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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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