrainian military units within Ukraine. It showed self-propelled artillery only found in Russian military units on the Russian side of the border oriented in the direction of the Ukrainian military unit. It showed a range of specifics that I think you can lead – lead you to a conclusion.

QUESTION: Okay. You’ve seen the Russian Defense Ministry came out this morning and said that basically – I mean, I guess not surprisingly, said that these are fake; they don’t show what you purport that they do show. Do you have any response to that?

MS. PSAKI: I think that strains credibility, that claim.

QUESTION: Their claim that it’s fake?

MS. PSAKI: Yes.

QUESTION: Okay. And so --

QUESTION: Why?

QUESTION: Do --

QUESTION: I mean --

MS. PSAKI: They’re photos that show clear evidence of what we just outlined, that back up what we’ve been seeing patterns of for some time. This is not the only evidence we have of Russian engagement and their support for the separatists. There’s a preponderance of evidence out there. This is just the recent images that we made available that back up and support the claims, the public comments, the information we’ve been putting out for several months now.

QUESTION: But as Matt said – I mean, I saw those images on Sunday morning and sent them to the desk saying I have no idea what these show.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I’m --

QUESTION: Because despite the fact that there are arrows drawn on it, it does just look like a bunch of holes in the ground.

MS. PSAKI: Well, it was meant to provide visuals. I’m sure we can get you both --

QUESTION: (Inaudible) visuals of anything.

MS. PSAKI: I’m sure we can get you both a briefing with the proper officials from DNI if that’s helpful.

QUESTION: That would be great. So do you know – is the process of declassifying still going on?

MS. PSAKI: Absolutely.

QUESTION: So we can expect to see more evidence?

MS. PSAKI: Should we have more to share, we certainly will.

QUESTION: All right. What do you have to say, if anything, about the latest round of fighting today, which has prevented yet again these international police delegation from getting in to secure the crash site?

MS. PSAKI: Well, it’s in everyone’s interest, I should say – not just everyone’s – the United States, the international community’s interests in seeing access to this crash site. And we support the efforts of the Malaysians, the Dutch, the Australians, and others who have offered their support to secure the site. With each day that passes, that is concerning and disappointing to us that the investigators don’t have access to the site. So we certainly call on all sides to facilitate proper security of the site and to immediately ensure access. This is something we’ve been engaged closely with the Ukrainians on as well.

QUESTION: The reports that I’ve – some of the reports that I’ve seen indicate – and these are reports coming – and the Ukrainians say this as well, that the reason that there is this fighting is because they resumed their operation in and around the zone that includes the crash site. So I’m just wondering, given the fact that you think that access to it is important, is it wise for the Ukrainian army to be resuming – or to be conducting because they resumed their operation in and around these operations in a way – in such a way that causes fighting that prevents the very people that you want to get there from getting there?

MS. PSAKI: Well, first the root cause of this is the Russian separatists, not the Ukrainians. The Ukrainians are defending their own country. The Russian separatists didn’t abide by the ceasefire that was in the area around the crash site and continued to fire on the Ukrainian forces. So they can’t stand by while that happens. If they – if all parties, including the Russians, want to see investigators reach the crash site and support a ceasefire, as was stated in the readout that Foreign Minister Lavrov’s team put out yesterday, then they can call on the separatists to step down, and I am certain that the Ukrainians would as well.

QUESTION: So you do not – President Putin the other day said that he was willing to use whatever influence he had with them to stop it. You don’t believe that that’s happened? I’m just – you don’t think that that’s happened, and you’re – and evidence of that is that the separatists are to blame for the fighting today and yesterday that has prevented the police from getting in. Is that your mind?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’ve seen over the last few months, Matt, that the Russians are masters of saying one thing and doing another, and this is certainly an example of that.

QUESTION: Masters of saying one thing and doing another. Say grand masters. You don’t want to say that? It would be a great quote. (Laughter.) I want to know, next, the Secretary’s call with Foreign Minister Lavrov yesterday was pretty harsh. He basically called him a liar, or the readout did. What does it mean? Did Foreign Minister Lavrov tell him, “Look, we really have nothing to do with this,” and the Secretary said, “Sergey, I don’t believe you”? Is that pretty accurate?

MS. PSAKI: I think the Secretary made clear we have a great deal of evidence showing their engagement and their involvement.

QUESTION: Okay, well, do you expect – given the apparent tone of that call, would you expect there to be more calls?

MS. PSAKI: I would.

QUESTION: In the near future?

MS. PSAKI: I would.

QUESTION: All right. And then last thing from me: Tony Blinken --

MS. PSAKI: Yes.

QUESTION: -- at the White House said what you just said about the Europeans and enacting sanctions. Can you give – and the U.S. will follow suit. Can you give us any indication of – you’re going to do identically what the Europeans are going to do? What is it you’re planning?

MS. PSAKI: Well, as Tony noted, we expect the Europeans to put in place more sanctions soon. Obviously we have taken additional steps prior to this week that they have not yet. So certainly we’re acting in lockstep, and I don’t have any other predictions for you in terms of the timing or when.

Nicole, and then we’ll go to Scott. Go ahead, Nicole.

QUESTION: So quick housekeeping.

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: I forgot to ask you about the strike on the Gaza hospital, if you guys have comment. Second, Ebola.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: The International Air Transport Association says that if there’s going to be any decision to restrict flights or travel, that you guys will do that, it will come from this agency. I’m just wondering if it’s under consideration. And the third one was whether you could comment on Aruba freeing Hugo Carvajal, the former head of Venezuelan military intelligence.

MS. PSAKI: Okay. I’m going to try not to forget anything you asked here, but you can always re-ask. In terms of --

QUESTION: (Inaudible) to get a word in edgewise with --

MS. PSAKI: Understood.

QUESTION: -- himself.

MS. PSAKI: Understood. On Ebola, we continue to closely monitor the outbreak of the virus. We are aware of reports. You all have reported it that two citizens in Liberia have contracted Ebola. We continue to provide a range of support and assistance to those countries and organizations responding to the outbreak, including through the provision of personal protective equipment and other essential supplies. We’re taking every precaution, of course, as would be expected. And the U.S. missions in the areas have distributed messages to U.S. citizens as well, and of course we extend our sympathies to the families of those who have died. And last quick update on this, multiple U.S. Government agencies are also contributing to the outbreak response efforts, including USAID, HHS, the CDC, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, and the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, and we will continue to engage with that. In terms of what we’re considering, I don’t have anything to predict. We’re taking every precaution, of course.

QUESTION: Are you going to be updating any travel warnings to the areas, to the affected countries?

MS. PSAKI: Well, as you know, we certainly update those as there’s information that becomes available. That’s necessary for U.S. citizens to be aware of. At this point, we are not – the communications typically come through the CDC and the WHO. The State Department is not the responsible medical authority on communicable diseases. We do provide general medical information for travelers in the country – in the country – in any country, which is, of course, available on our website.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) who are reaching out to – that are reaching out to citizens in the area. How are they doing that?

MS. PSAKI: Well, there’s a range of ways that we make information available in any country, whether that’s through information on the website or mailings that go out. So we’re taking every step we can.

QUESTION: And can I just ask – sorry, Nicole, because I know you had other questions – but is this going to affect in any way the planning for next week’s summit of African leaders in the White House and State Department?

MS. PSAKI: Obviously, we’re taking every precaution, but at this point we don’t believe it will.

Oh, do we have one more you didn’t get?

QUESTION: There was Gaza.

QUESTION: There was a question about Carvajal.

MS. PSAKI: Oh, sure.

QUESTION: And Carvajal.

MS. PSAKI: Yep. We were deeply disappointed at the decision of the Government of the Netherlands to order the release of wanted narcotics trafficker Hugo Carvajal on the basis of claims of immunity that are beyond established international norms. We made a legitimate request for Carvajal’s arrest in conformity with our treaty, which governs extraditions between the United States, the Netherlands, and Aruba. Carvajal is under indictment in the United States and is alleged to have used his former position as head of the Venezuelan military intelligence to assist the activities of narcotics traffickers. He’s been on the Department of Treasury’s kingpin list since 2008. He also used his official position to protect narcotics traffickers.

We are also disturbed by credible reports that have come to us indicating the Venezuelan Government threatened the governments of Aruba, the Netherlands, and others to obtain this result. This is not the way law enforcement matters should be handled, and we will certainly continue our efforts to bring him to justice.

QUESTION: How long --

QUESTION: Can you be a little more specific about what those credible reports of threats are --

QUESTION: The threats.

QUESTION: -- what the threats --

MS. PSAKI: I really can’t. I will check and see if there’s more.

QUESTION: Well, when you say reports, are you referring to media reports or reports that you’ve gotten from whoever?

MS. PSAKI: I think there – more than media reports.

QUESTION: More than media reports. But are you aware of any media reports to the effect that the Venezuelans threatened?

MS. PSAKI: Not that I’m aware of, Matt.

QUESTION: And they threatened the Dutch or they threatened the local Aruba authorities?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have more details than the governments of Aruba, the Netherlands, and others to obtain this result.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: You were set to extradite this man. He was effectively here that same night. What happened in Aruba?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think I just outlined what happened, and that’s why we’re so disappointed by these actions that were taken.

Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Can I go back to (inaudible) in Liberia with Ebola, unless there were more on Venezuela?

MS. PSAKI: Oh, did we have another on this one?

QUESTION: Yes.

MS. PSAKI: Okay. Oh, go ahead.

QUESTION: Is there any indication of Cuban Government involvement in these actions by the Venezuelans to get the Government of the Netherlands to release him?

MS. PSAKI: Not that I’m aware of. I can check and see if that’s an area of concern.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: Any more on Venezuela?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t think so. Ebola?

QUESTION: I just wanted to --

MS. PSAKI: Oh, and Scott. We were supposed to go to Scott next.

QUESTION: It’s okay.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: Liberia, this morning, as a result of the increase in deaths from Ebola has closed most of its land borders. I just wondered if what – if you had a comment on that, whether you thought that was a good decision, and whether it was something that the United States is recommending other countries who have been affected in this outbreak to do.

MS. PSAKI: It’s a good question, Jo. I don’t have that level of detail, so let me check with our team and see if that’s something we’re currently recommending. Not that I’m aware of, but I will check and see.

QUESTION: Okay. Thank you.

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead, Scott.

QUESTION: From the podium, you pretty consistently objected to the Kurds exporting their own oil through Turkey. It would appear that, however, that that first shipment of oil has now been unloaded in Houston. So --

MS. PSAKI: My understanding of where things stand, Scott, is that it’s – there’s a tanker that’s anchored 60 miles outside of Galveston, Texas and that the cargo remains on board the ship at this time. I will see if there’s been any update to that information, but I spoke with our team about it right before I came down here.

Our policy, which you outlined, certainly hasn’t changed. We believe that Iraq’s energy resources belong to the Iraqi people and certainly have long stated that it needs to go through the central government. And as you know, there’s an ongoing legal dispute in this case, which is – which obviously is something that we’re aware of and we’re closely following.

QUESTION: Local Coast Guard say they asked you guys about it and everything was fine and it’s already being lightened.

MS. PSAKI: That – I would have to check. That was not the information that I had from our team, Scott. Obviously that contradicts it, which is concerning, but let me go back to them and see what the exact situation is on the ground.

QUESTION: India.

MS. PSAKI: Oh, India. And then we’ll go to you, Lucas. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Yeah. There’s a sweeping row going on in Delhi about finding this bugging devices in a Union minister Gadkari’s official residence, and they’re demanding – so will this be affecting Secretary Kerry’s – during his trip to India? Will this come up? Have you got any reaction to this?

MS. PSAKI: Other than to say that we’re not going to comment publicly on every alleged intelligence activity, we have an important and strategic relationship with India. That’s why the Secretary will be leaving to visit India tomorrow and why we are bringing quite a delegation with us to the Strategic Dialogue. And so we expect the focus of that discussion will be on everything from our economic relationship to issues that we can continue to work closely on, whether – including energy, and we’ll leave it to readouts of those meetings to determine what else comes up.

QUESTION: And just another one. It’s a kind of a clarification on today’s report that the Secretary presented. You – in the report you say that Uttar Pradesh, the northern Indian state, the clashes in Muzaffarnagar and then just this week again in the vicinity of Muzaffarnagar in Saharanpur, the Sikhs and Muslims have clashed. And now that Modi is the prime minister, he’s not opening his mouth on any of this. So will this religious freedom, this riots be on the agenda? What is your reaction to what’s going on, this massacre?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think obviously the purpose of the annual Religious Freedom Report is to outline areas where we have concern. Beyond that, I know we’ve done an announcement about the trip, and we’ll do a longer preview of it and the focus in the coming 24 hours. But I would expect the focus of the meeting to be more about the future of our relationship moving forward, including our cooperation on economic issues moving forward.

QUESTION: The question that is being asked from the media or the others – in the morning just I got a phone call to get this cleared, that we issue this report every year. What is the follow up? Like is it just goes into the – on the net and on papers and then nothing happens?

MS. PSAKI: No, and quite the contrary. This is more of a compilation of the issues that we are concerned about. I would point you to the remarks of Assistant Secretary Malinowski, who obviously outlined it in great detail and the purpose of the report. But these are issues that we bring up – human rights issues, certainly religious freedom issues – at every occasion where appropriate. And the fact that we do an annual report indicates how much we are focused on these issues and how much we – and our value in highlighting them.

QUESTION: Just a quick follow up.

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.

QUESTION: When Modi was the chief minister of Gujarat and there were these communal riots, we denied him a visa for nearly nine years. In – now when these – we are saying in the report that there are communal clashes going on and on. Will we see any kind of – such a concrete visa denial, embargo, anything that --

MS. PSAKI: I think we’ve spoken to his visa in the past, and I’d point you to those comments. And we’ll look forward to welcoming him later this fall. And as we have concerns about any of those issues, we’ll certainly raise them through proper channels.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: Libya?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Can you explain how, in your statement, a temporary reduction in staff is not an evacuation?

MS. PSAKI: Well, there’s just a difference in – or in technical terms, Lucas. I mean, what it was exactly, which was outlined in our statement, was we moved staff to locations outside of Libya. As you may have seen, we’ve noted publicly that Ambassador Jones is now working out of Malta. We’ll have some staff working in other countries. We have staff who will be in the United States. The plan is, of course, that we want to return, and obviously the safety and security of our staff is one of our first priorities and the lens through which we make decisions.

QUESTION: Who is guarding the embassy right now?

MS. PSAKI: Well, right now, Lucas, we’ve asked our local guard force and bodyguards to protect our facility for the time being. The guards in Tripoli were hired by the embassy directly under a personal services agreement. They’re not third-party contractors. So they’re currently overseeing the guarding of the embassy.

QUESTION: So those are local nationals?

MS. PSAKI: Those – that’s my understanding, yes.

QUESTION: What was the Administration’s plan post-Qadhafi for Libya?

MS. PSAKI: In what capacity?

QUESTION: In 140 characters or less.

MS. PSAKI: Right. (Laughter.) That’s a hard question to answer in 140 characters.

QUESTION: Was your goal a constitutional monarchy, democracy, freedom, prosperity?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think one thing – we know that democratic transitions, Lucas, are never easy and require the long view before assessments can be made. Certainly Libya has been going through a transition over the course of the last several years. Ambassador Satterfield remains prepared and ready to continue his engagement. Again, we have staff continuing to engage. We want to see – we are committed to the future of Libya, and that hasn’t changed despite the temporary removal of staff.

QUESTION: You all have failed in that endeavor, haven’t you?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think, Lucas, the international community knows, not just the United States, that these transitions take time, and we can’t – we’re going to continue to work at it, and we remain focused on standing by the Libyan people as they face these challenges, and we’ll continue to support them for the duration of this transition.

QUESTION: And what would you say to Americans who may harbor concerns or fears that Libya is shaping up as the next Syria – a lawless safe haven for terrorists and one from which terrorism may spill beyond its borders?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Lucas, we would say that we are – we know Libya is facing many challenges. We believe that their challenges are inherently political and must be solved through dialogue. To end the crisis, Libya must immediately rein in militias, cease violence, and engage in productive political dialogue. I’d say that we remain focused on that. We have staff that continue to be engaged in that. But we know that they’re continuing to go through a transition and we believe the international community should and will continue to support them.

QUESTION: I was struck by the criticism of the Administration’s handling of Syria when we were – when we heard not from Republicans, but from Representative Eliot Engel of New York, the ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, during Deputy Assistant Secretary McGurk’s testimony last week. Congressman Engel said, I quote, “The right time to train and equip the moderate Syrian opposition was well over a year ago, but we waited so long and by now ISIS has gained so much territory and momentum, they are far more difficult to stop.” He added, “I cannot help but wonder what would have happened if we had committed to empowering the moderate Syrian opposition last year.” Your reaction?

MS. PSAKI: Well, there are a range of factors. Any member of Congress, Democratic or Republican, is certainly allowed to speak their view and should, and we encourage them to. We have expanded the scale and scope of our assistance since last year. Since – longer than just the last few weeks, certainly. We can’t outline all of that publicly. That hasn’t changed. There are a couple of events that we’re all aware of that have happened over the course of that time that I think are important context, including Iranian engagement, including the influx of foreign fighters that have impacted the situation. We have, even in the last couple of weeks, provided additional – or made the determination to provide additional assistance, so I think the most productive role that any member of Congress can play is to support those efforts and continue to push them through Congress.

QUESTION: Okay. Last one. I’m sure you saw The Washington Post article today that more or less echoed what Congressman Engel said. The article stated that by the time the Administration’s request for $500 million in counterterrorism funds is up and running, quote, “There may be few if any moderate rebels left to aid.” And your reaction to that?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think it goes to what I just stated in that that doesn’t represent the totality of our assistance, far from it. There’s a range of assistance that I can’t outline and I’m not going to. But we’ve built the capacity over the course of time. We’ll continue to do that. I think it’s important to vet both the recipients of the assistance. That’s something I think Congress and the American people want us to do, and it also is important to work with Congress. Those two steps require a process. That’s what’s been underway.

QUESTION: Is there still time to defeat the Assad regime?

MS. PSAKI: We certainly wouldn’t be still working as hard as we are if we didn’t think that was the case.

QUESTION: Can I just ask a couple logistics questions?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: You mentioned that ambassador – excuse me – Ambassador Patterson is based out of Malta. Is she there with some of the team?

MS. PSAKI: Not Patterson, Jones.

QUESTION: Oh, Jones, sorry. Excuse me. Do they have any of the Embassy staff there too?

MS. PSAKI: I’d have to check. The staff are in different places. I’m not sure where all of the staff are. I can see if there’s more details we can provide to you.

QUESTION: Okay. And did you – in the temporary relocation of all these staff, did you take any local Libyan staff with you at all, or were they all American citizens?

MS. PSAKI: I’d have to check on that specifically, Jo.

QUESTION: Just going back to Gaza really quick, the question on the hospital strike.

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: I was curious to get your comment on that.

MS. PSAKI: Well, as we’ve stated many times in the past, the reason we’re so focused on this is because of the increase in violence or violence that’s been ongoing over the course of the last few weeks. That’s why we want to see it stop. We’ve seen violence back and forth from both sides. Beyond that, I don’t think I have a further comment.

QUESTION: Can I – go ahead.

QUESTION: Yeah, sorry. On this case, there’s some conflicting reports about who’s responsible. I think the IDF has said that it was a misfired Hamas rocket.

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any independent details on the responsibility. Obviously, there’s a range of reports that are out there, so we’ll let the process of looking into it see itself through.

QUESTION: I just want to go back to Libya for one quick second.

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: About more broadly, you were talking about a transition takes time. But this situation there is pretty dire – the fact that you had to take your staff out, that there was huge clashes in the vicinity of the Embassy, which made it unsafe for people to work in. But you seem to be a bit sanguine about it because you say, well, transitions take time.

Is this – does the Administration think that this is like, now, the new normal for countries going through transition to – from dictatorship to democracy, that it is in fact okay and not a sign of serious problems in its own policy but also in your policy for fighting to reach such a point where Airbuses are being blown up at the airport and you’re having to shut down your Embassy?

MS. PSAKI: No, Matt. I was making a broad point about what we’re seeing on the ground in Libya. Libya has certainly been going through a transition. The decision was made to temporarily relocate our staff because of ongoing clashes. As you know, that was – were in the immediate vicinity of the Embassy.

QUESTION: I know. My question is not about whether – not about what you did with the Embassy. It’s about whether the Administration thinks that this is normal for a country going through transition to – from dictatorship to democracy.

MS. PSAKI: Well, as you know that – we take these steps rarely in terms of this level of --

QUESTION: I think you’re missing my point.

MS. PSAKI: Sorry, go ahead.

QUESTION: My question isn’t about what you did with the Embassy and your staff.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: My question is about in the language about it, you say that transition takes time, that this is – and I’m wondering, does that mean the Administration thinks that allowing or having a situation like this deteriorate to the point where you have to take your people out, if that’s what you think is now normal for a transition from dictatorship to democracy?

MS. PSAKI: No, we don’t think it’s normal, but there are – in this particularly case, there are militias battling near our Embassy, so this is the step we took. I’m not – I wasn’t making a broad point about what’s normal in the world.

QUESTION: Okay. Last one, very brief, on Iran. This Washington Post reporter, I understand that you had seen, or the – sorry --

QUESTION: Swiss.

QUESTION: -- Swiss.

MS. PSAKI: Yes. We remain concerned about reports of Washington Post reporter’s detention in Iran, along with two other U.S. citizens and the non-U.S. citizen’s spouse of one of the three. We are also aware of reports that Iranian officials have confirmed some of the detentions. If true, we call on the Iranian Government to immediately release Mr. Rezaian and the other three individuals. We continue to monitor the situation closely. We have reached out to our Swiss protecting power in this case as well.

QUESTION: Do you know – have the Swiss seen them?

MS. PSAKI: I do not have any update on that. As you know, we request consular access, but I don’t have any further updates to provide.

QUESTION: And can I just ask, since the beginning of the secret diplomacy with Iran on the nuclear issue, we’ve been told that the issue of detained Americans was brought up, at least in the initial phases of it. And I’m wondering now, since it is no longer taboo or forbidden to speak to Iranian officials, at least on the nuclear issue, the detention of these people plus the ones who are already in detention that we know about – Abedini and Amir Hekmati – in addition to Levinson, who you think the – are you raising this at all in conversations with the Iranians that are now --

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’ve raised the detained Americans prior to. This is obviously very recent.

QUESTION: I understand that, yes.

MS. PSAKI: I’d have to check and see if there’s any other contact on these specific new, recent individuals. But the others we certainly have raised.

QUESTION: And it – yeah. And it would be good – yeah, okay. Thank you.

QUESTION: Back to Libya for a second.

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: Can you explain the difference between a temporary relocation of staff and an evacuation?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Lucas, I think it means that the staff is – our plan is for them to come back. They’re technical terms. I think I’m explaining exactly what it is, but there isn’t – evacuation often refers to making planes and others available for citizens living in the country. That’s obviously not the step that’s being taken at this point in time. I think we’ve outlined in pretty great detail that they traveled over land to Tunisia, and that they moved from there. So beyond that, I don’t think it requires an additional explanation or a description of the terminology.

QUESTION: Can I ask about Cameroon?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: There were a couple of attacks in – which have been blamed on Boko Haram in Cameroon, in which about 15 people or so died, were killed on Sunday. And also, worryingly, there are reports that the wife of the deputy prime minister is among those who have been kidnapped. Do you have any comment on that?

MS. PSAKI: I do. Just give me one moment.

We abhor the increasingly brazen attacks by Boko Haram terrorists, including the attack over the weekend on Kolofata in Cameroon’s far north region near Nigeria, in which a number of people were killed, including the younger brother of the deputy prime minister, and several people, including the wife of Cameroon’s vice prime minister, were kidnapped. Our sympathies and thoughts are with the victims and their families of this latest egregious assault on innocent civilians by a terrorist organization, Boko Haram, bent on fomenting violent extremism and insecurity in northeastern Nigeria and the region. We continue to encourage Nigerian authorities to adopt a comprehensive approach to Boko Haram that emphasizes respect for human rights, including the freedom of religion; prioritizes civilian security in response to the needs of victimized communities.

Although we don’t currently have an ambassador in – to Cameroon, our Chargé and other embassy officials have been in close contact with the government for some time as a part of a coordinated regional response to Boko Haram. And we’re in regular contact with the government and security officials as we track the situation closely.

All right.

QUESTION: Oh, I have one more (inaudible).

MS. PSAKI: Oh, go ahead.

QUESTION: I don’t know if – sorry, been a busy weekend.

MS. PSAKI: I know.

QUESTION: I don’t know if you saw that North Korea has apparently put out a threat to launch a nuclear strike on the White House and the Pentagon, sparing the State Department. (Laughter.) Do you have any --

MS. PSAKI: Well --

QUESTION: (Laughter.) Do you have any comment on that?

MS. PSAKI: I have – I had not actually seen that report with everything going on. I think it’s fair to say that that kind of inflammatory rhetoric is not a way to move towards a place in the world – having a place in the world.

QUESTION: It comes from the director of the military’s general political bureau, Hwang Pyong-so.

MS. PSAKI: Understood.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: Thanks, everyone.

QUESTION: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 3:01 p.m.)

DPB # 131


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Categories: News Pit Feeds

Daily Press Briefings : Daily Press Briefing - July 25, 2014

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 19:06

Marie Harf
Deputy Spokesperson
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
July 25, 2014

Share Index for Today's Briefing

TRANSCRIPT:

1:26 p.m. EDT

MS. HARF: Hello. Welcome to the daily briefing.

QUESTION: Happy Friday.

MS. HARF: Happy briefing. Matt is in his summer finest today. I like it.

I have a few items at the top, and then I will open it up to questions. First, I’d like to welcome a group we have in the back. It is a group of journalism students from the American University in Cairo. They’re wrapping up internships in Washington this summer. So welcome; we’re really happy to have you here. I once, many years ago, also did a summer internship in Washington, so I hope it’s been enjoyable and I hope you find today interesting. Also, just feel free to ask questions if you want. I’m sure I’ll get to all of you as well.

SECRETARYSTRAVEL">A couple of other items at the top. A travel update: The Secretary – speaking of Cairo – is in Cairo, continuing to work to see if we can get to a cease-fire. I expect he’ll be making remarks later today. As you know, that can always change, but that’s the plan as of right now. So that’s the latest update I have from them. He has also made 13 phone calls as of today. He ended up making a total of 25 yesterday – very busy – talking mainly about his attempts to help broker a cease-fire in Gaza.

Two more items at the top. The first, I think you’ve seen that authorities in Mali have found the wreckage of Air Algeria flight AH5017 in the Gossi region of Mali. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of the six Spanish crew members and at least 110 passengers from Algeria, Belgium, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Canada, Egypt, France, Germany, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Mali, Nigeria, Romania, Switzerland, and Ukraine who lost their lives. On behalf of Secretary Kerry and the American people, we extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to all of those affected by this terrible tragedy. I – we didn’t talk about this yesterday, but no U.S. citizens were onboard.

And final topper: On Monday, we will mark the opening of the Presidential Summit of the Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders here in Washington, DC. The Washington Fellowship is the flagship program of President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative, or YALI, a signature effort to invest in the next generation of African leaders. The YALI summit will bring 500 of sub-Saharan Africa’s most promising young leaders together with U.S. officials, eminent entrepreneurs, and civil society representatives for three days of workshops and events. Secretary Kerry will welcome the Young African Leaders to the summit on Monday morning. Later that day, President Obama will hold a town hall. First Lady Michelle Obama will deliver remarks – excuse me – at the summit on Wednesday, July 30th. Fellows will also hear from U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, USAID Administrator Raj Shah, and many others. We are proud as a Department to have a role in supporting these extraordinary young people as they continue their role as catalysts for growth and development in their communities and countries.

QUESTION: Sorry, just logistically, is that – are all those things here?

MS. HARF: I do – no, they are not. The – it is taking place at the Omni Shorheham Hotel in Washington, DC.

QUESTION: Oh, okay. Good. So we don’t have to worry about --

MS. HARF: I don’t --

QUESTION: -- the President showing up here and going through all the additional security.

MS. HARF: I know there’s a lot of additional activity happening here --

QUESTION: Yes.

MS. HARF: -- around the summit, but I don’t have --

QUESTION: But not for this specifically, correct?

MS. HARF: That’s my understanding.

QUESTION: Okay. Let’s start with the Middle East, although there’s a lot of Ukraine today too. You mentioned the 11 calls today and 25 --

MS. HARF: Thirteen calls today so far.

QUESTION: So 13 calls today, 25 calls yesterday, and that he’s expected to make remarks soon. Word --

MS. HARF: They’re today. I didn’t say soon – today.

QUESTION: Oh. Well, I was going to ask you, because word from Cairo is that about half an hour, 45 minutes from now, or do you think that’s optimistic?

MS. HARF: I don’t – I think that’s a little optimistic.

QUESTION: Okay. What --

MS. HARF: It’s getting late there, but --

QUESTION: What is he going to say? Or is that still TBD because --

MS. HARF: I am not going to preview what he’s going to say. I think if he – when and if we have announcements to make, I’ll let him do that. He’s continued to consult with the different parties about achieving a ceasefire and the path forward, and I don’t have anything to preview from what he will say today.

QUESTION: Okay. But does that – is it correct, then, that the effort to get a ceasefire continues? They’re not there yet; is that correct?

MS. HARF: As of this moment, the effort continues.

QUESTION: As of the moment that you left your office to come up here.

MS. HARF: But I am not going to outline what he will say later today.

QUESTION: Okay. Do you have any comments on the situation on the ground as it is today?

MS. HARF: In terms of what specifically?

QUESTION: Well, in terms of whether you think that your calls for restraint from both sides, whether your calls for Hamas to stop firing rockets and for Israel to show restraint on the civilian casualty front have been met, or is the attempt to get a cease-fire an indication that you think that these are still objectives that need to be reached?

MS. HARF: Well, certainly we haven’t achieved a cease-fire yet, and the hostilities continue on the ground. We’ve seen rockets being fired from Hamas. We’ve seen Israeli actions as well. So there are a range of ideas being discussed. They include ideas being put on the table from various interested parties. Those are still being discussed, and again, I think the Secretary will update everyone on where that stands.

QUESTION: Okay. So what he probably won’t know about, though, is this continuing – or maybe he does know about it, but you’re, I think, in a better position to answer questions regarding still about this FAA ban and --

MS. HARF: I’m not sure what questions there are that remain, but --

QUESTION: Well --

MS. HARF: -- it looks like you have a whole list.

QUESTION: No, no. This isn’t my list.

MS. HARF: Whose list is it?

QUESTION: This is Senator Cruz’s list. So let’s run through.

MS. HARF: You’re happy to do his bidding today.

QUESTION: No, it’s just that --

MS. HARF: Go ahead.

QUESTION: -- he’s asked these questions. I don’t want to --

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: -- think that I’m doing his bidding, but --

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: -- he’s asked these – these are the questions that he says --

MS. HARF: Let’s run through them.

QUESTION: -- he wants answered to release his holds on all of your nominees.

MS. HARF: Our nominees in the Department that didn’t actually put in place this travel warning and the flight notice?

QUESTION: Be that as it may --

MS. HARF: Well, I think that is a crucial point in this discussion.

QUESTION: Well, okay, yes, but the point is that this is how Senator Cruz has chosen to express his --

MS. HARF: No, I understand that.

QUESTION: -- unhappiness.

MS. HARF: I’m just saying it’s illogical.

QUESTION: Thus it --

MS. HARF: But –

QUESTION: Well, it may be illogical, but it is a fact.

MS. HARF: Right. Okay. I’m allowed to comment on that fact, though.

QUESTION: So yes. Yes, you are.

MS. HARF: That is, I think, my job.

QUESTION: Yes, you are.

MS. HARF: Go ahead. Do Senator Cruz’s questions.

QUESTION: One – question number one: Was this decision a political decision driven by the White House?

MS. HARF: No.

QUESTION: For instance, who was this decision made by?

MS. HARF: The FAA.

QUESTION: A career official? A political appointee? Or someone else at the FAA, State Department, or White House?

MS. HARF: It was made by the FAA. I’m sure they can speak to who specifically at the FAA made the decision.

QUESTION: If the FAA’s decision was based on airline safety, why was Israel singled out when flights would be permitted into Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen? Although, I would point out before you answer that I’m not aware of any American airlines that fly to – direct – fly to Afghanistan, Pakistan, or Yemen other than the Air Force.

MS. HARF: There’s also a full list of notice to airmen online. I actually tweeted a link to it yesterday.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: I think he’s actually put forward some incorrect information about where there are and aren’t notices. There are some, for example, over parts of eastern Ukraine. He said there were none for Ukraine. There are, in fact, some. So there’s a whole list online. Where they stand, the FAA makes those decisions based on when there is a potential threat to airliners landing at certain airports or flying over certain areas. There is a whole, very comprehensive list online.

QUESTION: Is there a ban --

MS. HARF: So Israel is not being singled out here.

QUESTION: Okay. But is there a ban on U.S. airlines flying into Afghanistan should a U.S. airline decide it wanted to fly?

MS. HARF: I’m happy to check on what the latest notice is that the FAA has put out on that.

QUESTION: All right.

MS. HARF: But I’m not aware, as you’ve said, of any --

QUESTION: All right.

MS. HARF: -- airlines who do.

QUESTION: Okay. Number three: What was the FAA’s safety analysis that led to prohibiting flights to Israel while still permitting flights to Ukraine? Again, I’m not sure any airline – U.S. airline flies to Ukraine, but --

MS. HARF: Well --

QUESTION: -- where a commercial airline flight was just shot down there’s a BUK missile --

MS. HARF: Right. And the area where it was shot down, there is a notice to airmen that the FAA has since put in place. So I would take issue with the second part of that question from Senator Cruz.

QUESTION: Number --

MS. HARF: And the first part, they can ask the FAA, but they’ve said that they take into account information about safety and that’s it, and that’s how they make their decisions.

QUESTION: Number four: What specific communications occurred --

MS. HARF: We’re only on four? How many are there?

QUESTION: Yeah, sorry. Sorry.

MS. HARF: It’s okay.

QUESTION: And I apologize to everyone.

MS. HARF: It’s okay.

QUESTION: But this has been a big issue, so --

MS. HARF: I understand.

QUESTION: What specific communications occurred between the FAA and the White House and between the FAA and the State Department?

MS. HARF: Well, I certainly can’t speak to communications between the White House and the FAA given that I’m not part of either of those.

QUESTION: So State Department and FAA.

MS. HARF: As I said, we had a – from my perspective, right, which is a communications perspective, we had a heads-up that it was going to be announced. I can’t speak to everyone in the building.

QUESTION: Okay. Why were any such communications necessary if this was purely about airline safety?

MS. HARF: Well, I think, as we’ve said, two points. First, it’s important – we like to give other agencies heads-up when we’re about to announce things that might impact them. So I tend to give my colleagues a heads-up when statements are about to go out.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: But we’ve also said that the State Department has, at times, served as facilitators between the FAA and other countries, not just Israel.

QUESTION: You mean liaison. Would that be --

MS. HARF: Well, to facilitate contact, because the FAA doesn’t always have the same contacts we have overseas.

QUESTION: Gotcha.

MS. HARF: And the FAA was working directly with the Israelis to determine the threat, and then one of the reasons they have said they rescinded it was because the Israelis have put in place mitigations. So --

QUESTION: All right. And then the last one --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- and I think I know the – what your answer will be to this, because it tracks very closely to the question number one, which is: What – was this a safety issue, or was it using a federal regulatory agency to punish Israel to try to force them to comply with Secretary Kerry’s demand that Israel stop their military effort to take out Hamas rocket capacity?

MS. HARF: How many parts of that can I fact-check? So first of all, nobody has demanded anything of Israel. We have said they have the right to defend themselves, period. Second, this was a decision made by the FAA solely based on security, not for any other reason than security and safety of American citizens, American pilots, people on American planes, period.

QUESTION: So --

MS. HARF: What were the other --

QUESTION: That’s it.

MS. HARF: -- parts of that very loaded question?

QUESTION: Oh.

QUESTION: Marie.

QUESTION: Well, I mean – well, hold on. Was it – you’ve already answered was it a safety issue. It was --

MS. HARF: It was purely a safety issue.

QUESTION: Not using – and so – and you would say that it was not using a federal regulatory agency to pressure Israel or – correct?

MS. HARF: Absolutely not.

QUESTION: All right. There’s been an official saying – quoted on various – or at least one news outlet saying that the situation between – in the – around the airport – Tel Aviv – Ben Gurion Airport between right now and 72 hours ago is exactly the same. Is that correct, and if that --

MS. HARF: That’s not, and again, I will point to the FAA’s statement. I know I’ve been talking about what they’ve said a lot, but they said that they received two things: new significant information, intelligence that talked about the threat; and second, that the Government of Israel took new steps and measures to mitigate the threat. So some of that’s not always seen publicly, but they made that – their decision based on those two things.

QUESTION: Are you able to describe what those two items are --

MS. HARF: I don’t have --

QUESTION: -- more specifically?

MS. HARF: I don’t have more details about those. The FAA may. But again, I don’t have --

QUESTION: So in other words, the situation is not the same as it was 72 hours ago --

MS. HARF: Correct.

QUESTION: -- because even though rockets continue to be fired, the Israelis have both taken new steps or new measures to --

MS. HARF: To mitigate the threat --

QUESTION: -- mitigate the risk, and --

MS. HARF: -- and we’ve received new information.

QUESTION: -- they have done a better job or they have explained themselves better?

MS. HARF: No, no, no. The first piece isn’t about the Israelis. We have received significant new information. I’m not detailing --

QUESTION: Oh, not about the Israelis?

MS. HARF: Right, about the threat.

QUESTION: Not from – sorry, not from the Israelis. Okay.

MS. HARF: So --

QUESTION: Marie, I know you said that --

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. HARF: You’re welcome.

QUESTION: -- the Secretary’s going --

MS. HARF: I’m sure Senator Cruz will send me a thank you as well.

QUESTION: Oh yeah, you think that he’s going to accept your explanation with this --

MS. HARF: I certainly hope that he does.

QUESTION: Do you think that what you have just said now in response to my asking his questions will be enough to – or should they be enough to get --

MS. HARF: I certainly hope that --

QUESTION: -- for him to lift those --

MS. HARF: -- this should be an end. But if the senator has additional questions, we’re happy for him to ask them. We just don’t think that should be coupled with a hold on nominees for critical national security positions.

QUESTION: Well, the senator is a difficult person to (inaudible), but let me go to the other part. You said that the Secretary of State is going to issue a statement later on today.

MS. HARF: I think he might – he’s going to do a press avail. That’s – will hopefully happen later today.

QUESTION: Okay, but a great deal of what his plan his, a “plan” for a seven day ceasefire – humanitarian ceasefire came out. Do you agree with it?

MS. HARF: That’s – I would not confirm those reports, Said.

QUESTION: Okay. All right.

MS. HARF: I would be very careful believing rumors in the press about what’s being discussed. There’s a number of different ideas and proposals being put on the table by a number of interested parties, not just the Secretary. And he’ll talk in more detail about those later today.

QUESTION: Okay. Well, allegedly there are three ideas. One of them would allow the Israelis to remain in Gaza in the areas that they occupied these last few days, to continue to destroy tunnels and destroy sources of rockets and so on. Would that be one of the ideas that are considered?

MS. HARF: I am not going to detail in any way the ideas we’re even talking about or considering. I think he’ll speak to this later today.

QUESTION: Okay. And in your estimation, is – would this plan also include a role for the Palestinian Authority to give it some sort of relevance?

MS. HARF: Well, I think the Palestinian Authority will certainly play a role here. They’ve played a role throughout these discussions. But again, no specifics to outline for you.

QUESTION: Okay. Now if I could shift just to the West Bank a little bit because --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. Yes.

QUESTION: -- there is a lot of flare-ups in the West Bank.

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: Today, five Palestinians thus far have been killed in the West Bank for a demonstration. I mean, they were shot with live ammunition. Do you have any comment on that?

MS. HARF: Well, we are deeply concerned about the increasing violence and protests in the West Bank and would offer our condolences for those killed in both Gaza and the West Bank. We’re still determining all the details about what has happened here. I know there’s a lot of rumors, but we need to be careful to determine the details and would continue to urge all parties here to exercise restraint. Look, it’s clear that these are – it’s clear that these are related to the ongoing situation and conflict in Gaza. Obviously, that’s why the Secretary’s there to try to get a ceasefire here. So we are working very hard to address that.

QUESTION: Right. I mean, it is an emotional time, but you still subscribe or you adhere to the – to your policy that people have the right to demonstrate peacefully, correct?

MS. HARF: Absolutely. We call on all parties to exercise restraint, as people are doing so.

QUESTION: And that includes the Palestinians under occupation in the West Bank, correct?

MS. HARF: That – we think that Palestinians should be able to express themselves peacefully?

QUESTION: Right, yeah.

MS. HARF: We think everyone should be able to express themselves peacefully.

QUESTION: Okay. Have you been in contact with the Palestinian Authority President Abbas on this issue, that things are so volatile and it could easily get out of control?

MS. HARF: About the protest?

QUESTION: Yes.

MS. HARF: I don’t have a readout of the Secretary’s conversations. I’m happy to see if we have. I’m guessing that our Consul General Michael Ratney likely has, but I can check.

QUESTION: And my last question, on the hospitals – I know I asked you, and I asked Jen before and so on. It seems that all the reports concur and confirm that, basically, there were no militants, no rockets in these hospitals, yet they were targeted, and the school as well.

MS. HARF: Said, I think you need to be careful when you use the words like “all” and “confirm.” I think what we’ve seen --

QUESTION: Well, I mean --

MS. HARF: -- in general, in general – is Hamas has used civilian areas like hospitals and ambulances and schools to hide rockets. Across the board we’ve seen that at times, but across the board I can’t confirm that every time that the Israelis have said there were rockets in a certain place, we can confirm that independently. So we’ve seen them use this tactic. Is that always the case in each of the individual instances here? I just can’t confirm that.

QUESTION: Okay. Well, let me rephrase what I – my question. There are many reports by ABC, NBC in particular that actually, they went around and they showed there were no rockets. But also, Chris Gunness, the spokesperson of UNRWA, tweeted many tweets saying that there are no rockets, none in the vicinity, no firing was going on and all these things before and after the attack.

MS. HARF: Well, you’re talking about a specific incident, right. I said in --

QUESTION: I’m talking about the UNRWA school --

MS. HARF: Right, so --

QUESTION: -- at Beit Hanoun yesterday.

MS. HARF: -- ask about specific incidents. In general, we have seen Hamas use this tactic. I still cannot confirm whether there were rockets in the specific school that was hit. We’ve seen the Israelis speak to this. I think we’re still trying to get some more facts about this specific school.

QUESTION: I’m sorry. I said “my last question,” but this will be my last.

MS. HARF: It’s okay.

QUESTION: Are you getting any reports from Beit Hanoun that the Israelis are not allowing medics and medical groups, emergency groups to go in and retrieve bodies and the injured?

MS. HARF: Let me check on that. Let me check on that, Said.

QUESTION: Marie, sorry.

MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: Just now, as we’re – as you’re talking, the reports are coming in from Israel that the cabinet has – the Israeli security cabinet has rejected the cease-fire offer. It’s all three Israeli television networks plus others. I don’t think there’s --

MS. HARF: I love when news breaks when I’m up here.

QUESTION: I know that there’s – I --

MS. HARF: I’m at a strategic disadvantage here.

QUESTION: Fair enough. But – and clearly the Secretary will speak to this whenever he’s – whenever he goes out to speak. But in the meantime – and I don’t expect you to have a fully formed answer yet – is this a – would a rejection of the cease-fire be a disappointment to the Secretary and to you by Israel, in terms of what you know about the proposal that was out there? I’m not asking you to get into details of it, but clearly you wanted both sides --

MS. HARF: I don’t – I really don’t want to comment on this in any way, given that I haven’t seen the reports and I haven’t talked to the team on the ground.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: I really don’t want to comment on it.

QUESTION: Do you know – fair enough.

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: UNRWA questions.

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: Do you know if you have come to a – or if the better options for dealing with rockets found in schools has been arrived at?

MS. HARF: We’ve talked to them about some, and I think there are a few options we’re still talking about.

QUESTION: I saw that there was a statement from --

MS. HARF: From UNRWA.

QUESTION: Yeah, talking about how they’re going to try to get more people involved.

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: To your – to the Administration’s point, given what happened the first time that this happened this – or was it last week now? I don’t remember. But --

MS. HARF: Days all run together.

QUESTION: I know. Are those kind of measures that they’re talking about, are those okay with you guys? You think those are enough, those are appropriate?

MS. HARF: Yeah. I mean, I think – well, I think we have some potentially workable ways forward.

QUESTION: Are the – among them are the ones that were in that statement from --

MS. HARF: I can check on the specifics, Matt.

QUESTION: Okay. And then, just going back to questions that I had asked earlier about the Khdeir family, do you know if there’s any update on them?

MS. HARF: Yes. I did check, and I didn’t get a huge update here. Let me see what I got. I’m not sure if I actually got any update for you. I promise I did check, though. Let me see what I have.

We have raised it, as we said. Matt, I don’t think I have an update for you.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: We did – and I know that they did not have a specific number. I do know that.

QUESTION: All right. And then in – okay. And then in terms of – I believe I raised this a – 10 days ago or so, about this 15-year-old Palestinian-American kid who’s been held – been detained by the Israelis. Do you have any update on that?

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

QUESTION: All right.

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: Can I move away to Iraq?

MS. HARF: Anything else on Gaza?

Okay, let’s move to Iraq.

QUESTION: Okay. Reuters has reported that a tanker loaded with oil from the Kurdistan region of Iraq is near Texas and is apparently heading for a potential buyer there.

MS. HARF: Well, we are aware there’s a tanker off the coast of Florida currently. But our policy here has not changed. Iraq’s energy resources belong to all of the Iraqi people. The U.S. has made very clear that if there are cases involving legal disputes, the United States informs the parties of the dispute and recommends they make their own decisions with advice to counsel on how to proceed. So I’d obviously refer you directly to the parties in terms of any arbitration here. I know that’s what the stories have focused on.

QUESTION: Are you actively warning the – say, the U.S. firms or other foreign governments to not buy Kurdish oil specifically?

MS. HARF: Well, we have been very clear that if there are legal issues that arise, if they undertake activities where there might be arbitration, that there could potentially be legal consequences. So we certainly warn people of that.

QUESTION: Do you keep doing that now too?

MS. HARF: We are repeatedly doing that, yes.

QUESTION: So why – I mean, if you think it’s illegal or that --

MS. HARF: I didn’t say it was illegal. I said there’s a legal dispute process here, an arbitration mechanism. There will be a legal ruling on it. I’m not making that legal determination from here.

QUESTION: So you’re not sure if it’s – the sale of Kurdish oil independent from Baghdad is legal or illegal?

MS. HARF: Correct. So we know – we have said what our – the United States position is, is that the Iraqis – people own all of Iraq’s energy resources and that the Iraqi Government and the Kurdistan Regional Government need to reach an agreement on how to manage these resources. There is separately a legal arbitration procedure that can take place if there are legal questions about oil in this – such as in this case, which is a separate question from what our policy is. And there will be a legal ruling made that’s separate from us.

QUESTION: But if you don’t – if you’re not sure if it’s legal or --

MS. HARF: It’s not that we’re not sure. It’s that there’s a separate process.

QUESTION: Yeah, there’s – it’s a separate process, but it seems to me that you are taking the side of Baghdad – or Baghdad, you are, like --

MS. HARF: Taking the side of all of Iraq, a federal Iraq.

QUESTION: Because you’re saying if the federal government does not approve of it, then the – you are discouraging U.S. firms or other international buyers from --

MS. HARF: We said there could be potential legal disputes that arise from it.

QUESTION: But you’re warning them, right?

MS. HARF: We are warning them that there could be potential legal disputes. These are commercial transaction. The U.S. Government is not involved in them. Our position, from a policy standpoint, is that Iraq’s oil belongs to all Iraqis and that the federal government and the Kurdistan Regional Government need to work together on an accommodation and come to an agreement here. And so that’s been our position for a very long time, and we do warn individual entities that there could be legal actions that come from some of these actions we’ve seen.

QUESTION: So you’re saying your position regarding Kurdistan, as it’s been reported by a couple of media outlets, has not been softened regarding Kurdistan’s export --

MS. HARF: I’m not sure exactly what – in terms of our oil?

QUESTION: Yeah, oil.

MS. HARF: Our oil position has not changed.

QUESTION: At all?

MS. HARF: Correct.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: Yes, Said.

QUESTION: In fact, your position is that all oil contracts should be done through the central government, but let me ask you --

MS. HARF: Well, I meant the central government should come to an agreement --

QUESTION: Right, yeah.

MS. HARF: -- with the Kurdistan Government about how to --

QUESTION: Exactly --

MS. HARF: -- go forward, mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Right. Yeah, I wanted to ask you if there’s any progress on the forming of the new government. Do you have any updated --

MS. HARF: Well, they selected a president and --

QUESTION: Right.

MS. HARF: -- they have up to 15 day – excuse me, up to 15 days, I think, to name candidates for prime minister. And then after that, I think up to 30 to actually form a government. I can check on the dates. But they have now a speaker, they have a president, and then next up is a prime minister.

QUESTION: Should we read from the testimony that Mr. McGurk did on Capitol Hill that you are losing patience with Mr. Maliki, you’d like to see someone else take his place?

MS. HARF: You ask this question a different way every day. We don’t support --

QUESTION: Yes.

MS. HARF: -- and I’ll give you the same answer, so let’s – for consistency, let’s do that again today. We don’t support any one candidate, any one person to be prime minister. We’ve said it needs to be someone who is interested in governing inclusively. We’ve also said we’ve had issues in the past with how Prime Minister Maliki has governed. But again, it’s not up for us to decide. It’s up for the Iraqis to decide.

QUESTION: Right. But your confidence in Maliki’s abilities to rule inclusively, as you said, is --

MS. HARF: Well, we’ve had issues in the past.

QUESTION: -- not ironclad.

MS. HARF: We’ve had issues in the past.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: Marie, I have a question on Cyprus and Turkey.

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: I asked you yesterday, if you remember.

MS. HARF: My briefing number two yesterday, yes, okay.

QUESTION: Yes, and you said – I asked you about the cases of Cyprus and Ukraine, and you said there are differences between the two.

MS. HARF: Completely different, yes.

QUESTION: Okay. But many people, they only think they see as a difference is that Russia is your enemy and Turkey is your friend.

MS. HARF: That’s --

QUESTION: You are speaking against Russia; you don’t say anything to Turkey.

MS. HARF: That’s completely ridiculous. We’re not seeing passenger planes shot down over Cyprus, okay? These are completely different. The UN has in place a Good Offices Mission that has an ongoing process under the auspices of that mission to work on the Cyprus issue. We’ve urged both parties to seize the opportunity to make real and substantial progress towards a settlement that unifies – reunifies the island as a bizonal, bicommunal federation, and we’ve said we’re willing to assist in any way the parties find useful. Again, these are completely different situations. There is an active conflict zone in Ukraine. Cyprus is wholly different for a number of reasons. The UN is leading this effort here and we can support that in any way we can.

QUESTION: Marie --

QUESTION: But Turkey has 40,000 troops in Cyprus right now – 40,000 troops. And I think the Russians, they have a few thousands only. This is --

MS. HARF: They’re in no way comparable. I just reject the comparison.

QUESTION: Okay, but can I ask you something? Can I ask you another something?

MS. HARF: You can.

QUESTION: Do you consider --

QUESTION: Hold on a second, hold on. Do you accept the premise of his question that Russia is your enemy?

MS. HARF: Well, no. I would also disagree with that part.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: I was going through all of the various parts I disagree with.

QUESTION: But do you consider what Cyprus --

MS. HARF: We disagree over Ukraine.

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: Do you consider what Turkey did in 1974 against Cyprus invasion or something else?

MS. HARF: I’m not going to go down the historical path here with you. I said what the path forward looks like. And I would disagree with the notion that Russia is our enemy, thank you.

QUESTION: Can I ask you something else?

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: The Vice President of the United States Mr. Biden spoke two, three weeks ago about the situation in Cyprus, and he said this, and I quote: There is nothing negotiable about two elements: one, no Turkish soldiers should have set foot on the island without being invited by the government; and second, there is only one government on the island. Do the State Department share this position on Cyprus?

MS. HARF: I didn’t see the Vice President’s comments there. I just made clear what our position is, and I’m not in the policy of disagreeing with the Vice President. So with that, what else?

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MS. HARF: What?

QUESTION: That’s it. Not to disagree with the Vice President.

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: I have a question about the Washington Post reporter and the other journalists detained in Iran. Has the Interests Section – the U.S. Interests Section with the Swiss Embassy in Tehran been able to make contact with them? Do you have anything new on that?

MS. HARF: So we are concerned about reports that three U.S. citizens have recently been detained in Iran, including Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, along with the non-U.S. citizen spouse of one of the three. So I just wanted to be clear there are three U.S. citizens involved here. We aren’t able to comment further at this time due to privacy considerations. As you know, our highest priority is the safety and welfare of U.S. citizens abroad. In general, in any case involving the detention of a U.S. citizen in Iran, we would work with our protecting power, Switzerland, to request appropriate consular services. And again, I don’t have further details to share at this time because of privacy.

QUESTION: But does that mean that they had visited and they have not – and the detainees had not signed a Privacy Act waiver, or does that mean that the Swiss have not yet been notified or they’ve been notified but they have not yet been able to go?

MS. HARF: I don’t have further details about the case to share at this point because of privacy considerations.

QUESTION: Right, but you should be able to say at least whether the Swiss have been notified by the Iranians that these people have been detained.

MS. HARF: Well, the Iranians – you’ve seen reports that the Iranian officials have confirmed publicly some of the detentions.

QUESTION: Yeah, but that doesn’t mean that they --

MS. HARF: I don’t have further details, Matt, that I’m able to share.

QUESTION: -- formally gone to the Swiss.

QUESTION: Marie --

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: I think that again, the Privacy Act is being over-used. I don’t see why you can’t say if the Iranians have told the Swiss that these people have been detained.

MS. HARF: I think I’ll let the Iranians speak for themselves.

Yes.

QUESTION: Is the Secretary returning tonight to Washington?

MS. HARF: We don’t have any travel updates. He’ll be speaking from Cairo, and I don’t know exactly when he’ll be returning to Washington.

QUESTION: But if in fact the Israelis rejected, which they did, he would have no reason to stay, would he?

MS. HARF: Guys, I haven’t even seen that announcement. It’s happened since I’ve been up here. I have no predictions about the Secretary’s travel. I have given up making those a long time ago.

Yes, in the back.

QUESTION: Ukraine.

QUESTION: Sorry. The UN says 250,000 Ukrainians have left their homes; most of them went to Russia. Do you see it as humanitarian crisis or just – not so long ago answering a similar question, you said they could be going to Russia to visit their grandmother. Do you see it as a humanitarian crisis as it is now?

MS. HARF: Well, I have – I can’t confirm those numbers. I quite frankly haven’t seen that from my UN reports, so I’m happy to fact-check that for you and see if we can confirm what we think the numbers are.

We know there’s a humanitarian crisis here that’s been – that’s arisen that didn’t occur there before because of what the Russian-backed separatists have done in the region. Obviously, when there’s active fighting, when you have separatists like we’ve seen shooting down airplanes, attacking innocent people, there’s going to be a humanitarian situation. So we’ve seen that occur. I can see if I have exact numbers for you. I just don’t have them in front of me.

QUESTION: Are you saying that (inaudible) had no role in escalating the crisis? Around 300 civilians have died in the shellings.

MS. HARF: I mean, I think there’s absolutely no equivalency here. Ukraine is a country with borders that Russia violated. It’s not about not having a role. Russia --

QUESTION: Are you saying that, still, Kyiv had no role in escalating the crisis going – moving forward? It has --

MS. HARF: Kyiv has a --

QUESTION: It’s just Russia. Are you just blaming Russia in the whole --

MS. HARF: Yes, it – yes, because Russia invaded a foreign country. The Ukrainians have a responsibility and a duty to protect their citizens and their territory, which is what they’re doing. Russia should de-escalate, move back, and stop backing separatists who are taking down Ukrainian planes – fighter jets, as we’ve seen – and are attacking innocent civilians.

QUESTION: Marie --

QUESTION: Also --

QUESTION: -- your ambassador at NATO has said that there are now 15,000 Russian troops massed on the border. Are you in a position to repeat or elaborate on that?

MS. HARF: Yeah, we have seen troops massing at the border, as we’ve seen in the past. I have no reason to disagree with those numbers, yeah.

QUESTION: Okay.

Yesterday, after the briefing in which you said that there was artillery fire coming from Russian territory into Ukraine, and also that the Russians intended to provide the separatists with heavier --

MS. HARF: Multiple rocket launchers.

QUESTION: Right, multiple – with heavier multiple rocket launchers. After the briefing, Ambassador Rice tweeted out very similar or exact – pretty much the same thing. And now this morning --

MS. HARF: I wasn’t going rogue up here, I promise.

QUESTION: No, I don’t – I’m not saying you were. And then this morning, or earlier today, I’m sure you know the Pentagon also said that there was evidence that these --

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: -- new, heavier, more powerful systems were going in. I asked – had asked you yesterday if you could be more specific, at least about – if you couldn’t get into the intelligence about it, if you could identify – say what these systems are.

So I’d like to repeat that question, but also ask you if you can be more – if you can elaborate on what it is that makes you believe that this is – that this allegation is actually factual and true.

MS. HARF: Well, we’ve seen indications that this is the case. We felt strongly enough to talk about it publicly. I can’t underline the information that had led to that assessment. We don’t have specifics about what those systems might look like to outline, but again, we’re continuing to watch, continuing to gather information. And as we do, we’ll attempt to share it.

QUESTION: At the Pentagon, the officials say that these are 200-caliber multiple rocket launcher systems. Is that --

MS. HARF: I don’t have that detail in front of me. I don’t have a reason to disagree with it; I just don’t have that in front of me.

QUESTION: Okay. So two day --

MS. HARF: I’m happy to check if I can confirm that.

QUESTION: Okay. Two days ago, there was a report in a Ukrainian newspaper, which I have here, which talked about Tornados, which are what – are these 200-caliber multiple rocket launcher systems going into Ukraine from Russia. Is this what the intelligence is?

MS. HARF: That’s certainly not what we could consider intelligence that underlies our assessments. I also don’t have the 200-caliber detail in front of me. I’m happy to check and see on that specifically.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: Obviously, we make these assessments not based on any one piece of information, even classified information. It’s on a range of information. That would certainly not underpin an intelligence assessment, Matt.

QUESTION: Okay. Well – okay, that’s good to know. But you can’t offer us what it is, aside from --

MS. HARF: We don’t have more to – we don’t --

QUESTION: I mean, do you know if this report played any role in --

MS. HARF: I – let me check on that specific piece.

QUESTION: I have it for you. I can give it to you.

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: I just got it, so --

MS. HARF: Okay. Let me check on that.

And again, I didn’t --

QUESTION: But it’s from – but it is from two days ago, and it says that – it says what you’re saying, but it’s not – clearly not an intelligence report, and because in the past you have cited social media and open-source reporting --

MS. HARF: As part of the assessment.

QUESTION: I understand that. I just want to make sure that this, or this kind of thing, is not the only thing that you’re going on.

MS. HARF: Having been an intelligence analyst, believe me --

QUESTION: All right.

MS. HARF: -- intelligence assessments are based on much more than just that.

QUESTION: Good. Well --

MS. HARF: And before we go public with them, we make sure we have multiple sources to back things up.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: Marie --

QUESTION: Well, I mean, I hope so. But the problem is is that you can’t --

MS. HARF: But you don’t trust us. It’s not that I don’t trust you; it’s that the world doesn’t --

QUESTION: It’s not a question of – it’s not a question of --

MS. HARF: I can almost ask the questions for you.

QUESTION: No, it’s not a question of me – of trust. It’s a question of whether you can back up your – what you’re --

MS. HARF: We’ve put out – we continued to put out information, Matt. We will continue to do so.

QUESTION: I know.

MS. HARF: It is difficult, and we’re happy to put out as much as we can. And we are trying to. And throughout this conflict, I think you’ve seen us display a very high level of credibility in terms of what we’ve said is happening on the ground. The Russians have been the exact opposite. So again, that doesn’t – that’s not the entire ballgame there, but we will attempt to put out more as we can.

QUESTION: Was there --

QUESTION: All right. And then – and just on the artillery that you’ve talked about, the – Russia claims that the Ukrainians are also firing artillery into Russia.

MS. HARF: Well, we obviously take seriously reports of alleged Ukrainian fire into Russia. We don’t – have seen no indications of Ukraine firing back into Russia, so are unable to confirm these reports at this time. Again, the number of Russian troops across – along the border continues to steadily increase. We have seen that in the past few days, but have seen no indications that the Ukrainians have fired back.

QUESTION: Do you have --

MS. HARF: We will continue looking into it.

QUESTION: Do you know if you – if there are people there who can – that you – Americans whether – from whatever agency of government who are – can say with certainty that --

MS. HARF: Well --

QUESTION: -- there hasn’t been any firing into Russia?

MS. HARF: We have a variety of ways that we can see what’s going on on the ground – a variety of different kinds of intelligence, not just of the human variety but of a number of different varieties. I’m not going to say which, if any, of those we’re getting information from. Not going to go into that in any way.

QUESTION: All right. But just to put a fine point on it, you are convinced that the Russians are shelling Ukrainian positions, and it’s Russians who are – Russian soldiers who are doing it, not rebels. Or --

MS. HARF: From locations within Russia --

QUESTION: Okay. You don’t know who is pushing the button to fire the --

MS. HARF: Right. From --

QUESTION: But it’s from Russian territory.

MS. HARF: Correct. Correct.

QUESTION: So you are convinced that artillery from Russian territory is hitting Ukrainian --

MS. HARF: Is going into – yes.

QUESTION: Going into Ukraine.

MS. HARF: Aiming at Ukrainian military outposts.

QUESTION: But you are not convinced – you can’t confirm --

MS. HARF: We have seen no indications.

QUESTION: You’ve seen no indication that the opposite is true, that Ukrainians are sending --

MS. HARF: Correct. Correct.

QUESTION: All right.

QUESTION: Is it one incident or two incidents or is this happening --

MS. HARF: I don’t have a number.

QUESTION: All right. I mean, how often – how many times did it happen?

MS. HARF: I don’t have a number for you, Said. I’m happy to see if we can share that.

QUESTION: But isn’t this like – almost like an act of war? Would something like this likely to be brought up at a Security Council forum or something?

MS. HARF: Well, I don’t have anything to predict in terms of where we might discuss this further. But look, we’ve made very clear our concerns with it.

QUESTION: And then in terms of the sanctions that you – yesterday, I can’t remember if this came up in the brief, but the Europeans did --

MS. HARF: I think it came up briefly.

QUESTION: Do you have anything more to say about that?

MS. HARF: I don’t.

QUESTION: Do you have anything more to say about what the U.S. might do now, particularly because you’ve made some pretty serious allegations about an escalation?

MS. HARF: I don’t have anything to predict for you. We’re looking at a variety of options.

QUESTION: All right. And to date, since this crisis began and since Crimea was annexed --

MS. HARF: Seems like a long time ago, doesn’t it?

QUESTION: Right. You have – the U.S. and Europe, to an extent, have imposed increasing sanctions on Russia. As a result of those or as not a result of those, have you seen any change in the Russian position?

MS. HARF: Well, we’ve certainly seen it have an impact on the Russian economy.

QUESTION: No, apart – I understand that.

MS. HARF: I was getting there.

QUESTION: Have you seen – these were steps taken to change President Putin and the Russian Government’s calculus, correct?

MS. HARF: Well, I’d make two points. The first is we don’t know and can’t say for certain what he would have done if we hadn’t done them, right, if he would’ve taken even more escalatory steps. We did see a number of troops amassing on the border months ago that then were gradually pulled back. So again, it’s – you can’t prove a negative, right? But we haven’t --

QUESTION: Right. But you also can’t prove that he wouldn’t – that it wouldn’t have escalated either.

MS. HARF: That’s right.

QUESTION: So there are two sides to that coin.

MS. HARF: No, no, no. I’m not saying – I’m just saying we can’t assume that he would have done – that he’s done as much as he would have done regardless. But we haven’t seen a de-escalation like we need to in eastern Ukraine or, of course, in Crimea, which we still believe is part of Ukraine. So clearly, it hasn’t changed what President Putin has done in that regard, but we’re going to keep working at it. And sanctions work best the longer they’re in place. So --

QUESTION: But – okay. So the fact that Russia has not only not changed its approach according to you but also escalated its activity as you’ve been saying over the last couple days does not give you pause about whether sanctions are effective?

MS. HARF: No. Not at all. They’ve been incredibly effective against the economy, and again they’re – President Putin has a choice here. He can increasingly become isolated from the international economic system if he wants to continue this escalation, or he can do the opposite.

QUESTION: All right. And then on the crash investigation, do you have anything --

MS. HARF: Let me see what I have on that for you. Hold on one second.

We do support the efforts of the Dutch and the Australians who have offered their support to the Ukrainians to secure the site with a small police force. It’s my understanding I think they’ll be arriving in the coming days. Obviously, we think that more needs to be done. I think it’s a contingent of around 40 Dutch police officers will arrive in the coming days. So obviously, that’s a key concern right now is securing the site, and of course, returning the rest of the remains to their families.

QUESTION: So as far as you’re concerned, at the moment that’s still a work in progress. That has not been done. Okay, and then my last one --

MS. HARF: It’s been – but we do – the separatists are still in control of the area. We’re concerned about looting. So --

QUESTION: My last one on this. A bunch of German lawmakers had talked about maybe having the World Cup stripped from – Russia’s supposed to host the next one. Does the U.S. – does the Administration have any position on whether --

MS. HARF: I do not know if we have a position on that. I’m happy to check.

QUESTION: Okay. Could you check? It’s been – the idea has been rejected by FIFA, but I’m just --

MS. HARF: Yeah. I’m --

QUESTION: -- wondering if you have a position on this.

MS. HARF: I’m happy to check.

QUESTION: Okay. Thank you.

MS. HARF: What else? Let’s move on.

Yes, Said.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) journalists. Yesterday – about Graham Phillips, British journalist – yesterday you were saying that Kyiv tells you that they don’t have him, and now Ukrainian news agencies are saying that he was interrogated by the Ukrainian security service, and he was kicked out of the country for three years.

MS. HARF: We don’t have any independent corroboration of that. We’ve seen those reports, but we cannot confirm that. We’re still checking into it.

QUESTION: But do you believe everything that Kyiv tells you?

MS. HARF: No, we independently corroborate things, and I said I couldn’t independently corroborate that.

Yes.

QUESTION: Can we move onto the Algerian –

MS. HARF: You can, Said.

QUESTION: -- airliner. No one has asked about it. Do you have any information on what happened? I mean, could it have been shot out of the sky?

MS. HARF: Well, the cause of the crash has not yet been determined. Preliminary reports indicate that severe and dangerous weather in the region may have played a part. We have – our embassies in Algeria, Mali, and Burkina Faso are in close contact with authorities there, and we’ve offered to assist, but it looks at this point like it may have been weather.

QUESTION: Okay, so more than likely it’s an accident.

MS. HARF: More than likely, yes.

QUESTION: Were there any Americans on the flight?

MS. HARF: No, there were none.

Anything else? Yes, in the back.

QUESTION: Thank you. Assistant Secretary Tom Countryman will be traveling to Korea next week for another round of talks to revise the 123 Agreement, and that the main sticking point in these negotiations has been the U.S. reluctance to allow South Korea to enrich uranium or reprocess spent nuclear fuel. And earlier this month, Dr. Henry Sokolski, who is a renowned nonproliferation expert, told a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing that it is very unfair and even reckless for the United States to allow Japan to enrich and reprocess while banning South Korea from doing so. So my question is: Why do you treat these two important allies differently? And what is the difference between Korea and Japan in terms of proliferation risk? Thank you.

MS. HARF: Well, they’re both very close allies, and I don’t want to get ahead of the conversations that Mr. Countryman will be having on the ground. I’m happy to check with him and see what the latest status of the discussions are. I’m not sure I would fully agree with your characterization of what the sticking points are and how they remain. I just want to check that with him. And if we have more details we can share ahead of his trip or during his trip, we’ll get back to you with them.

Yes. Anything else? Everyone, have a very nice weekend. We will see you next week.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:07 p.m.)

DPB # 130


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Categories: News Pit Feeds

Daily Press Briefings : Daily Press Briefing - July 24, 2014

Thu, 07/24/2014 - 17:09

Marie Harf
Deputy Spokesperson
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
July 24, 2014

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TRANSCRIPT:

1:16 p.m. EDT

MS. HARF: Good afternoon, welcome to the daily briefing. I have a few items at the top. Excuse me.

First, a short-term and a long-term travel update. The Secretary is in Cairo, as you know. Tonight he’s expected to meet with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Don’t have more details on his meetings there, but in terms of calls he’s made today, he’s spoken with Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu several times, the Egyptian foreign minister, the German Foreign Minister Steinmeier, EU High Rep Ashton, the Qatari foreign minister twice, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, the French and the UK foreign ministers and foreign secretaries as well, Jordanian Foreign Minister Judeh. He also spoke with the foreign minister of Norway and Ukrainian Prime Minister Yatsenyuk. These were on a range of issues – Ukraine, Gaza – but I wanted to update folks on the calls he’s made.

Now a longer-term travel update, which seems long-term to us at this moment. Secretary Kerry will travel to New Delhi for the fifth U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue, which he will co-chair with the Indian minister of external affairs on July 31st. Secretary Kerry will be accompanied by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker who will lead discussions to strengthen economic ties between the U.S. and India, as well as other members of the interagency, including the Department of Energy, Department of Homeland Security, and NASA. This visit will mark the first U.S. cabinet-level visit to New Delhi since the new Indian Government was elected. It underscores the enormous strategic importance of the U.S.-India relationship and our hopes for the future of the relationship. As the Obama Administration engages with the Modi government, the U.S. and India will hold discussions on the full range of bilateral and regional issues, including counterterrorism efforts, regional security initiatives, people-to-people ties, and other crucial facets of our strategic partnership. We will announce additional details about Secretary Kerry’s meetings and the composition of the U.S. delegation as they become available and as we get closer.

And finally, we have a group in the back that I wanted to welcome. It’s a group of, I think, interns from USAID. Welcome to the briefing. Thanks for being here. I hope it’s – I don’t know, informative and interesting for you all, but we’re happy to have you here as interns and welcome to the briefing.

So with that, Matt, kick us off.

QUESTION: So – all right, first, I think it’s Pritzker, with a K.

MS. HARF: A Z and a K, both.

QUESTION: Yes.

MS. HARF: Yeah. I worked with her closely during the campaign.

QUESTION: Yes. Okay. Let’s start with the Middle East. You’ve seen the reports of the attack by whoever on this UNRWA school. I realize I think Jen had spoken to this in Cairo, but --

MS. HARF: She has.

QUESTION: -- would you like to --

MS. HARF: I’m happy to reiterate what she said.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: We are deeply saddened and concerned about the tragic incident at the UN Relief and Works Agency, or UNRWA, school, and about the rising civilian death toll in Gaza. We convey our deepest condolences to the families of those killed and injured in this incident, as well as the UN staff. We again urge all parties to redouble their efforts to protect civilians. Of course, this also underscores the need to end the violence, to achieve a sustainable ceasefire, which the Secretary is obviously working around the clock on right now currently in Cairo.

UN facilities in Gaza are sheltering more than a 140,000 Palestinians, including many innocent children – must remain safe and neutral sanctuaries for fleeing civilians, and call on all parties to protect these facilities from the conflict. We have condemned those responsible for hiding weapons in UN facilities in Gaza, obviously urge all parties to respect civilian life.

QUESTION: Israel has made the argument that it – that a civilian facility is a legitimate target under the rules of war if it is being used as a storage point or a place where weapons are kept or a place to launch attacks. They have said in this case that they warned the people who were there, and the UN, that this – what’s your understanding of the – or maybe you could look into it if you don’t know off-hand – if in fact a warning is given like this and people are either – either don’t obey a warning or they’re prevented from obeying a warning, is it still a legitimate target to go after?

MS. HARF: I’m happy to check with our legal folks, Matt. I don’t want to make a legal judgment from the podium. As we’ve said, everyone should take care to protect civilian casualties in this conflict, period, but let me see if I can get you some sort of legal answer on that.

QUESTION: All right. Do you still believe that the Israelis are taking – are making efforts to prevent civilian casualties?

MS. HARF: We do. But again, as I said, I think over the past several days we think they could take additional steps to protect civilian casualties. That remains the case.

QUESTION: Marie --

QUESTION: I want to --

MS. HARF: Oh, wait. Hold on.

QUESTION: Yeah, I want to go to --

MS. HARF: Let me do – and then, Said, you’re next.

QUESTION: I just want to go back. Were you – yesterday, the United States was the lone no vote in the Human Rights Commission. Were you able to find out what exactly about the resolution it was that you found to be unfair?

MS. HARF: Well, I said what exactly it was. I didn’t have specific language from the resolution, but I said that it was the one-sided and biased nature of it, given what the resolution was looking at. I don’t have specific language --

QUESTION: But --

MS. HARF: -- from it to point out for you, but it was only looking at Israel, of course, which we believe is a one-sided resolution and inquiry, and we do not support those.

QUESTION: Even though it also – even though it would also condemn Hamas?

MS. HARF: We do not support it for that reason, Matt.

QUESTION: But presumably you would have if it had –

MS. HARF: I don’t want to get into a hypothetical. We did not support this, and we’ve seen other one-sided and biased resolutions coming out of here in the past, which we have also spoken out against.

QUESTION: All right. And then the last thing from me is we’re going to go back to this FAA and Travel Warning and Senator Cruz –

MS. HARF: I could have guessed that.

QUESTION: -- and his hold on – what happened? It does not appear that there – that the area around Ben Gurion Airport is any more safe than it was two days ago now. You have said – flat-out rejected that the – that your Travel Warning and the FAA ban, it was politically motivated in the first place, and I presume that you will make the argument that the rescinding of the ban is not political either. However, there was quite a –

MS. HARF: I won’t just make the argument. I will state that as fact, because it was not.

QUESTION: Okay. But there was quite a chorus of criticism yesterday when the ban was extended.

MS. HARF: In certain places.

QUESTION: Right, but I mean it wasn’t just Senator Cruz. It was AIPAC as well. It was – and it was others in the pro-Israel community.

MS. HARF: I wouldn’t call that a chorus. I’d call that some voices, but go on.

QUESTION: Well, I don’t know. AIPAC is a pretty big organization. And whether or not –

MS. HARF: I’m familiar with them.

QUESTION: It may – it’s arguable about whether Senator Cruz is an expert in aviation safety, but he is –

MS. HARF: I think that’s arguable.

QUESTION: But he is –

MS. HARF: I doubt he is.

QUESTION: But he is a U.S. senator.

MS. HARF: He is. That is true.

QUESTION: What – I mean, what –

MS. HARF: Let me just give you a little back story here.

QUESTION: What is it –

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. What’s new?

QUESTION: What is it about the decision to rescind it that is not political in nature?

MS. HARF: Well, nothing about it is political in nature. The FAA made this decision after careful consultation with other counterparts in the U.S. Government after assessing the security situation, and there are, in part, two new things there, and they had this in their statement, but let me highlight them. The first is that there was significant new information about the threat, new information/intelligence about the threat, which they took into account, which led to the rescinding of this notice, and also measures – new measures the Government of Israel put in place to mitigate potential risks to civilian aircraft and aviation. So these were two new steps that weren’t in place 48 hours ago when this first was put into place, these restrictions were. Those steps have been taken, so the FAA felt the restrictions could be lifted.

QUESTION: But is there anything that you or the FAA might be able to point to specifically that would ease the concerns of the traveling public? Yesterday you said that if you were a passenger on a plane flying into Ben Gurion, you would be nervous about landing there.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: So why should you as a passenger flying into Ben Gurion today –

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- rather than yesterday or the day before, be any less concerned or any less nervous?

MS. HARF: As I just said, the Israeli Government has taken further mitigation steps to mitigate the threat, and we have new information and intelligence indicating that it is now – we believe the judgment that it is safe for American airlines to fly into Ben Gurion.

QUESTION: But this is another – these are more – this is more intelligence, stuff that we’re not ever going to find out about. I mean why should I be convinced as a traveler that it’s now safe when it –

MS. HARF: Well, I think you should trust in the FAA that they – look, you can’t on the one hand argue they’ve too overzealous in warning people about safety, and then suddenly they’re not anymore. Both things can’t be true. Look, the FAA takes very seriously its responsibility to warn and put restrictions in place when there are security issues. That’s what they did here. When they believed they were sufficiently mitigated and that new information had emerged, that’s when they removed them.

QUESTION: You may be right that both of those things can’t be true, but if they’re not – if they’re both not true, then it leaves open that the –

MS. HARF: I would say neither were true actually.

QUESTION: Well, if neither are true, then it leaves open that the – the argument that it could have been – either one or both could have been political in nature. Do you not see that?

MS. HARF: I am categorically standing up here and saying – I don’t know how much stronger I can be. Neither the decision to put the Notice to Airmen in place by the FAA or the decision to rescind it last night had anything to do with politics.

QUESTION: Does the State Department have any plan now that it’s safe to fly into Ben Gurion to ease –

MS. HARF: To update our Travel Warning?

QUESTION: -- its Travel Warning?

MS. HARF: I can check. Not that I’ve heard of. We constantly are reviewing our security information and make decisions as that arises.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: I can check.

QUESTION: My last one: Senator Cruz has not yet said that he’s going to lift the holds or – if he goes –

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: If he insists on getting answers to his questions and won’t lift these holds until he does, what exactly – from your point – from the State Department’s point of view, what is the damage of that?

MS. HARF: Well, look, first I would suggest he actually contact the agency that put this in place, which is the FAA and not the State Department. So it’s a little confusing to me why he would choose to put holds on nominees at an agency that didn’t have anything to do with the decision for the FAA to do this, A. B, as I said last night, there’s no place for these kinds of purely political stunts, and confirming people for critical national security positions – you’ve heard the Secretary speak over the last few weeks about the fact that we have a number of ambassadorial nominees who are being held up by the Senate for a variety of reasons. We’ve seen some start to move forward, but it shouldn’t take a crisis, and it shouldn’t take prodding from the Secretary like we’ve had to see, for the Senate to uphold its obligation here.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: Period. So obviously, we would strongly disagree if Senator Cruz were to continue with his hold.

QUESTION: Okay. And you just said in your – in that answer that the State Department had nothing to do with the FAA decision. Is that --

MS. HARF: It’s purely an FAA --

QUESTION: So there was no consultation, or you’re just saying there was – that you didn’t have any input into it?

MS. HARF: Correct, it’s a decision made by the FAA. Obviously, they talk to us and we said we talked to the Israeli Government about it. We’re more of a facilitator role, quite frankly, in linking up the FAA with the proper aviation authorities and security officials in Israel. That’s really the role we play. But again, it’s just sort of odd to me that there would be holds put on nominees at a wholly separate organization from where this decision was made.

QUESTION: Marie, on the bombing of the girls’ school in Beit Hanoun --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- Chris Gunness, the head of UNRWA in Gaza, said that he called the Israelis and gave them exactly the coordinates and told them that there is a lot of people, but then they went ahead and bombed it with artillery, which really can tear things to pieces and shreds. And so you will not condemn this act by the Israelis?

MS. HARF: I think I was just very clear, Said, about how saddened and concerned and how --

QUESTION: I understand that you’re sad.

MS. HARF: -- about this tragic incident. I don’t think I could be more concerned than I just expressed. We are still looking into all the facts. Let’s not jump to conclusions before we have all the facts. But clearly, we’re concerned by what happened here.

QUESTION: If it is proven that the Israelis have attacked this school knowing full well that there is all civilians, no rockets whatsoever, will you then condemn the Israeli action?

MS. HARF: I don’t have any predictions to make about what we’ll see in the coming days.

QUESTION: Okay. And just to go on a little bit, but this can go on for a number of days from now. There are schools, there are hospitals, there are places, and so on. Are you issuing a very strong statement to the Israelis warning them or telling them in no uncertain terms that these targets are not to be struck or hit?

MS. HARF: Said, I think what we’re saying is they need to do more to protect civilian casualties. I would also call on Hamas to stop hiding rockets in schools and stop hiding rockets in hospitals. They are putting the Palestinian people in danger. So I would call on them to move their rockets out of these civilian areas.

QUESTION: So --

QUESTION: But you are aware that civilian – or the casualties in Gaza have now gone beyond – there’s 750 killed, maybe close to 4,000 injured and so on. So they are not basically doing what you call on them to do, so will --

MS. HARF: Well, I will keep calling on them to do more.

QUESTION: But what if they don’t listen to you? Are you willing to take any kind of action if they keep turning a deaf ear to what you are calling on them to do?

MS. HARF: Well, what we’re focused on, Said, is getting a ceasefire here because we want to see the casualties on both sides stop. That’s why the Secretary is focused so much on getting an end to the violence here, because we want all of these people to no longer be in harm’s way.

QUESTION: On the ceasefire, there has been talk, or an idea thrown around, that perhaps the model for 2006 during the war between Israel and Hezbollah, which is Resolution 1701, could work as a basis for a ceasefire, in this case with Gaza, which would result in the same thing – that Hezbollah moved out their – the Lebanese army took over that area and so on. And in this case it would allow the Palestinian Authority to exert its authority over Gaza. Would this something be --

MS. HARF: You ask the same question a different way every day. As I said, we’ve talked about --

QUESTION: No, I’ve said – no, it’s a different resolution. I mean, I asked you --

MS. HARF: I understand that, but --

QUESTION: -- about 1860 yesterday, but --

MS. HARF: Right, but I said we’ve talked about the 2012 ceasefire --

QUESTION: Right.

MS. HARF: -- as sort of a model for what we’re working on, but I’m not going to get into the details of what might be acceptable under the current ceasefire we’re negotiating.

QUESTION: Okay. But this formula can bring about a longer and more sustainable ceasefire, and it would give your moderate allies among the Palestinians, the Palestinian Authority, some sort of a say-so in Gaza, wouldn’t it?

MS. HARF: Again, I’m not going to do assessments or analysis on any ideas. The Secretary is on the ground talking about what a ceasefire might look like with different parties and different partners, and I think I’ll leave the conversations in that room.

Yes.

QUESTION: Sorry, I have a follow-up just really quick to what Said asked. Just to be clear, when you say you’re calling on Hamas to stop housing rockets in schools and hospitals, two questions with that. One, do you know for sure – just as Said asked yesterday – that rockets were being hidden or --

MS. HARF: In this specific --

QUESTION: -- fired from this specific --

MS. HARF: I don’t. Let me check and see if I can get that level of detail.

QUESTION: And my second question would be just to understand – the United States policy is that you hold Israel and Hamas, which has been classified as a terrorist organization, to the same standard?

MS. HARF: That’s not at all what I was saying. I’m not sure where you got that. But what we’ve said is Hamas is a terrorist organization --

QUESTION: Right.

MS. HARF: ­-- and that they should stop firing rockets into Israel; that we are working on a ceasefire to see if we can get some resolution to this here, at least temporarily. But look, we’ve talked with – Israel has a right to defend itself. Nothing Hamas do – does here can be in any way justified, period. Israel has a right to defend itself when its citizens are living under the threat of rockets, but we have at the same time said they need to do more to protect civilian casualties.

QUESTION: And what kinds of things have you suggested that they do?

MS. HARF: I don’t have more specifics to share with you, but we have that conversation with them.

QUESTION: Wait, Marie, you said --

QUESTION: Marie --

QUESTION: Marie, you said earlier --

MS. HARF: Wait, let’s all – one at a time.

QUESTION: You said, I believe on Monday, that the hope was to try to get some sort of ceasefire in place before the end of Ramadan. Is that still --

MS. HARF: Well, I said as soon as possible.

QUESTION: Yeah, but is that still looking realistic?

MS. HARF: This is very complicated. It is a tough issue. We’re on the ground working through these issues, but it is very complicated. I don’t have predictions to make for how long this will take, but I think all you have to do is look at what’s happening on the ground to see that this needs to happen as soon as possible.

QUESTION: What about the ongoing discussion about dealing with these tunnels? Is that something that should be folded into the terms of the actual ceasefire, or should that be a phase-two if a simple agreement to stop firing at each other is what is in the scope of the first deal?

MS. HARF: Well, I’m not going to outline what might be acceptable as part of a ceasefire in any way. They’re having those discussions privately, and I think I’ll, as I said, leave them there.

QUESTION: Well, I’m asking only because Israel has said repeatedly that it doesn’t see any point in stopping its operation until it knows that these tunnels can’t be used to launch attacks on its people.

MS. HARF: I understand why you’re asking, but again, I don’t want to get into the specific details we’re discussing internally and privately with the parties right now to see if we can get to a ceasefire.

QUESTION: Just to follow up quickly?

QUESTION: Just a couple of things to follow up.

MS. HARF: Yep.

QUESTION: Number one: On the ceasefire, my understanding that you have been saying for a while that you wanted to go to the November 2012 ceasefire agreement.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. We said that publicly, but that’s a basis for what we’re discussing.

QUESTION: Right. But in the ceasefire, basically they’ve been asking for Israel to lift the siege on Gaza. So – and this is exactly what Hamas and Khaled Mashaal have said yesterday in the press conference, that no stopping of a ceasefire unless there is a lifting of the siege on Gaza. So these two things go parallel. So is this – I mean, your understanding that is basically this is – the U.S. supports this position.

MS. HARF: Well, no I didn’t say that. I said in general that’s what we’re – that’s the basis for what we’re looking at, but I’m not going to get into any specifics about what that might look like. We’re talking about that on the ground, but I’m just not going to entertain --

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: -- any different ideas or comments on them.

QUESTION: But do you think this is the point – the sticking point, that this is why they are not reaching a ceasefire so far?

MS. HARF: Again, I’m not – I don’t think I’m going to comment on those private --

QUESTION: The details?

MS. HARF: -- diplomatic discussions.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: Yes, quickly.

QUESTION: On something else, on the school in – the UNRWA school. Can you share with us what kind of evidence you have that Hamas has systematically been using civilians as human shields, and whether they’ve been using hospitals and schools, as the Israelis been saying, systematically to fire rockets? Or was it one isolated incident that the UN reported last week?

MS. HARF: Certainly not one isolated incident. I think we’ve seen over the years that Hamas has used --

QUESTION: Well, not the years, but in this particular war, I’m asking.

MS. HARF: Well – okay. But that continues, that we’ve seen them use hospitals and schools. I could not confirm that this school itself was used to house rockets or fighters. I’m happy to check on those specifics. I don’t want to make it look like I’m confirming that, because I’m not, but we have seen this as a Hamas tactic for many years, but also in this conflict. So I will check and see on this specific school.

QUESTION: So you believe that they have systematically used the schools and hospitals? It’s not just isolated incidents?

MS. HARF: That is my understanding. Let me see if there’s a little more detail I can put behind that.

QUESTION: Okay. And just to go back to the original incidents that started the whole conflict, you said before that you have some evidence that Hamas were behind the kidnapping of the three Israeli teens. Do you stand by this now? Do you have more evidence that actually Hamas were involved in that?

MS. HARF: Let me check on where that investigation is. Let me – the Israelis, obviously, are leading it. The Palestinian Authority’s been working with the Israelis on the investigation. I don’t have an update, so let me check with our team on the ground and see if there is one.

QUESTION: Okay, I appreciate it.

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: Just a quick follow-up.

QUESTION: May I just follow up on this particular incident.

MS. HARF: Uh-huh. Yes.

QUESTION: This latest round that began before the kidnapping – the kidnapping occurred on the 12th of June, and in fact the Israelis bombed Gaza on the 9th of June. So when you say Israel has a right to defend itself, it was – in this latest run – I don’t want to talk about the siege and that the siege is an act of war – but even in this latest round, it was begun by the Israelis. Are you aware of that?

MS. HARF: I’m not placing blame here, Said. You can feel free to do that, but I’m not going to.

QUESTION: Just quick follow-up now.

MS. HARF: Yes, uh-huh.

QUESTION: As far as this conflict, it’s going on for a long time and innocent people have been killed. And if Hamas is a terrorist organization, do you also consider they’re a part of the government? And if so, then what is the solution for once and forever to have a lasting peace and stability in the region? Because whole world is so – attention is there once every few months or few years.

MS. HARF: Well, that’s – there’s a couple different questions in there. In terms of what we’re looking at right now, look, we know what the reality is in terms of Gaza and who is in control of Gaza. That being said, we consider Hamas a terrorist organization and do not talk to them, do not have contact with them. So as we negotiate a ceasefire, we obviously talk to the Egyptians and the Israelis and the PA and the Qataris and the Emiratis, other people are talking to Hamas about how we could possibly get a ceasefire in place.

But it is, going back to Said’s question, the responsibility of Hamas to stop firing rockets. They are the ones responsible here for the breakdown in security that we’ve seen. If this terrorist organization were not lobbing rockets into Israel, we wouldn’t see what we’re seeing today. So I think that’s where the blame lies here. I think that we’ll keep working with the parties to see if we can get a ceasefire.

QUESTION: So what role the UN is playing to stop terrorizing the people?

MS. HARF: I’m sorry, the UN or the U.S.?

QUESTION: UN.

MS. HARF: So Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has been also doing some shuttle diplomacy in the region. He’s expected to meet with the Secretary, I think, tonight in Cairo, because they can play a role. Look, anyone who can play a constructive role in mediation here and helping to get a ceasefire in place obviously would be a good thing, and the UN would be a key partner in that if they can. So we’re having the conversations with him.

QUESTION: What --

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

QUESTION: My question is finally, really, once we had in Pakistan – let’s say al-Qaida or Usama bin Ladin and all those things, and whole world, including U.S., went after them. So now why they can’t do the same thing against Hamas if they’re a terrorist organization and if they are the problems in the region?

MS. HARF: Well, look, Israel has made very clear they are going to go after the terrorist organization threatening them. We have put Hamas repeatedly on terrorist lists, which freezes assets, which goes after support for Hamas in the United States however we can. So we’ve certainly done what we can to help combat this terrorist threat as well.

Yeah, Roz.

QUESTION: Do you have any evidence, as was suggested earlier in the week by the Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer, that Islamic jihad might be another factor in this ongoing conflict between Hamas and the Israelis?

MS. HARF: Let me check and see what our folks say on that. Obviously, there are a number of different groups operating in Gaza. I’m happy to check on the specifics there.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) just going back to what I asked before, I really – we really would like to get more details about what steps in particular you’ve asked. For example, if you’re working with the Israelis on making sure that if they’re targeting a civilian area, that it is someplace specifically that has – that rockets have come from; if there’s any kind of technology that you are working with them to be able to have more specific targets to limit civilian casualties.

MS. HARF: I don’t think we’re probably going to provide more – specifics about those discussions. I’m happy to check and see if we can. I don’t think we will probably, but I’ll check.

Yes.

QUESTION: Marie, you’ve said that the U.S. is working with the UN to determine new options after UNRWA had handed over the first batch of rockets to local authorities there. You said it was not a good outcome. Now a second batch have disappeared. What are those options now?

MS. HARF: We’re still talking to them about it. I don’t have anything new to announce for you, but we’re talking about ways – if the UN agencies do find rockets, how they could be secured and possibly removed. Those discussions are ongoing. It is a complicated operating environment, though, and there aren’t a ton of good options or easy options, but we’re trying to determine some.

QUESTION: Have you filed a complaint about this? Are you in conversation – have you received an explanation from the UN about this?

MS. HARF: I don’t know exactly where we would file a complaint. We’ve talked to the UN about it, and I think UNRWA is trying to do the best they can here. It is just, obviously – well, all you have to do is look at the fact that one of their schools was hit today to know they’re operating in a very different – difficult, excuse me, environment here.

Still here?

QUESTION: And they lost some staffers, I believe.

MS. HARF: I can check on the --

QUESTION: Listen, I just – back to the --

MS. HARF: I believe they did.

QUESTION: -- end game here.

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: Is it the end game here to have Gaza demilitarized, or to have Hamas disarmed?

MS. HARF: You sort of asked this yesterday.

QUESTION: I know. I know, but I just want to --

MS. HARF: And I don’t have a different answer. Obviously, we’re focused right now --

QUESTION: I know.

MS. HARF: -- on a ceasefire. What long-term things might look like, that’s a broader discussion. Obviously, we need to stop the rocket fire.

QUESTION: Right.

MS. HARF: How we do that and what that looks like, I don’t have more to add today.

QUESTION: But an immediate – or a ceasefire as soon as possible doesn’t necessarily have to have disarmament and demilitarization in it, correct? I mean, you just want it to stop.

MS. HARF: We just want it to stop.

QUESTION: So I’m correct in thinking that while disarmament, demilitarization may be a goal down the road, what you --

MS. HARF: And it may be a goal now. I just don’t have more specifics to outline for you.

QUESTION: Can I ask, you said – you mentioned that the Secretary called Foreign Minister Davutoglu today.

MS. HARF: He did, three times today.

QUESTION: Three times? Can I ask, given the fact that he and the prime minister of Turkey have made comments that you – about Israel that you regard as offensive and out of – way out of line, why? Why is the Secretary talking to Davutoglu?

MS. HARF: Because the Turks have a role they can play. We’ve said those comments made it harder for them to play a role, but they do have a role to play and they have a relationship with Hamas. I mean, they can have conversations that we can’t. So obviously, the Turkish foreign minister is a key player in the region and has some leverage he can bring to bear on the situation. Those two things aren’t mutually exclusive.

QUESTION: Well, I don’t know. I mean, if the foreign minister of a country comes out and accuses another country of genocide, I’m not sure why, if you condemn his comments publicly as offensive and making it harder, you would still regard them as --

MS. HARF: And the Secretary has raised them privately as well.

QUESTION: Do you know, does he bring them up or do other people bring them up on a daily – every time they talk, or is it just kind of a --

MS. HARF: I don’t believe every time, but the Secretary did raise it in his phone call with Foreign Minister Davutoglu, I believe, yesterday. He has raised it recently.

QUESTION: Okay. And then --

QUESTION: Did he tell them to stop it?

MS. HARF: I don’t have more specifics for you on what he said to him.

QUESTION: And then more broadly, is there a concern, given your vote yesterday at the Human Rights Commission, and the whole brouhaha over the flight ban and then the rescinding of the flight ban, is there any concern in the Administration that you’re trying to be friends with all sides, and as a result of that, all sides seem to be more opposed to you, more – I mean, nobody is happy; neither side is happy with the United States right now. The Israelis, some in Israel --

MS. HARF: I don’t think that I would say that just because some people have made public comments about the flight restrictions. The Secretary’s been working very closely with the Israelis. He was there meeting with them yesterday. He’s spoken today to the prime minister. They want us there playing a key role here. So I would take great issue with your statement that every – they’re not happy with us. I think the Secretary has been working very closely with them to get a ceasefire here.

QUESTION: You saw the photograph of the Secretary and Prime Minister Netanyahu yesterday, did you not?

MS. HARF: I actually didn’t see the photograph.

QUESTION: Oh, you didn’t? Oh, well, someone should show it to you. It does not look like Prime Minister Netanyahu is a very happy man in that picture.

MS. HARF: Well, I think I would caution you from thinking that’s because of anything the Secretary’s doing or not doing. I think Prime Minister Netanyahu is in a very complicated situation right now where he’s trying to defend his country from rockets, from terrorists, and I think there’s just a lot going on with what he’s dealing with right now.

QUESTION: So it doesn’t concern the Administration at all that in trying to play a middle – trying to hold to the middle ground, both – you’re alienating both sides?

MS. HARF: Not at all, Matt. Look, we are playing a key role here in trying to get to a ceasefire. The parties are engaged with us, all of them, and we are going to continue playing that --

QUESTION: Except for Hamas?

MS. HARF: Except for Hamas, yes. Every time I will say except for Hamas. I am not changing our position.

Yes, on this still?

QUESTION: Yes.

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: Is Qatar playing a constructive role in the Israeli-Hamas conflict right now?

MS. HARF: They certainly are a key player here. The Secretary, as I said, talked twice today with the Foreign Minister al-Attiyah, and they do have a key role to play and they have been playing one. We want all of the regional partners to come together and help get a ceasefire here, so those conversations will continue, yes.

QUESTION: Israeli President Shimon Peres, during his appearance with Secretary-General Ban yesterday, stated that Qatar, by virtue of its support for Hamas, is, quote, “the world’s largest funder of terror.” Is that true?

MS. HARF: Well, I didn’t see President Peres’s comments. I would note that the Secretary actually went and visited him a few days ago when he was there because it’s his last week in office and they’re longtime friends. But look, what we’re focused on now is other countries in the region who can push Hamas to accept a ceasefire. Qatar’s obviously one of them. It’s important to get to a ceasefire, so we will continue working with them.

QUESTION: How would you characterize the relationship between Hamas and Qatar, then?

MS. HARF: I don’t think I have more analysis on that to do for you. I am happy to let the Qataris speak to that.

On this still?

QUESTION: Yeah, yeah, please.

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: Still that point seems – looks to me a little vague. You said you got to focus first on stopping the rocket, maintain or establish ceasefire, and then we go to the main issue. But establishing ceasefire based on what?

MS. HARF: Well, we talked a little bit about based on the 2012 ceasefire and what that looked like, but I’m not going to get more specifically into the details of what the ceasefire we’re trying to negotiate looks like right now.

QUESTION: Okay. Can you tell us anything about the Secretary’s schedule for tomorrow? Is he going to the Gulf?

MS. HARF: For tomorrow, I don’t have any schedule updates for tomorrow.

Yes.

QUESTION: Still on the topic. Marie, as you’re aware, the UN statistics is that 70 percent of the dead in Gaza are civilians, but Israel has also been using a policy called target assassinations for a while. So basically, they target a Hamas leader; in the process, they kill 25 members of his family or people that happen to be there, including an incident yesterday. Does the U.S. condone Israel’s policy of target assassination?

MS. HARF: Well, look, what we’ve said – and I’m going to keep repeating the same lines and I know that you’re going to get sick of hearing them – but that Israel does need to do more to protect civilian – to protect from civilian casualties, to protect civilians – Palestinian civilians. They do have a right to defend themselves. Both of those things are true and remain true.

QUESTION: But you don’t have any specifics on what the “more” is.

MS. HARF: Right, and I don’t think we’re going to. We’ll have that discussion privately with the Israelis.

Yes. Anything else on this? Okay.

QUESTION: Ukraine.

MS. HARF: Ukraine and then we’ll go to India.

QUESTION: Did the Secretary find out personally from Mr. Yatsenyuk that he was resigning today?

MS. HARF: I’m not sure if that’s how he found out. Let me see. I can find out the time of the call. I’m not sure if it – he found out from him or after – he called after he resigned. But the Secretary did speak with him today.

We obviously want to recognize Prime Minister Yatsenyuk’s service to his country during the last several very difficult months, look forward to working with the new prime minister once they are chosen by the Rada and confirmed by the president. And folks, remember President Poroshenko had campaigned on a promise to hold new parliamentary elections as soon as possible. So under Ukrainian law, at some point, it would have been necessary for the governing coalition to disband in order to call new elections, so that’s the process we’re in right now.

Anything else on Ukraine?

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: On Ukraine.

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: Yesterday, I asked you about journalists who have --

MS. HARF: You’ve got to be quicker. They’re going to move on if you’re not quick.

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: Yesterday, I asked you about journalists who had been gone missing.

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: I think we know of two, one who CNN has been talking about today and the other who works for Russian television. Do you have anything to say about --

MS. HARF: I have a little bit. So on the person who had been working with CNN, we strongly condemn the kidnapping of Ukrainian journalist Anton Skiba by Russian-backed separatists. We demand his immediate release, along with the other hostage I believe they hold. In terms of – I think it’s a British Russia Today journalist --

QUESTION: Mm-hmm.

MS. HARF: -- we do understand that the Ukrainian Government is looking into the alleged disappearance of an RT journalist. The Ukrainian Government has denied having him. We are, of course, concerned for the safety of all journalists, and all sides – all of them – must permit the media to perform its very important function. So if we get more information from the Ukrainians or if we hear more about the Russia Today person, we will update folks.

QUESTION: Can I ask – I mean, you strongly condemn the one. Is that because you know for some – for – that he --

MS. HARF: We – mm-hmm, we’ve been able to --

QUESTION: -- know for sure that he – how is that? Because you’ve heard from the Ukrainians?

MS. HARF: No, no, no, no.

QUESTION: No?

MS. HARF: From a variety – I mean, I think the CNN folks with him on the ground saw it happen.

QUESTION: Right, okay.

MS. HARF: But --

QUESTION: I’m just curious.

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: So, okay. Then today, the OSCE – you know where I’m going?

MS. HARF: No.

QUESTION: The Russians --

MS. HARF: Sometimes I do. I don’t right now.

QUESTION: Well, there was a decision at the OSCE. They were going to put – they wanted to put monitors inside just over the border into Russia. The Russians refused.

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: I’m wondering if you have a --

MS. HARF: I haven’t seen that, the OSCE decision.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: I do have a couple of new pieces of information about arms continuing to flow across the border since the shoot-down.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: We have new evidence that the Russians intend to deliver heavier and more powerful, multiple rocket launchers to the separatist forces in Ukraine, and have evidence that Russia is firing artillery from within Russia to attack Ukrainian military positions. This is just some pieces of info I’ve been able to get from our intelligence friends for you. I can’t tell you what the information is based on. I know that’s disappointing to you, Matt. But was able to get --

QUESTION: Well, I don’t --

MS. HARF: -- just some of the data points we’ve seen about the continuing arms flow across the border.

QUESTION: Right. It’s not me who you need to convince. It’s the rest of the world. I don’t understand, if you – coming --

MS. HARF: The rest of the world who has seen these separatists shoot down a dozen planes, who has now seen a separatist leader come out and say they had this missile, and appear to at least take credit for something similar to this. So I think there’s a preponderance of evidence. We went through it yesterday; I’m happy to continue going through it.

QUESTION: No, no, no, no. No, I don’t think we need to go through all of what --

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: -- you guys presented as in lieu of evidence. But I do --

MS. HARF: That’s a --

QUESTION: I would like to know what you’re basing this new evidence that the Russians intend to send any heavier equipment.

MS. HARF: It’s based – uh-huh. It’s based on some intelligence information. I can’t get into the sources and methods behind it, but I was able to be able to tell you that.

QUESTION: Is there a YouTube video or something that you can point us to --

MS. HARF: Do you have any other questions?

QUESTION: -- that would show? I’m just wondering if you – what it is. I mean --

MS. HARF: I just said I wasn’t going to give you the underlying source for it.

QUESTION: Marie, did you --

QUESTION: But that --

QUESTION: So look, it’s not – the question is --

MS. HARF: So if you prefer – if you prefer I don’t give you more information and just say nothing if I can’t give you the source --

QUESTION: I’d prefer --

MS. HARF: No, I’m actually asking you a question here. If I can’t give you the source and method, would you prefer I not give you the information?

QUESTION: Marie, I think that it would be best for all concerned here --

MS. HARF: Are there any other questions?

QUESTION: -- if when you make an allegation like that, you’re able to back it up with something more than just “because I say so.”

MS. HARF: Okay. That’s not what I said. It’s based on intelligence, it’s not because I said so.

QUESTION: Well, it’s not me that’s making these allegations. I mean, you guys get up at the UN Security Council and make these allegations. The Secretary gets on the Sunday shows to make these allegations. And then when you present your evidence to back up those allegations, it has appeared to, at least for some, fall short of definitive proof. Do you --

MS. HARF: I would strongly disagree with that.

QUESTION: Do you – so, okay, so you’re saying that they’re moving in new and heavier weaponry.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Can you say what kind?

MS. HARF: I said multiple rocket launchers.

QUESTION: Multiple rocket launchers of the Buk kind or of the same ones?

MS. HARF: I can check and see on specifics.

QUESTION: And I can’t remember now on the rest --

MS. HARF: They’re firing artillery from within Russia to attack Ukrainian military positions.

QUESTION: Do you believe that rockets, missiles, artillery, whatever fired from Russian territory took down these two Ukrainian planes, or do you not even have confirmation yet that that happened?

MS. HARF: We’re still looking into exactly what brought down those planes.

QUESTION: But about --

QUESTION: So you’re sure that they did?

MS. HARF: I said we’re still looking into it.

QUESTION: Are you sure – I know. You’re sure that the planes went down?

MS. HARF: Oh, that’s my understanding. Yeah.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: I haven’t heard otherwise.

QUESTION: But you don’t know. I mean, the Ukrainians have said, the Ukrainians have claimed that they were shot down from – by – whatever, from Russian territory.

MS. HARF: There are some conflicting reports about the location of the --

QUESTION: And you haven’t yet made a --

MS. HARF: Correct.

QUESTION: -- determination. But you are --

MS. HARF: Because we don’t make determinations until we have facts, and then we present them to you as much as we can.

QUESTION: But – yes, but you are not – you are sure that the Russians are firing artillery?

MS. HARF: We have information, yes --

QUESTION: So --

MS. HARF: -- that shows that. Yes.

QUESTION: Okay. But you don’t have information that they shot down the --

MS. HARF: We don’t have definitive information about how those Ukrainian jets were brought down.

QUESTION: Okay. And last one on Ukraine for me: Do you have any comment about these attempts by the Ukrainian Government to close the – to ban the Communist Party?

MS. HARF: Yeah. So a couple of points on that. Let me see what I have here. The Communist Party has not been banned in Ukraine.

QUESTION: I know, it hasn’t, not yet. But --

MS. HARF: Right. I’m getting there.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: The Rada’s decision yesterday – I think there’s been a little confusion – led to the Communist Party’s delisting as a faction after a third of their MPs left the party. So under the banner of the Communist Party, people have been elected; they left the party, but they – the ones that did remain in the party continue to maintain their seats and their party affiliation. It’s my understanding this is draft legislation. We believe, of course, that all peaceful voices should be able to be heard. We’ve made that clear to the Ukrainians and we’ll see where this goes from here.

QUESTION: Okay. But you don’t have any concern about a move to potentially outlaw one political party?

MS. HARF: I said it’s draft legislation. We believe that all peaceful voices should be able to be heard, and we’ll take a look at the legislation as it advances.

QUESTION: All right. And do you – you don’t have any objection in principle to the Communist Party being able to be a party in Ukraine, do you?

MS. HARF: We do not. We do not.

QUESTION: You do not. Okay.

QUESTION: The Pentagon did say, when it came to the two Su-25 fighter jets in Ukraine, that they were, in fact, shot down. Does this give the U.S. more impetus to look at even more sanctions against Russia --

MS. HARF: Well, we’re --

QUESTION: -- based on your suggestion that without Russian help, the separatists couldn’t have done it themselves?

MS. HARF: It’s not a suggestion; that is a fact. But setting that aside, we’ve imposed more sanctions since the downing of MH17. We are continuing to look at additional sanctions and to impose additional costs on Russia. That process is ongoing.

Anything else on Ukraine?

QUESTION: Is there still an option – short of military action, which has been ruled out from --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- are there other options besides sanctions that you might do?

MS. HARF: Besides economic pressure?

QUESTION: Right. I mean, there are international meetings that are upcoming that Russia has been invited to.

MS. HARF: That is true.

QUESTION: Is anyone looking at the --

MS. HARF: I think we’re looking at a wide range of options. I mean, the – suspending them from the G8 wasn’t truly an economic – that was also a political or diplomatic option. So we’re looking at a range of options.

QUESTION: So – but you –

QUESTION: But that was including political events that – putting pressure on, say, the International –

MS. HARF: I haven’t heard that.

QUESTION: -- Olympic Committee, putting –

MS. HARF: I haven’t heard that.

QUESTION: -- it – or on FIFA?

MS. HARF: I’m happy to check – I haven’t heard that. I’m happy to check and see if there are additional options we can outline for you, but we’re focused very much on the economic piece certainly and on some of the diplomatic pieces as well.

QUESTION: Question. If the investigation does yield that it is in fact the separatists, what kind of accountability would be in store? I mean what would something like that look like outside of just –

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- broader sanctions initially?

MS. HARF: We’re looking at a variety of options right now. I think we need the investigation to get full access here so we can determine exactly who might have pushed the button here on this missile that was fired from a separatist-controlled territory. We’re looking into that right now. I don’t have any details about what accountability might look like.

QUESTION: India.

MS. HARF: India.

QUESTION: India and Pakistan. Thank you. Madam, recently there have been fighting on the border between India and Pakistan, but now the two governments have agreed to meet at the foreign secretary level. Sujatha Singh and Ahmad Chaudhry will be meeting in Islamabad next month. But foreign minister of India many times, Sushma Swaraj has said that there cannot be peace or talks between the two countries unless Pakistan stops terrorizing – or terrorist against India. So what I’m asking you: Have you – you have this knowledge of meeting next month –

MS. HARF: I wasn’t aware of the meeting next month. We’ve obviously repeatedly said that we believe India and Pakistan should work together to improve their relationship and we would welcome steps towards that end. It’s really up for them to work on together. I don’t have details on that meeting, though.

QUESTION: Is Secretary going to call anybody –

MS. HARF: I don’t have any calls to preview for you. As I said, he will be going to India at the end of the month.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Based on this statement (inaudible) was in D.C. here? I believe he is still.

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: So what went with this in changing the venue from here to there?

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

QUESTION: Iraq?

MS. HARF: India? Iraq.

QUESTION: Iraq. Yeah. Today, the parliament elected –

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: -- Fuad Masum, a man of solid political credentials. But he’s also a communist. So do you have any comment on that?

MS. HARF: That he’s a communist?

QUESTION: Mm-hmm.

MS. HARF: We congratulate the Iraqi people on the election of a new president. This is a crucial step in the formation of a new government. Obviously, we’ve said this needs to happen as soon as possible. The next slip is a prime minister designate must be named within 15 days. They will then have 30 days to form a government with parliamentary approval.

QUESTION: Okay. And the general feeling in Iraq that Maliki’s fortunes are receding, is that your assessment? Do you have anyone in mind that you might like to support, like (inaudible)?

MS. HARF: As we’ve always said, we do not support any one person or any one party. We have been very clear about that from the beginning of this process.

QUESTION: But you would like to see Maliki or the Maliki era end?

MS. HARF: I don’t think I said that, Said.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: I said we don’t support any one person. And we’ve also said – and you’ve heard Brett McGurk speak about this a little bit yesterday – that we have had concerns with some of the ways the Maliki government has governed and how they have not always governed inclusively. But we are not endorsing any party or any person, period, to be the next prime minister of Iraq.

QUESTION: And lastly, the Maliki government announced that they are receiving Russian equipment or Russian military equipment. Do you have any comment on that?

MS. HARF: Well, I haven’t seen this specific announcement, but – the last few times I’ve been asked about this. If it’s done through the proper channels –

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MS. HARF: I haven’t seen that, but the last few times I’ve talked about this, look, there’s a way that Iraq can get weapons from other countries. There’s a proper channel to do this. And if it’s through that channel, then I don’t think we have a big problem with it. We know there’s a big threat there that they need a lot of help to fight.

QUESTION: Kenya?

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Do you – was there a specific incident that predicated removing all the – suspending the Peace Corps operation?

MS. HARF: Well, this happened actually on June 30th. So I was a little surprised that questions were just coming up. The decision was made on June 30th after monitoring the security environment writ large on any one incident in Kenya to suspend the Peace Corps program there. Volunteers are still continuing to leave, but this was made a while ago based on the overall security picture. Obviously, as you know, our embassy there remains open and well-staffed for normal operations.

QUESTION: And did you let the Kenyan Government know before the decision was made to suspend –

MS. HARF: I can check. I’m sure – we have a lot of discussions with them. Let me check on that.

QUESTION: Asia?

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Well, can we stay – just – I want to go just to –

MS. HARF: Yeah, then I’ll go here.

QUESTION: -- Sudan, just north.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: So Meriam Ibrahim is out. She’s in Italy now. You put out the statement thanking the Italians.

MS. HARF: Yes. Yes.

QUESTION: Is this just a way stop for her in Rome? Or is she – you said that you understand she has the appropriate travel documents --

MS. HARF: To enter the United States.

QUESTION: And do you – would you expect her to arrive and make sure --

MS. HARF: She and her family will make the determination on their travel to the United States. It’s really up to the family.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: I don’t want to --

QUESTION: And can you--

MS. HARF: -- guess what they’ll do. But they do have the documents necessary to enter.

QUESTION: Can you be – can you be more – can you elaborate more on what the role of the Italians and perhaps the Vatican was in doing this and how that worked into what the embassy was doing?

MS. HARF: I have some details, and I can maybe see if I can get more, but the Government of Italy worked with the Government of Sudan and the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum to arrange for her departure. We had obviously been working on the travel documents for some time, and had hoped to resolve this as quickly as possible. So they’ve really been working with all of us on this. Aware of reports that she met with the Pope. I don’t have any details for you on that. But beyond that, I’ll see if there’s any more to share.

QUESTION: I’m just curious if the Vatican had anything to do with the --

MS. HARF: I don’t know the answer.

QUESTION: -- her getting out.

MS. HARF: I don’t – I haven’t heard that, but I’m happy to check.

Yes.

QUESTION: Marie, you just mentioned that Secretary Kerry is going to India at the end of July.

MS. HARF: He is.

QUESTION: Do you have any travel plan to announce regarding his participant – participating ASEAN foreign ministers meeting or the regional forum in early August?

MS. HARF: I don’t have any more travel to announce today, but as you know, last year we participated. I think we will again this year. I just don’t have specifics to announce.

QUESTION: Right. Whether or not he is going or not, I believe or assume that senior officials from this building --

MS. HARF: Absolutely.

QUESTION: What does the U.S. want to try to get out of this meeting this time? Is there a particular agenda?

MS. HARF: Well, I can check and see if there are specifics that are on the agenda. As we always talk about on these kinds of regional fora, we talk about regional security issues, about rules of the road, about helping to ease tensions and work together to resolve disputes peacefully. This is a constant topic of conversation in these different meetings we have. But let me check and see if there are specifics we have on the agenda for this round. There very well – there probably are, I just don’t know.

QUESTION: Right. I understand the tensions in the South China Sea have toned down quite a bit these days --

MS. HARF: Well, I would actually – I would take a little – I mean, we’ve seen China actually increasingly take steps that have led to tension and we believe are destabilizing and trying to change the status quo. So we’ve actually said – a little different from here. We are encouraging parties though to work together on these issues and to try to resolve them without any additional escalation.

QUESTION: I’m glad you said that, which leads to my next question. If – I understand it’s the U.S. position to look for a binding code of conduct in the South China Sea. If in any case any of the parties – any of the claimants are dragging their feet on the binding code of conduct, what alternative crisis management mechanism can the United States pursue?

MS. HARF: Well, we have talked about a code of conduct and we think that’s important. We’ve also talked about different ideas that other countries have put forward. For example, the Japanese have put forward an idea about a hotline between Japan and China to try and deal with these issues directly when they arise to prevent tensions from escalating. So there are a number of different ideas we talk about with our partners in the region. Again, all in trying to get to the same goal here.

QUESTION: I do realize that from the – earlier this month, China and U.S. has just six (inaudible) for Strategic and Economic Dialogue --

MS. HARF: Absolutely.

QUESTION: -- and then which – very impressively 116 outcomes are achieved under the strategic track. One of them, item number 4, is a mechanism building, which says that both sides will try to set a rules of behavior for air and maritime encounters. Is that something to do with the South China Sea or the East China Sea?

MS. HARF: It’s in part – on the maritime side, obviously we talked about a number of the different issues. In terms of the aviation, we talked about the ADIZ that China declared – was it last year? I don’t even remember. Earlier this year?

QUESTION: ADIZ.

MS. HARF: What we talked about quite a bit in this room, so there are all these issues that we talk about with them and we want to put rules of the road in place, we think that’s important for all of the countries in the region, and it’s an issue we constantly talk about the Chinese with.

QUESTION: Yes, quickly, follow. Many U.S. companies operating in China, including fast food companies, are blaming Chinese authorities harassment. Have you heard of these complaints or what --

MS. HARF: I haven’t. I’m happy to check for you.

QUESTION: You mentioned, Marie, that the Secretary among his calls had called the Norwegian prime minister.

MS. HARF: Foreign minister.

QUESTION: Foreign minister. Did that – I know the Norway is the head of the Ad-hoc Liaison Council for the – that does Palestinian aid work. Was that part of the call?

MS. HARF: I don’t have a readout of that call.

QUESTION: Okay. Because --

MS. HARF: Let me see if I can get you one.

QUESTION: -- there is other news out of Norway today. They announced that they had an imminent terror threat.

MS. HARF: Yes. I saw that. I --

QUESTION: So it would be interesting to know, one, if the Secretary mentioned --

MS. HARF: Let me – yeah.

QUESTION: -- talked about that with the foreign minister, but also, two, if you have anything to say about this.

MS. HARF: Yeah. Let me get a readout of that call. I just don’t have it. We – the U.S. Embassy in Oslo released a security message today to notify U.S. citizens that the Norwegian Government announced foreign fighters returning from Syria may be planning an attack in Norway over the coming days. The Norwegian police are not aware of where, when, or in what method this attack could take place. However, as we’ve seen, public gatherings, government facilities, businesses, and public transportation tend to be the targets of choice for these terrorists. The Embassy recommends the U.S. citizen community in Norway remain extra alert during this period, err on the side of caution, and alert the police if they see anything concerning.

QUESTION: About two weeks ago, maybe, you guys designated a Norwegian citizen as being – as a specially-designated global terrorist.

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: Do you know at all if he – if this person is involved in --

MS. HARF: I don’t. I can check. I don’t know.

QUESTION: Okay. I’ve got one more. Do you have any update on the attempt to fix the consular database?

MS. HARF: Yes, I do. So it is operating at limited capacity. We are working urgently to correct the problem and expect our system to be fully operational again soon. The Bureau of Consular Affairs has been experiencing technical problems with our passport and visa system. The issue is worldwide, not specific to any particular country. We do not believe there was any malicious action or anything untoward here. This was a technical issue, and again, we are working to correct it and should be fully operational again soon. We’re operating at a little bit of limited capacity right now, though, so we’re trying not to overload the system.

QUESTION: And this --

MS. HARF: So don’t everybody go apply for a visa right now.

QUESTION: It’s – excuse me. So it’s okay to apply for a visa right now – or no, sorry.

MS. HARF: Well, I said “don’t everyone go apply for” – we’re trying to – we don’t want to overload the system as it’s coming back online. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Oh, oh, right. And how long has this been an issue?

MS. HARF: I believe it’s been a few days. Let me see.

The database did crash shortly after maintenance was performed, which was one of the – the reason we do not believe there was a malicious action. We don’t know the root cause yet. I don’t know. I think it’s been a few days. Let me check.

QUESTION: Okay. And do you have any idea when things will be back up again? I know you said soon.

MS. HARF: Well, it is back up.

QUESTION: I know --

MS. HARF: It’s back up and running.

QUESTION: -- but normal.

MS. HARF: Fully operational?

QUESTION: And when you can clear --

MS. HARF: Soon.

QUESTION: Do you know what the backlog --

MS. HARF: There is a backlog.

QUESTION: -- has been created because of this?

MS. HARF: There is a backlog. We’re working through it.

QUESTION: Right. So do you have --

MS. HARF: It’s going to take a little while, so we ask people to be patient.

QUESTION: Fair enough. I – do you have --

MS. HARF: We don’t.

QUESTION: -- even a rough estimate of when the backlog will be cleared and will be back to normal?

MS. HARF: We don’t. I don’t have one.

QUESTION: All right.

QUESTION: Poland?

MS. HARF: Poland?

QUESTION: Yes. Well – and it does involve the U.S. – European Court on Human Rights said that Poland was directly involved in the rendition of two men now at Guantanamo, Abu Zubaydah and al-Nashiri, the alleged mastermind of the U.S.S. Cole, and said that Poland was guilty of violating the men’s human rights. The Polish response is, well, we disagree with the verdict, but we’re also asking the U.S. for money to help investigate these allegations and pay our legal bills. Do you have any comment?

MS. HARF: I do not.

Yes, here.

QUESTION: Also Europe-related. I know that this is a state issue, but it’s one that the State Department gets dragged into quite often, but there was an execution in Arizona last night that has caused or provoked a bunch of – quite a bit of concern, not just here but abroad. The European Union has just put out a statement expressing concern about the circumstances of this execution and repeating its longstanding – Europe’s longstanding opposition to use of the death penalty. I don’t expect that you have any reaction to it yet, but I’m wondering if you could ask if there is one --

MS. HARF: I will ask.

QUESTION: -- and also if you know – I mean, if you’ve gotten the statement; if it was conveyed to you any way other than a press release or a statement from Brussels.

MS. HARF: I’ll check. I haven’t seen the statement. I will check.

Yes.

QUESTION: So this is about the terror watch list. Intercept today released an unclassified copy of the guidelines the government is using to blacklist people, put them on no-fly lists, et cetera. Among the rules revealed, it allows a single official to essentially use very, very little suspicion to put someone on the list. I mean, do you stand by that process, and are you concerned that --

MS. HARF: It’s not a State Department process.

QUESTION: -- unwarranted citizens are arbitrarily put – being put on no-fly lists?

MS. HARF: Again, it’s not a State Department process. I would refer you to my colleagues throughout the rest of the federal government who work on this. I know they can speak to that, but I think we have in place a number of processes to make sure that we take a look at people coming into the country. But I can’t speak to the specifics there because, again, it’s not our deal.

Anything else? One last in the – yes, go ahead.

QUESTION: Mine will be brief.

QUESTION: Syria. So the Observatory for Human Rights just released a report this week that says around 1,700 casualties this week alone, and the Islamic State also has posted videos of a massacre where they killed an estimated 215 soldiers and civilians. Are you satisfied with the pace of aid going to the Syrian moderate rebels right now?

MS. HARF: Well, we’ve continued to increase our assistance, even recently, to the moderate opposition, and we will continue doing so. We know they are fighting very big challenges on several fronts, both from the regime and from ISIS and Nusra and the terrorists that we’ve seen there. So it’s a huge challenge. We’re continuing to increase our assistance.

QUESTION: Two very brief things.

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: One: One of my colleagues has just spoken to Senator Cruz, who says that he is – even though the flight ban has been rescinded, he is not lifting his holds and will not lift his holds until all of his questions are answered. Because --

MS. HARF: For an agency that didn’t actually put the flight restrictions in place?

QUESTION: I understand.

MS. HARF: It’s just perplexing.

QUESTION: I understand you are not happy and you don’t think that that will --

MS. HARF: It’s not about emotion or not being happy.

QUESTION: Whatever.

MS. HARF: It’s just a fact.

QUESTION: I understand your reaction. I’m not going to ask you to repeat it again. But because he’s asking for these questions to be answered, can you offer some kind of a commitment that the questions will be answered beyond you just saying, no, there’s absolutely no truth to this conspiracy theory?

MS. HARF: Well, again, I think I would point him to the FAA who made the decision.

QUESTION: Right.

MS. HARF: They have the answers, I’m guessing, to the questions he has. The State Department didn’t make the decision. I mean, it’s just a fact. I don’t know what else to say.

QUESTION: Okay. Well, there’s a second part to it too, which is the Travel Warning that you have released --

MS. HARF: Right.

QUESTION: -- at least as it relates to the State Department --

MS. HARF: We’re happy to answer any questions about why we put travel warnings in place, yes.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: But on the aviation piece, it wasn’t our decision.

QUESTION: Right, but – well, but you said that there was consultation – if not State Department input into what the FAA decision was --

MS. HARF: No.

QUESTION: -- there at least was consultation. You all knew what the – one hand knew what the other hand was doing?

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: So I think --

MS. HARF: Yes, in part because we serve as facilitators between the FAA and the Israeli officials, who don’t always have those relationships.

QUESTION: Right.

MS. HARF: But again, if he has questions about FAA action, he should point them to the FAA, just like if he had questions about State Department actions, he should point them here and not, for example, to the FAA.

QUESTION: Well – but I think what his questions are, and I know that you dismissed them out of hand and said they were ridiculous and offensive, but they – but his questions relate to whether this was – these decisions were made as part of a foreign policy – as part of your foreign policy agenda as part of --

MS. HARF: Again, the FAA can answer why they make decisions. The FAA made this decision.

QUESTION: But that’s – I don’t think that’s his question, though.

MS. HARF: Well --

QUESTION: His question is whether there was State Department involvement or whether the State Department encouraged the FAA to make such a decision in order to put --

MS. HARF: For political reasons?

QUESTION: -- pressure on the Israeli Government to agree to a ceasefire.

MS. HARF: And I have said no.

QUESTION: No, I know.

MS. HARF: The FAA has said no.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: The FAA has publicly said the only consideration they take into account is security and safety of American citizens, I think a goal Senator Cruz should, in theory, share, and should not play politics with this anymore.

QUESTION: Okay. So Senator Cruz should just accept your explanation?

MS. HARF: No. He can ask questions, but it – the notion that he would put a hold on State Department nominees when he really has questions for the FAA just doesn’t really make sense.

QUESTION: Okay. Well --

MS. HARF: I think to most people, that wouldn’t make any sense.

QUESTION: On that point, Marie, do you believe that the FAA ban for those 48-hour period, did it really exert any kind of political pressure on Israel?

MS. HARF: Well, that wasn’t the goal of it, Said.

QUESTION: I understand. In your assessment --

MS. HARF: I have no idea whether or not it did, but that wasn’t the goal of it. The goal was purely security and safety of American citizens, pilots, people on these planes, period – a goal, again, I think we all can share. And I would say that the nominees we have up in the Senate are for some very critical positions. They need to move forward. If everybody is concerned about our foreign policy, we need people in those positions.

QUESTION: I have one last one, unrelated, back to Iraq. I don’t know if you saw this. It came out a little bit before the briefing, but about – in Mosul, apparently ISIS has blown up a very sacred shrine --

MS. HARF: I didn’t see that. Let me check.

QUESTION: No? Okay.

MS. HARF: I didn’t see it.

QUESTION: The shrine of prophet (inaudible).

MS. HARF: Okay. I’ll check. Thanks, guys.

QUESTION: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:14 p.m.)

DPB # 129

 


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Categories: News Pit Feeds

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

Share Index for Today's Briefing

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