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Government News : United States : Federal Government : Department of State : Daily Press Briefings

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Daily Press Briefings : Daily Press Briefing - August 19, 2013


Jen Psaki
Spokesperson
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
August 19, 2013


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Index for Today's Briefing
  • EGYPT
    • Economic Support Fund / Security Assistance / Review of All Assistance Programs
    • Legal Review and Policy Review
    • Relationship with Egypt / National Security Interests / Regional Stability
    • Mubarak Trial / Internal Egyptian Legal Matter / Path to Sustainable Democracy
    • Secretary's Contacts / Coordination and Cooperation Among Partners
    • Inclusive Process Moving Forward
    • Arbitrary Arrests / Security Concerns
    • Condemnation of Violence / Sinai Peninsula / Christian Institutions / Muslim Brotherhood Prisoners
  • UNITED KINGDOM
    • U.K. Law Authority Operation
  • INDIA / PAKISTAN
    • Dialogue between Pakistan and India / Kashmir
  • SYRIA
    • Refugees Crossing into Iraq / Coordinated Efforts
    • Geneva 2 Planning / Political Solution / Under Secretary Sherman and Ambassador Ford to Meet with Russian Officials
  • ZIMBABWE
    • SADC Communique / Electoral Process / U.S. Sanctions Policy
  • LEBANON
    • Condemnation of Attack


TRANSCRIPT:

1:34 p.m. EDT

MS. PSAKI: Hi, everyone. Happy Monday in August. I’m impressed you’re all here, joining me here today. I don’t have anything for you all at the top. I can bet what’s on your minds, so let’s start there.

QUESTION: Okay. Let’s start with Egypt, please.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: So to start with, this New York Times story of yesterday, which cites Administration officials as saying that the State Department has put a hold on financing for economic programs --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- that directly involve the Egyptian Government. Just so we’re clear, as I understand this story, that’s talking about the approximately $250 million – some subset of the $250 million in economic assistance. Is that true? Has the State Department put a hold on financing for any of the economic assistance to Egypt?

MS. PSAKI: Well, thank you for your question, Arshad. To be clear, we have not made a policy decision to put a blanket hold on economic support – on the Economic Support Fund, ESF assistance. Clearly, that review is ongoing, as we’ve talked about in here quite a bit. That review includes military assistance, security assistance, and it also includes economic assistance. But we have not made a decision to put a blanket hold.

QUESTION: Let’s drop the blanket, like, minus --

MS. PSAKI: Hold, a hold.

QUESTION: But on any – on any of the $250 million in economic assistance?

MS. PSAKI: Well, as we’ve said from the beginning, we’re going to abide by legal obligations and we will make adjustments as needed – as needed in the future. The review is still ongoing. Let me give you just a little bit more because I think – I know there’s been a lot of confusion on this and what applies to what.

So funding that goes – broadly speaking, funding that goes to nongovernmental entities in Egypt would not be affected, regardless of whether the restrictions were triggered, and is being continued. Programs with the government designed to promote free and fair elections, health assistance, programs for the environment, democracy, rule of law, and good governance can also continue in cases even where a legal restriction might apply.

So to the extent where there are ESF programs that would benefit the government, which is obviously a section, we are reviewing each of those programs on a case-by-case basis to identify whether we have authority to continue providing those funds or should seek to modify our activities to ensure that our actions are consistent with the law.

QUESTION: Okay. So how much money does that represent?

MS. PSAKI: In terms of the programs that are specific to the government?

QUESTION: Yes.

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have an exact breakdown. Some of these programs are still being determined in terms of where funding will go.

QUESTION: Ballpark?

MS. PSAKI: A large portion goes to nongovernmental entities as well as governmental entities where it would be appropriate to continue assistance, as the ones I listed.

QUESTION: More than half goes to NGOs?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t want to put a percentage on it, but a large majority.

QUESTION: Well, how – a large majority? So more than half?

MS. PSAKI: Say a large chunk.

QUESTION: But is it a majority or not?

MS. PSAKI: I think it’s fair to say more than half would be in the category where it wouldn’t apply to those that --

QUESTION: Okay. So --

MS. PSAKI: -- are being reviewed on a case-by-case.

QUESTION: So The New York Times is wrong, then, when it says that you have put a hold on financing for economic programs that directly involve the Egyptian Government?

MS. PSAKI: Correct.

QUESTION: You’re identifying – correct? So that’s just flat-out wrong?

MS. PSAKI: Correct.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: We are reviewing programs – and I know this has been a very confusing process, as funding programs often can be. So we are reviewing places where adjustments need to be made, and we will make those as needed.

QUESTION: Okay. So excellent to have dispatched with that apparently erroneous report. Can you take the question of – and it’s a question I think is perfectly reasonable to ask, because you are yourselves trying to figure this out – exactly how much of the $250 million in economic assistance falls into the category of assistance that benefits the government, and therefore that you are reviewing for whether you can continue it or not continue it under the law?

MS. PSAKI: I’m happy to look into this. I know it seems like there would be an obvious answer, but it’s a question I asked in anticipation that you all may ask. There wasn’t an easy answer --

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: -- so let me see if there’s an easy answer or information more that we can provide to all of you.

QUESTION: Okay. Then, second, if I can continue on the --

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: -- second set of questions related to this: The restrictions that obtain here on the economic funds, totally separate – I mean, this is the question – are they totally separate from those that could apply to the $1.3 billion under section 7008?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Yes?

MS. PSAKI: So there are separate pots, right – there’s economic assistance, there’s security assistance. Security assistance includes FMF military assistance, which we’re all familiar with. It also includes law enforcement, nonproliferation, and antiterrorism programs. They’re reviewed in the same manner, with the same restrictions.

QUESTION: So just so I’m clear, though, does any of the $1.3 billion in military assistance fall within this review?

MS. PSAKI: Well --

QUESTION: The specific review of whether you – I’m talking about non-section 7008.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: In other words, totally outside of that, do you still have to go through and scrub the $1.3 billion to see if any of that might also be restricted?

MS. PSAKI: Well, as the President said on July 3rd, we’re reviewing all of our aid, so all of those buckets.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.) I know that.

MS. PSAKI: Right?

QUESTION: But I’m – what I’m trying to understand is whether the review that is being conducted on the $250 million or so also applies on the $1.3 billion.

MS. PSAKI: Well, they’re different programs --

QUESTION: Right.

MS. PSAKI: -- right?

QUESTION: Right.

MS. PSAKI: So if it were to apply, section 7008, as you know, is a restriction on the obligation and expenditure on certain funds to the Egyptian Government, and we have carefully reviewed all assistance for Egypt with that legal authority in mind. So whether it applies, we’re still undergoing that review, but obviously, the review is of all the assistance.

QUESTION: Sure. No, I’m afraid I feel like you’re not --

MS. PSAKI: I may not be understanding your question --

QUESTION: Yeah, yeah. I’m just --

MS. PSAKI: -- so why don’t you try it again?

QUESTION: Okay. So leaving aside the review that is --

MS. PSAKI: The legal review?

QUESTION: Leaving aside the question of whether you were to choose to determine that a military coup has occurred, and therefore whether you would then be obligated to cut off the $1.3 billion, right?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Are there additional regulations similar – or rules similar to the ones that are requiring you to review the $250 million in economic assistance that would apply to the $1.3 billion as well, or not?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not aware of any, but let me check into that for you.

QUESTION: Okay. Can you ask? Okay.

MS. PSAKI: Yep, I’m happy to. I’m happy to.

QUESTION: Okay. And then --

MS. PSAKI: Let me – can I – oh, go ahead.

QUESTION: Please. Oh, no, no, go ahead.

MS. PSAKI: I just wanted to give – I know there’s also been some confusion about the FMF funding. So --

QUESTION: That was my next question, so go ahead. Yep.

MS. PSAKI: Okay. So of the $1.23 billion FMF financing, so Foreign Military Financing allocated for Egypt in FY2013, $650 million has been transferred to the Egypt account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. At no time are the funds transferred to full Egyptian control. That’s standard operating procedure.

After sequestration withholding, approximately $585 million remains unobligated. So that is the amount that is unobligated. That – appropriated funds are obligated and expended on a rolling basis, so this isn’t a FY2013 issue, this happens in other cases as well and has happened in past years. But it would be inaccurate to say that a policy decision has been made with respect to the remaining assistance funding.

QUESTION: So here’s my next question --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- directly pertinent to that.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: You told us and you reiterated it last week, but you told us going back to when Deputy Secretary Burns briefed the Hill, and you reiterated that it was still the case last week, that you did not intend to make a determination as to whether Section 7008 applies.

MS. PSAKI: Well, we did not – we did not intend to make a determination as to whether it was a coup.

QUESTION: Yes, a military coup.

MS. PSAKI: Correct.

QUESTION: Right.

MS. PSAKI: And there are – well, go ahead.

QUESTION: Is that still your policy that you do not intend to make a determination as to whether it’s a military coup?

MS. PSAKI: That is correct.

QUESTION: Okay. So then --

MS. PSAKI: I think it’s important to note, as we said at the time, because we are abiding by our legal obligations, as we’ve talked about from the beginning, obviously, the legal review and what that means and how it applies and working with Congress on applying it has been a multiweek process here and it’s ongoing.

QUESTION: Right. So --

MS. PSAKI: There is also a policy review, right, as it relates to our broad relationship with Egypt. That’s also ongoing, because as you know, it is not about whether a determination is made as to what our aid is; we can make other decisions related to our aid. But at the time when we said that we were not going to make a determination and we made clear that that abided with our legal obligations, we also talked about how there are national security interests, there are interests related to regional stability, and we fully believe that Egypt can return through a rocky path to a sustainable democracy. And there is an implication by naming one side or the other that you’re taking sides, and that has been a policy priority for us not to do that.

QUESTION: Okay. So --

MS. PSAKI: But we’re still abiding by our legal obligations.

QUESTION: So here’s what I don’t get, then.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: Paragraph four of the Times story says whether to cut off the remaining $585 million in military aid available to Egypt this year was one of the questions that awaited President Obama as he returns to Washington from Martha’s Vineyard. But you’re telling me that the policy is unchanged, that you do not intend to find – you do not intend to make a determination.

MS. PSAKI: Correct. However --

QUESTION: Yes?

MS. PSAKI: -- there are still the review of what is applicable legally, also the policy review of our relationship broadly with Egypt, including all forms of aid, whether that’s FMF or ESF. That is ongoing.

QUESTION: Okay. So you could – so in other words, you’re opening up the – you’re making clear that you – that the President has the option, should he wish, of cutting off some or all of the remaining $585 million, whether he does so under Section 7008 or not; in other words, as part of the policy review he could reduce, cut, eliminate that if he wished?

MS. PSAKI: The President has a range of options, absolutely.

QUESTION: Including those, to cut some or all of that?

MS. PSAKI: Including those. And now, it’s not as simple as that, given there are – there is a process, just hypothetically speaking, which I don’t like to do but I’m trying to be very clear with this or as clear as possible. There is a wind-down process. There is no decision that’s been made, so any reports saying a decision has been made are inaccurate. That review is ongoing, as we said last week. And it’s important to note, obviously, events on the ground last week but moving forward will be taken into account as we consider our relationship. So I just wanted to be fully clear.

QUESTION: So --

QUESTION: Explain to us, what does unobligated mean? You said unobligated. What does that mean, $585 million?

MS. PSAKI: Well, obligated means it would have been --

QUESTION: All the aid is obligated.

MS. PSAKI: Let me – I’m answering your question, I think, Said.

QUESTION: All right.

MS. PSAKI: If not, you can ask another question. Six hundred and fifty million – there’s been some confusion, I’m not necessarily saying from this room, on what it means. I made the important point, or what I think is an important point, that at no point are funds transferred to Egyptian control. They’re transferred to an Egypt account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. That would be – the next step would be to transfer the remaining unobligated $585 million to that account.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: So Jen, just to be super precise --

MS. PSAKI: Yes.

QUESTION: -- the President, without saying it is or it is not a coup, could put aid to Egypt on hold based on this policy review?

MS. PSAKI: Well, the President has always had a range of options from the beginning. The best way I can explain it is there is a legal review and there’s a policy review – legal, it’s abiding by our legal obligations. And as I mentioned – and sorry to go back through this, but I think it’s important here – there are certain programs – in ESF, there are some programs in there as an example that we’d have to – we have to – we might have to adjust, depending. But that review is ongoing. But the President can certainly make decisions regarding – related to our relationship with Egypt and funding that we provide, absolutely.

QUESTION: Okay. Because this is kind of a big – now a very important moment here where you’re saying he can avoid making any decision on a coup but he could still stop the aid in one form or another. I mean, it might not be all, whatever.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I don’t want to get too ahead of it, but to be as clear as we can here, there are separate questions here, right? Determinating – determinating, that’s not a word. Determining whether or not it’s a coup, you are very familiar with our position, as we’ve stated in here many, many times. But more broadly speaking, our ongoing review of our relationship, all of our programs, all of our aid, is, of course, part of our ongoing review of our own broad relationship with Egypt.

QUESTION: Jen, just to follow up on --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- what I was asking on the $1.3 billion that is actually military.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Now, most of it, as I understand it, goes back towards buying F-16s and tanks and equipment and so on, and all this. Do you have a breakdown of that? That goes back to American U.S. manufacturers; isn’t that true?

MS. PSAKI: Well, you’re right that only the defense – this is getting into the weeds, but since we’re there – only the Defense Finance Accounting Service may draw on the funds held in the Egypt Federal Reserve account. In coordination with the Government of Egypt, they may draw on the account for payments on contracts between defense contractors and the Department of Defense on behalf of Egypt. In terms of what percentage goes back to defense contractors, I would point you to the Department of Defense for any breakdown. I’m not sure what they have available.

QUESTION: Does that in any way gnaw at the leverage of the U.S. --

MS. PSAKI: Can you say that one more time, Said?

QUESTION: Does that minimize or actually mitigate the leverage that the U.S. could have in terms of threatening to cut off aid, because a lot of it goes back to U.S. manufacturers? Does that in any way compromise the leverage that you could have by saying we could cut off the aid?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Said, there are obviously a range of issues that are discussed. As you know, there’s this internal discussion on what steps should be taken next.

QUESTION: Oh, another weeds question.

MS. PSAKI: Okay. Sorry, Deb. We’ll go to you next.

QUESTION: Sorry, just a very --

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: -- just a clarification. When you say “benefits the government,” what does that mean?

MS. PSAKI: Tell me again which context I said in that.

QUESTION: You said – well, remember back about 10 minutes ago you were talking about programs that might benefit the government, as opposed to some of the earlier ones like nongovernmental entities, et cetera --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- that wouldn’t be stopped, but ESF that would benefit the government might be. What is that exactly?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I gave you some, kind of – the way I would view what I said is there are certain programs with the government that would not be impacted. So those that promote free and fair elections, health assistance, programs for the environment, democracy, rule of law, and good governance can all continue. So those are sort of the exceptions, for lack of a better term. In terms of specific programs, I’d have to check with our team and see if there’s an example that might be useful to all of you.

QUESTION: Okay. Two questions.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Is there any reaction to the court ruling that Mubarak might be freed or could be freed? And secondly, back on the funding thing --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- is there any fear that if you reduce the military aid, or even the economic aid, that the Egyptian rulers at the time now will lessen the protection of the U.S. Embassy there?

MS. PSAKI: Well, let me do the first one first, as chronologically makes sense, so that’s nice. As we’ve long said with respect to the Mubarak trial – and I would point you back to many comments long before my arrival here with all of you – this is an eternal – internal Egyptian legal matter that is working its way through the Egyptian legal system, and otherwise we would refer you to the Government of Egypt for any further details.

On the second question, can you repeat that one more time?

QUESTION: Is there any fear that the reduction of aid in any form, military or economic --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- would – do you all fear that the ruling generals would somehow lessen the protection of the U.S. Embassy there?

MS. PSAKI: Well --

QUESTION: In retaliation, so to speak. Okay, you’re not going to help us; then we’re not going to provide protection for you.

MS. PSAKI: Well, certainly we would hope that would not be the case. Obviously, this is a hypothetical, given we haven’t made decisions yet. But --

QUESTION: (Inaudible) the decision-making process?

MS. PSAKI: I think we’re getting several steps ahead in a hypothetical on a decision we haven’t made yet, so I just don’t want to speculate on any of that at this stage from here.

QUESTION: Jen --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Saudi Foreign Minister Saud Faisal has said yesterday that to those who have announced they are cutting aids or their aid to Egypt or threatening to do that, we say that Arab and Muslim nations are rich and will not hesitate to help Egypt. And he expressed his concerns over the West’s criticism of the Egyptian Government, saying you will not achieve anything through threats. Do you think he’s talking to the U.S.?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I can’t speculate on that. Obviously, every country makes their own decision about whether they’re going to continue to provide aid, what aid they will provide, and we’ve certainly seen that. As you know, we’ve worked with a range of regional partners who have supported different sides or both sides in this – these issues going on in Egypt and will continue to do that. But we’ll make our own decisions here, based on our own national security interests, our own concerns about regional stability. And that review is ongoing.

QUESTION: What do you think about the Saudis’ position that – towards what’s going on in Egypt?

MS. PSAKI: I just don’t have anything more for you on it.

QUESTION: Are you --

MS. PSAKI: Every country is going to make their own decisions about aid and what they will or won’t provide.

QUESTION: Are you on the same page with them or two different pages?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we work closely with them, as we do with many regional partners. We share a belief that we need to return to a productive, stable path forward. And beyond that, I don’t have any more for you.

QUESTION: Yes. Can we expect a U.S. decision on cutting or not cutting the aid to Egypt in the coming weeks?

MS. PSAKI: Again, of course, the review is ongoing, but I wouldn’t want to get ahead of and box in the President on his own decision-making.

QUESTION: And just back to the Mubarak question --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- how would you take the fact that Mubarak may be freed and that President Morsy faces more charges, including criminal charges since this morning?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we don’t conflate the two. We’ve been clear on what our position on Mr. Morsy is. That is the same. And beyond that, I would point you to the Egyptian Government on the Mubarak case.

QUESTION: Still on Egypt or --

QUESTION: Yes.

QUESTION: Sure, yeah.

MS. PSAKI: Still on Egypt?

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS. PSAKI: Okay, go ahead.

QUESTION: In the determination of the coup, what part of the aid would be – would have to be cut?

MS. PSAKI: In the definition of a coup?

QUESTION: No. If a determination was made that it was a coup.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I can – I’m sure I can get you the legal breakdown on the specifics of that.

QUESTION: Broadly.

QUESTION: Isn’t it the whole $1.3 billion?

MS. PSAKI: I’d have to check on it. We’ll see if there’s a legal breakdown for it that (inaudible) --

QUESTION: Broadly speaking.

QUESTION: Just for the sake of clarity --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- historically for – in recent years, the military portion has run at $1.3 billion. The reason that you referenced $1.23 billion for this year is because of the cuts --

MS. PSAKI: Sequestration withholding.

QUESTION: -- that were obliged under sequestration?

MS. PSAKI: Yeah, mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Super. Thank you.

MS. PSAKI: Exactly.

QUESTION: Yes, please.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: You mentioned that there are two reviews are going separately, I assume, or maybe what you call it, parallel ones, legal review and political review. And as much as I got from your explanation and answering the question, the legal review is based – the answer is that if it’s a coup or not. I mean, I assume so.

MS. PSAKI: It’s not about whether it’s a coup or not.

QUESTION: The legal one.

MS. PSAKI: It’s about abiding by Section 7008.

QUESTION: Which is based --

MS. PSAKI: A restriction on the obligation and expenditure of certain funds to the Egyptian Government.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: And if that’s the case for the legal review, what are the criteria of the political review? Based on what, then?

MS. PSAKI: The policy review? Well, I think it’s --

QUESTION: About what happened or what’s going on now?

MS. PSAKI: Certainly. They’re all factors. Our national security interests. We have a long – decades long relationship with Egypt that we hope will continue. We fully believe that Egypt can return to a sustainable democracy, or they can continue on the path, I should say, to a sustainable democracy. We know that takes time. We know that Egypt plays an important role in regional stability. These are all factors. There are a range of factors and that’s, of course, why it’s an ongoing review and an ongoing discussion.

QUESTION: My second question is related to the contacts. Seems that in the last two days most of the things are coming through press or media --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- whether it is the Egyptian side or the American side. Since Thursday, which was the last time you appeared on this podium --

MS. PSAKI: That is true.

QUESTION: -- yes – any kind of contacts was – is going on? And in these contacts, are there other partners or not?

MS. PSAKI: Well, certainly we remain in close contact on the ground, but let me read out for you the Secretary’s contacts. He spoke with Interim Foreign Minister Fahmy twice on Friday. He made clear our concerns about the actions on the ground last week. He encouraged, as he has publicly, as we have publicly, the interim government to continue to move forward on a posture toward reconciliation. He passed on concerns he’s had, he’s heard from members of Congress of varying degrees. As I’ve said from here before, the Secretary speaks regularly with many members of Congress, and pass that along. And he made clear that we, of course, condemn all violence regardless of the side it’s coming from, but reiterated that the interim government has a preponderance of power and it plays a unique role. So he spoke with him.

He also spoke with Foreign Minister Judeh of Jordan. They talked about a range of issues, including Egypt, as well as Middle East peace and Syria. And he spoke with the Emirati Foreign Minister just yesterday and reiterated many of the same concerns and discussed, of course, our ongoing review of our relationship.

QUESTION: Yes. Regarding the Foreign Minister Fahmy --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- he had a press conference the day before yesterday, I think --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- and the – one of the things he raised is the issue of this – according to his description of, which is internationalization of the Egyptian case --

MS. PSAKI: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- which was based – I mean, somehow related to the question of raising the issue to the UN Security Council.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Do you have any view about that? Do you have an attitude about that? I saw it was a – I know it was a closed session, and the only quote was attributed to Samantha Power, was like one line. It was not even clear what was the U.S. attitude toward this raising the issue in the Security Council. Do you have something about it?

MS. PSAKI: I would point you to the UN here for anything specific. Broadly speaking, we, of course, support ongoing coordination and cooperation and dialogue between our many partners. As you know, the Secretary – I mentioned some of his recent calls, but as you know, because we’ve talked about it in here, he’s also been in touch with EU High Representative Ashton in the past weeks on a regular basis and many different officials on that.

QUESTION: So another – somehow the trend which is in Egypt and according to the official announcements there, whether it’s somehow the spokesperson or the advisor of the President --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- and others, it was – it is a matter of 24 or 48 hours, they are talking about dissolving the Muslim Brotherhood or even the political party of it. Do you have any comment about that?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’ve certainly seen those reports. As we’ve consistently said from the beginning, we believe any process moving forward needs to be inclusive and include all parties and all sides. That continues to be our public and private message.

QUESTION: So that means banning the Muslim Brotherhood is not a good idea?

MS. PSAKI: Correct.

QUESTION: Another subject?

QUESTION: No, just one --

MS. PSAKI: Let’s finish Egypt, and then we’ll go to you.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: Jen, you mentioned a legal review and a policy review. I was wondering if there was a potential judiciary review, or where that would fit in, and if the U.S. is able to discern if Egypt’s judiciary is functioning adequately in this crisis, and also if it’s maintaining some sense of impartiality with the rulings in both the Mubarak and the Morsy cases.

MS. PSAKI: I think those are – the reviews I mentioned are the reviews that are ongoing. Of course, we’re watching closely everything happening on the ground. And we have stated in the past, and let me reiterate today, that we have concerns about arbitrary arrests. We have said that we believe there should be a process put in place taking into account security and other concerns for Mr. Morsy and other members of the Muslim Brotherhood. That remains the case today and our position has not changed. And obviously, we look at all components on the ground as we continue to discuss and review our relationship with Egypt.

QUESTION: The Egyptian prosecutor said that Morsy would need to be detained for 15 days because he was inciting violence. Do you agree with that?

MS. PSAKI: Again, it’s not for us to determine or to make determinations, but we – our position has been clear, which I just stated, and obviously, we’re looking at all components of what’s happening on the ground.

QUESTION: Jen, has anyone been in touch with Baradei since he went to Vienna?

MS. PSAKI: With – I’m sorry, with whom?

QUESTION: The former Vice President, Mohamed Baradei --

MS. PSAKI: With Baradei.

QUESTION: -- in Vienna. Has anyone been in touch with him?

MS. PSAKI: The Secretary – I think I spoke about this last week. I’m not sure when he arrived in Vienna. But the Secretary did speak with him a number of times last week.

QUESTION: So who is taking the lead on this? I know that the Secretary is the top guy here, but who’s taking, let’s say, day-to-day events, or the point person --

MS. PSAKI: From the Administration?

QUESTION: -- from the Administration on the Egypt thing?

MS. PSAKI: Well, this is an issue that we’re closely focused on, and it’s one that’s discussed by the entire national security team. And so I would say many different players are in touch with many different counterparts, whether they are officials from other governments who have a stake in the region, or whether it’s Egyptian officials.

QUESTION: And finally, I know that the buck stops with the President and looking back – and I know you don’t do retrospect, but in retrospect, was it a mistake to have McCain and Lindsey at the same time as Burns was there? And it seems that all reports point to a close-but-no-cigar kind of a deal, that was basically sort of confused by the presence of the Senators. Do you agree do a retrospective in this case?

MS. PSAKI: Well, you’re right, I’m not going to do a retrospect on that. I know we spoke about it a bit last week. I just don’t have anything further to add on it.

Do we have any more on Egypt? Is yours Egypt, Jill, or no?

QUESTION: No.

QUESTION: One more on Egypt. Would suspending aid be a propaganda victory for the Muslim Brotherhood?

MS. PSAKI: Would it be a propaganda victory?

QUESTION: Mm-hmm.

MS. PSAKI: No. We’re reviewing it with a number of factors in mind, all of which I’ve outlined. But again, it’s a hypothetical because we’re not at that point.

QUESTION: Jen.

MS. PSAKI: Egypt, in the back?

QUESTION: Yeah. Jen, do you have any comments on the situation in Sinai --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- especially after today, 24 soldiers have been killed and attacked by an extremist militia? And a follow-up question: In case that the U.S. decided to stop the military aid to the Egyptian military, do you think – do you – don’t you have any fears that it will affect negatively on the role of the Egyptian army to fighters, especially the United States, it’s – when you consider it the main supporter for the Egyptian army? What do you think?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I’ll preview you for you that I’m not going to get into the second question, given it’s a hypothetical, but I can say that we, of course, strongly condemn today’s attack against Egyptian Central Security Force officers in the Sinai. We extend our condolences to the families of those who have been killed. The Sinai Peninsula remains an area of concern, and the current situation in Egypt has not improved the situation. A number of loosely-knit militant groups have formed in the Sinai. The United States, of course, continues to support Egypt’s ongoing efforts against terrorism and growing lawlessness in the Sinai, and we continue to cooperate with Egypt in these efforts.


If I may, there have been, unfortunately, a number of instances of violence, so let me just go through a couple of those as well.

We also condemn the attacks and violence that continue to occur across Egypt, including we deplore in the strongest terms the reprehensible attacks against over 40 Coptic Christian churches and other Christian institutions, including schools, social service societies, and businesses by extremists bent on sowing interreligious strife, when the vast majority of Egyptians reject such behavior. We’re also deeply troubled by the suspicious deaths of Muslim Brotherhood prisoners in a purported prison escape attempt near Cairo.

We, again, urge all those in Egypt to refrain from violence. There’s absolutely no place for such violence in Egypt. We call on all Egypt’s leaders and the international community to condemn such attacks without equivocation.

QUESTION: Why are those suspicious? Why have you judged those are suspicious?

MS. PSAKI: Well, there are a number of details that aren’t clear. But we’ve, of course, seen the reports and had some questions about that.

QUESTION: And have you raised it with the Egyptian authorities?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not – well, I know the Secretary’s last calls. I’m not sure beyond that. I know we’re in touch closely on the ground.

QUESTION: Can you check whether you’ve raised that?

MS. PSAKI: Sure. I’m happy to check what the last contacts have been.

QUESTION: And if so, at what level?

MS. PSAKI: Absolutely.

QUESTION: Related to this last point you made, the statement --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- do you still believe or consider the pro-Morsy protestors peaceful protestors or not?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’ve consistently condemned all violence from either side in here. As the Secretary said last week in his statement, the interim government obviously has a large portion of the power in this case, but regardless of where the violence is coming from, that’s something we would condemn, and we don’t think there’s any place for it in Egypt.

QUESTION: Other subject?

QUESTION: Sorry. Jen --

MS. PSAKI: Any more?

QUESTION: -- I was wondering if I could just quickly clarify what you were saying before.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: So the legal and policy review, the – both of which are ongoing, right?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: And the legal review consists of essentially making a determination on whether there was a coup or not? Is that --

MS. PSAKI: No. It is – Section 7008 is a restriction on the obligation and expenditure of certain funds to the Egyptian Government. I would point you back to the President’s statement on July 3rd, where he asked all of Administration officials to undergo a review of our aid. And certainly, as we’ve said from the beginning, our – one of our primary goals here is, of course, to abide by our legal obligations while we are still looking at the broad spectrum of our national security interests, regional stability, and our own belief that Egypt can return to a sustainable democratic path.

QUESTION: Okay. But and then aside from that --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- there’s also the policy review, under which only the $585 million that remains to be obligated is subject to that review. Is that right?

MS. PSAKI: Again, our broad relationship with Egypt, including all forms of aid, is part of any review. And that’s why the President asked six weeks ago – I think – I hope I’m doing my math correctly there – for all departments to review. So I wouldn’t partition it into one component. It is a broad review. Those discussions are ongoing.

QUESTION: I’m sorry. Final point.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Just I think I might have missed it, when you were talking about the $650 million --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- that was transferred to the Egypt account at the Fed --

MS. PSAKI: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- and you said that that doesn’t really go under Egyptian control. It goes --

MS. PSAKI: FMF funding doesn’t.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: There’s – and there’s often confusion about this, because it’s – it can be confusing. It goes – doesn’t go to full Egyptian control. It goes to the Egypt account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. And then through the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, the Government of Egypt will work with that entity moving forward.

QUESTION: And just so we’re clear, because --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- if I understand it right, you have a veto. In other words, the Defense Finance and Accounting Service – the money doesn’t get dispensed unless the U.S. Government agrees.

MS. PSAKI: No withdrawals may be made from the account without the Defense Finance and Accounting Service consent.

QUESTION: Okay. And then one other thing. I’m a little perplexed about one thing.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: When you talk about the legal review --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- under 7008 --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- but you’ve made your decision that you don’t plan to make a determination, correct?

MS. PSAKI: Correct.

QUESTION: And that has not changed?

MS. PSAKI: That has not changed.

QUESTION: And are you reviewing that decision?

MS. PSAKI: I believe we’ve made a decision. Obviously anything we can review. But there’s no plans for that.

QUESTION: But to your knowledge, you’re not actually reviewing the decision not to make a determination?

MS. PSAKI: No. And what the point I was trying to make earlier – so let me just reiterate it now – is it’s important to note that when we announced we weren’t making a determination, we talked about our broad national security interests. It’s always been about the Egyptian people determining their path forward, and not making a determination was in part because we did not want to send a signal that we were taking sides. That’s an important component of working with Egypt and working with them as they try to get on a path back to sustainable democracy.

QUESTION: Yes, please, just a --

MS. PSAKI: Is this still on Egypt?

QUESTION: Yes. Clarification.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: Are these numbers that you mentioned related to the Fiscal Year 2013, right?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Not 14?

MS. PSAKI: Correct. It’s FY2013.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. PSAKI: Egypt or on a --

QUESTION: Yes, Egypt.

MS. PSAKI: Egypt. Okay. Go ahead.

QUESTION: My name’s Ahmet from Turkey.

MS. PSAKI: Hi, Ahmet.

QUESTION: Turkish Radio and Television.

MS. PSAKI: Oh, nice to meet you.

QUESTION: Turkish Ambassador to Egypt Huseyin Avni just is recalled to Turkey and he has briefed the cabinet on developments in Egypt. And then the Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan kept up pressure on Egypt and said – and calling the violence a shame for Islam and the Arab world. And he described inaction for the international community on Egypt crisis as shameful. So do you share these comments on the issue?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to speak to every comment that comes from a foreign leader, and especially those that are close – we work closely with. I think I’ve stated clearly what our position is. The review is ongoing. Of course, we’ve condemned very clearly the violence that’s happening on the ground, and certainly when hundreds of civilians are killed, as they were last week, it’s not business as usual. You heard the Secretary say that last week, and the discussions are ongoing in the Administration, but I have nothing to announce for you today.

Let – is it Egypt?

QUESTION: No. Different subject.

MS. PSAKI: Okay. Let’s go to Jill. She’s been patiently waiting for a new topic.

QUESTION: (Laughter.) Finally. Concerning Glenn Greenwald --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- and his detention by the British – I’m sorry – his partner’s detention, David Miranda.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- did the U.S. actually request the British Home Office to do that, to detain him and to confiscate his electronic equipment?

MS. PSAKI: So we – of course, as you know, this is – this was U.K. law enforcement operation. We do have a close law enforcement and intelligence relationship with the U.K. and we were informed in advance, but we did not ask U.K. authorities to undertake this operation.

QUESTION: But isn’t it correct that now the U.S. actually does have access to his laptop and mobile and all of that?

MS. PSAKI: I just don’t have anything – any further information for you than I just portrayed.

QUESTION: Did you suggest it? Even if you didn’t ask, did you say: hey, this might be an idea?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any more for you than I just conveyed, Arshad.

QUESTION: Does the United States support his detention?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything more for you than I just conveyed.

QUESTION: On – in Pakistan today --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. Pakistan?

QUESTION: Yes.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: The Prime Minister today made a major speech since his inception, and he was underlining the importance of maintaining peace in South Asia --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- and said that Pakistan and India should not waste their resources on fighting wars. Instead, they should fight poverty, illiteracy, and bring development to their people. Do you have any comments on that?

MS. PSAKI: I haven’t seen that speech. I’m happy to take a look. As you know, our position remains the same, that we believe that Pakistan and India can work through any issues through dialogue, and we encourage that to, of course, continue.

QUESTION: Especially in the backdrop of tensions that have been simmering in the disputed Kashmir region, and he also said that Kashmir remains a vital outstanding dispute which must be resolved.

MS. PSAKI: And our policy on Kashmir has not changed. We still believe that the pace, scope, and character of India and Pakistan’s dialogue is for those two countries to determine.

QUESTION: But will you continue to encourage both capitals to return to peace talks and --

MS. PSAKI: We certainly continue to encourage further dialogue.

QUESTION: Jen, Syria?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: The UN has announced today that more than 30,000 people or Syrian refugees have fled to Iraq from Syria --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- in the last five days. Do you have any reaction, and how do you view this?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we, of course, are aware of reports that as many as 30,000 Syrians have crossed from Syria into Iraq since August 15th. We understand most of the refugees are from Aleppo, Afrin, Hasaka, and Qamishli. Reports are that the crossing reception and processing of the new arrivals have gone smoothly, thanks to the coordinated efforts of the UN, the International Organization for Migration, NGO partners, and local government officials. We also appreciate the efforts of the Kurdistan Regional Government to open the border, and remain deeply grateful to Iraq and other countries in the region that are providing protection, assistance, and hospitality to the nearly two million refugees who have fled the violence inside Syria.

QUESTION: Do you have anything on the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the United States?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything new for you. I think we’ve talked about this a little bit in the past. Let me check with our team and see where we are on that question.

QUESTION: One more on Syria. A Russian official has talked today about a U.S.-Russian meeting next week in The Hague to cooperate or to talk about Geneva 2.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Do you have any announcement?

MS. PSAKI: Sure. I do, actually. We have long agreed with Russia that a conference in Geneva is the best vehicle for moving towards a political solution. We all agree the talks cannot become a stalling tactic, and Secretary Kerry has been very clear on this point with the Russians. As you know, Secretaries Kerry and Hagel met August 9th, so just about 10 days ago, with their Russian counterparts on a range of bilateral and global issues, including efforts to build more momentum towards Geneva. They agreed to have senior members of their teams meet to continue to make progress on Geneva planning.

So Under Secretary Sherman, Ambassador Ford – and Ambassador Ford will meet in The Hague with their Russian counterparts to discuss this effort next week.

QUESTION: So it’s not at the level of, let’s say, with Secretary Kerry and Lavrov? It’s not at --

MS. PSAKI: Well, they – as you know, they speak on a regular basis, including just 10 days ago, and they talked about building momentum towards a Geneva conference. But these conversations, working through the logistics, have happened at this level throughout the process.

QUESTION: Okay. So that has not in any way sort of taken the urgency out of the process?

MS. PSAKI: Absolutely not. I’ll remind you that in the meetings that have taken place with the UN and with Russian counterparts, Under Secretary Sherman and either Ambassador Ford or Acting Assistant Secretary Jones have been typically the representatives from the United States.

QUESTION: And at that level, will they discuss countries that may be or may not be invited to the Geneva conference?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we certainly continue to discuss participation, and that will be part of the discussion next week.

QUESTION: Do you know who’s going to represent the Russians?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have that information. I will check and see if we have any clarity on that point.

QUESTION: Okay. And did --

QUESTION: Do you know which date?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have the date yet, just next week. That may still be being worked out.

QUESTION: And should we read into the fact of this meeting that there may be some progress on holding Geneva 2, notwithstanding that all public indications suggest that there’s been no progress for the last several months?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: So should we, from the fact that there’s going to be this meeting, conclude that there has been any progress?

MS. PSAKI: Well, you can take from it that during the Secretary’s meeting with Foreign Minister Lavrov this was a prominent topic of conversation. They agreed and reiterated their belief that this is the appropriate mechanism. They would like to move forward with it sooner rather than later, but in terms of what that means, that’s part of the discussion that will happen next week. Of course, the Russians and the United States, as we all know, are not the only players. We’re still continuing to encourage the Syrian opposition to develop a unified delegation able to present solid ideas, and that’s part of the calculus as well.

QUESTION: To your knowledge, have the – has President Assad’s government sent any recent signal suggesting that it is open to a Geneva 2 gathering?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any update on that for you, but certainly expect that will be a part of the discussion next week with the Russians.

QUESTION: Jen, I think last week --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- Minister Lavrov was very critical of your position that suggested that the Syrian Government does not want to go to Geneva. So what made you, at the time, say that the Syrian Government is not desirous of going to Geneva?

MS. PSAKI: Well, certainly, if they indicate they would like to go to Geneva, that would be a positive step, and we’re in touch with the opposition and encouraging them to develop a unified delegation as well.

QUESTION: But the Syrian Government does say that. I mean, time and again, they say, “We want a political resolution to this conflict.” Isn’t that an indication they want to go?

MS. PSAKI: Well, they’ve said a range of things, Said. So the question is: Where are we now, and can we move this process forward? And as you know, the Russians are in close touch with them and I’m certain will be a part of the discussion next week.

QUESTION: Jen, Jordanian Prime Minister --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- is talking about help providing by the U.S. to Jordan to protect itself to prevent any chemical weapons war --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- on Syria. Can you talk to or can you tell us about this cooperation and what help are you providing to them?

MS. PSAKI: I certainly can. As you know, we have provided a great deal of assistance to Jordan in the past. Let me see. I know I have something for you in here. Let me see if I have it. Thanks for your patience. Let me get back with you right after the briefing. I know I have something on that for you, and we’ll give it to you right after the briefing.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. PSAKI: I’m going to have to wrap this up shortly here, but Scott.

QUESTION: On Zimbabwe.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: The SADC alliance has called on Western nations to lift their sanctions against Zimbabwe. Is that an opinion shared by the United States?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we understand, of course, as you reference, that SADC, in its August 18th communique, assessed Zimbabwe’s recent elections as free and peaceful. The United States stands by our assessment that these elections, while relatively peaceful, did not represent a credible expression of the will of the Zimbabwean people due to serious flaws throughout the electoral process, as highlighted by the regional and domestic monitors. So our position, of course, is not the same.

QUESTION: The SADC chair, the Malawi President Joyce Banda, says the people of Zimbabwe have suffered enough and that’s why she believes that those sanctions should be lifted. Does the United States believe that the people of Zimbabwe have suffered enough?

MS. PSAKI: Well, of course, let me first say that SADC has played a very positive role in supporting democratic reform in Zimbabwe, and its continued involvement will be important to consolidate and advance still-needed reforms. We remain committed to working with them and our concerns were around the serious flaws highlighted by SADC’s own observation team.

In terms of sanctions and our own review, our own look at that, as I believe is your question, we have made clear to the Government of Zimbabwe and the region that a change in U.S. sanctions policy will occur only in a context of credible, transparent, peaceful reforms that reflect the will of the Zimbabwean people. That is how we make our decisions and the prism we, of course, make them through. Of course, we are always concerned about the suffering of any people, certainly the people of Zimbabwe, but that’s how we make our decisions. And if those changes are made, then we’ll certainly conduct a review.

QUESTION: So it’s conceivable that you could change your sanctions policy on Zimbabwe if Mugabe were to undertake credible, transparent reforms that reflect the will of the Zimbabwean people?

MS. PSAKI: It certainly is feasible. But our targeted – our program of targeted sanctions will remain in place as long as these conditions continue to exist in Zimbabwe.

QUESTION: One other subject?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Is the Secretary in the building today or is he on vacation?

MS. PSAKI: He is not in the building today.

QUESTION: So does that mean he’s on vacation?

MS. PSAKI: He is.

QUESTION: Anything on the peace process? Do we know any – about the next round of talks? When is it going to be?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t --

QUESTION: The Jericho talks?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have an update for you. As you all know, the next step here was scheduling the meeting in Jericho. That’s still being worked through, so I don’t have any announcement for you.

QUESTION: Just --

MS. PSAKI: Just a few more. Go ahead, Jill.

QUESTION: -- a quick one?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Al-Qaida leader Adam Gadahn’s threats urging attacks on American diplomats, if you had any response to that? And also, Senator Graham is saying he’s allied himself with al-Qaida, therefore the U.S. should use lethal force against him. Do you have any legal – has the State Department looked at this?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I know that these – this was – this report just came out this morning, as I understand it, so we, of course, have seen them. We’re looking into them more closely, and as we have more, I’m happy to share that with all of you.

QUESTION: On the subject of intimidation, Glenn Greenwald says now that his partner’s been detained, he’s going to unleash more aggressive reporting. Is this – is he trying to intimidate the United States?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything for you on that. You know where we stand on the release of classified information.

QUESTION: If – now, see, I feel like we need some kind of analogy, so I thought maybe it was like a baseball question.

MS. PSAKI: I’ll think about an analogy, and maybe I’ll have one for you tomorrow.

QUESTION: Okay, thanks.

MS. PSAKI: I think let’s just do two more here.

QUESTION: In reaction to a booby-trapped car exploding in Beirut on Thursday, I think --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- the U.S. Ambassador in Beirut condemned everything, but she stopped short of calling the – calling this a terrorist attack. Are there rules to call attacks terrorist or not?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we do note a group calling itself Aisha, the Mother of Believers Brigades for Foreign – let’s see – Missions has claimed responsibility for the attack. We have condemned it in the strongest terms. As you’re right, I don’t have any more for you on it. We’re obviously still looking into the details of what took place.

QUESTION: But you’re not calling it terrorist?

MS. PSAKI: I am not at this point.

QUESTION: And how do you look at the return of the car bombs phenomena to Lebanon after this bomb? Two days ago they found another car.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. Well, we, of course, strongly condemn any violence in Lebanon, this incident and any others. We urge all parties to exercise calm and restraint and to desist from actions that could contribute to an escalating cycle of sectarian retribution and violence. We reaffirm our commitment to a stable, sovereign, and independent Lebanon and support the Lebanese Government’s efforts to restore stability and security in Beirut.

Last one.

QUESTION: I’ll make it very quick, thank you.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: Now that the CIA has formally made public its role in 1953 in the overthrow of Mossadegh, will the U.S. be offering any expression to the Iranians, anything even up to and including an apology?

MS. PSAKI: I would point – I know it’s a CIA report and I would point you to the CIA on that. Thanks, everyone.

QUESTION: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:24 p.m.)

DPB # 140

2013-08-19

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Daily Press Briefings : Daily Press Briefing: April 14, 2014


Jen Psaki
Spokesperson
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
April 14, 2014


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Index for Today's Briefing
  • DEPARTMENT
    • FIFA World Cup Trophy Presentation
  • UKRAINE/RUSSIA
    • U.S. Effort for a Diplomatic Solution
    • U.S. Prepared to Impose Further Sanctions
    • U.S. Concerned About Conflicts in Eastern Ukraine
    • $1 Billion Loan Guarantee Agreement / Other Forms of Assistance
    • Focus on Economic and Diplomatic Efforts to Resolve Crisis
    • Ukraine Exercising Restraint
    • President Obama's Executive Order on Sanctions
    • CIA Director Traveled to Kyiv
    • Crimea / Forum to Cover a Range of Issues
    • NATO / Factsheet Focuses on the Truth
  • SYRIA/RUSSIA
    • Reports of Chemical Weapons Use
  • ISRAEL/RUSSIA/UKRAINE
    • Israel / UN Vote on Ukraine
  • MEPP
    • Meetings Continue
    • Special Envoy Indyk in Washington
  • ISRAEL
    • Arrests of American Citizen
    • Reports of Journalist Arrest
  • MEPP
    • Parties Engaged in Negotiations
  • SYRIA
    • U.S. Engaged with the Opposition / Focus on Political Solution
  • NIGERIA
    • U.S. Condemns Violent Attacks in Abuja and Borno State
  • IRAN
    • U.S. Aware of Iran's Complaint to UN / UN Representative Nomination / Visa
  • TURKEY
    • Concerns about Due Process and Justice
  • DEPARTMENT
    • Chelsea Manning Conviction
  • GUINEA-BISSAU
    • Elections
  • AFGHANISTAN
    • Election Results
  • IRAQ
    • Removing Travel Restrictions for Political Parties
  • CUBA
    • USAID Program
  • JAPAN
    • Internal Affairs Minister Visit to Yasukuni Shrine
  • IRAQ
    • Removing Travel Restrictions for Political Parties


TRANSCRIPT:

1:02 p.m. EDT

MS. PSAKI: Hi, everyone. Hope everyone had a nice weekend with the beautiful weather.

I just have one item at the top. Today, the State Department celebrates the arrival of the FIFA World Cup trophy. This is its first stop in the United States on the global trophy tour, presented by Coca-Cola preceding the FIFA World Cup tournament in Brazil, which begins on June 12th. Before the trophy presentation here at the Department, over 50 athletes from local youth soccer organizations will participate in a soccer clinic with DC United players and former U.S. national team members Cobi Jones and Julie Foudy. Beyond their participation today, Jones and Foudy are also sports envoys for the Department. And in that capacity, they hold sports clinics for young people and their coaches and participate in community outreach efforts. And the Secretary, I know, will be stopping by and we’ll see what soccer skills he brings to the table.

QUESTION: Who did you say it was presented by?

MS. PSAKI: Coca-Cola. What did I say?

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MS. PSAKI: Preceding – preceding – presented by Coca-Cola preceding the FIFA World Cup tournament.

QUESTION: Okay. All right. Just curious. Can we go to Ukraine, please?

MS. PSAKI: We can.

QUESTION: So while many of us were enjoying the very nice weekend, it seems that you and the Russians were engaged in yet another round of name-calling and bickering over what’s going on in Ukraine, and I’ve got a couple specifics, but more broadly, first, is there any common ground here? Is there a point to having this meeting that’s being planned for later in the week? Or is it now, given the recriminations, given what we’ve been learning about what happened in the Black Sea over the weekend, is it just a waste of time – much like the Security Council meeting last night appeared to be?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we certainly do not see it as a waste of time. We feel there should always be an opportunity and an opening for diplomacy. And our belief remains that there’s no military solution to the conflict in Ukraine. We remain engaged both on the phone, as well as later this week in person. And over the course of the weekend, you’re right, we did put out quite a bit of information, and we have a responsibility to provide the facts. And the best antidote to false information are facts, and so we’re trying to communicate to Ukrainians, to people around the world, about what the facts are in this case.

QUESTION: Do you believe that you have any common ground with Russia right now on this issue of Ukraine?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we will see, Matt. We have seen the Russians say they respect the sovereignty of Ukraine. We’ll see. We’ve seen them say they don’t want to escalate, or they want to de-escalate. That was in one of their readouts last week. We’ll see. Obviously, actions are more important than words here, but we still think there is a value --

QUESTION: All right.

MS. PSAKI: -- to sitting down at the table and discussing.

QUESTION: Okay, fair enough. But “we’ll see” – aren’t you already seeing?

MS. PSAKI: We are seeing, but Matt, it doesn’t mean it’s over or we give up our efforts --

QUESTION: All right.

MS. PSAKI: -- at a diplomatic solution here.

QUESTION: Okay. The Ukrainian president has suggested the – floated the idea of UN peacekeepers for the East. Is that something that the United States would be prepared to take to the council to have vetoed by the Russians?

MS. PSAKI: I have seen those reports; they just came out naturally, as you know, right before I came down here, so I haven’t had the chance to talk to our team yet – or they were sort of exploring what our thoughts are on that.

QUESTION: Can I --

QUESTION: Can we go back to the meeting?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: As you are well aware, the Russians appear to have been laying down conditions for the meeting, notably that these separatists in eastern Ukraine – in eastern Ukraine be included. Is that remotely acceptable to the United States Government?

MS. PSAKI: No. This is a meeting that will be taking place at the foreign – at the level of foreign minister. That is true for Ukraine. It’s true for Russia. It’s true for the EU. It’s true for the United States. And we feel that the Government of Ukraine represents all of Ukraine.

QUESTION: Are you concerned that by adopting that position, you may be giving the Russians a pretext for calling off the meeting? Because they could say, “Well, we think the eastern Ukrainian separatists should be represented, and since they’re not, we’re not going to come?”

MS. PSAKI: Well, we understand that’s their view, but they’ve indicated a desire to participate in a diplomatic conversation, so it is important that they deliver on that promise.

QUESTION: And Samantha – Ambassador Power yesterday was again beating the drum on potential additional sanctions. The sanctions that you imposed on Friday – if I’m not mistaken I think all of the individuals who were sanctioned are already on EU – analogous EU designations.

MS. PSAKI: There was an overlap. I’m not sure if it was exactly everyone, but yes, there was certainly an overlap.

QUESTION: And the sanctioning of the gas company was interesting in that it would seem to put it off-limits to Gazprom. But where are you in the debate on whether to impose additional sanctions on Russian individuals or entities, and on whether to impose the sectoral sanctions that the Secretary discussed in his testimony last week?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we have the tools and the flexibility to move forward with those sanctions should we choose to. And the President has been clear that depending on Russian behavior we’re prepared to impose further sanctions, including on individuals and entities in certain sectors of the Russian economy, such as financial services, energy, metals, and mining, engineering and defense. I don’t have anything to announce or predict for you today, but certainly there is an ongoing discussion about next steps within the Administration.

QUESTION: There’s a big difference, though, between sanctions on individuals within various sectors and sanctions on those sectors themselves.

MS. PSAKI: I said: “And entities in certain sectors.” And --

QUESTION: Right. But individuals and entities is kind of – I think, is kind of one thing whereas something else that would affect the ability of the entirety of Russia’s mining industry, for example, or the entirety of its financial services industry, is a different thing, which is what I had thought sectoral sanctions was about. Maybe I misunderstood, but it sounds like --

MS. PSAKI: Well, companies within sectors, yes. That is something we have the capability to do with our executive – the executive order the President signed just a few weeks ago.

QUESTION: But you’re not looking at sectors as a whole?

MS. PSAKI: Those are the next steps that we’re looking at, Arshad, at this point – the ones I outlined.

QUESTION: Jen, can I go back?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: You just said that you’d seen statements out of Moscow saying that they wanted to de-escalate the situation as of last week. But I wondered how you reacted to the Kremlin today saying that President Putin has had a lot of requests to help or intervene in some form in eastern Ukraine. Do you believe that’s threatening or helpful or --

MS. PSAKI: We have, of course, seen those comments. We are – as we’ve said over the weekend, but it’s worth repeating, we’re very concerned about evidence of Russian support for a concerted, orchestrated campaign of incitement and sabotage to undermine and destabilize the Ukrainian state.

As you saw over the weekend with a lot of the documents or information we put out, and what UN Ambassador Samantha Power said, we feel very strongly that the pattern of activities bears striking similarities to the situation in Crimea, ahead of the illegal Russian occupation and purported annexation of that part of Ukraine. And the question to us is: What exactly – who are they referring to, what are they referring to? Because all evidence points to the likelihood that these are individuals with strong ties to the Russian Government who are causing these conflicts in eastern Ukraine.

QUESTION: Do such comments increase your concern that there could be some kind of invasion planned by the troops that are massing on the borders?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to make a prediction of that. I know you’re not necessarily asking me to, but we are watching it closely, Jo. We are conveying very clearly that those steps would be completely unacceptable. We’ve been consistently doing that.

QUESTION: And I believe there was an instant over the weekend with the U.S. warship Donald Cook where there was a fighter that did some --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- low-altitude passes over this. Your colleagues at the Pentagon have already spoken to this, but they advise that it’s actually up to the State Department as to whether you’re going to formally lodge some complaint against Russia for a provocative and unprofessional act.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I’ve seen the comments that my Department of Defense colleagues have put out. They’ve put out some specific details on what exactly happened here. I’d have to check with our team and see if there’s any plans for that. Not that I’m aware of, but --

QUESTION: Okay. Just one more part on the money, is while there was also – this morning the United States signed the --

MS. PSAKI: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- one billion loan guarantee. And I just wondered if you’d found out any of the other pieces of the aid that I was asking about last week.

MS. PSAKI: Sure. And part of the challenge here is that things keep changing, and so hence we keep updating. But I can walk through some of that. And just to confirm what Jo mentioned, today Secretary Lew and the Ukrainian finance minister signed a $1 billion loan guarantee agreement for Ukraine. The $1 billion loan guarantee that USAID will implement will help Ukraine access capital at reasonable rates and manage the transition to a prosperous democracy. But let me go through some of the specific assistance questions that you all had asked about.

So just a couple of updates here. We are providing many forms of assistance to meet Ukraine’s most pressing needs and to help it enact the reforms needed to make its IMF program a success. This includes helping Ukraine carry out crucial economic reforms. We’ve sent Treasury Department and USAID technical advisors to work with Ukraine’s national bank, finance ministry, and deposit guarantee fund. We’re also helping – as Margaret noted, I believe, last week, we had announced our desire to help unfreeze stolen assets and reduce corruption. We’ve sent a team of experts from the Treasury Department, Justice Department, and FBI to advise the Ukrainian Government on how to investigate and collect evidence needed to recover stolen assets located abroad. The United States and the United Kingdom will co-host a multilateral meeting April 29th and 30th to bring together Ukrainian officials and their counterparts from key financial center countries to coordinate on tracing stolen assets.

In addition, USAID and the State Department have also provided over $11.4 million in assistance to promote free, fair, and peaceful elections on May 25th. This will include support for domestic and international election observers, transparent and effective election administration, and voter education campaigns, among other activities.

And finally, on the security side, as you all know, we have longstanding military-to-military cooperation with Ukraine. Our ongoing FMF and international military and education programs have focused on supporting defense reforms, military professionalization, increasing the interoperability of Ukrainian forces, and expanding Ukraine’s deployable peacekeeping capabilities. We announced this, or DOD announced this, but on March 29th the United States delivered approximately 300,000 MRE rations to Ukraine. And we will venture to get out if there are additional updates to that later this afternoon.

QUESTION: One more on aid. Counselor Shannon is quoted in Berlin as saying that the Administration is considering arming Ukrainians. He said I can’t tell you what the decision will be on that, but that it’s an option. Does the fact that he aired this publicly suggest this is under any greater consideration now than it has been in the past?

MS. PSAKI: No, it does not. Our focus remains on the economic and – on our economic and diplomatic efforts, as evidenced by the – some of – the signing today and our efforts later this week. We don’t see a military solution to this crisis, and that hasn’t changed.

QUESTION: And you’re – so you’re not – even though you’re thinking about it, you’re not particularly disposed to arm the Ukrainians?

MS. PSAKI: Nothing has changed about our view or our consideration. I have nothing, of course, to announce, but obviously, they’ve made a range of requests. We have provided them with MREs, as I mentioned, and we’ll continue to consider those. But again, our focus is not on military assistance or a military solution.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: Do you believe that it would be a good thing for the Ukrainian authorities to order their military to try to regain control of municipal buildings, other parts of their territory, that have been seized by whoever they’ve been seized by?

MS. PSAKI: Sorry, I didn’t understand your question. Do we believe it would be --

QUESTION: Is it a good idea for the Ukrainian authorities to order their military or other law enforcement forces to try to regain control of some of these buildings – police stations, et cetera – that have been seized by separatists?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I know we all, of course, saw the Ukrainian Government make some announcements this weekend and set a deadline which obviously has passed. We – they have shown first and foremost that their goal is to find a peaceful way forward. Certainly, they have the right to try to control challenging situations on the ground. They have the right to maintain in a peaceful way, as much as is possible, order in Ukraine. But again, time and time again, they have exhibited a remarkable level of restraint, and we’re continuing to encourage them to lead with that moving forward.

QUESTION: Sorry – to lead with restraint?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: And sorry, one last one for me on this, please.

MS. PSAKI: Sure. Go ahead.

QUESTION: The stated purpose, if I understand it, of the now three rounds of sanctions, if you count Friday’s as the third, that the United States has imposed, have been – has been sort of two-fold; one, to make Russia pay a price for its actions, and two, to try to deter them from going further. The Russian response, as you yourselves described it over the weekend, was to completely brush aside your sanctions and to continue to support actions in eastern Ukraine that erode the government’s control of its territory and so on.

Given that, how can you not plan additional sanctions? What more do you need to see to impose additional sanctions, when even as you talk about negotiating with them, they continue, in your telling, their undermining of the Ukrainian state?

MS. PSAKI: Well, one of the reasons that the executive order the President signed was so broad and so flexible was to provide us with the ability to impose additional sanctions. So there are certainly conversations ongoing. As we noted a few minutes ago, there are many more individuals, many more sectoral sanctions that can be put in place should we choose to do that.

QUESTION: But no decisions yet?

MS. PSAKI: No decisions yet.

QUESTION: Thanks.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Jen, on – a bit of a follow there. On the message to Ukraine’s Government and to the military to show some restraint, was that something that the Secretary delivered in a conversation at all over the past few days with Ukraine’s leaders?

MS. PSAKI: He had – he actually spoke with Prime Minister Yatsenyuk today. I wasn’t able to get a readout; it just happened. But over – and on Friday, he also spoke with him. It’s not a message of conveying what they need to do. They are already doing this. They are already exhibiting a remarkable level of restraint, so it’s applauding them for that level of restraint, encouraging them to continue that moving forward. And certainly, that’s part of the discussion that often occurs when the Secretary speaks with Prime Minister Yatsenyuk.

QUESTION: It seems like the level of provocation, though, is being escalated by these separatists or whoever’s paying them or otherwise. So at what point will the U.S. message be one of understanding that you can’t just hold back here; you need to --

MS. PSAKI: Well, certainly, as I conveyed a few minutes ago, we understand, well, one, they have the right to control the situation and they have the right to maintain order, but I think we all want to see a peaceful outcome here and for all sides to deescalate. So that’s a message we’re conveying to all sides.

QUESTION: But their actions thus far on the security front have all been appropriate, in the U.S. view?

MS. PSAKI: Well, that is something we’ve seen across the board, that they have been remarkably restrained, and we’re continuing to encourage them to do so moving forward.

QUESTION: I have one question on the sanctions front.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Is it fair to understand that there’s a fair amount of broadening and sharpening of the existing sort of level of sanctions we’re in that can be done before we move up to sectoral sanctions, that there’s more room to tinker here?

MS. PSAKI: There are certainly more individuals. But again, I’m not going to outline when a decision hasn’t yet been made that far about how we would do it or what we would do because there are many options that we could undertake. So --

QUESTION: So on --

QUESTION: So it’s wrong to assume that the next round of sanctions would automatically be in that sectoral space. It could be a number of things.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I wouldn’t make any assumptions, given that hasn’t been decided internally at this point.

QUESTION: So Jen, consistent with your message that there is no military solution to this thing, are you impressing upon the president of the Ukraine, Turchynov, not to use force to sort of force these people out of these buildings?

MS. PSAKI: Well, certainly, Said, I think I’ve answered this a few times, but we do feel that exercising restraint and having a peaceful outcome is what’s in the best interests of the people of Ukraine.

QUESTION: I guess my question is: Did you make this directly to him? Did anyone, whether the President or the Secretary of State, make that statement clearly to the president?

MS. PSAKI: Well, they’ve already been exercising a remarkable level of restraint, and when the Secretary speaks – has spoken with the prime minister, he has thanked him for that and encouraged him to continue that moving forward.

QUESTION: So today – I don’t know if you saw Mr. Lavrov’s press conference, but he called the West’s hypocrisy as knowing no bounds, that on the one hand you called – you praised what was happening in Maidan, but on the other hand you are calling these people that took over the building thugs and so on, and not protestors. So --

MS. PSAKI: Well, Said, I think it’s pretty clear all evidence points to the connection of these individuals to Russia, so I think that answers you question.

QUESTION: Exactly what I wanted to ask you.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: What kind of evidence do you have to substantiate your claims?

MS. PSAKI: I could go on and on, Said. We have talked about this last week.

QUESTION: Could you share some of it?

MS. PSAKI: We put out a range of documents yesterday. I would point you to all of that. And Ambassador Power also spoke to it.

QUESTION: Okay. And lastly, he also said that there was absolutely no Russian intelligence personnel, no forces inside of the Ukraine, and so on. So do you believe that the Russians’ foreign minister is actually lying?

MS. PSAKI: Said, I would point you to the fact/fiction document we put out yesterday that outlines a number of the claims and what the facts are on the ground. That may be useful.

QUESTION: So what he is saying is basically fiction?

MS. PSAKI: I would point you to that.

Do – Ukraine?

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.

QUESTION: Minister Lavrov has asked for clarifications from the U.S. regarding the CIA director visit to Kyiv.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Have you provided him with clarifications?

MS. PSAKI: I believe that the CIA has answered this, but let me just reiterate what they’ve said. We know that the CIA does not normally comment on the director’s travel. Given the extraordinary circumstances in this case and the false claims being leveled by the Russians at the CIA, however, we can confirm the director was in Kyiv this weekend as part of a trip to Europe. As you all know, senior-level visits of intelligence officials are a standard means of fostering a mutually beneficial security cooperation. That’s something we do with Russia, and certainly it’s not out of the norm we would do it with Ukraine.

There were some claims that Director Brennan encouraged Ukrainian authorities to conduct tactical operations inside Ukraine. Those are completely false. I believe that all has been conveyed, but those are the facts of the matter.

QUESTION: May I ask – these are really quick, boom, boom, boom.

MS. PSAKI: Sure. Okay.

QUESTION: One, are you able to repeat what Ambassador Shannon said in Berlin today that arming the rebels is an option, which came in – his reply came in response to a question about the Secretary’s formerly good friend, Senator McCain, who basically went on a rampage again this weekend against the Administration and the Secretary himself, saying that they need to arm – the U.S. should arm the rebels? So are you able to repeat what Ambassador Shannon --

MS. PSAKI: Our position is as I laid it out earlier.

QUESTION: Is it an option?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’re of course considering their request. But again, our focus is on economic and diplomatic means.

QUESTION: I’m looking for you to say the words, arming – or “shipping arms or selling arms or giving arms to Ukraine is an option.”

MS. PSAKI: That’s --

QUESTION: That you’re – that the Administration is considering.

MS. PSAKI: That’s not at all what our focus is, Matt. I’m not going to eliminate in the future forever, but at this time --

QUESTION: Okay. So it is an option.

MS. PSAKI: At this time, our focus is on economic and diplomatic efforts --

QUESTION: All right.

MS. PSAKI: -- to de-escalate the situation. It’s not at all on military incursions.

QUESTION: All right. As it relates to Crimea itself, in answer --

QUESTION: Military incursion or military arming?

MS. PSAKI: Both, both. Neither.

QUESTION: As it relates to Crimea, your answer a while ago to Jo, you said the “purported annexation of Crimea.” President Putin has today appointed a head of Crimea.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: At what point or ever will the Administration concede that Crimea has become part of Russia?

MS. PSAKI: I can’t predict a point, Matt.

QUESTION: So as far as you know, never?

MS. PSAKI: I --

QUESTION: Crimea will always be part of Ukraine; it will never be part of Russia to the United States?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Crimea is a part of Ukraine. I don’t foresee that changing, no.

QUESTION: On --

QUESTION: But it – you don’t argue, though, that for all intents and purposes, it is part of Russia right now?

MS. PSAKI: Well, that’s how Russia treats it, but we don’t recognize that and neither does the majority of the international community.

QUESTION: All right.

QUESTION: Can I follow up on the meeting on the 17th?

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: What is really expected to come out of the meeting? What are the points that you want to discuss?

MS. PSAKI: Well, there are a range of issues that we want to discuss: De-escalation, demobilization, support for elections and constitutional reform. This is a forum when the Ukrainians and the Russians will be at a table together for the first time since the – Foreign Minister Lavrov’s meeting with the Ukrainian foreign minister. So it’s an opportunity for dialogue and that’s why we’re holding the meeting.

QUESTION: Will that meeting be the kind of forum where you can say, “Look, we’re going to give you a certain amount of time to rectify the situation, or we are going to do 1, 2, 3, 4?”

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to make predictions of that, but to be clear, Said, we’ve already been conveying messages of what the consequences will be.

QUESTION: I just want to make sure. You are – the Russians are going? They’re going to Geneva?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm, yes.

QUESTION: You’re sure of that? Because after the announcement on Friday by both you and by Catherine Ashton’s people, the Russians came out and said, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, this is very premature. We haven’t agreed to anything yet.” You’re – as of today, they’re on board to get – as far as you know?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I will – our announcement was fully coordinated. They were aware of our announcement as well as the EU’s, and all parties are planning to attend.

QUESTION: Okay. So as far as --

MS. PSAKI: Yes.

QUESTION: Just as far as you know, it’s still on?

MS. PSAKI: Yes.

QUESTION: All right.

MS. PSAKI: Ukraine or --

QUESTION: Yes, please.

MS. PSAKI: Ukraine, okay. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Yes. You mentioned that you are focusing on the economic and diplomatic efforts --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- to de-escalate the situation. Regarding the economic, what you mentioned – you mentioned – most of the steps that you are mentioning is, like, somehow long term – it seems like it’s long-term project with – like, to take the frozen assets or whatever and related to the corrupted money.

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’re working on them as we speak. And just today --

QUESTION: I mean, I’m just trying to --

MS. PSAKI: Okay. Go ahead.

QUESTION: -- ask two questions --

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: -- regarding the economic measures to help the Ukrainians, is first: How the financial aid is reaching them as soon as possible?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: The second is: How they – you are helping them regarding the energy problem, which is – like you mentioned in details last week. Are there any steps taken in these two fields?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I talked a bit last week about our coordination on the energy issues, and that’s why I didn’t mention it. And what I talked – the list I went through to Jo’s question. So that’s ongoing. We’re continuing to work with Ukraine, with the Europeans, to address their energy needs.

On the financial assistance, I mentioned a little bit earlier that just today, Secretary Lew and the Ukrainian finance minister signed a $1 billion loan guarantee agreement. Obviously, there’s a short implementation phase for that, but that’s something that should be moving pretty quickly.

QUESTION: At this point it will be reached as soon – I mean, possibly? I know it’s going to be approved by the Congress --

MS. PSAKI: Well, it helps – it’s a loan guarantee, so it helps the Ukrainians have access to capital at reasonable rates. But there is a range of assistance coming from the Europeans. They’re obviously working with the IMF. And I think every entity that has a stake in the future of Ukraine is working as quickly as possible to make sure they have the economic assistance they need.

QUESTION: Beside the 17 of April, I’m still puzzled and other people puzzled by your diplomatic effort insisting to go to UN, although it’s – the positions are really clear.

MS. PSAKI: The meeting yesterday?

QUESTION: Yes, for --

MS. PSAKI: That was called by the Russians.

QUESTION: By the Russians?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: And – but you are ready – I mean, are you planning to attend more meeting like this, or it’s just useless?

MS. PSAKI: Well, our UN representative often attends the meetings, and there’s a range of diplomatic paths that we work through for every global issue. But that was a meeting called by the Russians.

QUESTION: Regarding the sanctions, recently, I mean, there are some observers who think – I mean, mentioning that the Europeans are not that much excited about these sanctions. Do you have any say to the – to say about that? I mean, I’m just trying to figure out what is your understanding of that. Is it exaggeration?

MS. PSAKI: Well, they’ve continued to announce sanctions over the course of the last several weeks, just as we have. There’s no question there is strength in numbers, and we are working in close coordination and cooperation with the Europeans, but – and I’m sure that will be – continue to be a topic of discussion in the coming days.

QUESTION: The first week of this escalation of the tension in Ukraine and the Crimea, it was mentioned that one of the things that the U.S. is doing through NATO is to guarantee the neighbors of Ukraine --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- that they are safe enough and nothing can be – even Poland and others --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Are – these measures are still going on, or just like it was the first weekend, over?

MS. PSAKI: No, they certainly are. Vice President Biden announced a number of steps. A number of steps were taken by NATO, all in close cooperation and coordination to strengthen and bolster countries in Eastern Europe and neighbors, as you mentioned, and many are NATO allies, and we work closely to help make sure they have the resources they need.

QUESTION: The last question is regarding this Russian fiction/American facts game.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: I mean, I’m just trying to figure out is this a tool that you think it’s helpful, and what is the wisdom behind using this? And it’s done in English or other languages, too?

MS. PSAKI: Oh, it’s in English but we’ve translated different fact sheets or different materials in the past into other languages, so that may be the case here as well. And the purpose here is to communicate what the facts are, what the actual information is. And as I mentioned a little bit earlier, the best antidote to false information is the truth, and so that’s what our focus is on.

QUESTION: Which is related to this just follow-up because it was – for those who lived in ’60s or studied ’60s, it’s looking – it looks what was happening yesterday is kind of – the tools of the 19th century or 20th century, which is now we are in 21st century. You think that it’s exaggeration, this observation that the tools of using facts and propaganda machine which is like whatever is said, it’s this is the opposite version of it because it looks like those who – what those who are seeing the facts, they see it. Those who are seeing the fiction, they’re seeing it as fiction or facts for them?

MS. PSAKI: Well, if there wasn’t a great deal of propaganda happening on the ground, there wouldn’t be a need to lay out the facts. So that’s the reason we’re doing it.

QUESTION: Move to – move on?

MS. PSAKI: Do you have Ukraine or something else?

QUESTION: No.

MS. PSAKI: Okay, go ahead.

QUESTION: Oh.

MS. PSAKI: I thought he had a Ukraine question in the back. Go ahead.

QUESTION: No, I just want to ask briefly – it is Russia-related but it’s also Israel-related. It has to do with Syria first. The reports of chemical weapons use that you were asked about last week, the Russians have now – Foreign Minister Lavrov in this same press conference, I guess, with whoever it was today in Moscow, talked about the Russians being concerned about this.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Do you have anything more today?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t.

QUESTION: All right.

MS. PSAKI: We’re not able to corroborate the claims, same as we were on Friday.

QUESTION: And then as it relates to Ukraine, I wanted to ask about Israel. There was a report in an Israeli newspaper over the weekend that the Administration is irate, infuriated with Israelis because of their lack of a position on – with Russia on – over Ukraine.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Is that an accurate statement or is this just – I mean, does it matter to you how Israel comports itself?

MS. PSAKI: Well, that wouldn’t be how we would characterize it. As you know, we work closely with a range of countries, not just European countries, on Ukraine and we have been for months. And so we were surprised that Israel did not join the vast majority of countries that voted to support Ukraine’s territorial integrity in the United Nations. But that’s more our view, not the way you just characterized it.

QUESTION: Well, surprised. You recall that they were – the foreign ministry was on strike at the time --

MS. PSAKI: I do recall that.

QUESTION: Do you not regard that as a – do you think that they were shirking their responsibility by observing the strike and not showing up? I mean, it wasn’t that they voted no or even abstained. They just didn’t even show up.

MS. PSAKI: No, no, I understand that. I understand that.

QUESTION: I mean, how problematic is this to you, to the Administration? Or is it – is it a major concern here?

MS. PSAKI: I would not characterize it as a major concern. We work closely with Israel on a range of issues and we can move forward.

QUESTION: Staying on Israel?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: Okay, the Palestinian-Israeli peace process. There’s a meeting that took place, I guess on Sunday --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- between both the Israeli and the Palestinian negotiators without the presence of an American or the American envoy. Is that like a new trend? Is that the way it’s going to be, that they will meet independent of your presence?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to make a prediction, Said. Obviously, throughout the last eight and a half months there have been meetings with a representative from the United States and there have been meetings without. And I’m not going to confirm, announce, or read out every meeting that takes places, just as we haven’t throughout the process.

QUESTION: So this is not a message to both sides that we’ve had it with you, we don’t want to be there during – while you exchange --

MS. PSAKI: I don’t believe either side has conveyed that as the message.

QUESTION: Could you tell us if there is going to be any kind of meetings in the next few days? We know that Ambassador Indyk is in town, so will there be ongoing meetings and will there be an American representative?

MS. PSAKI: In the region or --

QUESTION: Yeah, in the region over there.

MS. PSAKI: Again, I’m not going to read out or announce every meeting that may take place, just as we haven’t throughout the process.

QUESTION: But --

QUESTION: Ambassador Indyk is back in Washington or he has returned to the region?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. He got back Friday night.

QUESTION: And any idea when he’s going back?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have a prediction of that yet. It’s – we’ll see if there’s something I can report to all of you later today.

QUESTION: And is it not a good thing that the two sides should be talking to one another?

MS. PSAKI: Sure, it certainly – as it has been throughout the process, there are times when they talk without an American representatives, there are times when they talk with an American representative.

QUESTION: You still do expect him to return sooner rather than later, right?

MS. PSAKI: I do. Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: I just wanted to follow up as far as do you have any information that would lead you to sort of believe that the talks will go past the 29th, there will be an announcement on the 29th, they will end on the 29th?

MS. PSAKI: I just --

QUESTION: Just give us like a feeling --

MS. PSAKI: -- don’t want to make a prediction --

QUESTION: -- I mean, we’re two weeks ago --

MS. PSAKI: -- for you, Said --

QUESTION: -- or two weeks away.

MS. PSAKI: -- of where we will be two weeks from now. Obviously, we’re taking this day by day. Discussions are day by day.

QUESTION: Jen, can we just go back on where we left it last week as well, which was --

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: -- where the Israelis had, according to you, reportedly said that they were going to freeze the taxes --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- and you weren’t sure what your reaction was because it was only reports.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Do you have any update on that?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything new on that. I just talked to our team about it this morning. Don’t have anything new to report.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: I’ve got three really, really quick ones on this.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: On Israel, two of them have to do with arrests made by Israeli authorities over the course of the past week or so. One involves an American woman, Mariam Barghouti. Do you know anything about that?

MS. PSAKI: Due to privacy considerations and no Privacy Act waiver --

QUESTION: Oh, great. This is going to be another – we’re going to go through the --

MS. PSAKI: -- we’re unable to provide further or additional information, Matt.

QUESTION: So, okay. So we’re just going to go through the Egypt airport experience all over again.

Then there’s a second one. This is not an American citizen, but it’s a journalist --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- Majd Kayyal. I don’t know if I’m pronouncing the name right. He was arrested over the weekend. Are you aware of this case?

MS. PSAKI: We have seen the reports, but – that he’s being held incommunicado detention, but we have not been able to confirm these reports. We’re continuing to seek more information.

QUESTION: Is this – recognizing that you don’t have an interest because he is not an American citizen, do you – is this the kind of thing that you – that causes you concern, these types of arrests, or is this something --

MS. PSAKI: Certainly, reports of journalists being arrested certainly cause concern, but we don’t have any confirmation of that specific case, so we’re just looking for more information.

QUESTION: Do you know if you have asked the Israelis about it?

MS. PSAKI: I’d have to check on that. I believe we were exploring through all avenues we have, but I don’t want to speak out of turn, so let me check back with our team.

QUESTION: Okay. And the PAW for Ms. Barghouti, that – you can’t say – because you don’t have a waiver, you can’t say whether you’ve raised her case with the Israelis? Is that correct?

MS. PSAKI: I can’t – there’s no more details I can discuss.

QUESTION: Okay. And then the last one, which is very briefly, is that it’s come up that apparently the Israeli defense ministry has done something that would allow the construction of more housing in Hebron. Are you familiar at all with this?

MS. PSAKI: I believe I’ve seen some news reports about it, but I’m not sure what the impact of it is. But go ahead.

QUESTION: Okay. So you don’t know – no, no, I’m just wondering if you had seen it, and if you had, if you had any reaction to it or – beyond what you usually say about settlements.

MS. PSAKI: I don’t think I have anything new to report, but I will venture to follow up on that one as well.

QUESTION: Can you check --

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: -- because this just seems to be a new, or relatively new, development?

MS. PSAKI: Sure. Happy to.

QUESTION: Can we go to Syria?

QUESTION: (Inaudible) issue of the tax that you raised, I think. I didn’t hear you properly. Did you call the Israelis about that this is not helpful? Did you tell them to release the taxes --

MS. PSAKI: I said that on Friday. I don’t have anything new to report.

QUESTION: But nothing has transpired. I know. I mean, Friday was 72 hours ago. Has anything transpired?

MS. PSAKI: I understand that.

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything new on that.

Syria?

QUESTION: So they did not – I’m sorry, but they did not – the Israelis did not tell you they will release these taxes and --

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything new to tell you on it.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: Sorry. Just what --

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: Do you know if the Secretary has had any contact with either Foreign – Justice Minister Livni or Prime Minister Netanyahu or the Palestinian side over the course of the – over the weekend, or since Friday, since we last --

MS. PSAKI: I don’t believe so. Let me see if there’s anything else that’s added today, but nothing over the course of the weekend.

QUESTION: Sorry, Jen. Lastly, the Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said today that he expects to have normal relations with Arab countries, suggesting that Kuwait or Saudi Arabia or many others. Do you know anything about this?

MS. PSAKI: I’ve seen his comments.

QUESTION: Do you have any comment?

MS. PSAKI: But certainly, we support strong relations between a range of countries, but I don’t think I have a – more of a comment to weigh on it than that.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

QUESTION: To your knowledge, are there any kind of --

MS. PSAKI: Of course. I mean, if the Arab League – if there’s a peace agreement, the Arab League is prepared to move forward with some significant steps. But obviously, there’s a lot that would have to happen, and it’s between all those parties.

QUESTION: But you don’t have any information whether there are some behind the scene talks?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any more details for you.

QUESTION: Sorry. There’s one more. Are you aware if the Palestinians have done – if President Abbas or any of his top people have done anything in response to your concerns about unilateral actions involving signing up to the UN conventions? Or to the best of your knowledge, are they ignoring you pretty much the same way the Israelis do when you --

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any additional updates beyond the one that we provided last week.

QUESTION: So, okay. And just to make clear, that was they had deposited whatever it was that --

MS. PSAKI: But again --

QUESTION: -- their thing with in Geneva?

MS. PSAKI: -- both parties remain engaged in the negotiations. Both parties are in touch with our negotiators. So that tells you something as well.

QUESTION: Well, but you also acknowledge that both parties are taking steps that are negative and unhelpful to the process, correct? Right?

MS. PSAKI: But both parties have – but also, even with that going on, both parties have indicated they want these discussions to continue. So that’s an incredibly important point.

QUESTION: Syria?

MS. PSAKI: Syria? Sure.

QUESTION: I’m sure you’ve seen over the weekend there were some comments by President Assad that he believes that he’s gaining the upper hand in the conflict, saying it’s a turning point of the crisis. And then I wondered if you also had any reaction to that as well as the fact that Syrian troops have retaken the town of Maaloula today from rebels.

MS. PSAKI: I’ve seen all those. Our analysis remains what it has been, that this is a war of attrition, and neither side has been able to deliver or hold onto significant gains. I’m not going to give ground game updates. Certainly, our efforts to engage with the opposition continue. As you know, we have a new envoy who has already made a trip to the region, and we’ll continue down that path.

QUESTION: I understand you don’t want to give updates, but if the Syrian troops have retaken Maalula, that’s obviously another reversal for the opposition. I mean, what are you doing in terms of trying to actually bolster them on the ground physically?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we work closely with them. As you know, we work closely with our international allies. This is an important issue that comes up even while we’re discussing Ukraine and other crises that are on the front of newspapers around the world. We’re also discussing Syria. So those efforts are continuing. I don’t have any specific update to provide you all with today.

QUESTION: This is a war of attrition, obviously, but I mean, if President Assad feels he has the upper hand, he’s clearly getting arms and help. Isn’t it --

MS. PSAKI: Well, and naturally, President Assad is going to make that statement. I don’t think that’s a particularly surprising comment from him, that he’s winning.

QUESTION: But isn’t it going to just be a war of attrition that’s just going to – I don't know what the verb is – to attrite in his favor in the end?

MS. PSAKI: I wouldn’t make that assumption. Obviously, there is broad concern and there has been for some time about his actions. The international community is focused on this, and I don’t think we’re going to make a prediction of the outcome here.

QUESTION: Have you used that phrase before, “war of attrition,” and I’ve just missed it?

MS. PSAKI: I believe so.

QUESTION: You have?

QUESTION: But you would welcome to see that Maaloula, one of the oldest Christian towns in the world, set free from the hands of extremists, wouldn’t you?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Said, I think our focus here is on a political solution, not a military solution, so I’m not going to do an evaluation of each report from the ground.

QUESTION: I understand, but your – but your position – would like to see that Maaloula, a very old Christian town where people still speak Aramaic --

MS. PSAKI: I don’t think I have anything more to add. Do we have more on Syria?

QUESTION: Yes. Any ground --

MS. PSAKI: Go.

QUESTION: Yeah, ground up – you said that you don’t have any ground upgrade about these – the clashes, but I know that you had issued a statement on Kessab, and there are some ongoing clashes in Kessab.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: So do you have anything? Because --

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any updates for you all today. If – I will check with our team and see if there’s more. Often, we, as you know, put out statements when there are broad reports of casualties and issues related to humanitarian issues. I will see if there’s more that we can report today.

QUESTION: Can we go to Iran?

MS. PSAKI: Do you have Syria?

QUESTION: One question about Syria.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: I mean, you – I think you mentioned that the special envoy is going somewhere?

MS. PSAKI: He was. He did do a pretty extensive trip a couple of weeks ago. I don’t have any next updates. I know he plans to do a bit of traveling, but I’ll see if there’s anything to report.

QUESTION: Just in the last – a question – a request, actually, Jen.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Last week there was a briefing in Turkish foreign ministry conducted by a senior official to journalists. And this senior official said that there are, right now, four border gates who are under control of the ISIL in Turkish-Syrian border. So I’m wondering how you are providing the assistance – humanitarian or either nonlethal assistance to rebels right now, and in which ways? Would it be possible to get a --

MS. PSAKI: Let me see if that’s something we want to talk about publicly. But I will talk with our team about that.

Syria?

QUESTION: No, different topic. Nigeria. Do you have anything on the --

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: -- explosion in the capital today?

MS. PSAKI: I do. We condemn today’s attack on Nyanya Motor Park south of Abuja which killed over 70 people. We are outraged by these senseless acts of violence against innocent civilians. We also condemn the attacks in three villages in Borno State that took the lives of nearly 100 people over the weekend. We encourage the Government of Nigeria to conduct a full investigation to identify and bring justice to the perpetrators of these attacks. We continue to stand with the Nigerian Government and people as they grapple with violent extremism.

QUESTION: The Nigerian president has blamed Boko Haram for the incident, the bombing in Abuja. Do you see any evidence supporting that claim?

MS. PSAKI: We have seen that, but to our knowledge, no group has claimed responsibility yet. We continue to work closely with the Nigerian Government and its neighbors to address the growing threat of Boko Haram in a comprehensive manner. But again, it’s, in our view, preliminary to make that judgment.

QUESTION: Okay. Thank you.

QUESTION: Can we go to Iran?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: Yeah. Are you aware if the Iranian – or have you been made aware through the Swiss or through anyone, through the UN, if the Iranians intend to somehow contest your decision or non-decision on granting a – or deciding not to decide on granting a visa to the --

MS. PSAKI: We are aware of reports that the Iranians have filed a complaint with the host country committee. I’m not sure if that’s what you’re referring to. I would refer you, of course, to the UN or the chair of the host country committee, which is Cyprus, for additional details on that.

QUESTION: Cyprus?

MS. PSAKI: They are. I thought that was interesting as well.

QUESTION: The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus or the regular part of Cyprus?

MS. PSAKI: Cyprus is the chair.

QUESTION: Has anything changed since your announcement that the Administration has decided not to grant Mr. Aboutalebi a visa. Have you, for example, actually denied the visa, stamped “no”?

MS. PSAKI: Nothing has changed, Arshad. I don’t have any update for all of you.

QUESTION: Are you – sorry, on this committee, and I’ll check with our UN people --

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: -- but is the U.S. a member of this committee?

MS. PSAKI: That is a good question. I’m not sure we are. Let me check back with our UN – our USUN counterparts.

QUESTION: My understanding is --

QUESTION: Do you know if it has any – what it’s --

QUESTION: As I understand it, but you should – it’d be good to put this out as a TQ, but I think this committee simply has the right to consider stuff and then make recommendations to the General Assembly these decisions are not binding.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Right. I mean, that’s just – so what kind of remedy is – could Iran be seeking, or what kind of remedy would the committee be able to offer it if it wasn’t – if the complaint was accepted or --

MS. PSAKI: Sure. Well, that, I’d point you to them, but I would certainly find – take your question on whether the U.S. is a member --

QUESTION: All right.

MS. PSAKI: -- and how the process works.

QUESTION: But in answer to Arshad, is it no, you’re not changing your mind? What you said Friday is --

MS. PSAKI: Nothing has changed since Friday. No.

QUESTION: So you’re – I’m trying to understand.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: Okay. Only on the premise or on the basis of this individual or any individual being a security threat to the United States of America, that you will not allow them or her or him entry into the United States. Isn’t that the case?

MS. PSAKI: There are a range of reasons. I’m not going to outline them from here, Said. But what was announced on Friday was that we had made clear that we would not be granting him a visa.

QUESTION: Okay. But Hamid Aboutalebi acknowledged being at the embassy, but he said that he was a translator. So are you aware of that?

MS. PSAKI: I’ve seen a range of reports, Said. I don’t think I have much more to add to all of you on this.

QUESTION: And finally, the Iranians said that they will not replace him, that he will be their ambassador to the United Nations whether he works in New York or elsewhere. You would not have any comment on that, would you?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any more.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: Can I do Turkey quickly?

MS. PSAKI: Do we have any more on Iran? Okay, Turkey.

QUESTION: Yes. Over the weekend, State Department Turkey official Amanda Sloat made a speech for a Turkish convention, and she talk about it – she said that U.S. deeply concerned over the allegations that the politics interfering into the judicial system in Turkey. Is there any way you can elaborate on this?

MS. PSAKI: Well, as we have made clear in the past, including in our annual Human Rights Report, we remain deeply concerned about due process and effective access to justice in Turkey. Independent investigations and independent judicial processes are essential for the rule of law. We look to Turkey to uphold the essential elements of a healthy democracy such as the rule of law, an independent judiciary, and the system of checks and balances between branches of government. And as I mentioned, this is an issue we’ve raised in the past when warranted, and it’s also included in our annual Human Rights Report. So I’d point you to that as well as the text of the speech for more details.

QUESTION: While Ms. Sloat was making that speech, she talk about that over the last recent months that there were disturbing events. So apparently this is not the last year’s annual report, but something happened over the last two months. There were several incidents over the months --

MS. PSAKI: And oftentimes over those months we raised concerns as those instances occurred.

QUESTION: But you – also many times, you stated that these were the internal affairs, for example, when I ask about the judges and prosecutors, counsels, legislation. So if you are now deeply concerned, that means that you change your --

MS. PSAKI: I don’t think so. I’m still not weighing into internal political matters in Turkey. But certainly, as we’ve expressed in the past, over – around a variety of events, when there are concerns to express about the independence of the judiciary, we’ll express those.

QUESTION: So they – can I just follow up? Is this about the prime minister or the leaders in the government talking about the Constitution Court, or is this something about legislations? I’m just trying to get a sense of what exactly are --

MS. PSAKI: I’m just not going to detail it further. Our deputy assistant secretary did an entire speech just a few days ago.

Okay, a few more? Go ahead.

QUESTION: Quick question on WikiLeaks: I guess the Army announced today that commanding generals approve the conviction and 35-year sentence of Chelsea – formerly Bradley – Manning for leaking military and diplomatic data, as you well know the case. This announcement came today. Is there any comment or response to the --

MS. PSAKI: I hadn’t seen that. I will check and see if there’s anything we’d like to add from our end.

Go ahead, Jo.

QUESTION: I wanted to go to Guinea-Bissau.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: They had elections this weekend. It’s the first time since the coup in 2012. There was a large turnout, by all accounts. I just wondered if you had any reaction from the U.S. on it.

MS. PSAKI: I believe we put out a statement last week in advance of the elections. I don’t have anything new today. But let me touch base with our team and see if we can get you or anybody who’s interested a comment on that.

QUESTION: Anything on the preliminary results – and I realize it’s only on – based on, like, 10 percent of the vote – in Afghanistan --

MS. PSAKI: Oh, sure.

QUESTION: -- that suggests that Abdullah Abdullah is leading?

MS. PSAKI: Sure. Well, as you mentioned, it’s – it was a step in the process that they outlined they would do from the beginning. But just to give a little more detail, the electoral process is, of course, ongoing. We look forward to the Afghan electoral bodies continuing to do their work and processing the outcomes. We – the initial tranche of results is part of the IEC’s announced process for providing results information. We all, of course, need to have patience to allow the Afghan-owned process to play out. So we will allow that process to happen. As you mentioned, it’s only a percentage of the votes that is being counted. So obviously, there is more work that the election committee needs to do.

QUESTION: And then I had one quick one as well. On Friday, you were asked by Matt about the bill put forward by Senators McCain and Menendez on removing the Kurdish – Kurdistan Democratic Party and the PUK from the terrorism list.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Do you have some reaction on that? Is that – is this something that you would actively consider?

MS. PSAKI: Sure. There has been – I have something on this. But we have – we would support legislation in this case. There are – there have been a range of reasons why it’s been difficult for individuals to travel. I have more in-depth lines, so let me venture to get that to all of you after the briefing.

QUESTION: And I suppose the logical connection would be, then: What about the PKK, which is, obviously, Turkish?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm. Let me get you something after the briefing. I have something on it. I just don’t have it in front me.

QUESTION: How goes the USAID review of these allegedly political text messages?

MS. PSAKI: Nothing new to report today. It is ongoing. The review is ongoing.

Go ahead, in the back.

QUESTION: Yes, please.

MS. PSAKI: Let’s just do two more here. Well, she hasn’t had one, so let’s let her have a question.

QUESTION: I’m sorry, but I’m just following up with that question.

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: That’s why. Are there similar projects going on now in different countries, or not? Or that is by itself?

MS. PSAKI: Sure. Absolutely we support programs around the world that provide people an opportunity to have their voices heard where that’s not possible. This is a particular program that USAID is doing a due diligence to make sure we have all of the accurate information and answers. And so that’s why they’re taking a review of the program.

QUESTION: The reason I’m asking the question is not the purpose. It’s the same company or similar companies are doing similar things, or not? Or you are reviewing --

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any details on the particular company, but it – but we do support programs around the world that allow people to have their voices heard.

Last one. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Japan.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: Japan’s Minister of Internal Affairs Shindo visited the Yasukuni Shrine last weekend. And considering Shindo’s visit is right ahead of President Obama’s visit to Asia, do you have any comments on this?

MS. PSAKI: To the – can you – sorry, can you repeat your question one more time?

QUESTION: Japan’s Minister of Internal Affairs Shindo visited the Yasukuni Shrine last weekend. And his visit is ahead of President Obama’s visit to Asia. Do you have any comments on this?

MS. PSAKI: Well, as we’ve indicated many times, we encourage Japan to work through its neighbors to resolve concerns over history in an amicable way through dialogue. We believe that strong and constructive relations between countries in the region to promote peace and stability are in interests – are in their interests and in the interests of the United States. So that is the message that we are conveying to all of them.

Let me – Jo, I found the answer to your question. I don’t think it answers all of your questions, but let me give you this in the meantime.

Let’s see. The PUK and the KDP have not been designated as Foreign Terrorist Organizations and have been among our closest partners in the region going back decades. However, expansive language in our immigration law complicates their travel to the United States. We support, as I mentioned, legislative action to remove those impediments, and we look forward to working with relevant committees in Congress to accomplish this goal.

We will venture to get you answer on the other question you had as well.

QUESTION: Isn’t it the case, though, that Congress itself created this problem?

MS. PSAKI: That may be the case, but we will work with them to fix it.

QUESTION: Right. But does that mean – but it’s not a – it’s not something that the Executive Branch did in the first place. It was in the Patriot Act, right?

MS. PSAKI: That may be true, Matt. But we’re working with them now --

QUESTION: I think it is.

MS. PSAKI: -- to address concerns that have arisen.

QUESTION: Jen --

MS. PSAKI: Thank you.

QUESTION: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:57 p.m.)

DPB # 65

2014-04-14


Daily Press Briefings : Daily Press Briefing: April 11, 2014


Jen Psaki
Spokesperson
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
April 11, 2014


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Index for Today's Briefing
  • DEPARTMENT
    • Welcome to Briefing Visitors
  • IRAN
    • Iranian Ambassadorial Nominee to the United Nations / Visa
    • P5+1 Negotiations
    • Iranian Crude Oil Exports
  • QATAR
    • Secretary's Meeting with Foreign Minister of Qatar
  • UKRAINE / RUSSIA
    • Letter Regarding Ukrainian Access to Oil
    • Meeting of U.S., Ukraine, Russia, EU
    • Coordination of Funds and Assistance to Ukraine
    • Russian Troop Buildup in Eastern Ukraine
  • RUSSIA
    • Block of VOA Broadcast / Media Freedom
    • Secretary Kerry's Conversation with Foreign Minister Lavrov
    • Russian Space Program
  • RUSSIA / UKRAINE
    • Natural Gas Routing
  • CUBA
    • Visit of French Foreign Minister
    • Alan Gross
    • USAID Communications Platform / Text Messages
  • MIDDLE EAST PEACE
    • Ambassador Indyk's Schedule
    • Tax Revenue Transfers to Palestinian Authority
  • DPRK
    • Special Representative Glyn Davies Schedule / Ongoing Consultations
    • Kenneth Bae
    • Consultations with Six-Party Partners
  • IRAN
    • Drafting of final Agreement
  • FRANCE
    • SNCF / Holocaust Compensation
  • MIDDLE EAST PEACE
    • Tax Revenue Transfers to Palestinian Authority
  • UKRAINE
    • Ukrainian Neutrality
  • SYRIA
    • Reports of Chemical Weapons Use
  • UKRAINE
    • Representation at U.S., Russia, Ukraine, EU meeting
    • Inclusivity in Ukraine


TRANSCRIPT:

12:56 p.m. EDT

MS. PSAKI: Hi, everyone. Happy Friday. I would first just like to welcome – we have several interns today in the back from DRL who are here today as observers, so welcome to all of you.

With that, let’s get to – and I should also mention there’s a bilateral meeting, as all of you know, with the Qataris at 2 o’clock, so let’s try to get through all the topics as quickly as we can.

Go ahead, Matt.

QUESTION: Gotcha, all right. Well, I want to start with Ukraine.

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: But in fact, the White House has just changed my mind because they’ve just said that you’re not going to give a visa to the Iranian ambassadorial nominee, and I’m wondering if you can expand on that at all.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I can also confirm, of course, that we have informed the United Nations and the Government of Iran that we will not issue a visa to Mr. Aboutalebi, and we – I don’t believe I can expand that much more, but go ahead.

QUESTION: Well, when did you tell them?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to get into details of that. Obviously, these discussions have been ongoing.

QUESTION: How is that – yeah, I’m sorry, how is that – why is that some kind of sensitive bit of information?

MS. PSAKI: In terms of what? Why, when?

QUESTION: When? When did you tell them?

MS. PSAKI: Well, these discussions with the Iranians and with the UN have been ongoing. I’m just not going to detail the timeline.

QUESTION: Well, you didn’t say that you wouldn’t do this yesterday, so can – should we assume that it happened either yesterday afternoon after – sometime after your briefing or prior to the White House briefing just now?

MS. PSAKI: I wouldn’t make assumptions about the timing. I’m confirming the facts here and that’s where we stand.

QUESTION: All right. Did you give them a reason?

MS. PSAKI: We’ve been very clear that – with the Iranians that this nomination is not viable, so there’s been no secret of that. But I think they understand what the reasons are.

QUESTION: Why?

QUESTION: Well, did you give them a reason why his nomination is not viable?

MS. PSAKI: Certainly we’ve had discussions with them about the reasons for why it’s not a viable nomination.

QUESTION: What is the reason, for the record, now that you’ve denied him a visa? Or have you actually denied the visa or have you simply asserted to them that you would deny it or will deny it?

MS. PSAKI: We have made clear to them that we will not issue a visa.

QUESTION: So – but did you – this may sound like a distinction without a difference, but it’s not. Yeah.

MS. PSAKI: No, I understand your question. I’m not going to detail it; I’m not going to outline it further.

QUESTION: So you won’t say whether or not you actually denied it?

MS. PSAKI: I will not, no.

QUESTION: Why not?

MS. PSAKI: Because I’m not going to go.

QUESTION: And what – why – (laughter) – and, well --

QUESTION: Hey.

QUESTION: -- because – well, why – I know we’ve discussed this here a great deal --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- for the record, now that you have informed the Iranians that you will not issue a visa to Mr. Aboutalebi, why is his nomination unviable? What are the main issues that came up here?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to speak to that from the podium, Arshad. Obviously, we have confirmed what we’ve conveyed, which is that we will not issue a visa. It doesn’t change the fact that details of visa cases, including the reasons, which gets to your past – your last question prior to this, are not issues that we can talk about publicly for legal reasons.

QUESTION: So here’s a question, then.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: How can you announce that you won’t give him a visa if visa applications are entirely confidential? Isn’t it – to say, “We’re not going to do this,” doesn’t that impinge on the confidentiality of the process?

MS. PSAKI: We’ve conveyed – I’m conveying what we have communicated to the Iranians, and that’s what I’m communicating to all of you today.

QUESTION: So to capture it --

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: You said earlier this week, I believe, that there were a couple of categories where there was a limited exception to the general rule that, as a host nation, you should be granted visas. They were – they included security, terrorism-related matters, and foreign policy concerns.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Should we assume that this application fell within one of those three categories, at least?

MS. PSAKI: I – obviously, all of these issues are looked at by our legal teams, but I’m not going to give a specific reasoning.

QUESTION: All right. So understanding that you’re not going to give a specific reasoning --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- you can say, though, that the Iranians have been told why you believe his nomination is not viable. Is that correct?

MS. PSAKI: Well, throughout --

QUESTION: They – this is not – it is not a secret to them why you’re saying, “No, we’re not going to issue a visa?”

MS. PSAKI: It should not be, no. But as a reminder, Matt --

QUESTION: Right.

MS. PSAKI: -- we’ve also communicated that it’s not viable as well --

QUESTION: Gotcha. Well --

MS. PSAKI: -- prior to the news I’m confirming today.

QUESTION: Right, but they aware of the – or they are aware of the reasons why you can – even if you’re not going to tell us, they know why.

MS. PSAKI: I don’t think there should be any mystery to them about that.

QUESTION: All right. And then you said the details of – did this actually rise to the level of a visa case?

MS. PSAKI: Can you just expand on that question?

QUESTION: Well, you said details of visa cases are confidential, but if this didn’t actually rise to the level of there being an application that was actually considered, then how is it a visa case?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’ve all seen the media reports, or many of us have seen the media reports, that the Government of Iran has stated that a visa application was submitted to the U.S. Government. As I’ve noted, U.S. law generally prohibits us from commenting on details of visa cases, but I would not dispute that statement.

QUESTION: Right, unless – okay, so they did submit the application --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- according to – and you said – and I guess the – I realize it’s a detail and it’s --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- but did you actually stamp “no” on the application or did you just say, “We’re not going to take any action on this?”

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

QUESTION: Is it also not the case that usually if a visa – someone who is denied a visa speaks out about the reasons publicly and speaks out about a denial, that you will discuss or you can discuss, you are no longer bound by the – is that correct?

MS. PSAKI: That has happened in the past.

QUESTION: So we should ask the failed nominee to speak about this and then get back to you – and then come back to you and you should be able to enlighten us all, right?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I’m happy to keep continuing the discussion. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Do you believe that your decision to tell the Iranians that you will not give him a visa to enter the United States will harm – has harmed or will harm the P5+1 negotiations with Iran about their nuclear program?

MS. PSAKI: No, we do not. And obviously, our team was on the ground this week, as you know, negotiating through the P5+1 process, and our team did not find that this ongoing discussion in the public impacted those negotiations.

QUESTION: And why do you think it won’t harm them going forward? I mean, it’s a rejection of their choice.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Presumably that will upset them to some degree. Why won’t that – why do you think that won’t have an effect going forward?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I can’t analyze what will or won’t impact their own views. But obviously, they’re engaged in these negotiations because they – and they have their own reasons for that, including the impact of sanctions and their desire to deliver on President Rouhani’s promise he ran on.

QUESTION: Jen --

QUESTION: I said, “has or will have,” and you said, “No.”

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Did you mean no, it has had no effect, and no, it will have no effect? Or did you mean no, it has had no effect?

MS. PSAKI: It has not, and we don’t anticipate it.

QUESTION: Did you mean that you --

QUESTION: And can I ask – can I ask --

MS. PSAKI: Let’s just do one at a time. Go ahead, Jo.

QUESTION: Sorry. Have you asked the Iranians to put forward another nomination? And presumably it’s not your intention that Iran should operate without a representative at the United Nations.

MS. PSAKI: I didn’t say that was our intention. I’m not aware of that level of detail on – but again, we’ve been pretty clear even before today that this nomination wasn’t viable. And obviously, there could have been an alternative --

QUESTION: So you welcome – you would welcome an alternative name being put forward?

MS. PSAKI: Well, there have been, just historically, a range of individuals who have represented the Iranians in the UN. So I would point you to that.

QUESTION: And just as a matter of historical precedent, do you know if this is the first time that you’ve actually turned down a --

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to get into historical precedent from the podium.

QUESTION: You won’t tell us from the podium?

MS. PSAKI: No, I’m not. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Did you mean that --

MS. PSAKI: Iran?

QUESTION: Yes. Did you mean that you conveyed the denial to the Iranians before the negotiations? That’s why it didn’t affect the negotiations from --

MS. PSAKI: I didn’t – no, I wasn’t indicating that at all. We’ve over the last couple of days, as you know – pardon me, sorry, microphone – we have stated that we have conveyed it’s not a viable nomination. Obviously that conversation has been happening publicly while the negotiations were happening. So our negotiators were clear on the ground, and I’ve spoken with them as well and they don’t feel there was an impact.

Go ahead. Iran? Or --

QUESTION: Yeah, the ambassador.

MS. PSAKI: Iran, okay.

QUESTION: Did your – or is – your decision was related to the unanimous vote in the Congress in a way that, “Hey, we are obliged to, because we don’t have another exit for it?” Was it connected to the vote in Congress to deny the visa for this ambassador?

MS. PSAKI: Well, the votes in Congress certainly underscore how troubling this potential nomination would be, and we share those concerns. But obviously there’s an ongoing process internally in the federal government as well.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: Did Under Secretary Sherman raise this issue with the Iranians in Vienna?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to go into more detail about what channel it was raised through.

Do we have more on Iran?

QUESTION: No. Could I – if we don’t, can I go to Ukraine?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: Sorry, I have one more on Iran --

MS. PSAKI: Oh, sure. Go ahead.

QUESTION: -- just to close out that topic.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: The International Energy Agency today released its report on Iranian crude oil exports for the month of February.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Those figures show that it exported on average 1.65 million barrels per day during the month of February. As you’ll recall, the fact sheet that the White House put out said that your target was to keep Iran to 1 million barrels per day under the JPOA. How are you going to keep them under a million barrels per day if, in the first month after the JPOA took effect, right, on January 20th, they’re already at 1.65?

MS. PSAKI: Well, as you know, Arshad, but just for everybody, the current average amounts of crude oil refers to the average volume over a six-month period. It’s not referring to one specific month. So month-to-month variability is normal in oil markets, and we expect and we still expect and anticipate that the average over – that this will average out over a six-month period.

QUESTION: To 1 million?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm, to meeting the bar that was set in the JPOA.

QUESTION: In the JPOA or in the White House fact sheet? I’m sorry to interrupt. The JPOA doesn’t actually specify a number, but the White House fact sheet does, which is 1 million barrels per day. So that is what I think is the marker.

MS. PSAKI: Well, what is specified in the JPOA --

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS. PSAKI: -- is that the United States will pause efforts to further reduce Iran’s crude oil sales, which allows current customers to purchase their current average amounts of crude oil. And those averages are looked at over a six-month period. Nothing – I don’t – we have nothing to dispute what was either in the White House fact sheet or the JPOA. We are still anticipating on meeting everything that was laid out specifically.

QUESTION: So in – and just so I’m clear, so your target – since it came from the White House, it’s clearly Administration policy.

MS. PSAKI: Correct. Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: So your target is that over the six-month period beginning when? Beginning November 24th, or beginning --

MS. PSAKI: Beginning January 20th, mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- that Iran’s oil exports must be held to an average over that 180-some-day period of one million per day.

MS. PSAKI: Correct. What was in the White House fact sheet still stands, yes. Let me just outline for you a couple of reasons why these monthly numbers have recently looked high. Iran’s contributions to Syria are part of what drives up numbers cited on exports. What’s important to keep in mind here is that Iran does not get revenue from this oil. So oftentimes, you see those numbers, but that’s not reflected in the revenue Iran is receiving. And that’s part of the numbers as well. Also, there are variations in month-to-month numbers because of seasonality, and of course, the numbers you’re referring to are February numbers. Winter is traditionally a peak period, so that is often reflected in how high the oil numbers are.

And finally, and this is more of a technical piece but still relevant for those close followers of these issues, export figures often mix condensates and crude oil, which often creates inconsistencies in the way numbers are reported. And what matters as it relates to implementation of the JPOA and the accompanying fact sheet is the crude oil numbers. So we look at all of these factors, as we look at what the average are over the six-month period.

QUESTION: How do you know that they don’t get any money for the stuff that they send to Syria?

MS. PSAKI: How do we know?

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to go into greater detail.

QUESTION: Do – are – I mean, are you 100 percent confident that they’re not getting anything either in – revenue in cash or in kind?

MS. PSAKI: I wouldn’t be saying it if we weren’t confident, but --

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: -- I’m not going to put a percentage.

QUESTION: All right.

MS. PSAKI: Do we have any more on Iran?

QUESTION: Just one more on this.

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: The OFAC guidance on the JPOA implementation makes very clear that – it’s in the sort of frequently asked questions – that any transactions that are now permitted that were not previously permitted must be initiated and completed within the six-month period.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: In other words, you can’t agree to sell them something on July 13th and close the deal on July 21st.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Is there, therefore, a propensity for oil buyers to try to make their purchases and pay for them earlier in the cycle rather than later? In other words, is there any possibility that India, China --

MS. PSAKI: That individuals would be buying a lot in February --

QUESTION: Right, that they’re front --

MS. PSAKI: -- in anticipation of later months?

QUESTION: That they’re frontloading it, exactly. Do you think that’s a reason for this?

MS. PSAKI: That’s not one that I understand from our team. I will ask them if that’s something that we’re watching closely.

QUESTION: Okay. Thank you.

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

Iran?

QUESTION: No, on the Secretary’s meeting with the foreign minister of Qatar.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: What’s on the agenda for this meeting?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I expect they’ll talk about a range of issues that we work together on, including the ongoing crisis in Syria, including the ongoing negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians, and I’m sure we can put a readout out after the meeting.

QUESTION: And the Secretary met the Amir of Qatar during his visit to Algeria. Was that a coincidence or pre-planned?

MS. PSAKI: He was – happened to be in Algeria and so there was a discussion about whether it made sense to have a meeting, and we agreed it did.

QUESTION: Is the Secretary trying to improve relations between Qatar and the Saudis?

MS. PSAKI: No. We work closely – look, of course discussions about the best ways to ease any tensions in the region can came come up in these discussions, but we work closely, as you know, with the Qataris on a range of global issues.

QUESTION: You work to ease tensions in the region. There’s a report today the ambassador of Iran in Beirut – he said Iran’s relation with the Saudis is getting – improving, and this will have an impact on the region. Is this – did the Secretary try to urge the Saudis to receive the foreign minister of Iran to visit Saudi Arabia or to improve --

MS. PSAKI: Well, the meeting that the Secretary most recently attended with the Saudis was one led by President Obama and King Abdullah, and they, of course, were the leaders of the discussion. I’m not aware that this came up, that issue came up at the meeting. And I’d point you to the White House for more clarification on that.

QUESTION: Ukraine?

MS. PSAKI: Ukraine. Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: So there’s a lot of stuff coming out of the Kremlin and out of the Russian foreign ministry today, some of which is kind of, I don’t know, fluffy.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. Fluffy?

QUESTION: Some of it is not.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: Let’s start with the non – with the more jovial parts of it, perhaps. President Putin seems to have – not seems to, has accused you of peeping on his correspondence with the Europeans and making – and you specifically making comments --

MS. PSAKI: Me, personally?

QUESTION: Yes.

MS. PSAKI: Oh, interesting.

QUESTION: Peeping Jen apparently is what – (laughter).

MS. PSAKI: Okay. I haven’t seen those reports.

QUESTION: Right. Well, and apparently in a meeting with Foreign Minister Lavrov, he made these comments. He said that it’s not unusual for the United States to eavesdrop; everyone knows they do it. But this letter that was sent to the Europeans wasn’t addressed to you – the United States – and therefore you shouldn’t have read it and/or commented on it. I’m wondering if you have any response to that.

MS. PSAKI: Well --

QUESTION: Pointing out that it was, of course, published online and in English.

MS. PSAKI: I was going to get to that next, Matt.

QUESTION: Okay. Go ahead.

MS. PSAKI: Naturally, this was a letter that pertained to access to oil for the Government of Ukraine and the people of Ukraine. And helping the people of Ukraine through this difficult period, helping them have the economic assistance they need, the resources they need, is – it’s no secret that’s a priority to the United States. So I certainly don’t think it’s out of any line for us to comment on concerns we have about efforts to thwart that.

QUESTION: Right. But you don’t regard this as some kind of rude invasion of the Russian president’s privacy?

MS. PSAKI: I think commenting on a public letter is hardly an invasion of privacy.

QUESTION: All right. Okay. So you’re aware of former Secretary of State Stimson’s comment about – “gentlemen don’t read each other’s mail?” This does not apply in that case?

MS. PSAKI: There are a range of public correspondence out there that individuals --

QUESTION: Got you.

MS. PSAKI: -- across the world comment on.

QUESTION: Okay. Now, apart from that, Foreign Minister Lavrov had a meeting with some NGOs, unclear to me whether they were Russian NGOs, because I don’t know if there are any NGOs left in Russia anymore, but in which he made a series of comments about how active Russian engagement in Europe has always resulted in stronger European economies and growth. Do you agree with that statement?

MS. PSAKI: Statistically, Matt, I don’t have any data to back that up or refute it in front of me, obviously. But I will say that Russia’s exports, if you look at oil, to Europe are much more beneficial to Russia and they’re much more dependent on them than most European countries. So I’m not sure what those comments are based on.

QUESTION: Another thing he said was that Russian participation or Russian cooperation with NGOs has been – is critical to understanding the – I can’t remember the exact words he used, but something like critical to understanding the – civil society is a very important part of understanding what things are going on politically and foreign policy-wise. Given Russia’s actions, the Russian Government’s actions against NGOs, do you – I mean, what do you make of a comment like that?

MS. PSAKI: I think there are more lessons and more studying that can be done about what civil society is trying to teach, if they’re saying they learned from them.

QUESTION: That they need more --

MS. PSAKI: Right.

QUESTION: Let me just ask --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- since we’re on Ukraine, whether you’d managed – whether everybody had managed to square up their schedules yet and whether you have anything to announce on the meeting?

MS. PSAKI: I hope to later this afternoon, and I will just convey to all of you that we’re coordinating between several governments on content and timing and specifics, and that is the delay, not anything else.

QUESTION: It’s not over the name?

MS. PSAKI: I think your name is maybe in consideration, Matt.

QUESTION: Really? It is?

QUESTION: That’s good.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: Is there a prize? The tetrad?

MS. PSAKI: Quad.

QUESTION: No, the tetrad, the tetrad.

MS. PSAKI: There’s a range of --

QUESTION: Quad is shorter.

MS. PSAKI: Stay at your emails. We’ll see – you’ll see what the name will be.

QUESTION: I think (inaudible) should do a contest on this. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: I think there should be a prize.

MS. PSAKI: A Friday afternoon contest, perhaps.

QUESTION: Jen?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. Oh, go ahead. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Do you have something on Jo’s question yesterday on where you are in terms of a loan guarantee and the money which has been allocated for --

MS. PSAKI: Yes.

QUESTION: -- 2013?

MS. PSAKI: It was a very good question, and we’ve been working through the interagency since yesterday, when I promised to get you something, to kind of do a comprehensive list of all of the coordination. It just took a little bit longer, but we hope to have something this afternoon.

QUESTION: So, and then on the more serious parts of the --

MS. PSAKI: Yes.

QUESTION: -- of what was coming out of Moscow today --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- they continue to insist that the buildup of troops on the Ukrainian border is nothing unusual, and don’t worry about it and nothing to see here. Have you, you or NATO – NATO is presenting you satellite images that show the buildup.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Have you now – and I asked this question yesterday. Have you now seen any diminution in either that buildup or the provocations that Toria and others have spoken about over the course of the past few days in the east of Ukraine?

MS. PSAKI: Look, we have remaining concerns about the troop buildup. I’m not aware of a change in the troop buildup or the tens of thousands of troops that we’ve been speaking about over the past couple of weeks. So we don’t view that as a military exercise preparation or as one that is just business as usual, and we have the same concerns we’ve had.

QUESTION: Jen?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Russia has cut off Voice of America radio transmissions in Moscow by refusing to renew any broadcasting license for VOA. Do you have any reaction to that?

MS. PSAKI: I do. We condemn the Russian Government’s recent decision to block continued Voice of America broadcasting in Russia. In the last year the Russian Government has passed laws imposing unprecedented censorship and restrictions on media and online publications. In the past few months alone, it has blocked independent websites and blogs, turned wire services into a propaganda tool, denied visas and accreditation to foreign journalists, and forced leadership changes at several media outlets that dared to challenge Kremlin politics.

We support the rights of all people, including Russians, to exercise their right to free speech regardless of their political views. This right is enshrined in the Russian constitution as well as in international agreements to which Russia is a party. In recent months, Russia has spoken out to defend free speech in other countries. We call on them now to drop this obvious double standard and allow the same access to information for their people that it insists other nations provide.

QUESTION: Will there be any reciprocal action from your part? We know that Russia has media outlets working in the United States.

MS. PSAKI: No. Look, I think we as a country that respects freedom of speech, that respects the rights of media, I don’t think that would be a particularly effective tool.

QUESTION: And how will you react to this?

MS. PSAKI: I think I just reacted to it.

QUESTION: Only by condemning this action?

MS. PSAKI: That’s correct.

Russia?

QUESTION: Yes. Did Secretary Kerry speak with Foreign Minister Lavrov today?

MS. PSAKI: He did. It was just before I came down for the briefing. They spoke this morning. I don’t have any readout of that at this point, but we’ll venture to get you one after – this afternoon.

QUESTION: Okay. The Russian foreign ministry is saying that Lavrov was trying to convince Kerry to use his influence on the Ukrainian Government to not forcibly remove the protestors in the east.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think we’ve seen what’s been happening on the ground, and the Ukrainian Government has exercised remarkable restraint throughout the last several weeks. Prime Minister Yatsenyuk – and I should also mention that the Secretary also spoke with Prime Minister Yatsenyuk. But all of this happened sort of right before I came out here for the briefing. But Prime Minister Yatsenyuk and other Ukrainian Government officials visited Donetsk yesterday to speak to citizens of eastern Ukraine to address the current situation and constitutional reform. This is another sign that the interim Government of Ukraine is taking positive steps to be inclusive and receptive.

We have not seen evidence of what the foreign minister or others are referring to in terms of incursions or aggressive actions by the Ukrainian Government; quite the contrary.

QUESTION: I’ve got one more one more on Russia. It’s unrelated to Ukraine. Well, maybe it’s unrelated to Ukraine. I’m wondering if you’ve seen this column written in a Russian newspaper by your favorite deputy prime minister, Mr. Rogozin, which talks about Russia’s space program and the need to colonize the moon. And I’m wondering if you’re concerned at all that Russia may try to annex the moon.

MS. PSAKI: I have not seen that column, though it does sound interesting, Matt. I will talk to our team and see if we have any views on it.

QUESTION: I just wondered if you managed to get – glean any more details about this suggestion to help yourself to gas, the idea that you would reverse the gas flows back into Ukraine. I understand once the gas is in the European part of the pipeline, it’s considered to be Europe’s gas.

MS. PSAKI: Correct. Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: But do you have any more details about the kind of – which pipeline we’re talking about because there are several?

MS. PSAKI: Sure. You’re right. There are.

QUESTION: Which company and --

MS. PSAKI: It’s all part of the discussion. It’s a little preliminary in terms of those details. You are right that once gas enters Germany then it’s Germany’s gas to give, and that’s obviously what the discussion is about.

QUESTION: But you haven’t got any more details about how, when, who would do this?

MS. PSAKI: Not at this point. Not at this point. This is just one of the pieces that is being discussed and considered in terms of ways to help the people of Ukraine.

QUESTION: Cuba?

MS. PSAKI: Sure. Well, do we have any more on Ukraine? Or – okay, Cuba. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Yeah. The French foreign minister will be in Cuba tomorrow.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: This is the first time for more than 30 years. Is it a good thing according to the United States?

MS. PSAKI: I think I spoke to this a couple of weeks ago on the trip --

QUESTION: But it was not confirmed. It is --

MS. PSAKI: Sure, when the trip was announced. Obviously, every government makes their decisions about who they have relations with and where they visit, and we certainly respect that. We do ask countries around the world, including France, to raise issues that we share concerns about, whether it’s freedom of media and speech or human rights issues. And we’ll see if this is one of the issues that the Secretary discusses when he next sees the foreign minister.

QUESTION: Do you know if he’s going to raise the issue of Alan Gross at all? Is that something that you’ve asked him to do?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not aware of a recent discussion about this particular issue, but broadly speaking we certainly do ask foreign counterparts, including the French, including a range of our allies, to raise that issue and the importance of returning Alan Gross to his family.

QUESTION: On Cuba more broadly, do you have – has there – is there an answer yet from either you or AID as to these apparently political texts/tweets?

MS. PSAKI: There’s nothing new. And what I was trying to convey yesterday was that Administrator Shah, what he was – what he – in answer to a question yesterday, he conveyed a desire to look broadly at the program, including the text messages, and so I suspect they’ll take the time to do that before further evaluation publicly.

QUESTION: Do you know that – then should we expect an answer from AID or from here, once there is one?

MS. PSAKI: I suspect AID, and we can certainly discuss it as well, but they’re taking a broader look beyond the text messages.

QUESTION: Peace process?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: Any update on the negotiations between the two parties? Any agreement has been achieved or --

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any update. I mentioned yesterday that Ambassador Indyk is returning. He is returning today. I understand he’ll be back in the United States later this evening. I don’t have any travel updates for you, so we’ll continue that discussion next week.

QUESTION: How about the Israeli decision to suspend the transfer of tax revenue to the PA? Anything on that?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’ve seen these press reports, but we have not seen an official public announcement by the Government of Israel, so it’s – we’re not in a position to confirm either the specifics or the details that have been reported. That said, we would regard such a development as unfortunate. We believe that the regular transfer of the Palestinian Authority’s tax revenues and economic cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority has been beneficial and is important to the well-being of the Palestinian economy.

QUESTION: Do you regard the transfer of money as something that the Israelis are obligated to do under Oslo or post-Oslo, any post-Oslo agreements, or is this kind of a privilege that the Israelis can suspend or put back into place kind of at will?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. It’s a good technical question, Matt. I’m not sure what our team views it as, whether it’s obligation or just something we think is useful and unhelpful to stop. So let me talk to them and see if we can clarify that further.

QUESTION: Well, I mean, it’s more than just useful. They can’t – they can barely pay their salaries of their people as it is, so --

MS. PSAKI: Right. As I said, it would be unfortunate if that were – if those reports are true.

QUESTION: Do you think there’d be any – if this is the case, would there be any move, do you think, within the U.S., to fill in the gap or – even temporarily and then – financially, I mean.

MS. PSAKI: I’m not aware of a discussion of that.

Do we have more on the peace process or another topic? Go ahead.

QUESTION: Another topic.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: Do you have a travel update for Ambassador Glyn Davies?

MS. PSAKI: Let me see if I have anything on that. If not, I will see what we have in the pipeline in terms of travel announcements. Let’s see. Okay, I do. Let’s see.

Special Representative for North Korea Policy Glyn Davies will host bilateral meetings in New York April 14th and 15th and Washington April 17th with his Chinese counterpart Wu Dawei – I think we just sent this out this morning – to exchange views on a wide range of issues related to the DPRK. Special Representative Wu’s visit is part of a series of high-level, in-depth U.S.-China discussions on how to achieve our shared goal of a denuclearized North Korea in a peaceful manner.

QUESTION: For these bilateral meetings, would you be able to tell us with whom he’ll be meeting with? Would they be UN officials or civilian leadership or --

MS. PSAKI: I will see if there’s any more detail we can spell out for all of you.

QUESTION: And does this meeting indicate that there’s now a picking up of momentum for re-executing Six-Party talks?

MS. PSAKI: This is just ongoing consultations with our partners on these important issues.

QUESTION: On North Korea.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Sorry.

QUESTION: Do you have any update on Kenneth Bae and his status, his well-being, and any – possibly any efforts to help get him out?

MS. PSAKI: I know we were venturing to get you an update on that, and my apologies on that. Obviously, we remain focused on securing his release. We have remaining concerns about his health. We are in close contact with his family on a very regular basis. I will check to see if we can send a quick update on last contacts out.

QUESTION: Great, thank you.

QUESTION: Jen – sorry – a follow-up on Taurean’s question.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Why New York? Why are you meeting in New York? And I ask this because usually when you have a Washington-Pyongyang communication, direct communication, you do it through New York. So is this – are we laying the groundwork for a future diplomacy? Are the North Koreans being involved in any other talks?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any more details to lay out for you. We’ll see if there’s anything more we can share.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: A couple of days ago --

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: -- the South Korean director for the North Korean issues noted they – Japan and United States and South Korea is going to pursue the variety method of dialogue in order to resume the Six-Party Talks, which means what – I don’t know exactly what the variety method of dialogue means. Is it kind of New York talk, this kind of --

MS. PSAKI: I’m not sure which announcement you’re referring to.

QUESTION: Not an announcement. Just --

MS. PSAKI: Reports?

QUESTION: Debate. They talked before.

MS. PSAKI: Oh, I think regardless of those reports, our approach remains the same, which is that we are in close consultation with our partners, our Six-Party partners. Obviously, there are steps North Korea would need to take. The ball remains in their court. Nothing has changed in that regard.

QUESTION: Nothing has changed. The U.S. position is not – doesn’t change?

MS. PSAKI: Nothing has changed.

Any other topics? All right, Jo, go ahead.

QUESTION: Sorry, I should have mentioned this back --

MS. PSAKI: No, no problem.

QUESTION: -- back when we were talking about Iran. But there was something that was said in Vienna – and I just wondered if this was your understanding of it – by Foreign Minister Zarif that he believes that the next talks to be held in May, mid-May, will get down to the drafting part of the actual agreement. And I wondered if that was your understanding as well on the U.S. side.

MS. PSAKI: That is something that we have conveyed from our end as well. Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Okay. So then you’re actually going to be putting things down on paper with the idea of working towards an agreement by July still?

MS. PSAKI: Well, yes, that remains the goal. Again, this doesn’t change the difficulty of the issues, the challenge of the issues. But yes, it has been confirmed from our side as well that that is the timeline.

QUESTION: So from mid-May?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: In order – I mean, are your experts already working on it to present something in mid-May, or are you going to start from mid-May doing the actual writing down --

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think the way that it’s been communicated is that the drafting will begin in May.

QUESTION: I’ve got two very brief ones.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: One, I believe that yesterday was the third round of talks between you and the French on the SNCF compensation for Holocaust deportations.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. Yep.

QUESTION: How’s that going? Is there any progress?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not aware of any specific progress to report. I know we put out a statement the other evening about this. This is a process that we feel is the most effective way to address. There have been some legislation in a couple of states attempting to address, so we are recommending to everyone to --

QUESTION: But the meeting did happen as planned yesterday?

MS. PSAKI: Yes, that’s my understanding.

QUESTION: Do you know where that was? Was it here or in France or --

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any details of that. I can check and see if there’s more to report.

QUESTION: All right. And then my other one is that Senator --

QUESTION: Could you tell us one clarification on that?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Is it – with you directly negotiating with Paris on this, any agreement for compensation would be paid by who? The rail firm in question or by the governments in question?

MS. PSAKI: Well, my understanding – I’d have to check on that level of detail, Jo. I mean, my understanding is the issue here is there are U.S. subsidiaries of the French company. So in terms of who would pay it, I’d have to check with the teams working on it. I don’t have that level of detail.

Yeah.

QUESTION: I believe the statement that was released about that a couple days ago mentioned that the legislation that’s being considered in both Maryland and New York is unproductive for negotiations. Why would that be unproductive?

MS. PSAKI: Because we feel the best means of addressing this is through the negotiations that we’re having with the French.

QUESTION: And my last one was just on the – Senators McCain and Menendez have come out today with a proposed bill that would remove the terrorism designation under the Patriot Act for some several Kurdish groups. Are you familiar with this at all?

MS. PSAKI: I am not. I haven’t seen that.

QUESTION: Okay. Could you look into it and --

MS. PSAKI: Sure, happy to.

QUESTION: I would like to know what the Administration thinks of it.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: Jen?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Do you have anything – any reaction to the Senate adaptation of the Armenian genocide bill yesterday?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any additional comment beyond what I stated yesterday.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: Just two quick things. I think you were asked about the media reports that the Israelis were going to start withholding some of the tax revenues.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Did you say that because you hadn’t seen any of – anything official on that, you couldn’t comment? Are the media reports in and of themselves unhelpful?

MS. PSAKI: Yeah, I think I said that as well.

QUESTION: Oh, did you?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Okay. Great. And then last thing --

QUESTION: Wait, you said that the media reports were unhelpful?

MS. PSAKI: No, I said the content, obviously, of the media reports was unhelpful, if this is true. Yes.

QUESTION: Okay. And then second, on Ukraine, I don’t think you were asked, but forgive me if you were.

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: Lavrov is quoted as having said that Russia wants legal guarantees of Ukraine’s neutrality.

MS. PSAKI: I’ve seen that, yes.

QUESTION: Yeah. What do you think about that?

MS. PSAKI: Well, our view is that sovereign countries make their own decisions about – in relation to what other countries and what organizations they may have relationships with or they may seek to join. Now, as we all know, the legitimate Government of Ukraine has been clear that they have no plans to pursue a NATO membership at this time. But regardless, all of these decisions are up to the Government of Ukraine and the people of Ukraine, and that’s where we think they should lie.

QUESTION: Right. So there’s no reason why anybody except the Government of Ukraine, if it chose to, should give anybody guarantees about its neutrality?

MS. PSAKI: Correct.

QUESTION: Okay. Thanks.

QUESTION: On Syria, the opposition has said that the regime has used the chemical weapons in the last few days. Do you have any confirmation?

MS. PSAKI: We’ve seen those reports you’re referring to. We don’t have any information to corroborate those claims at this time. We certainly take all reports of alleged chemical weapons use seriously, which is why we’re working with the OPCW and UN to remove and destroy Syria’s chemical weapons. But again, we have no information to corroborate those claims at this point.

QUESTION: And what does it mean if they are – if these reports are accurate?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to speculate on that. Obviously, we don’t have information to corroborate them at this time.

QUESTION: Just back to the Ukraine tetrad conference.

MS. PSAKI: Yes.

QUESTION: Yesterday, I think you were asked or someone was asked about the Russians wanting representatives of the Russian – ethnic Russians and Russian-speaking minorities from the east to be involved in the delegation that goes to wherever this meeting is, whenever it is.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Did you have a response to that? Or do you think that – I mean, are you amenable to that, or do you think that the representatives of the Ukraine delegation to the tetrad talks should be just the Ukrainian Government, as you see it now?

MS. PSAKI: We think that the Ukraine Government represents all of Ukraine.

QUESTION: So you see no need for people from – for people that the Russians might think – ethnic Russians and Russian speakers who have an interest now in what goes on in Ukraine, you don’t see the need for them to be there?

MS. PSAKI: Well, for this – no, because --

QUESTION: But at this meeting?

MS. PSAKI: At this meeting. The Government of Ukraine will represent all of Ukraine, and they’ve taken steps to be inclusive, to protect minorities, Russian speakers. That’s the most effective way we feel they can do that.

QUESTION: Are the representing Crimea also, from your point of view?

MS. PSAKI: Absolutely.

QUESTION: What about like a separate discussion of all of the groups in Ukraine? That’s one thing that, from the foreign ministry, he’s said that Secretary Kerry has promised them, like a separate parallel thing where all – they would all have their input.

MS. PSAKI: I’m not sure what that’s a reference to. Broadly speaking, we’ve continued to encourage the Government of Ukraine to be as inclusive as possible, to include all components from all communities. Even the prime minister’s trip to Donetsk is an example of reaching out to eastern Ukraine, and they have delivered on that – the government has. So we’ve seen them put that to action.

Thanks, everyone.

QUESTION: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:36 p.m.)

DPB #64

2014-04-11


Daily Press Briefings : Daily Press Briefing: April 10, 2014


Jen Psaki
Spokesperson
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
April 10, 2014


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Index for Today's Briefing
  • DEPARTMENT
    • Welcome to Interns and Journalism Fellows
  • MIDDLE EAST PEACE
    • Parties Remain in Intensive Negotiations
    • Ambassador Indyk Travels
    • Range of Issues
    • Jonathon Pollard
    • Final Status Agreement
    • Move toward Joining UN Conventions / Technical Step
  • TURKEY/ARMENIA
    • U.S. Position on 1915 Atrocities
    • Turkey and Armenia Relations / Normalization
  • IRAN
    • UN Representative Nomination
    • U/S Sherman Meeting with Iranians / Nuclear Negotiation / American Citizens
    • JPOA / Payments / OFAC
    • P5+1 Meeting / Comprehensive Agreement / Next Meeting
  • UKRAINE/RUSSIA
    • Upcoming Meeting
    • G-7 / Range of Issues
    • Loan Guarantee Package
    • Energy Security
    • Russian Action in Eastern Ukraine / U.S. Concerns
    • Ambassador Pyatt's Twitter Account / Satellite Images
  • GREECE
    • Explosion in Athens
  • DEPARTMENT
    • U/S Gottemoeller Travel to Japan and China / Nonproliferation
  • SOUTH KOREA
    • Deputy Secretary Burns' Meeting with South Korea Deputy National Security Chief
  • DEPARTMENT
    • Immunity Granted to Blackwater Employees in Iraq in 2007 / DOJ
  • CUBA
    • "Cuba Twitter" / USAID / Administrator Shah


TRANSCRIPT:

1:21 p.m. EDT

MS. PSAKI: Hi, everyone, everyone in the back. I first want to welcome two groups we have visiting us today at the briefing. First we welcome several interns working in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs. Hello. And second we also welcome three journalism fellows from the Prague Freedom Foundation, an initiative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic to promote and advance independent journalism and free media globally. Welcome to all of you as well.

With that, Matt.

QUESTION: European and Eurasian Affairs?

MS. PSAKI: And welcome to the reporters as well. (Laughter.) I know. Well --

QUESTION: Why? Do they have free time what with Ukraine and Crimea and all this stuff? You should put them to work. (Laughter.)

MS. PSAKI: Just they give them a little break within their 23-hour day.

QUESTION: Let me start with the Middle East because there are reports just coming out within the last hour – erroneous reports, I understand, but I just want to check to make sure – that the Israelis and Palestinians have come to some kind of an agreement to extend the talks. If – can you say whether that’s true or not, and also tell us if there – is there any kind of a readout from this meeting that Ambassador Indyk apparently had today?

MS. PSAKI: Sure, let me give you a couple of updates. Our teams on the ground, the negotiating – our negotiating team and both parties remain in intensive negotiations. They had another meeting today. The gaps are narrowing, but any speculation about an agreement are premature at this time.

A couple of other just quick updates on this particular topic. Ambassador Indyk will be returning to Washington in the coming days for consultations. He plans to return to the region again next week. As all of you know, there are a range of holidays, whether it’s Passover or upcoming Easter, so this is a natural time for him to return. And those are the updates I have for all of you.

QUESTION: Can I just ask you what you mean by speculation would be premature? Can you just say that these reports are wrong?

MS. PSAKI: Sure, the reports are inaccurate, so speculation that’s been out there and reports that there is a deal is inaccurate.

QUESTION: All right. So – but that is what you’re trying to do, right?

MS. PSAKI: Of course it is. And our teams remain in intensive negotiation --

QUESTION: So that’s the goal --

MS. PSAKI: -- and the gaps are narrowing.

QUESTION: That’s the goal, but you’re not there yet. Is that it?

MS. PSAKI: Correct. That’s right.

QUESTION: All right. Thank you.

MS. PSAKI: That’s right.

QUESTION: Just a quick – go ahead, Jo.

QUESTION: What is it you’re actually trying to do? I mean, Matt said that is what you’re trying to do, but what is it you’re trying to do? When you say you’re narrowing the gaps, what gaps? What are you actually physically trying to do?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’re working, Jo, as you know, to determine what the path forward is for these negotiations. And that is up to the parties. It’s always been up to the parties. It remains up to the parties to make that determination. There are issues that were, of course, raised last week, and we want to determine what the path forward is.

QUESTION: So do these include the prisoners, the prisoner issue?

MS. PSAKI: There are a range of issues that are being discussed. Certainly, that’s one of them. There are other topics I’m not going to go into greater detail on that have been out there.

QUESTION: And is the release of Jonathan Pollard among those other topics?

MS. PSAKI: There are a range of topics. I’m not going to detail it further.

QUESTION: Jen --

MS. PSAKI: Said.

QUESTION: -- their sources or their reports insist that the deal includes the swap of prisoners, the 30 prisoners that were supposed to be released on the 23rd of – on the 29th of March, another 400 prisoners, but also they insist that Jonathan Pollard is part of the deal. Could you say or could you tell us or could you deny flatly that he is not part of the deal?

MS. PSAKI: Well, nothing has changed. No decision has been made about Jonathan Pollard. That’s the same as it was last week. And I just made very clear that these reports are premature.

QUESTION: Okay. Now, would the Palestinians have to, let’s say, resend their applications or cancel their applications or call them back with the UN agencies for the talks to continue, or no?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to go into that level of detail, Said.

QUESTION: Okay. But would you say that the Israelis now are either reconciled to this fact that this is done and there is no backtracking by the Palestinians or backpedaling in this case?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to speak on behalf of the Israelis of what they would or wouldn’t feel comfortable with. Obviously, there are a range of issues being discussed, including the Palestinians’ recent steps, including their desire for prisoners to be released, including a range of issues. But I’m not going to go into further detail.

QUESTION: Only if you would indulge me for a second. Now, what does that do to the framework agreement or the 29th of April deadline? I mean, if they decide to go on beyond, so we continue doing the same thing, or is there going to be some sort of an announcement on the 29th that we have covered this period now, the nine-month period and we’re going to another six months or another nine months?

MS. PSAKI: I can’t predict for you, Said. Obviously, if there’s a decision made because of steps by the parties that these talks will continue, then it would take longer than the next couple of weeks to come to a final status agreement. But we will cross that bridge when we come to it. We’re taking it one day at a time here.

QUESTION: Now, would any agreement that is brokered or – by the Americans, in this case by the American side, include also sort of the cessation of settlement activities, as we have seen the announcement? Just, in fact, yesterday they announced 300 dunams, which is about 100 acres of land is being confiscated from an agricultural --

MS. PSAKI: Well, you’re familiar with our view on settlements. I’m not going to address that question further.

Do we have more on Middle East peace, or should we move on?

QUESTION: I’ve got one very briefly.

MS. PSAKI: Oh, go ahead.

QUESTION: What’s your understanding of the status of the Palestinians’ decisions to go ahead and move toward joining these UN conventions? I understand the Swiss have said that they received --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm. So to be clear, this is simply a technical step that Matt is referring to, I would caution you against reading too much into the significance of what is essentially a ministerial step in the processing of the Palestinians’ letter. So the role – let me --

QUESTION: Yeah, but I just want to make sure – administerial?

MS. PSAKI: Administerial, administerial. The role of the depository, the UN or the Swiss, is simply to notify parties to the treaty what – which has – what has happened. And the depository does not determine the legal validity or effect of the communications. It actually remains in the hands of the treaty parties, states that are a party to each treaty, to decide for themselves questions of who they recognize and with whom they consider themselves in treaty relations. So this is a technical step in their process.

QUESTION: So you do not believe that that step which was taken --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- violates the terms of the agreement that they reached back last year?

MS. PSAKI: Well --

QUESTION: Is that correct? Because it’s just an administrative thing and it --

MS. PSAKI: We strongly – continue to strongly oppose unilateral steps, which of course we consider this one, that seek to circumvent or prejudge outcomes that still need to be negotiated. So there’s no question this process of steps has been unhelpful. But again, we’re at a stage here --

QUESTION: Right. But nothing --

MS. PSAKI: -- where we’re determining what the path forward is. We’re not going to dwell on what was or was agreed to in previous months.

QUESTION: But in terms of the way the United States looks, this doesn’t change anything in terms of the Palestinians and their --

MS. PSAKI: Our funding or --

QUESTION: No, in terms of – not in terms of your funding. But you don’t think that this changes anything – this one step changes anything on the ground or something that needs to be negotiated, or does it?

MS. PSAKI: Well, this is a technical step that follows on the unhelpful step taken last week. So in that degree it’s a continuation, but again, it’s not a different step. So I don’t think it changes necessarily what we’re negotiating now, no.

QUESTION: And have you made that point to the Israelis, or do you know?

MS. PSAKI: Well, look, I mean, the focus we have that’s happening between the parties now is about what the path is forward. Yes, this is a technical step, but we’re determining what the path is forward.

QUESTION: But just because the Palestinians have – their whatever-it-is has been accepted by the Swiss does not mean that they are suddenly members of the Geneva Convention.

MS. PSAKI: That’s right. That’s right. It’s a technical step. It’s still – again, unilateral steps are still unhelpful, and we’ve made that clear to both parties.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: Jen, just to clarify, when you say that gaps are narrowing, are we now at the point where we’re just talking about the length of time for an extension, or are we still on the substance of the ins and outs of negotiation?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to get into that level of detail, but it’s fair to say that there need to be more negotiations. Those will continue. And Ambassador Indyk will be returning to the region next week for that.

QUESTION: One thing on that.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: I mean, the Secretary said the other day in his congressional testimony that the bitter irony – the irony, the bitter irony was that you were really just talking about process and how to keep the process going, not about the fundamental issues of a final settlement. Has that changed? Has anything changed since Tuesday?

MS. PSAKI: No. But again, without going into too much detail, there are also discussion of conditions that would create the best environment for a peace process, and that’s part of the discussions as well.

QUESTION: Got it. But the fundamental point which hasn’t changed then since his testimony is what you’re really just trying to do is keep the talks going now, rather than actually working on – though I get that the two are not entirely divorced from one another, but that the focus is just keeping them going, not on negotiating the final status issues.

MS. PSAKI: Well, they’re talking about, of course, the important difficult issues. I’m not going to go into further detail than I have.

QUESTION: Can I just have a follow-up very quickly? Does this narrowing of the gap --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- was it influenced by what the Secretary said on Capitol Hill, by the meeting in Cairo of the Arab ministerial meeting in Cairo, and by the meeting yesterday between the Israeli foreign minister and Secretary Kerry?

MS. PSAKI: Said, I would encourage you to pose those questions to the Israelis and the Palestinians. It’s their decisions and their choices that are being made, so I’m not going to do an analysis on that.

QUESTION: I promise, my last question.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: Are you hopeful that the talks will continue on past the 29th? Do you see that it is happening?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Said, I don’t want to make a prediction, but certainly, our goal has always been to work with the parties in a role as a facilitator to achieve a final status agreement.

QUESTION: Just on Indyk’s travel, do you expect him to come back – are there any more meetings that you’re aware of that are going to happen before he returns? Do you know when exactly he’s going to return?

MS. PSAKI: Not that I’m aware of. I’ll check and see if there’s more specificity. As I understand it, it’s in the coming day or so.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: Could you give dates for his return here and --

MS. PSAKI: Next week. He’ll be returning back to the region next week, and he’ll be returning in the next day or so to Washington.

QUESTION: Okay. But you said about dates that, naturally, holidays that are coming up, but those holidays aren’t until next week.

MS. PSAKI: Oh well, some of them start next week, as you know. So maybe – I don’t have anything specific. When we have anything specific to let you know, we’ll let you know.

QUESTION: Is this for him to – and I’m sorry, I may have missed a word or two at the start. I this for him to consult with the Secretary and give briefings, or is it at the White House or elsewhere, or is he just getting a break?

MS. PSAKI: Well, hopefully he’ll have a little bit of a break too. But certainly, it’s to have discussions and consult with the Secretary and the national security team here.

QUESTION: Jen, the holiday begins on the 14th and ends on the 22nd. Is it safe to assume that Ambassador Indyk will be here during that time?

MS. PSAKI: No. We’ll let you know as soon as we know when he’ll be returning, but it’s at some point next week.

QUESTION: Can I just --

MS. PSAKI: On Middle East peace or a different topic?

QUESTION: No, very quick on Turkey.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: About an hour, there will be a resolution at the Senate regarding Armenian genocide resolution. Do you have any position on that?

MS. PSAKI: Well, our position has long been that we acknowledge – clearly acknowledge as historical fact and mourn the loss of 1.5 million Armenians who were massacred or marched to their deaths in the final days of the Ottoman Empire. These horrific events resulted in one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century, and the United States recognizes that they remain a great source of pain for the people of Armenia and of Armenian descent, as they do for all of us who share basic universal values. Beyond that, I don’t have any other comment for you.

QUESTION: Okay. So this resolution wants Administration to recognize or the President to recognize 24th of April as the commemoration for the 1915 events, genocide events. Would you – do you have any position regarding this?

MS. PSAKI: I just provided what our United States position is.

QUESTION: Jen, you can’t address --

QUESTION: (Inaudible) or when you were working for candidate Obama what his position was on this issue?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, I know that candidate Obama has his own personal views about this issue, which he – was actually in his statement that the White House sent out last year. I’m sure there’ll be more statements to come at the end of this month.

QUESTION: But you cannot specifically address the question of whether the U.S. Government regards the events that you just described near the end of the Ottoman Empire as genocide?

MS. PSAKI: I just stated what our position is. Do we have more on this? Turkey?

QUESTION: Jen, one single question more. There is a protocols between the Armenia and Turkey that your Administration helped in 2011 or ’10, I believe. Do you have any update on that, how those normalization process is going on?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we continue to urge both countries to work together to achieve a full, frank and just acknowledgement of the facts. We believe that by working together to address their shared history, Armenia and Turkey can promote stability and prosperity in the entire Caucasus region, so we continue to work with them on that.

While the protocols may not be moving forward at this time, we note that both sides remain committed to the process of normalizing relations and neither side has withdrawn. Our greatest interest on this issue is to see Armenia and Turkey heal the wounds of the past and move forward together in a shared future of security and prosperity in the region, and our policy is, of course, naturally guided by that goal.

QUESTION: Do you know why this process is not moving forward? It has been five years almost that --

MS. PSAKI: Sure, I understand that. I don’t have any more detailed analysis for you.

Shall we move on to a new topic?

QUESTION: Just to return to the issue of the Iranian nomination for representative at the UN, reports today, there are court papers that allege that he was implicated in the assassination of a dissident, an Iranian dissident in Italy in the 1990s. First of all, is the Administration aware of this?

MS. PSAKI: I’ve seen the reports. We’ve obviously expressed our concerns publicly to the Iranians and to the UN about the fact that this nomination is not viable, but I’m not going to detail the specifics of those concerns more.

QUESTION: But this new information, or at least new to us, does that factor into the discussion about whether or not to ban the visa at all?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to detail that further.

QUESTION: But you haven’t made a decision yet?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything new to update you all on on this specific issue.

QUESTION: I just want to know if you have any reaction to the passage in the House of the bill.

MS. PSAKI: Well, we certainly share the concerns expressed by members of Congress and we have expressed those to the Iranians, but I don’t have anything particular on the congressional vote.

QUESTION: Okay. And then just – I just wonder if you can say – is it the case that by saying that his nomination is not viable and saying that publicly – not just you, but the White House and others as well – is that what you would like to do, what you would like to see, is for the Iranians to withdraw his nomination. Is that a fair assessment of the position that --

MS. PSAKI: Well, that would certainly be one option, but I’m not going to detail any further.

QUESTION: But is that not the preferred option for – would that not be a preferable option than to go – than having to deny a visa or having to approve the visa? Wouldn’t be easier if it just went away, if they just withdrew the nomination?

MS. PSAKI: Well, our preference certainly would have been that he wouldn’t have been nominated to begin with.

QUESTION: In the first place, right.

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: But now that he has been, it’s fair to say that the Administration would like to see – that the easiest and quickest resolution to this problem is for his nomination to be withdrawn, correct?

MS. PSAKI: Well, obviously, as I’ve noted a few times, we’ve made our concerns clear and they’re going to make whatever choice they’ll make.

QUESTION: Jen.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: I asked if you could take the questions of whether there had been precedents for this. Are you able to – whether there are – not precedents to this – whether there are past instances of U.S. visa denials for foreign representatives to the United Nations, whether permrep or lower level. Can you address that?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to get into historical precedents from the podium. Certainly, I know everybody has lots of access to information out there, but I don’t have anything I can detail for you from there.

QUESTION: And is there a legal reason for that, or is it a policy decision?

MS. PSAKI: I’m just not going to detail it further.

Do we have more on this issue?

QUESTION: On Iran?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: Yesterday the American team in Vienna issued a statement that the Under Secretary Sherman had an hour and a half meeting, bilateral with the Iranians.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: And she raised the issue of the Americans detained and disappeared in Iran, which means they are talking more than the nuclear issue. Do you know if they discussed any regional issues beside this?

MS. PSAKI: My understanding from talking to our team, Samir, is that, yes, they did meet for an hour and a half. They talked about two things during that bilateral meeting. That is, of course, the nuclear negotiation as one of them. The other is the issue of American citizens and our concern about Mr. Hekmati, Pastor Abedini, and Robert Levinson, all of whom deserve to be home with their families. So those were the two topics of discussion.

QUESTION: No other regional issues?

MS. PSAKI: Those were the two topics.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) Iran?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: I think under the schedule that has been outlined for the payments under the JPOA to Iran, the fourth payment, which is for a total of $550 million, is supposed to happen today.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Has that happened?

MS. PSAKI: So as you noted, we – at the beginning of this process, we made a schedule of installments public. This one was worth the equivalent of 550 million, as you noted. This is actually – the process and the step that happens here is that OFAC would of course notify banks of this step each time it comes due. I would point you to them to confirm whether that’s happened or not.

QUESTION: So you can’t, but OFAC can let us know what --

MS. PSAKI: Sure. OFAC would be --

QUESTION: -- that the payment has gone through or that --

MS. PSAKI: OFAC – they would let you know if the banks have been notified. I don’t think they can confirm whether a payment has gone through, but they can let you know if a bank – if the banks have been notified, which would be the step they take.

QUESTION: That they could make such a payment?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: I thought Marie had confirmed from the podium in the – or I thought either you or Marie had confirmed from the podium that such payments have gone through.

MS. PSAKI: I can look back. Obviously, if it’s happened in the past, maybe that’s a different circumstance. Obviously, since this is a due date today I would point you to OFAC and they can let you know if the step on our end has been taken.

QUESTION: Okay. Thank you.

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

Iran? Or any more on Iran?

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS. PSAKI: Okay. Go ahead.

QUESTION: I referred to Foreign Minister Zarif yesterday – 50 to 60 percent already been agreed upon with respect to the agreement. But on – yesterday on the background, the senior officer said nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. So it looks like – it is clear there is a disagreement on many thing. What are the major point that there is no full agreement with the Iranian about, or the remaining point to agree upon?

MS. PSAKI: Well, let me walk you through a little bit about where we are. As you know, the last round of talks was completed yesterday. Our team continued our substantive discussions about all of the issues that will be – have to be part of a comprehensive agreement. These sessions have been in-depth and the conversations have given us important additional insights into the biggest and most challenging gaps that we’ll be required to address, we’ll all be required to address as we move forward.

At this point, as you know, we don’t know if we’ll be successful in bridging these gaps. And I think that was the point that was being made. We are certainly committed, as are all the parties, to doing so. And certainly from the beginning, Under Secretary Sherman and others who have been leading these negotiations have made clear that there are two principles that are important. One is that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed, and the other is that nothing is agreed until everyone agrees to it, because the unity between the P5+1 on these issues is hugely important.

The next step in this process is to begin actually drafting text, which we have said would happen after this next round. I would caution anyone from thinking that a final agreement is imminent or that it will be easy. That’s just the next step in this. And the P5+1 will meet back in Vienna at the political director level again on May 13th. As has been the case consistently throughout, our experts will also be working in the interim together to address some of the technical issues.

QUESTION: But isn’t that the same thing? Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed, and nothing is agreed until everyone agrees to it?

MS. PSAKI: Well, not to --

QUESTION: Or is it – or is there a distinction?

MS. PSAKI: I actually – how I view that, Matt, is that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed refers to the content; nothing is agreed till everyone agrees to it means the partners. So that’s, I think, what is the meaning – not to put too fine of a point on it – of the saying.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: May 13th, that’s with the Iranians, correct?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. It’s the next round of negotiations.

QUESTION: Yeah, right, right. Right, right, right. Good.

MS. PSAKI: Yeah, yeah. Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Move on?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: I just want to – logistically, on Ukraine.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Who is going to – whenever this meeting is set for next week – and I have a suggested name for the group, by the way.

MS. PSAKI: Oh, let’s hear it.

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS. PSAKI: You don’t like Quad or Quartet?

QUESTION: No. I think that --

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: -- Tetrad would be good. (Laughter.)

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: That doesn’t flow off the tongue.

QUESTION: Tetrad.

MS. PSAKI: Okay. We’ll come back tomorrow and see if you have a better option. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: No. You mean you’re rejecting it out of hand? I’m going to try to get it to catch on.

Anyway, is there anything to announce on that? And even if you’re not in a position to say if there is, who is, like, in charge of this thing? Who would the announcement come from if not from you, on the meeting?

MS. PSAKI: Certainly, when we’re prepared to announce, we would announce in conjunction with the other participants. But we’re still in discussions with the Ukrainians, with the EU, with the Russians, and so I don’t have anything to announce for all of you today. We’re still, of course, planning on next week.

QUESTION: But what’s the holdup? I just know this has been in the works for a while now. Why is it so difficult to decide between a couple of European capitals and a couple of very close dates?

MS. PSAKI: Because you’re coordinating a lot of parties. I think everybody is working towards making a determination on the final details, and as soon as we do, we’ll make it available.

New topic? Okay.

QUESTION: Ukraine.

MS. PSAKI: Ukraine. Okay, go ahead.

QUESTION: Yeah. The G20 meeting has already started, and my understanding, at the same time G7 meeting is also be held. And --

MS. PSAKI: The G7 meeting --

QUESTION: G7.

MS. PSAKI: The one that will be in June?

QUESTION: Here. No, no, no, today. Today or tomorrow here in Washington, D.C.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: And probably they are going to discuss IMF support or economic support to Ukraine.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: But do they also talk about the political issues, such as kind of the sanction – fresh sanction or something like this?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not sure which meeting you’re referring to, but broadly speaking, we have been discussing with our G7 partners and any partners in the international community a range of issues, including economic support for Ukraine, support for the IMF-backed package, individual packages that our countries may be supporting, as well as taking complementary steps, including sanctions. So I would expect that during any meeting where Ukraine is discussed with our international partners, these issues would be discussed.

QUESTION: The same time, the U.S. and Russia, in a bilateral meeting, is also – that it’s going to take place today or tomorrow?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not sure what you’re referring to.

QUESTION: A ministry of finance.

MS. PSAKI: Oh, a meeting – is it of – a meeting with the Department of Treasury? Is it those officials?

QUESTION: Yes, yes, exactly. Yes, yes.

MS. PSAKI: Oh, okay. I would point you to them on details for that. I don’t have any specifics on the content of their meeting.

QUESTION: Jen, can I just ask you, on the economic support, where exactly we are? This is a little bit on catch-up after being on the road last week. The 1 billion loan guarantee that was approved --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. Yep.

QUESTION: -- has that actually been put forward? Is that – has a, like a button being pressed somewhere --

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: -- and you are now standing guarantor?

MS. PSAKI: Well, the --

QUESTION: And also bits of money that I believe Assistant Secretary Nuland was talking about in her testimony about – in the FY13 and FY14 --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- has that actually been spent --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- or is it still pending?

MS. PSAKI: It’s all a good question. The President signed into law, as you know, last week the loan guarantee package. In terms of where it sits right now, let me take that and just see if we can get an update for you and the other bits of money that Assistant Secretary Nuland referred to.

QUESTION: Okay. Thank you.

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: Jen, when the Secretary visited Kyiv, there were other things included in that package that was announced that day beyond money. It was also, like, technical advisors on things – not just to look at the books, but to claw back money that had been sort of looted.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Any update on where we are with that --

MS. PSAKI: Why don’t I check in the same round of questioning. Obviously, there are a lot of channels happening at the same time, including consultations on those issues, consultations on issues like natural gas and access to energy resources. We’ve been working closely with them, with the Ukrainians in recent days on that specifically. So I know there’s a lot of activities taking place; let me just see if we can get an update for you.

QUESTION: Do you have any reaction to President Putin’s letter this morning to the EU saying that they’re going to cut off supplies unless the EU stumps up the cash for the Ukrainian bills?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’ve certainly seen that. Just to catch you all up, which you may all already be aware of, on a couple of actual steps they’ve taken. Also on April 1st, Russia raised the price of natural gas for Ukraine by more than 40 percent. Now they’ve raised the price – they also then after that raised the price again, and then we saw, of course, the letter you referred to this morning. And Russia reneged on an agreement signed with Ukraine that offered reduced gas prices in exchange for a 25-year lease of Black Sea Fleet facilities. We condemn Russia’s efforts to use energy as a tool of coercion against Ukraine. Ukraine is now paying $485, a price clearly not set by market forces and well above the average price paid by EU members.

As I just touched on, the U.S. is – the United States is taking immediate steps to assist Ukraine, including the provision of emergency finance and technical assistance in the areas of energy security, energy efficiency, and energy sector reform. In addition, we’re working with Ukraine and our allies on its western borders to encourage them to prepare to reverse natural gas flows in the pipeline so that Ukraine can access additional gas supplies if needed. And what that means is there are flows of gas, of natural gas I should say, that go through – from Western Europe through Ukraine to Russia, and we – or I’m sorry, the other way – from Russia through Ukraine to Western Europe. And we want some of that natural gas to be available to go back into Ukraine. It was a warmer winter, they have some excesses that makes that possible, so we’re working on that as well.

QUESTION: So who controls the pipeline, then? Do the Ukrainians control it?

MS. PSAKI: Depends on the pipeline. And we’re working with a range of partners in the region to see what’s possible.

QUESTION: Two things briefly, Jen. Why can’t – the gas that the Russians are selling is Russia’s to sell, is it not? Why can’t they charge whatever price they want for it?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, there are also – they had an agreement that I referenced about what they would provide in response to the 25-year lease.

QUESTION: Right. But clearly that agreement was abrogated when the Russians just moved in and took over Crimea and have no longer any need to lease the – correct?

MS. PSAKI: That may be the case. It doesn’t mean we don’t still have strong views about the steps they’ve taken, which clearly we do.

QUESTION: So --

MS. PSAKI: And we’re taking steps to help Ukraine.

QUESTION: Fair enough. But you – so you think that the – you think that you should be able to tell the Russians what price to charge for the gas that it sells to Ukraine?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t think I said that, but again --

QUESTION: Well --

MS. PSAKI: -- I think they’ve had a long agreement. They’ve – obviously, it’s relevant to point out that they are selling the gas at far above the market rate.

QUESTION: Right.

MS. PSAKI: And obviously, we’re taking steps to work with our partners in the region to help Ukraine during this time.

QUESTION: But you think that it’s some kind of violation of something other than just not being a nice seller to – I mean, why can’t they charge whatever they want?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, I’m just speaking to our views --

QUESTION: All right.

MS. PSAKI: -- on their steps they’ve taken.

QUESTION: Okay. And then, secondly, there was a lot of talk yesterday and the day before – or last several days about these actions going on in eastern Ukraine that you guys say are being fomented by the Russians.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Have you seen anything since – anything in the past, say, 48 hours that would ease any of your concerns? Or have you seen anything that would make you increase – that would make your concerns grow on the agent provocateur front?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we still have the same concerns. Obviously, things have calmed a bit and there are still some buildings where there are remaining issues. We have seen reports that the separatists who seized a security building in Luhansk may have rigged the building with explosives. There are conflicting reports about some particular buildings. But it remains the case, as Assistant Secretary Nuland said yesterday, that these are not spontaneous – a spontaneous set of events. These incidents bear all the hallmarks of an orchestrated campaign of incitement, separatism, and sabotage of the Ukrainian state, and those concerns remain.

QUESTION: Right. But in his conversation yesterday with Foreign Minister Lavrov and in all these public statements, including Toria’s which you just said --

MS. PSAKI: Yes. Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- you’ve been telling the Russians to knock it off. Is there any sign that you’re aware of that they’re listening, that they’re actually doing that?

MS. PSAKI: Well, obviously these events are from a couple of days ago. We’ll see what actions they take moving forward.

QUESTION: So the answer is no. You don’t know whether there has been any – I’d rather --

MS. PSAKI: Well, there haven’t been --

QUESTION: It’s not a trick question.

MS. PSAKI: -- there haven’t been new steps.

QUESTION: Okay, there hasn’t been anything yet.

MS. PSAKI: Obviously, we’re monitoring as closely as we can. But we still remain concerned about the steps that have been taken.

QUESTION: Just going back to your condemnation of what you described as “the Russians have used energy as a tool of coercion” – was that meant to apply to the letter, which is what Jo had asked you about, or to the totality of circumstances that you described, including --

MS. PSAKI: The totality of circumstances in response --

QUESTION: -- including the letter?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS. PSAKI: And in response to Jo’s question, what I thought was relevant here was specific actions more than the letter; also, that they have taken to increase the prices.

QUESTION: Can I just go back to what you mentioned? If I understood this right, you’re trying to work with experts to reverse the gas flow --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- so that Ukrainians get it back?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Isn’t Russia going to take that as some kind of act of sabotage on – or Gazprom on their gas pipeline?

MS. PSAKI: Again, I’m not an expert on this, obviously. I’ve learned quite a bit about it in the last couple of days, but I can see if there’s more specifics, technical specifics on how it would exactly work. I think it would be gas flow that would be coming from Europe, so it wouldn’t – I don’t know that it would be owned by Russia.

QUESTION: It just seems to me that there would be other situations in other countries where if nation states started to try and reserve gas flows, there would be an outcry by other nation states about that.

MS. PSAKI: Well, there are a lot of circumstances happening on the ground and there are a lot of things under consideration to help the people of Ukraine.

QUESTION: But I mean, the Russians could take the position that you’re actually effectively pinching their gas. No?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not sure that that’s technically correct. It’s a good question, but I will see if there’s more our technical experts can tell.

QUESTION: More technical term than pinching – (laughter).

QUESTION: You don’t think that pinching – pinching is not a technical (inaudible)?

MS. PSAKI: It is not, but I understand what Jo’s getting at.

QUESTION: How about just theft? Let’s call it theft.

MS. PSAKI: I’m understanding her nuance of meaning --

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MS. PSAKI: -- they could think we’re taking their gas supply. So I don’t think that is what the actual technical – technically what would happen, but I will check with our team on that.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: It’s called larceny, actually.

MS. PSAKI: All right. Any more on Ukraine?

QUESTION: Ukraine?

QUESTION: New topic?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: Ukraine?

MS. PSAKI: Ukraine, okay.

QUESTION: Yes. Did you know (inaudible) Ukraine Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: And he showed three satellite images on his Twitter yesterday.

MS. PSAKI: I’m sorry, he did what?

QUESTION: On his Twitter.

MS. PSAKI: Oh, satellite images. Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Yeah, yeah. So I want to know – so what is the purpose of his – this – he shows these three satellite images?

MS. PSAKI: Well, one – let me be clear. These are publicly available images. These weren’t private images or images taken from a government stock, so to speak. (Laughter.) But --

QUESTION: They’re not spy satellite images. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MS. PSAKI: But he was – as we’ve been making the point clearly that we’ve been concerned about not just the troop presence gathering on the border but the fact that they’re staying, and this clearly illustrates that point.

QUESTION: Jennifer, there is an explosion today in Athens, Greece, outside of the Bank of Greece. First I wanted to know if you have a reaction to this, and second, do you help or participate in the investigation?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we strongly condemn those who use violence to seek to achieve their goals. The United States and Greece are partners in combating terrorism in all its forms. For information about this particular incident, we would refer you to the Greek Government. We are certainly partners. I’m not aware of a United States role in this. I think it would be led by the Government of Greece.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: Yes. Nonproliferation.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: So earlier this morning, the State Department announced the travel plans of Under Secretary Gottemoeller to Japan and China. Can you outline her travel details for us?

MS. PSAKI: Sure, I’m happy to. Under Secretary Gottemoeller will travel to Japan and China from April 10th, today, to April 15th. From the 10th through the 11th she will meet with Japanese counterparts from the cabinet secretariat and the ministry of foreign affairs in Tokyo. She will discuss regional security issues, arms control, and nonproliferation policy, and missile defense cooperation. She will travel on the 12th to Hiroshima to attend the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative ministerial. She will also lead the U.S. delegation to the Japan-U.S. Commission on Disarmament and Nonproliferation, a bilateral dialogue covering weapons of mass destruction, nuclear energy, and conventional arms issues.

On the 14th and 15th, she will take part in the fifth P5 conference in Beijing, China. The conference is the latest in a series of meetings between the United States, China, France, the Russian Federation, and the United Kingdom, aimed at furthering the disarmament goals laid out in the 2010 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference action plan. And finally, on the 15th, she and her counterparts will participate in the P5 conference public event titled “Comprehensive Enhancement of the NPT.”

QUESTION: So as part of her trip, she’ll attend the annual NPDI ministerial meeting in Hiroshima.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: What’ll be the main agenda of her participation in this meeting?

MS. PSAKI: I would point you to the organizers of the event. She’s participating, but the event is not organized by the United States.

QUESTION: And this is the first time that the U.S. is going to be participating in this particular meeting. What is the impetus for U.S. participation this round?

MS. PSAKI: Well, clearly nonproliferation and the importance of working with our partners and allies around the world. To further that agenda is important to the President, important to the Secretary. Obviously, Under Secretary Gottemoeller is an expert on these issues and I think all agreed it would be important to send a message about how important we think this issue is.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Follow-up question?

QUESTION: The reason that you’re being asked these questions is not – is the symbolism of the venue itself. Do you not have anything --

MS. PSAKI: I understand that, Matt. Thank you for --

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: Well, do – but do you have anything to say about that?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t. Obviously, it’s not our event. We’re participating in the event.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: Okay, I have a follow-up question on that. Is her participation in the NDPI meeting somehow related to the negotiation for preparatory talks of NPT review conference in Beijing next week, which I’m assuming she’s also --

MS. PSAKI: She’s also attending that. I mentioned that in the list I just gave.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: Jen?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Deputy Secretary Burns met with South Korea Deputy National Security Chief Kim Kyou-hyun today. Can you tell us more detail about the purpose of this meeting?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not sure I have more details. I believe it was part of kind of ongoing discussions and – with our important partners, and a follow-up to the range of meetings that the President had over the course of the last couple of weeks. I’ll check with Deputy Secretary Burns’s office and see if there’s more to share.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. PSAKI: Okay. Go ahead, Arshad.

QUESTION: Yeah, I wanted to return to the question of the immunity granted by the State Department to Blackwater employees in Iraq in 2007. Were you able to establish, one, whether you felt that the Department had the right to grant immunity at that time absent the authorization of the Justice Department or the concurrence of the Justice Department?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I’m not going to comment on what people in 2007 thought about a right to grant immunity in Iraq. I will say to kind of expand a little bit on one of your questions yesterday about what we specifically did to address, we have worked to address immunity concerns that arose soon after Nisour Square, including by creating in conjunction with DOJ new warning forms for voluntary interviews and compelled interviews, and emphasizing procedures to follow when using the forms through improved training and notices to overseas posts. So certainly that was part of, among other, issues that we work to address in conjunction with the Department of Justice.

QUESTION: What does that mean? Does that mean – what do the forms actually do? Do they warn people that anything they say can and will be used against them? Do the forms say to the DS or other investigators you have no authority to grant immunity without checking with the Justice Department? I mean, I – it still doesn’t to me address --

MS. PSAKI: Sure. I’m not sure if these forms are publicly available forms. If they are, I will talk to our team and see if we can make one available, and perhaps we can get you a briefing with them on the specifics.

QUESTION: And why are you not able to address that question of --

MS. PSAKI: About 2007?

QUESTION: Yeah. I mean, it’s not like you haven’t had enough time to think about it or figure out what happened. So why not address – get somebody who worked on this to address that?

MS. PSAKI: Well, thank you for your advice, Arshad, but I’m not going to speak to what happened seven years ago in a different administration, and clearly we’ve taken steps to address this since then, and I think that’s the important point we should all focus on.

Thanks, everyone.

QUESTION: I had a question.

MS. PSAKI: Oh, go ahead.

QUESTION: I’ve got more. Sorry –

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.

QUESTION: -- but it’ll be brief I’m sure. Just to follow up to my --

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: -- questions yesterday on that whole Cuba Twitter thing.

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: Have you – I know that Administrator Shah was on the Hill this morning and that he was asked some questions about this, and I know that Senate – the Foreign Relations Committee has asked for some kind of a – I guess not an investigation, but some kind of a look into all of AID’s internet – not just this one, but anything they might be doing. But I’m wondering if you were able to get an answer to the question about those texts that I was referring to yesterday --

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: -- that did appear to have political content.

MS. PSAKI: Well, USAID is continuing to gather background information. I would point you to specifically what Administrator Shah said this morning I believe in response to a question. He’s asked his team to review all of the information related to the program, and certainly these reported texts will be a part of that process.

QUESTION: Okay. Bu you do not – yeah, that review is not finished; it just started, correct?

MS. PSAKI: Correct. Correct.

QUESTION: All right. Thank you.

MS. PSAKI: Thanks, everyone.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:01 p.m.)

DPB #63

2014-04-10