The video is available with closed captioning on YouTube.
1:45 p.m. EDT
MS. PSAKI: Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for your patience. I have nothing at the top. We wanted to wait until, of course, the President’s press conference was over. So with that, why don’t we get to what’s on your minds?
MS. PSAKI: Well, Brad, we have spoken to this, or I should say the Secretary has spoken to this in the past, and I would point you to that. We would refer you to Turkish officials to discuss any proposed travel and the timing and specifics on that. As we’ve said consistently, we oppose engagement with Hamas, a foreign terrorist organization which remains a destabilizing force in Gaza and the region. And we urge all parties who share our interest in the creation of a Palestinian state to take steps that promote the resumption of peace talks between the Palestinians and Israel. As you know, this is a big focus of the Secretary’s. He’s been spending quite a bit of time on this particular issue, and has expressed his concerns in the past.
QUESTION: So you stand by the Secretary’s earlier assertion that it would be a bad idea for --
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything new to update you on.
QUESTION: But you just said you oppose engagement with Hamas.
MS. PSAKI: We do. That has been our consistent position.
QUESTION: And the Secretary said that it was a bad idea to go there.
MS. PSAKI: He has said that in the past.
QUESTION: And you just referred to that position. So you don’t stand by it now?
MS. PSAKI: I’m just referring you to what the Secretary has already said about this particular issue. And as you know, he’s very focused on moving towards getting both sides back to the table and making sure that actions taken outside of that are in a positive direction.
QUESTION: I would like to follow-up on that point.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: But you are – if Hamas were to abide by the Quartet conditions, which is renouncing violence, recognizing Israel and so on, then you would be ready to engage, correct?
MS. PSAKI: Well, we’re not getting ahead of any process that hasn’t yet taken place. I was just describing what our position is on engagement with Hamas. That remains our position.
QUESTION: I’m saying that there is that flexibility, should this happen.
MS. PSAKI: You are familiar with the specifics. I don’t think I need to outline them further.
Arshad, did you have another on this particular --
QUESTION: No, sort of related. You noted that the Secretary has spent a lot of his time on trying to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Today we have a story out of Israel saying that court documents show that Israel plans to retroactively declare legal four formerly unauthorized outposts. Is this good? Does this help peace – the process?
MS. PSAKI: Well, the Secretary, and the President, in fact, have both spoken to settlements in the past, and our position is clear that we don’t accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity. Pertaining to your specific question about the current conditions, we recognize that continued settlement activity is counterproductive to the cause of peace and that an independent Palestine must be viable with real borders that have to be drawn. And as we’ve said many times, we believe it is important for both sides to take action to build the trust and confidence on which a lasting peace must be built.
QUESTION: So is this specific thing counterproductive, in your view?
MS. PSAKI: I think I was making a broad point, of which this is applicable, of acts of settlement activity and of actions that are counterproductive to the cause of peace, but more broadly because I think the context is very important here. As you know, the Secretary speaks regularly with both Prime Minister Netanyahu and Tzipi Livni, and he met with her just last week, and he’s spoken with the Prime Minister in recent days as well. And there are ongoing conversations, and there’s a commitment – and they’ve spoken publicly about this – to moving toward a path to peace. And so we’re hopeful that that continues to be the case, and he’ll be continuing to work on this next week.
QUESTION: Has he or anybody else in the State Department raised – has he raised this specific issue, this specific legalization of formerly unauthorized settler outposts? And if he has not, has anybody else in the Department done so?
MS. PSAKI: Well, we regularly raise this issue, the broad issue, with the Israeli Government. I’m not aware of a new raising of this particular issue.
QUESTION: Can you check?
MS. PSAKI: I’m happy to check and see if there’s more --
QUESTION: And related to that, the Arab – the Gulf Arab states – well, the Arab states generally, I think, feel that they made a fairly significant gesture – and it’s one that the Secretary himself lauded as a very significant, important gesture – in essentially modifying the Arab Peace Initiative so as to acknowledge a possibility of swaps rather than sticking to the 1967 Green Line. They see that, and the Secretary sees that, as a very positive gesture, and I think they have been waiting to see what, if anything, the Israeli Government might do in a sort of positive direction. Are you not dismayed that the Israeli Government should’ve chosen to authorize or legalize these settlements, which previously even they themselves had regarded as illegal and unauthorized, right as you’re trying to put together peace talks?
MS. PSAKI: Well, let’s just dial back for a moment just to the events that transpired around the Arab League. It was representatives of the Arab League. They reaffirmed their commitment to the Arab Peace Initiative with comparable swaps. As you know – as you noted, the Secretary did feel that was a positive step. And in fact, many of the Israelis, including Livni herself, spoke out about how that was a positive step.
What we’ve seen – we know this is difficult, and we’re not underestimating that, the challenge of moving this path forward. But we’ve seen from both sides an openness to continuing the discussion. And while time is of the essence here, the Secretary is taking the time to do that. So I don’t want to link the two together, and I don’t want to ascribe the feelings about either side about any specific activity.
QUESTION: Well, yeah, but you talk about trying to create a context in which you can resume peace negotiations, and then you regard this step as counterproductive. And I don’t see how it’s possible, if you’re trying to look at the big picture, not to link them. You are trying to create an atmosphere to resume talks; the Israelis have done something that you regard as counterproductive; the Secretary doesn’t appear to have raised it with anybody; you’re not sure if anybody in the building has raised it with the Israelis.
MS. PSAKI: I didn’t confirm that one way or the other. I said we raised it --
QUESTION: You – I thought you said --
MS. PSAKI: Well, let me just clarify.
QUESTION: You didn’t say that he had raised it with anybody.
MS. PSAKI: I said we raise it regularly. We do raise it regularly.
QUESTION: Not this specific issue, though. We’re talking about --
MS. PSAKI: Correct. I said I wasn’t aware of a specific recent raising. It doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. I’m happy to check on that for you. In this case, I mean, as the Secretary – let me go back to just the broader point here, which is that – and the Secretary has said this many times – that it’s about both sides agreeing that there are conditions to get back to the table. That’s why he’s working with both sides and talking to both sides. That is the significance of the steps of the Arab League and their reaffirmation of the Arab Peace Initiative.
So what I was saying is I don’t want to ascribe for the Palestinian side their emotions or the Israeli side about their emotions. I was conveying that this is a step that we’ve long said is not conducive to creating an environment, and we feel the same in this case as well.
QUESTION: Why can’t you say that this isn’t a show of bad faith on the Israelis’ part?
MS. PSAKI: Again, I think by saying that this is not a step that’s conducive to creating an environment makes that clear, but I think the broader context here of the Secretary’s efforts, the efforts by both sides in recent weeks is important as well, because there’s been ongoing discussions, ongoing meetings that are in an effort to move back to the table to have talks.
QUESTION: Is there anything that the U.S. is prepared to offer to Israel in exchange for a cessation of the legalization of these and other settlements in the occupied West Bank?
MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to get ahead of any conditions or discussions or anything along those lines. It’s important to note – and the Secretary has said this himself – that this is a particular issue where he wants the discussions and negotiations and conversations to be private, and specifically in order to preserve the possibility that both sides will come back to the table. So I know there’s lots of reports out there, and we will do our best to tell you when they’re inaccurate, but we’re not going to speculate on what conditions would be.
QUESTION: Jen, the problem is is that you have – you’re saying both sides are open to negotiations, and then you’re praising the Arabs for this Arab Peace Initiative, and then for the Israelis you can’t point to anything they’ve done at all that shows an openness to negotiations.
MS. PSAKI: Well, I’d refute that, in that what I did say --
QUESTION: Okay, show us what it’s done that shows an openness to negotiations.
MS. PSAKI: Okay. And I don’t want to get ahead of, Brad, again, where we are in these discussions. This is still in a preliminary stage. The Secretary has had countless meetings. You’ve seen the positive comments by many on the Israeli side about the possibility of peace. I was pointing to that, the openness to it.
QUESTION: So a concrete offer from the Arab world for peace with Israel is the Arab step, and the Israeli step is some people made some comments that peace is nice. That’s a real bold statement.
MS. PSAKI: Well, the Arab League, Brad, and I know you know this, but they would tell you this too, is not speaking on behalf of the conditions on the Palestinian side.
QUESTION: Actually it was, because the Palestinians are part of the Arab League and they endorsed that proposal as well.
MS. PSAKI: They were not laying out --
QUESTION: They were in the delegation there.
MS. PSAKI: They were not laying out a negotiating proposal on behalf --
QUESTION: I think they would disagree. That is a firm proposal. That is a peace proposal. That’s not the flowery language of “peace is good.” That – where do you get that that’s not a negotiating position?
MS. PSAKI: I’m just – I’m ascribing the fact that both sides, the Israelis and the Palestinians, need to convey with each other what their conditions are. Many of them have been publicly stated. The reason why we felt the Arab Peace Initiative was – so let me go back to this point – significant is because it affirmed for both sides that if they did come to an agreement, that they would be supportive – all of these Arab countries would be supportive of those efforts. But it was – it wasn’t conveying this is exactly where the negotiation will go.
QUESTION: Well, back to the original question: What concretely has Israel done to show its openness to negotiations and its commitment to peace in recent times?
MS. PSAKI: I would send you to the Israelis to talk to them about their openness. What I pointed to --
QUESTION: (Off mike.)
MS. PSAKI: What I pointed to, Brad, was public statements that have been made by a number of officials about the openness to the possibility of a peace – of peace.
QUESTION: So we can’t say they’re open; we can say just that they say they’re open, correct?
MS. PSAKI: Again, I think you should speak to them. I was pointing to public comments that were made.
QUESTION: Can I follow on two things here? Just a moment ago, you said you would do your best to identify where reports about the peace initiative are inaccurate. So is it inaccurate – are the reports inaccurate that there was an agreement or an understanding between Secretary Kerry and the Israelis not to have any new settlement approvals or anything new other than the things that were already in train while these initial steps to restart talks were happening?
And then secondly, I’m sorry to jump around, but just back quickly --
MS. PSAKI: That’s okay.
QUESTION: -- on Erdogan and Gaza: Will the Secretary raise his previous opposition to the Gaza visit when he sees the President this afternoon?
MS. PSAKI: Well, let me take your first one first, in proper order. What I also said is that the Secretary wants to keep his private conversations and private discussions private. And any discussion about what he has or hasn’t discussed is applicable to that. And in terms of different reports I was referring to, there’s been broad reports out there about all sorts of things. I wish I had a specific example for you. But more importantly, he wants to keep his discussions private. And from here and in general, I don’t think we’re going to be in a case of confirming or denying any specific agreement that was or wasn’t discussed.
On your second question, in terms of whether – he has raised this issue in the past. He does have a meeting later this afternoon with Foreign Minister Davutoglu, and it will be on a range of topics. So I can’t tell you yet what will be discussed in that meeting.
QUESTION: Jen, can I ask also, if you’re trying to steer us clear of inaccurate reporting – there’s a report out in a Palestinian online journal today that they’re hoping – that the Palestinians are saying that Secretary Kerry has said that they’re hoping to resume the talks in June. Is that a timetable that fits in with your understanding of where we’re going on this?
MS. PSAKI: I have seen – I haven’t seen the ones today. I have seen recent reports about a deadline specific. I can tell you affirmatively that the Secretary has not set a deadline publicly or privately. His focus is on getting this right and on both sides working it out between each other, and that’s why he’s taking the time to spend so much time with both parties.
QUESTION: And on a June restart, is that something you think is feasible?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t want to speculate on that. The Secretary is, of course, headed back to continue discussions next week. Obviously time is of the essence here, and he’s said that himself. But I don’t want to get ahead of the discussions and where they will or won’t go.
QUESTION: If time is of the essence, how long are you willing to give this kind of initial phase to try and bring the two sides back to the negotiating table?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t want to give a timeline for that, Jo, because he’s continuing to have these discussions. He talks about it nearly every day, or talks to parties who care about it nearly every day. But I don’t think it would be helpful to the process for me to give a timeline.
QUESTION: Are we talking weeks or months or years, as it has been already?
MS. PSAKI: Well, the Secretary himself has spoken about why the timeline, over the course of the next year or two, is important. But beyond that, I don’t want to speculate about weeks, months or anything along those lines, or any phases or questions about that.
QUESTION: Jen, could you tell us if the Secretary, in preparation for his trip next week, is he planning to meet with any high-level Palestinian officials, perhaps in Washington?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any scheduled meetings in front of me for that. Next week’s trip is still coming together. I’m sure as we get closer, we’ll be able to provide you with a detailed list of who he’ll be meeting with.
QUESTION: Okay. And just a quick follow-up on the settlement issue. Since the meetings in Europe last week, and there was a lot of rumors about the cessation of settlement activities. In fact, the Israelis announced expansion just last Monday. So has the Secretary himself spoken to Prime Minister Netanyahu on this particular issue, on the increase of settlements in this particular case?
MS. PSAKI: I spoke to this just a little bit earlier. I mean, as you know, because long before I came up here, there were many people who were prior – were serving up here before me who talk – have spoken about how this issue is regularly raised. It’s the case here. I don’t have anything new to tell you about a recent conversation.
Go ahead, Jill.
QUESTION: Another subject.
MS. PSAKI: Up on the Hill, Mr. Menendez has introduced this bill which is basically carrying out some of the ARB recommendations. I’d love a comment, number one, about that by you. And then also, why – the President today went out of his way to mention this at the – in the Rose Garden. Why shouldn’t we interpret that and this bill at the same time as really kind of damage control for the President to show that he is doing something about a very hot subject, which is Benghazi?
MS. PSAKI: Well, let me just start with the Menendez bill specifically. We of course have seen the legislation that he proposed. It’s strong legislation that would continue this – his commitment, our shared commitment to our personnel overseas, and we applaud his work on this and his leadership and look forward to working with him.
I would point to something the President said, and you touched on this a little bit, but he talked about how there are a range of ways that we can help protect our personnel overseas. I think this is actually the opposite of politicizing it. They’re talking about what’s important about this debate we’ve been having publicly. The Secretary has raised this, as has the President, today and in the past several days. While there’s been a lot of talk about emails and other issues, what their focus is on is protecting the men and women who are serving around the world and taking many steps we can do to achieve that.
Let me just give you a couple of things on this. So in terms of the funding, in the FY 2013[i] budget, the funding request was for 4.4 billion to increase security protection and operations at high-threat posts and permit new construction projects as well as program enhancements necessary to ensure safe and secure facilities for our personnel overseas. The funding provides for constructing secure diplomatic facilities, meeting a key independent Accountability Review Board recommendations. In addition, the request includes ongoing funding for facility maintenance and operations.
That’s part of it. Funding is part of it. Legislation is part of it. But the President – I would just point you to his remarks, on what he said. He said we’re continuing to review our security at high-threat posts, including the size and nature of our presence, improving training for those headed to dangerous posts, increasing intelligence and warning capabilities. And he also talked about how he’s directed the Defense Department to ensure that our military can respond quick in times of crisis.
This has brought to the surface, the security of personnel serving overseas. It was an opportunity to talk about all the steps that we can take together to protect men and women overseas and educate the American public on what steps can be taken. And otherwise, I’d send you to my former colleagues over there. There are more specifics on it.
MS. PSAKI: Well, the White House release yesterday allows the American public, including all of you, to see firsthand the conversation that took place over the course of emails. It does confirm that these were CIA-drafted and CIA-finalized talking points, and that a number of the concerns raised in this building were separately, on a different track, raised in that building as well. I leave that to all of you and to others to determine whether it quells the concern. But I think it certainly does put a lot of facts and clarity for people.
QUESTION: So if it’s such a good thing, why did you wait more than nine months to do this?
MS. PSAKI: Well, they’ve been released now --
QUESTION: Couldn’t you have --
MS. PSAKI: Brad, I don’t want to look into a rearview mirror on that.
QUESTION: You don’t want to look forward, you don’t want to look backward. You only want to look --
MS. PSAKI: I do want to look forward.
QUESTION: You do?
MS. PSAKI: I’m all about looking forward. That’s what the implementation of the ARB’s about.
QUESTION: Well, you don’t want to prejudge – you don’t want to prejudge anything or predetermine --
MS. PSAKI: Well, that’s separate.
QUESTION: Brad’s got a reasonable question --
MS. PSAKI: Okay.
QUESTION: -- which is why didn’t you – why not have released this quite some time ago?
MS. PSAKI: Well, these were emails, as you know, that were released by the White House. I would point you to them for the specifics on the timing.
QUESTION: On the same topic. Carney at a White House briefing on November 28th, referenced the State Department and the White House, and he said regarding changes made to the talking points, he said: “The White House and the State Department have made clear that the single adjustment that were made by either of these two institutions were changing the word ‘consulate’ to ‘diplomatic facility’ because ‘consulate’ was inaccurate.”
Now that the emails have been released and it’s clear that there was more changes than just the changing of “consulate” to “diplomatic facility” by Victoria Nuland, David Adams, Tommy Vietor, John Brennan, does that statement about Carney – about the involvement of the White House and the State Department being limited just to that one change, is that accurate?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I think you asked a couple of questions there. So let me just broadly say that what you saw from the emails were that issues were – it was raised to take some of the issues to a higher level, to have a discussion at a higher level. We’ve talked a little bit about why the concerns were raised. They were in part because of the ongoing FBI investigation. Those were concerns that we now know and we’ve known that the CIA also shared. There were issues raised about sharing more information with Congress than had – we had been sharing, the State Department had shared publicly. That was also an issue that was raised and that was shared through the process.
So I would point you to the White House for any specifics about issues that were – statements that were made from there. But we’ve talked quite a bit about the issues that were raised here, why they were raised. And now what we’ve seen from the emails, the new information that is now public, is that these were concerns that were shared by our friends in the intel community as well.
One thing I would just also like to point out is that on the issue of – and one of the issues that Toria raised was the need to ensure that the points were accurate and consistent and that the reference to prior warnings – and this was kind of an issue that was in one of the paragraphs – would not influence those not fully aware of the situation on the ground. This is a concern that we now know publicly was also shared by the CIA. We also know – and if you look back, and this is all public – that she was right to be cautious because as reporting overnight has shown, and these well-publicized warnings were not specific to the attack.
So let me just point you to a couple of statements that were made. DNI Director Clapper said on October 9th, “The challenge” – which is after these emails – “The challenge is always a tactical warning, the exact insights ahead of time that such an attack is going to take place. And obviously we did not have that.” Matt Olsen, Director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said on September 19th, “There was no specific intelligence regarding an imminent attack prior to September 11th on our post in Benghazi.” Finally, the ARB found – the board found that the intelligence provided no immediate specific tactical warning of September 11th attacks. These were – these warnings that were included in there were – could have sent a message that would have made a conclusion, that we – that was one of the concerns that was raised.
QUESTION: I didn’t follow the first point that you read, what you – would you mind rereading the first point? Because I did not understand it.
MS. PSAKI: Which – I’m sorry, which – what was your specific question?
QUESTION: When you began reading, you made a point about how the talking points were put together and the concerns that Toria raised, and I just don’t understand it. I mean, I can – I don’t mean to bore anybody. I can go back and reread it later on the transcript, but I just didn’t get the import of that.
MS. PSAKI: I am happy to repeat what I said. I think the larger point here is that we learned from the release of all of the emails that the concerns that were expressed from this building were shared separately and independently by the CIA and the intel community. And that’s what’s kind of been new in the reporting here.
QUESTION: Can we go back to something that was raised the other day, which is why it is intrinsically reasonable to raise a question about telling Congress more than you’ve told the American people when the government does, at times, do just that, most recently in the letter about the varying degrees of confidence in the intelligence community that chemical weapons have indeed been used by the Syrian Government?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I would warn you against linking the two. Obviously, they’re very separate situations. This was a very fluid situation, as we all remember. This was just a couple of days after these tragic events. The information was very fluid. As we know from looking back and from the statements I just read, a lot of the information was inaccurate. The question was not about whether we should release information. In fact, at some point in the emails, Toria actually said she would need more points for the podium to explain it and to explain that.
But when you provide points – and this is just a process sort of issue – when you provide guidance or talking points and you, yourself, the Administration, is not explaining it to the American people or explaining it from the Administration, you leave open the option for analysis or reading into things that, given the fluidity of the situation, we were very sensitive about.
QUESTION: No, but you’re mixing two things here, though, and I think it’s good to disentangle them. One is the question of the accuracy of what went into the talking points. I completely understand a desire to ensure that whatever went into them was accurate. The second issue, though, is not accuracy but “We’re telling Congress more than we’ve said publicly.” And I don’t see why that is intrinsically a persuasive argument for changing them because the U.S. Government routinely tells Congress things that it does not necessarily tell the rest of the country or world at large.
MS. PSAKI: What I was trying --
QUESTION: Accuracy, I get.
MS. PSAKI: What I was --
QUESTION: But I don’t get the second point.
MS. PSAKI: What I was conveying, Arshad, is this is a case – and there are many; I’m not saying this is isolated. But given the focus on this tragic event, given how the information was flowing inside and out, clearly we know now that we didn’t even know all the specifics of what happened or didn’t happen then at the time. There was a warranted concern about providing information that could be read into and make conclusions about that wasn’t decisive. And some of the --
QUESTION: But that’s not the point you’re making. I mean, that goes to accuracy.
MS. PSAKI: No, that is the point I’m making because the concerns expressed about the warnings – which were shared, again, by the State Department as well as the intel community – were that this information could be analyzed or read into in a different way that didn’t express its meaning, that somebody from Congress could possibly read into an inaccurate point – unintentionally, I will say – that there were specific warnings. We know there weren’t specific warnings about this specific attack. That’s the – that was the concern that was raised by our friends in the intel community.
More broadly speaking, you want to be able to explain, whether it’s to Congress or to others, what information you’re providing and the backup for it. And there wasn’t certainty about some of these points in there.
QUESTION: On that same point, in the email traffic released yesterday, it was stated by a CIA official that, “The State Department had major reservations with much or most of the document. We revised the document with their concerns in mind.” Is that accurate?
MS. PSAKI: Again – and I think I touched on this with your previous question – one of the pieces that has been now reported out in today off of yesterday, the release of the emails and the briefings that have taken place, is that the deputy director of the CIA shared the concerns separately that were raised from many in this building and was the person who ultimately finalized those talking points. So those decisions were, again, made by the intel community.
QUESTION: But his boss disagreed in that email trail and said it was --
MS. PSAKI: You would have to speak to them over there about that, and I encourage you to reach out to them to discuss it.
QUESTION: New subject? A couple of questions on South Asia?
MS. PSAKI: Sure.
QUESTION: But I still have questions.
MS. PSAKI: Okay. We’ll finish. Go ahead, Margaret.
QUESTION: Sorry. On embassy security, when you were answering Jill’s question here, it sounded like you were talking about requests for funding. What has this building done to implement what was proposed in the ARB in the months up to this point with the resources you have?
MS. PSAKI: Well, what I was pointing to is that there are several ways to help protect our men and women serving overseas. Funding is one of them. So I just wanted to outline what had been requested in the budget, which is an important piece. There’s a new piece of legislation, which Jill, of course, asked about that Senator Menendez has proposed. In terms of implementing, one, I would say that we, of course, have implemented the 29 recommendations of the ARB.
Let me run you through a couple of things that the Secretary himself has been doing. Even before he became Secretary, he was engaged in the Senate’s oversight role, where he organized classified and unclassified briefings and hearings, chaired a major hearing on embassy security and Benghazi, and talked very personally about the inherent risks in diplomacy and particularly expeditionary diplomacy. He was at Andrews Air Force Base when the remains of the fallen from Benghazi came home, including some from Massachusetts. And he exchanged personal notes with the Stevens family that fall.
During his transition period in January, Secretary Kerry’s very first briefing with Under Secretary Kennedy was on security. And his first day on the job, he – the – he went to – excuse me – the Diplomatic Security’s command center for a long briefing. He receives a daily verbal briefing at 8:30 from Under Secretary Kennedy. He attends weekly meetings with Tom Donilon and Secretary Hagel. And he’s very focused on continuing to implement, asks for regular updates on ARB and what’s happening with them. And you’ve heard him talk about how we need to take a forward-looking approach here. There’s a multifaceted aspect of that, which includes budget and requesting and getting funding from the budget. It includes a number of the pieces that the President spoke about that would come, of course, from the White House. And the Secretary is a ready partner in that.
QUESTION: But what concretely has been done? Because that legislation that the President talked about sounded like what we heard in this room from the ARB investigators. It didn’t sound like anything concretely had been done up to this point with what you have so far.
MS. PSAKI: I’m not sure I’m understanding your question, because of course the ARB --
QUESTION: How many agents have you hired, like what have you actually done at facilities, Arabic language training programs, all that stuff, those concrete things --
MS. PSAKI: Sure.
QUESTION: Have they --
MS. PSAKI: Let me run through it. And thank you for clarifying. So I mentioned how the ARB made 29 recommendations to the Department. So far, we’ve addressed nearly all of the recommendations. Let me give you some specific examples. The Department improved training for our employees headed to high-threat posts and has expanded the number of posts where such additional security training is required. The Department established a high-threat board to review our presence at high-threat, high-risk posts. The Department created 151 new Diplomatic Security positions: 48 are expected to begin this July and another 48 are planned to begin in early September. And finally, the Department has enhanced ongoing efforts to significantly upgrade language capacity, especially Arabic, among American employees, including DS agents.
Obviously – and the larger point I was making, Margaret, is that this is part of what we’re doing, but what the President was saying today, and what the Secretary wholeheartedly agrees with, is that we need to continue working on this from a multifaceted approach.
QUESTION: And one last question. It’s just Eric Holder yesterday said he was pleased with the concrete action being taken to find those responsible for the attack on the U.S. mission. Is there any update on what that actually means?
MS. PSAKI: I wouldn’t have that from here for you. I’d send you to our law enforcement colleagues for any update on that.
QUESTION: So no update on who attacked the U.S. --
MS. PSAKI: Not from here. I don’t have any specifics for you.
QUESTION: Can I just quickly follow up on Margaret’s points? The additional training for these employees, the hiring of these security personnel – given the sequester, where is this money coming from?
MS. PSAKI: That’s a good question. I’ll have to – I’ll – I’m happy to take that question and get you some specifics on the funding.
QUESTION: Yeah. Please.
MS. PSAKI: Obviously, there’s new funding that will be implemented hopefully over the course of time, but we’ll get you something – or everybody back something – on that.
QUESTION: Okay. Great. Thank you.
MS. PSAKI: Jill.
QUESTION: Jen, there is another thing that doesn’t have to do with money here in the Menendez bill, and it’s part of the ARB, which says it will authorize disciplinary action in cases of unsatisfactory leadership by senior officials related to a security incident that does not presently exist – in other words, in the future. Does that have any retroactive effect on the people who are – I believe there are four who are kind of in this limbo of not being fired and yet not really working and still drawing pay.
MS. PSAKI: Well, you’d have to ask Senator Menendez the specifics of his legislation. But let me give you kind of an update or just tell you kind of – give you a response on your specific question. One thing, just so everybody is aware, the Accountability Review Board’s recommendation on this specific issue said that unsatisfactory leadership performance by senior officials in relation to the security incident under review should be a potential basis for discipline recommendations by future ARBs – excuse me – and would recommend a revision of Department regulations or amendment to the relevant statute to this end. So that was actually in the ARB.
In terms of these specific individuals you asked about, Secretary Clinton, as you know, began an administrative process to review the status of the four individuals placed on administrative leave. That review process continues. Secretary Kerry has been briefed regularly and will be making a decision soon. No, I can’t define what soon means, just to preempt a question. And decisions will be made about the status of these employees. None of these individuals – and I believe Patrick touched on this, so let me just reiterate for those of you who were not here – none of these individuals identified by the Accountability Review Board are in the positions held prior to the report’s release and at the time of the attack.
QUESTION: But they’re still all getting a salary five months after they were put on administrative leave, right?
MS. PSAKI: Well, this process, Brad, can take some time. That’s why the Secretary asked for regular updates and we’ll be making a decision to --
QUESTION: Are they still coming to the building, or do they get to go to, like, the beach?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything specific about their locations.
QUESTION: Well, no, I mean, do they have to show up to work? Or can they draw this salary from home?
MS. PSAKI: I’m not familiar. I don’t have in front of me their specific roles. I’ll take a look and see if there’s anything more specific I can get back to you.
QUESTION: Yeah. There was something I didn’t understand about that. You said none of the four individuals concerned are now in their prior roles, and you’ve also said that they’re on administrative leave. And I think it might be useful to understand whether they have taken up other roles or whether they are on administrative leave and therefore are not actually working.
MS. PSAKI: Let me take a closer look and see what else I can share with you in response to that question.
MS. PSAKI: Sure.
QUESTION: A BBC chemical weapons report today, although inconclusive, strongly indicates that chemical weapons devices may have been used in Syria in the recent weeks. Would this report cause you to harden your stance and language towards Syria?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I would point you to what the President actually just said at his press conference about this, that we are continuing the multilateral approach to working with our partners around the world, including the Syrian opposition. We are doing our own due diligence on this. We’re also encouraging the Syrian regime to let in the investigators. I don’t have anything new, conclusive for you about a new report of evidence from another country, though.
QUESTION: Do --
QUESTION: Sorry. Would the U.S. agree to Iran being part of the Syria conference in Geneva?
MS. PSAKI: We’ve talked about this quite a bit. This – the question of attendees and participation is something we’re still working through, we’ll continue to work through with the UN. I don’t have an update for you on that today.
QUESTION: But just linked to that is that while the President was giving his news conference today --
MS. PSAKI: In the rain.
QUESTION: -- in the rain, although he had an umbrella, also --
MS. PSAKI: True.
QUESTION: -- the Russian Foreign Minister was – there were headlines coming out on that. And he’s saying that Iran must participate and that there were some Western states – and what he said, there was a desire by some Western states to narrow the circle of external participants. Is the U.S. particularly ruling out Iran in this one, or have you already said that?
MS. PSAKI: Again, I know I talked about this a little bit the other day. We are not ruling in or out. We are working with our UN partners. We are working with members of the London 11, who the Secretary will be meeting with next week. And we’re mainly working through the UN to determine the participation in this conference.
We have seen the remarks of the Russians. Again, it’s not a surprise. They’ve expressed that publicly in the past. And we’ll work through the participation with all parties. I would also point you to the fact that the Secretary had a lengthy meeting with Foreign Minister Lavrov just two days ago – if I’m getting the timing here correctly --
QUESTION: I know. His comments came out today, so --
MS. PSAKI: I understand.
QUESTION: And this just --
MS. PSAKI: And they’ve said that in the past as well. I just don’t have anything new for you on participation in the event.
QUESTION: But the U.S. will participate, correct? Or are you not ruling yourselves in?
MS. PSAKI: We are ruling the U.S. in, Brad.
QUESTION: Russia will participate.
MS. PSAKI: That is correct.
QUESTION: So you are --
MS. PSAKI: I was speaking --
QUESTION: -- ruling some in.
MS. PSAKI: I was speaking, Brad – and thank you for your clarification. I’m not sure anyone else was confused, but the --
QUESTION: No, but this notion that it’s the UN’s decision; they’re not going to tell the U.S. not to show up.
MS. PSAKI: We are working closely with them to determine participation.
QUESTION: Where do you get the right to decide on the participants?
MS. PSAKI: We’re working with all --
QUESTION: Who’s going to be --
MS. PSAKI: We’re working with all of our partners to do that, Brad. Many people have a role and a say in this.
QUESTION: So the Iranians have a say in this or not? Just the United States and the United Nations and the partners you want.
MS. PSAKI: Again, Brad, I think we’re all familiar with the origin of the idea for this conference, the UN. We look forward to them playing a prominent role here, and we’ll work with them. And as we have more to announce, we’ll let you know.
QUESTION: Why Lavrov can say – insist on Iran’s participation and you can’t tell us what’s your position on this?
MS. PSAKI: Again, because we don’t want to predetermine the participation in this conference. The goal here, which is very important to remind everyone of, is to get both sides back to the table to work toward a path toward a political transition. So when we have more to say on who will participate, we’re happy to share that with all of you.
QUESTION: Does this position imply that you may accept Iran to participate --
MS. PSAKI: I’m not --
QUESTION: -- in the conference?
MS. PSAKI: I’m not ruling – I wouldn’t rule – I mean, I wouldn’t evaluate what I’m saying one way or the other.
QUESTION: Is the U.S. willing to put on the table the idea of having Assad stay in a ceremonial role as president until at some point in 2014 as one of the potential agenda items?
MS. PSAKI: We have not – again, the agenda is part of what we’ll work through at the UN. But our position on that particular issue has been very clear that Assad must go. We wish it was long ago, but it still is a case we’re working and pressing toward. It’s up to the Syrian people to determine the timeline and the path of that.
QUESTION: But shouldn’t that be an issue that should be discussed? I mean, how someone leaves office, that – you start to get down into the process. If this is what it would take in order to stop the slaughter, shouldn’t that be on the table?
MS. PSAKI: I’m certain there will be a robust discussion about what should be on the agenda. That’s taking place now. Let me just run through for you – I think everybody has this, but also so everybody’s aware of all the pieces.
As everybody knows, the Secretary just returned from Sweden, where he had a lengthy meeting with Foreign Minister Lavrov focused on planning ahead. Today the P-3 political directors are meeting here to discuss a range of Middle East issues, including preparation for the upcoming Geneva 2 conference.
Next week, the Secretary will be participating in a meeting in Jordan with the London 11. And separately, as you’ve all seen, there is a meeting of the Syrian opposition, of the SOC, in Istanbul. This meeting has a general – has a broad – it’s a general assembly meeting. It has a broad agenda, including expanding membership, and they will certainly, as they’ve said publicly, be discussing this conference there as well.
QUESTION: The P-3 political directors being?
MS. PSAKI: That would be the UK, France, and the United States.
QUESTION: Do you have a date for --
QUESTION: Can you explain to us how – you’re saying that you are working on this. Is it working group level? You said the London 11. I mean, how are you working on this? How are you wading through it? I mean, is it – at what level? Who’s participating in these sort of preparation talks?
MS. PSAKI: Many levels, but including the Secretary, who has been in touch with cording – excuse me – coordinating closely with the Secretary General, with the Joint Special Representative Brahimi, with Foreign Minister Lavrov, and foreign ministers from the Friends of Syria Core Group. The Secretary will be participating in this meeting in Jordan. Under Secretary Wendy Sherman is participating in the P-3 political directors meeting, of course, appropriately, today. But there are a number of people in this building who are working on this process and hopeful about ongoing steps.
QUESTION: And you called it Geneva 2, right? So does that mean you pick up where you left off last June 30th?
MS. PSAKI: Well, again, the agenda is still being discussed. This is building on Geneva 1. A lot has happened since then, and including our doubling of aid and efforts we have made to work with the Syrian opposition and with the SMC. So I’m not going to prejudge the agenda for this meeting.
QUESTION: Is the issue of Iran, is that the – right now the thorniest issue or something that you feel that needs to be dealt with and that could open the door then to the conference happening? Is that the main stumbling block right now?
MS. PSAKI: I would leave that for you to define, but I wouldn’t validate that. I mean, the issue here at play is: Where is this? When is it going to be? These are all things we’re working through. What’s the agenda going to be? Who’s going to participate? The question of Iran’s participation is certainly a part of that, but there are a number of other factors. And at the end of the day, having the – creating an environment where this can be a – provide a path to a political transition is the end goal, and that’s what we’re, of course, focused on.
QUESTION: Jen, can I ask – the Geneva 1 was signed on June 30th last year and it’s now mid- May of the following year. Has this been a wasted year? Has the diplomatic process just evaporated over the past few months? Why did it take so long for a new impetus to be given to trying to bring the two sides back together – or together, not back together?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I would refute the notion of that. There has been a lot that has happened over the last year, as I just touched on, including increasing violence, including increased bloodshed and more tragic deaths, a growth in the number of refugees --
QUESTION: Doesn’t that reinforce her point? How does that refute it?
MS. PSAKI: I was more – make – but I was refuting the point that the diplomatic piece has been stalled. This is something that we have been working with the Syrian opposition to expand their membership, focus on the moderate members, working with the SMC. We saw that – some progress made and on Istanbul in that regard. Certainly – and we said this at the time that – the fact that the Secretary and Foreign Minister Lavrov went out and stood together and talked about the importance of actually putting this in place is --
QUESTION: That was last week in Moscow --
MS. PSAKI: That was --
QUESTION: -- or the week before --
MS. PSAKI: And we’re – look, we’re focused on looking ahead here to what we can do. I would refute the notion, though, that there was a wasted year. This is a tragic event and tragic deaths and tragic bloodshed has happened in Syria. That’s why we’re so focused on it. But we --
QUESTION: I have one more. Yesterday before the House, Under Secretary Sherman said that the intelligence community believed that chemical weapons had been – small amounts of chemical weapons had been used at least twice. I wondered if you could tell us where and when.
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything more specific for you on that. Obviously, that was – and again, I’m not going to read out a private briefing that Secretary --
QUESTION: No, no. This was --
QUESTION: She said that in public.
MS. PSAKI: She said it in public?
QUESTION: She said that in public, yeah.
MS. PSAKI: It sounds very similar. I’d have to look back at the remarks. I don’t have anything new for you in regard to chemical weapons. Obviously, there’s been lots of reports about incidents, and that’s what we’re looking into.
QUESTION: New subject?
MS. PSAKI: Go ahead, Jill.
QUESTION: A new subject as well.
QUESTION: On Syria?
MS. PSAKI: Okay. One more Syria, then we’ll go back to Jill.
QUESTION: Do you think that a political settlement on Syria is possible without a change in the military situation on the ground in Syria?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I’m going to take this opportunity to kind of refute – and I know Patrick did this yesterday, but let me do this again. We’re working on multiple tracks here. One is certainly the political solution, the political transition. That’s what we’re focused on with this conference. At the same time, we are focused on increasing our aid to the opposition. I don’t have anything new to announce for you, of course, but you’ve seen what we’ve done over the course of the last couple of weeks. Options remain on the table to do that. There is no link – so let me just make sure this is absolutely clear – between the conference and when it would held and any decisions that may or may not happen about additional aid that would be provided.
QUESTION: New subject?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I promised Jill I would go back to her.
QUESTION: Yeah, it’s a Boston question. There are reports that Tamerlan Tsarnaev met with a Chechen refugee in New Hampshire, which started me thinking: Where did the Chechen refugees come from? Is it the State Department that deals with taking people in as refugees? Do you have any figures on how many came in, or what was the overall reason for giving them refugee status?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything specific on that for you, Jill. I’m happy to look into it. I don’t know that there will be additional details to share, but I’m happy to take a closer look at it for you.
QUESTION: Can I ask a small Syria one, just to close that out?
MS. PSAKI: Sure. Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: I believe we have had reports suggesting that the London 11 meeting in Jordan will take place on the 21st. Does that sound right? Or do you have – yet have a date that you can tell us for that meeting?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t yet, and we would certainly leave it to our friends in Jordan to announce. It will be next week, so I expect we’ll have details in the short term.
QUESTION: New subject.
MS. PSAKI: Go ahead, Goyal.
QUESTION: Thank you. Question on Mr. Nawaz Sharif, who is going to be the next Prime Minister of Pakistan. He is saying that he will have evolving relations with India and he will clear the mistrust between the two countries going on for a number of years. My question is: What role do you think U.S. will play in this new India-Pakistan relationship? And of course, also, U.S.’s (inaudible).
MS. PSAKI: Well, Goyal, we talked about this a little bit the other day. We’ve seen those reports, and I would point you to the fact that Mr. Sharif also said that he’s looking forward to working with the U.S. on our relationship. But in terms of the scope and how a developing relationship with Pakistan and India would take place, that would be up to those two parties to work out amongst themselves.
QUESTION: And also as far as his ceremony is concerned, is the U.S. sending anybody for his ceremony? And also, is Secretary’s going to be in the region any time soon?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any update for you on either one, no scheduling announcements or any announcements on anyone attending, but I’m happy to look into it for you.
Why don’t we go to the back? You’ve been very patient.
QUESTION: Hi, my name is Takashi from Japanese newspaper Asahi. Osaka City Mayor Hashimoto recently made a comment on the so-called “comfort women” issue, arguing that even though it is unacceptable from the moral perspective value, but the comfort women were necessary during the war period. And he also argued that it is not fair that only Japan is criticized by the United States and other countries, because there are other country military that were provided sexual service by prostitute. And do U.S. has any position on his comment or criticism against the United States?
MS. PSAKI: We have seen, of course, those comments. Mayor Hashimoto’s comments were outrageous and offensive. As the United States has stated previously, what happened in that era to these women who were trafficked for sexual purposes is deplorable and clearly a grave human rights violation of enormous proportions. We extend, again, our sincere and deep sympathy to the victims, and we hope that Japan will continue to work with its neighbors to address this and other issues arising from the past and cultivate relationships that allow them to move forward.
QUESTION: Do you describe this issue sex slave or comfort women?
MS. PSAKI: Again, I don’t know that I’m going to define it. You kind of laid out the specific details there, and we have described this issue in the past as comfort women[ii].
Go ahead in the back.
QUESTION: It’s about Taiwan and Philippines. So yesterday in Manila, American Ambassador to the Philippines Harry Thomas talked to the reporters and expressed confidence that the two sides will work together, and these things will be resolved through negotiation. And he said “we” applaud Philippines’ expression of regret over this incident. So do you consider that his statement represented the position of the U.S.?
MS. PSAKI: Well, we’ve talked about this quite a bit over the last couple of days, before I went to Sweden, while I was in Sweden. And we’ve expressed, of course, our regret for the death of this individual. We continue to urge both parties to ensure – to work together and to ensure maritime safety, and refrain from actions that could further escalate tensions. But it is up for the people of the Philippines and Taiwan authority to determine the steps moving forward.
QUESTION: Follow-up here?
QUESTION: But does the U.S. applaud the Philippines’ expression of regret?
MS. PSAKI: That is not for us to define from here.
QUESTION: But we cannot --
MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.
QUESTION: Jen, here is something that Patrick said yesterday: He said the U.S. welcomes the Philippines Government’s pledge to conduct thorough and expeditious investigation into the incident and cooperate promptly and fully with the Taiwanese investigators. The fact of the matter is, when the Taiwanese investigators arrived in Manila, there was no government official there to receive them, there was no meetings scheduled, and the justice secretary even rejected the idea of a joint investigation. What is your comment on this? The shifting positions of the Philippine Government, which actually enraged a lot of people in Taiwan.
MS. PSAKI: Well, I have not seen those reports you’re referencing. I know Patrick said this yesterday, we continue to welcome the Philippine Government’s pledge to conduct a thorough investigation in this case. We’re hopeful they will move forward on that. I have not seen those reports you referenced, so I’ll have to take a closer look at those.
QUESTION: One other – another note. Would you urge the Philippine Government to actually cooperate with Taiwanese investigators? Would you urge them to conduct a joint investigation with their Taiwanese colleagues?
Another question I have here before we move to another people, Taiwan has sent warships and patrol boats to the areas of the incident to actually escort and protect its fishing boats. How do you – is the U.S. notified of this in advance? How do you see that?
MS. PSAKI: Well, we are aware that the Taiwan Navy and Taiwan Coast Guard conducted an exercise south of Taiwan today. Questions about the conduct of that exercise would of course be appropriately directed to Taiwan authorities. And Patrick did say this yesterday as well, but we urge both Taiwan and the Philippines to exercise restraint and address the events of last week and take steps to minimize the likelihood of future confrontations.
QUESTION: What about joint investigation, Philippine and Taiwanese?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t want to speculate. Again, the Philippines have said – Philippine Government, I should say, has pledged to conduct a thorough and expeditious investigation and we encourage them to do so.
QUESTION: When an American dies in a potentially hostile incident abroad, you often ask for joint investigations or collaboration with the FBI. Why should other countries not expect the same?
MS. PSAKI: Again, Brad, the Philippine Government is conducting an investigation. We encourage them to do so. I don’t think I’m going to foray into this any further today.
QUESTION: Can I go back to Japan?
QUESTION: Jennifer, can we go to Iraq?
MS. PSAKI: Into – back to Japan?
QUESTION: Yeah, I want to – the visit by a Japanese adviser to North Korea today. Do you know the nature of those talks? Do you think it will be helpful? Japan is also talking about that this could be about payment for abductees from more than a decade ago. Do you think that their payment could undermine the allied front against Pyongyang?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I don’t know if you’ve seen this, but we’re happy to provide it to others post the briefing, but Ambassador Davies did speak to this a little bit in a kind of short press conference. He addressed this a bit. And I would point you to comments he made. I can’t speculate on the purpose of that visit. I know that he will be discussing that further with his counterparts in Japan.
On the issue of abductions, of course we take that very seriously. We’ve continued – continuously raised this issue with North Korean authorities. We stand firmly with Japan as it seeks to resolve that issue. But his meetings are ongoing – Ambassador Davies, that is – in Japan today and tomorrow. And I know that he said that he expects to continue discussing this in that time period.
QUESTION: But would you see this as helpful towards resolving the tensions with North Korea? Anything to do with the previous tensions with North Korea? I mean, is this a helpful step? We see that the South Koreans are not happy about it. The Chinese seem to be much more pleased about. So where would you stand on --
MS. PSAKI: Again, it’s hard for me – or, I should say, impossible for me to speak to that without knowing the specifics on the purpose of the visit. There will be more discussions on that with Ambassador Davies during his meetings.
MS. PSAKI: Sure.
QUESTION: Okay, if you would comment on the deteriorating situation, the spike in violence, the entry of PKK fighters in the north, and in fact, the very hostile rhetoric towards your guest, Erdogan, from Prime Minister Maliki.
MS. PSAKI: Well, broadly speaking, the risk of sectarian conflict is always a concern given Iraq’s history. We’ve seen, of course, the recent reports and we condemn the terrorist attacks perpetrated in Baghdad and the surrounding provinces. This deliberate targeting of innocent people and particular sects in an effort to sow instability and division is reprehensible and our condolences go out to the victims of these attacks and their families. More broadly speaking, we remain, of course, committed to supporting Iraq’s democratic system. We know that in this pivotal time, it’s going to take some time, but we’re always concerned about acts of violence and those reports that we’ve seen in recent days.
QUESTION: Okay. Mr. Maliki accused Mr. Erdogan of being party to – in aiding and abetting this sectarian schism that has taken place in Iraq. Is that something – an issue that the Secretary of State Kerry is likely to discuss --
MS. PSAKI: I have not seen --
QUESTION: -- with Mr. Erdogan?
MS. PSAKI: -- that specific report. I actually have to go shortly to go to this – to go to this bilateral meeting. More to say, I’m sure, on it tomorrow. So let me just take one more. And you’ve been very patient in the back. I saw you at the press conference, so you must have run over here very quickly.
QUESTION: Yes. Highly important question to ask you on Burma: The Burmese – the President of Myanmar is visiting the capital next week. Will the Secretary be meeting him separately in addition his meetings at the White House?
MS. PSAKI: Thank you for your question. I am – and I will check on this for you. I believe because of the schedule that this will be a White House-specific visit. I don’t think there’s anything that’s specific to the Secretary, but let me check on that, and we’ll get you more if there’s anything on his schedule related to the visit.
QUESTION: Is human rights (inaudible)? I say that because of the things happening inside Burma on the Rohingya Muslims, human rights violation over them, this is not the right time for him to come here or for him to invite to Washington. Do you agree with their views?
MS. PSAKI: Well, again, we all know the history of Burma. They’ve made a number of positive reforms in recent years. We all know that the previous Secretary was there, the President was recently there. They’ve recently released over 850 political prisoners. They’ve eased restrictions on the media and increasingly respect freedoms of expression, assembly, and movement. But this is obviously an ongoing discussion. I’m sure it will be part of the visit when they come, when the President comes next week, and I would refer you to the White House for more specifics on that.
Thank you, everyone.
QUESTION: Can I get just one clarification?
MS. PSAKI: Sure. Go ahead.
QUESTION: Just from earlier, when you said that Nuland didn’t want to prejudice the investigation, but then a CIA official wrote back to Nuland that the FBI did not have major concerns with the talking points. And then Nuland responded at 9:23 p.m. that night saying that members of what she called “my building’s leadership” are consulting with NSS. Who from this building consulted with NSS over the talking points at 9 p.m. that night? And can we expect any kind of release of those documents, those conversations?
MS. PSAKI: Well, the emails have been released, all of the emails, as I understand it. The most important point here is that the concerns shared – and we saw this from reporting overnight from briefings as well as from the emails – the concerns expressed by Toria were shared separately by the CIA. They were – ultimately had the pen on these talking points and made the call on what should be included in them. . .
Thank you, everyone.
QUESTION: My question was about the FBI, not the CIA --
MS. PSAKI: I understand, but these were CIA talking points.
MS. PSAKI: They made the call on what would not prejudice an investigation. They expressed similar concerns and they made adjustments accordingly. But I would point you to them for further clarification.
(The briefing was concluded at 2:45 p.m.)
# # #
[i] FY 14
[ii] Rather than focusing on the label placed on these victims, we prefer to address the fact that this was a grave human rights violation of enormous proportions. The United States is also committed to working with our partners and allies around the world to denounce modern-day slavery and trafficking in persons no matter where it occurs.